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Vatican criticises 'unfounded' reports of Pope brain tumour

The Vatican has hit back at reports claiming Pope Francis has a benign brain tumour - calling the claims "unfounded" and "gravely irresponsible".

The Vatican called the reports 'unfounded' Credit: Reuters

National Italian newspaper Quotidiano Nazionale splashed on news that the 78-year-old religious leader had secretly flowin by helicopter to see a Japanese doctor based in Tuscany "some time ago".

He was diagnosed with "a small dark spot on the brain", the report said, but added that it was curable.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi denied the reports.

The pope is carrying out his activity with his usual high level of intensity.

Spreading unfounded news is gravely irresponsible and is not worthy of attention.

– Father Federico Lombardi

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Pope creates tribunal to hear child sex abuse failings

Pope Francis has approved a new Vatican department to hear cases of bishops who fail to protect children from paedophile priests.

Pope Francis has created a new Vatican tribunal section to hear cases of bishops who fail to protect children from sexually abusive priests Credit: PA

The unprecedented move marks the biggest step yet the Vatican has taken to hold bishops accountable for covering up, or not preventing, child sex abuse in the Catholic church.

The Vatican said that Francis had approved proposals made by his sexual abuse advisory board. The international commission is made up of clerics and lay people - nine men and eight women - whose role is to help dioceses put in place "best practices" to prevent abuse and work with victims.

Victims' groups have long campaigned for the Vatican to establish clear procedures to make bishops more accountable for abuse in their dioceses, even if they were not directly responsible for it.

While no bishop has ever been forcibly removed for covering up for guilty clergy, in April, Francis accepted the resignation of a US bishop who had been convicted of failing to report a suspected child abuser.

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