- - Sunday, January 16, 2011

VATICAN CITY

Pope is joyous about beatifying John Paul II

Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday that everyone who knew or admired John Paul II shares his joy that he will beatify his predecessor on May 1 — a ceremony in St. Peter’s Square that could bring 2 million people into Rome.

Beatification is the last major step before possible sainthood.

The ceremony, a week after Easter, is expected to draw huge crowds, according to Rome authorities rushing to ready the capital for the event. John Paul’s funeral in 2005 saw nearly 3 million faithful flock to the Vatican.

“On May 1, I’ll have the joy of proclaiming blessed the venerable John Paul II, my beloved predecessor,” Benedict said from his studio window overlooking the square, where tourists and pilgrims gathered to receive his traditional Sunday blessing.

“All those who knew him, all those who esteemed and admired him, cannot help but rejoice with the church for this event,” the pontiff said.

Many pilgrims will come from John Paul’s homeland of Poland. Benedict told the Poles in the square that he shares their joy over the announcement Friday of the beatification.

IRELAND

Premier won’t quit over debt crisis

DUBLIN | Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen says he won’t resign despite intense criticism of his management of Ireland’s European-record deficit and its international bailout.

Mr. Cowen’s announcement on Sunday followed days of talks with lawmakers in his Fianna Fail party, many of whom want him to quit immediately.

His determination to stay leaves unsettled the question of whether his government will survive long enough to pass the emergency deficit-slashing legislation required by the $90 billion bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Fianna Fail rivals could quickly pursue a no-confidence motion to try to oust him.

Mr. Cowen rose to power in 2008 as Ireland’s Celtic Tiger economic boom was giving way to a property-market implosion and banking crisis.

FRANCE

Daughter succeeds dad at far-right party

TOURS | France’s far-right National Front party elected the daughter of its founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, as its new leader Sunday, who says she wants to broaden the appeal of a party known best for its anti-immigration, anti-Islam platform.

Le Pen, who has been convicted for minimizing the Holocaust, left the leadership of the party he created 38 years ago by dropping an anti-Semitic reference about a journalist at a weekend party gathering.

Marine Le Pen, 42, won slightly more than two-thirds of the vote in an election at a National Front convention in the central city of Tours — easily beating the other candidate, longtime party No. 2 Bruno Gollnisch.

Her victory, which had been expected, means she is likely to represent the party in the 2012 presidential race. Her father already said he wouldn’t run after five losing bids — and a shockingly strong one nine years ago, when he qualified for the runoff against incumbent Jacques Chirac.

RUSSIA

Notorious prison to get tanning beds

MOSCOW | A centuries-old Russian prison notorious for its primitive conditions will soon offer inmates a new perk - tanning beds.

The Tass news agency on Sunday cited federal prisons service chief Viktor Dezhurov as saying the tanning beds at Moscow’s Butyrskaya prison will be ready for observances of its’ 240-year anniversary this year.

Mr. Dezhurov was quoted as saying the tanning beds are meant to compensate for inadequate sunlight in the cells. But inmates will have to pay and at 33 cents a minute, a sizable fee in a country where the average monthly salary is well under $1,000.

The prison’s dismal conditions attracted wide attention in 2009 after the death of Sergei Magnitsky, a young lawyer who died of pancreas disease there after inadequate medical care.

From wire dispatches and staff reports