- - Sunday, December 16, 2012

Activists angered by Pope Benedict XVI’s recent comment about gay marriage have held a small protest in St. Peter’s Square during the pontiff’s weekly address there.

The protesters carried signs in several languages, including ones saying: “Marriage for All” and “Homophobia = death.”

An Associated Press journalist saw police quickly seize placards from four of the protesters who entered the square Sunday as pilgrims and tourists were watching the pope appear at his studio window.

In his annual peace message released by the Vatican on Friday, the pontiff called gay marriage, and abortion, threats to peace.

The organizers of the protest issued a statement saying: “Gay unions don’t harm peace. Weapons do.”

SPAIN

Spaniards protest health privatization

MADRID — Several thousand Spanish public health workers and other people marched from four main hospitals in Madrid to converge on a main square in the capital Sunday, protesting the regional government’s plans to restructure and part-privatize the sector.

The marches, described as a “white tide” because of the color of the medical scrubs many were wearing, finally met midafternoon in Puerta del Sol.

On Monday, the region’s health minister will meet with a committee responsible for coordinating professional services and union representatives to try and agree how to achieve $697 million in savings.

RUSSIA

Ex-cop sentenced for journalist’s murder

MOSCOW — A Moscow judge has sentenced a former police officer to 11 years in prison and fined him about $100,000 for his part in the 2006 murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, who prosecutors claimed helped to track Politkovskaya’s movements and armed the gunman, had struck a plea bargain that qualified him for a reduced sentence in exchange for his cooperation.

Politkovskaya’s family opposed the deal, which allowed Pavlyuchenkov to admit his guilt without testifying, on the grounds that it would not help find the masterminds of the killing.

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