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VATICAN ERASES POPE'S REMARKS ABOUT PSYCHIATRIC HELP FOR GAY CHILDREN

The Vatican has rolled back on a recommendation by Pope Francis that parents seek psychiatric help for children who show homosexual tendencies.

The pope made the comments to journalists as he was flying back to Rome from Ireland, but the Vatican later removed his phrase from its official account, saying he had not meant to suggest that homosexuality was a mental illness.

The pope was asked by a journalist what he would say to parents who observe homosexual traits in their children. "When it shows itself from childhood, there is a lot that can be done through psychiatry, to see how things are. It is something else if it shows itself after 20 years," he said. He added that ignoring a child who showed homosexual tendencies was an "error of fatherhood or motherhood".

However, when the Vatican later published the pope’s answer, the reference to psychiatry had been removed. When asked why, a Vatican spokeswoman said it had been done in order to not "change the thoughts of the Holy Father".

"When the pope referred to ‘psychiatry’, it is clear that he was doing it to highlight an example of ‘things that can be done’. But with that word he didn’t mean to say that it (homosexuality) was a ‘mental illness’," she said.

The pope’s trip to Ireland was fraught with controversy amid accusations that he ignored sexual abuse allegations against prominent US cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

SUICIDE CAR BOMBER KILLS 11 IN WESTERN IRAQ
A suicide bomber blew up a vehicle in the town of Al-Qaim in western Iraq on Wednesday, killing at least 11 people, five of them security personnel, police said.

The town, on the Syrian border some 340 kilometres (215 miles) from Baghdad, was one of the last in Iraq to be recaptured from the Islamic State group in November last year. The 9 am (0600 GMT) bombing also wounded 16 people -- 11 civilians and five security personnel, police Captain Mahmud Jassem said.

CHINA MOVES TO END TWO-CHILD LIMIT, FINISHING DECADES OF FAMILY PLANNING
The Chinese government could be moving to end birth restrictions, amid growing concerns over an ageing population and a dropping birth rate.

Under current family planning rules, the majority of Chinese couples are limited to two children, following an easing of the country's notorious "one-child policy" in 2016. These restrictions now look set to be further relaxed under a new draft reform to the country's Civil Code, potentially allowing families to have multiple children for the first time in decades.

According to a brief statement released Tuesday by the National People's Congress, the newly revised code "will no longer retain the relevant content of family planning."

The revised code won't be completed until March 2020 and there is no indication yet how exactly the change would be made, or whether any other restrictions or conditions might remain on Chinese families.

But a change to the country's strict family planning laws had been considered likely by experts for some time. "The government will lift the policy, to what degree they then go further with pre-natal policy is another issue, but I think they'll lift the policy in the foreseeable future," Therese Hesketh, a professor at the University College London's Institute for Global Health.

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