What helps, too, is taking a long view of the history that comes with running a business founded in 1589, the events that it has witnessed and withstood over time.

“Nazis, Communists, government takeovers — in the past, we’ve had just about everything here,” Mr. Fritsche said. “And we have survived it all. We will get through this as well.”

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Pope evokes spectre of Ukraine war sparking global conflict, article with image

Pope Francis leads the Angelus prayer from the window of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican, March 27, 2022. Simone Risoluti/Vatican Media/­Handout via REUTERS

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VATICAN CITY, March 27 (Reuters) – The threat of a global conflict spawned by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine should convince everyone that the time has come for humanity to abolish war before it abolishes humanity, Pope Francis said on Sunday.

“More than a month has passed since the invasion of Ukraine, since the start of this cruel and senseless war, which, like every war, is a defeat for everyone, for all of us,” he said to thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square for his Sunday blessing.

“We must repudiate war, a place of death where fathers and mothers bury their children, where men kill their brothers without even seeing them, where the powerful decide and the poor die,” he said.

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The war in Ukraine was destroying the country’s future, he said, citing a statistic that half of the country’s children had to flee the country.

“That is the bestiality of war, something that is barbarous and sacrilegious,” he said, urging his listeners not to consider war as inevitable or something to get used to.

“If we emerge from this (war) the same as we were before, we will all be in some way guilty. Faced with the danger of self-destruction, humanity must understand that the time has come to abolish war, to cancel it from the history of man before it cancels man from history,” he said.

Since Russia invaded its neighbour on Feb. 24, Francis has several times spoken of a possible nuclear conflict.

“I beg every politician involved to reflect on this, to make a commitment, and, looking at martyred Ukraine, to understand that every day of war worsens the situation for everyone,” he said.

“Enough! Stop! Let the weapons fall silent. Negotiate seriously for peace,” he said.

Since the invasion, which Russia calls a “special military operation” to demilitarise Ukraine, the pope has implicitly criticised Moscow, strongly condemning what he has called an “unjustified aggression” and denouncing “atrocities.”

But he has used the word “Russia” only in prayers, such as during a special global event for peace last Friday read more

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Reporting by Philip Pullella;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Pope says Italy’s plunging birthrate is a ‘tragedy’

VATICAN CITY, Dec 26 (Reuters) – Pope Francis bemoaned Italy’s plunging birthrate on Sunday, warning that the decline represented a threat to the future of the country.

Births in Italy last year hit their lowest level since the unification of the nation in 1861, the national statistics office said this month, with the figure falling for a 12th consecutive year. read more

“The demographic winter is a real worry, at least here in Italy,” the pope said in his weekly address in front of St. Peter’s Basilica.

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Children stand outside a school as the town is downgraded from a red to an orange zone, after weeks of tight restrictions to fight the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Naples, Italy, April 19, 2021. REUTERS/Ciro de Luca

“It seems that a lot of people have lost the wish to have children. Lots of couples prefer to remain childless or to have one child only. … It’s a tragedy … which runs counter to our families, our country and our future.”

There were 404,892 births in Italy last year, the ISTAT statistics office said, down 15,192 from 2019. There were 746,146 deaths in 2020 as the population fell to 59.3 million.

ISTAT said the slump in births had continued this year, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic appeared to be a factor in the decline.

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Reporting by Crispian Balmer
Editing by David Goodman

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Biden Eases Fray with France and Savors Meeting with Pope as Europe Trip Begins

ROME — After a six-week diplomatic uproar over a scuttled submarine deal and accusations of American duplicity, President Biden made a one-on-one effort Friday to mend fences with President Emmanuel Macron of France by admitting that, yes, the matter could have been handled better.

“What we did was clumsy,” Mr. Biden told reporters hours after arriving in Italy to attend a summit with other world leaders. “It was not done with a lot of grace.”

By delivering an in-person mea culpa to the leader of one of America’s oldest allies, Mr. Biden signaled that he was ready to move on from an embarrassing spat that grew from a secretive American agreement with Britain and Australia to supply Australia with nuclear-powered attack subs, effectively canceling out a lucrative and strategically important French contract.

“I was under the impression that France had been informed long before that the deal was not coming through,” Mr. Biden said, effectively inviting his negotiating partners to shoulder some of the blame after weeks of weathering French ire. Later in the day, the two issued a joint statement that confirmed Mr. Biden’s support for America’s European allies to develop a “stronger and more capable European defense” as a compliment to NATO.

global agreement to set minimum levels of corporate taxation, aimed at stopping companies from stuffing income into tax havens. He will also prod other countries to assist in uncorking supply chain bottlenecks, announce a global task force to fight the coronavirus and urge investments to curb global warming.

But his trip began with a private audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican, a diplomatic meeting that the president, who was grinning broadly as he emerged from his presidential limousine, seemed to enjoy.

After spending about 90 minutes with Francis in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, Mr. Biden told reporters that the pope had called him a “good Catholic” who should keep receiving holy communion.

The apparent show of support would mark the first time the pope has explicitly pushed back against a campaign by conservative bishops in the United States to deny Mr. Biden, a fellow Roman Catholic, the sacrament because of his support for abortion rights. Asked if the two had spoken about abortion, the president said no, but that the topic of receiving the sacrament had come up.

“We just talked about the fact he was happy that I was a good Catholic,” Mr. Biden told reporters, “and I should keep receiving communion.”

have become common targets of powerful conservative American bishops seeking to undercut them.

Massimo Faggioli, a theology professor at Villanova University and author of “Joe Biden and Catholicism in the United States,” said there was “no question” that American bishops would be angered by the pope’s encouragement, and wondered whether the president had cleared his decision to speak publicly about it with the Vatican.

The heavily edited footage released by the Vatican appeared to underscore the warm bond shared by the two leaders. Mr. Biden clasped the pope’s hand and called him “the most significant warrior for peace I’ve ever met.”

After their private talk they exchanged gifts, and Mr. Biden gave the pope a presidential challenge coin that featured Delaware, his home state, and Beau’s Army National Guard unit. “I know my son would want me to give this to you,” he said.

As Francis showed Mr. Biden and Jill Biden, the first lady, to the door, Mr. Biden was in no rush to leave.

He unspooled a folksy yarn that referred to both he and the pope ascending to their positions later in life. In a nod to their ages — he is 78 and Francis is 84 — he relayed a story about Satchel Paige, the legendary Black player who pitched the majority of his career in the Negro Leagues, and who was allowed to join the Major Leagues only in his 40s.

“Usually, pitchers lose their arms when they’re 35,” Mr. Biden said to the pope, who seemed a little lost by the baseball reference. “He pitched a win on his 47th birthday.”

As Mr. Biden explained it, reporters asked the pitcher: “‘Satch, no one’s ever pitched a win at age 47. How do you feel about pitching a win on your birthday?’” and the pitcher responded: “‘Boys, that’s not how I look at age. I look at it this way: How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?’”

The pope looked at Mr. Biden.

“You’re 65, I’m 60,” the president said. “God love ya.”

Jim Tankersley contributed reporting from Rome, and Ruth Graham from Dallas.

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