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MT 19 October 2014

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maltatoday, Sunday, 19 OctOber 2014 8 News Tim Diacono 2,537,866 vehicles entered Valletta in the first eight months this year, a staggering 90,738 more than entered it in the same period last year, Trans- port Malta statistics show. The data shows that since the re- moval of all Controlled Vehicular Access (CVA) charges for vehicles parking in Valletta CVA zones after 2pm on weekdays and all day on Sat- urdays, Sundays, and public holidays, cars entering Valletta increased by 3.7% over the same eight-month pe- riod. Parking in a CVA zone for over half an hour on weekdays between 8am- 2pm is still subject to an hourly 82c fine. Valletta residents and their rela- tives, emergency and official vehicles, public transport vehicles, motorcy- cles, electric vehicles, vehicles capa- ble of carrying more than 10 people, regular delivery workers, doctors who practise regularly in Valletta, vehicles owned by people with special needs, and open air market hawkers are all exempt from these charges. The free parking scheme's aim was to encourage more people to visit Valletta, bringing life to the capital. Initial results show that it has cer- tainly worked in that regard. 651,128 vehicles parked in CVA zones af- ter 2pm on weekdays in the first six months of this free parking scheme, up by 37,077 over the corresponding period last year. Also, 234,335 vehicles parked in them on Saturdays, up by 23,036. Perhaps unexpectedly though, the average parking duration has actually gone down in both cases. The aver- age parking duration in CVA zones on Saturdays in the first six months of this free parking scheme was 4.54 hours, down by 0.25 hours (15 min- utes) from the corresponding period last year. For those parking after 2pm on weekdays, it decreased by 0.15 hours to an average of 4.4 hours in the same period. "This shows that the aims of the scheme, to increase accessibility to visitors entering Valletta while at the same time discouraging parking for long periods of time, are being reached," a Transport Malta spokes- person said. The Church's Synod meeting in Rome dealt a setback to Pope Fran- cis yesterday by turning down pro- posals for a wider acceptance of gay people. The proposals were denied a two- thirds majority. The meeting of Church lead- ers had a draft before them which called for greater openness towards homosexuals, and divorced and re- married Catholics. But the pertinent paragraphs had to be removed from the final report when they did not get the approval of the Synod, which was attended by some 200 Bishops. The rest of the draft report was accepted. According to the BBC, corre- spondents said the text welcoming gay people and remarried Catholics had been watered down in the final version that was voted on – but it appears that they still met with re- sistance from conservatives. Speaking after the vote, Pope Francis told those attending he would have been "worried and sad- dened" if there had not been "ani- mated discussions" or if "everyone had been in agreement or silent in a false and acquiescent peace", AP news agency reported. Reuters reported that the final version of the Vatican document issued yesterday radically revised its earlier wording on homosexu- als, eliminating language that had talked more positively of them than ever before in Church history. The document, called a "relatio", was issued at the conclusion of the two-week Synod of the bishops from around the world. When the initial draft was released on Mon- day conservative bishops vowed to change the language. Reuters said the two-paragraph section of the final document deal- ing with homosexuals was titled "Pastoral attention towards persons with homosexual orientations". The previous, three-paragraph ver- sion had been called "Welcoming homosexuals." The earlier version spoke of "ac- cepting and valuing their (homo- sexuals') sexual orientations" and giving gays "a welcoming home". The final version eliminated those phrases and most of the other lan- guage that church progressives and gay rights groups had hailed as a breakthrough. The new version used more vague, general language, repeat- ing earlier church statements that gays "should be welcomed with respect and sensitivity" and that discrimination against gays "is to be avoided". An arch-conservative cardinal, American Raymond Burke, is being demoted for his bitter opposition to the pope's reformist agenda and his call for greater acceptance of gays and divorcees in the Catholic Church. The Pope's flexible approach up- set many of the bishops attending the synod. Cardinal Burke is due to be given a lower profile role, as pa- tron of the Sovereign Military Or- der of the Knights of Malta, it has been reported. Vehicles swarm into Valletta following free parking scheme Vatican Synod calls for openness towards gays and divorcees

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