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MISSING

Missing man returns home in Dalarna

The 21-year-old man reported missing in Gagnef in Dalarna in central Sweden on New Year's Eve has returned home. A large party has been searching for him since New Year's Day. He returned home at around 5pm.

Up to 80 people took part in the search for the man, who went missing on his way to a New Year’s Eve party in the town.

Police, volunteers and the National Home Guard took part in the day long search for the man. Police deployed a helicopter with thermocamera to try to track the man.

The police said on Friday that they suspect that he disappeared of his own free will. Earlier in the day police spokesperson Sven-Åke Petters had this to say to news agency TT:

“We have reason to believe that the the person is staying away of his own free will. Witnesses report that he had been seen in the nearby town of Leksand.”

The 21-year-old was on his way to a party in a cabin in the town of Gagnef on Wednesday but he never arrived. He was reported missing by his family the following afternoon.

NEW YEAR

Bout of sciatica forces pope to skip New Year’s masses: Vatican

Pope Francis unable to celebrate New Year's masses Thursday evening and Friday morning at St Peter's Basilica because he is suffering from sciatica, the Vatican announced.

Bout of sciatica forces pope to skip New Year's masses: Vatican
Image: FABIO FRUSTACI / POOL / AFP

The chronic nerve condition that causes hip pain for the 84-year-old meant that “celebrations this evening and tomorrow morning… will not be led by the Holy Father,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement. 

Giovanni Battista Re, the dean of the College of Cardinals, will celebrate the vespers on Thursday December 31, while Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin – the pope's right-hand man – will preside over the New Year's Day mass, Bruni said.

Later on Friday January 1, the pontiff will lead the Angelus prayer from the library in the Apostolic Palace “as planned”, the spokesman said.

Shortly before Christmas, two cardinals in the pope's entourage contracted Covid-19, raising fears that Francis, who rarely wears a mask, risked infection.

In addition to the Argentinian-born pope's official events reported by the Holy See's press office, he also has many private meetings at the Vatican's guest house Santa Marta, where he lives.

During Italy's first lockdown in March, Francis initially delivered his Sunday Angelus prayers from the Vatican library instead of his usual window overlooking crowds on Saint Peter's Square.

The restriction prompted him to say he felt “caged”, and he made several brief appearances at the window, greeting the few people who ventured out into the vast square.

The pope has a risk factor for Covid aside from his advanced age. When he was 21 years old in 1957, he suffered from severe pleurisy, requiring surgery to remove part of his right lung, according to biographer Austen Ivereigh.

The Vatican has not yet indicated when the pope may be vaccinated against Covid-19.

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