From The Alpha and the Omega - Chapter Eight
by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved SCARLET WOMAN 2019 JANUARY-MARCH

    This file is attached to http://www.mazzaroth.com/ChapterEight/2014-2017.htm from “Astronomical Events To Appear Between 2014 Through 2017 A.D.” - Chapter Eight by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved.

SCARLET WOMAN 2019 JANUARY-MARCH
This file is a continution of Scarlet Woman 2018 and to continue to Scarlet Woman 2019 April-June


12/31/2018 Vatican spokesman, deputy, resign over strategy differences by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis poses with Vatican spokesman Greg Burke (R) and
deputy Vatican spokesperson Paloma Garcia Ovejero during a meeting at
the Vatican in this undated handout. Media/Handout via REUTERS
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The Vatican spokesman and his deputy resigned on Monday over disagreements on strategy, ending a year of upheaval in the Holy See’s communications structure.
    A brief Vatican statement gave no reason for the resignations.    Spokesman Greg Burke, an American, tweeted that he and his Spanish deputy, Paloma Garcia Ovejero, had quit to let Pope Francis appoint a new team in what was a “time of transition.”
    A Vatican source said both Burke and Ovejero had wanted more autonomy from the Vatican department that oversees all communications, known as the Dicastery for Communications.
    They quit two weeks after Pope Francis appointed a personal friend, Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli, to become editorial director of all Vatican communications.
    The source said it was believed to be the first time both posts had changed hands simultaneously, underscoring the differences of opinion.
    “Paloma and I have resigned, effective Jan. 1.    At this time of transition in Vatican communications, we think it’s best the Holy Father is completely free to assemble a new team,” Burke tweeted.
    The 59-year-old former Rome-based reporter for Fox News joined the Vatican in 2012 as an advisor in its Secretariat of State and become spokesman in 2016.    He is a member of the conservative Catholic group Opus Dei.
    Ovejero, 43, a former reporter for the Spanish radio network COPE, was one of the few high-ranking women in the Vatican.
    During Burke and Ovejero’s tenure, the top two jobs in the Vatican press room were, unusually, held by non-Italians.
    Tornielli is now the third-ranking person in the communications department but his closeness to the pope, whom he has known since before the pontiff’s election in 2013, will likely make him particularly influential.
    Monday’s resignations capped a year of tensions in Vatican communications.
    Monsignor Dario Vigano resigned as overall head in March after a scandal over a doctored letter, a public relations fiasco two months after the pope warned of the dangers of fake news.
    Vigano released part of a letter by former Pope Benedict that was to have remained private, using it to promote a book on the theology of Pope Francis.
    A promotional photo for the book released by Vigano blurred a part of the letter in which Benedict declined to write an introduction, saying he was unhappy with one of its contributors.
    Vigano was replaced in July by Paolo Ruffini, ex-head of a Catholic television station.
    The Vatican said Alessandro Gisotti, an Italian journalist who has handled the Vatican’s social media, would be interim spokesman.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

1/1/2019 Pope bemoans disjointed world, praises unity over diversity
Pope Francis leads a mass to mark the World Day of Peace in Saint Peter's Basilica
at the Vatican, January 1, 2019. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis, in his first message of the new year on Tuesday, bemoaned a lack of unity across the world, and warned against a soulless hunt for profit that benefits only a few.
    “How much dispersion and solitude there is all around us.    The world is completely connected, yet seems increasingly disjointed,” the pope said in his traditional New Year’s Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.
    In his homily he paid homage to motherhood, saying a world that looked to the future while forgetting “a mother’s gaze” was shortsighted.
    “It may well increase its profits, but it will no longer see others as children.    It will make money, but not for everyone.    We will all dwell in the same house, but not as brothers and sisters,” he said.
    The New Year’s address followed a turbulent 2018 for the pope, whose Church was battered by a torrent of sex scandals across the world that Francis has repeatedly failed to contain.
    The sense of crisis was underscored on Monday when the Vatican spokesman and his deputy abruptly and unexpectedly resigned following disagreements on communications strategy.
    Pope Francis made no overt reference to the tumult, but called for Roman Catholics to remain rooted to the Church, saying: “Unity counts more than diversity.”
    He also warned that Church risked becoming “a beautiful museum of the past” if people lost “the amazement of faith.”
(Reporting by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Alison Williams)

1/2/2018 Chilean church abuse victims launch fresh attack on bishops by Aislinn Laing
Jose Andres Murillo, victim of clerical sexual abuse in Chile, leaves after talking
to the media during a news conference in Santiago, Chile, September 28, 2018. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado/File Photo
    (Reuters) – Two victims of sexual abuse by a Roman Catholic Church priest in Chile launched a fresh attack on the country’s bishops on Wednesday, accusing them of failing to reform or learn from the crisis.
    Juan Carlos Cruz and Jose Andres Murillo, two prominent victims of the abuse who gave evidence of their ordeal to Pope Francis in Rome, said the pontiff had also acted to slowly in handling the crisis.
    Cruz said the Chilean church’s leaders, several of whom face criminal investigation for their roles in allegedly covering up abuse, had failed to follow through on their promises to institute reform.
    “What we have in Chile is a veritable band of criminal bishops,” he said.    “After visiting the pope, after everything that’s happened, that is happening with civil justice, they have learned nothing.”
    Church officials declined to comment.
    The Chilean Catholic Church was engulfed by scandal after a visit by the pope in January last year that brought to the surface a string of abuse allegations now being investigated by criminal prosecutors.
    After initially dismissing some claims, the pope later summoned Chile’s bishops to Rome for questioning after a Vatican investigation reported that they had been guilty of “grave negligence” in investigating abuse in the church.
    The pope has accepted the resignations of seven Chilean bishops, and the country’s episcopal conference has vowed to tighten up child protection measures and work more closely with civil authorities to bring abusers to justice.
    But the archbishop of Santiago, Ricardo Ezzati, remains in his post despite facing abuse cover-up allegations – accusations that he, like most of the Chilean church’s senior leadership, denies.
    Cruz and Murillo, both victims of the now-defrocked father Fernando Karadima, called for a wholesale overhaul of Chile’s church leadership.
    Murillo called for “more women and lay church workers” to be made bishops in Chile.
    Cruz said he believed the pope’s efforts to uncover abuse in the church were being hampered by powerful forces around him.
    “I believe the pope’s apology to us was sincere, and I think he is trying with all his heart but not with the speed that the severity of these issues deserves,” Cruz said.
    “It is so much that the pope needs help and people to support him.    What has struck me is the number of people working against him in his close circle.”
(Reporting by Aislinn Laing; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

1/3/2019 Pope Francis criticizes U.S. bishops over abuse scandal, demands unity
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis leads a mass to mark the World Day of Peace in
Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, January 1, 2019. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis criticized U.S. bishops on Thursday for failing to show unity in the face of a sexual abuse crisis, saying internal bickering had to end over the scandal which has decimated the credibility of the American Church.
    In a long and highly unusual letter sent as U.S. bishops started a week-long retreat to reflect on the spreading crisis, Francis said the handling of the scandal showed the urgent need for a new approach to management and mindset within the Church.
    “God’s faithful people and the Church’s mission continue to suffer greatly as a result of abuses of power and conscience and sexual abuse, and the poor way that they were handled,” the pope wrote, adding that bishops had “concentrated more on pointing fingers than on seeking paths of reconciliation.”
    Pope Francis has summoned senior Catholic bishops from around the world to the Vatican next month to discuss the protection of minors, in his latest attempt to come to grips with the abuse crisis which first erupted in the United States.
    Ahead of that meeting, U.S. bishops gathered on Wednesday near Chicago for seven days of prayer and spiritual reflection.
    “The Church’s credibility has been seriously undercut and diminished by these sins and crimes, but even more by the efforts made to deny or conceal themi,” Francis said.
    The pope said he was so concerned by the situation that he had hoped to attend the U.S. retreat in person, but added that he had been unable to do so “for logistical reasons.”
(Reporting by Crispian Balmer; editing by Philip Pullella)
[Good try Pope Francis, but I think you may have to drain the pew swamp on the American side since the sins of the American church fell into the line of the 8 years of the Scarlot Woman and the Obama administrations antichristian push for immoral values were okay even in religions.].

1/4/2018 Catholic dioceses release names - Pennsylvania report started wave of reports by Claudia Lauer, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    PHILADELPHIA – Over the past four months, Roman Catholic dioceses across the U.S. have released the names of more than 1,000 priests and others accused of sexually abusing children in an unprecedented public reckoning spurred at least in part by a shocking grand jury investigation in Pennsylvania, an Associated Press review has found.
    Nearly 50 dioceses and religious orders have identified child-molesting priests publicly in the wake of the Pennsylvania report issued in mid-August, and 55 more have announced plans to do the same over the next few months, the AP found.    Together they account for more than half of the nation’s 187 dioceses.
    The review also found that nearly 20 local, state or federal investigations, either criminal or civil, have been launched since the release of the grand jury findings.    Those investigations could lead to more names and more damning accusations, as well as fines against dioceses and court-ordered safety measures.
    “People saw what happened in these parishes in Pennsylvania and said, ‘That happened in my parish too.’ They could see the immediate connection, and they are demanding the same accounting,” said Tim Lennon, national president of the board of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
    The recently disclosed accusations date back six or seven decades in some cases, with the oldest from the 1910s in Louisiana.    Most of the priests were long ago removed from ministry.    An AP examination found that more than 60 percent are dead.        In most cases, the statute of limitations for bringing criminal charges or suing has run out.
    Nevertheless, advocates say exposing molesters nearly two decades after the scandal first erupted in Boston in 2002 is an encouraging step, in part because it gives some victims a sense of vindication after decades of official silence or denials.    Also, it could increase pressure on dioceses to set up victims’ compensation funds, as the church has done in Pennsylvania already.    And it could result in the removal of molesters from positions outside the church that give them access to children.
    “This is a milestone.    We are getting closer and closer to what this ought to be, the true coming to terms that would have to be at a national level,” said Joe McLean, who filed a lawsuit with other victims seeking to compel the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to release files on alleged abusers nationwide.
    The Pennsylvania investigation, led by state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, identified nearly 300 “predator priests” dating back seven decades and accused church leaders of covering up for the abuses, in some cases by returning priests to duty after short stays in treatment centers or reassigning them.    Advocates said the report had big impact because it was the largest to date in scope, encompassing most of the state.
    The biggest list of names has come from the Jesuits West Province, a religious order that encompasses nine Western states.    It identified 111 priests.    The New Orleans Archdiocese and the Diocese of Syracuse, New York, named 61 and 57 respectively.    The Great Falls-Billings, Montana, Diocese disclosed 47 names, including those of a few nuns, while the Los Angeles Archdiocese reported more than 50 from the past decade or so.
    And more names could be coming in places where attorneys general have launched statewide investigations such as New Jersey, New York, Nebraska, Florida and Delaware, or in cities like Houston or Cheyenne, Wyoming, where local prosecutors are looking into individual priests.
    In his Christmas address last month, Pope Francis made an unprecedented call for priests who had abused children to turn themselves in and vowed the church will “never again” hide their crimes.    The world’s bishops will hold a summit at the Vatican next month to forge a comprehensive response to the crisis.
    The U.S. bishops adopted new reporting procedures and other reforms after the furor in Boston but held off on any further measures recently at the direction of the Vatican.    In the 16 years between the Boston scandal and the Pennsylvania investigation, only about 30 dioceses around the country had released lists of priests they deemed credibly accused of abuse.    Most of those dioceses came clean because they were forced to do so by lawsuits or bankruptcy filings.
    Some dioceses declined to name any deceased priests, since they could not defend themselves, and some would not identify any clergy members at all.
    In October, the pope accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, D.C., after he was accused in the report of mishandling some allegations of abuse against priests and others while bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006.
    While praising the release of names, many experts said the lists are often incomplete.    Terence McKiernan, co-director of BishopAccountability.org, which has tracked abuse for more than a decade, said many dioceses have left off names of known abusers his group has published in its online database.
    “It’s not enough,” Pennsylvania’s Shapiro agreed.    “I do not believe that the church is capable of policing itself, though.    They need outside forces, ideally law enforcement, to hold them accountable.”
    Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan printed a copy of the Pennsylvania report the day it came out.    In mid-December, she issued a blistering preliminary report saying a review of church files showed dioceses in Illinois had withheld the names of at least 500 clergy accused of sexually abusing children.
    “It was obvious that this type of concealment, this type of unresolved action in Pennsylvania, that we were going to find the same thing in Illinois,” Madigan said.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, resigned in October after allegations
he mishandled allegations against priests while bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006. KEVIN WOLF/AP

1/4/2018 Appeals court dismisses Cannabis church lawsuit by Vic Ryckaert, Indianapolis Star USA TODAY NETWORK
    The First Church of Cannabis has lost its final appeal in a legal battle aimed at forcing the state to permit the use of marijuana as a religious sacrament.
    The Indiana Court of Appeals dismissed the Church of Cannabis’ case Dec. 28 after it failed to pay a court transcript fee and failed to present an argument as to why the appeal should not be dismissed.    “Laws against the possession, sale and use of marijuana are designed to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of Hoosiers statewide,” Attorney General Curtis Hill said Thursday in a statement.
    In a case filed three years ago, the church argued that members’ use of marijuana should be protected under Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.    The appellate court snuffed out the argument by dismissing the church’s claims “with prejudice,” a legal term that means the case is dead and can not be refiled under the same legal grounds.
    “The devout worshipers of the First Church of Cannabis may find more fertile ground in another state to legally consume their favorite sacrament, but they won’t be lighting up in Indiana,” Hill said.    “Our courts have repeatedly upheld their validity.”
    The church is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a nonprofit corporation and holds services every Wednesday at its east-side house of worship, 3400 S. Rural St.
    “We are a successful church doing beautiful things for a our community...” said Church of Cannabis founder and “Grand Poobah” Bill Levin.
[It is sad that if you start the Church of Poop, that it is valid at all.    But then I am sure that there is some liberal who might worship poop since that is what their brains are full of anywhere.].

1/4/2019 Thailand’s rebel female Buddhist monks defy tradition by Patpicha Tanakasempipat
A devotee has her hair cut by a female Buddhist monk during a mass female Buddhist novice monk ordination ceremony at the
Songdhammakalyani monastery, Nakhon Pathom province, Thailand, December 5, 2018. Officially, only men can become monks and
novices in Thailand under a Buddhist order that, since 1928, has forbidden the ordination of women. A growing number of women
defy generations of Thai Buddhist tradition by becoming ordained as novice monks at the unrecognised all-female monastery. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
    NAKHON PATHOM, Thailand (Reuters) – Boodsabann Chanthawong recently joined a growing number of women defying generations of Thai Buddhist tradition by becoming ordained as novice monks at an unrecognized all-female monastery outside Bangkok.
    Leading a procession of 21 other women – from teenagers to senior citizens – to a chapel in the Songdhammakalyani monastery in Nakhon Pathom province, Boodsabann teared up as she prepared to exchange her white garments for the distinctive saffron robes otherwise seen almost exclusively on male monks.
    “I’m going to overcome this obstacle and become ordained like I’ve always wanted,” the 49-year-old businesswoman said before the ceremony on Dec. 5, where she would have her head shaved.    She stayed for nine days at the temple.
    For photo essay, please click on – https://reut.rs/2LPLCYQ
    Officially, only men can become monks and novices in Thailand under a Buddhist order that since 1928 has forbidden the ordination of women.    The country does not recognize female monks or novices.
    One option for devout Thai women is to become white-clad Buddhist nuns, who follow a less-strict religious regimen than monks and are often relegated to housekeeping tasks in temples.
    In recent years, more Thai Buddhist women seeking to become full-fledged “bhikkunis,” or female monks, have been defying the tradition by pursuing the other option: getting ordained overseas, usually in Sri Lanka or India.
    Dhammananda Bhikkhuni, the 74-year-old abbess of the Songdhammakalyani monastery, flew to Sri Lanka to be ordained in 2001 as Thailand’s first female monk.
    Since then, she has helped women like Boodsabann join the Buddhist order as novices at the monastery’s ordination ceremonies every April and December.
    “It’s been 90 years and the social context has changed, but they still don’t accept us,” Dhammananda told Reuters in an interview at the temple’s library, where an entire shelf is dedicated to books about women’s rights and role in religion.
    “It’s a shame that women aren’t allowed to make decisions for their own lives.    You have to rebel against injustice because this is not right,” she added.
    While Dhammananda’s monastery ordains female novices, it cannot do the same for those seeking to become female monks.    Such a ceremony would require not only 10 female monks but also 10 male monks, who are forbidden under Thailand’s 1928 order to participate in it.
    There are about 270 female monks across Thailand and they were all ordained abroad, Dhammananda said, adding that her monastery houses seven of them. In contrast, Thailand has more than 250,000 male monks.
    Efforts in the past by advocates to undo the 1928 order have been futile.    It has been officially upheld during meetings of the Sangha Supreme Council, the council of top monks, in 2002 and most recently in 2014.
    The government says this is not gender discrimination but a matter of long-held tradition, and women are free to travel abroad to be ordained, just not in their own country.
    “Women can’t be ordained here, but no one stops them from doing that overseas.    They just can’t be ordained by Thai monks, that’s all,” said Narong Songarom, spokesman of the National Office of Buddhism.
(Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor and Kay Johnson)

1/5/2018 Trump military transgender ban wins round in court - Groups that protested policy denounce ruling by Richard Wolf and Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – A powerful federal appeals court in the nation’s capital sided with the Trump administration Friday on its military transgender ban, but other courts’ blockades of the policy remain in effect.
    A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the partial ban announced by the Pentagon, but never implemented, should not have been blocked by a district court while it was being challenged.
    The three judges on the panel were appointed by Presidents Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
    In reversing one of four federal courts to have blocked the policy, the panel reasoned that it was not a “blanket ban” and had been fine-tuned by Pentagon officials over a period of months.    Considerable deference is owed the executive branch on military decisions, it said.
    “The government took substantial steps to cure the procedural deficiencies the court identified in the enjoined 2017 presidential memorandum,” the panel said.
    The partial ban “plausibly relies upon the ‘considered professional judgment’ of ‘appropriate military officials,’ and appears to permit some transgender individuals to serve in the military,” it said.
    The policy, which reversed one allowing transgender service under the Obama administration, was announced by Trump in a July 2017 tweet.    He said transgender troops were no longer welcome in the military, and that the military would no longer pay for their surgeries.
    Pentagon leaders under former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis responded by reassuring transgender troops that they would not be kicked out and that their medical care would not be interrupted until a new policy was created.    The formal plan was announced last spring and included exceptions for those already serving and others who are not transitioning to the opposite sex.
    Four federal district courts blocked the policy from going into effect, and even while appeals courts have been considering it, the Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to weigh in.    The justices will consider that request at their private conference next Friday.
    Dozens of transgender recruits have signed up since becoming eligible Jan. 1, 2018.
    There are believed to be as many as several thousand transgender troops among the active-duty force of more than 1 million troops, according to a RAND Corp. study commissioned by the Pentagon in 2016.
    The two groups that filed the original case against the ban criticized the circuit court’s ruling.
    “Today’s ruling is a devastating slap in the face to transgender service members who have proved their fitness to serve and their dedication to this country,” said Shannon Minter, legal director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
    “Today’s decision is based on the absurd idea that forcing transgender people to suppress who they are in order to serve is not a ban,” said Jennifer Levi, transgender rights project director at GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD).
Protesters gathered in New York City’s Times Square when the ban was announced in June 2017. AP

1/5/2019 Ecumenical Patriarch signs decree granting Ukraine church independence by Daren Butler and Bulent Usta
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Metropolitan Epifaniy, head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine,
attend a signing ceremony marking the new Ukrainian Orthodox church's independence, at St. George's Cathedral,
the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in Istanbul, Turkey January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Murad Sezer
    ISTANBUL (Reuters) – The spiritual head of Orthodox Christians worldwide formally granted independence to the Ukrainian church on Saturday, marking an historic split from Russia which Ukrainian leaders see as vital to the country’s security.
    The decree, granting “autocephaly,” was signed by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at a service with the head of the Ukrainian church Metropolitan Epifaniy and President Petro Poroshenko in St George’s Cathedral in Istanbul.
    “I want to thank the millions of Ukrainians around the world who responded to my appeal to pray for the church to be established,” Poroshenko said at a ceremony accompanied by solemn liturgical singing.
    “I want to thank the generations of Ukrainians who dreamed…and finally God sent us the Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” he told the congregation in the crowded church.
    The patriarchate, the seat of the spiritual leader of some 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, endorsed Ukraine’s request for the new church in October.    The decree, or Tomos, will be handed to Epifaniy at a ceremony on Sunday, completing the process of recognition by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
    Ukraine last month chose 39-year-old Epifaniy to head the new church, in a move which Poroshenko compared to Ukraine’s referendum for independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
    The move incensed Moscow, and prompted President Vladimir Putin to warn of possible bloodshed in his annual news conference.    Relations between Ukraine and Russia collapsed after Moscow’s seizure of Crimea in 2014.
    Ukraine imposed martial law in November, citing the threat of a full-scale invasion after Russia captured three of its vessels in the Kerch Strait.
BITTER RUSSIAN OPPOSITION
    The Ukrainian Orthodox church has been beholden to Moscow for hundreds of years, and Ukraine’s leaders see church independence as vital to tackling Russian meddling.
    Kiev says Moscow-backed churches on its soil are a Kremlin tool to spread propaganda and support fighters in the eastern Donbass region in a conflict that has killed more than 10,000 people.    The churches strongly deny this.
    “Tomos – is just a paper, the result of restless political and personal ambitions.    It was signed in breach of canonicity and this is why it has no power,” Vladimir Legoida, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church Synodal Department for Church-Society and Media Relations, posted in Telegram messenger.
    Epifaniy was chosen by a council at the St Sophia Cathedral in Kiev, built by the son of Prince Volodymyr whose baptism in 988 led to the spread of Christianity in the region.
    The new church may boost pro-Western leader Poroshenko, who lobbied hard for its creation and faces a tight election race in March.
    Russia bitterly opposes the split, comparing it to the Great Schism of 1054 that divided western and eastern Christianity.    Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill made a last ditch appeal against the process last month.
    “Huge win for Ukraine, defeat for the Kremlin,” economist Timothy Ash wrote on Twitter.    “(It) will make Moscow’s hope of some future pull of Ukraine back into its ‘orbit’ nigh on impossible without the use of overwhelming (catastrophic) military force.”
    Religious divisions deepened in Ukraine after 2014 and two Orthodox factions vie for dominance.
    The church known as the Moscow Patriarchate, aligned with the Russian Orthodox Church, sees itself as the only legitimate church in Ukraine.    On Dec. 20, Ukrainian MPs passed a law that could force the church to add “Russian” to its name.
    The rival Kiev Patriarchate was born after the collapse of the Soviet Union and its popularity has grown since 2014.    It favors European integration and championed the independent church but the Moscow Patriarchate denounces it as schismatic.
(Additional reporting by Natalia Zinets in Kiev and Maxim Rodionov in Moscow; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

1/6/2019 Cardinal’s trial puts French Church in glare of Catholic abuse scandal by Catherine Lagrange
FILE PHOTO: French Archbishop Philippe Barbarin attends a ceremony to consecrate the new parish of
Saint-Philippe de Venissieux, near Lyon, France, September 30, 2018. REUTERS/Emmanuel Foudrot/File Photo
    LYON, France (Reuters) – The Roman Catholic archbishop of Lyon goes on trial on Monday charged with failing to act on historical allegations of sexual abuse of boy scouts by a priest in his diocese.
    Cardinal Philippe Barbarin is the highest-profile cleric to be caught up in the pedophile scandal inside the Catholic Church in France, and will stand trial alongside five others from his diocese.
    While most of the recent focus in the Church’s global abuse crisis has been on Australia and Chile, Barbarin’s trial puts the spotlight on Europe’s senior clergy again, just as Pope Francis prepares to host a meeting of senior bishops from around the world in Rome next month to discuss the protection of minors.
    Barbarin is accused of failing to report allegations of sexual abuse in the 1980s and early 1990s by Father Bernard Preynat – a priest who has admitted sexual abuse, according to his lawyer, and is due to go on trial later this year.
    The charges carry a potential three-year prison sentence and fines of up to about $50,000.
    Barbarin told the newspaper Le Monde in August 2017 that he had never concealed allegations against Preynat, but acknowledged shortcomings in his handling of them.
    “I myself realize that my response at the time was inadequate,” he said.
    Barbarin’s lawyer, Jean-Felix Luciani, said he expected Barbarin to be acquitted.
    “He’s accused of covering up for Preynat, whereas in fact it was Barbarin who triggered this whole process,” Luciani said.    “You don’t repair one injustice with another.”
KNOCKED ON DOORS
    Barbarin told Le Monde in 2017 that he had previously opened an investigation of Preynat under church or canon law because a judicial investigation was moving so slowly.
    Barbarin, who moved to the Lyon diocese in 2002, has said he became aware of Preynat’s activities in 2007.    He eventually removed the priest from his post in 2015.
    Barbarin told Le Monde that he had suspended two other priests and called in the judiciary “when I learned of allegations of recent abuses, in 2006 and 2014.”    But faced with allegations of abuses said to have taken place 15 or 20 years earlier, he said he “knocked on doors” for advice, but received no satisfactory answer.
    Lyon prosecutors had previously investigated Barbarin but dropped the probe in the summer of 2016 without a detailed explanation.    However, an association of alleged victims called Parole Liberee (“Freed Word”) used a provision of French law to compel the cardinal to stand trial.
    Pope Francis has come under fire over the Church’s handling of the spreading sexual abuse crisis.
    In September, researchers said they had found indications of sexual abuse in Germany by 1,670 Catholic clerics over the course of seven decades.    On Friday, the Vatican said an Argentine bishop working in a top Vatican financial department was under preliminary investigation for sexual abuse.
    Pope Francis himself met Barbarin in early 2016, and later told the Catholic newspaper La Croix that it would make no sense for the cardinal to resign before any eventual trial.
    “According to the information at my disposal, Cardinal Barbarin took the appropriate measures, he took things in hand.    He is brave, creative, a missionary,” Francis was quoted as saying.
(Reporting by Catharine Lagrange in Lyon and Richard Lough in Paris; writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

1/6/2019 Pope enters migrant ships dispute with appeal for safe ports by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis celebrates a mass for migrants to commemorate the 5th anniversary of his visit
in Lampedusa, at the Saint Peter's in Vatican July 6, 2018. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis urged European leaders on Sunday to stop bickering over the fate of 49 migrants stuck aboard two humanitarian rescue ships on the Mediterranean and let them land at a safe port of call.
    With his comments in an address to 60,000 people in St. Peter’s Square for the feast of the Epiphany, Francis jumped into a diplomatic fracas between Italy and Malta and into an internal dispute among leaders of Italy’s populist government.
    “I make a heartfelt appeal to European leaders to show concrete solidarity for these people,” Francis said, raising his voice.    They were only “seeking a safe port where they can disembark,” he said.
    Thirty-two people are aboard the Sea-Watch 3, a vessel run by a German humanitarian group, which plucked them from an unsafe boat off Libya on Dec. 22.    They include three small children and four teenagers.    Another ship run by the German group Sea-Eye is carrying 17 people rescued on Dec. 29.
    Last week, nearly two dozen humanitarian groups, including Amnesty International and the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration, called on the European Union to offer a safe port to both vessels.
    Speaking at a political meeting shortly before the pope made his appeal, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat defended his country’s refusal to take the vessels, saying it had no legal responsibility for the rescue.
    He accused Malta’s critics of playing “the Christmas saint” while themselves rejecting the ships.
    “We need to find a balance between the human aspect and national security.    This is an issue that might set a precedent and we should be vigilant about it,” he said.
    Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio, leader of the 5-Star Movement, shot back at Muscat, saying Italy had for years taken migrants who arrived via the Mediterranean.    “Now, Malta has to do its part.    That is our position,” he said.
    Di Maio has said Italy will take in women and children if Malta allows the ships to dock.    But Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who leads the anti-immigrant League party and has closed ports to rescue ships, opposes this.
    Salvini has often criticized Francis, who has made defense of migrants a key feature of his pontificate.
    Italy and Malta are predominantly Catholic nations but the Church’s influence in politics has waned significantly in recent years.
(Additional reporting by Chris Scicluna in Valletta; Editing by Alison Williams, Angus MacSwan and Giles Elgood)

1/6/2019 Ecumenical Patriarch hands over decree, sealing Ukraine church independence by Daren Butler and Natalia Zinets
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I kisses Metropolitan Epifaniy, head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine,
as he hands the Tomos, a decree granting Ukraine church independence, after the Epiphany mass
at the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George in Istanbul, Turkey January 6, 2019. REUTERS/Murad Sezer
    ISTANBUL (Reuters) – The spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians worldwide on Sunday presented the head of the Ukrainian church with a decree granting it independence from Moscow, a historic split strongly opposed by Russia.
    Ukraine sees the break as vital to its security and independence, but it is bound to aggravate the wider conflict between the two countries.
    Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who signed the autocephaly decree on Saturday, handed the document to Ukrainian Metropolitan Epifaniy at St George’s Cathedral in Istanbul after a mass to mark the feast of Epiphany.
    “Unity has been restored.    Now we are united,” Epifaniy told the congregation, standing with Bartholomew at the front of the crowded church, both wearing ceremonial robes and holding staffs.
    The 39-year-old Epifaniy was chosen to head the new church last month.
    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who also attended the event, compared the development to Ukraine’s referendum for independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
    Russia bitterly opposes the split, comparing it to the Great Schism of 1054 that divided western and eastern Christianity. President Vladimir Putin has warned of possible bloodshed.
    “We ask you, mother church and all churches to pray for peace in Ukraine,” Epifaniy said, adding Ukrainian people had been suffering for five years from a war “brought from outside.”
    Relations between Ukraine and Russia collapsed after Moscow’s seizure of Crimea in 2014.    Ukraine imposed martial law in November, citing the threat of a full-scale invasion after Russia captured three of its vessels in the Kerch Strait.
    The patriarchate, the seat of the spiritual leader of some 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, endorsed Ukraine’s request for the new church in October.
    “God has heard our prayers,” Poroshenko said in an address on Ukrainian television after the handover of the decree, or tomos.    “Tomos for Ukraine is actually another act of declaring the country’s independence.”     The pro-Western Poroshenko lobbied hard for the church’s creation. He faces a tight election race in March and it may give him a boost.
.     He will take part in a service in Kiev on Monday at the St Sophia Cathedral, now a museum only used for major religious events.    The decree will be displayed at the cathedral for the public to view from Monday, the church said.
    The Ukrainian Orthodox church has been beholden to Moscow for hundreds of years, and Ukraine’s leaders see church independence as vital to tackling Russian meddling.
    Kiev says Moscow-backed churches on its soil are a Kremlin tool to spread propaganda and support separatists in the eastern Donbass region in a conflict that has killed more than 10,000 people.    The churches strongly deny this.
    Religious divisions deepened in Ukraine after 2014 and two Orthodox factions vie for dominance.
    The church known as the Moscow Patriarchate, aligned with the Russian Orthodox Church, sees itself as the only legitimate church in Ukraine.    On Dec. 20, Ukrainian MPs passed a law that could force the church to add “Russian” to its name.
    The rival Kiev Patriarchate was born after the collapse of the Soviet Union and its popularity has grown since 2014.    It favors European integration and championed the independent church but the Moscow Patriarchate denounces it as schismatic.
(Additional reporting by Natalia Zinets in Kiev and Murad Sezer, Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

1/7/2019 ‘We are witches’: Clerical abuse scandal divides parishes and politics in Poland by Marcin Goclowski and Andrew R.C. Marshall
A cross is seen near trees with mistletoe near the church in Kalinowka, Poland
November 25, 2018. Picture taken November 25, 2018. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
    KALINOWKA, Poland (Reuters) – The former Catholic priest of the Polish village of Kalinowka is serving three years in jail for molesting five schoolgirls.    But Marta Zezula, a mother whose testimony helped convict him, says the priest’s victims are the ones made to feel guilty.
    “We are witches … because we have pointed at the priest,” Zezula fumed as she shoveled straw into a chaff cutter in her barn in the tiny settlement in eastern Poland.     Many parishioners believe she and other mothers of those molested “simply convicted an innocent man”, she said.     Home to about 170 people, Kalinowka is a short drive from the main road, but feels more remote. The Holy Cross church, built in 1880, sits on a hill overlooking rolling farmland and forests full of deer.     Krystyna Kluzniak, hurrying into the well-kept church on a chilly November evening, said people should give the jailed priest a break. “The priest was cool and we miss him,” she said.     The priest, who cannot be named under Polish law, is now on trial again, charged with molesting another child.     His lawyer, Marek Tokarczyk, said he denies the allegations. “We need a fair trial,” Tokarczyk said.     Similar scandals have shaken the Catholic Church and split communities in the United States, Ireland, Australia and elsewhere.     But Poland is one of Europe’s most devout nations, where most people identify as Catholics and the Church is widely revered.    Priests were active in the fight against communism and in 1989, led by a Polish pope, John Paul II, the Church helped overthrow Communist rule.
    Divisions over allegations of abuse are particularly stark here, said Marek Lisinski, the director of “Have no fear,” a group that advocates for victims of clerical abuse.    Parishioners often side with priests and ostracize victims and their families, Lisinski told Reuters.
LANDMARK RULING
    In October, “Have no fear” published a map that revealed the scale of the issue.    It used black crosses to mark places where 60 priests had been convicted of abuses dating back to 1956.
    Afterwards, Lisinski said, people called in to report another 300 cases of suspected abuse by priests which they had not raised with the Church or police for fear they would be doubted or shunned.
    The same month, a Polish court of appeal upheld a landmark ruling which granted a million zloty ($260,000) in compensation to a woman abused by a priest as a child.
    Jaroslaw Gluchowski, a lawyer in Poznan who represents victims of clerical abuse, said the ruling set an important precedent.
    “We’re now at a moment when all victims in Poland are realizing that they’re not alone,” he said.
    In a November statement, Poland’s bishops asked victims of clerical abuse for forgiveness and said the Church had begun collecting data to “identify the causes of these deeds and assess their scale.”
    Archbishop Wojciech Polak, the primate of Poland, told Reuters the Church will publish its findings within six months.
    Polak encouraged victims of clerical abuse to talk to their bishops, who are “obliged to report to the prosecutors’ service all credible cases they get knowledge of.”
    He said he was aware the issue had caused rifts in some communities.    “It is the Church’s responsibility to act in a way that doesn’t create divisions but heals them,” he said.
    Senior bishops from around the world will meet Pope Francis at a conference in the Vatican in February to discuss protection of minors.    Conference organizers have said everyone must be held accountable or the Church risked losing credibility worldwide.
    The issue could also have political ramifications in Poland, Lisinski and other observers say.    The country is due to elect a new parliament by December 2019.
    The Catholic Church has long played a major political role in Poland, making its 25,000 priests not only revered but also influential with voters.
    In December, a report appeared in Gazeta Wyborcza, a leading Polish daily, containing molestation allegations from a woman, Barbara Borowiecka, against the late priest Henryk Jankowski, an iconic figure in the anti-communist Solidarity movement.
    The mayor of Gdansk, the birthplace of Solidarity, asked the Church to investigate the allegations.    Archbishop Polak told Reuters the Jankowski allegations “should be investigated for the good of the Church” and said it was up to bishop of Gdansk to address them.
POLAND’S COLLAPSE
    The ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party won power in 2015 with a blend of patriotism and piety that echoed the religious nationalism of the Church.    In October, a former PiS minister, Antoni Macierewicz, credited the Polish clergy with helping the party win local elections that month.
    Joanna Scheuring-Wielgus, an MP for a small opposition party called Now, is seeking an independent inquiry into child abuse by priests because she says the Church cannot be relied upon to investigate itself.    She says the idea has received no support from PiS or other big parties.
    A PiS spokesperson did not respond to several requests asking whether it supported the idea of an inquiry.
    Ryszard Czarnecki, a PiS MP for the European Parliament, responded to Reuters by asking why the Church should be singled out.
    “I don’t know why we are focusing on one group, as this also concerns different groups – for example, artistic or journalistic ones,” he said.
    About 12 million people, or almost a third of Poland’s population, regularly attend Mass, according to a survey by the Institute for Catholic Church Statistics, a Warsaw-based research center.    The numbers slightly declined from 2015 to 2016, the survey showed.
    Most children attend religious classes, but their numbers are dropping, too.    In Lodz, Poland’s third-largest city, they fell from 80 percent in 2015 to fewer than 50 percent now, according to local government data quoted by the daily Dziennik Lodzki.
    In November, the Church said such trends could have dire consequences.    “Abandoning the Catholic faith and the Christian principles governing our national life and state’s functioning” could lead to Poland’s collapse, it warned in a pastoral letter.
    In Kalinowka, Reuters spoke to seven parishioners.    Most of them were sticking by the convicted priest.    “I have a cousin whose son went to one of his classes and they didn’t see it,” Wieslaw Solowiej, a pensioner, said outside the Kalinowka church.
    Jolanta Zych, whose nine-year-old daughter was among those molested, said neighbors spurned the family.    “I always greet people but some turn their faces from me,” said Zych.
    The other mother Reuters spoke to, Zezula, said her daughter began refusing food after the court case.    “She didn’t want to eat because one woman told her the priest was in jail because of her.”
    During Mass, Zezula said, people shrank away or refused to shake hands during a ritual greeting known as the sign of peace.    She no longer goes to church.
    Piotr Lenart, the current priest, referred questions to the Zamosc-Lubaczow Diocese in which the Kalinowka parish lies.
    Michal Maciolek, a priest and spokesman for the diocese, said it had offered the victims and their families pastoral and psychological help, but this had been rejected.    No financial compensation was offered, because “the diocese can’t take responsibility for the priest’s actions.”
(Additional reporting by Karol Witenburg; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

1/7/2019 Ukraine Orthodox Church marks first Christmas free of Russian ‘fetters’ by Natalia Zinets
Clergymen and officials attend a service marking Orthodox Christmas and celebrating the independence of the
Orthodox Church of Ukraine at the Saint Sophia's Cathedral in Kiev, Ukraine January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
    KIEV (Reuters) – Ukraine’s Orthodox Christian Church celebrated its first Christmas on Monday outside Russian control and President Petro Poroshenko said the document enshrining its newly gained independence had broken “the last fetters tying us to Moscow.”
    Hundreds of Ukrainians queued in the snow after the lavish two-hour liturgy at Kiev’s St Sophia Cathedral to view the document, known as a “Tomos,” which was only handed to the head of the new Church Metropolitan Epifaniy on Sunday.
    Many Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on Jan. 7, not Dec. 25, as they follow a different calendar.
    Accompanied by Poroshenko, Epifaniy processed into the cathedral on Monday carrying the decree, a scrolled white parchment.    White-robed clergy then unfurled it and placed it in front of the iconostasis, a richly decorated screen that separates the sanctuary from the nave in Orthodox churches.
    “For the first time, we celebrate Christmas with an independent autocephalous church,” said Poroshenko after the service.    “It is the basis of our spiritual freedom, we broke the last fetters tying us to Moscow,” said the president, who faces a tough re-election battle this year.
    Russia bitterly opposes the move to grant the Ukrainian Church autocephalous, or self-governing, status, comparing it to the Great Schism of 1054 that divided western and eastern Christianity.
    The Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow has called the leaders of the Ukrainian Church charlatans and schismatics, and President Vladimir Putin has warned of possible bloodshed.
DAY OF JOY
    Despite the snowy weather, hundreds of people watched Monday’s service on a big screen outside because there was not enough space in the packed cathedral to accommodate them.
    “This is the most happy day in the life of every Ukrainian.    And I understand that every soul desires to be here,” Oksana Pasenok, a university professor, told Reuters.
    People formed a long queue after the service to see the decree, which will remain on public display.
    “Today the words of those holy fathers who died for Ukraine, for our freedom, for our liberty, come true,” said Oleksandr Sydoruk, engineer, standing in the queue to see the document.
    “Today, with this ‘Tomos’, our Ukrainian Church and Ukraine revive.    And this is a day of joy for all Ukrainian Orthodox believers.”
    St Sophia Cathedral was built by the son of Prince Volodymyr, whose baptism in 988 led to the spread of Christianity across what are now Ukraine and Russia.
    Russians trace the origins of their own nation to the Kievan state of that era.
    The rupture in inter-church relations mirrors the collapse of political relations between Moscow and Kiev following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its support for separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.
(Reporting by Natalia Zinets, Additional reporting by Sergei Karazy; Editing by Christian Lowe and Gareth Jones)
[
   
    I noted the statement above that Russia traces it origins the Kievan state or Kievan Rus' was a loose federation of East Slavic and Finnic peoples in Europe from the late 9th to the mid-13th century, under the reign of the Varangian Rurik dynasty as seen in the above left image.    The modern nations of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine all claim Kievan Rus' as their cultural ancestors, with Belarus and Russia deriving their names from it.
    But as I show in the above image to the right that biblically from Noah's son Japeth, whose son Magog who settled north of the Black Sea, and is where we get the name "Rosh," Tubal and Meshech
.]

1/7/2019 Activists urge Pope to sack some Polish bishops for not reporting sex abuse cases
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis conducts the Mass for the Feast of Epiphany in
Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican January 6, 2019. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
    WARSAW (Reuters) – Some Polish bishops should lose their jobs after Pope Francis receives a report next month that will accuse them of failing in their duty to report pedophile cases inside the country’s powerful Catholic Church, activists said on Monday.
    The Roman Catholic Church worldwide is reeling from crises involving sexual abuse of minors in a number of countries including Chile, the United States, Australia and Ireland.
    In devoutly Catholic Poland, debate on the issue has barely begun, but the anti-pedophilia foundation “Have no fear” is compiling a report on abuse and said it would soon inform Polish prosecutors of 20 previously unreported sexual crimes.
    “By the end of January we will have a report documenting Polish bishops’ negligence which will be presented in February at the Vatican,” Joanna Scheuring-Wielgus, an activist and lawmaker from the small opposition party “Now,” told a news conference.
    “When it turned out that bishops in Chile had concealed pedophile crimes, they lost their jobs.    Plenty of bishops in Poland should bear the same consequences,” she said.
    Senior bishops from around the world are due to meet Pope Francis at a conference in the Vatican in February to discuss protection of minors.    Organizers say the Church must show full accountability or risk losing further credibility worldwide.
    In its campaign to expose pedophile priests in Poland, “Have no fear” in October posted an interactive pedophilia map on the internet which has seen some five million clicks and prompted about 300 allegations of sexual misconduct by clergy.
    Now the foundation is encouraging victims to report their cases and offers lawyers’ help to those who previously stayed silent for fear they would be doubted or shunned.
    Asked about the report, a spokesman for the Polish Episcopate Conference, Pawel Rytel-Andrianik said:
    “The protection of children and young people is of the utmost importance, which is why the bishops remind (people) that there is an obligation to report cases of abuse to the prosecutor’s office.”
    He declined to comment directly on the report as it had not yet been made available.
    In a November statement, Poland’s bishops asked victims of clerical abuse for forgiveness and said the Church had begun collecting data to assess the scale of crimes.
    About 12 million people, or almost a third of Poland’s population, regularly attend mass, according to a survey by the Institute for Catholic Church Statistics, a Warsaw-based research center.
(Reporting by Marcin Goclowski; Editing by Gareth Jones)

1/7/2019 French cardinal tells court no pedophile cover-up
Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon, arrives after a break in his trial,
charged with failing to act on historical allegations of sexual abuse of boy scouts by a priest in his diocese,
at the courthouse in Lyon, France, January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Emmanuel Foudrot
    LYON, France (Reuters) – The Roman Catholic archbishop of Lyon, the highest-profile cleric to be caught up in the pedophile scandal inside the Catholic Church in France/b>, told a court on Monday he never tried to cover up sexual abuse and was not guilty of anything.
    Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, who stands trial
alongside five others from his diocese, is accused of failing to report allegations of sexual abuse on Boy Scouts in the 1980s and early 1990s by Father Bernard Preynat.
    Preynat has admitted sexual abuse, according to his lawyer, and is due to go on trial later this year.
    “I never sought to conceal or cover up the facts,” Barbarin said on the first day of trial in Lyon.
    “I am grateful justice intervened in this affair, but I didn’t think it was up to me to file a complaint, especially since the victim was told it was too late to act,” he said.
    “I can’t see what I am guilty of.”
    While most of the recent focus in the Church’s global abuse crisis has been on Australia and Chile, Barbarin’s trial puts the spotlight on Europe’s senior clergy again, just as Pope Francis prepares to host a meeting of senior bishops from around the world in Rome next month to discuss the protection of minors.
    Barbarin, who moved to the Lyon diocese in 2002, visited the priest in his parish the same year but said he had not checked Preynat’s file, where mail from parents denouncing the abuse was recorded, before doing so.
    After being officially informed of Preynat’s actions in 2014, Barbarin said he convinced one of the alleged victims, Alexandre Hezez, to write a letter describing the facts, which he passed on to Church hierarchy in Rome.
    He removed the priest from his post in 2015, six months after being told to do so by the Vatican.    “It was to avoid public scandal, just as Rome had suggested,” he told the court.
    Lyon prosecutors had previously investigated Barbarin but dropped the probe in the summer of 2016 without a detailed explanation.    However, an association of alleged victims called Parole Liberee (“Freed Word”) used a provision of French law to compel the cardinal to stand trial.
    Pope Francis has come under fire over the Church’s handling of the spreading sexual abuse crisis.
    He met Barbarin in early 2016, and later told the Catholic newspaper La Croix that it would make no sense for the cardinal to resign before any eventual trial.
(Reporting by Catherine Lagrange in Lyon, Writing by Michel Rose; Editing by Alison Williams)

1/8/2019 Cardinal on trial in France’s biggest church sex abuse trial
    A Catholic cardinal and five other people went on trial Monday, accused of covering up for a pedophile priest who abused Boy Scouts – France’s most important church sex abuse case to date.    The case poses a new challenge to the Vatican, amid growing demands in overwhelmingly Catholic France for a reckoning with decades of sexual abuse by the clergy.
    Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, 68, appeared in a Lyon court Monday along with other senior church officials accused of failing to protect children from alleged abuse by the Rev. Bernard Preynat.

1/9/2019 Filipinos display Catholic devotion in Black Nazarene procession
Catholic devotees wait to touch the statue of the Black Nazarene
on its feast day in Manila, Philippines, Philippines, January 9, 2019. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun
    MANILA (Reuters) – Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos joined an annual procession in the Philippine capital to kiss or touch a centuries-old black wooden statue of Jesus Christ, believed to have miraculous healing powers, in a grand display of Catholic devotion.
    The devotees, mostly walking barefoot, surrounded the carriage bearing the life-sized image of the “Black Nazarene” shouldering a heavy cross as it paraded through the city.
    Many of them, in yellow and maroon shirts, threw white towels to people on the carriage to wipe on the statue, while others jostled to touch the thick ropes used to pull the carriage, believing the slightest touch would bless and heal their illnesses.
    About 80 percent of the more than 100 million people of the Philippines are Roman Catholic.    The Philippines is renowned for its colorful religious rituals, and the celebration of the “Black Nazarene” is a tradition in the former Spanish colony that goes back more than two centuries.
    The increasing number of devotees showed the growing strength of the Catholic faith, Manila auxiliary bishop Broderick Pabillo said in response to criticism that the procession borders on idolatry.
    “Let’s deepen our understanding of spirituality,” Pabillo was quoted by DZMM radio station as saying.
    Wednesday’s procession, which is expected to last around 20 hours, is expected to draw 5 million people, police said.
    It is not known why the statue, which was carved in Mexico, turned black.    There are myths that the original statue donated by Spanish priests was burned as a fire erupted on the ship that carried it to the Philippines in the early 17th century.
    Close to 300,000 were in the Manila procession, based on an early morning estimate by police, excluding those waiting elsewhere along its more than six-kilometer route.
    Thousands of police and soldiers deployed were deployed in the city to provide security, and coast guard boats were also on standby as the huge crowd was expected to cross a narrow bridge later in the afternoon.
(Reporting by Karen Lema and Peter Blaza; Editing by Simon Cameron)

1/10/2019 Philippine president renews attack on Catholic church
FILE PHOTO: President Rodrigo Duterte speaks after his arrival, from a visit in Israel and Jordan
at Davao International airport in Davao City in southern Philippines, September 8, 2018. REUTERS/Lean Daval Jr.
    MANILA (Reuters) – President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday denounced bishops in the Catholic-majority country as “sons of bitches,” renewing his attacks on the church that has criticized him over his bloody war on drugs.
    Duterte, who launched his campaign against drugs when he took office in mid-2016, remains hugely popular but doubts about the campaign, in which thousands of people have been killed, have been growing.
    “Only I can say bishops are sons of bitches, damn you.    That is true,” Duterte said in a speech during a groundbreaking ceremony for a school north of the capital, Manila.
    Duterte did not mention any particular reason for his criticism of the church on Thursday, which included a suggestion that most bishops are homosexual.
    “Most of them are gay,” he said.    “They should come out in the open, cancel celibacy and allow them to have boyfriends.”
    Duterte, who is not a regular church-goer, said early in his presidency that he was sexually abused by a priest when he was a boy.
    The Roman Catholic Church is facing clerical sexual abuse scandals in various parts of the world, although there have been no major cases in the Philippines.
    In previous speeches, Duterte called God “stupid” and described as “silly” the doctrine of Holy Trinity.
    Francis Lucas, an official with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, played down the president’s criticism saying all should show restraint.
    “We have to be more sensitive to the sensitivities and sensibilities of others out of respect,” Lucas told Reuters.
    The president’s crackdown on drugs retains much support but some sectors of the church have become increasingly vocal about the killings, with calls for justice and offers of sanctuary to drug users.
    Some 5,000 people have been killed in police anti-drugs operations in Duterte’s anti-drug drive.     Police reject accusations that the killings were executions, saying drug peddlers and users were killed in shootouts, and police acted in self-defense.
    About 80 percent of the more than 100 million people of the Philippines are Roman Catholic.
(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Additional Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Robert Birsel)

1/16/2019 Disgraced U.S. ex-cardinal could be defrocked soon: Vatican sources by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Theodore McCarrick arrives for a meeting at the Synod Hall in
the Vatican March 4, 2013, when he was a U.S. cardinal. REUTERS/Max Rossi/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Disgraced former U.S. cardinal Theodore McCarrick is almost certain to be defrocked in the next few weeks over allegations against him, including sexual abuse of minors, two Vatican sources said.
    Last July, McCarrick became the first Catholic prelate in nearly 100 years to lose the title of cardinal.    The allegations against him date back to decades ago when he was still rising to the top of the U.S. Church hierarchy.
    McCarrick, 88, has responded publicly to only one of the allegations, saying he has “absolutely no recollection” of an alleged case of sexual abuse of a 16-year-old boy more than 50 years ago.
    McCarrick’s canon lawyer, J. Michael Ritty, and his civil lawyer, Barry Coburn, both declined to be interviewed for this article.    The Vatican said a “canonical process” was taking place and that there would be no comment until it ends.
    Pope Francis, who has the final say in the case, wants it completed before heads of national Catholic churches meet at the Vatican from Feb. 21-24 to discuss what is now a global sexual abuse crisis, three sources said.
    The meeting offers a chance for him to respond to criticism from victims of abuse that he has stumbled in his handling of the crisis and has not done enough to make bishops accountable.
    “It (the defrocking of McCarrick) would be like a trophy to show that the pope is indeed serious about dealing with this.    That is the process that seems to be unfolding,” said Kurt Martens, professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America in Washington.
    McCarrick, who rose to be an important power broker in the American Church as Archbishop of Washington, D.C. from 2001 to 2006, has already received one of the most severe punishments short of defrocking.    When the pope accepted his resignation as cardinal last July, he also ordered him to refrain from public ministry and live in seclusion, prayer and penitence.
    A month earlier, American Church officials said the allegations that McCarrick sexually abused a 16-year-old-boy were “credible and substantiated.”
    One Vatican source with knowledge of the Vatican proceedings said it would be stunning if the pope did not dismiss McCarrick from the clergy, a process known as “laicization.”
    “I don’t know what the alternative would be,” another source said.
    He and the other Vatican sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the case.    One of the sources said that if he is defrocked, McCarrick will be the highest profile Roman Catholic figure to be dismissed from the priesthood in modern times.
    Defrocking would mean McCarrick could no longer call himself a priest or celebrate the sacraments, although he would be allowed to administer to a person on the verge of death in an emergency.
CONFINED TO A KANSAS FRIARY
    McCarrick has been confined to a Franciscan friary in a tiny town in remote northern Kansas.
    In the past few weeks the top officials of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), which handles sexual abuse cases, have been reviewing documentation and testimony about McCarrick, two of the Vatican sources said.
    This is part of what is known as an “administrative process,” which is much more streamlined than a full canonical trial.    It is the path taken when there is an abundance of clear evidence, one of the Vatican sources said.
    The procedures can result in a defrocking decree from the CDF, signed by its prefect Cardinal Luis Francisco Ladaria and approved by the pope.    The pope, who is the Church’s supreme legislator, can also decide to take over the dossier personally and rule on it himself.
    A papal ruling could not be appealed.    A decree by the CDF could be appealed within 60 days.    A third possibility is that the pope could approve a CDF decree but shorten the appeals time so that the case is over before the bishops’ meeting in February.
    Briefing reporters on Wednesday about the upcoming meeting, Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said the pope wants the bishops to “understand laws to be applied, take necessary steps to prevent abuse, care for victims, and make sure that no case is covered up or buried.”
    A Vatican source confirmed that McCarrick was accused of sexual misconduct involving a child, sexual misconduct involving an adult, and solicitation.
    Solicitation is a separate crime under canon law and refers to when a priest uses the pretext of the sacrament of confession to commit an immoral act with a penitent.
    Separately, several priests and ex-priests have come forward alleging McCarrick used his authority to coerce them to sleep with him when they were adult seminarians studying for the priesthood.
    McCarrick has not commented publicly on these allegations.
    Pope Francis ordered a “thorough study” last year of all documents in Holy See offices concerning McCarrick.    The four U.S. dioceses where he served – New York, Metuchen, Newark, and Washington, D.C. – have launched independent investigations.
    On Monday, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who last August accused the pope of covering up for McCarrick, issued a letter urging McCarrick to publicly repent for his “sins, crimes and sacrileges,” saying such a gesture would bring “healing to a gravely wounded and suffering Church.”
(Editing by Timothy Heritage)

1/19/2019 Louisville Catholics gather in solidarity with March for Life by Maggie Menderski, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    Roughly 40 people gathered at the Cathedral of the Assumption on Friday night in solidarity with the thousands who participated in the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., earlier that morning.
    Louisville’s annual Walk for Life started 11 years ago as a way for the Catholic Church’s young people to advocate for their beliefs against abortion and their stance on other life-related issues, but over the years it’s grown to include people of all ages, said Karl Dolson, the director of the Office of Youth and Young Adults for the Archdiocese of Louisville.    The walk has seen as many as 120 people in the past.
    Abortion has been front and center recently in the Kentucky legislature, where Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate have filed bills that would halt abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually around six weeks into a pregnancy.
    Natalie Young, a junior at Assumption High School, typically goes to the March for Life in Washington, an annual rally near the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that protests the practice and the legality of abortion.
    She couldn’t make it this year, but the Walk for Life gave her an opportunity to share her beliefs at the local level.    “I’m really passionate about rights for people to live,” she said.    “I’m against abortion and things like the death penalty.    I just wanted to come and advocate for what I believe in. … I hope that people see that we’re here for partly our faith and what we believe in, but we want to help people to make a decision to respect life.”    Not everyone can make it to Washington to march, and it’s important to provide a more accessible way for people in Louisville to voice their opinions, Dolson said.
    Abortion is the issue that typically makes it into the headlines, Dolson said, but Friday night’s 1.5 mile walk was about more than that.    The evening — which had stops at the Jefferson County courthouse, a women’s clinic, downtown hospitals and the spot where Thomas Merton is said to have had his epiphany — was a prayer, not a protest, Dolson said.
    The marchers weren’t carrying picket signs, and over the course of the evening they were to publicly pray about several issues, including the death penalty, elderly care and poverty.
    “I think people take notice when youth step up and take a stand on things,” Dolson said.        “I think that’s important, and it also provides an opportunity for young people to have an opinion and to have a stance on an issue that is very much in reality a life or death issue.”
Jennifer Dolson and daughter Aubrey. JOHN SOMMERS II/SPECIAL TO COURIER JOURNAL
[Even though the Catholic Church has struggled with sexual abuse issues with children they at least do not like abortion.].

1/20/2019 AG: New Jersey priest arrested after sex abuse hotline call
    Authorities say the b>arrest of a New Jersey priest on sexual assault charges dating back almost three decades came just two days after a call to the state’s clergy abuse hotline.
    NJ.com reported that the state attorney general’s office said the Rev. Thomas Ganley, parochial vicar at St. Philip and St. James Catholic Church in Phillipsburg, was arrested Wednesday on aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault charges.    He was a priest at St. Cecelia Church in Woodbridge when the alleged assaults took place between 1990 and 1994.

1/20/2019 From pariah to demi-god: transgender leader a star at massive Indian festival by Alasdair Pal
Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, chief of the "Kinnar Akhara" congregation for transgender people
speaks to her followers during "Kumbh Mela," or the Pitcher Festival, in Prayagraj, previously known as
Allahabad, India, January 16, 2019. Picture taken January 16, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
    PRAYAGRAJ, India (Reuters) – In a desert tent guarded by armed police and a thick-set bouncer, Laxmi Narayan Tripathi is blessing a constant stream of pilgrims, who garland her with marigolds and kneel to touch her feet.
    Tripathi, a tattooed transgender leader and a former reality TV star, has become an unlikely icon at India’s Kumbh Mela, a huge religious festival being held on the banks of the Ganges river in the city of Prayagraj.    Up to 150 million people are expected to attend by the time the festival ends in March.
    On Tuesday, her religious movement, called the Kinnar Akhada, became the first transgender group to bathe at the confluence of the holy Ganges and the Yamuna rivers on the first day of the ancient festival, traditionally reserved for reclusive Hindu priests, almost all of whom are men.
    “After centuries down the line, it was when the community finally got its due,” Tripathi told Reuters, seated on a pedestal next to her Michael Kors bag, juggling calls on an iPhone.
    Many at the festival cheer Tripathi for reclaiming the lost place in Hinduism for India’s “third gender,” known as the hijras, worshipped as demi-gods for thousands of years, but ridiculed and sidelined during British colonial rule.
    A law passed in 1871 classed the hijras as “criminals.”
    Little changed after independence and hijras were pariahs, living in tribes, begging or soliciting for sustenance and harassed by police.
    It was only in 2014 that the Supreme Court officially recognized transgender people as a third gender.
    Tripathi is one of the best known.    But her support for building a controversial Hindu temple on the site of a demolished mosque has angered some in the LGBT community, who allege she is courting support from India’s powerful religious right to further her own influence.
FALL AND RISE
    The place of hijras in Indian culture dates back to the Ramayana, a more-than 2,000 year-old Hindu epic poem venerated and performed across India.
    In the text, the god-king Ram is exiled from the holy city of Ayodhya, with the entire kingdom following him into the forest.    He orders them to turn back, but returning after 14 years, finds the hijras waiting for him in the same spot.    Impressed by their devotion, he grants them the power to invoke blessings and curses on people.
    For centuries, though their lives were far from easy, hijras held a special role in India’s royal courts, tasked with guarding harems and rising to influential positions.
    Today, despite their legal recognition, many still face prejudice in what is a conservative country, forced into sex work or seeking alms at weddings and births, a long-held practice among hijras.    Hate crimes against them are common and HIV prevalence within the community is many times higher than the general population.
    “The ritual seeking of alms is now seen as begging,” said Anindya Hajra, a transgender activist at the Pratyay Gender Trust.    “It criminalizes and pushes an already vulnerable community to its very brink.”
COLORFUL LIFE
    Born in 1979 in Thane, a suburb of India’s financial capital Mumbai, Tripathi says she had a difficult childhood scarred with abuse by a close relative.    A sickly child who was bullied at school for being feminine, she grew in confidence after learning Bharatanatyam, a classical Indian dance.
    “I chose not to remember the prejudice,” she said.    “Rather I think (about) the good things that have happened to me, and be a flamboyant rainbow.”
    Long recognized as one of the most influential figures in the LGBT community in India, she become famous across the country when she appeared on reality TV show “Bigg Boss” in 2011.    She was a petitioner in the landmark court ruling that recognized transgender people.
    In 2015, she founded her Akhara and began a campaign to have hijras represented at the at the first “Shahi Snan,” or royal bath, of the Kumbh Mela.
    “It all started to reclaim the lost position in the dharma,” Tripathi said, referring to the Hindu cosmic law underlying correct behavior and social order.    “I was not very religious until 2015 – life changed.”
ANCIENT TRADITION
    Devout Hindus believe bathing in the waters of the Ganges absolves people of sins and doing so at the time of the Kumbh Mela, or the “festival of the pot,” brings salvation from the cycle of life and death.
    At the festival, 13 religious orders, or Akhara, set up camp on the banks of the Ganges.
    The umbrella body overseeing the Akharas initially refused to recognize the Kinnar Akhara as the 14th order.
    But Tripathi has forged close bonds with the largest of the other holy orders at the Kumbh Mela, the Juna Akhara.    They agreed to bathe together.
    On the first royal bathing day on Tuesday, Tripathi rose at 4 a.m., dressed in a saffron sari and applied her makeup.    She and her dozens of disciples then began the long procession to the river on a fleet of elaborately decorated trucks.
    At the banks of the Ganges, they waited for their turn to bathe.    Tripathi met with Hari Giri, the leader of Juna Akhara.
    Her Kinnar Akhara “was there, is there, and will always be there”, Giri told Tripathi.
    Shortly after sunrise, she plunged into the waters, to the cheers of the crowds who gathered to watch.
DIVISIVE FIGURE
    Tripathi has courted controversy with support for the building of a temple dedicated to Ram on the site of a former mosque in Ayodhya which was demolished by hardline Hindus in 1992, leading to riots in which thousands died.
    Many Hindus claim the mosque was built over an ancient temple that marked the birthplace of Ram, and the row is expected to be a major issue in a general election due to be held in the country by May.    Many activists of India’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party have been agitating for the construction of a temple at the site, alarming the country’s sizeable Muslim minority.
    “There has been an attempt by the right to co-opt trans voices to suit a certain version of history,” said Hajra, the activist.    “Our apprehension is also that some are trying to further (their) own personal career moves.”
    A letter signed in November by hundreds of transgender people and rights groups accused Tripathi of fuelling “the right-wing politics of communal hatred.”
    She is unrepentant.
    “Where my Lord Ram was born, there the temple has to come,” she said.    The Mughals “brought (the temple) down and then they enslaved us all,” she said, referring to the Muslim emperors who ruled India in the 16th and 17th century.
    Tripathi plans to spend the rest of the Kumbh festival at her Akhara, receiving visitors among her colorful band of followers, who have little in common with the holy men living monastic lives in the other camps.
    “We are not celibate,” she said.    “We are demi-gods, not saints.    We have our own rules.”
(Reporting by Alasdair Pal and Sunil Kataria)
[These countries have so many deities, so why not add a few more transgender gods to the list.].

1/21/2019 Ex-vicar general: Vatican knew of bishop’s misdeeds by Almudena Calatrava, Natacha Pisarenko and Nicole Winfield, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    ORAN, Argentina – The Vatican received information in 2015 and 2017 that an Argentine bishop close to Pope Francis had taken naked selfies, exhibited “obscene” behavior and had been accused of misconduct with seminarians, his former vicar general told The Associated Press, undermining Vatican claims that allegations of sexual abuse were only made a few months ago.
    Francis accepted Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta’s resignation in August 2017, after priests in the remote northern Argentine diocese of Oran complained about his authoritarian rule and a former vicar, seminary rector and another prelate provided reports to the Vatican alleging abuses of power, inappropriate behavior and sexual harassment of adult seminarians, said the former vicar, the Rev. Juan Jose Manzano.
    The scandal over Zanchetta, 54, is the latest to implicate Francis as he and the Catholic hierarchy as a whole face an unprecedented crisis of confidence over their mishandling of cases of clergy sexual abuse of minors and misconduct with adults.
    Francis has summoned church leaders to a summit next month to chart the course forward for the universal church, but his own actions in individual cases are increasingly in the spotlight.
    The pope’s decision to allow Zanchetta to resign quietly, and then promote him to the No. 2 position in one of the Vatican’s most sensitive offices, has raised questions again about whether Francis turned a blind eye to misconduct of his allies and dismissed allegations against them as ideological attacks.
    Manzano, Oran’s vicar general under Zanchetta who is now a parish priest, said he was one of the diocesan officials who raised the alarm about his boss in 2015 and sent the digital selfies to the Vatican.    In an interview with AP, Manzano said he was one of the three current and former diocesan officials who made a second complaint to the Vatican’s embassy in Buenos Aires in May or June of 2017 “when the situation was much more serious, not just because there had been a question about sexual abuses, but because the diocese was increasingly heading into the abyss.”
    Francis had named Zanchetta to Oran, a humble city some 1,025 miles northwest of Buenos Aires in Salta province, in 2013 in one of his first Argentine bishop appointments as pope.    He knew Zanchetta well; Zanchetta had been the executive undersecretary of the Argentine bishops conference, which the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio headed for two successive terms, from 2005 to 2011.
    Earlier this month, the Vatican confirmed that the new bishop of Oran had opened a preliminary canonical investigation into Zanchetta for alleged sexual abuse.    But Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti stressed in a Jan. 3 statement that the abuse allegations had only emerged at the end of 2018, after Zanchetta’s resignation and nearly a year after Francis created the new position for him as “assessor” of the Vatican’s financial management office.
    At the time of his resignation, Zanchetta had only asked Francis to let him leave Oran because he had difficult relations with its priests and was “unable to govern the clergy,” Gisotti said in the statement.
Pope Francis accepted former Oran Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta’s
resignation in August 2017 after priests rebelled under his rule. AP FILE

1/20/2019 A New Super Blood Wolf Moon Appeared At 9:30 P.M. Sunday But Not The Great, Terrible Day of Jehovah, But Will Come Again in August 2021
    I want to remind those reading this as I have written that if the year 2017 A.D. is related to Rev. 6:17 then there may be hope for believers if the first six seals have been opened.    Most of the Baby Boomer generation would be in their 70’s by this time in the future and if physically able would see these events take place.    A secret must occur between the years 2018 through 2022, or the visions were sealed up for the great day of God’s wrath.
    Six Seals times Twelve years equals 72 years is fulfilled.    Rev. 6:11 (White Robes)
   Rev. 6:11 And white robes (‘Leukos’ symbolically bright clothing)
were given to every one of them ( the white robes, indicate light, joy, and triumphant victory over their foes );
and they were told to rest for just a little while longer (some mss "shall rest a little season," as in short when compared to eternity. The word season, Greek chronus, is one thousand one hundred and eleven one-ninth years [1,111 1/9], and a time, in Rev. 12:12, 14, Greek kairos, is a fifth of a season, i.e., two hundred and twenty-two two-ninths years [222 2/9]. This equates to 1333 1/3, Isaiah 57:2 "He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness," and Daniel 12:12 "Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days [1335]"), Emphasis mine: Dan. 12:11 From the time that the daily sacrifices are removed and the Horrible Thing is set up to be worshipped will be 1290 days, Three and a half years as in verse 7 plus one month; 43 Months.
    Dan. 12:12-13 Blessed is he that makes it to the 1335th day; (this is 45 days longer than the days in verse 11; 44.5 months; So for the above eclipse on January 20, 2019 A.D. + 45 = 2022.7 A.D. close to July-August, and surely the completion of the sixth twelve year periods)
    But go on now to the end of your life and your rest; for you will rise again and have your full share of those last days--at the end of the days.
    Dan. 12:13 "But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days."]
until their fellow servants (Servants of Jesus; true believers who refused the mark and suffered the wrath of antichrist; some speculate that the full number of the elect is fixed, perhaps to fill up the void of the fallen angels.)
also and their brothers, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
[The above is just food for thought.].

1/22/2019 Gabriel’s journey: A transgender Spaniard makes the change by Susana Vera
Transgender teenager Gabriel Diaz de Tudanca, 17, hangs out with some trans friends
at a park in Madrid, Spain, August 3, 2016. "My friends, both cisgender (people whose gender identity matches the sex
they were assigned at birth) and trans are really important to me. They helped me overcome my fears of coming out to my parents,"
Diaz de Tudanca said. REUTERS/Susana Vera
    MADRID (Reuters) – Gabriel Diaz de Tudanca is a 19-year-old Spaniard who, although born a girl, identified as male from early childhood.
    “When I was three years old I came back from school and said to my mother that when I grew up I was going to be a man called Oscar,” he says.
    Supported by his family and friends, he has undergone surgery and hormone treatments, changed his name and renewed his identity documents to reflect what he feels is his true gender.
    Reuters photographer Susana Vera accompanied him for three years through his process of change.
    In terms of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) rights, Spain ranks relatively high in surveys.    But authorities require a mental health diagnosis before allowing gender change on official documents, as being transgender is classed a mental illness.
    This is the case in the majority of European countries.
    “I didn’t take it that badly, being diagnosed as ‘mentally ill’,” he says.    “But I feel angry that you have to get that diagnosis to be able to change documents, get hormone treatment or surgery.”
    The World Health Organisation ruled in June that being transgender should no longer be classified as a mental disorder.    It now considers “gender incongruence” under sexual health conditions.
    At 17, Diaz de Tudanca started with hormone treatments aimed at developing secondary sex characteristics such as voice deepening and a masculine pattern of hair and fat distribution.    Around two years ago he underwent surgery to remove his breasts.
    “It was a huge change in my life,” he says of no longer having breasts.    “It’s a great liberation.”
    He is now accepted socially as a man, although he has received rejection from some.    One childhood male friend said he would not consider him a man as he didn’t have a penis.
    Now dating a girl, Diaz de Tudanca is proud of his transgender identity and has taken part in a Madrid council awareness campaign to prevent hate crime, putting his face to a series of posters that appeared around the city’s metro network.
    “The hate and intolerance of others comes from ignorance about trans people,” he says.
Click on https://reut.rs/2FiOYC9 to see a related photo essay.
(Reporting By Susana Vera, Writing by Sonya Dowsett. Editing by Patrick Johnston and John Stonestreet)

1/22/2019 Pope trip to Panama will highlight migration, poverty, rights by Philip Pullella
A group of nuns are seen on the street, ahead of Pope Francis' visit
in Panama City, Panama January 21, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis heads to Panama on Wednesday where he is expected to highlight the problems of poverty, immigration and human rights at a gathering of young Catholics.
    The Jan. 23-28 trip for the Church’s World Youth Day will be Francis’ first to Central America, a region that has been caught up in a migration crisis as thousands of people try to make their way north to the United States to seek asylum or jobs.
    When he visited Mexico in February 2016, Francis criticized then presidential candidate Donald Trump’s pledge to build a wall along the border with Mexico to curb illegal immigration.
    “Many of the young people in that region are immigrants … I think we can expect references (to the migration crisis) from the Holy Father,” Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti told reporters.
    The border wall is again a hot topic in the United States, which is in the throes of a partial government shutdown as now President Trump is insisting on his demand to fund the barrier as part of any bill to fully reopen the government.
    Since mid-October, thousands of Central Americans, mostly from Honduras, have traveled north through Mexico in a caravan, some walking much of the long trek to try to reach the United States.
    At that time, Francis denounced “a wave of closure toward the foreigner.”
    Many migrants are seeking asylum, saying they suffer from violence and human rights abuses in their native countries.    Those topics are also expected to be themes of the trip, papal aides say.
    The 82-year-old Francis, now in the sixth year of his papacy, is also scheduled to visit a juvenile prison and a hospice for AIDS sufferers.
    World Youth Day, held in a different city about every three years, has been dubbed the “Catholic Woodstock,” a jamboree where young people celebrate their faith and discuss social issues.
    About 150,000 have registered for this year’s event, being held in Latin America for only the third time since the late Pope John Paul instituted it in 1985.
    Several hundred thousand people are expected at the final Mass at a park on Sunday that will be open to all residents and visitors to the country of 4 million people, which is about 89 percent Catholic.
    Francis told Reuters in June he had wanted to make a stop in nearby El Salvador to pray at the tomb of Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was shot by a right-wing death squad in 1980 because of his denunciations of human rights abuses and government repression.
    Francis later decided to make a longer trip to El Salvador sometime in the future.    But many young people from the country will travel to Panama to help the pope commemorate Romero, who was made a saint last October and is considered an icon of the Latin American Church.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Alison Williams)
[Hey. Trump I got the solution to the migrant caravans, load them all on a boat and send them to Italy to trek to the Vatican.].

1/23/2019 Pope says fear of migrants can make people crazy
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis leads a mass to mark the World Day of Peace in
Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, January 1, 2019. REUTERS/Tony Gentile/File Photo
    ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (Reuters) – Pope Francis suggested on Wednesday that hostility to immigrants was driven by irrational fear, as he headed to Central America, a staging area from where migrants try to enter the United States.
    U.S. President Donald Trump has asked Congress to provide him with $5.7 billion to help fund a U.S.-Mexico border wall to keep migrants out – a demand the Democrats refuse to meet, leading to a partial shutdown of the federal government.
    One of the reporters flying with the Pope to Panama told him he had recently seen a barrier designed to deter migrants that juts out into the Pacific Ocean in San Diego, the western edge of the U.S. border with Mexico, and described it as a “folly.”
    “Fear makes us crazy,” Francis replied.
    Immigration is expected to be one of the main themes of the pope’s six-day trip to Panama.    Underscoring his firm focus on the issue, Francis met eight refugees living in Rome before heading to the airport for his flight.
    The Jan. 23-28 visit to Panama for the Church’s World Youth Day is the pope’s first foreign trip of 2019.
    The 82-year-old pontiff is also scheduled to visit the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Romania this year, and said a visit to Japan was on the cards.
    “I am going to Japan in November.    Get ready,” he told reporters on board his plane.
    Francis said he also wanted to visit Iraq but had been advised it was still too dangerous.
    A Vatican official said last year that Pope Francis would consider the possibility of an unprecedented visit to North Korea.    He said such a trip would need “serious preparation” and there has been no sign that it might happen any time soon.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Writing by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Gareth Jones)

1/24/2019 Pope, on trip to Panama, says fear of migrants makes people crazy by Philip Pullella and Diego Oré
Pope Francis waves from his Popemobile as he arrives for World Youth Day in Panama City, Panama January 23, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero
    PANAMA CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis wasted no time wading in on the standoff over funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall on Wednesday as he started his trip to Panama, saying on the plane from Rome that hostility to immigrants was driven by irrational fear.
    In a brief conversation between the pope and journalists on the flight, one reporter described the barrier that juts out into the Pacific Ocean between the two countries in San Diego, California, as a “folly.”
    Francis, who has made defense of migrants a key part of his papacy, responded: “Fear makes us crazy.”
    President Donald Trump, with whom the pope has sparred before on immigration, has triggered a U.S. government shutdown over demands for $5.7 billion in funding for a wall along the United States’ southern border.
    Immigration is expected to be one of the main themes of Francis’s six-day trip.    The pope met eight refugees in Rome before heading to the airport for his 13-hour flight to Panama for World Youth Day.
    Since mid-October, thousands of Central Americans, mostly from Honduras, have traveled north to the United States through Mexico in caravans, some walking much of the way.
    Many are seeking asylum, saying they suffer from rampant crime and bleak opportunities in their native countries.
    “Nobody wants to leave their country but young Salvadorans are doing it searching for opportunities, employment, security,” said Edwin Valiente, a 28-year-old architecture student who came to Panama from El Salvador for Francis’ visit.
    Francis, on his first trip to Panama and the first by a pope since 1983, was greeted at the airport by President Juan Carlos Varela and thousands of cheering children.
    World Youth Day has been dubbed the “Catholic Woodstock,” a jamboree where young people celebrate their faith and discuss social issues. It is held in a different city every three years.
    About 150,000 have registered for this year’s event, being held in Latin America for only the third time since Pope John Paul instituted it in 1985.
    Several hundred thousand people are expected at the final Mass at a park on Sunday that will be open to all visitors and citizens of the country of 4 million people, which is about 89 percent Catholic.
(Additional reorting by Elida Moreno; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

1/24/2019 Pope says killing of women has become ‘plague’ in Latin America by Philip Pullella and Diego Oré
A participant records on a mobile phone during a meeting of Pope Francis
with cardinals and bishops from Central America at the Saint Francis of Assisi church during World Youth Day
in Panama City, Panama January 24, 2019. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
    PANAMA CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis urged Latin America’s leaders on Thursday to shun corruption and tackle gang violence, drug trafficking and the killing of women, which he said had become a “plague” in his native continent.
    Francis, on the first full day of his trip to Panama for a Catholic youth festival, also addressed migration for the second straight day, saying more had to be done to overcome fears and suspicions because most migrants were seeking a better life for their families.
    In a meeting with bishops from Central America, Francis said many young people found themselves “boxed in and lacking opportunities, amid highly conflictual situations with no quick solution: domestic violence, the killing of women – our continent is experiencing a plague in this regard – armed gangs and criminals, drug trafficking ….
    At least 2,795 women were victims of femicide in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2017, according to government data provided to the UN’s Latin American economic commission, ECLAC.
    In El Salvador this phenomenon is particularly acute, with a rate of 10.2 femicides per 100,000 women in 2017, ECLAC said.
    The pope said families had been “broken by an economic system that did not prioritize persons and the common good but made speculation its ‘paradise’.”
    The Vatican issued a statement saying the pope was following events in Venezuela.
    In a separate address to Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela and the diplomatic corps, Francis said the continent’s young people were demanding that their political leaders live honestly, transparently, simply, and “be opposed to all forms of corruption.”
    Last year, a Transparency International report on corruption in Latin America showed that more than half of people surveyed in 20 countries believed their government was failing to address corruption and one in three said they had to pay a bribe for public services.
    Francis praised those in the Latin American Church, who, like assassinated Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, had tried to keep the truth alive “in the face of injustice, the spread of poverty, and the abuse of power.”
    Romero, a champion of the poor, became a human rights icon in Latin America when he was killed by a right-wing death squad in 1980 while he was saying Mass.    He was made a saint last year.
    Romero’s path to sainthood had stalled under two previous popes, reflecting concerns by some bishops in Latin America and the Vatican that he was overly political.    But Francis speeded it up after his election as the first Latin American pope in 2013.
    In the past, Francis criticized bishops who spoke badly of Romero even after his assassination, saying they had defamed and slandered him.    On Thursday, Francis said Romero’s name had become “a dirty word” for some.
    Francis told Reuters in June he had wanted to make a stop in nearby El Salvador during his Panama visit to pray at Romero’s tomb.    Francis later decided to make a longer trip to El Salvador sometime in the future.
(Additional reporting by Christine Murrary and Anthony Esposito; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

1/25/2019 Pope says killing of women has become ‘plague’ in Latin America by Philip Pullella and Diego Oré
Pope Francis attends the opening ceremony for World Youth Day at the
Coastal Beltway in Panama City, Panama January 24, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero
    PANAMA CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis urged Latin America’s leaders on Thursday to shun corruption and tackle gang violence, drug trafficking and the killing of women, which he said had become a “plague” in his native continent.
    Francis also addressed migration for the second straight day, saying more had to be done to overcome fears and suspicions because migrants were seeking a better life.
    In a meeting with bishops from Central America, Francis said many young people found themselves “boxed in and lacking opportunities, amid highly conflictual situations with no quick solution: domestic violence, the killing of women – our continent is experiencing a plague in this regard – armed gangs and criminals, drug trafficking ….
    At least 2,795 women were victims of femicide in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2017, according to government data provided to the UN’s Latin American economic commission, ECLAC.
    In El Salvador this phenomenon is particularly acute, with a rate of 10.2 femicides per 100,000 women in 2017, ECLAC said.
    The pope said families had been “broken by an economic system that did not prioritize persons and the common good but made speculation its ‘paradise’.”
    On Thursday evening, several hundred thousand young people took part in the opening ceremony of the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day – the reason for the pope’s visit – and heard Francis tell them to have the courage to change things.
    In a morning address to Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela and the diplomatic corps, Francis said the continent’s young people were demanding that their political leaders live honestly, transparently, simply, and “be opposed to all forms of corruption.”
    Last year, a Transparency International report on corruption in Latin America showed that more than half of people surveyed in 20 countries believed their government was failing to address corruption and one in three said they had to pay a bribe for public services.
    Francis praised those in the Latin American Church, who, like assassinated Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, had tried to keep the truth alive “in the face of injustice, the spread of poverty, and the abuse of power.”
    Romero, a champion of the poor, became a human rights icon in Latin America when he was killed by a right-wing death squad in 1980 while he was saying Mass. He was made a saint last year.
    Romero’s path to sainthood had stalled under two previous popes, reflecting concerns by some bishops in Latin America and the Vatican that he was overly political. But Francis speeded it up after his election as the first Latin American pope in 2013.
    In the past, Francis criticized bishops who spoke badly of Romero even after his assassination, saying they had defamed and slandered him.    On Thursday, Francis said Romero’s name had become “a dirty word” for some.
    Francis told Reuters in June he had wanted to make a stop in nearby El Salvador during his Panama visit to pray at Romero’s tomb.    Francis later decided to make a longer trip to El Salvador sometime in the future.
(Additional reporting by Christine Murrary and Anthony Esposito; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Cynthia Osterman)

1/25/2019 Pope visits youth jail in Panama, urges second chance for all inmates by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis hears a confession of an inmate at a juvenile detention center in Pacora, Panama, January 25, 2019. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
    PANAMA CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis visited a juvenile jail in Panama on Friday to comfort young people who could not leave to attend a global gathering of Catholic youth, and the pontiff urged society to give offenders everywhere a second chance.
    Francis, 82, traveled by car to the town of Pacora, east of Panama City, for a prayer service with the 200 juvenile inmates at the institution, considered a model one for Latin America.
    The young inmates are required to take vocational training courses and are helped by a team of social workers, psychologists and teachers.
    Francis, a strong supporter of rehabilitation of inmates and an opponent of life imprisonment, has visited many prisons in Italy and on his overseas trips.
    He has called for a worldwide ban on the death penalty and under his watch last year the Catholic Church formally changed its teaching to declare capital punishment inadmissible in any circumstance.
    “Friends, each of us is much more than our labels,” Francis told the young inmates, urging them to embark on a path of change and appealing to society to accept them.
    “A society grows sick when it is unable to celebrate change in its sons and daughters.    A community grows sick when it lives off relentless, negative and heartless complaining,” said the pope, who heard the confessions of five inmates during the visit.
    “But a society is fruitful when it is able to generate processes of inclusion and integration, of caring and trying to create opportunities and alternatives that can offer new possibilities to the young, to build a future through community, education and employment,” he said.
    One out of every three criminals in Latin America are repeat offenders and the majority commit crimes that are more serious than those for which they were first jailed, according to a study by the Inter-American Development Bank.
    Most jails in Latin America are overcrowded, with little state control and where drugs, sex and weapons are commercialized, the study said.
    Francis is on a six-day trip to Panama centered on the Roman Catholic Church’s World Youth Day celebrations.
    Held in a different city about every three years, it has been dubbed the “Catholic Woodstock,” a jamboree where young people celebrate their faith and discuss social issues.
    Francis presided at the opening ceremony before more than 100,000 people on Thursday night and leads a “Via Crucis” (Way of the Cross) service with the young people later on Friday.
    So far, he has also delved into social issues, urging Latin America’s leaders on Thursday to shun corruption and tackle gang violence, drug trafficking and the killing of women, which he said had become a “plague” in his native continent.
    Francis has also addressed migration, saying more had to be done to overcome fears and suspicions because migrants were merely seeking a better life for themselves and their families.
(Additional reporting by Diego Ore; Editing by David Gregorio)

1/26/2019 Pope says weary Church ‘wounded by her own sin,’ in reference to abuse by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis speaks as he holds a mass at Church Cathedral Basilica Santa Maria La Antigua
during World Youth Day in Panama City, Panama January 26, 2019. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
    PANAMA CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis said on Saturday the Roman Catholic Church was weary and “wounded by her own sin,” in an apparent reference to the global sexual abuse crisis.
    Francis made the comment in the homily of Mass for priests, nuns, and members of Catholic lay organizations in Panama City’s newly renovated cathedral of Santa Maria Antigua, the first in mainland America, which was completed in 1716.
    The pope, who is in Panama for a global gathering of Catholic youth, has called a summit of the heads of national Catholic churches at the Vatican from Feb. 21-24 to discuss what is now a global sexual abuse crisis.
    The February meeting offers a chance for him to respond to criticism from victims of abuse that he has stumbled in his handling of the crisis and has not done enough to make bishops accountable.
.     In his homily, Francis spoke of “The weariness of hope (that) comes from seeing a Church wounded by her own sin” and of a Church “which so often failed to hear all those cries.”
    He used the words “weary,” “wearisome” or “weariness” about 20 times in the homily.
    Brenda Noriega, a youth minister from San Bernardino, California, who was in a delegation that had lunch with the pope, said she brought up the sexual abuse crisis in the United States.
    “The pope said it is a horrible crime.    He reminded us that it is important to accompany the victims, to walk with them, and to be a united Church,” she told reporters afterwards.
    Last year was an “annus horribilis” for the pope, with abuse crises exploding in several countries, particularly Chile and the United States.
    Following accusations of a cover up of abuse in Chile, all 34 of the country’s bishops offered their resignations.    Francis has so far accepted seven of them but has also defrocked two Chilean bishops accused of molesting minors.
    Last August, the Church in the United States was rocked by a damning grand jury report on the sexual abuse of children by priests in Pennsylvania over a 70-year period.
    Francis has urged predator priests who have sexually abused minors to turn themselves in, and has acknowledged that the Church had made serious errors in the past.
    Before leaving for Panama, Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said a meeting between the pope and victims of clergy abuse was not on the schedule.    On past trips, however, such meetings were announced only after they took place.
    During the morning Mass, Francis led an elaborate service in which he consecrated the basilica’s new altar, donning a white apron over his vestments as he rubbed it down with holy oil and blessed it with incense.
    Relics of three Latin American saints – Saint Rosa of Lima, Saint Oscar Romero and Saint Martin de Porres – as well as a relic of Saint John Paul II, were installed in the altar.
    Romero, a champion of the poor, was killed by a right-wing death squad in San Salvador in 1980 and was made a saint by Pope Francis in 2018.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; editing by Diane Craft and Jonathan Oatis)

1/27/2019 Pope winds up Panama global youth gathering with big outdoor Mass by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis holds a mass at Saint Paul II Metro Park during World Youth Day
in Panama City, Panama January 27, 2019. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
    PANAMA CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis said an open-air Mass before a huge crowd on Sunday to wrap up a jamboree of Catholic youth, the last big event before he returns to Rome to prepare for a historic trip to the Arabian Peninsula in one week.
    Organizers said about 700,000 people attended the closing Mass of World Youth Day, which takes place in a different city every three years.    The next jamboree, which has been dubbed the “Catholic Woodstock,” will be in Lisbon, Portugal, in 2022.
    Many of the young people in the crowd spent the night on the fields of a park named after Pope John Paul, who was the last pontiff to visit Panama, in 1983.
    In his closing homily at the Mass, which started unusually early at 8 a.m., because of the sweltering tropical heat, Francis urged the young people to work against “fear and exclusion, speculation and manipulation.”
    After a week at the Vatican, Francis leaves on Sunday for a three-day trip to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, where he will become the first pope to visit the Arabian Peninsula and say the first Mass in a public venue there.    There are about one million Roman Catholics in the UAE, all of them expatriate workers.
    The freedom to practice Christianity — or any religion other than Islam — is not a given in the Gulf and varies from country to country. In the UAE and Kuwait, Christians may worship in churches or church compounds and in other places with special licenses.    Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest sites, bans the practice of other religions.
    During the Panama trip, the themes of migration and the Church’s sexual abuse crisis loomed large.
    Francis said at one event that it was “senseless and irresponsible” to stigmatize migrants and see all of them as threats to society, weighing in again on one of the most divisive issues in the United States.
    He spoke several times of the need for “bridges, not walls,” again putting himself at odds with U.S. President Donald Trump, who on Friday agreed under mounting pressure to end a 35-day partial U.S. government shutdown but without getting the $5.7 billion he had demanded from Congress for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
    Trump has repeatedly warned about the dangers of illegal immigrants, and said the wall would help solve the problem.
    On Saturday, Francis said the Roman Catholic Church was weary and “wounded by her own sin,” in an apparent reference to the global sexual abuse crisis.
    Later, at a lunch with a delegation of young people, he told the American representative that clergy sexual abuse was a “horrible crime” and that the Church should be united in fighting it.
    Francis has called a summit of the heads of national Catholic churches at the Vatican Feb. 21-24 to discuss what is now a global sexual abuse crisis.
    The February meeting offers a chance for him to respond to criticism from victims of abuse that he has stumbled in his handling of the crisis and has not done enough to make bishops accountable.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

1/27/2019 Stiletto races and hula hoops at Pride festival in Myanmar
People take part in the Stiletto race of the Drag Olympics at Yangon Pride
festival in Yangon, Myanmar, January 27, 2019. REUTERS/Matthew Tostevin
    YANGON (Reuters) – Contestants ran a stiletto race and swirled hula hoops at a park in Myanmar’s biggest city on Sunday in the Drag Olympics as a highlight of the Yangon Pride festival.
    The attendance of an estimated 2,000 people at the Thakin Mya Park was a sign of change in a predominantly Buddhist country where traditionalism is strong and homosexuality is a crime under a law inherited from British colonialists, organizers said.
    It was the fifth time that the festival has been held, but only the second year it has happened in a public place.
    “When we started this, people did not really dare to come to this kind of festival,” said Hla Mat Tun, a co-director of the festival from the &Proud group.    “Now you see a lot of young people.    Young people are more proud and out and encouraged and empowered.”
    But he said lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people continued to face harassment and that social change was needed as well as changes to Myanmar’s laws.
    Activists complain that progress has not been as swift as they would have hoped under Myanmar’s transition to democracy.    The government has also faced heavy international criticism after a 2017 army crackdown led hundreds of thousands of minority Rohingya Muslims to flee to neighboring Bangladesh.
    Cheered on by the crowd, nine contestants took part in the Drag Olympics, which also involved a handbag flinging contest before the judges picked a winner.
(Editing by Mark Potter)

1/28/2019 Pope says Vatican abuse summit will not end crisis by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis gestures as he speaks during a news conference aboard a plane on the way back
from Panama to Rome, Italy January 27, 2019. Alessandra Tarantino/Pool via REUTERS
    ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (Reuters) – Pope Francis warned on Sunday against excessive expectations for next month’s Vatican summit on the global sexual abuse crisis, saying it was human problem that would continue.
Francis has summoned the presidents of all of the world’s national bishops conferences to the Vatican Feb. 21-24
.
    The meeting offers a chance for him to respond to criticism from victims of abuse who say he has mishandled the crisis and not done enough to make bishops accountable for covering it up.
    But the pope said the highly anticipated meeting would not end the problem.
    “The preparatory work is going well but I permit myself to say that I have perceived that there is an inflated expectation,” he told reporters on a plane returning from Panama.
    “We have to deflate the expectations … because the problem of abuse will continue because it is a human problem, and it is everywhere,” he said.
    Francis said one of the aims of the summit was for the bishops to go back home with what he called “clear protocols” on how to prevent abuse and help victims.
    More than 200 prelates are expected to attend.    Heads of bishops conferences will attend sessions with the pope, abuse experts and victims.
    “It is a human drama that we have to be conscious of, even us, resolving the problem in the Church, but also in society, in families,” the pope said.
    The Church’s response to the crisis has varied from country to country.
    While clear and tough procedures to prevent abuse have been in place in countries such as the United States for more than a decade, other countries, particularly those in the developing world, are lagging.
    Francis has repeatedly vowed zero tolerance for priests who abuse children, but critics have demanded more action.
    He told reporters on the plane that the summit will include “a penitential rite to ask forgiveness for the whole Church.”
    Earlier this month, Vatican sources told Reuters that before the summit, disgraced former U.S. cardinal Theodore McCarrick is almost certain to be defrocked over allegations against him, including sexual abuse of minors.
    Last July, McCarrick became the first Catholic prelate in nearly 100 years to lose the title of cardinal.    The allegations against him date back to decades ago when he was still rising to the top of the U.S. Church hierarchy.
    McCarrick, 88, has responded publicly to only one of the allegations, saying he has “absolutely no recollection” of an alleged case of sexual abuse of a 16-year-old boy more than 50 years ago.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

1/29/2019 Philippine bishops seek forgiveness for silence on concerns about Duterte
FILE PHOTO - President Rodrigo Duterte speaks after his arrival, from a visit in Israel and Jordan
at Davao International airport in Davao City in southern Philippines, September 8, 2018. REUTERS/Lean Daval Jr.
    MANILA (Reuters) – In a rare move, the largest group of Catholic bishops in the Philippines has sought forgiveness for its lengthy silence over “disturbing issues,” such as the president’s bloody war on drugs and his attacks on the church and its doctrines.
    The church is highly influential and an important source of moral guidance in the Philippines, where about 80 percent of a population of 105 million are Roman Catholic.
    Although known for speaking out in times of crisis and to rebuff doctrinal challenges, the bishops’ silence over President Rodrigo Duterte’s lambasting of the church and God, as well as his bloody crackdown on drugs, have raised questions about their unity and commitment to values.
    “Forgive us for the length of time that it took us to find our collective voice,” the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said in a pastoral letter, issued late on Monday.
    “We too needed to be guided properly in prayer and discernment before we could guide you.”
    In the letter headlined, “i>Conquering Evil with Good,” the bishops admitted silence over “disturbing issues about which you may have felt you urgently needed our spiritual and pastoral guidance.”
    It was not immediately clear why the CBCP issued the letter, which followed a plenary assembly.
    It opposed efforts led by Duterte’s allies to lower the age of criminal liability for children, and said it had seen a “culture of violence has gradually prevailed in our land,” referring also to a deadly church bombing on Sunday.
    The popular Duterte’s tirades against the Catholic church are now famous.    A self-confessed victim of sexual abuse by a priest, Duterte has called God “stupid,” characterized as “silly” the doctrine of the Holy Trinity and accused bishops of concealing their homosexuality.
    The bishops said they understood the need to fight crime and drugs, but were concerned “when we started hearing of mostly poor people being brutally murdered on mere suspicion of being small-time drug users and peddlers,” while bigger players were left alone.
    Police say they have killed more than 5,000 people, all in self-defense, while trying to arrest drug dealers and deny that any were executions, as alleged by human rights groups.
    Some bishops have taken individual stands against the crackdown, denouncing it in sermons, issuing pro-life statements and supporting marches and calls for church bells to be rung in protest, but these remained sporadic efforts within the church.
    Asked about the letter, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said Duterte was serving and protecting the people.
    “Rather than attack the president … I’d rather they issue a statement that they are praying for the president to succeed in his endeavor,” he said.
(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Martin Petty)

1/31/2019 President Trump: Democrats are becoming the party of late term abortions by OAN Newsroom
    President Trump is going after Democrats over their support of late-term abortions.    In a tweet Thursday, the president accused the left of becoming the party of late-term abortions, high taxes, open borders and crime.
    Trump tweet: “Democrats are becoming the Party of late term abortion, high taxes, Open borders and Crime!,”
    His comments come after Virginia Republicans struck down a Democrat-backed bill, which would allow women to request an abortion up until the point of delivery.
    Virginia’s Democrat Governor Ralph Northam came under fire for his defense of the bill when he said the proposal would essentially allow a mother to decide if she wanted her doctor to resuscitate the child after delivery.
FILE – In this Jan. 14, 2019, file photo, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam speaks to a crowd during a Women’s Rights rally at the
Capitol in Richmond, Va. A push by Virginia Democrats to loosen restrictions on late-term abortions is erupting into a fierce
partisan clash due to a lawmaker’s comments about late-term abortion. Gov. Ralph Northam added gas to the fire Wednesday, Jan. 30,
by describing a hypothetical situation where an infant who is severely deformed or unable to survive after birth could be left to die. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)
[DON'T WORRY TRUMP, I AM SURE THAT THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, ISAAC AND JACOB IS AWARE OF THIS SITUATION AND WILL BE AWARE OF THE SOULS IN THIS SITUATION WILL BE COVERED AND JUSTIFIED IN THE END.
Thank God the Democrats were not there when God created Eve (Helpmate) from Adam's rib they would have killed her before birth from orders from that serpent symbol they are following now
.].

1/31/2019 In packed churches and secret masses, papal visit brings Gulf Catholics hope by Sylvia Westall and Stephen Kalin
A worshipper prays at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, as Catholics are awaiting a historical visit by Pope Francis to
United Arab Emirates, Manama, Bahrain January 18, 2019. Picture taken January 18, 2019. REUTERS/ Hamad I Mohammed
    DUBAI/RIYADH (Reuters) – In Dubai’s overflowing churches and Riyadh’s secretive masses, Catholics across the Gulf are eagerly awaiting Pope Francis’ historic visit to the United Arab Emirates next week.     They hope the first ever trip by a pope to the Arabian Peninsula will foster greater acceptance for its two million expatriate Catholics, many from India and the Philippines.
    They want better transport to UAE churches and permission to build them at all in ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia.
    The trip comes as the UAE makes a push to show it is a country tolerant of other religions and at a time of social reform elsewhere in the Gulf.
    The visit would reflect “what the UAE has always been: a cradle of diversity, centered between East and West, connecting people, religions, goods, and cultures,” said a UAE government spokesman, Jaber Al Lamki.
    Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan invited the pontiff after meeting him at the Vatican in 2016.    Lamki said the visit was “unsurprising” given the number of Catholics in the UAE and it had taken time to plan it.
    The Vatican says the trip will focus on inter-religious dialogue and peace.
    “It will help the Gulf and the whole world understand there should be respect for each religion,” said Claudia Rumie, a maths tutor from Colombia.
    She attends mass near Dubai’s Jebel Ali port in a church on a compound with houses of worship from other faiths and will be among the 120,000 Catholics attending the pope’s mass in a sports stadium in Abu Dhabi.
    Most UAE citizens are Sunni Muslims, but foreigners, often working in offices, schools, homes and constructions sites, outnumber locals by around nine to one.    Around half the Gulf’s Catholics live in the UAE.
    Priests, worshippers and two diplomats said that while the UAE is already the most tolerant Gulf country toward faiths other than Islam, there are restrictions.
    The authorities forbid unsanctioned religious gatherings and non-Muslims must not proselytize, according to the law.     Churches do not ring bells and do not display visible cross, according to church building agreements, church officials say.     Land for building houses of worship is limited so there are only nine Catholic churches in the UAE. Pews are packed at the weekend, with parishioners spilling outside where mass is sometimes broadcast on screens.
    Father Reinhold Sahner, the German parish priest of St Francis church in Dubai said some parishioners have long bus journeys to church.
    “It is good that the pope comes and knows about our realities, he knows also about our difficulties,” Sahner said.
SECURITY CHECKPOINT
    Although the pope will only go to the UAE, his visit is being watched closely by Catholics elsewhere in the peninsula, who are also hoping for more acceptance.
    In Qatar churches are allowed but Catholics say they feel restricted outside their place of worship.
    Qatar’s first Catholic church, the 3,000-seat Church of our Lady of the Rosary, was built in 2008 in a walled-off compound known as the Religious Complex, on the southern outskirts of the capital.    It has a permanent security checkpoint.
    “We are free and can celebrate mass, but the condition is that you can only do these things inside the complex,” said parish priest Rally Gonzaga.
    The Qatari foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
    Churches are also allowed in Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain but in ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia, they are banned.
    Some Catholics in Riyadh attend mass in private homes and embassies, where they say their presence is monitored but largely ignored by authorities.
    The Saudi government communications office did not immediately respond to a request for comments.
    One worshipper said he gave the compound gatekeeper a password to attend a regular embassy service.
    “It’s kind of secure and protected but I don’t talk about it with my colleagues,” he said.
    Recent outreach by Saudi Arabia to Christian representatives has given Christians hope for change.
    Last year King Salman met the head of the Vatican’s pontifical council for inter-religious dialogue in Riyadh.
    Lebanon’s Christian Maronite Patriarch also visited to discuss religious tolerance and combating extremism, according to Saudi state media.
    Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has promised to promote interfaith dialogue as part of his domestic reforms.
    He said he wants “middle-of-the-road, moderate Islam open to the world and all religions, traditions and people.”    He met the head of the Anglican church in London last year and also visited Egypt’s largest Coptic cathedral.
    Catholic Toni El-Rahi, who moved to Saudi Arabia from Lebanon in 1994, says attitudes among regular Saudis are shifting with the reforms.
    “They also have to go with the flow,” he said.
    Catholics don’t feel comfortable wearing crosses, he says.    But his family allowed media to photograph Christian iconography at their home and he no longer fears the religious police whose wings have been clipped to loosen strict morality rules.
(Additional reporting by Eric Knecht in Doha, Stanley Carvalho in Abu Dhabi, Reuters Television in Dubai and Philip Pullella in Vatican City; editing by Anna Willard)
[These same countries that come to the U.S. want to build their Mosque and have no interference in how they worship.].

2/1/2019 Pope wants ‘new page in history’ on first trip to Arabian peninsula by Philip Pullella and Sylvia Westall
Pope Francis speaks during a news conference aboard a plane on the way back from
Panama to Rome, Italy January 27, 2019. Alessandra Tarantino/Pool via REUTERS
    VATICAN CITY/ABU DHABI (Reuters) – Pope Francis is hoping to persuade a country enmeshed in a regional war that he has condemned to give Catholics more freedom when he becomes the first pontiff to set foot on the Arabian Peninsula.
    Francis will spend less than 48 hours in the United Arab Emirates, which is fighting alongside Saudi Arabia in the Yemen war, and is due to make only two public addresses during the trip that starts on Sunday night.
    Although short, the visit to the peninsula, home to two million expatriate Catholics as well as the holiest sites of Islam in Saudi Arabia, is a landmark one.    The freedom to practice Christianity — or any religion other than Islam — varies across Gulf countries.
    The papal Mass in Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City on Tuesday, is expected to draw some 120,000 people.
    “I am happy for this occasion the Lord has given me to write, on your dear land, a new page in the history of relations between religions,” Francis said in a video message on Thursday.    It started in Arabic with the words Al Salamu Alaikum (Peace be with you).
    “Faith in God unites and does not divide, it draws us closer despite differences, it distances us from hostilities and aversion.”
    Priests, worshippers and diplomats in the UAE say it is among the most tolerant countries in the Gulf region toward other religions.
    In the UAE and Kuwait, Christians may worship in churches or church compounds, and in other places with special licenses.    In Saudi Arabia, churches are banned.
    Francis praised the UAE as “a land that is trying to be a model of coexistence, of human brotherhood, and a meeting place among diverse civilizations and cultures.”
YEMEN SHADOW
    He has already visited half a dozen predominantly Muslim nations and has used those trips to call for inter-religious dialogue and to condemn the notion of violence in the name of God.    In March, he will go to Morocco.
    The war in Yemen, which the pope has condemned several times, could cast a shadow on the trip.
    Last June, he said he was following the “dramatic fate of the people of Yemen, already exhausted by years of conflict” and appealed to the international community to seek negotiations “to avoid a worsening of the already tragic humanitarian situation.”
    The UAE has played a leading role in the Saudi-led coalition waging a nearly four-year war against the Iran-aligned Houthi movement in Yemen.
    Rights groups have accused UAE-backed forces of torturing detainees in areas under their control in Yemen, charges the UAE has denied.    The UAE says it has never run prisons or secret detention centers in Yemen and that prisons there are under the authority of the Yemeni government.    Its Yemeni allies have denied allegations of torturing prisoners.
    “I don’t think the pope will be silent about what is happening in the region,” Bishop Paul Hinder, the Abu Dhabi-based Apostolic Vicar for Southern Arabia, said in an interview when asked if the pope would speak about the war.
    But he said he did not know if the pope would mention it in public or in private meetings with UAE leaders.
    The pope will meet privately with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, who invited him.
    “There may very well be some people who will criticize him for going (because of the war in Yemen) but I expect that he will raise this issue as he has previously,” a Western diplomat said.
PASSPORT CHURCHES
    Francis will also visit Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the largest in the country, and hold a private meeting there with the Muslim Council of Elders.
    Vatican officials call Catholic communities such as those in the UAE “passport Churches” because the priests, like the mostly Filippino and Indian Catholics they minister to, are foreign and need permission to live and work there.
    This is different from other mostly Muslim countries like Syria and Iraq, where there have been local Catholic communities and priests for centuries.
    Vatican officials say they hope one of the immediate effects of the visit will be permission to build more church compounds in the UAE to minister to the Catholic community.
    “We are really stretched. We need more churches.    We need more priests,” one official said.
(Editing by Anna Willard)

2/1/2019 Pope wants ‘new page in history’ on first trip to Arabian peninsula by Philip Pullella and Sylvia Westall
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis boards a plane for departure at Tocumen International Airport
in Panama City, Panama January 27, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY/ABU DHABI (Reuters) – Pope Francis is hoping to persuade a country enmeshed in a regional war that he has condemned to give Catholics more freedom when he becomes the first pontiff to set foot on the Arabian Peninsula.
    Francis will spend less than 48 hours in the United Arab Emirates, which is fighting alongside Saudi Arabia in the Yemen war, and is due to make only two public addresses during the trip that starts on Sunday night.
    Although short, the visit to the peninsula, home to two million expatriate Catholics as well as the holiest sites of Islam in Saudi Arabia, is a landmark one.    The freedom to practice Christianity — or any religion other than Islam — varies across Gulf countries. [L5N1ZR0AC]
    The papal Mass in Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City on Tuesday, is expected to draw some 120,000 people.
    “I am happy for this occasion the Lord has given me to write, on your dear land, a new page in the history of relations between religions,” Francis said in a video message on Thursday.    It started in Arabic with the words Al Salamu Alaikum (Peace be with you).
    “Faith in God unites and does not divide, it draws us closer despite differences, it distances us from hostilities and aversion.”
    Priests, worshippers and diplomats in the UAE, where there are nearly 1 million Catholics, say it is among the most tolerant countries in the Gulf region toward other religions.
    In the UAE and Kuwait, Christians may worship in churches or church compounds, and in other places with special licenses.    In Saudi Arabia, churches are banned.
    Francis praised the UAE as “a land that is trying to be a model of coexistence, of human brotherhood, and a meeting place among diverse civilizations and cultures.”
YEMEN SHADOW
    He has already visited half a dozen predominantly Muslim nations and has used those trips to call for inter-religious dialogue and to condemn the notion of violence in the name of God.    In March, he will go to Morocco.
    The war in Yemen, which the pope has condemned several times, could cast a shadow on the trip.
    Last June, he said he was following the “dramatic fate of the people of Yemen, already exhausted by years of conflict” and appealed to the international community to seek negotiations “to avoid a worsening of the already tragic humanitarian situation.”
    The UAE has played a leading role in the Saudi-led coalition waging a nearly four-year war against the Iran-aligned Houthi movement in Yemen.
    Rights groups have accused UAE-backed forces of torturing detainees in areas under their control in Yemen, charges the UAE has denied.    The UAE says it has never run prisons or secret detention centers in Yemen and that prisons there are under the authority of the Yemeni government.    Its Yemeni allies have denied allegations of torturing prisoners.
    “I don’t think the pope will be silent about what is happening in the region,” Bishop Paul Hinder, the Abu Dhabi-based Apostolic Vicar for Southern Arabia, said in an interview when asked if the pope would speak about the war.
    Hinder, and Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti, said they did not know if the pope would mention it in public, or in private meetings with UAE leaders.
    “The pope has spoken out about the suffering of the people of Yemen while many others have remained silent,” Gisotti told reporters on Friday, without saying to whom he was referring.
    “He has underscored the need for a commitment for peace and the respect for human rights, particularly of the civilian population and children.”
    The pope will meet privately with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, who invited him.
    “There may very well be some people who will criticize him for going (because of the war in Yemen) but I expect that he will raise this issue as he has previously,” a Western diplomat said.
PASSPORT CHURCHES
    Francis will also visit Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the largest in the country, and hold a private meeting there with the Muslim Council of Elders.
    Vatican officials call Catholic communities such as those in the UAE “passport Churches” because the priests, like the mostly Philippine and Indian Catholics they minister to, are foreign and need permission to live and work there.
    This is different from other mostly Muslim countries like Syria and Iraq, where there have been local Catholic communities and priests for centuries.
    Vatican officials say they hope one of the immediate effects of the visit will be permission to build more church compounds in the UAE to minister to the Catholic community.
    “We are really stretched.    We need more churches.    We need more priests,” one official said.
(Editing by Anna Willard)

2/3/2019 Pope condemns Yemen war ahead of historic Gulf visit by Sylvia Westall
Pope Francis speaks to reporters aboard a plane on the way to Abu Dhabi February 3, 2019. REUTERS/Tony Gentile/Pool
    ABU DHABI (Reuters) – Pope Francis will become the first pontiff to visit the Arabian Peninsula on Sunday, just hours after issuing his strongest condemnation yet of the war in Yemen, where his host the United Arab Emirates has a leading military role.
    The pope said in his regular Sunday address in Vatican City that he was following the urgent humanitarian crisis in Yemen with great concern.    He urged all sides to implement a fragile peace deal and help deliver aid to millions of hungry people.
    “The cry of these children and their parents rise up to God,” he told tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square.
    “Let us pray strongly because they are children who are hungry, who are thirsty, they don’t have medicine and they are in danger of death,” he said before boarding his flight to the UAE capital Abu Dhabi.
    The UAE plays a leading role in the Saudi-led coalition battling the Iran-aligned Houthi group to restore the internationally recognized government in the nearly four-year war that has pushed Yemen to the brink of famine.
    The United Nations is trying to implement a truce and troop withdrawal deal in the main Yemeni port of Hodeidah that was agreed in December talks as a trust-building step that could pave the way for political negotiations to end the conflict.
    Vatican officials have said it is not clear whether Pope Francis will address the sensitive subject in public or private during his visit to Abu Dhabi, which is aimed at promoting interfaith dialogue.
    The pope will spend less than 48 hours in the UAE, where he will meet Muslim leaders and celebrate an outdoor mass for some 120,000 Catholics.    He has said the trip is an opportunity to write “a new page in the history of relations between religions.”
    The UAE, which named 2019 its Year of Tolerance, says the visit reflects its history as a “cradle of diversity.”
    But it faces criticism from human rights groups for jailing activists, including Ahmed Mansoor, an Emirati who is serving a 10-year sentence for criticizing the government on social media.
    “We are calling on Pope Francis to raise the issue of their incarceration with his hosts, and urge their immediate and unconditional release,” Amnesty International said in a statement on Saturday.
    UAE authorities did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
    Priests and diplomats describe the UAE as one of the most open environments in the Gulf for Christian worship. But like its neighbors, the UAE does not allow dissent or criticism of its leadership.
MENACE OF EXTREMISM
    The UAE is home to around half of an estimated two million expatriate Catholics living in the peninsula, a territory which also hosts Islam’s holiest sites in Saudi Arabia.
    The pope will meet Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who invited him.    The prince is an ally of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has reached out to Christian representatives abroad as part of attempts to open up the conservative kingdom.
    All Gulf states except Saudi Arabia allow Christian worship in churches or church compounds and other premises with special licenses.    In Saudi Arabia, non-Muslims pray in secret gatherings in private homes and embassies.
    The pope will also meet Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar mosque and university, the 1,000-year-old seat of Sunni Muslim learning.    The meeting will be held in Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
    Francis has already visited half a dozen mainly Muslim nations during his reign, using the trips to call for inter-religious dialogue and to condemn the use of violence in the name of God.
    The UAE ambassador to Washington, Yousef Al Otaiba, wrote in an op-ed in Politico magazine on Sunday that the pontiff’s visit sends a signal of co-existence and respect in the face of the “menace of extremism” across the Middle East.
(Additional reporting by Philip Pullella in Vatican City; Editing by Gareth Jones)

2/3/2019 Pope says following Yemen crisis with ‘great worry’
Pope Francis leads a Holy Mass during the 23rd World Day For Consecrated Life
in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, February 2, 2019. REUTERS/Remo Casilli/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis, who will travel to the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, said he is following the humanitarian crisis in Yemen with great worry and urged all sides to respect international agreements and ensure food reaches suffering Yemenis.
    “The population is exhausted by the long conflict and many, many children are suffering from hunger but they are not able to get to food deposits.    The cry of these children and their parents rises up to God,” he told tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square during his regular Sunday address.
    “I appeal to all sides involved and to the international community to urgently press for respect of the agreements that have been reached, to guarantee the distribution of food, and work for the good of the population.”
    “There are children who are hungry, they are thirsty, they don’t have medicine,” he added.
    The UAE has played a leading role in the Saudi-led military coalition waging a nearly four-year war against the Iran-aligned Houthi movement in Yemen in a conflict which has pushed the poorest country on the peninsula to the brink of famine.
    Francis will becomes the first pontiff to set foot on the Arabian Peninsula and is due to make two public addresses.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Writing by Alexandra Hudson; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

2/3/2019 New law: NJ schools must teach LGBT history - Civil rights groups see step toward inclusion by Hannan Adely, North Jersey Record USA TODAY NETWORK
    WOODLAND, N.J. – New Jersey has become the second state in the nation after California to adopt a law that requires schools to teach about LGBT history in a move hailed by civil rights groups as a step toward inclusion and fairness.
    Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat who promised to promote equality for gay and transgender people during his campaign, signed the bill Thursday.    Among those celebrating the news was Jaime Bruesehoff of Vernon, whose 12-year-old transgender child, Rebekah, spoke in support of the bill in Trenton in December.
    “This bill is so important for our young people,” Bruesehoff said.    “They need to see examples of themselves in the history being taught and in classes they are going to each day.    We know representation matters."
    “By learning about LGBTQ people who have made amazing contributions to their country, they are seeing possibilities for themselves and hope for the future,” she said.
    Under the measure, public schools must include lessons about the political, economic and social contributions of individuals who are gay and transgender, starting in the 2020-21 school year.    The bill also requires teaching about contributions of people who are disabled.
    The law does not apply to private schools.
    Leaders of civil rights and advocacy groups said the law will give students a fuller history of the United States, promote understanding and help children feel included in school.
    “Our youth deserve to see how diverse American history truly is – and how they can be a part of it one day, too,” said Christian Fuscarino, executive director of the advocacy group Garden State Equality.
    Conservative organizations have opposed proposals to teach gay and transgender history, saying such requirements take away power from parents and may encourage kids to question their sexuality.
    Len Deo, president of the New Jersey Family Policy Council, said he opposed the bill because it infringed on parents’ rights.
    “We believe it further erodes the right of parents to discuss this sensitive issue with their children, if in fact schools are going to be promoting and making the claim that this particular person was an LGBTQ member,” he said.
    Deo said individuals should be included in lessons based on achievements without discussion of sexual orientation.    He noted that New Jersey already has what many education experts consider the strongest anti-bullying law in the country.
    Despite the 2011 anti-bullying law, many students in New Jersey still say they feel harassed, targeted and unsupported at school because of their sexual orientation or the way they express their gender, according to findings of a survey released last month by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, or GLSEN.
    By teaching about lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual communities in schools, students will feel more connected, which will help their mental health and ability to learn, said Kathryn Dixon, Northern New Jersey policy coordinator for GLSEN. “It fosters respect and connectivity and develops a culture and climate where everyone feels safe,” she said.
New Jersey public schools must include lessons about figures who are gay and transgender,
starting in the 2020-21 school year. MARKO GEORGIEV/NORTH JERSEY RECORD
[California and New Jersey will get their feel of the God in heaven for wanting to teach that to children in the near future, when they find they are all living in their own Hell.].

2/3/2019 Abortion case tests high court conservatives - Similar Texas law was struck down in 2016 by Richard Wolf, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – Three years after handing down a major decision in favor of abortion rights in a Texas case, the Supreme Court is faced with a nearly identical case from a neighboring state.
    The biggest difference?    There‘s a new president in town – and a new Supreme Court.    That makes the justices’ upcoming verdict on a Louisiana law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals significant beyond the state’s borders.    Their decision could reveal much about the court’s respect for its own precedents, as well as its willingness or hesitancy to wade into hot-button political issues.
    Unless they intercede, Louisiana’s law will take effect Monday, even though the high court struck down a nearly identical Texas law in 2016.    The Louisiana law was upheld by a federal appeals court dominated by conservatives, including five appointed by President Donald Trump.
    In a last-ditch effort, abortion rights proponents asked the Supreme Court to block the law’s implementation pending further review.    But since the Texas case was decided, former associate justice Anthony Kennedy – who was in the majority – has retired.    Now, two new justices named by Trump likely hold the key to what happens next.
    If the court refuses to block the law – or if it stops the clock but ultimately upholds it – the president will have something to show for his 2016 pledge to appoint “pro-life justices.”
    First came Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, who succeeded the late Justice Antonin Scalia in the spring of 2017.    In December, he sided with two other conservatives who unsuccessfully sought to hear a case allowing states to defund Planned Parenthood.
    Then came Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who succeeded Kennedy in October.    During his confirmation hearing, he referred to landmark Supreme Court decisions legalizing and affirming abortion rights in 1973 and 1992 as “precedent on precedent.”
    But Kavanaugh previously had praised former chief justice William Rehnquist’s dissent from the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.    And in 2017, he dissented from his appeals court’s decision allowing an undocumented teenager in federal custody to get an abortion.
    With Gorsuch and Kavanaugh on the bench, abortion opponents are cautiously optimistic that the reconstituted court will let the Louisiana law stand.    The state argues – and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit agreed – that the impact on clinics and providers would be less severe than in Texas, and women seeking abortions would not be so adversely affected.
    “This is the most significant abortion petition before the court since Justice Gorsuch came on to the court,” says Steven Aden, general counsel at Americans United for Life.    “This case is the one to watch.”
    But abortion rights groups say the Texas decision in favor of Whole Woman’s Health clinic set a precedent from which the justices cannot retreat.    The Louisiana law, they say, will leave just one clinic and doctor in business to serve an estimated 10,000 women.
    “There is very little to say other than, ‘We meant it when we said it,’” says Travis Tu, senior counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, which challenged both states’ laws.    If the court were to “come out the opposite way” this time, he says, “what is the public left to think?
‘This is not a hard case’
    Abortion cases are among the most controversial to come before the court, which may be why they don’t get there very often.    It took almost 20 years after Roe v. Wade was decided before the justices reinforced both the right to abortion and states’ justification in imposing some restrictions.    Between 2000 and 2007, the court struck down a state law banning late-term abortions, then upheld a similar federal law.
    The Texas ruling was the most important in nearly a quarter century.    The opinion by Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, in which Kennedy joined the court’s liberals, said the law would force too many abortion clinics to close, leaving the state unable to handle up to 70,000 abortions annually.    That burden on women, he said, was unconstitutional without equal or greater health benefits.
    Following the 5-3 ruling, laws requiring hospital admitting privileges have been struck down or unenforced in several other states, including Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Wisconsin.    Only Missouri, North Dakota and Utah still have similar laws.
    Louisiana’s law was passed in 2014 but struck down by a federal district judge after trial three years later.    It was resurrected in a 2-1 ruling by a federal appeals court panel, and the full appeals court later voted 9-6 against hearing the abortion rights group’s appeal.    Trump’s judges all voted with the majority.
    “The Fifth Circuit is thumbing its nose at the Whole Woman’s Health decision,” says Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights.    “This is just not a hard case.    This is a straightforward case.”
‘Missing the circus’
    The abortion rights group’s request is pending before Associate Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the Supreme Court’s 43-page dissent in the Texas case.    He can rule on it himself or ask his colleagues to weigh in.    The justices already must decide whether to hear another abortion case challenging an Indiana law that bans abortions sought because of race, sex or disability.    Another part of that law requires fetal remains to be buried or cremated.
    Abortion opponents who were on the losing end of the 2016 decision say the justices should not be shy about weighing in again.
    “If the Supreme Court is avoiding controversy by staying out of the abortion area,” Aden says, “it’s missing the circus.”
    “This is the most significant abortion petition before the court since Justice (Neil) Gorsuch came on to the court.” Steven Aden, general counsel at Americans United for Life.
Anti-abortion activists protest outside of the Supreme Court during the
March for Life in Washington last month. JOSE LUIS MAGANA/AP

2/4/2019 LGBT equal-rights report card shows triumphs, and obstacles by Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY
    As the LGBT community continues to pursue equal rights, it can point to substantial gains at the state level, broad public support and increased momentum toward a federal Equality Act.
    On the other hand, most states still lack laws banning discrimination, and bills that would curtail gay rights keep popping up.
    The latest State Equality Index, a yearly report of statewide laws and policies that affect LGBT people produced by the Human Rights Campaign and the Equality Federation Institute and released Thursday, revealed a record 17 states (and the District of Columbia) earning a top rating.    That’s an increase of four states over last year and more than double the eight states from 2014, the first year the index was published.
    That still leaves 33 states in the other three rankings, with 28 of them in the lowest category, dubbed “High Priority to Achieve Basic Equality.”
    “It’s incredibly important that these states have taken action to make sure LGBTQ people are afforded equal rights under the law in their states, but certainly, it’s concerning that there are still 33 states that are not there,’" said Cathryn Oakley, the Human Rights Campaign’s state legislative director and senior counsel.
    Just as troubling to the campaign, the nation’s largest gay rights organization, is the spate of legislative initiatives since the 2015 Supreme Court decision that guaranteed same-sex couples the right to marry.    The index details more than 100 bills it considers anti-LGBT that were introduced across 29 states in 2018.    Only two passed.
    Oakley also cited measures like Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2015 and North Carolina’s socalled bathroom bill of 2016 – both seen as infringing on LGBT rights – as either responses or anticipatory moves related to the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling.
    On Thursday, the Arkansas state Supreme Court rejected an attempt by the city of Fayetteville to continue enforcing its ordinance banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, saying the measure violates a state law aimed at preventing local protections for LGBT people.
    That was viewed as a jurisdictional ruling more than anything else, but Arkansas is one of 30 states that doesn’t provide civil rights protection based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
    The Human Rights Campaign is one of the advocacy groups pushing for an Equality Act, which would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in areas including employment, housing and public accommodations.
    “LGBTQ people still face the sobering reality that their rights are determined by which side of a state or city line they call home,” campaign president Chad Griffin said in a statement.
    Previous attempts at such a law have died in committee, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has committed to making the bill a priority.    The California Democrat has public support on her side: A survey published in August by the Public Religion Research Institute showed 71 percent of Americans favor safeguards for the LGBT community.
    But there’s no certainty the Republican-controlled Senate would approve the bill, and even less that President Donald Trump – who wants to ban transgender people from serving openly in the military – would sign it.     Oakley said the campaign is optimistic about the bill’s prospects this year while recognizing it will be a huge undertaking to get it passed.
    “It’s absolutely a big lift, but it should be a big lift," she said.    “It’s a major piece of civil rights legislation, and it only makes sense it would take work to pass it.    That said, it’s had bipartisan support in the past, and we know we have tremendous support from the American public, and we have a lot of support from the business community."
Contributing: The Associated Press
The latest State Equality Index, a yearly report of statewide laws and policies that affect
LGBT people released Thursday, revealed a record 17 states (and the District of Columbia) earning a top rating. CHRIS PIZZELLO/INVISION/AP
[If the above is true I can guarantee that America will experience the wrath of God as did the people of Sodom and Gommorah.].

2/4/2019 Pope decries ‘armed power’, Yemen war on UAE trip by Philip Pullella and Sylvia Westall
Pope Francis attends a welcome ceremony next to Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan
and Vice-President of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum
at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 4, 2019. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS
    ABU DHABI (Reuters) – Pope Francis denounced the “logic of armed power” in Yemen, Syria and other Middle East wars on Monday on a landmark visit to the Arabian peninsula where Islam emerged, telling Christians and Muslims that conflicts brought nothing but misery and death.
    Francis, the first pontiff to set foot on the peninsula, was speaking during a trip to the United Arab Emirates, which is playing a leading role in Yemen’s conflict as part of a Saudi-led military coalition.
    “War cannot create anything but misery, weapons bring nothing but death,” he said in a speech after meeting UAE leaders in the capital Abu Dhabi on Monday, the first full day of a trip he hopes will foster peace through religious dialogue.
    “Its fateful consequences are before our eyes.    I am thinking in particular of Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya,” he said at an inter-religious meeting at the UAE Founder’s Memorial.
    “Let us commit ourselves against the logic of armed power,” he said in his first public address on the trip after meeting with Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar mosque who called on Muslims in the Middle East to embrace Christians.
    The nearly four-year-old war in Yemen, the poorest Arabian Peninsula nation, has killed tens of thousands of people and left almost 16 million people facing severe hunger.    The conflict pits the Saudi-led coalition loyal to ousted President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi against the Iran-aligned Houthi group.
    The United Nations is trying to implement a fragile ceasefire deal in the country’s main Hodeidah port, a lifeline for millions and the site of some of the war’s fiercest battles.    It hopes the deal will pave the way for talks to end the war.
    Francis used his regular Sunday address in Vatican City to urge all sides to implement the deal and help deliver aid.
    A senior UAE official welcomed his comments on the peace deal: “Let us assure its implementation and make 2019 the year of peace in Yemen,” Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash wrote on Twitter late on Sunday.
EMBRACING CHRISTIANS
    The Grand Imam, the most senior Muslim figure taking part in the visit, called on Muslims in the Middle East to “embrace” local Christian communities, describing them as part of the nation and not a minority.
    “You are citizens with full rights and responsibilities,” said Sheikh Tayeb, whose Al-Azhar university represents one of one of the main seats of learning of Sunni Islam.    He also called on Muslims in the West to integrate in their host nations and respect local laws.
    Sheikh Tayeb and the pope signed a document of “human fraternity” which carried a message against religious extremism.
    Earlier on Monday the Pope was welcomed to the sprawling Presidential Palace for private talks with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan and other UAE leaders.
    The visit received some positive media attention in neighboring Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest sites and where churches are banned.    The main English daily, Arab News, ran a picture of the pope and Abu Dhabi’s crown prince calling it “the moment that made history on the Arabian Peninsula.”
    It ran an article citing Muslim and Catholic officials saying Saudi Arabia could feature in a future papal visit.
    Priests and diplomats describe the UAE as one of the least restrictive environments in the Gulf for Christian worship, which is allowed in church compounds with special licenses.    But like other Gulf states it outlaws unsanctioned religious gatherings and non-Muslims must not proselytize.
    Vatican officials say they hope one of the immediate effects of the visit will be permission to build more church compounds in the UAE to minister to the Catholic community.
    On Tuesday before returning to Rome, the pope will celebrate an outdoor mass for some 135,000 Catholics in an Abu Dhabi sports stadium, an event with no precedent in the peninsula.
    The UAE hosts nine Catholic churches and is home to about one million expatriate Catholics, many from the Philippines.    Another one million Catholics are estimated to live in other countries in the Arabian Peninsula.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella and Sylvia Westall Additional reporting by Tuqa Khalid in Dubai and Stephen Kalin in Riyadh, Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky, William Maclean)

2/5/2019 Tens of thousands pack stadium for first papal mass on Arabian Peninsula by Philip Pullella and Stanley Carvalho
Pope Francis holds a mass at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
    ABU DHABI (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of Catholics and several thousand Muslims attended an unprecedented public celebration of Mass on Tuesday by Pope Francis, the first pontiff in history to visit the Arabian Peninsula.
    More than 120,000 worshippers packed Zayed Sports City stadium and its surroundings in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, to see the pope, who is in the Gulf country to promote inter-faith dialogue.
    The UAE hosts about half of the two million expatriate Catholics living on the peninsula, home to the birthplace of Islam in neighboring Saudi Arabia.    The community includes large numbers of people from the Philippines and India.
    “It is most certainly not easy for you to live far from home, missing the affection of your loved ones, and perhaps also feeling uncertainty about the future,” the pope said, telling those gathered to draw inspiration from Saint Anthony the Abbot, the founder of monasticism in the desert.
    “The Lord specializes in doing new things; he can even open paths in the desert,” he said at the end of a trip where he met with the grand imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar mosque and UAE leaders.
    Francis entered the stadium in a white open top jeep to roars from the crowd.    People wearing white baseball caps emblazoned with the visit logo packed the stadium stands and snapped pictures on their smartphones.
    Thousands of people cheering and waving Vatican flags lined the entrance to the stadium, with the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and Abu Dhabi’s skyscrapers glinting in the distance.
    “For me as a Christian, this is one of the most important days of my life,” said Thomas Tijo, a 44-year-old from India’s southern state of Kerala, who lives in the UAE and traveled by bus in the early hours to get to the stadium.
    “We are a long way from home and this is like a comforting blanket,” he said, holding his three-year-old son, Marcus.
    Organizers said Catholics from about 100 nations were expected to attend the Mass, along with about 4,000 Muslims, including government officials.
    The pope, who arrived on Sunday at the invitation of Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, has used the visit to condemn regional wars, including that in Yemen, the poorest country in the Peninsula, where the UAE is involved as part of a Saudi-led military coalition.    He also called for greater cooperation between Christians and Muslims.
    “The pope has made pleas for ending the Yemen war, greater tolerance and more,” said Lina Ghattas, a 48-year-old Egyptian who had traveled from Bahrain.
    “I am not sure what will change: time will tell – hope, hope,” she said.
PRAYERS FOR MIGRANTS AND PEACE
    During the service the pope spoke in Italian and English, which is widely spoken in the UAE where expatriates outnumber Emiratis nine to one.    The congregation prayed for migrant workers and their families and for the ending of wars.
    The ceremony ended with a prayer, a thunderous round of applause from the crowd and organ music.
    “It’s a dream come true.    I feel blessed,” said Rio Chavez, a 40-year-old security officer who has been in the UAE for five years.    He had called his wife and mother back home in the Philippines before the Mass so the pope’s message about being far from home and loved ones had resonated for him.
    “I feel renewed, positive, he is an inspiration for me and my family.    I will work very hard to bring my family here, I have the pope’s blessings now,” he said.
    A central part of the Christian faith, the Mass commemorates Jesus’ Last Supper with his apostles on the night before he died.
    Catholics believe the communion host and wine become the body and blood of Christ when consecrated by a priest during the Mass.    Catholics believe the pope is the vicar of Christ on earth, so participating in a papal Mass is particularly special.
    Priests and diplomats describe the UAE as one of the least restrictive environments in the Gulf for Christian worship, which is allowed in church compounds with special licenses.    There are more than 40 churches, nine of them for Catholics.
    But, like other Gulf states, it outlaws unsanctioned religious gatherings and non-Muslims must not proselytize.
    “This pope’s voice is heard, so our hope and prayer is that this historic visit brings peace to this strife-torn region,” said Clitus Almeida, an Indian engineer who works in Dubai.
    “Given the number of Catholics there is a dire need for more churches in the UAE,” he said, voicing hope that Saudi Arabia, where churches are banned, would also allow them.
    Although there has been no official comment from Riyadh, the pope has featured on the front pages of some of the main newspapers, which ran pictures of Francis’ meetings with the grand imam of Al-Azhar in Abu Dhabi on Monday and UAE officials.
    An opinion piece in Saudi-owned, pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat praised the visit and its message of tolerance and coexistence, which it said confronted a discourse of extremism in the region.
    “The Arab region…for a very long time allowed rigid voices to hijack religious discourse, and it is time to correct the error.”
(Additional reporting by Sylvia Westall and Stephen Kalin in Riyadh; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and William Maclean)

2/5/2019 Pope says he found ‘good will’ from UAE leaders to seek peace in Yemen
Pope Francis stands next to Vice-President of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of
Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, and Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan during a
welcome ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 4, 2019. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
    ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (Reuters) – Pope Francis said on Tuesday he had found “good will” to start peace processes to end the conflict in Yemen, during private meetings with leaders of the United Arab Emirates, which is playing a leading role in a Saudi-led coalition against Houthis in Yemen.
    Francis, who in the past has condemned the war in Yemen several times, made the comment in response to a question on the plane returning from Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
    “I spoke about it, but just with just a few people,” Francis said when asked if he had discussed Yemen during his meeting with Crown Prince Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan and other leaders.
    “I will say that I found good will to start peace processes,” he said, without elaborating.
    The nearly four-year-old war in Yemen, the poorest Arabian Peninsula nation, has killed tens of thousands of people and left almost 16 million people facing severe hunger.    The conflict pits the Saudi-led coalition loyal to ousted President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi against the Iran-aligned Houthi group.
    The United Nations is trying to implement a fragile ceasefire deal in the country’s main Hodeidah port, a lifeline for millions and the site of some of the war’s fiercest battles.    It hopes the deal will pave the way for talks to end the war.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Frances Kerry)

2/5/2019 Pope says he is committed to stopping sexual abuse of nuns by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis gestures during a farewell ceremony before leaving Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates February 5, 2019. Vatican Media/¬Handout via REUTERS
    ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (Reuters) – Pope Francis, whose papacy has been marked by efforts to quell a global crisis over sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy, said on Tuesday he was committed to stopping the abuse of nuns by priests and bishops, some of whom had used the women as sex slaves.
    Francis made his comments on the plane returning from Abu Dhabi in response to a reporter’s question about an article last week in a Vatican monthly magazine about the abuse of nuns in the Catholic Church.
    Recently more nuns, encouraged by the #MeToo movement, have been coming forward to describe abuse at the hands of priests and bishops.    Last year, the International Union of Superiors General, which represents more than 500,000 Catholic nuns, urged their members to report abuse.
    “It is true … there have been priests and even bishops who have done this.    I think it is still going on because something does not stop just because you have become aware of it,” Francis said.
    “We have been working on this for a long time.    We have suspended some priests because of this,” he said, adding that the Vatican was in the process of shutting down a female religious order because of sexual abuse and corruption.    He did not name it.
    “I can’t say ‘this does not happen in my house.’    It is true.    Do we have to do more?    Yes.    Are we willing?    Yes,” he said.
    Francis said former Pope Benedict dissolved a religious order of women shortly after his election as pontiff in 2005 “because slavery had become part of it (the religious order), even sexual slavery on the part of priests and the founder.
    He did not name the group but Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said it was a French order.
    Before he became pope, Benedict was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican department that investigates sexual abuse.    The pope at the time was John Paul.
    Then-cardinal Ratzinger wanted to investigate the religious order where women were being abused but he was blocked, Francis said, without saying who prevented the probe.
    After he became pope, Ratzinger reopened the investigation and dissolved the order, Francis said.
    Pope Francis has summoned key bishops from around the world to a summit later this month at the Vatican to find a unified response on how to protect children from sexual abuse by clergy.
    Asked if there would be some kind of similar action to confront abuse of nuns in the Church, he said: “I want to move forward. We are working on it.”
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Frances Kerry)
[Now you see why I call the file "Scarlet Women" and the churches in the world are alway on attack by Satan, the devil in some way or shape, and the Catholic Church has a history of ignoring their sins, and this article shows they were still covering things up, but in a world that is very corrupt it is getting worse.].

2/5/2019 Pope says Vatican open to mediating in Venezuela if both sides ask
Pope Francis holds a mass at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
    ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (Reuters) – Pope Francis said on Tuesday that the Vatican would be willing to mediate in Venezuela if both sides asked, but preliminary steps to try to bring them closer together should be taken first.
    Francis, speaking to reporters aboard his plane returning from a trip to Abu Dhabi, also confirmed that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro had written a letter to him but that he had not yet read it.
    Maduro told Italian broadcaster Sky TG24 on Monday that he had sent the letter to the pope “for help in the process of facilitating and reinforcing dialogue.”
    Asked about a possible direct mediation effort by the Vatican, the pope said: “I will read the letter and see what can be done but the initial condition is that both sides ask for it.    We are willing.”
    Given the failure of previous rounds of dialogue, including one led by the Vatican, opponents are suspicious, believing Maduro uses them to quell protests and buy time.
    Francis added that a formal mediation should be seen as the last step in diplomacy.    He said some preliminary steps had to be taken first by the Vatican and other members of the international community.
    He said this would include efforts to “to try to bring one (side) closer to the other, to start a process of dialogue.”
    The pope spoke as major European nations joined the United States in recognising opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate head of state, while members of a separate regional bloc kept up the pressure on Maduro.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Gareth Jones)
[Is Maduro asking the Pope to forgive him of his sins, or just trying to get anyone to support him besides Communist countries?].

2/6/2019 Russia jails Jehovah’s Witness for six years in landmark case by Andrew Osborn
Dennis Christensen, a Jehovah's Witness accused of extremism, leaves after a court session
in handcuffs in the town of Oryol, Russia January 14, 2019. REUTERS/Andrew Osborn
    MOSCOW (Reuters) – A Russian court on Wednesday found a Danish adherent of the Jehovah’s Witnesses guilty of organizing the activities of a banned extremist organization and jailed him for six years in a case Western governments cast as a test of religious freedom.
    Armed police detained Dennis Christensen, a 46-year-old builder, in May 2017 at a prayer meeting in Oryol, some 200 miles (320 km) south of Moscow after a court in the region outlawed the local Jehovah’s Witnesses a year earlier.
    Russia’s Supreme Court later ruled the group was an “extremist” organization and ordered it to disband nationwide, and Christiansen’s detention, the first extremism-related arrest of a Jehovah’s Witness in Russia, foreshadowed dozens of similar cases.
    A court in Oryol found Christiansen guilty on Wednesday after a long trial, his lawyer, wife and a spokesman for the Jehovah’s Witnesses told Reuters.
    Christiansen had pleaded not guilty, saying he had only been practicing his religion, something he said was legal according to the Russian constitution which guarantees the right to practice any or no religion.
    The U.S.-headquartered Jehovah’s Witnesses have been under pressure for years in Russia, where the dominant Orthodox Church is championed by President Vladimir Putin.    Orthodox scholars have cast them as a dangerous foreign sect that erodes state institutions and traditional values, allegations they reject.
    But Russia’s latest falling-out with the West, triggered by Moscow’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, spurred a more determined drive to push out “the enemy within.”
    After Crimea was seized, a giant poster hung in central Moscow bearing the faces of Kremlin critics and labeling them as “a fifth column.”    One of them, opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, was later shot dead.
    Anton Bogdanov, Christiansen’s lawyer, said he planned to appeal Wednesday’s verdict, which he described as an illegal decision and part of Russia’s fight against religious freedom.
    He said he feared the verdict would set a dangerous precedent.
    More than 100 criminal cases have been opened against Jehovah’s Witnesses and some of their publications are on a list of banned extremist literature.
    Yaroslav Sivulsky, a Jehovah’s Witness spokesman, said the group was disappointed by what it regarded as an unjust verdict.
    Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, said there had clearly been reasons for Christiansen’s arrest, but that he was unaware of the details of the case.
    The group has around 8 million active followers around the world and has faced court proceedings in several countries, mostly over its pacifism and rejection of blood transfusions.
(Additonal reporting by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Christian Lowe)

2/6/2019 Polish archbishop meets pedophilia victims, says concealing abuse inexcusable
FILE PHOTO: Roman Catholic Bishop Stanislaw Gadecki, head of the Polish Episcopate's committee
for inter-faith dialogue, speaks in Warsaw's synagogue January 17. /File Photo
    WARSAW (Reuters) – A Polish archbishop has invited victims of sexual abuse by pedophile priests to meet him, and said all Catholics had a duty to report and prevent such crimes.
    Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki said on Wednesday that 28 people who suffered abuse as children had accepted his invitation, some of whom he had already spoken to.
    The scandal in Poland follows investigations into widespread abuse of minors by clergy in other countries – notably in Chile, the United States, Australia and Ireland – that have shaken the Roman Catholic Church to its foundations.
    Pope Francis is due to receive a report this month that will accuse some bishops in devoutly Catholic Poland of failing to report pedophilia cases, which activist and opposition lawmaker Joanna Scheuring-Wielgus said in January should cost them their jobs.
    Gadecki said the victims’ pain and suffering “require everyone – from bishops and religious superiors, from clergy and laity – to be unconditionally involved in the process of reporting, hearing, repairing and preventing such crimes.”
    Poland is one of Europe’s most religious countries, where nearly 85 percent of the 38 million population are Catholic and an estimated 12 million attend Sunday mass.
    But Church authorities there have yet to reach a consensus on how to address the issue of abuse.
    An arm of the Church has filed a suit in the Supreme Court seeking to annul a 1 million zloty ($265,0000) payment ordered by a lower court to a woman who, as a 13-year old child, was repeatedly raped by her local priest.
    The case was a landmark ruling in granting compensation and an annuity to a victim of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest in Poland.
(Reporting by Marcin Goclowski; editing by John Stonestreet)

2/6/2019 Pope hopes his Arabian trip will help Islam-Christian relations by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis leads the weekly general audience at Paul VI hall at the Vatican February 6, 2019. REUTERS/Max Rossi
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis said on Wednesday he hoped his historic trip to the Arabian peninsula will help dispel the notion of an inevitable clash of civilizations between Christianity and Islam.
    Francis returned to Rome on Tuesday from the United Arab Emirates, where in Abu Dhabi he presided at the largest public Mass ever celebrated on the peninsula where Islam was born.
    “In an era, like ours, where there is a strong temptation to see a clash between Christian civilization and the Islamic one, and even to consider religions as a source of conflict, we wanted to send another clear and decisive signal that encounter is possible,” he said at his regular general audience.
    Francis was referring to a document he signed during the trip with Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of Egypt’s al-Azhar mosque and university, one of the most authoritative theological and educational institutions in Islam.
    The pope said the “Document on Human Fraternity” was proof that “it is possible to respect each other and hold dialogue, and that despite differences in culture and traditions, the Christian and Islamic worlds appreciate and protect common values …
    The document, signed on Monday, called on “all concerned to stop using religions to incite hatred, violence, extremism and blind fanaticism, and to refrain from using the name of God to justify acts of murder, exile, terrorism and oppression.”     He invited everyone to read the document, saying it would offer ideas on how individuals can work for tolerance and coexistence.
    Ultra-conservative Catholics have been opposed to any dialogue with Islam, with some saying its ultimate goal is to destroy the West.
    On the plane returning from Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, a reporter asked Francis about possible negative reaction to the document by Catholics “who accuse you of allowing yourself to be used by Muslims.”
    Francis, a progressive who has been in the crosshairs of conservatives since his election in 2013, responded with a joke: “Not only the Muslims.    They accuse me of allowing myself to be used by everyone, even journalists.    It’s part of the job.”
    But he said “from a Catholic point of view, the document had not strayed a millimeter” from teachings on inter-religious dialogue approved by the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council.
    “If anyone feels bad, I understand.    It is not an everyday thing.    But it is a step forward,” he said on the plane.
(Editing by Janet Lawrence)

2/8/2019 Vatican to rule next week on defrocking of disgraced U.S. cardinal: sources by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Theodore McCarrick arrives for a meeting at the Synod Hall in the Vatican
March 4, 2013, when he was a U.S. cardinal. REUTERS/Max Rossi/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Vatican officials will meet next week to decide the fate of disgraced former U.S. cardinal Theodore McCarrick over allegations of sexual abuse, Vatican sources said on Friday.
    Vatican sources told Reuters last month that McCarrick will almost certainly be dismissed from the priesthood, which would make him the highest profile Roman Catholic figure to be defrocked in modern times.
    Cardinal Luis Francisco Ladaria, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the Vatican department that will rule on the case, met Pope Francis on Thursday, according to a public Vatican schedule.
    The Vatican did not say what was discussed but one source said it was likely that Ladaria briefed the pontiff on the final stages of the McCarrick case.    The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the case.
    Francis, who will have to sign off on any dismissal decision, wants the McCarrick case over before heads of national Catholic churches meet at the Vatican from Feb. 21-24 to discuss the global sexual abuse crisis, three Vatican sources told Reuters last month.
    In July, McCarrick, 88, became the first Catholic prelate in nearly 100 years to lose the title of cardinal.    The allegations against him date back to decades ago when he was still rising to the top of the U.S. Church hierarchy.
    McCarrick, who rose to be a power broker in the American Church as Archbishop of Washington, D.C. from 2001 to 2006, is living in seclusion in a remote friary in Kansas.
    He has responded publicly to only one of the allegations, saying he has “absolutely no recollection” of an alleged case of sexual abuse of a 16-year-old boy more than 50 years ago.
    He has not responded publicly to separate allegations by several priests and ex-priests who have come forward alleging he used his authority to coerce them to sleep with him when they were adult seminarians studying for the priesthood.
    McCarrick has already received one of the most severe punishments short of defrocking. When the pope accepted his resignation as cardinal last July, he also ordered him to refrain from public ministry and to live in seclusion, prayer and penitence.
    The Vatican summit later this month offers a chance for Pope Francis to respond to criticism from victims of abuse that he has stumbled in his handling of the crisis and has not done enough to make bishops accountable.
    Recently, the Church also has come under scrutiny over sexual abuse of nuns by priests and bishops.    On Tuesday, Francis publicly acknowledged such abuse for the first time.
    Speaking to reporters on the plane returning from a trip to Abu Dhabi, Francis used the term “sexual slavery,” but the Vatican later sought to clarify his remarks, saying in a statement that he meant “manipulation or a type of abuse of power that is reflected in sexual abuse.”
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Frances Kerry)

2/9/2019 Priests accused of abuse named - Archbishop warns that the list, which includes 48 names, is just a beginning by Chris Kenning, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz on Friday released the names of 48 archdiocese priests and members of religious orders credibly accused of child sexual abuse dating back 70 years, the first such accounting since the priest abuse scandal exploded in 2002.
    The report, prepared by former assistant U.S. attorney and Kentucky State Police Commissioner Mark Miller, follows a growing number of Catholic diocese from Atlanta to Indianapolis issuing similar lists, spurred partly by a 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury investigation that reignited outrage and sparked new priest-abuse investigations.
    Kurtz said the list was meant to provide transparency and healing for a “tragic history” and said the list is only a beginning, not a final accounting.    The numbers will likely rise, he said, and he said he hoped the report would inspire others to report abuses.
    Of the 48 named people, 22 were archdiocese priests with at least one substantiated allegation.    Another 14 were priests (including one who became a bishop) and other members of religious orders such as Franciscan Friars, and 12 were priests with credible allegations for which there was insufficient information to fully investigate or confirm.
    Nearly all the priests were publicly known, and the rest had died before allegations were made.    The list doesn’t detail the allegations or when they occurred.    All but one report of abuse dated from the 1980s or earlier.
    The report notes that most occurred prior to 2002, a time when “reports of child sexual abuse were considered more of an unpleasant personnel matter than a serious crime” and “were not sufficiently investigated nor fully addressed.    Serious priest accountability was lacking.”
    Survivor advocates who have been calling for such a list for years welcomed it but questioned why it took so long.
    “It’s a belated, grudging step forward taken only under duress.    But still, every perpetrator’s name made public increases healing for his or her victims and increases safety for other kids,” said David Clohessy, a leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
    Louisville was one of many communities rocked in 2002 by revelations that Catholic Church leaders commonly shifted pedophile priests between assignments to help cover up abuse.
    Hundreds of abuse survivors sued the archdiocese in 2002, which paid them $25.7 million and adopted new policies.    The 2003 lawsuit settlement outed dozens of predator priests, deacons and church workers.
    The late Archbishop Thomas Kelly publicly apologized, changed policies and removed abusive priests.
    That included requiring that all abuse cases be reported to police if the accused still lives; banning priests or deacons who abuse from ministry; and prohibiting settlements from including confidentiality clauses.
    Michael Norris, whose allegations led to the 2016 conviction of former Trinity High teacher, the Rev. Joseph Hemmerle, for molesting him as a boy in the 1970s at archdiocese-run Camp Tall Trees, said he was skeptical of the findings and argued an attorney general’s investigation is needed.
    Illinois’ attorney general, for example, found last year that the state’s six dioceses received sex-abuse-related allegations for approximately 690 clergy but publicly reported just 185 of the allegations. Many were not adequately investigated.
    “My case is a perfect example,” Norris said.    “The church told me in 2001 that my accusation was not credible.    Yet an unbiased jury and appeals court found that my accusation was credible utilizing the exact same evidence available to the church in 2001,” he said.
    The website BishopAccountability.org contains a database that lists 65 publicly accused priests from the Louisville Archdiocese.
    Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear is backing a bill in the legislature that would allow him to ask the state Supreme Court to call a grand jury to investigate Kentucky’s Catholic dioceses.
    Friday’s report was ordered by Archdiocese of Louisville Sexual Abuse Review Board.
    Miller, the KSP commissioner, said he spent three months reviewing thousands of documents, including personnel and victim files detailing alleged abuse in places such as a confessional, lake house and a priest’s residence.
    Young victims were given gifts, alcohol and cigarettes, the report said.    Priests told them to keep it a secret.
Archbishop Joseph Kurtz says anyone with an allegation of abuse should contact the authorities and the archdiocese. NIKKI BOLIAUX/COURIER
Barbara Aubrey, right, and Karen Cronin chat before a Sept. 10 rally urging the Archdiocese of Louisville to identify abusers. SAM UPSHAW JR./CJ
    Cases.
    Of the 22 archdiocese priests with at least one substantiated child sex abuse allegation, 12 were removed from the ministry.    Eight were prosecuted and convicted.
    Miller said that before 2002, when sex abuse drew lawsuits and publicity, there were few abuse reports in priest files.
    When there were, “the focus appeared to be on protecting the priest,” Miller said.    His report noted that in victim files, the comments “usually focused on how they might bring scandal to the Church.”     There are no pending reports of abuse against priests in active ministry, he said, The focus on priest abuse has increased since the Pennsylvania grand jury report found that church leaders protected more than 300 “predator priests” for decades because they were more interested in safeguarding the church and abusers than tending to nearly 1,000 victims. Other attorneys general have since launched investigations.     In October 2018, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis released the names of more than 20 priests who had at least one “credible” claim of sex abuse of a child or adolescent against them, including two priests who the church said each had more than a dozen victims.    That list included 19 priests for the archdiocese and four who were members of religious orders who served in the archdiocese, dating back to 1940.
    Millers said there had been a “sea change” since 2002, in church responses to such allegations.
    Reporter Chris Kenning can be reached at ckenning@ gannett.com or 502-582-4307.
    Here’s the list of 22 priests with at least one substantial abuse allegation:
    Here’s a list of the 14 credibly accused religious order priests and others:
    Here is a list of priests who were accused but there was not enough information to fully investigate and confirm the report: Name, ordination year, date of death/status.

2/9/2019 Abuse of nuns in spotlight - Pope’s statement does not go far enough, some say by Lindsay Schnell, USA TODAY
    Pope Francis’ acknowledgement aboard the papal plane this week that nuns have suffered sexual abuse by priests and even bishops – including nuns in the United States – caught many off guard with its frankness.
    But it wasn’t exactly new information, according to U.S. female leaders within the Catholic Church.
    In a statement Thursday, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the largest association representing nuns in the U.S., said that while this problem is prevalent mostly in developing countries – there have been many cases in Africa, and last year a nun in India accused a priest of repeatedly raping her between 2014 and 2016 – it has gone on in the U.S., too.
    The conference specifically referenced a 1996 study from St. Louis University that indicated, “there were sisters in the United States who had suffered some form of sexual trauma by Catholic priests.    Often those sisters did not share this information even with their own communities.”
    Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability, a website that tracks abusive priests, was both underwhelmed and hopeful after hearing the pope’s comments.
    “I guess I was bewildered that the pope verifying this should make headlines – it’s an epidemic problem in certain areas,” she said.    “The Vatican has documentation on likely tens of thousands of cases of sexual violence, and so when a Vatican official or the pope makes a pronouncement as if it’s occurring to them for the first time – as if they’re identifying a problem for the first time – it strikes me as disingenuous.”
    The Catholic Church has been engulfed in sex-abuse scandals for at least 20 years, as stories of priests abusing children continue to flood the news media. Now, the crisis of priests also abusing nuns has joined the mainstream conversation, buoyed by the strength of the #MeToo movement.    Still, it is not a new phenomenon: As early as the 1990s, leaders of women’s religious orders wrote reports detailing abuse of nuns.
    Just last week, Women Church World, a Vatican magazine, acknowledged that some nuns have had abortions or given birth to the children of priests as a direct result of rape.    And in November, in a surprising move, the International Union of Superiors General, the organization that represents the world’s Catholic women’s religious orders, not only criticized the “culture of silence and secrecy” that led to abuse, but urged nuns to report abuse to police.
    In its statement Thursday, the LCWR said the pope’s “frank words shed light on a reality that has been largely hidden from the public. ... Our hope is that this acknowledgement is some comfort for those who have survived abuse and that it hastens the much-needed repair of the systems within the Catholic Church that have allowed abuse to remain unaddressed for years.”
    The pope made his remarks while returning to Rome after a trip to the United Arab Emirates.    He held an informal news conference aboard his plane when he told reporters, “It’s true.    There are priests and bishops who have done that.”
    Francis said the Vatican had been working on the issue and that some priests had been suspended.
    “Should more be done? Yes,” Francis said.    “Do we have the will?    Yes.    But it is a path we have already begun.”
    The pope made his comments after he was prompted by a question from Nicole Winfield, a reporter for The Associated Press who last summer investigated cases of nuns who had been abused in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America and concluded that the Vatican had not done enough to support victims or punish and hold accountable offenders.
    Annmarie Sanders, a spokeswoman for the LCWR, said she and her colleagues were surprised “and also grateful to Nicole Winfield for raising the question to the pope.”
    Barrett Doyle pointed out that the pope’s comment was simply that – an admission that this has happened, not an action plan for how to stop abuses in the future.
    “Nuns have been suffering. ... But I think his comment will have impact, it will encourage more nuns who are victims to come forward and report their perpetrators,” she said.    “So in that way, I’m glad he made (the comment) because it’ll get attention now.”
    Later this month, the pope is scheduled to meet with presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences in Rome to discuss a response to the global sex abuse crisis.    While the meeting is expected to focus on child sex abuse, advocates are hopeful the pope’s admission Tuesday could lead to nuns being part of the larger conversation.
    “Do we have the will?    Yes.    But it is a path we have already begun.” Pope Francis.
Pope Francis says some priests have been suspended over the abuse of nuns. ANDREAS SOLARO/ AFP/GETTY IMAGES

2/9/2019 Sacked cardinal issues manifesto in thinly veiled attack on pope by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Newly elected cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller of Germany arrives during a consistory ceremony led by Pope Francis in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican February 22, 2014
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – A cardinal who was sacked from a senior Vatican post by Pope Francis has written his own “Manifesto of Faith,” in the latest attack on the pontiff’s authority by a leading member of the Church’s conservative wing.
    Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, 71, a German who was the Vatican’s doctrinal chief until 2017, issued the four-page manifesto on Friday via conservative Catholic media outlets.
    He said “many bishops, priests, religious and lay people” had requested it.    He did not say how many and why he was issuing it now.
    However, conservatives balked this week when Francis made the first trip by a pope to the Arabian peninsula and signed a “Document on Human Fraternity” with a Muslim faith leader.
    Ultra-conservative Catholics are opposed to dialogue with Islam, with some saying its ultimate goal is to destroy the West.
    The manifesto was dated Feb. 10, the sixth anniversary of the eve of former Pope Benedict’s announcement of his resignation.    Benedict, 91, remains an icon for conservative Catholics.
    Mueller said he wrote it “in the face of growing confusion about the doctrine of the faith.”
    He said some Church leaders “have abandoned the people entrusted to them, unsettling them and severely damaging their faith.”    He warned against “the fraud of (the) anti-Christ.”

    Mueller, who did not mention the pope, is one of a handful of conservative cardinals who have open accused Francis of sowing confusion.
    They say he is weakening Catholic rules on moral issues such as homosexuality and divorce while focusing excessively on social problems such as climate change and economic inequality.
    Their leader is Raymond Leo Burke, 70, an American who was demoted from a senior Vatican position in 2014.
    Mueller has ramped up his criticism of the pope since Francis removed him as head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2017.     Most of the manifesto was a re-stating of the Church’s teachings, including several that Francis himself has strongly upheld, such as celibacy for priests and the ban on women’s ordination.
    One section, however, was a clear jab at Francis’ reaching out to Catholics who have divorced and remarried outside the Church.
    Francis believes some should be allowed to receive communion on a case by case basis, something that is anathema to conservatives.
    The Vatican has not commented on the document.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Ros Russell)
[It looks like some infighting among the Catholics on their core beliefs and we wonder where the Scarlot Woman fits in to either.].

2/10/2019 Pope denounces ‘scourge’ of human trafficking and slavery
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis arrives to hold a mass at Zayed Sports City Stadium in
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Tony Gentile/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis urged governments on Sunday to take decisive action against the $150 billion-a-year human trafficking business and the plight of millions of modern-day slaves.
    Francis was addressing tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square two days after the Roman Catholic Church marked an annual day of prayer and awareness over human trafficking.
    “I appeal, particularly to governments, so that the causes of this scourge are confronted decisively and the victims are protected,” the Argentine pontiff said.
    An estimated 45.8 million people live in some form of slavery across the world, according to the 2016 Global Slavery Index by human rights group Walk Free Foundation.
    Migration has become a dominant and highly-politicized issue in Europe, though the peak of more than 1 million asylum seekers arriving in 2015 has tapered off since then.
    Many migrants arrive via traffickers, often in dire conditions and for large sums of money.
    “We all can and must do more and help by reporting cases of exploitation and slavery of men, women and children,” the pope added.
    Feb. 8, when the Church marks trafficking awareness day, is the feast of Saint Josephine Bakhita, who was born in Sudan in 1869 and sold into slavery as a child by kidnappers.
    After she found freedom, she joined an order of nuns in northern Italy, where she died in 1947.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

2/11/2019 Vatican to rule next week on defrocking of disgraced U.S. cardinal: sources by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Theodore McCarrick arrives for a meeting at the Synod Hall in the Vatican
March 4, 2013, when he was a U.S. cardinal. REUTERS/Max Rossi/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Vatican officials will meet next week to decide the fate of disgraced former U.S. cardinal Theodore McCarrick over allegations of sexual abuse, Vatican sources said on Friday.
    Vatican sources told Reuters last month that McCarrick will almost certainly be dismissed from the priesthood, which would make him the highest profile Roman Catholic figure to be defrocked in modern times.
    Cardinal Luis Francisco Ladaria, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the Vatican department that will rule on the case, met Pope Francis on Thursday, according to a public Vatican schedule.
    The Vatican did not say what was discussed but one source said it was likely that Ladaria briefed the pontiff on the final stages of the McCarrick case.    The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the case.
    Francis, who will have to sign off on any dismissal decision, wants the McCarrick case over before heads of national Catholic churches meet at the Vatican from Feb. 21-24 to discuss the global sexual abuse crisis, three Vatican sources told Reuters last month.
    In July, McCarrick, 88, became the first Catholic prelate in nearly 100 years to lose the title of cardinal.    The allegations against him date back to decades ago when he was still rising to the top of the U.S. Church hierarchy.
    McCarrick, who rose to be a power broker in the American Church as Archbishop of Washington, D.C. from 2001 to 2006, is living in seclusion in a remote friary in Kansas.
    He has responded publicly to only one of the allegations, saying he has “absolutely no recollection” of an alleged case of sexual abuse of a 16-year-old boy more than 50 years ago.
    He has not responded publicly to separate allegations by several priests and ex-priests who have come forward alleging he used his authority to coerce them to sleep with him when they were adult seminarians studying for the priesthood.
    McCarrick has already received one of the most severe punishments short of defrocking. When the pope accepted his resignation as cardinal last July, he also ordered him to refrain from public ministry and to live in seclusion, prayer and penitence.
    The Vatican summit later this month offers a chance for Pope Francis to respond to criticism from victims of abuse that he has stumbled in his handling of the crisis and has not done enough to make bishops accountable.
    Recently, the Church also has come under scrutiny over sexual abuse of nuns by priests and bishops.    On Tuesday, Francis publicly acknowledged such abuse for the first time.
    Speaking to reporters on the plane returning from a trip to Abu Dhabi, Francis used the term “sexual slavery,” but the Vatican later sought to clarify his remarks, saying in a statement that he meant “manipulation or a type of abuse of power that is reflected in sexual abuse.”
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Frances Kerry)

    The following was found at https://kbzk.com/cnn-national/2019/02/11/380-southern-baptist-leaders-and-volunteers-accused-of-sexual-misconduct/
2/11/2019 380 Southern Baptist leaders and volunteers accused of sexual misconduct by CNN News
    Since 1998, about 380 Southern Baptist leaders and volunteers have faced allegations of sexual misconduct, according to a sweeping investigation by two Texas newspapers.
    The Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News also found that in the past 20 years, more than 700 victims have been abused, with some urged to have abortions and forgive their abusers.
    The newspapers said their investigation included “examining federal and state court databases, prison records and official documents from more than 20 states and by searching sex offender registries nationwide.”
    In Texas alone, the newspapers interviewed police and district attorneys in 40 counties.
    “Ultimately, we compiled information on 380 credibly accused officials in Southern Baptist churches, including pastors, deacons, Sunday school teachers and volunteers,” the newspapers said.    “We verified that about 220 had been convicted of sex crimes or received deferred prosecutions in plea deals.”
    Of those 220, 90 remain in prison and 100 are registered sex offenders, according to the report.
    The investigation comes as other religious bodies, including the Catholic Church, face accusations of widespread sexual abuse of its members, especially children, over decades.
Churches are autonomous
    But unlike the Catholic Church and other Christian denominations, the Southern Baptist Convention is a collection of 47,000 autonomous churches, with little power to force churches to comply with policies.
    “The SBC presents no governing policies to churches because the SBC is not a governing organization; it is a service organization.    Each church is self-governing,” said Sing Oldham, a spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention.
    “However, the Convention has consistently called on churches to report immediately to law enforcement any known or suspected instance of sexual abuse in a church context and has provided resources to inform churches of ways to help protect their congregants,” Oldham added.
    With about 15 million members, the Southern Baptist Convention is the largest Protestant denomination in the United States.
    In 2013, Southern Baptist leaders passed a non-binding resolution on child sexual abuse.
    “We remind all Southern Baptists of their legal and moral responsibility to report any accusations of child abuse to authorities in addition to implementing any appropriate church discipline or internal restoration processes.”    “We likewise call upon all Southern Baptists to cooperate fully with law enforcement officials in exposing and bringing to justice all perpetrators, sexual or otherwise, who criminally harm children placed in our trust.”
    The resolution also urged Southern Baptist churches to use background checks, including the Justice Department’s database of sexual predators “or other relevant resources” to screen potential staff and volunteers.
    The Southern Baptist Convention does not maintain its own registry of sexual offenders.
    “In 2018, as advocates again pressed SBC officials for such a registry, Houston Chronicle reporters began to search news archives, websites and databases nationwide to compile an archive of allegations of sexual abuse, sexual assault and other serious misconduct involving Southern Baptist pastors and other church officials,” the newspapers said.
    “We found complaints made against hundreds of pastors, church officials and volunteers at Southern Baptist churches nationwide.”
Leader responds to reports
    Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear, who was elected last June, was not immediately available for comment, but responded to the newspapers’ investigation on Sunday with a series of tweets.
    “The abuses described in this @HoustonChron article are pure evil,” Greear tweeted.
    “There can simply be no ambiguity about the church’s responsibility to protect the abused and be a safe place for the vulnerable.    The safety of the victims matters more than the reputation of Southern Baptists."
    “As a denomination, now is a time to mourn and repent.    Changes are coming.    They must.    We cannot just promise to ‘do better’ and expect that to be enough."
    “It’s time for pervasive change,” Greear continued.    “God demands it.    Survivors deserve it.    We must change how we prepare before abuse (prevention), respond during disclosure (full cooperation with legal authorities), and act after instances of abuse (holistic care).”
    Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, said in a blog post that the alleged abuses contained in the report were “alarming and scandalous.”
    “Church autonomy is no excuse for a lack of accountability,” Moore continued.
    “Yes, in a Baptist ecclesiology each congregation governs its own affairs, and is not accountable to anyone ‘higher up’ in a church system.    And yet, the decisions a church makes autonomously determine whether that church is in good fellowship with others.    A church that excuses, say, sexual immorality or that opposes missions is deemed out of fellowship with other churches.    The same must be true of churches that cover up rape or sexual abuse.”
    In the blog post, Moore also confronted those who “have implied that the horrific scandals we have seen in the Roman Catholic church are due to the theology of Catholicism, the nature of a celibate priesthood and so forth.”
    “No church should be frustrated by the Houston Chronicle’s reporting, but should thank God for it,” Moore concluded.
    “The Judgment Seat of Christ will be far less reticent than a newspaper series to uncover what should never have been hidden.”
[I do not always trust CNN, but if this is true then the Scarlet Woman has influenced another Christian church group, but then maybe we do not know the whole story as of yet.].

2/13/2019 Pope discusses ethics of artificial intelligence with Microsoft chief
Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith meets with Pope Francis
at Saint Martha's House at the Vatican, February 13, 2019. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Microsoft President Brad Smith met Pope Francis on Wednesday to discuss the ethical use of artificial intelligence and ways to bridge the digital divide between rich and poor nations, the Vatican said.
    The head of the global tech giant and the 81-year-old Roman Catholic leader, who once said he is a “disasterwhen it comes to technology, spoke for about 30 minutes in the pontiff’s residence.
    The pair discussed “artificial intelligence at the service of the common good and activities aimed at bridging the digital divide that still persists at the global level,” according to a statement.
    Smith, 60, told the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano in an interview that “strong ethical and new, evolved laws” were needed so that technological advances such as artificial intelligence do not fall into the wrong hands.
    The Vatican said its Academy for Life would jointly sponsor a prize with Microsoft for the best doctoral dissertation in 2019 on the theme of “artificial intelligence at the service of human life.”
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

2/14/2019 Pope names new ‘camerlengo’ to run Vatican in papal transition period
FILE PHOTO: New cardinal Kevin Joseph Farrell of the U.S. is seen as he receives guests in Paul VI's Hall at the Vatican following
a consistory ceremony led by Pope Francis to install 17 new cardinals November 19, 2016. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis on Thursday named the Irish-American cardinal Kevin Farrell as the new “camerlengo,” the prelate who runs the Vatican between the death or resignation of a pontiff and the election of a new one.
    Farrell, 71, who was in born in Ireland and is the highest-ranking American in the Vatican, succeeds the French cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, who died in July.
    The camerlengo, or chamberlain, runs the ordinary affairs of the Vatican city-state during the period known as the “sede vacante” (empty seat).
    While the position is steeped in tradition and rituals, he cannot make any major decisions and cannot change Church teachings.
    In the case of a papal death, the camerlengo is the person who officially confirms it, traditionally by tapping the pontiff’s head three times with a silver hammer and calling out his name.    He then seals the papal residence and office.
    In 2013, Benedict XVI became the first pope in six centuries to resign; Tauran began his duties the day the resignation took effect. Francis, aged 81, appears to be in good health.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

2/14/2019 ‘Few have too much’: Pope condemns global food inequality by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis waves as he arrives to lead the weekly general audience at
Paul VI hall at the Vatican February 13, 2019. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
    ROME (Reuters) – Pope Francis condemned unfair access to food around the world as “perverse” on Thursday, saying it threatened disaster for humanity if not remedied.
    “Few have too much and many have little,” said the 81-year-old Argentine pontiff, who is one of the world’s most respected voices on issues of poverty and social justice.
    The Roman Catholic Church’s leader made his comments during a visit to the Rome-based U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization for a session of the governing council of its sister agency, the International Fund for Agricultural Development.
    “Many do not have food and are adrift while the few are drowning in the superfluous,” said the pope, who has often backed U.N. targets to tackle hunger and climate change.,br>     “This perverse tendency of inequality is disastrous for the future of humanity.”
    In words echoing the complaints of grassroots protest movements around the world, Francis lamented that the rate of extreme poverty reduction was slowing “while the concentration of riches in the hands of few is increasing.”
    In the pope’s home continent Latin America, the number of people in extreme poverty increased in 2017 to the highest in almost a decade despite improvements in social spending policies, another U.N. agency said last month.
    “i>They live precarious situations: the air is flawed, the natural resources are depleted, the rivers polluted, the soil is acidified,” Francis said of the world’s most disadvantaged.
    “They do not have enough water for themselves or their crops, their sanitary infrastructures are very deficient, their housing scarce and defective.”
    Francis, who also met with indigenous representatives, said it was “paradoxical” that many of the more than 820 million people suffering hunger and malnutrition live in rural areas where most food is produced.    The global exodus from rural to urban areas was worrying, he added.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

2/15/2019 Several Ky. leaders named in massive Southern Baptist sex abuse report by Andrew Wolfson, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    Six Kentucky men are among roughly 380 Southern Baptist church preachers and volunteers accused of sexual abuse and misconduct over the past 20 years, two newspapers have reported.
    The Kentuckians named include a pastor, an associate pastor and four youth ministers, according to a database compiled by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News.    There are 2,400 Southern Baptist churches in Kentucky.
    The newspaper report said the more than 300 named either were convicted or credibly accused, leaving behind more than 700 victims, many of them shunned by their churches or urged to forgive their abusers or to get abortions.
    About 220 offenders, including Sunday school teachers, deacons and pastor, were convicted or took plea deals, and dozens of cases are pending, the report says.
    Nearly 100 are still held in prisons across the U.S., more than 100 are registered sex offenders, and some still work in Southern Baptist churches today.
    Curtis Woods, co-interim executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, said in a statement that “as a Christian leader and former child abuse prevention social worker, I grieve with thousands of Kentucky Baptist churches over the devastating effects of immorality in any sphere of human existence, especially when children are victimized by predatory adults.”
    Woods, who also is an assistant professor of applied theology and biblical spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, added that “in any child abuse case, the best interest of the child should be the first line of defense.    God-fearing Christians must see themselves as mandated reporters.    There is no excuse.”
    The Kentucky church leaders identified were:     The Texas newspapers reported that at least 35 church pastors, employees and volunteers who exhibited predatory behavior were still able to find jobs at churches during the past two decades.
    In some cases, church leaders allegedly failed to alert law enforcement about complaints or to warn other congregations about allegations of misconduct, according to the report.
    The news organizations found that many of the victims were adolescents who were molested, sent explicit photos or texts, exposed to pornography, photographed nude, or repeatedly raped by youth pastors.
    Some victims as young as 3 were molested or raped inside pastors’ studies and Sunday school classrooms.    A few were adults — women and men who sought pastoral guidance and instead say they were seduced or sexually assaulted.
    The investigation found that 250 people have been victimized since 2008, when Debbie Vasquez, who said she had been molested and impregnated decades earlier by her pastor, asked Southern Baptist officials and its 47,000 churches to track sexual predators and take actions against churches that harbored them.
    The newspapers said the Southern Baptist Convention rejected that and other reform measures in part because Baptist churches operate independently and the committee didn’t have the authority to force them to report sexual abuse to a central registry.
    The newspapers quoted August “Augie” Boto, the committee’s executive director, saying he was sorry to learn about the findings but that “what we’re talking about is criminal” and “it’s going to happen.”    He added: “That statement does not mean that we must be resigned to it.”
    The newspaper said Vasquez implored Southern Baptist leaders to consider preventive measures like those adopted by the Roman Catholic Church.
    In 2002, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops approved the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People that established zero tolerance of sexual abuse; required reporting of child sexual abuse to authorities; and prescribed a policy of transparency and promoting a safe environment for children.”
    On Friday, Catholic Church leaders in Louisville released a list of 48 priests and members of religious orders credibly accused of sexual abuse, many of them previously disclosed in lawsuits and criminal prosecutions.
    The report released by the Archdiocese of Louisville was prepared by an independent reviewer who examined archdiocese files involving minors who were sexually abused by diocesan priests.    It marked the first time Louisville’s archdiocese has published such a list from its files.
    That 48 included:     The Texas newspapers reported that at least 35 church pastors, employees and volunteers who exhibited predatory behavior were still able to find jobs at churches during the past two decades.
The headquarters of the Southern Baptist Convention is in Nashville, Tenn. MARK HUMPHREY/AP


2/15/2019 Abortion bill clears Senate panel - ‘Fetal heartbeat’ plan would ban procedure by Deborah Yetter, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    FRANKFORT — A bill to ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually around the sixth week of pregnancy, easily passed in the Senate on Thursday just hours after it won approval from a Senate committee.
    Senate Bill 9 passed on a vote of 31-6, with some who voted no arguing the bill clearly is unconstitutional because it would effectively ban abortion in Kentucky and likely will cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal costs.
    Sen. Morgan McGarvey, a Louisville Democrat who voted against the bill, said it is a purely political opportunity to fire up voters in advance of this year’s governor’s race.
    “These are political bills,” McGarvey said.    “We’re pandering to the base to gin up support.    We are pushing this to the extreme, I believe, for political purposes.”
    But Senate President Robert Stivers, a Manchester Republican, disputed that claim in voting for SB9.
    “It’s about life; it’s not about politics,” said Stivers, who became emotional as he described learning at Christmas his son’s wife was pregnant and he was to have a grandson.
    And he said the constitutionality of the bill could change, given the more conservative makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court.
    “Who sits on the Supreme Court determines whether it is constitutional or not,” he said.
    Earlier Thursday, SB9 passed committee amid applause and cheers from supporters who packed the hearing before the Senate Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection — despite objections from the sole woman on the 14-member committee and opponents who said it is unconstitutional and would eliminate abortion in Kentucky.
    “Each of you took an oath to uphold the Constitution,” said Kate Miller, with the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky.    “This bill is patently unconstitutional.    The second it is signed, the ACLU will file a lawsuit, and much like the other laws you have passed, we expect it will be held up unsuccessfully in litigation for years.”
    But supporters of SB9, sponsored by Sen. Matt Castlen, an Owensboro Republican, insisted it is necessary to protect lives of unborn children.    To illustrate his point, he offered a demonstration of an ultrasound of a pregnant woman from Castlen’s district with the heartbeat played over the microphone.
    April Lanham, of Philpott, who is 18 weeks pregnant, became tearful as Castlen held a microphone close to the instrument placed on her abdomen as she sat at the witness table before lawmakers.
    “What you’re hearing is a child’s heartbeat,” Castlen said.    “It’s telling us it’s alive.”
    Supporters who testified also included Claire Culwell, of Austin, Texas, 30, who said she was a surviving twin of an abortion her mother had at age 13 that terminated only one fetus.
    “I came here today to show you the face of a survivor,” she said.    “We deserve to have a chance at life.”
    Committee Vice Chairman C. B. Embry, a Morgantown Republican, said the bill has broad support in his district.
    “Human life is the most precious gift the Lord gives us,” he said.    “I personally cannot vote to take the life of an innocent, unborn precious child.”
The bill passed the committee
    10-2, over objections of Sens. Denise Harper Angel and Perry Clark, Louisville Democrats who both voted no.
    Angel, the only woman on the panel, said she objects to passing a bill likely to be found unconstitutional, noting that a similar law recently was struck down in North Dakota with legal costs of around $500,000 awarded to those who challenged it.
    “I just don’t understand why we would jeopardize scarce funds on a truly unconstitutional bill,” she said.
    And Clark expressed outrage that the panel had “no idea” about the circumstances of woman and girls who seek abortions.
    “We have not walked in their shoes,” Clark said.
    SB9 is one of a handful of measures pending in the legislative session meant to eliminate or restrict abortion.
    Five people testified against the fetal heartbeat bill, including a Louisville obstetrician, a woman who said she had an abortion and another woman who said she had considered an abortion after doctors told her her fetus had severe defects and would not survive the pregnancy.
    Dr. Susan Bornstein, of Louisville, said abortion is part of reproductive health care for women and can be necessary in cases of unintended pregnancies, even though it is a difficult decision.
    “No woman wants to have an abortion,” she said.
    Rather than pass laws to try to restrict abortion, officials should “find ways to increase access to contraception,” she said.
    Katie Vandegrift, of Midway, told the panel she considered abortion after she learned a much-wanted baby she was carrying was severely deformed and wouldn’t survive in the womb.    The fetus died during the pregnancy but Vandegrift said SB9 would bar other women from making difficult choices in such cases.
    “The best person to make that decision is me, not the General Assembly,” she said.
    And Nicole Stipp, of Louisville, said she obtained an abortion in 2017 for an unplanned pregnancy and said she doubted many of the men on the panel could appreciate circumstances that cause women to seek abortions “if you’ve never been pregnant.”
    “I wouldn’t want to stand between you and your doctor while you discuss a vasectomy or birth control for your daughters,” she said.

2/15/2019 Vatican prepares for worldwide meeting of bishops to tackle sexual abuse scandal by OAN Newsroom
    Preparations are underway at the Vatican ahead of a worldwide meeting of bishops over the sexual abuse scandal plaguing the church.
    Over 200 bishops are expected to attend next week’s summit, where experts and abuse survivors will testify about the changes they want the Holy See to implement.    They hope their recommendations will push the church to “adopt a culture of accountability and transparency.”
    As anticipation mounts for the summit, Pope Francis has tried to downplay — what he calls — “inflated expectations” about the meeting.    He said it will take more than three days to root out the problem of abuse.
Pope Francis addresses the Governing Council of the International Fund for
Agricultural Development (IFAD), a United Nations agency, in Rome, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
    “The Vatican is saying that not everything will be resolved in three days obviously, it is a very short period of time, but the goal is that every bishop goes back home with a clear understanding of what to do in cases of sexual abuse of children,” explained Philip Pullella, Vatican correspondent – Reuters.
    Pope Francis pointed out that the summit is not to create new policies, but to teach bishops how to deal with accusations of sexual abuse in their parishes.
    Many survivors, however, believe the summit is “too little too late” and doesn’t address the issue of the church covering up for sexual abusers in the clergy.

2/16/2019 Former Cardinal McCarrick defrocked over sex abuse allegations
FILE PHOTO: Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick during an interview with Reuters
at the North American College in Rome February 14, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
    ROME (Reuters) – Disgraced former U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has been expelled from the Roman Catholic priesthood following allegations against him, including sexual abuse of minors, the Vatican said on Saturday.
    McCarrick, who in July became the first Roman Catholic prelate in nearly 100 years to lose the title of cardinal, has now become the highest profile church figure to be dismissed from the priesthood in modern times.
    The defrocking was announced ahead of next week’s meeting at the Vatican between the heads of national Catholic churches to discuss the global sexual abuse crisis.
    McCarrick had appealed the decision but it was upheld and Pope Francis said no further appeal would be allowed.
    The allegations against McCarrick date back to decades ago when he was still rising to the top of the U.S. church hierarchy.
    McCarrick, who became a power-broker as Archbishop of Washington, D.C. from 2001 to 2006, is living in seclusion in a remote friary in Kansas.
    He has responded publicly to only one of the allegations, saying he has “absolutely no recollection” of an alleged case of sexual abuse of a 16-year-old boy more than 50 years ago.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella, editing by Steve Scherer and Angus MacSwan)
[So do we have to wait until the God in heaven announces punishment or will there be any earthly charges against him as the Scarlet Woman moves through the earth for more victims.].

2/16/2019 Exclusive: McCarrick defrocking shows ‘bishops not above the law’ – top Vatican investigator by Philip Pullella
Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, is seen during a Mass at Basilica of the National Shrine
of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, U.S., January 26, 2017. Picture taken January 26, 2017. REUTERS/Gregory A. Shemitz
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The defrocking of former U.S. cardinal Theodore McCarrick is a “very important signal” to the Catholic Church hierarchy that no one is above the law, the Vatican’s top sexual crimes investigator said on Saturday.
    McCarrick was expelled from the priesthood after being found guilty of sexual crimes against minors and adults
    He is the highest profile figure to be dismissed from the Church in modern times, as it continues to struggle with a decades-long sexual abuse crisis.
    In an interview with Reuters, Archbishop Charles Scicluna said the decision showed the church was taking action.
    “It is a very important signal that, if we’re talking about accountability for bishops, we are actually doing it,” said Scicluna, the archbishop of Valletta, Malta.
    “We are walking the talk.    There is also a very important signal for us bishops that we are not above the law … we should be judged according to the highest standards,” he said.
    McCarrick’s sexual misconduct with adult seminarians was an open secret in the U.S. Church, and Scicluna said the decision could lead to “soul searching” by those who may have known about it but did not say anything.
    The Church has repeatedly come under fire for its handling of the sexual abuse crisis, which has exposed how predator priests were moved from parish to parish instead of being defrocked or turned over to civilian authorities in countries around the world.
    Scicluna, an archbishop in Malta, holds a top post in the Vatican department that judged McCarrick.
    Pope Francis and his predecessor Pope Benedict have dispatched Scicluna over the years to investigate the most sensitive and notorious sex abuse cases, including that of the Legionaries of Christ religious order in Mexico in 2006 and widespread abuse in Chile last year.
    The McCarrick ruling was announced ahead of next week’s meeting at the Vatican between the heads of national Catholic Churches and Vatican officials, including Scicluna, on the global abuse crisis.
    “It (the McCarrick decision) sends a very clear signal that we are getting together to talk but we need to go out from speeches to action,” Scicluna said.    “I think that this is one of the strong signals that Pope Francis is sending.”
    Vatican sources have said the pope wanted the McCarrick case settled before the Feb. 21-24 meeting, which will be attended by nearly 200 bishops, experts and Vatican officials.
    The meeting offers Francis a chance to respond to criticism from victims of abuse that he has stumbled in his handling of the crisis and not done enough to make bishops accountable.
    “(The meeting) will address questions of responsibility, accountability and transparency,” Scicluna said.
    Priests and ex-priests have said McCarrick abused his authority to coerce them to sleep with him when they were adult seminarians studying for the priesthood.
    Scicluna said the McCarrick decision “will raise a number of questions” about the screening process for candidates for the priesthood and to become bishops.    He added that “hiding any aspect of a person’s life or lifestyle is a great wound to the integrity of the process.”
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Hugh Lawson)
[Well, one down and wheres the rest.    Pope you have some CLEANING OF THE SWAMP TO DO!!!!!.].

2/17/2019 Catholic Church credibility on the line at abuse meeting by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO - Pope Francis holds a mass at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The Vatican will gather senior bishops from around the world later this week for a conference on sex abuse designed to guide them on how best to tackle a problem that has decimated the Church’s credibility, but critics say it is too little, too late.
    The unprecedented four-day meeting, starting on Thursday, brings together presidents of national Roman Catholic bishops conferences, Vatican officials, experts and heads of male and female religious orders.
    “I am absolutely convinced that our credibility in this area is at stake,” said Father Federico Lombardi, who Pope Francis has chosen to moderate the meeting.
    “We have to get to the root of this problem and show our ability to undergo a cure as a Church that proposes to be a teacher or it would be better for us to get into another line of work,” he told reporters.
    The meeting, whose theme is “prevention of abuse of minors and vulnerable adults,” comes as the 1.3 billion-member Church still struggles to enact a concerted, coordinated and global effort to tackle a crisis that is now more than two decades old.
    Lombardi, 71, said bishops from countries including the United States, which have developed protocols for preventing abuse and investigating accusations against individual members of the clergy, would share experiences and knowledge with those from developing countries, including those whose cultures make it harder to discuss abuse.
    The Church has repeatedly come under fire for its handling of the sexual abuse crisis, which exposed how predator priests were moved from parish to parish instead of being defrocked or turned over to civilian authorities around the world.
    Most of the crimes took place decades ago.
    The pope called the meeting in September at the suggestion of his closest advisers, and last month he told reporters it was necessary because some bishops still did not know fully the procedures to put in place to protect the young and how to administer cases of abuse.
    Francis said it would be a “catechesis,” or a teaching session, a pronouncement that stunned victims of abuse and their advocates.
DISGRACEFUL DELAY
    Some experts have questioned why it has taken so long to get to this point.
    “The fact that this still exists in 2019, that there is still awareness-raising that has to be done (among bishops) is a measure of what a low priority this has truly been for the Vatican,” said Anne Barrett-Doyle of the U.S.-based abuse tracking group bishopaccountability.org.
    “I hope he has the candor to admit that it’s absolutely disgraceful that that’s where we are today,” said Barrett-Doyle, speaking in St. Peter’s Square.
    On Saturday the Vatican sent what some saw as a warning that it would get tough with bishops who have either committed abuse or covered it up.
    It expelled former U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick from the Roman Catholic priesthood after he was found guilty of sexual crimes against minors and adults.
    While many priests have been expelled for sexual abuse, few bishops have met the same fate, and McCarrick was the first former cardinal to be thrown out.
    Archbishop Charles Scicluna, the Vatican’s top sexual crimes investigator, told Reuters that McCarrick’s dismissal was a “very important signal” to the Catholic hierarchy that no one is above the law.
    While victims of sexual abuse and their advocates welcomed the expulsion, many were skeptical.
    “I worry that this (McCarrick’s expulsion) is not going to be anything more than the equivalent of the pope tossing a bone to placate his critics, placate the survivors,” said Phil Saviano, who was molested by a priest in Massachusetts when he was 12 years old and whose story was told in the 2015 Oscar-winning film Spotlight.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; editing by Mike Collett-White and David Evans)

2/18/2019 French court allows paedophile priest film ahead of trial by Emmanuel Jarry
FILE PHOTO: Francois Ozon poses with Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize for the film "By the Grace of God," after the
awards ceremony at the 69th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin, Germany, February 16, 2019. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch/File Photo
    PARIS (Reuters) – A Paris court on Monday threw out an attempt to block the French release of a film inspired by the real-life battle fought by victims of a paedophile Catholic priest, lawyers said.
    Father Bernard Preynat was accused of abusing dozens of boy scouts during the 1980s and early 1990s and was removed from his post in the Lyon diocese in 2015.    He has admitted sexual abuse, according to his lawyer, and is due to go on trial this year.
    Francois Ozon’s film Grace a Dieu (By the Grace of God), which won the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize on Saturday at Berlin’s International Film Festival, tackles the story behind France’s most important church child abuse scandal to date.
    Preynat’s lawyer said he regretted the court’s decision.
    “To portray a man as guilty for two hours when he hasn’t yet been tried is an affront to the presumption of innocence,” lawyer Emmanuel Mercinier told Reuters.
    The judge confirmed that events were presented as fact in the film, Mercinier said, but ruled that a written message at the film’s end indicating that Preynat was innocent until proven guilty was sufficient under French law.
    The movie is due to be released on Wednesday, on the eve of a meeting in Rome between Pope Francis and senior bishops from around the world to discuss the protection of minors.
    Pope Francis has come under fire for his handling on a spreading sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church.
    Much of the focus has been on the United States, Chile and Australia.    The trial last month, however, of the Roman Catholic archbishop of Lyon, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, who is accused of failing to act on historic abuse allegations against Preynat, turned the focus back onto European clergy.
    The film recounts the true story of a group of sex abuse victims who in 2015 formed an association, La Parole Liberee, (The Freed Word) to shatter the silence around the abuse allegedly committed by Preynat.
    Ozon said the film could not prejudice Preynat’s trial as the events had all been reported by the media.    “Everything I talk about in the film has already appeared in the French press,” Ozon told reporters at an advanced screening.
(Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

2/18/2019 Mexican president will not ‘confront’ church over sexual abuse claims
People watch Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on a video screen during an event in
Badiraguato, in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, Mexico February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril
    MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Monday he would not confront the country’s Catholic Church over sexual abuse allegations and that it would fall to the prosecutor’s office to investigate such claims.
    At least 152 Catholic priests in Mexico have been suspended over the past nine years for sexual abuse against minors, and some of those priests have been jailed over those offences, Mexico’s Archbishop for Monterrey said earlier this month.
    The Catholic Church has reeled from sexual abuse scandals in the United States, Chile, Australia, Germany and a number of other countries in recent years.    Mexico is home to the world’s second-largest Catholic community after Brazil.
    “We don’t want to confront the church,” Lopez Obrador said at a regular news conference when asked about the role his administration would take in investigating sexual abuse allegations.
    “If there’s a legal process, we can’t hide it, we’re not going to be accomplices,” he said.    “But we’re not going to stoke the fire.”
    Pope Francis will receive bishops at the Vatican this week to discuss worldwide revelations of sexual abuse in the Church, which have hurt the institution’s credibility.    Although he has repeatedly promised zero tolerance for priests who abuse children, critics demand further action.
(Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon and Ana Isabel Martinez; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

2/18/2019 Polish NGO leaves to deliver sex abuse report to Pope
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis waves as he arrives to deliver the "Urbi et Orbi" message from the
main balcony of Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, December 25, 2018. REUTERS/Max Rossi/File Photo
    WARSAW (Reuters) – Representatives of a Polish NGO helping victims of child abuse committed by Catholic priests left Warsaw early on Monday hoping to deliver a report to Pope Francis in the Vatican about Polish bishops neglecting pedophilia cases.
    Their trip comes just days before an unprecedented Vatican conference on sex abuse gathering senior bishops from around the world to discuss how best the 1.3 billion-member Church can tackle a problem that has decimated the Church’s credibility.
    The four-day meeting, starting on Thursday with the theme of “prevention of abuse of minors and vulnerable adults,” is intended to help faltering attempts to coordinate a global response to a crisis that is now more than two decades old.
    The “Have No Fear” organization, led by a former victim Marek Lisinski, hopes that the report, which accuses some bishops in devoutly Catholic Poland of failing to report crimes, will trigger resignations from top positions in the Church.
    Such a development happened in Chile in 2018, where the Pope accepted resignations of several bishops after abuse scandals.
    “Our report contains the neglect of bishops over the past years. … We hope that the Pope, after reading this report, will react in the same way as in Chile,” Lisinski told Reuters at Warsaw airport as he was just about to get onto the plane.
    Mariusz Milewski, 28, was a victim of sexual abuse by a priest in a tiny town 101 miles (163 km) north-west of Warsaw, with the first incident taking place when he was nine.    He went on to be abused regularly by a priest for nine years.
    “Every time I went to the church I was afraid that the priest will invite me to the presbytery, where he did these things to me,” he told Reuters in a televised interview.
    “I was from a poor family, my father overused alcohol.    I was alone with this, and I had no one I could ask for help.    I was blaming myself and asking myself if he does it to me because of my sins,” Mariusz said.
    The perpetrator was jailed in 2014 for three years by a criminal court, after a canonical court declared him not guilty, according to documents seen by Reuters. Critics say this shows the Church often defends the perpetrators of abuse.
    In Poland victims of abuse by priests are often accused by society of making false accusations, even long after the offender is jailed, since priests have high social prestige.
(Reporting by Karol Witenberg and Marcin Goclowski, Editing by William Maclean)

2/19/2019 California diocese names 45 accused of sexual abuse
    OAKLAND, Calif. – The Catholic Diocese of Oakland, California, has released the names of 45 priests, deacons and religious brothers who officials say are “credibly accused” of sexually abusing minors.    The San Francisco Chronicle said Monday that Oakland’s list goes back to 1962 – when the diocese was founded.    None of the men are currently in the ministry.    Of the 45 people named, 20 were priests.    Oakland is the latest in a series of dioceses across the country to release names amid a scandal involving pedophile priests.
[With a church whose past included Crusades to punish those who required Christian belief and killed many for not being that or harassed until death, and many females who were burned on the stake or drowned for being witches, its future has turned it as the Scarlet Woman has reversed that the victims of the aggressors may see whom is now being crusaded.    But then this is a time in history when a generation is now not interested in the holiness, and is now pushing anti-christian values on the world at alarming rate and the Scarlet Woman may be riding on the back of the beast that came out of the sea.].

2/19/2019 Tenn. law protects transgender people by Natalie Allison, Nashville Tennessean USA TODAY NETWORK – TENNESSEE
    NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee has become the first state in the South with a hate crime statute protecting transgender individuals.
    State Attorney General Herbert Slatery, a Republican, issued an opinion Feb. 8 in response to a question from state Rep. Mike Stewart, a Democrat.
    “A defendant who targets a person for a crime because that person is transgender has targeted the person because of his or her gender within the meaning” of the state law that outlines sentence enhancements for hate crimes, Slatery wrote.
    Tennessee does not have an explicit hate crime charge, though the General Assembly added a hate crime factor in 2000 to judges’ sentencing rules for crimes targeting a person based on race, religion, color, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry or gender.
    Slatery’s decision affirms that transgender individuals should be covered under law, but it must still be tested in court in a case involving bias against a transgender victim.
    Stewart sought clarification from Slatery on whether transgender people would be covered after a discussion last year in a Senate committee regarding a bill filed by Democratic state Sen. Sara Kyle to add gender identity and expression to Tennessee’s hate crime sentencing law.
    The bill failed to move but raised the question about whether transgender individuals are included under the gender protection.
    Stewart said that in light of the attorney general’s opinion, he would take a wait-and-see approach before suggesting that the legislature alter the statute or develop an explicit hate crime charge.
    “Let’s see how the courts actually utilize the law in practice, and let’s see how much protection it provides,” Stewart said.
    Authorities in Cookeville said in 2016 that they would not investigate as a hate crime a case that involved a transgender woman’s truck being set on fire after someone wrote “Trump” on the vehicle’s hood.
    The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office said the vandalism did “not fit the criteria of a hate crime.”
    Chris Sanders, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, an LGBTQ rights advocacy organization, said the group worked with Stewart to seek the opinion.
    “What we as a community were all telling ourselves was nothing could be done in Tennessee as far as a penalty enhancement, if the perpetrator were even caught,” Sanders said of the case in 2016.
    He said he is pleased with Slatery’s ruling and hopes it will be applied as cases involving transgender victims move forward with sentencing.
[Last time that I looked at my Bible it still says "And God made males and females," there are no its, or not its, you are only male or female and if you change that then you are a freak of false nature.].

2/19/2019 Trump administration launches global push to decriminalize homosexuality by OAN Newsroom
    The Trump administration is launching an effort to decriminalize homosexuality across the globe.
    In a statement Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell said homosexuality is still outlawed in roughly 70 countries.    He went on to stress that certain regimes persecute sexual relations, conduct, or demeanor deemed as homosexual.
    Uganda, Russia, and Nigeria have passed anti-gay laws over the past few years, while Islamic regimes have persecuted homosexuality for decades.
FILE – In this July 27, 2018, file photo, people protest in front of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party headquarters in Tokyo
against the party lawmaker Mio Sugita. Sugita was condemned after saying in a magazine that the government shouldn’t use tax money
for the rights of LGBTQ individuals because they are “not productive.” Thirteen same-sex couples are filing Japan’s first lawsuits
challenging the constitutionality of the country’s rejection of same-sex marriage on
Valentine Day, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019 in Tokyo. (Iori Sagisawa/Kyodo News via AP, File)
    Gay rights activists have said attitudes toward homosexuality have gotten worse in recent years.
    “I think just the LGBTQ community as a whole has been marginalized all the time.    So, a gay child also growing up, same way, absorbs the fact that this is wrong, you know.    So it’s really unfortunate that even though it’s not even that you’re being taught that, but you’re just, you absorb it by the community, and it begins with the family and then extends out to the community.” — Shelly Chopra Dhar, film director – India.
    Grenel said the Trump administration’s new initiative falls in line with the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
[This is the first issue that I have disagree with the Trump administration, whether it is a crime or not a crime, in the eyes of God, it is sinful and all should be aware that Sodomy is generally anal or oral sex between people or sexual activity between a person and a non-human animal, but it may also mean any non-procreative sexual activity. Originally, the term sodomy, which is derived from the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Book of Genesis, was commonly restricted to anal sex.    Decriminalize homosexuality does not make it right to do as it is a transgression against divine law or a crime against nature.
    God will judge them and it is not my place to punish them
.]

2/19/2019 Placards outside Montserrat Monastery expose abuse in Spanish Church by Sabela Ojea
Miguel Hurtado, 36, who says he was sexually abused at the age of 16 by a Benedictine monk from
Montserrat Abbey in Catalonia, poses for a portrait in Madrid, Spain, January 25, 2019. REUTERS/Susana Vera
    MONTSERRAT, Spain (Reuters) – Tourists and worshippers visiting Catalonia’s imposing mountain-side Montserrat Monastery on a sunny Sunday this month appeared to pay little heed to two men with placards demanding that the local abbot be defrocked for covering up sexual abuse.
    But the pair, who say they were sexually abused in their youth, are making themselves heard by society in Spain and elsewhere as they pressure the Catholic Church to come clean on such wrongdoing by clergy.
    The Vatican is holding an unprecedented meeting of senior bishops from around the world, experts and heads of male and female religious orders on Feb. 21-24 to discuss how to tackle sexual abuse.
    Miguel Hurtado, 36, runs an online petition to Spanish authorities to significantly extend the statute of limitations for sexual abuse against minors.    The petition on website change.org has received over 520,900 signatures since it launched in 2016.
    Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who is facing an early general election in April, said on the petition website that he would study the proposals and act to prevent that kind of crime.
    In Spain, historically a fervently Catholic country, activists say thousands of cases had likely been silenced and many could emerge now as the debate opens up.
    “For me, the worst part were not the abuses, but the Church covering it up,” Hurtado told Reuters.
    He said the abbot of Montserrat, Josep Maria Soler, had for years sought to silence his accusation that monk Andreu Soler sexually molested him 20 years ago when he was a 16-year-old Boy Scout in a group led by the monk.
    The monk, who shared the same last name but was not related to the abbot, died in 2008.
    Hurtado said his abuser, 50 years his senior, touched his genitals under the pretext of telling him masturbation was wrong, and tried to tongue-kiss him, which left him “petrified, without knowing what to do.”
    The monastery said in a statement to the media last month that the abbot had known about Hurtado’s accusations since taking over in 2000 and that it paid 8,600 euros ($9,740) to cover Hurtado’s therapy costs and expenses with lawyers in 2003.
    The monastery promised “to act with complete transparency” and asked for “forgiveness for everything where it has not lived up to expectations” adding it had always been guided by a desire to help Hurtado.
    The monastery declined to provide any further comment to Reuters on Hurtado’s demands for the abbot to be fired.    It also declined a request to interview the abbot.
    The abbot told the congregation on Feb. 3, the day of Hurtado’s protest: “We humbly ask the victims for forgiveness, sympathize with their pain and offer them our support.    Sexual abuse of minors by the priests are deeply hurtful because they … betray the confidence deposited in them.”
    The monk, who “always maintained a different version of what occurred” was transferred in 2000 “out of precaution,” the monastery said.
    Since Hurtado went public with his accusations in January, eight people have denounced the same monk for having sexually abused them years ago, according to Spanish media.
‘COMPLICIT SILENCE’
    Standing beside Hurtado on Feb. 3 with a sign demanding “Transparency and Responsibility at Montserrat” was Briton Peter Saunders, the founder of the British National Association for People Abused in Childhood.    Until 2017, he sat on the Vatican’s Commission for the Protection of Minors set up by Pope Francis in 2014.
    “The Vatican hopes that we’ll just go away and leave them be, but it isn’t gonna happen,” he said, adding that he doubted the sincerity of the pope’s “zero tolerance” stance toward abusers and cover-ups because he said Francis had sanctioned the reinstatement of various clerics accused of these crimes.
    The Church has repeatedly been criticized for its handling of the sexual abuse crisis, which exposed how predator priests were moved from parish to parish instead of being defrocked or turned over to civilian authorities around the world.
    Some changes are under way in Spain.    On Feb. 12, the regional bishops’ conference that includes Montserrat issued an apology to all victims of abuse.    Last November, a senior Spanish bishop, Gil Tamayo, said there is “complicit silence” of the Spanish Church on sex abuse cases.
    The government has drafted a bill that would extend the statute of limitations, although not as much as Hurtado proposes.    It has not been submitted to parliament.
    On Saturday, the Vatican sent what some saw as a warning that it would get tough with bishops who have either committed abuse or covered it up.    It expelled former U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick from the priesthood after he was found guilty of sexual crimes against minors and adults.
    Hurtado, who is scheduled to meet the Vatican summit’s organizing committee on Wednesday along with 11 other victims, says the Montserrat abbot should have reported his case to the police while the statute of limitations still allowed it, instead of paying what he said was “money for my silence.”
    He said he returned the money in 2015, except for 1,400 euros paid in lawyer’s fees, after learning that the abbey published a book praising his abuser in 2007.
    The monastery confirmed he returned the money, which it said was donated to charity.    It said the abbot had apologized for the book to Hurtado and had promised to remove it from the monastery’s catalog.
    Under Spanish law, victims of molestation cases that do not involve rape have five years after they have turned 18 to seek justice.    More serious cases can be reported 15-20 years past the age of 18.    Hurtado hopes to lift the initial threshold after which the statute of limitations kicks in to 50 from 18 years.
    Such an extension would apply to cases similar to that of Teresa Conde, 52 and a philosophy teacher from Salamanca, who says she was raped by a priest 30 years her senior when she was 14.    The abuse continued for almost three years.
    “The rapist went unpunished then and those who covered up go unpunished now,” says Conde, who opened up to her family about the rapes when she was 42 after a lifetime of psychological trauma.    She says she only started really living when the priest died three years ago.
    Father Daniel Garcia, a leading clergyman at the time in the area where Conde went to school, corroborated her story to Reuters based on a conversation he had with the priest 10 years ago.
Click on https://reut.rs/2X8v1oc for a related photo essay.
(Writing by Andrei Khalip; Editing by Frances Kerry)

2/19/2019 Chilean nuns find ‘relief’ in Pope’s recognition of Church abuse
The former nun Yolanda Tondreaux speaks during an interview with Reuters in Talca, Chile
February 15, 2019. Picture taken February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Matias Medel NO RESALES NO ARCHIVE.
    SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Three former Chilean nuns who claim to have been sexually abused over two decades ago by priests in their religious order have hailed comments by Pope Francis earlier this month in which he recognized the abuse of nuns in the Catholic Church.
    The three nuns, who had been members of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan order in the Chilean city of Molina, 130 miles south of Santiago, told Reuters in an interview on Friday that they were embraced and fondled during the 1990s and 2000s by several priests who had since died.
    The three, Yolanda Tondreaux, Eliana Macias and Marcela Quitral, told Reuters TV they had reported the abuse to their mother superior but were told either that they were lying or had provoked the abuse and were threatened with being forced to leave the convent.
    Earlier this month, Pope Francis, whose papacy has been marked by efforts to quell a global crisis over sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy, said he was committed to stopping the abuse of nuns by priests and bishops, some of which had amounted to “sexual slavery.”     “There have been priests and even bishops who have done this.    I think it is still going on because something does not stop just because you have become aware of it,” he said.     This week, the Pope summoned bishops from around the world to a Vatican summit to develop a unified response on how to protect children from sexual abuse by clergy.    He said he would take similar action to confront abuse of nuns in the Church.
    Tondreaux told Reuters at her home in the city of Talca that the Pope’s provided “relief” that he “has broached this issue, that abuse exists of any kind – sexual, power, psychological, by priests, by bishops and by their superiors.”
    Quitral, speaking alongside her, added: “I told the mother superior many times about the fathers who were abusing nuns.    She said that we were to blame, that we had provoked them.”
    In December last year, the Vatican sent a delegation to investigate abuse claims made against the Good Samaritan order.
    A spokesman for the Talca prosecutor’s office confirmed that complaints had been filed against priests and a mother superior of the order for alleged sexual abuse and cover-up.    He said the investigation remained open and no charges had yet been brought.
    The Good Samaritan order declined to comment.
(Reporting by Reuters TV; Writing by Aislinn Laing; Editing by Dan Grebler)

2/20/2019 Clergy try to crack ‘code of silence’ on sex abuse - Vatican summit to exhort bishops to take action by John Bacon, USA TODAY
    A crucial summit on clergy sexual abuse, which opened Thursday at the Vatican, drew church leaders from around the world in an effort to break a “code of silence” that allowed the misconduct to take place over decades.
    Presidents of more than 100 bishop conferences will be joined by high-ranking Vatican officials and Pope Francis.    The summit will focus on making bishops aware of their responsibilities, accountability and transparency, the Vatican said.
    Archbishop Charles Scicluna, a member of the organizing committee, described the summit as a major step in the pope’s efforts to end the code of silence.    The Rev. James Bretzke, a theology professor at Marquette University, said the pope demands a change in “clerical culture.”
    “The pope is saying this isn’t just a problem for the United States or Europe or elsewhere,” Bretzke told USA TODAY.    “The problem is the clerical culture that looks to protect the institution even at the expense of individuals who have been harmed.”
    Wednesday, a dozen victims of clergy sexual abuse will meet with summit organizers.    Chilean abuse victim Juan Carlos Cruz, who is coordinating a meeting, said his group will further urge bishops to stop pleading ignorance about abuse.
    Bishops have known “raping a child or a vulnerable person and abusing them has been wrong since the first century, the Middle Ages and now,” he said.
    John Thavis, a former Catholic News Service reporter and author of “The Vatican Diaries,” said the meeting with abuse victims was added after the Vatican program.
    “The bishops will no doubt hear some very direct criticism of their past failures,” Thavis said.
    Thavis said the true effectiveness of the summit will be determined by follow- up actions over the next year or so, “if and when the Vatican sends teams of auditors around the world to make sure that the summit’s conclusions are being implemented.”
    Tuesday, two groups representing the leadership of Catholic religious orders apologized for their failure to act quickly to halt sexual abuse of children by priests.    “We bow our heads in shame at the realization that such abuse has taken place in our congregations and orders, and in our church,” said the statement from the Union of Superiors General and its female counterpart, the International Union of Superiors General.
    The statement said the groups’ members, including more than 100,000 priests and more than 500,000 religious sisters around the world, understand that abusers are manipulative and deliberately hide their actions.    Leaders failed to see or take seriously the warning signs of abuse, the statement said.
    “We acknowledge that there was an inadequate attempt to deal with this issue and a shameful lack of capacity to understand your pain,” the statement said.    “We offer our sincerest apologies and our sorrow. ... We invite you to work with us to put in place new structures to ensure that the risks are minimized.”
    Last week, Pope Francis defrocked former U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, 88, after Vatican officials found him guilty of sex crimes against minors and adults.    McCarrick is the most senior Catholic official to be defrocked for such crimes.
    Thavis said McCarrick’s case sends an important signal that even cardinals and powerful archbishops will be held accountable.
    “Unfortunately, the McCarrick case is also an example of just how long it has taken the church to face facts when it comes to sexual abuse,”    Thavis said.    “And it highlights the unresolved question of accountability for bishops who have moved abusive priests around and hidden these facts from the Catholic faithful.”
Contributing: The Associated Press
Members of an international coalition of lay people known as “acies ordinata” hold a demonstration in Rome on Tuesday
to denounce the “wall of silence” regarding child abuse within the Catholic Church. TIZIANA FABI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

2/20/2019 Southern Baptists set to clean house - Church aims to protect flock, not reputation by Holly Meyer, Nashville Tennessean USA TODAY NETWORK – TENNESSEE
    Southern Baptist leaders are pushing ahead with plans to address a sexual abuse crisis rocking the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.
    J.D. Greear, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, unveiled a series of proposals this week aimed at holding congregations and their leaders accountable for protecting those that attend their churches.
    The steps could include expelling some churches that have a “,i>wanton disregard for prevention of sexual abuse.”
    “If we don’t get this right, our churches will not be a safe place for the lost.    That is not something that I am OK with,” Greear told the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee in Nashville, Tennessee.    “I know that it is not something that you’re OK with either.”
    Greear, who leads the Summit Church in North Carolina, outlined 10 recommendations for change.    They are the first proposals to come out of the sexual abuse advisory group Greear formed last year.
    The changes range from providing free training for ministry leaders and encouraging churches to review their policies on abuse to calling for a re-examination of the ordination process.
    The Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News reported that 380 Southern Baptists with formal church roles have faced sexual misconduct allegations in the past 20 years.    Many were convicted of sex crimes and some are still in prison, but others continue to work in churches, the news organizations found.
    “We need to regard any exposure, any shining of light on abuse, as our friend, even if it makes us ask some uncomfortable questions about ourselves publicly.    Our job is to love and serve people, especially those who have suffered abuse,” Greear said.    “Our job is not to protect our reputation.”
    Greear addressed the regularly scheduled meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee on Monday night.
    “This is not a fabricated story that is made up by people with a secular agenda that is against us.    We’ve not taken reports of abuse in our churches as seriously as our gospel demands that we do, and sometimes even worse, outright ignored or silenced victims,” Greear said.    “We know that it is time that we back up our words with actions and we demonstrate our commitment to this.”
    The recommendations include a call to repent for decades of inaction and to make sure abuse is part of the discussion at the denomination’s annual meeting in Birmingham, Alabama, in June.
    Greear called out 10 Southern Baptist churches by name, including Second Baptist Church in Houston, that were accused in media reports of having “displayed a wanton disregard for the seriousness of abuse.”    Greear said those churches and any others facing allegations need to be looked into and possibly removed from the Nashville-based Southern Baptist Convention.
    “I am not calling for disfellowshipping any of these churches at this point, but these churches must be called upon to give assurances to the Southern Baptist Convention that they have taken the necessary steps to correct their policies and procedures with regards to abuse and survivors,” Greear said.    As he made his way through the list of recommendations, a murmur of “amens” underscored his point.    His speech was met with a standing ovation.
    In September, the convention’s Executive Committee allocated $250,000 for the sexual abuse advisory group Greear created soon after he was elected in June.    The advisory group’s purpose is to figure out how Southern Baptists can better respond to incidents and prevent abuse from happening.
    Greear said he formed the group because church leaders have “known that there is a problem.”
    “The reason I formed this group last summer was we have known that there is a problem,” Greear said.
    “Whatever we’ve done in the past we know clearly was not enough.”
    The implementation of all 10 recommendations is not a done deal. One barrier could be the denomination’s structure.    Southern Baptists believe in church autonomy, not top-down control like some other Christian denominations.    “In order to accomplish a lot of these things, everybody is going to have to come and play a role,” said Amy Whitfield with Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
    “I’m encouraged that the advisory group has been taking that challenge very seriously and bringing in the best expertise to dig through how can we do this,” said Russell Moore, who leads the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear outlined 10 recommendations for change,
ranging from leadership training to a review of certain policies. MARK HUMPHREY/AP

    As I had written on my home page dated 1995 at http://www.mazzaroth.com Revelation One through Five is revealed.
    The Age of Pisces began and the Eleven Disciples were sent out the Church Age began as Revelation One is opened and then the Seven Historical Church Ages ensued as projected from the Seven Churches in Asia.
    Revelation Two - The First Church as in Ephesus, the Apostolic or First Age from 33-100 A.D.
    Revelation Two - The Second Church as in Smyrna, the Caesars or Second Age with persecutions from 100-312 A.D.
.... and as time passes we jump ahead of some of the Churches/Ages to...
    Revelation Three - The Seventh Church as in Laodicea or the Apostate or Seventh Age, which may have begun in 1925 A.D. and will continue to the Tribulation.
    One can see in the parallelism of the Seven Churches in Asia,
    ... which transformed into the Seven Church Ages,
    ... which will also be found as Seven Churches in the last days.
    At the end of this age the following three subjects are of great interest:
    Diaspora and the The Return of Israel [Which happened in 1948] and gives us the Astronomical references to the Age of Aquarius.
    And as I have shown you this file of the "The Scarlet Woman and what our world has become to and men cannot fix it.    So we can only pray to God and ask for his help to guide us to do what is righteous, and hope that he answers, if it is not too late.

2/20/2019 Abuse victims demand to see pope, call for bishops to be fired by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis leads a Holy Mass during the 23rd World Day For Consecrated Life in
Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, February 2, 2019. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy demanded on Wednesday to meet Pope Francis to press their call for the Church to apply a zero tolerance policy including the dismissal of bishops who covered up such offences.
    The 12 victims met with five Vatican officials a day before the start of an unprecedented conference on clerical abuse that aims to guide senior bishops on how best to tackle a problem that has decimated the Church’s credibility.
    All the survivors of abuse who took part in the meeting, which lasted more than two hours, said they were disappointed the pope did not attend, even though he was not scheduled to be there.
    “We need to have a discussion with the man who makes the rules and has the power in this institution, and that’s Pope Francis,” said Peter Isely, an American from Milwaukee who was abused when he was a boy by a priest.
    Isely said the discussion had become “a little bit confrontational, a little heated at times but polite.”
    The four-day conference is bringing together presidents of national Roman Catholic bishops conferences, Vatican officials, experts and heads of male and female religious orders.    It takes place as the 1.3 billion-member Church still struggles to enact a concerted, coordinated and global effort to tackle a crisis that is now more than two decades old.
    Scandals over sexual abuse of minors have deeply damaged the Church’s credibility in the United States, Chile, Australia, Ireland and elsewhere.    Billions of dollars have been paid in the United States alone in settlements.
    “We made our demands for zero tolerance.    We want the pope to write into universal law: zero tolerance for the cover-up of sex crimes.    They can do it right now,” Isely told reporters after the meeting with the officials, all of them clerics.
    He and other victims said bishops who had covered up abuse should be dismissed from the priesthood, known as laicization, just like those who had committed the abuse itself.
    One of the Vatican participants said the pope was never due to attend on Wednesday as he would see other victims of abuse during the conference.    Victims who address the gathering will remain anonymous at their request.
VICTIMS: NO TEACHING NEEDED
    Victims have scoffed at the Vatican’s presentation of the conference as a teaching session that is necessary because not all bishops are totally familiar with how to deal with abuse.
    “We were very stern and very eloquent about what needs to happen, especially applying the laws that already exist and applying them with rigor,” said Juan Carlos Cruz, who was abused as a teenager in his native Chile by that country’s most notorious pedophile, Father Fernando Karadima.
    Karadima was found guilty of sexual abuse in a Vatican investigation in 2011, and defrocked last year by the Pope.    He has denied the accusations.
    “It is unconscionable that any bishop around the world, no matter what culture you are, no matter what country you come from, can say (he didn’t know how to handle cases of abuse).”    No!    That is not an excuse and that needs to end,” said Cruz.
    Isely said: “How do you get to be a bishop and you need an education on the rape of a child?
    Father Federico Lombardi, one of the five Vatican officials at the meeting, said the Vatican participants knew that “if the Church does not really confront these problems, it loses its credibility … we are perfectly aware of this and that is why the pope wanted this meeting.”
    Phil Saviano, whose story of the abuse by a priest when he was 12-years-old in Massachusetts was told in the 2015 Oscar-winning film “Spotlight,” said he demanded that the Vatican turn over documents on molesting priests, past or present.
    “It would be a wonderful sign of transparency and maybe some people who are bailing out of the Catholic Church, especially in the United States, may take it as a sign that maybe things are going to get better,” Saviano said.
    Isely and others who attended Wednesday’s meeting said they wanted to meet the pope because they represented groups with the most experience and information in gathering data on both abusers as well as victims.
    Some are leaders of groups such as Ending Clergy Abuse, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) and bishopaccountability.org, which has one of the world’s largest databases on abuse in the Church.
    “This is the brain trust,” Isely said.    “The Church needs us.”
(Editing by John Stonestreet and Frances Kerry)

2/20/2019 Taiwan government to unveil draft same-sex marriage law
FILE PHOTO: Same-sex marriage supporters hold hands as they taking part in a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) pride
parade after losing in the marriage equality referendum, in Kaohsiung, Taiwan November 25, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo
    TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan’s government said on Wednesday that it would propose a draft law to allow same-sex marriage in Asia’s first such bill amid a heated debate over marriage equality that has divided the self-ruled island.
    In November, Taiwan voters opposed marriage equality in a series of referendums, dealing a blow to the island’s reputation for liberalism in Asia.    The public votes defined marriage as between a man and a woman and asked for a special law to be enacted for same-sex union.
    The proposed law, presented by Taiwan’s cabinet, would grant same-sex couples the right to marriage, newly-appointed premier Su Tseng-chang said in a statement on Facebook late on Wednesday.
    In a move to “respect the result of the referendum,” Taiwan’s existing definition for marriage in civil law won’t be altered and a special law would be enacted for same-sex marriage, Su said.
    “We belong to the same country regardless of whether you are heterosexual or homosexual,” Su said.    “I sincerely hope that everyone could accept difference and treat each other in a friendly way.”
    The draft is expected to be discussed in a cabinet meeting on Thursday before it is sent to the parliament for review on the same day, cabinet spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka told Reuters.
    Taiwan’s parliament is expected to vote on the proposals by late May, a deadline for legalization set by its constitutional court when it declared in May 2017 that same-sex couples had the right to legally marry in Asia’s first such ruling.
    The highly divisive issue has presented a challenge to President Tsai Ing-wen, whose party suffered a major poll defeat in November amid mounting criticism over her reform agenda including marriage equality.
    Many rights activists have called a separate law for gay marriage “discriminatory,” citing the 2017 ruling that current laws violate the right to freedom of marriage and equality.
    Conservative groups have said same-sex marriage would affect Taiwan’s “family values.”    Taiwan hosts the region’s largest annual gay pride parade showcasing its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
(Reporting By Yimou Lee, Editing by William Maclean)

2/21/2019 Pope opens child sex abuse conference, promising ‘concrete’ remedies
Two men talk in front of the Saint Peter's Basilica ahead of a four-day meeting on the global sexual
abuse crisis, held by Pope Francis, at the Vatican, February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis opened a landmark Vatican conference on the sexual abuse of children by priests on Thursday by saying the Church would “listen to the cry of the little ones seeking justice.”
Victims expected “concrete and efficient measures” to address the abuse and scandal and not mere condemnations, Francis said in short opening statement.
    The “evil” of sexual abuse of children by priests had to be transformed into a “purification” of the Roman Catholic Church, he said.
    After the pope spoke, Cardinal Luis Tagle of the Philippines, who broke into tears as he read a keynote speech, acknowledged that “wounds have been inflicted by us, the bishops, on the victims.”
    The four-day conference brings together the heads of national Catholic bishops conferences, Vatican officials, experts and heads of male and female religious orders.
    Some victims’ groups have voiced scepticism, calling the event a publicity stunt aimed at cleansing the image of the 1.3 billion-member Church which has been severely tainted by the scandal that is now more than three decades old.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

2/21/2019 Cubans expected to voice unprecedented opposition in constitutional vote by Marc Frank and Nelson Acosta
A woman passes by a screen displaying images promoting the vote for "yes" for the constitutional referendum,
in Havana, Cuba, February 5, 2019. Picture taken on February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer
    HAVANA (Reuters) – For the first time since the 1959 Revolution, Cuban voters on Sunday may express significant dissent, when they go to the polls to ratify a new constitution that institutes modest economic changes while maintaining the one-party system.
    Opposition to the new charter could reach a quarter of the vote, one Cuban analyst said, a major increase from the low single digits of past votes.
    The new document introduces important changes to Cuba’s Cold War era constitution, recognizing private property for the first time, as well as the role of foreign investment and the Internet.
    While it confirms centralized economic planning, the charter introduces presidential term limits, adds a prime minister and restructures local government.    It also enshrines fundamental principles such as the right to legal representation upon arrest and habeas corpus.
    The current constitution was approved in 1976 with 97.7 percent of 5.6 million registered voters in favor, and just 54,000 voting no.    Most analysts expect the new version to pass by a lesser margin among today’s 8 million registered voters.
    “This time, I would say that around three-quarters of the population will vote yes,” said Rafael Hernandez, a leading Cuban political analyst and editor of Temas, a reform-orientated cultural magazine.
    “We have become accustomed to the idea that if something does not pass by 98 percent there is no consensus, even though in other countries gaining 65 percent would be huge.”
    A grassroots debate last year, instigated by the government, resulted in some secondary changes when a final version was approved in December by the National Assembly.
    Since then Cuba’s government has used its monopoly on public spaces, transportation and traditional media to launch an all-out campaign for approval.
    “Because it defends the sovereignty, independence and dignity of Cuban men and women, I vote yes,” Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel tweeted.
    The government has portrayed a “yes” vote as patriotic, while the new constitution’s most vociferous opponents say “no” would be a step toward ending decades of Communist rule.
    And with an ever-bolder civil society and more Cubans than ever before connected to the Internet, public debate has become more active than in the past.
    Hash tags such as #YoVotoSi (I vote yes) and #YoVotoNo (I vote no) compete for space on Twitter.
    “We can only overcome tyranny if everyone who wants a free and democratic Cuba gives full support … I vote no,” tweeted Jose Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, some of whose members have suffered temporary detentions and raids on their homes in the lead up to the referendum.
    Some Cubans, while expressing regret that reforms do not go further, say they will vote for the new charter.
    Alejandro Hernandez, a 54-year-old skilled tradesman in Havana, said the proposals were sufficient to garner his support.
    “That does not mean I agree with everything.    For example, the top figure of the country, the president, should be elected by the people, not the National Assembly,” Hernandez said.
    A clause allowing gay marriage by defining the institution as between persons, not a man and woman, provoked so much opposition that the new constitution contains no reference to marriage.    Its framers in fact removed a previous reference to marriage, effectively kicking the issue down the road for possible inclusion in a future family code.
    A growing evangelical movement, which boasts hundreds of thousands of ardent followers, campaigned against the measure and has not been appeased.
    “I am voting `no` because taking out that marriage is between a man and a woman opens the door in the future to something that goes against our beliefs and the Bible,” said Ruben, a Baptist pastor in Havana, requesting his last name not be used.
    The Catholic Church took a similar position in a four-point critique read from pulpits.    It also took issue with the document’s ideological bent, denial of access to media and education, and the specification that foreigners, but not Cubans, could invest.
    “Affirming as an absolute that ‘only in socialism and communism the person reaches his full dignity’ is totally unacceptable,” Monsignor Jose Felix Perez, secretary of the Cuban Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said of the proposal’s preamble.
(Reporting by Marc Frank; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Steve Orlofsky)

2/21/2019 Statue of Polish Solidarity priest accused of pedophilia removed
The monument of the late priest Henryk Jankowski is seen pulled down by activists
in Gdansk, Poland February 21, 2019. Agencja Gazeta/Bartek Sabela via REUTERS
    WARSAW (Reuters) – A statue of a priest who was leading figure in the movement that toppled Communism in Poland was removed by protesters, who accused the Catholic Church of neglecting accusations that he sexually abused minors.
    The statue of Henryk Jankowski in central Gdansk – the birthplace of the Solidarity movement – was lifted from its plinth overnight by three men who then handed themselves in to police, Gdansk police spokeswoman Karina Kaminska said on Thursday.
    Their actions came hours before Pope Francis opened a meeting he convened in Rome to address sex abuse scandals that have ravaged the Church’s credibility in Poland and elsewhere over the last three decades.     Jankowski, who died in 2010 and was never convicted of any sexual crime, was a Solidarity chaplain in Gdansk. He was defrocked in 2005 amid claims he had corrupted minors, a year after an investigation into accusations that he abused a 13-year-old boy was dropped.
    In an article published by Gazeta Wyborcza in December, a woman who said she had been abused by him as a child told the newspaper there had also been other victims.
    Gdansk Mayor Pawel Adamowicz, who was murdered last month, said having the statue in a public space was inappropriate, but city bishop Leszek Slawoj Glodz portrayed the accusations against Jankowski as attacks against the Church.
    A series of accusations of sexual abuse against the clergy in Poland, where nearly 85 percent of the 38 million population are Catholic, have also divided the country.
    A Polish rights group on Wednesday delivered a report to the pope that accuses some Polish bishops of failing to report pedophilia cases.
    The activists who toppled Jankowski’s statue said Church representatives had failed to “react to the evil” he had committed, according to a statement published on news portal OKO.press.
(Reporting by Marcin Goclowski; editing by John Stonestreet)

2/21/2019 Hundreds gather at Vatican for summit on preventing clergy sex abuse by OAN Newsroom
    Around 200 Catholic Church leaders are gathering at the Vatican as a landmark conference on sexual abuse gets underway.
    Early Thursday, Pope Francis laid out the church’s objectives for the four-day summit, which includes developing “concrete” and “effective” measures to protect minors.
    Following the Pope’s opening remarks, those in attendance were shown video testimony prepared by victims from around the world to bring awareness to the extent of the abuse.
Sex abuse survivors and members of the ECA (Ending Clergy Abuse) hold their
organization banner as they talk to journalists, as some of their representatives are meeting with organizers
of the summit on preventing sexual abuse at the Vatican, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
    Many survivors gathered outside the meeting felt snubbed by the clergy, because none of them were actually allowed inside the event.
    “And it is a real shame that we’re outside here at the gates and not able to be part of the summit that is taking place,” stated Bernadette Howell, member of Ending Clergy Abuse.    “And not only that — to hear that Pope Francis will not even come and address us, which is a real shame, but we’re here and we’ll not go away.”
    The summit is designed to give the bishops the tools they need to prevent abuse and to handle accusations in an open and transparent way.
    The church has admitted to receiving credible allegations against at least 6,000 priests over the decades in the U.S. alone.

2/21/2019 Charity says 24 Polish bishops covered up sex abuses of minors
FILE PHOTO: Workers walk in front of Poland’s largest Roman Catholic church and one of the largest in the world,
Basilica of Our Lady of Lichen, in Lichen Stary, near Konin, central Poland October 9, 2012. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
    WARSAW (Reuters) – A Polish charity helping victims of child abuse committed by Catholic priests accused 24 bishops on Thursday of concealing perpetrators of sexual molestation of minors.
    The “Have No Fear” charity made the allegation in a report released as Pope Francis convened Catholic leaders from around the world to address scandals over child sexual abuse by priests that have ravaged the Church’s credibility over the last three decades.
    The report, which has been delivered to the pope, named Polish bishops whom it said had “concealed clerical crimes and moved pedophilic priests from one parish to another.”
    It added: “Despite the fact that the Polish mass media almost every day talks about the abuses of children by clergy, bishops still do nothing about it.”
    Responding to the report, an Episcopate spokesman said: “In the Catholic Church, every believer can present his case to the Holy Father…The Holy See, on the other hand, has the opportunity to evaluate and verify reported cases.”
    He added, “It should also be recalled that the Church strongly and decisively condemns all sexual abuse of minors in the Church and in society as a whole.”
    The four-day conference at the Vatican, dedicated to “prevention of abuse of minors and vulnerable adults,” is intended to help faltering attempts to coordinate a global response to the crisis.
    The “Have no Fear” NGO also said some Church representatives still fail to report clerical sex crimes to Polish prosecutors.
    Led by a former victim of clerical abuse, Marek Lisinski, the charity hopes its report will trigger resignations from top positions in the Church in devoutly Catholic Poland.
    In Chile last year, all of the country’s bishops offered their resignations to the pope over a widespread cover-up of sexual abuses.    Francis accepted seven of the resignations and dismissed two others from the priesthood.
    In Poland, victims of abuse by priests are often accused of making false accusations, even long after the offender has been jailed, since Catholic priests enjoy high social prestige.
    “We demand the opening of the archives of the Polish Church and provision to law enforcement authorities of all information about the offenders, because the Church cannot be above the law,” Have No Fear said in its report.
(Reporting by Marcin Goclowski; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

2/21/2019 Taiwan unveils Asia’s first draft law on same-sex marriage by Yimou Lee
FILE PHOTO: Supporters wave their mobile phone torches in the colors of the rainbow
during a rally after Taiwan's constitutional court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to legally marry,
the first such ruling in Asia, in Taipei, Taiwan May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo
    TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan on Thursday proposed a draft law to allow same-sex marriage in Asia’s first such bill, but the legislation was criticized by rights activists and conservative groups amid a heated debate over marriage equality.
    Voters opposed marriage equality in a series of referendums late last year, defining marriage as between a man and a woman and asking for a special law to be enacted for same-sex unions.
    The draft law unveiled by cabinet on Thursday would give same-sex couples similar legal protections for marriage as heterosexuals, but marriage in civil law would remain defined as between a man and woman.
    Premier Su Tseng-chang said the bill respected the referendum results, although activists had said a separate law for gay marriage was discriminatory.
    “Controversies are expected about the proposal, but I really hope our homosexual friends can wait a bit longer,” Su said in a statement.
    “This might fall short of expectations, but after all it’s a start,” he said.
    Jennifer Lu, coordinator of Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan, said the draft did not give complete legal protections to same-sex couples.    She acknowledged the pressure on the government from all sides, but said activists will continue to fight for equal rights.
    Taiwan’s parliament is expected to vote on the draft bill by late May, a deadline for legislation set by the constitutional court in May 2017 when it ruled that same-sex couples had the right to legally marry.
    The divisive issue has been a challenge for President Tsai Ing-wen, whose party suffered a major defeat in local elections in November amid criticism over her reform agenda, including marriage equality.
    Conservative groups that opposed same-sex marriage during the referendum said they will fight the draft bill too.    The Coalition for the Happiness of Our Next Generation on Thursday called the draft “unacceptable.”
(Reporting By Yimou Lee, Editing by Darren Schuettler)

2/22/2019 Pope: ‘Hear the cry of the little ones’ - Vatican summit targets ‘scourge’ of sex abuse by John Bacon, USA TODAY
    Pope Francis urged high-ranking church officials gathered from around the globe Thursday at the Vatican to “hear the cry of the little ones” who are victims of sexual abuse by priests.
    Francis spoke at the beginning of a four-day summit that brought together almost 200 high-ranking church officials, including leaders of bishop conferences from more than 100 nations.    The summit will focus on making bishops aware of their responsibilities regarding sexual abuse, as well as accountability and transparency, the Vatican said.
    The pope cited the “scourge” of sexual abuse and said it was the responsibility of church leaders to “confront this evil afflicting the Church and humanity.”
    Francis offered 21 proposals for the clergy to weigh.    Some would require new laws; others would be easier to adopt.
    “The holy people of God look to us and expect from us not simple and predictable condemnations but concrete and effective measures to be undertaken,” he said.    “We need to be concrete.”
    The summit began with an African woman who was not identified recounting how her priest raped her and forced her to have three abortions over a dozen years after he started violating her at age 15.
    It ended with Colombian Cardinal Rubén Salazar Gómez warning the clergy that they could all face prison if they let such crimes go unpunished.
    Last week, Francis defrocked former U.S. cardinal Theodore McCarrick, 88, after Vatican officials found him guilty of sex crimes against minors and adults.    McCarrick is the most senior Catholic official to be defrocked for such crimes.
    More than 30 years after the abuse scandal erupted in Ireland and Australia and 20 years after it hit the USA, bishops and Catholic officials in many parts of Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia still either deny clergy sex abuse exists in their regions or downplay the problem.
    Francis, the first Latin American pope, called the summit after drawing criticism for his handling of a wide-ranging sex abuse coverup case in Chile last year.    He vowed to demand accountability from church leadership.
    Among the proposals Francis offered were protocols for accusations against bishops and directions for transferring seminarians or priests to prevent predators from moving freely among parishes.
    Tuesday, two groups representing the leadership of Catholic religious orders apologized for their failure to quickly act to halt sexual abuse.    “We bow our heads in shame at the realization that such abuse has taken place in our congregations and orders, and in our church,” said the statement from the Union of Superiors General and its female counterpart, the International Union of Superiors General.
    Abuse survivors came to Rome to demand accountability, and organizers of the summit met with some of them Wednesday.
    Phil Saviano, who helped expose the U.S. abuse scandal by priests two decades ago, demanded that the Vatican release the names of abusers and their files.    “Do it to break the code of silence,” he told the organizing committee on the eve of the summit.    “Do it out of respect for the victims of these men, and do it to help prevent these creeps from abusing any more children.”

[THE SCARLET WOMAN HAS BEEN RIDING ON THE BACK OF THE BEAST THAT CAME UP OUT OF THE SEA PROVIDING PROTECTION FROM ITS POLICIES WORLD-WIDE AND OVER TIME THE CORRUPTION FROM WITHIN HAS FINALLY COME TO LIGHT AND IS THERE A FIX PROBABLY NOT SINCE THE GREAT WHORE CANNOT DO MASS KILLING OF THOSE WHO HAVE SUPPOSEDLY DONE SINFUL THINGS AGAINST IT OR CAN IT.    SATAN IS LAUGHING IN HELL AS YOU READ THIS AND COUNTING ALL THE SOULS HE WILL BE GETTING IN THE FUTURE.].

2/22/2019 At Pope’s abuse summit, Church seeks to fix ‘systematic failures’ by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis is seen as the four-day meeting on the global sexual abuse crisis takes place
at the Vatican February 22, 2019. Vatican Media/¬Handout via REUTERS
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The Roman Catholic Church must repair the “systematic failures” that enabled sexual abuse to take root around the world, and bishops should start policing each other’s behavior, leading cardinals said on Friday.
    Cardinals Blase Cupich of Chicago and Oswald Gracias of Mumbai spoke on the second day of a conference of some 200 senior Church officials convened by Pope Francis to confront what he has called the scourge of sexual abuse by the clergy.
    “This past year has taught us that the systematic failures in holding clerics of all rank responsible are due in large measure to flaws in the way we interact and communicate with each other,” Cupich said.
    Various aspects of the sexual abuse crisis made 2018 the worst year for the pope since his election in 2013.
    In Chile, all of the country’s 34 bishops offered their resignations over a nationwide scandal; Francis’s trip to Ireland shone a new light on decades of abuse in the once staunchly Catholic nation; and a damning report by a grand jury in Pennsylvania revealed that priests had sexually abused about 1,000 people over seven decades in that U.S. state alone.
    Last week, Theodore McCarrick, once a powerful cardinal in the U.S. Church, was dismissed from the priesthood after the Vatican found him guilty of sexual abuse of minors and adults over decades.
    The Church had “to confront the past grave and callous errors of some bishops and religious superiors in addressing cases of clergy sexual abuse, and the discernment to understand how to establish just accountability for these massive failures,” Cupich said. PROBLEMATIC BEHAVIOR
    At the start of the conference on Thursday, five victims told painful stories of abuse and cover-up and the pope said they could expect concrete measures to come out of the meeting.
    Victims groups have complained that while some priests who sexually abused children were eventually disciplined by the Church and sentenced by civil authorities, the bishops who either enabled the abuse or it covered up have not been punished.
    In what appeared to be a reference to the McCarrick case, Cardinal Gracias said bishops should “fraternally correct” each other.
    “Do we really engage in an open conversation and point out honestly to our brother bishops or priests when we notice problematic behavior in them?” he said.
    Before proof of McCarrick’s child sex abuse decades ago was discovered last year, his sexual misconduct with adult men studying for the priesthood and his abuse of power over them was an open secret in the U.S. Church.
    Critics have asked how McCarrick could have risen to become archbishop of Washington, D.C. from 2001-2006 while many allegedly knew of his misconduct with adults.
    Pope Francis ordered a “thorough study” last year of all documents concerning McCarrick.    The four U.S. dioceses where he served – New York, Metuchen, Newark, and Washington – have launched independent investigations.
    The conference ends on Sunday when the pope will make a final speech.    The Vatican says it will then formulate follow-up measures to make sure all bishop return home knowing how to put anti-abuse procedures into place.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)
[The big question is even if procedures are in place will anyone still trust the Catholic Church to do that and will parents trust their children to be in any of their programs.].

2/22/2019 Kenya High Court delays ruling on law banning gay sex to May 24: judge by John Ndiso and Baz Ratner
A tattoo of an LGBT activist is seen during a court hearing in the Milimani high Court in
Nairobi in Nairobi, Kenya. February 22, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
    NAIROBI (Reuters) – Supporters and opponents of gay rights said on Friday they accepted a decision by Kenya’s High Court to delay for another three months a ruling on whether to strike down a colonial-era law banning gay sex.
    The ruling, potentially a landmark decision for gay rights in Africa, was due to be issued on Friday, but the court said it needed until May 24 to reach a decision.
    Judge Chacha Mwita told a packed court in the capital, Nairobi, that the extra time was necessary because of the voluminous paperwork submitted in the case.
    “The judges on the bench also sit in other courts … we need more time,” Mwita said.    “My file alone put together is above my height standing, so we are still working…
    Same-sex relationships are illegal in more than 70 countries, almost half of them in Africa, where homosexuality is broadly taboo and persecution is rife.
    In Kenya, where same-sex relationships can lead to a 14-year jail sentence, campaigners for lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender (LGBT) rights have become increasingly vocal in recent years.
    Kenya arrested 534 people for same-sex relationships between 2013 and 2017, the government said.    Kenya’s high court began hearings on the law last year.
    “The adjournment is not something that should worry Kenyans, they are doing their job and we hope they’ll do it well,” Charles Kanjama, a lawyer for the Kenya Christian Professionals Forum, which is against the petition to strike down the law, told Reuters.
    Campaigners say the colonial-era law violates Kenya’s progressive 2010 constitution, which guarantees equality, dignity and privacy for all citizens.
    They also submitted arguments based on India’s rejection of a similar law in August.
    “Maybe they need time to consult … let them have their time to research on homosexuality and human rights and let them come make their decision,” gay rights activist Phelix Kasanda, also known as Mama G, told Reuters.
(Reporting by Baz Ratner and John Ndiso; Editing by George Obulutsa and Peter Graff)
[Hopefully they will let them have their time to research God's word.
You shall not lie with a male, as with a woman; it is an abomination” Leviticus 18:22.
Do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God?    Be not deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate (transgender man to woman), nor abusers of themselves with mankind (homosexuals)” 1 Corinthians 6:9.
]

2/23/2019 Women vent their anger at Vatican child abuse conference by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis attends the four-day meeting on the global sexual abuse crisis,
at the Vatican February 23, 2019. Vatican Media/¬Handout via REUTERS
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – A nun and a woman journalist delivered the toughest criticism of Church leaders heard so far at Pope Francis’ sexual abuse conference on Saturday, accusing them of hypocrisy and covering up horrendous crimes against children.
    Some 200 senior Church officials, all but ten of them men, listened at times in stunned silence in a Vatican audience hall as the women read their frank and at times angry speeches on the penultimate day of the conference convened by the pope to confront a worldwide scandal.
    Sister Veronica Openibo, a Nigerian who has worked in Africa, Europe and the United States, spoke with a soft voice but delivered a strong message, telling the prelates sitting before her: “This storm will not pass.”
    “We proclaim the Ten Commandments and parade ourselves as being the custodians of moral standards and values and good behavior in society.    Hypocrites at times?    Yes!    Why did we keep silent for so long?” she said.
    She told the pope, sitting near her on the dais, that she admired him because he was “humble enough to change your mind,” apologize and take action after he initially defended a Chilean bishop accused of covering up abuse.    The bishop later resigned.
    “How could the clerical Church have kept silent, covering these atrocities?    The silence, the carrying of the secrets in the hearts of the perpetrators, the length of the abuses and the constant transfers of perpetrators are unimaginable,” she said.
    She spoke of her shock when she watched the 2015 Oscar-winning film Spotlight, which showed how Church leaders in Boston moved predator priests from parish to parish instead of defrocking them or turning them over to civil authorities.
    “We must acknowledge that our mediocrity, hypocrisy and complacency have brought us to this disgraceful and scandalous place we find ourselves as a Church.    We pause to pray, Lord have mercy on us!” Openibo said.
JOURNALISTS WILL BE YOUR WORST ENEMIES
    Valentina Alazraki, 64, a Mexican television reporter who, having covered five papacies, is the doyen of the Vatican press corps, told the bishops she was speaking as a woman and mother as well as a journalist.
    “For a mother, there are no first or second-class children: there are stronger children and more vulnerable ones.    Nor are there first and second-class children for the Church,” she said.
    “(The Church’s) seemingly more important children, as are you, bishops and cardinals – I dare not say the Pope – are no more so than any other boy, girl or young person who has experienced the tragedy of being the victim of abuse by a priest,” she said forcefully in Spanish.
    Alazraki told the bishops they could no longer “play ostrich” and bury their heads in the sand.
    “If you do not decide in a radical way to be on the side of the children, mothers, families, civil society, you are right to be afraid of us, because we journalists, who seek the common good, will be your worst enemies,” she said.
    Alazraki, who was applauded at the end of her speech, also spoke of cases of corruption where religious orders and Church officials hid abuse because “money, compensation, gifts” or other illegal or unethical activity.
    Earlier, German Cardinal Reinhard Marx called for more “traceability and transparency” such as limiting secrecy in cases of abuse handled by the Vatican, releasing more statistics and publishing judicial procedures.
    “Files that could have documented the terrible deeds and named those responsible were destroyed, or not even created.    Instead of the perpetrators, the victims were regulated and silence imposed on them,” Marx, a leading progressive, said.
    “The rights of victims were effectively trampled underfoot, and left to the whims of individuals,” he added.
    The abuse crisis has made 2018 one of the toughest years for the pope since his election in 2013.
    Chile’s 34 bishops offered to resign over the scandal, the pope’s trip to Ireland exposed decades of abuse in the once staunchly Catholic nation and a grand jury in Pennsylvania revealed priests sexually abused about 1,000 people over seven decades in that U.S. state alone.
    Victims, some of whom told painful stories of abuse and cover-up when the conference began on Thursday, rallied in a Rome square before a march to the Vatican to demand change and justice.
    The conference ends on Sunday when the pope will make a final speech.    The Vatican says it will formulate follow-up measures to make sure all bishop return home knowing how to put anti-abuse procedures into place.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Edmund Blair and Robin Pomeroy)

2/24/2019 We are ‘our worst enemy’, bishop says as abuse conference wraps up by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis is seen during the last day of the four-day meeting on the global sexual abuse crisis,
at the Vatican, February 24, 2019, in this screen grab taken from video. CTV via REUTERS
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The Catholic Church has become its “own worst enemy” for concealing clergy sexual abuse and not listening enough to victims, a leading archbishop said on Sunday as a landmark Vatican conference was ending.
    “We will not go unpunished,” Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, Australia said in the homily of a final Mass ending the four-day conference convened by Pope Francis to confront a worldwide scandal.
    The pope, who presided at the Mass in the Vatican’s Sala Regia in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, was due to speak at the end of the Mass.
    “In abuse and its concealment, the powerful (of the Church) show themselves not men of heaven but men of earth …” he said.
    Then, quoting Jesus’ commandment to “Love your enemy,” Coleridge said:
    “But who is the enemy?    Certainly not those who have challenged the Church to see abuse and its concealment for what they really are, above all the victims and survivors who have led us to the painful truth by telling their stories with such courage,” Coleridge said.
    “At times, however, we have seen victims and survivors as the enemy, but we have not loved them, we have not blessed them.    In that sense, we have been our own worst enemy,” he said.
    On Saturday, a nun and a woman journalist addressed the conference to deliver tough criticism of Church, accusing them of hypocrisy and covering up horrendous crimes against children.
    After the conference, the Vatican says it will formulate follow-up measures to make sure all bishop return home knowing how to put anti-abuse procedures into place.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

2/25/2019 Pope vows to tackle sex abuse - Priests should be guided by ‘holy fear of God’ by Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY
    Pope Francis vowed to confront the Catholic Church’s clergy sex abuse scandal head-on, calling Sunday for priests to be guided by the “holy fear of God” while victims are believed and supported.
    “The church will spare no effort to do all that is necessary to bring to justice whosoever has committed such crimes,” Francis told a group of about 190 Catholic bishops and religious superiors he summoned to Rome.    “The church will never seek to hush up or not take seriously any case.”
    The sex abuse scandal has rocked the church for two decades as journalists and prosecutors have uncovered hundreds of examples of predator priests who abused children and were allowed to continue in their ministry.    The scandal has prompted many American Catholics to leave the church, which counts about 70 million Americans as members.
    Last week, Francis defrocked former U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, 88, after Vatican officials found him guilty of sex crimes against minors and adults.    McCarrick is the most senior Catholic official to be defrocked for such crimes, and church experts say that’s a reflection of how slowly the church has moved in response to the scandal.
    After a damning grand jury report released last summer uncovered 300 abusive priests in Pennsylvania, multiple state attorneys general have opened their own cases, and hundreds of new victims are expected to come forward across the U.S.
    The Rev. James Bretzke, a theology professor at Marquette University, said the pope demands a change in clerical culture, which has focused more on protecting the church’s reputation than the abuse of children by priests.
    “The pope is saying this isn’t just a problem for the United States or Europe or elsewhere,” Bretzke told USA TODAY last week.    “i>The problem is the clerical culture that looks to protect the institution even at the expense of individuals who have been harmed.”
    Speaking to senior church leaders, the pope offered an eight-point pledge Sunday to address sex abuse cases, calling for a change in the church’s defensive mentality and a vow to never again cover up cases.    The pope also said the church would seek to address widespread child abuse by family members, coaches, teachers and other relatives.
    “Yet we need to be clear that while gravely affecting our societies as a whole, this evil is in no way less monstrous when it takes place within the church,” Francis said in a statement issued by the Vatican.    “The brutality of this worldwide phenomenon becomes all the more grave and scandalous in the church, for it is utterly incompatible with her moral authority and ethical credibility.”
    Some critics said the pope’s commitment doesn’t go far enough.    They said the conference covered important ground that Francis seemingly ignored.
    “Pope Francis’ talk today was a stunning letdown, a catastrophic misreading of the grief and outrage of the faithful,” Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org, a nonprofit that tracks abuse by Roman Catholic clergy, said in a statement.    “If the powerful testimonies of the past week moved the needle in the right direction, the pope today moved it back.”
Pope Francis, celebrating Mass on Sunday, said the church will “spare no effort ... to bring to
justice whosoever has committed such crimes.” GIUSEPPE LAMI/AP
[THE TOOLS OF SATAN WILL NOT CHANGE WHAT HAPPENED ONLY PRAYERS TO GOD TO HEAL THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN OPPRESSED.].

2/26/2019 How Australian abuse victim’s ‘powerful’ testimony sank top Vatican official by Sonali Paul
Cardinal George Pell arrives at the County Court in Melbourne, Australia February 26, 2019. AAP Image/Erik Anderson/via REUTERS
(Please note graphic detail in paragraph 4.)
    MELBOURNE (Reuters) – “Guilty.”
    There was a gasp in the Australian courtroom as the jury foreman read out the first verdict on child sex offences against Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican’s treasurer, then stunned silence as the same word was repeated for each of the four other charges he faced.
    The jury of eight men and four women unanimously agreed on Dec. 11, after a four-week trial, to convict Pell of five sexual offences committed against two 13-year-old choir boys 22 years earlier in the priests’ sacristy of Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral.
    They reached their decision after hearing lengthy testimony from a victim, who described how Pell had exposed himself to them, fondled their genitals and masturbated and forced one boy to perform a sex act on him.    That complainant still lives in Melbourne.    The other victim died in 2014.
    The trial and verdict could not be reported until now due to a court-imposed suppression order, as Pell was due to face another trial on older historical child sex offence charges and the judge did not want the next jury to be prejudiced.    Those additional charges were dropped on Tuesday and the judge lifted the reporting restrictions.
    Each of the five offences carries a maximum 10 years in jail.    Pell is due to be sentenced in early March, following a mitigation plea hearing on Feb. 27.
    Pell, a burly 1.9 meters (6 foot and 3 inches) tall, had sat hunched in the dock at the back of the courtroom throughout the trial.    He stared straight ahead when the jury foreman said “guilty” for the first time, then turned away.
    As the next four verdicts were delivered, the man described by his own lawyer as the “Darth Vader” of the Catholic Church sat with his head bowed.
    Pell, the No. 3 official in the Vatican hierarchy, is the most senior Roman Catholic cleric worldwide to be convicted of such offences.    His downfall brings to the heart of the papal administration a scandal over clerical abuse that has ravaged the Church’s credibility in the United States, Chile, Australia and elsewhere over the last three decades.
    Pope Francis, leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, ended a conference on sexual abuse on Sunday, calling for an “all-out battle” against a crime that should be “erased from the face of the earth”. [nL5N20J0AF] POWERPOINT DEFENSE     The December verdict followed a re-trial.    Three months earlier, a first trial of the same offences had ended in a deadlocked jury that left some jurors in tears.
    Pell’s lawyer Robert Richter, a theatrical 72-year-old well-known in Australia after taking on the defense in some of the country’s most high-profile criminal cases, had been confident since the pre-trial hearings that this time he had a slam dunk defense.
    Late in proceedings at the re-trial, Richter introduced a new witness, a fellow criminal barrister and former altar server, who had a possible alibi for Pell.    The witness said he had served at a mass in late 1996 and afterwards he and his mother had chatted with Pell on the front steps of the cathedral, which the defense said meant he could not have been in the sacristy at the time of the alleged offences.
    But under cross-examination, the former altar server could not remember the exact date, and his recall of other details was vague and partly contradicted another defense witness.
    Richter brought out Pell’s heavy ceremonial robes, trying to demonstrate they could hardly be maneuvered to expose himself to the boys as the prosecution had alleged.
    He had his star witness, a priest who had helped Pell conduct services, demonstrate how elaborately and tightly knotted the robe was around the archbishop’s waist.
    There was also debate over whether the wine that the boys were caught swigging in the sacristy by Pell immediately before four of the offences took place was red, as the accuser said, or white, as the court heard was preferred by the dean of the cathedral at the time, as the defense tried to pick holes in the victim’s account.
    For his closing argument, Richter rolled out a PowerPoint presentation with dozens of bullet points spelling out why, he said, it would have been almost impossible for the alleged events to have occurred.
    He reminded the jury of Pell’s strenuous denials.
    “What a load of absolute disgraceful rubbish.    Completely false.    Madness,” the jury heard Pell tell police in a recording of an interview in a hotel room near Rome airport in 2016 played earlier in the trial.
    “You could scarcely imagine a place that was more unlikely for committing pedophilia crimes than the sacristy of the Cathedral after mass,” Pell, who did not testify at either trial, said in the recording.
CLOSED DOOR TESTIMONY
    The jury was unswayed, returning a verdict of guilty on all five charges after hearing a prosecution case based entirely on the evidence given by Pell’s surviving accuser.
    That testimony was the crux of both trials.
    Reporters, Pell’s supporters and abuse survivors who had filled the small court for most of the trial did not see or hear the complainant’s two-and-a-half days of testimony and cross-examination by Richter, which was conducted by video link for the jury behind closed doors.    It was later outlined to the court in comments by the prosecutor.
    In his closing argument to the jury, prosecutor Mark Gibson, in a quiet voice, called the accuser’s evidence “powerful and persuasive.”
    “He was not a person indulging in fantasy or imagining things to the point where he now believed his own imaginative mind, but was simply telling it as it was and is,” Gibson told the court.
    Pell had appeared relaxed through most of his trial.    Every day he sat in the dock, usually wearing a white shirt with a clerical collar, black pants and a beige jacket, writing on a large notepad and taking occasional sips of water.    During breaks in proceedings he would chat with supporters.
    But in the nine months since pre-trial hearings began, Pell’s health had clearly deteriorated.
    Judge Peter Kidd extended bail after Pell was convicted so he could have double knee surgery in Sydney on Dec. 14, which had been postponed after the first trial.
    Pell’s lawyers will now be counting on an appeal filed last week to keep him out of jail.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Alex Richardson)

2/26/2019 Vatican treasurer convicted of sexually abusing 13-year-old boys by Sonali Paul
FILE PHOTO: Vatican Treasurer Cardinal George Pell is surrounded by Australian police as he
leaves the Melbourne Magistrates Court in Australia, October 6, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Dadswell
    MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell has been found guilty on five charges of child sexual abuse committed more than two decades ago against 13-year-old boys in Australia – the most senior Catholic cleric to be convicted of child sex offences.
    The guilty verdict was made public on Tuesday following the lifting of a court suppression order on Pell’s 2018 trial, after a second abuse case against him was dropped by the prosecution.
    The downfall of the Vatican’s No.3 official brings to the heart of the papal administration a scandal over clerical abuse that has ravaged the Church’s credibility in the United States, Chile, Australia and elsewhere over the last three decades.
    A jury in the County Court of Victoria in Melbourne found Pell guilty on Dec. 11 last year following a four-week trial.
    He was convicted of five sexual offences committed against the 13-year-old choir boys 22 years earlier in the priests’ sacristy of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne, where Pell was archbishop. One of the two victims died in 2014.
    Each of the five offences carries a maximum 10 years in jail.    Pell’s lawyers have filed an appeal against the verdict on three grounds, which if successful could lead to a retrial.
    “Cardinal Pell has always maintained his innocence and continues to do so,” Pell’s lawyer, Paul Galbally, said outside the court.
    Pell, who remains on bail, left the court on Tuesday without speaking to reporters, who virtually mobbed him as he walked from the courthouse steps to a waiting car.
    A child abuse survivor, who identified himself as Michael Advocate, as his real name is suppressed under Australian law, shouted to Pell: “Burn in Hell.”
    Pell is due to return to court on Wednesday for the start of his sentencing hearing.
    Pope Francis ended a conference on sexual abuse on Sunday, calling for an “all out battle” against a crime that should be “erased from the face of the earth.”
    The Vatican said in December that Francis had removed Pell, 77, from his group of close advisers, without commenting on the trial.
    The school that Pell attended as a boy, St Patrick’s College in Ballarat, about 120 km (75 miles) from Melbourne, said it would remove his name from a building that had been named in his honor.
    It would revoke his status as an inducted “legend” of the school and strike a line through his name on a college honor board listing ordained former students the school said.
    “The jury’s verdict demonstrates that Cardinal Pell’s behaviors have not met the standards we expect of those we honor as role models for the young men we educate,” the school’s headmaster, John Crowley, said in a statement.
PELL’S SEXUAL ABUSE
    Pell, who took indefinite leave in 2016 from his role as economy minister for the Vatican to fight the charges, was not called to the stand in the trial.
    Instead, the jury was shown in open court a video recording of an interview Australian police held with Pell in Rome in October 2016, in which he strenuously denied the allegations.
    The jury was also shown a video recording of the surviving victim’s testimony behind closed doors.    The testimony was later outlined in open court by the prosecution.
    The man, who was a school boy when abused, described how Pell had exposed himself to the two boys, fondled their genitals and masturbated and forced one boy to perform a sex act on him.
    Pell, a burly 1.9 meters (6 foot and 3 inches) tall, sat hunched in the dock at the back of the courtroom throughout his trial.    He stared straight ahead when the jury foreman said “guilty” for the first time, then turned away.
    As the next four guilty verdicts were delivered, the man described by his own lawyer as the “Darth Vader” of the Catholic Church sat with his head bowed.
    “Like many survivors I have experienced shame, loneliness, depression and struggle.    Like many survivors it has taken me years to understand the impact upon my life,” Pell’s victim said on Tuesday in a statement through his solicitor Vivian Waller.
    “The process has been stressful and it is not over yet.    I need space and time to cope with the ongoing criminal process.”
WIDESPREAD ABUSE IN AUSTRALIA
    Mark Coleridge, the president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and who attended the Vatican conference, said Pell’s conviction “has shocked many across Australia and around the world.”
    “We pray for all those who have been abused and their loved ones, and we commit ourselves anew to doing everything possible to ensure that the Church is a safe place for all, especially the young and the vulnerable,” he said in a statement.
    In 2017, Australia ended a five-year government inquiry into child sex abuse in churches and other institutions, amid allegations worldwide that churches had protected pedophile priests by moving them from parish to parish.
    The inquiry heard that 7 percent of Catholic priests in Australia between 1950 and 2010 had been accused of child sex crimes, but few were pursued.    The Catholic Church has paid A$276 million (US$198 million) in compensation to thousands of child abuse victims since 1980, the inquiry heard in 2017.
    It also heard that nearly 1,100 people had filed child sexual assault claims against the Anglican Church over 35 years.
    Two of Australia’s eight states and territories have since introduced laws making it a crime for priests to withhold information about abuse heard in the confessional, while the others have said they are considering their response.
    The Catholic church in Australia has said it would oppose such a law.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Sam Holmes, Neil Fullick and Michael Perry)

2/26/2019 Cardinal Pell: Dramatic fall from grace for Vatican treasurer by Byron Kaye
FILE PHOTO - Australian Cardinal George Pell speaks to journalists at the end of a meeting with the sex abuse
victims at the Quirinale hotel in Rome, Italy, March 3, 2016. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi/File Photo
    SYDNEY (Reuters) – For two decades, George Pell was the dominant figure in the Catholic Church in Australia – a boy from a gold mining town whose ambition, intellect and knack for befriending influential people propelled him to become the third-most senior official in the Vatican.
    That came crashing down in December, when a court found Pell, 77, guilty of five charges of child sex offences committed in a Melbourne cathedral 115 km (70 miles) from his hometown of Ballarat.    The verdict had been subject to a court order that prevented reporting of the case until the judge lifted the restrictions on Tuesday.
    Pell is the most senior Roman Catholic official to be convicted of sexual offences, bringing a rolling abuse scandal that has dogged the church worldwide for three decades to the heart of both the Vatican and Australian civic life.
    Pell spent most of his first three decades as a priest in Ballarat, an old gold mining town in the state of Victoria, about 120 km (75 miles) from Melbourne.
    State and federal inquiries would later find it to be one of the Catholic dioceses worst-affected by cases of abuse, though none of the complaints against Pell stem from his time there.
    It was after Pell left his hometown to become Archbishop of Melbourne, in 1996, that he committed offences against two choirboys in the city’s St Patrick’s Cathedral for which he was found guilty by the 12-person jury.
    It was not until 2016 that the complaints against Pell were first made public, with charges laid in 2017, and in the meantime he continued to rise through Australia’s Church hierarchy.
    By the time Pell became Archbishop of Sydney, the country’s top-ranking Catholic position, in 2001 he was a polarizing national figure – revered by many conservative Catholics but criticized by liberals for his outspoken views.
    At a 2002 World Youth Day event in Toronto, Pell made headlines by saying “abortion is a worse moral scandal than priests sexually abusing young people” since abortion was “always a destruction of human life.”
    In a short statement outside the court on Tuesday, after Pell departed in a waiting car, Pell’s lawyer, Paul Galbally, said: “Cardinal Pell has always maintained his innocence and continues to do so.”    He said an appeal had been filed.
FINANCIAL ROLE
    In meetings among cardinals before the conclave that elected Pope Francis in 2013, the Australian stood out not only for his imposing height and broad shoulders, but also for his command of financial matters.
    Hoping to end Vatican financial scandals, the pope moved Pell to Rome and in 2014 he was appointed to run a new ministry, the Secretariat for the Economy.
    Meanwhile, in Australia, a state inquiry into institutional abuse began airing accounts of child abuse and cover-ups in Ballarat and elsewhere over generations, triggering a more powerful, comprehensive Federal Royal Commission inquiry.
    Pell was not named as an alleged perpetrator at either inquiry.    When he was called to give evidence at the Royal Commission it was only in relation to his knowledge of others’ conduct, and the question of whether he was present when church leaders decided to move offending priests between parishes.
    In testimony to the commission in March 2016, Pell said that he did not know of the sexual abuse of children in Ballarat by another priest in the 1970s until his conviction in 1993, although the commission had heard testimony from others that the priest’s behavior was an open secret in the diocese.
    “It’s a sad story and it wasn’t of much interest to me,” he told that inquiry.    Pell also said the Church made “catastrophic” choices by minimizing its response to, and covering up, abuse complaints.
    When the global wave of abuse allegations reached Pell in June 2017, some of the country’s most powerful people stood by him, including former conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott, himself a devout Catholic, who told a newspaper “the George Pell I have known is a very fine man indeed.”
    Pell’s successor as Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, also told media at the time that “the George Pell I know is a man of integrity in his dealings with others, a man of faith and high ideals, a thoroughly decent man.”
    Abbott and Fisher did not immediately respond to requests for comment after the verdict was made public.
    Mark Coleridge, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, said the conviction had shocked people around Australia and the world, including the bishops.
    “We pray for all those who have been abused and their loved ones, and we commit ourselves anew to doing everything possible to ensure that the Church is a safe place for all, especially the young and the vulnerable,” he said in statement.
    Pell took leave from his Vatican finance role to fight the charges but he still officially held that job through his trial.
    Pope Francis and the Vatican made no statement on the guilty verdict when delivered in December, which was reported by some international media at the time, saying they would respect the Australian legal process and suppression order.
    A day after the December verdict, Pell was one of three cardinals the pope removed from his group of close advisers.    No reason was given at the time.
    Some victims’ advocates say the conviction of so high profile a figure could encourage other survivors of clerical abuse to speak out.
    “A lot of people, particularly survivors, are scared to come forward because they think ‘no one’s going to believe me, the court’s not going to believe me’,” said Philip Nagel, who went to a Ballarat school where Pell was a priest in the 1970s and testified against another clergyman who has since been jailed.
    “Not getting justice is probably as damaging as the offences being committed, so this will give more people more courage to come forward.”
(Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by John Mair and Alex Richardson)

2/26/2019 Convicted of sexual abuse, Australian Cardinal Pell fronts sentence hearing by Sonali Paul
Cardinal George Pell is seen at County Court in Melbourne, Australia,
February 26, 2019, AAP Image/David Crosling/via REUTERS
    MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Catholic clergyman worldwide to be convicted for child sex offences, on Wednesday returned to court for a sentence plea hearing.
    Pell – a former top adviser to Pope Francis – was in December found guilty of five charges of child sexual offences committed more than two decades ago against 13-year-old boys.
    Pell denies the allegations and lawyers have lodged an appeal, which if successful could lead to a retrial.    The verdict was made public on Tuesday after prosecutors dropped a second abuse case against Pell.
    Each of the five offences carries a maximum 10 years in jail.
    Escorted by police through a gauntlet of people heckling and hurling abuse, Pell arrived at the Melbourne court shortly before his scheduled appearance where the judge is expected to hear arguments around a suitable prison sentence.
    Pell, who has been out on bail throughout his trial, could be remanded in custody until his sentence is decided.
    The Catholic church is under mounting pressure to deal with a growing child sexual abuse crisis, following scandals in the United States, Chile, Germany and Australia.
    The pope ended a conference on sexual abuse on Sunday, calling for an “all out battle” against a crime that should be “erased from the face of the earth.”
(Reporting by Sonali Paul in Melbourne; Writing by Colin Packham in Sydney; Editing by Howard Goller and Sam Holmes)

2/28/2019 Progressive politician tests appetite for less religious Poland by Justyna Pawlak
Robert Biedron, the founder of a new progressive party 'Spring' ('Wiosna'), speaks during Reuters interview
in Gdansk, Poland February 25, 2019. Picture taken February 25, 2019. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
    GDANSK, Poland (Reuters) – Robert Biedron, the founder of a new progressive party in Poland, believes ties between the state and the Catholic Church in one of Europe’s most devout nations are “pathological” and need to be loosened.
    After four years of rule by the nationalist Law and Justice party (PiS), which has sought to promote traditional Christian values in public life, European Parliament elections in May and a national vote in late 2019 will show how many Poles agree.
    Any substantial gains for Biedron’s Spring party, which polled at 14 percent after its launch this month, would be a feat in a country where the Church is revered for helping to end communist rule in 1989 and still wields influence with voters.
    Though PiS is well ahead of its rivals in opinion polls, if Spring can galvanize more younger Poles to vote, some say it could help build a majority with other opposition parties after the election that could oust the nationalists.
    Biedron, 42, who became Poland’s first openly gay lawmaker in 2011, accuses a succession of governments since 1989 of forging cosy ties with the Catholic clergy at voters’ expense.
    Speaking in the Baltic city of Gdansk after a spirited election rally that resembled a rock concert, he said he was confident that Poland was ready for change.
    He compared Poland to Ireland, another mainly Catholic nation in the European Union which has voted to relax restrictive abortion rules and legalized same-sex marriage.    Polish law prohibits on-demand abortion and has no provisions for gay partnerships.
    “People in Poland see that Europe is in another place.    This is a natural consequence of our integration with Europe,” Biedron told Reuters.
    “Polish people … see that the special treatment of the Church should not mean anymore that we tolerate things like paedophilia, like public transfers of money to the church, like the blessing of public toilets or McDonald’s (restaurants) by church and public officials,” he said.
    Since the advent of democracy in Poland, the Catholic Church has tried hard to embed its social agenda in law, winning battles to entrench religious education in schools and having crucifixes put up in public buildings.
    Despite a steady decline, regular church attendance remains high at nearly 40 percent of the population – much higher than in most of the EU.    Priests often attend public ceremonies and the state pays pension contributions for the clergy.
    “Is there another state which gives money for building new churches and at the same time doesn’t have the money to build new kindergartens?    In the heart of the European Union?    In Poland this is happening, it’s pathological,” Biedron said.
    Biedron says the Church should be taxed and state cash used to promote a more diverse and egalitarian society.
    Critics say his calls for a higher minimum wage, a universal pension and an expanded rural public transport network are unaffordable.
GRASSROOTS CHANGE
    Research suggests that Poles remain on average less liberal and more devout than Biedron would wish.
    A survey by Pew Research Centre showed two thirds of Poles think religion is an important component of national identity, compared with only a third of the French and 15 percent of Swedes.
    Since taking power in 2015, PiS has ended state funding for in-vitro fertilization and reinstated a prescription requirement for emergency contraception.    The Church opposes both in-vitro fertilization and contraception.
    Some local authorities are fighting back.    The city of Poznan opened a clinic where women can easily get contraception. Under Polish law doctors can refuse to prescribe contraceptives if it contravenes their religious beliefs, and some do.
    Some local authorities are funding workshops in schools on discrimination against ethnic and sexual minorities after the education ministry canceled an obligation to hold such classes.
    “There is a sort of mounting allergic reaction to the Church … because of a symbiosis between the church and the state,” said Aleksander Smolar, a liberal analyst with the Stefan Batory Foundation.
    Smolar believes Biedron’s campaign run will be a test of the extent to which Poles support religious values in public life.    But he says the party may be too focused on Biedron’s colorful personality to win broader appeal.    “It’s just Biedron and nobody else,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk in Warsaw; editing by Gareth Jones)
[It sad that we do not approve of Child molestation but think about it the molesting priest are homosexuals also, and in this above article for some reason they think that it is approved to the world.].

2/28/2019 Explainer: What does Cardinal Pell’s conviction mean for the Catholic Church? by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis signs a cricket bat of Canterbury cricket team received from Cardinal George Pell
at the Vatican, October 29, 2015. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano/Handout via Reuters/File photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Cardinal George Pell has become the highest ranking Roman Catholic prelate to be convicted on charges of sexual abuse.
    The ruling has shaken the Church from remote corners of his native Australia to the frescoed halls of the Vatican, and could lead to a tug-of-war between Church justice and civil justice.
    Pell, 77, was remanded in custody pending sentencing for sexually abusing two choir boys in Australia two decades ago.    He had pleaded not guilty to the charges.
    The imprisonment of someone Pope Francis had chosen as a top advisor in the Vatican — unthinkable to many just a few months ago — has put the pope in a difficult position.
    Francis is under pressure from victims of sexual abuse and their advocates to remove Pell from the position of cardinal for the good of the Church or dismiss him from the priesthood.
    But Pell, who gave up Vatican immunity to return home to defend himself, is appealing the verdict.    The pope has said he will wait for Australian civil justice to take its course before commenting on the case publicly.
WHAT IS PELL’S POSITION IN THE CHURCH?
    Pell is still a member of the College of Cardinals, the elite group from around the world who head dioceses and advise the pope.    Cardinals under 80 can enter a secret conclave to elect a new pontiff after a papal death or resignation.
    Pell could, in theory, offer his resignation as a cardinal while still proclaiming his innocence ahead of an appeal if he felt that relinquishing that rank and title could help ease the embarrassment to the Church of having a cardinal in jail.
    But those who know Pell and his combative nature say this is highly unlikely.
    Only the pope could accept Pell’s resignation from the College of Cardinals.
WHAT HAPPENS IF PELL RESIGNS AS A CARDINAL?
    Even if Pell resigns as a cardinal, he would keep the title of archbishop, but it would largely be an honorific one because he no longer heads a diocese.
    More importantly, he would still be a priest
.
    Before Pell could be dismissed from the priesthood, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) would have to find him guilty following a separate canonical trial or abbreviated procedure, known as an “administrative process.”
    The Vatican said on Wednesday the CDF was looking into the accusations against Pell.
    The CDF could use information from the trial in Australia.    But that information would have be entered formally into the Vatican’s canonical judicial procedures — as would happen if imported into any other country or institution’s judicial system.
    Depending on developments in the next few weeks and months, Pell could find himself in the awkward position of being seen as innocent by his Church but guilty by his government.
ARE THERE PRECEDENTS FOR THE RESIGNATION OF A CARDINAL?
    Last year, the pope accepted the resignation as cardinal of Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, D.C., after accusations that McCarrick had sexually abused a minor more than 50 years ago.    Last month, after a CDF “administrative process” found him guilty of sex crimes against minors and adults, the pope dismissed McCarrick from the priesthood.
    But, unlike Pell, McCarrick had not faced any civil procedures in his home country, the United States.    He was tried and found guilty in the Vatican according to canon (Church) law.
    McCarrick has responded publicly to only one of the allegations, saying he has “absolutely no recollection” of an alleged case of sexual abuse of a 16-year-old boy more than 50 years ago.
WHAT IS PELL’S CURRENT POSITION IN THE VATICAN?
    Pell no longer has any position in the Vatican.    In 2014, Pope Francis made him Prefect of the Secretariat of the Economy, a new office to oversee the Vatican’s finances and introduce uniform accounting standards in its departments.
    In June, 2017, when Pell returned to Australia to defend himself, he took a leave of absence from the post.    His five-year mandate expired on Feb. 24.    Two days later, the day his conviction in Australia was made public, the Vatican announced that he was no longer the head of the department even though a successor had not been named.
WHAT IS PELL’S LEGAL POSITION IN AUSTRALIA
    Pell is in the maximum security Melbourne Assessment Prison awaiting a sentencing hearing scheduled for March 13.    Each of the five offences of which Pell was found guilty carries a maximum 10 years imprisonment.
    His lawyers have announced an appeal.    A judge will first need to weigh the grounds for the appeal and then decide whether it can proceed.    There is no date set for this yet.
    If that judge allows it, an appeals hearing proceeds.    If the judge refuses, Pell can also appeal against that refusal.
    If the appeal goes ahead, a judge could allow the conviction to stand, acquit Pell or order a re-trial.
    The process is likely to take months.
HAVE OTHER ROMAN CATHOLIC CARDINALS BEEN JAILED BEFORE?
    Pell is the first cardinal in living memory to be jailed following a trial of due process in a Western country.
    During the Cold War, Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty of Hungary was jailed by the communist leadership.    He was arrested in 1948 and accused of treason and conspiracy and later underwent a show trial.    He was freed from prison during the Hungarian uprising of 1956 against Soviet rule.    When Moscow crushed the uprising, Mindszenty took refuge in the U.S. embassy, where he lived for 15 years.
HOW HAS THIS AFFECTED CHURCH “POLITICS”?
    Pell is a prominent figure on the Catholic Church’s conservative wing, a stickler for liturgical detail and doctrinal tradition.    His conviction underscored the existing polarization.
    Conservative Catholic media and commentators rushed to his defense.
    “There are many holes in the story that led to Pell’s conviction,” wrote William Donahue of the U.S.-based Catholic League, adding that Catholics should pray for Pell because the “hysteria and the animus that exist makes for a toxic environment.”
    American author, theologian, and religious affairs commentator George Weigel, writing in the conservative religion journal First Things, called the verdict “perverse.”    The headline of the column was: “The Pell Affair: Australia is Now on Trial.”
    But Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org, a U.S.-based group which tracks clergy abuse, said in a statement: “The Australian judicial system today put the Catholic Church on equal footing with other institutions.”
(Additional reporting by Sonali Paul in Melbourne, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

3/1/2019 Minister urges Vatican to aide French investigation into papal envoy
FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron (L) greets Apostolic Nuncio to France Luigi Ventura (R) as he presents his New Year wishes
to members of the diplomatic corps at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, January 4, 2018. REUTERS/Yoan Valat/Pool -/File Photo
    PARIS (Reuters) – France’s European affairs minister suggested on Friday that the Vatican should lift the diplomatic immunity granted to its papal envoy in France, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, who is under investigation after accusations of sexual molestation.
    French prosecutors opened an investigation in January after a junior official at Paris City Hall accused Ventura, 74, of molestation.    Authorities have been unable to question Ventura because of the diplomatic immunity he enjoys as papal nuncio, equivalent to ambassador.
    The Vatican has said that it is aware of the investigation and is awaiting the outcome of the inquiry.    Ventura has not commented on the allegations, and his office in Paris declined to comment on Friday on the allegations.
    Speaking to France’s CNews, European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau said it was incumbent on the Vatican to do what it could to allow French prosecutors to pursue their enquiries, saying the goal should be to establish the truth.
    “At this point, (Archbishop Ventura) benefits from diplomatic immunity, but the Holy See is clearly aware of the serious accusations that have been brought against the apostolic nuncio and I don’t doubt for a second that the Holy See will do the right thing,” Loiseau said.
    “This inquiry needs to be allowed to reach its conclusion, what matters is that the truth be known,” she said, adding that Ventura enjoyed the presumption of innocence.    “I’m waiting for the Holy See to take its responsibilities in hand.”
    The Catholic Church worldwide, including senior church figures, is reeling from crises involving sexual abuse which have deeply damaged confidence in the Church in the United States, Chile, Australia, Ireland and elsewhere.
    In Ventura’s case, a City Hall official told Reuters the archbishop was suspected of having touched the buttocks of the male staffer during the mayor’s New Year address.     Since the first allegations were made, at least one other man has come forward to make a formal complaint against Ventura alleging similar behavior.
    Ventura has not commented on any of the allegations.    A Vatican spokesman said on Feb. 15 the “Holy See will await the outcome of the enquiry.”
    Last month, Pope Francis held a landmark conference at the Vatican to discuss sexual abuse of minors amongst the clergy.    He vowed that the Roman Catholic Church would “spare no effort” to bring abusers to justice and would not cover up or underestimate the levels of abuse.
(Reporting by Simon Carraud; Writing by Luke Baker; Editing by Peter Graff)

3/3/2019 Banned in Boston, group of Satanists fights back - Council’s invocations policy biased, it alleges by Joey Garrison, USA TODAY
    BOSTON – Like most city councils, the one in Boston begins weekly meetings with an invocation before getting down to business.
    Recent individuals brought in to lead the ritual, typically a spoken prayer, have included a Catholic sister, a Methodist preacher and a Presbyterian minister.
    Now The Satanic Temple, an international Satanist group headquartered in nearby Salem, wants its turn.
    But after having requests to deliver an upcoming invocation denied, the group of Satanists is now accusing the Boston City Council of religious discrimination in a complaint filed in October with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.    The commission agreed to launch an investigation into the matter in December.
    “We’re very communally active,” said Malcolm Jarry, co-founder of the The Satanic Temple.    “This is something that should be open to all faiths to participate.    We just want to be respected and treated like members of the community that we are.”
    Followers of The Satanic Temple, which has chapters in 17 cities, are atheist and do not subscribe to supernatural beliefs.    Its principles include encouraging benevolence and empathy among all people, rejecting tyrannical authority and advocating for “practical common sense and justice.”
    Jarry said The Satanic Temple in October emailed Boston City Council President Andrea Campbell asking that a member of the organization be able to speak during the invocation.    But the council’s attorney, according to the complaint, responded by telling the group that the body does not accept requests to deliver invocations, has no formal policy regarding invocations and simply allows individual council members to choose who leads them.
    “The very definition of discrimination is preferential treatment of different groups or individuals,” Jarry said.    “Because they are the ones who are solely making the decisions, it can’t help but be discriminatory.”
    In the complaint, first reported by the Boston Herald last month, The Satanic Temple has accused the 13-member council of violating the establishment clause of the First Amendment among other laws.
    Campbell declined to comment on the complaint through a spokeswoman.
    Christine O’Donnell, the council’s legislative director and attorney, did not respond to messages from USA TODAY seeking the council’s legal position.
    Satanists have been allowed to give council invocations in other cities including Pensacola, Florida, and the Kenai Peninsula Borough in Alaska.
    In Pensacola, the Satanist-led invocation was met with vocal protests by a large group of Christians in the council gallery.    But after they were escorted away, the Satanist, wearing a black hooded robe, was able to speak for several minutes and conclude the invocation without interruption.
    “The bowels of hell didn’t open up, or whatever,” Jarry said.
    But councils in other cities have clashed with The Satanic Temple over invocations.
    In Phoenix, followers of the Satanic Temple were scheduled to give an invocation at a meeting in 2016.    But rather than letting the Satanists speak, the Phoenix City Council voted 5-4 to cease holding spoken prayers altogether and shift to moments of silence, ending the body’s 65-year practice and avoiding the threat of a lawsuit.
    In Boston, a timeline on the The Satanic Temple’s complaint is unclear.
    H Harrison, an assistant with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, said he could not discuss the status of the complaint, citing the agency’s policy for all cases.
[THE TOOLS OF SATAN HAVE ALWAYS BEEN DECEPTIVE AND THE SCARLET WOMEN ON THE BACK OF THE BEAST CONTINUES EVEN IN THE REAL WORLD.].

3/4/2019 Church ‘not afraid of history’: Pope Francis to open secret Pius XII archives by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis is seen during the weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square,
at the Vatican February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Yara Nardi
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Saying the “Church is not afraid of history,” Pope Francis announced on Monday he plans to open fully the Vatican’s secret archives on the wartime pontificate of Pope Pius XII, a historic move that Jews have sought for decades.
    Many Jews say Pius, who reigned from 1939 to 1958, did not do enough to help those facing persecution by Nazi Germany. Francis’ decision was welcomed by Jewish groups and by Israel.
    The Vatican maintains that Pius chose to work behind the scenes, concerned that public intervention would have worsened the situation for both Jews and Catholics in a wartime Europe dominated by Hitler.
    Francis announced in a speech to members of the Vatican’s Secret Archives that the archives will open on March 2, 2020, adding that Pius’ legacy had been treated with “some prejudice and exaggeration.”
    The decision to open the archives could eventually speed up the sainthood process for Pius.
    The American Jewish Committee (AJC), which has sought the opening for more than 30 years, said Francis’ decision was highly significant.
    Scholars could now objectively evaluate “the historical record of that most terrible of times, to acknowledge both the failures as well as the valiant efforts made during the period of the Shoah,” Rabbi David Rosen, the AJC’s International Director of Interreligious Affairs, told Reuters in an email.
    Shoah is the Hebrew word for the Holocaust, in which some six million Jews were killed.
    “We are pleased by the decision and hope it will enable free access to all relevant archives,” Israel’s ambassador to the Vatican, Oren David, told Reuters.
SAD AND DARK PERIOD
    The pope said in his speech that Pius had to lead the Church during one of the “saddest and darkest periods of the 20th century.”
    He said he was confident that “serious and objective historical research will allow the evaluation (of Pius) in the correct light,” including “appropriate criticism.”
    But he said the record would also show “moments of grave difficulty, tormented decisions, human and Christian prudence, which to some could have been seen as reticence” but that were instead attempts by Pius to keep a flame of hope alive.
    In 2009, former Pope Benedict angered Jews when he approved a decree recognizing Pius’s “heroic virtues,” an initial step toward the sainthood Pius’ defenders say he deserves.
    Catholic scholars later wrote to Benedict urging him to freeze the sainthood cause, saying that exhaustive study of Pius’ actions during the Holocaust had to come first, otherwise Jewish-Catholic relations could be greatly harmed.
    Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial center, commended Pope Francis for the decision on Monday, as did the Israeli foreign ministry and Naomi Di Segni, the head of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities.
    Di Segni said she hoped it would “further clarify the position of the Church” during the Holocaust.
    The controversy over Pius’ actions during the war exploded in 1963 when German playwright Rolf Hochhuth wrote the controversial drama “The Deputy, a Christian Tragedy,” which accused Pius of silence in the face of the Holocaust.
    Between 1965 and 1981, the Vatican published 11 volumes by its Church historians on the wartime period, but outside scholars and the Jewish community pressed for direct access.
    Outside historians have so far been given only partial, and mostly indirect, access, following requests on specific topics or events.
(Additional reporting by Rami Ayyub and Dan Williams in Jerusalem; Editing by Giselda Vagnoni and Frances Kerry)

3/5/2019 Vatican to open Pius XII archives - Pope’s actions during World War II, Holocaust going under scrutiny by Frances D’Emilio, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    VATICAN CITY – Declaring that the church “isn’t afraid of history,” Pope Francis said Monday he has decided to open up the Vatican archives on World War II-era Pope Pius XII, who has been criticized by Jews of staying silent on the Holocaust and not doing enough to save lives.
    Describing that criticism as fruit of “some prejudice or exaggeration,” Francis told officials and personnel of the Vatican Secret Archives that the documentation would be open to researchers starting March 2, 2020.
    The move could speed up Pius’ path to possible sainthood, a complex process that in Pius’ case bore the weight of questions of what he knew and did about Nazi Germany’s systematic killing of Europe’s Jews.
    Pius was elected pope on March 2, 1939, six months before World War II erupted in Europe.    He died on Oct. 9, 1958, at the Vatican summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, near Rome.
    The Vatican usually waits 70 years after the end of a pontificate to open up the relevant archives.    But the Holy See has been under pressure to make the Pius XII documentation available sooner and while Holocaust survivors are still alive.
    “The church isn’t afraid of history,” Francis told the archive staff.
    He said the Pius papacy included “moments of grave difficulties, tormented decisions of human and Christian prudence, that to some could appear as reticence.”
    Instead, Francis said, they could be seen as attempts “to keep lit, in the darkest and cruelest periods, the flame of humanitarian initiatives, of hidden but active diplomacy” aimed at possibly “opening hearts.”
    Francis words appeared to echo the long-held Vatican defense of Pius, which maintains that the Italian pontiff used behind-the-scenes diplomacy to try to save lives.
    Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pius XII, gained diplomatic experience in the period after World War I, serving the Holy See in postings in Munich and Berlin in Germany.
    In Jerusalem, the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial commended Francis’ decision, expressing the expectation that “researchers will be granted full access to all the documents stored in the archives.”
    Those hailing the decision to open the archives also saw usefulness in dealing with current challenges of anti-Semitism and religious persecution and not just deepening understanding of the past.
    Israeli President Reuven Rivlin called opening the Vatican archives “particularly important in these days of ongoing anti-Semitic attacks, the rewriting of history and attempts to deny the Holocaust.”
    Rabbi Arthur Schneier, a Holocaust survivor who has led a New York synagogue in New York since 1992 and received a papal knighthood four years ago for his activism promoting religious freedom, said “the archives will reveal what was done and what could have been done in the face of Nazi tyranny, particularly the persecution of the Jews that led to the Holocaust.”
    The archives “might also be a useful instrument on how to deal with dictators of our day who disregard human life, human rights and inflict suffering on their people,” said Schneier, who heads the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, which advocates for religious freedom and human rights.
    Vatican archivists had already started preparing the documentation for consultation back in 2006, at the behest of Francis’ German-born predecessor, Benedict XVI.
    For decades, Jewish advocates had lobbied for access to the documentation to help answer the long-standing question of whether Pius did all he could to save lives during World War II.
    In New York, Rabbi David Rosen, the international director for interreligious affairs at the American Jewish Committee, called Francis’ decision “enormously important to Catholic-Jewish relations.”     He noted in a statement that he had raised the issue with Francis and his predecessors in meetings.
    “It is particularly important that experts from the leading Holocaust memorial institutes in Israel and the United States objectively evaluate as best as possible the historical record of that most terrible of times – to acknowledge both the failures as well as the valiant efforts made during the period of the systematic murder of 6 million Jews,” Rosen said.
    Monsignor Sergio Pagano, in charge of the Vatican Secret Archive referred in comments Monday to the thousands and thousands of files, letters and other material to be made available.
    Writing Monday in Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, Pagano said the archives “spoke, speak, and, I hope, will speak to researchers and to historians of an almost superhuman work of Christian humanism” amid mid-20th century events “that seemed determine to annihilate the very notion of human civilization.”
    Defenders of Pius’ wartime actions have noted that some convents and other religious institutes in Italy helped hide Jews, including during the Nazi occupation of his native Rome.
    It was during Benedict’s papacy that the Vatican in 2009 formally recognized the “venerable” qualities of Pius, an early step along the possible path to sainthood.
    Historians will also be keen on examining documents from Pius XII’s papacy in the years after the war ended in 1945.
    In 1983, the Vatican dismissed as “absolutely absurd” a claim in a Jewish magazine that the Vatican aided Klaus Barbie and other high-ranking Nazi war criminals in their escape from Europe, along with legitimate refugees, after the war.
Pope Pius XII receives the special envoy to the Vatican, Myron C. Taylor, who presented
a letter from President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Feb. 27, 1940. AP
[SO WHY DID THE POPE DECIDE TO RELEASE THIS AFTER ALL THESE YEARS?    I THINK SINCE HIS CHURCH IS IN ISSUES BECAUSE OF THE COVER UP FROM SEX/CHILD ABUSING PRIEST THAT HE IS TRYING TO SAY THEY ARE OPENING ALL UP WITH NOTHING LEFT TO BE OPPOSED.].

3/6/2019 Former Vatican treasurer Pell’s appeal process to begin in June
FILE PHOTO: Cardinal George Pell arrives at County Court in Melbourne, Australia, February 27, 2019. AAP Image/Erik Anderson/via REUTERS
    MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Former Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell faces at least another three months in jail on child sex offences before his application for leave to appeal is heard on June 5 and 6.
    Pell, from Australia, is the world’s most senior Catholic priest to have been convicted on child sex offences.
    He was found guilty by a jury in Victoria in December on one charge of sexual assault against a 13-year-old boy and four charges of indecent acts against the same boy and another 13-year old. The events occurred 22 years earlier.
    The verdict could not be reported until last week, when a suppression order on the case was lifted as a result of further charges against the 77-year-old being dropped.
    His bail was revoked a week ago ahead of his sentencing on March 13.    He faces a maximum of 10 years in jail for each of the charges.
    The Court of Appeal said on Wednesday a hearing on the application for leave to appeal was set for June 5 and 6.
    Pell is appealing his conviction on three grounds: the verdicts were “unreasonable,” the judge erred by not allowing the defense to show a video graphic in its closing address, and there was “a fundamental irregularity” as the accused was not arraigned in the presence of the jury panel.
    The application says the jury could not have been satisfied Pell was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt as the prosecution’s case was based wholly on the word of one accuser, and more than 20 witnesses gave “unchallenged exculpatory evidence”.
    The other victim in the case died in 2014.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Neil Fullick)

3/6/2019 On Ash Wednesday, pope says wealth is ‘dust in the wind’ by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis leads the Ash Wednesday mass at Santa Sabina Basilica in Rome, Italy, March 6, 2019. REUTERS/Yara Nardi
    ROME (Reuters) – Pope Francis told Catholics on Wednesday that success, power and material possessions are
fleeting and will disappear “like dust in the wind” as he marked the start of the penitential Christian season of Lent.     Francis led a traditional procession between two churches on Rome’s Aventine Hill and later said Mass during which he had ashes rubbed onto his head by a cardinal in a rite intended to remind people of their mortality.
    “The small mark of ash, which we will receive, is a subtle yet real reminder that of the many things occupying our thoughts, that we chase after and worry about every day, nothing will remain,” he said in his homily.
    “No matter how hard we work, we will take no wealth with us from this life. Earthly realities fade away like dust in the wind,” he said.    “Possessions are temporary, power passes, success wanes.”
    During Lent, which ends on Easter Sunday – April 21 this year – Christians are urged to give alms, pray and fast.
    On Sunday, the pope and most top Vatican officials will travel to a town south of Rome to take part in a week-long spiritual Lenten retreat.
    The retreat takes place as the Church faces criticism from victims of sexual abuse by clergy who say a top-level conference at the Vatican last month has failed to come up with concrete measures to tackle the issue.
    The Church is also reeling from the conviction in Australia of Cardinal George Pell on sexual abuse charges.
    In Wednesday’s homily, Francis said people should focus on the needs of others and practice “charity that frees us from the vanity of acquiring and of thinking that things are only good if they are good for me.”
    “Outward appearance, money, a career or hobby: if we live for them, they will become idols that enslave us, sirens that charm us and then cast us adrift,” Francis said.
    “We need to free ourselves from the clutches of consumerism and the snares of selfishness, from always wanting more, from never being satisfied, and from a heart closed to the needs of the poor,” he said.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Gareth Jones)

3/7/2019 Australia’s Cardinal Pell sued for alleged child abuse in 1970s
Cardinal George Pell arrives at County Court in Melbourne, Australia, February 27, 2019. AAP Image/David Crosling/via REUTERS
    MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australia’s Cardinal George Pell, in jail awaiting sentencing on five child sex offences, is being sued in the Supreme Court of Victoria for another alleged child abuse offense.
    A civil claim was filed late on Wednesday against Pell, the state of Victoria, the trustees of the Sisters of Nazareth, and Child and Family Services Ballarat, the Supreme Court of Victoria said on Thursday.
    The claimant cannot be named for legal reasons and the court did not make the claim public.
    Pell’s spokeswoman said he had no comment on the claim.
    Media reports earlier in the week said the lawsuit was being filed by a man who had been set to testify in a second child abuse trial against Pell, which was dropped when the prosecutor withdrew the charges last month.
    The Age newspaper said the man was seeking damages for psychiatric injury, loss of wages and medical expenses as a result of the alleged offense in the late 1970s.
    He was a ward of the state at the St Joseph’s Boys Home in Ballarat at the time of the alleged incident.    The home was run by the female Catholic order, the Sisters of Nazareth.
    His lawyer did not return telephone calls or emails from Reuters asking for comment.
    Pell is the most senior Catholic priest to have been convicted on child sex offences.    He is due to be sentenced on March 13 on four charges of indecent acts involving two 13-year-old boys and one charge of sexual assault on one of the boys.    Each charge faces a maximum of 10 years in jail.
    Pell has maintained his innocence on all the charges and is seeking to appeal his conviction.    A hearing on the application to appeal has been set for June 5 and 6.
    Victoria state’s attorney-general’s office, the Trustees of the Sisters of Nazareth, and Child and Family Services Ballarat were not immediately available for comment.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Michael Perry and Neil Fullick)

3/7/2019 French cardinal convicted of failing to act on sex abuse allegations
FILE PHOTO: Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon, arrives to attend his trial,
charged with failing to act on historical allegations of sexual abuse of boy scouts by a priest in his diocese,
at the courthouse in Lyon, France, January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Emmanuel Foudrot/File Photo
    PARIS (Reuters) – A French court convicted the Roman Catholic archbishop of Lyon on Thursday of failing to act on historic allegations of sexual abuse of boy scouts in his diocese, handing Cardinal Philippe Barbarin a six-month suspended jail sentence.
    Barbarin is the highest-profile cleric to be caught up in the child sex abuse scandal inside the Catholic Church in France.    He was found guilty of failing to report allegations of sexual abuse in the 1980s and early 1990s by a priest who is due to go on trial later this year.
    Barbarin has 10 days to appeal.
    Barbarin’s trial put Europe’s senior clergy in the spotlight at a time when Pope Francis is under fire for the church’s response a sexual abuse crisis that has engulfed the church, deeply damaging its standing around the globe.
    The pontiff last month ended a conference on the sexual abuse of children by clergy by calling for an “all-out battle” against a crime that should be “erased from the face of the earth.”
    Victims and their advocates expressed deep disappointment, saying Francis had merely repeated old promises and offered few new concrete proposals.
(Editing by Peter Graff and Jon Boyle)

3/7/2019 In Catholic Rome Italy’s Mormons get their first temple by Philip Pullella
A general view shows Italy's first Mormon temple in Rome, Italy, March 6, 2019. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
    ROME (Reuters) – The towering white temple stands on Rome’s nondescript outer rim, far from the Vatican, but for Italy’s 25,000 Mormons it is a clear sign that their faith has finally arrived at the historic heart of Christianity.
    Italy’s first Mormon temple, tucked between the city’s ring road and a shopping mall, will be dedicated over three days starting on Sunday by Russell Nelson, president of the world’s 16 million Mormons, who refer to him as “The Prophet.”
    Pope Francis, whose Church numbers about 1.3 billion members and who lives in the Vatican about 18 km (11 miles) away, will not be there.    The Roman Catholic Church does not recognize the Mormons, formally known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, because of differences over doctrinal issues.
    But that does not worry Italy’s Mormons who until now have had to travel to the Swiss capital Berne for the nearest temple.    The new building is part of a 15-acre (6 hectare) religious and cultural center that resembles a U.S. college campus.
    “The temple we just built is a statement of our belief in Jesus Christ as the savior of the world,” Church elder Alessandro Dini-Ciacci, 41, told Reuters in an interview.
    “Rome is the center of Christianity, this is where the apostles Peter and Paul, the early apostles of the Church of Christ came to preach and bared their testimony… We built a house to the Lord,” said Dini-Ciacci, leader of Italian Mormons.
    Despite their differences, the two Churches work together on humanitarian projects, particularly in the United States, where the Church was founded in the early 1800s by Joseph Smith.
    Smith said an angel directed him to a place where he found a buried book of writings compiled by an ancient prophet named Mormon.    Mormons say early Christians strayed from the true faith and that only their Church had returned to the right path.
GOOD-WILL VISIT
    A delegation from the Vatican’s office for Christian Unity, headed by a bishop, visited the temple last month in a sign of friendship, Dini-Ciacci and a Vatican official said.
    During a recent visit, the temple was abuzz with workers getting ready for the dedication.    They included six college-age U.S. missionaries, in Italy for two years of voluntary proselytizing work that is a trademark of their Church.
    The temple is covered with white granite from Sardinia.    Statues of Jesus and the apostles are made of fine Carrara marble, as are the baptistry and most of the floors.br>     With their oil paintings of biblical scenes, Impressionist-style works depicting the Italian countryside and chandeliers of crystal gold, most rooms look like those of a luxury hotel.
    The 10-year project is believed to have cost tens of millions of dollars, although Dini-Ciacci declined to give any figure, adding: “We spend much more on humanitarian aid and we are proud of that.”
    One Mormon practice that Catholic and other Christian Churches frown on is baptism of the dead by proxy.    This allows Mormons to stand in for their ancestors who were born before the Church was founded and baptize them vicariously.    This is based on the     Mormon belief that they are helping the deceased attain full access to heaven.
    Church members are told to focus on their ancestors but some have performed the ritual for deceased strangers, celebrities and even popes, Jewish leaders and Muslims.
    “We do all we can to prevent this,” Dini-Ciacci said.
    Mormons and other religions in Italy also differ on how Churches should be financed.    Mormons give a tithe of 10 percent of their income to the Church.
    Dini-Ciacci said the Mormon Church does not accept funds from the government, which allows Italians to donate 0.8 percent of their income tax to a religion.
    “Tithing is a biblical principle and we stick to that,” he said.
(Editing by Gareth Jones)

3/8/2019 Anti-Semitism part of wave of ‘depraved hatred’, pope says by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis conducts a mass at Santa Marta chapel at the Vatican, March 8, 2019.br> Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis on Friday branded anti-Semitism part of a wave of “depraved hatred” sweeping some countries and urged everyone to be vigilant against it.
    In comments to members of the American Jewish Committee during a visit to the Vatican, he also reiterated that it was sinful for Christians to hold anti-Semitic sentiments because they shared a heritage with Jews.
    “A source of great concern to me is the spread, in many places, of a climate of wickedness and fury, in which an excessive and depraved hatred is taking root,” Francis said.    “I think especially of the outbreak of anti-Semitic attacks in various countries.”
    Francis did not name any of those countries, but government statistics released last month showed more than 500 anti-Semitic attacks occurred last year in France, which has Europe’s biggest Jewish community.    That was a 74 percent increase from 2017.
    “I stress that for a Christian any form of anti-Semitism is a rejection of one’s own origins, a complete contradiction,” Francis said.
    A European Union study last month showed that more than one in three European Jews have considered emigrating in the past five years because they no longer feel safe.
    Episodes of anti-Semitism have coincided with the rise of populist or nationalist parties in predominantly Christian countries such as Italy, Germany, Poland and Hungary.
    In Britain, nine lawmakers quit the Labour party last month, citing the leadership’s handling of anti-Semitism in the party as a reason for leaving.
    In December, 20 cobblestones commemorating members of two Italian Jewish families who were deported to Auschwitz or killed in Rome were dug up and stolen in what the Jewish community said was an anti-Semitic attack.
    On Monday, Pope Francis announced that he has decided to open fully the Vatican’s secret archives on Pope Pius XII, something which Jews have been seeking for decades.
    Some Jews have accused Pius, who reigned from 1939 to 1958, of turning a blind eye to the Holocaust during World War Two by not speaking out forcefully.    The Vatican has said Pius worked quietly behind the scenes to save Jews and avoid worsening the situation for many.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella, editing by Larry King)
[Now we know why the Pope released the Pius documents.].

3/12/2019 China official says West using Christianity to ‘subvert’ power by Ben Blanchard
Red flags flutter in front of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Chinaz
September 30, 2018. Picture taken September 30, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee
    BEIJING (Reuters) – Western forces are trying to use Christianity to influence China’s society and even “subvert” the government, a senior official said, warning that Chinese Christians needed to follow a Chinese model of the religion.
    China’s constitution guarantees religious freedom, but since President Xi Jinping took office six years ago, the government has tightened restrictions on religions seen as a challenge to the authority of the ruling Communist Party.
    The government has cracked down on underground churches, both Protestant and Catholic, even as it seeks to improve relations with the Vatican.
    In a speech on Monday, Xu Xiaohong head of the National Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China, said there were many problems with Christianity in the country, including “infiltration” from abroad and “private meeting places.”
    “It must be recognized that our movement’s surname is ‘China’ and not ‘Western’,” Xu said, according to remarks reported on Tuesday by the United Front Work Department, which is in charge of co-opting non-communists, ethnic minorities and religious groups.
    “Anti-China forces in the West are trying to continue to influence China’s social stability and even subvert our country’s political power through Christianity, and it is doomed to fail,” he said, speaking to parliament’s largely ceremonial advisory body.
    “For individual black sheep who, under the banner of Christianity, participate in subverting national security, we firmly support the country to bring them to justice.”
    Only by eliminating the “stigma of foreign religion” in China’s Christianity can its believers benefit society, he added.
    “Only by continually drawing on the fine traditions of Chinese culture, can China’s Christianity be rooted in the fertile soil of Chinese culture and become a religion recognized by the Chinese themselves,” Xu added.
    “Only by continuously carrying forward and practicing the core values of socialism can our Christianity truly be suited to socialist society.”     China has been following a policy it calls the “Sinicisation” of religion, trying to root out foreign influences and enforce obedience to the Communist Party.
    Restrictions on religion have attracted particular concern in the United States.    Last week, during a visit to Hong Kong, the U.S. ambassador for religious freedom called on Beijing to end religious persecution.
    What China calls a de-radicalisation program in its restive far western region of Xinjiang has also caused widespread opprobrium in Western capitals and amongst rights groups, who say authorities have been placing Muslims there in internment camps.
    The government says they are vocational training centers where the Uighur people who call Xinjiang home and other Muslim peoples are sent to learn about the law and the Mandarin language, and has defended the practice.
    Yang Jie, an imam from Xinjiang, told the same advisory body on Monday that some adherents had poor “religious and civic awareness,” which made them vulnerable to “the temptation and incitement of religious extremist forces.”
    They mistakenly believed that their religion came before their citizenship, and that certain illegal acts were a “firm expression of faith,” Yang said.
    “This wrong view and behavior has seriously affected social stability, ethnic unity and religious harmony, and has vilified the social image of the Muslim community and must be resolutely stopped.”
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel)

3/12/2019 Australia’s Cardinal Pell faces sentencing for abusing two choir boys
Cardinal George Pell arrives at County Court in Melbourne, Australia, February 27, 2019. AAP Image/Erik Anderson/via REUTERS
    MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Former Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell will be sentenced on Wednesday after his conviction for sexually abusing two choir boys in Melbourne in the 1990s, with the judge expected to impose a prison term on the Catholic Cardinal.    In a rare move reflecting interest in the high-profile case, the sentencing will be broadcast live on television although the camera will only show the judge and not the court room.
    Pell, the most senior Catholic worldwide to be convicted for child sex offences, faces a maximum of 10 years in jail for each of the four charges of indecent acts and one charge of sexual penetration on which he was found guilty.
    A jury unanimously convicted the 77 year-old in December, however the verdict was only made public on Feb 26, when further child sex offence charges against Pell dating back to the 1970s were dropped.
    Pell has maintained his innocence throughout and has filed an appeal on three grounds, set to be heard in June. He has been in jail since Feb. 27, when his bail was revoked after a sentence plea hearing.
    The County Court of Victoria had come under fire for suppressing coverage of Pell’s trial, as he is seen as the face of the Catholic Church in Australia which has protected paedophile priests.    The suppression order was intended to ensure an impartial jury in the second trial that had been planned.
    “Given the speculation and outpouring of anger and distress over the conviction, the reaction to sentencing will be likely highly emotionally charged and extremely polarizing,” said Cathy Kezelman, president of the Blue Knot Foundation, a support group for victims of childhood trauma.
    Pell’s lawyer, Robert Richter, argued for a light sentence, based on Pell’s age, heart problems, no prior history of offending, no physical injuries to the victims and the fact the duration of the offences was short.
    Richter sparked a furor when, in seeking a light sentence, he called the offence “a plain vanilla sexual penetration case,” remarks for which he later apologized.
    The court’s chief judge, Peter Kidd, said he was not convinced by those arguments, saying Pell had engaged in “callous, brazen offending” against two boys in a room with an open door, causing trauma and distress.
    “It was imbued with arrogance, aggression and impunity,” Kidd told the court.
    The court said Kidd’s sentencing would be aired live by the Australian Broadcasting Corp at 10 a.m. (2300 GMT) on Wednesday.
    “The County Court is committed to the principles of open justice,” a spokesman said.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Robert Birsel)

3/13/2019 Cardinal Pell: From Vatican apartment to Australian prison cell by Byron Kaye
FILE PHOTO - Cardinal George Pell attends a news conference at the Vatican, June 29, 2017. REUTERS/Remo Casilli/File Photo
    SYDNEY (Reuters) – For two decades, George Pell was the dominant figure in the Catholic Church in Australia – a boy from a gold mining town whose ambition, intellect and knack for befriending influential people propelled him to become the third-most senior official in the Vatican.
    That came crashing down in December, when a court found Pell, 77, guilty of five charges of child sex offences committed on two 13-year-old choir boys in a Melbourne.
    On Wednesday, Pell’s fall was complete as he was sentenced to six years in jail and registered as a sex offender for the rest of his life, which the judge acknowledged Pell may now spend in jail.
    Pell is the most senior Roman Catholic official to be convicted of sexual offences, bringing a rolling abuse scandal that has dogged the church worldwide for three decades to the heart of both the Vatican and Australian civic life.
    “Your obvious status as Archbishop cast a powerful shadow over this offending,” County Court of Victoria Chief Judge Peter Kidd said of Pell during the sentencing, where he described Pell’s crimes as “brazen” and grave.”
    Pell maintains his innocence and his appeal against the verdict will be heard in June.
    Pell, who has been held in custody for the past two weeks, now faces years in a Victorian prison, a far cry from the apartment where he lived in Piazza Citta Leonina, a small square just across the street from the Vatican’s St. Ann’s Gate.
BALLARAT BOY
    Pell spent most of his first three decades as a priest in Ballarat, an old gold mining town in the state of Victoria, about 120 km (75 miles) from Melbourne.
    State and federal inquiries would later find it to be one of the Catholic dioceses worst-affected by cases of abuse, though none of the complaints against Pell stem from his time there.
    It was after Pell left his hometown to become Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996 that he committed offences against two choir boys in the city’s St Patrick’s Cathedral for which he was found guilty by the 12-person jury.
    It was not until 2016 that the complaints against Pell were first made public, with charges laid in 2017, and in the meantime he continued to rise through Australia’s Church hierarchy.
    By 2001 when Pell became Archbishop of Sydney, the country’s top-ranking Catholic position, he was a polarizing national figure – revered by many conservative Catholics but criticized by liberals for his outspoken views.
    At a 2002 World Youth Day event in Toronto, Pell made headlines by saying “abortion is a worse moral scandal than priests sexually abusing young people” since abortion was “always a destruction of human life.”
FINANCIAL ROLE
    In meetings among cardinals before the conclave that elected Pope Francis in 2013, the Australian stood out not only for his imposing height and broad shoulders, but also for his command of financial matters.
    Hoping to end Vatican financial scandals, the pope moved Pell to Rome and in 2014 he was appointed to run a new ministry, the Secretariat for the Economy.
    Meanwhile, in Australia, a state inquiry into institutional abuse began airing accounts of child abuse and cover-ups in Ballarat and elsewhere over generations, triggering a more powerful, comprehensive Federal Royal Commission inquiry.
    Pell was not named as an alleged perpetrator at either inquiry. When he was called to give evidence at the Royal Commission it was only in relation to his knowledge of others’ conduct, and the question of whether he was present when church leaders decided to move offending priests between parishes.
    In testimony to the commission in March 2016, Pell said that he did not know of the sexual abuse of children in Ballarat by another priest in the 1970s until his conviction in 1993, although the commission had heard testimony from others that the priest’s behavior was an open secret in the diocese.
    “It’s a sad story and it wasn’t of much interest to me,” he told that inquiry.    Pell also said the Church made “catastrophic” choices by minimizing its response to, and covering up, abuse complaints.
TRUE BELIEVERS
    When the global wave of abuse allegations reached Pell in June 2017, some of the country’s most powerful people stood by him, including former conservative prime minister Tony Abbott, himself a devout Catholic, who told a newspaper “the George Pell I have known is a very fine man indeed.”
    After the conviction was made public in Australia last month, Abbott told a radio program he had called Pell, although he declined to give details of the conversation.
    “I’m not a fair-weather friend,” Abbott said.
    Another conservative former prime minister, John Howard, provided a written character reference for Pell in court after his conviction, saying he had known Pell for 30 years.
    “None of these matters alter my opinion of the Cardinal,” Howard wrote.
    The most senior Catholic of all, Pope Francis, who faces calls to strip Pell of his Cardinal status, has said he would withhold comment until the appeal process was concluded.
    Pell was among three cardinals the pope removed from his group of close advisers a day after the December verdict.    No reason was given at the time.
(Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by John Mair, Alex Richardson and Michael Perry)

3/13/2019 Ungagged: The Cardinal Pell trials by Sonali Paul
FILE PHOTO - Vatican Treasurer Cardinal George Pell is surrounded by Australian police and members of the media as
he leaves the Melbourne Magistrates Court in Australia, July 26, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Dadswell/File Photo
    MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Scooped. It’s a reporter’s nightmare.
    After I spent weeks covering the trial of Cardinal George Pell in a small court room in Melbourne, a New York-based reporter for a U.S. media organization was first with the news that one of the most senior officials in the Vatican had been convicted of sexually assaulting two choir boys.
    I had to sit on the story for another 11 weeks.
    Media had been barred by the court from publishing anything in Australia about Pell’s prosecution on five sexual offences committed against the two boys at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne 22 years ago.
    Pell was found guilty in December, a verdict announced in court, but the gag order was lifted only on Feb 26.
    Reuters published news of the conviction only after the gag order was lifted.
    Reuters, the world’s largest international multimedia news organization, adheres strictly to the local laws in the almost 200 locations where it operates.    Thomson Reuters, our parent company, has a large presence in Australia, including more than 20 journalists, and news and other services are widely distributed.
    The suppression order had applied throughout Australia “and on any website or other electronic or broadcast format accessible within Australia."    Those failing to comply with suppression orders can be jailed for up to five years as well as fined nearly A$100,000($70,630).    A company can face a fine of nearly A$500,000.
    At the same time, however, I am bound by the Reuters Trust Principles, which commit all journalists in the company to supply “unbiased and reliable news.”    https://www.thomsonreuters.com/en/about-us/trust-principles.html
    Normally, when the verdict was announced, I would have sent a series of stories to my editors, urgently reporting the conviction for our clients and readers around the world followed by several updates through the day.
    But the gag order precluded that.
    Unlike Reuters, several overseas media institutions published the verdict as soon as it was announced.    Soon it was widely available online, including in Australia.
    The Daily Beast broke news of the conviction out of New York the day Pell was found guilty.    The Washington Post and Catholic news agencies offshore followed suit.
    The New York Times published the verdict in U.S. print editions but not online.
    U.S. media that ran the verdict but did not block coverage to Australia were technically in breach of the suppression order, but there was no way the order could be enforced against them, legal experts said.
    “Australia would have to extradite someone, say from the Washington Post.    There’s no way that that could happen under U.S. law, because the U.S. publisher would be facing charges that are totally repugnant to the first amendment,” said Jason Bosland, deputy director of the Centre for Media and Communications Law at the University of Melbourne.
    The first amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects freedom of the press.
    “While we always consider guidelines given by courts and governments, we must ultimately use our judgment and exercise our right to publish such consequential news,” Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron was quoted by the newspaper as saying.
    The Washington Post and the Daily Beast did not respond to questions on whether they had received any legal notice from the Australian court.
GAG ORDER LIFTED
    County Court of Victoria Chief Judge Peter Kidd said he imposed the gag order to avoid tainting the jury in this trial and another case he had set for March 2019, where Pell faced charges on other child sex offences from the 1970s.    The charges in the second case were dropped last week, leading to the end of the gag order.
    In Australia, some newspapers ran headlines, including one that said “CENSORED,” and articles referring to a trial where an unnamed high-profile person was convicted of a serious crime that could not be reported.
    For 10 weeks, I and about eight other reporters spent four and a half days a week covering the Pell trials – a mistrial and then a subsequent trial.    The jury was given Friday afternoons off, so we were free too.
    Pell would wait during breaks in a small interview room next to the courtroom, with two companions most of the time.
    When the jury went in to deliberate on the verdict, it was nerve-jangling.    We hovered in the corridor outside the court room the whole time, and no one left the court house except when we saw lunch being taken in to the jurors.
    The trial’s highlight was the testimony of the one surviving victim.    But only the jury, the judge, the lawyers and Pell heard his testimony from a remote site.    It lasted for more than two days, including a cross-examination by Pell’s lawyer, Robert Richter.
    Pell did not take the stand at any time.
    The rest of us in court heard a long line of church officials and ex-choristers being interrogated about Sunday mass protocols, choir processions, wine bottles, and the Cathedral layout.    All of them said they had never seen nor heard of anything untoward at the cathedral in late 1996 or early 1997.
    In those circumstances, it was easy to forget the gravity of the case and not having heard the victim, the guilty verdict came as a surprise.
    Then, after the drama over the gag order, the judge permitted live television coverage of the sentencing on Wednesday.    Only a single camera was used, which was trained on the judge and the broadcast was cut immediately after the sentence was delivered.
    Pell was sentenced to six years in prison.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

3/13/2019 Former Vatican treasurer Pell jailed for six years for ‘brazen’ sexual attack on choir boys by Sonali Paul
FILE PHOTO: Cardinal George Pell arrives at County Court in Melbourne, Australia,
February 27, 2019. AAP Image/David Crosling/via REUTERS
    MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Former Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell was sentenced to six years in jail on Wednesday for sexually abusing two choir boys in Melbourne in the 1990s, and will be registered as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
    County Court of Victoria Chief Judge Peter Kidd, who handed down the sentence in a live television broadcast, said there was a real possibility that at age 77, Pell could spend the rest of his life in prison.
    Pell, a former top adviser to Pope Francis, is the most senior Catholic to be convicted for child sex offences.
    His downfall brings to the heart of the papal administration a scandal over clerical abuse that has ravaged the Church’s credibility in the United States, Chile, Australia and elsewhere over the last three decades.
    “In my view, your conduct was permeated by staggering arrogance,” said Kidd in handing down the sentence after Pell was convicted of five charges of sexually abusing two children.
    “Viewed overall, I consider your moral culpability across both episodes to be high,” he told the packed court room.
    Pell, who appeared in court without a priest’s collar for the first time during the case, showed no emotion during the sentencing hearing that ran for more than one hour.    He has maintained his innocence and has filed an appeal that is scheduled to be heard in June.
    The offences against two 13-year-old boys took place after Sunday mass in late 1996 and early 1997 in a room and a corridor at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne, where Pell was archbishop.
    One of the victims died in 2014. The other victim, who testified and was cross-examined at the trial, issued a statement through his solicitor saying he found it hard to take comfort in the verdict for now.
    “Being a witness in a criminal case has not been easy.    I am doing my best to hold myself and my family together,” said the victim, who cannot be identified under Australian law protecting the identity of sex abuse victims.
    During the trial the victim described how Pell had exposed himself to them, fondled their genitals and masturbated and forced one boy to perform an oral sex act on him.
    Pell was found guilty by a jury on four charges of indecent acts and one of sexual penetration.    He had faced a maximum of 10 years in jail for each charge.
    “Cardinal Pell, I find beyond reasonable doubt that, on the specific facts of your case, there was a clear relationship of trust with the victims, and you breached that trust and abused your position to facilitate this offending,” Kidd said.
    Kidd said as archbishop Pell would have “cast a powerful shadow” and thought he could control the situation if caught.    He also probably believed his victims would not complain.
    During his trial, Pell’s own lawyer described the burly 1.9 meters (6 foot and 3 inches) tall cardinal as the “Darth Vader” of the Catholic Church.
    Kidd said that as Pell had maintained his innocence, which was his right, he had not shown remorse or contrition for his actions and that his sentence reflected that.
    The dead victim’s father, who was in court for the sentencing, was a bit disappointed with the jail term, his lawyer told Reuters.
    “When he compares what his son and his family and he himself went through, it seems quite a light sentence,” said Lisa Flynn, a lawyer at Shine Lawyers, working for the victim’s father on a potential civil suit against Pell and the Catholic Church.
    The surviving victim said everything was overshadowed by Pell’s upcoming appeal.
CATHOLIC CHURCH NOT ON TRIAL
    After the sentence was handed down, Pell signed paperwork related to his registration as a sex offender, bowed to the judge and then, aided by a walking stick, was escorted out of the court by five corrections officers.
    Pope Francis, leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, ended a conference on sexual abuse in February by calling for an “all-out battle” against a crime that should be “erased from the face of the earth.”
    Pell’s fate within the church has yet to be decided.    The Vatican has said it will not comment on the case until after the appeal.
    If defrocked, Pell would be the highest profile figure to be dismissed from the priesthood in modern times and only the second Roman Catholic prelate to lose the title of cardinal in nearly 100 years.
    Kidd made it clear that Pell’s sentence was based solely on the crimes he was convicted of by the jury, and that Pell was not to be made a scapegoat for the failings or perceived failings of the Catholic Church.
    “In my view, the first episode in the priest’s sacristy involved a brazen and forceful sexual attack on the two victims,” Kidd said.
    “The acts were sexually graphic.    Both victims were visibly and audibly distressed during this offending,” he said, adding Pell’s behavior had a “nasty element” to it.
    He set a non-parole period of three years and eight months.    Pell would be registered as a sex offender for life.
    “I am conscious that the term of imprisonment…carries with it a real, as distinct from theoretical, possibility that you may not live to be released from prison,” the judge said.
    Only the judge was made visible to viewers in the TV broadcast, which was cut immediately after the sentence was delivered.
    “It’s a significant day for survivors and victims of child sexual abuse particularly within the Catholic Church, because what it shows them is that they can come forward, that the courts will believe them and the perpetrators of the crimes against them will be convicted and sentenced and held accountable for what they did, regardless of the position of authority they hold,” Flynn said.
    Pell was convicted in December, but the verdict was suppressed from being made public in Australia by a court order until Feb. 26, when further child sex offence charges against Pell dating back to the 1970s were dropped.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Writing by John Mair; Editing by Michael Perry)
[If he is the Darth Vader of the Catholic Church then I would not say that the Catholic Church is not his child Luke Skywalker leading the resistance in their past.].

3/14/2019 Polish Church says 382 minors abused by clergy from 1990-2018 by Marcin Goclowski
Bishop Artur Mizinski, secretary general of the Episcopal Conference of Poland, Archbishop Marek Jedraszewski
deputy head of the Episcopal Conference of Poland, Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, head of the Episcopal Conference
of Poland, Archbishop Wojciech Polak, primate of Poland, priests Adam Zak and Wojciech Sadlon attend a news
conference in Warsaw, Poland, March 14, 2019. Agencja Gazeta/Adam Stepien via REUTERS
    WARSAW (Reuters) – As many as 382 children were sexually abused by clergy in Poland between 1990 and 2018, according to findings presented on Thursday by the Polish Catholic Church in one of the most devout countries in Europe.
    The report follows investigations into widespread abuse of minors by clergy in other countries – notably in Chile, the United States, Australia and Ireland – that have shaken the Roman Catholic Church to its foundations.
    “This is an especially painful, tragic issue as it is connected with consecrated people, who devoted themselves to serving the church, other human beings.    They have social trust and this social trust was so tragically violated,” Archbishop Marek Jedraszewski said at a news conference.
    Polish bishops last year asked victims of past clerical abuse for forgiveness and began collecting data to “identify the causes of these deeds and assess their scale.”
    The report said as many as 198 of the victims were below the age of 15.
    Last month the Polish charity “Have no fear,” which supports abuse victims, delivered its own report to Pope Francis in which it calculated – purely on the basis of media reports collated since the mid-1950s – that at least 384 minors had been sexually abused by clergy in Poland.
    Activists say the real figure is probably much greater.
    The charity has called for the creation of a panel to investigate the real scale of the problem, securing access to Church documents regarding the abuse of minors, and dismissing bishops found responsible for covering up sexual crimes.
    In Poland, Catholic priests enjoy high social prestige and victims of sexual abuse by clergy are often suspected by devout Poles of making up false accusations, even long after the offender in question has been jailed.
    Poland remains one of Europe’s most devout countries.    Nearly 85 percent of Poland’s 38 million-strong population identify as Roman Catholics and around 12 million attend mass every Sunday.
    But Polish Church authorities have yet to reach a consensus on how to address the issue of sexual abuse.
    An arm of the Church has filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court seeking to annul a 1 million zloty ($263,000) payment ordered by a lower court to a woman who, as a 13-year old child, was repeatedly raped by her local priest.
    The case was a landmark ruling in granting compensation and an annuity to a victim of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest in Poland.
(Reporting by Marcin Goclowski; Editing by Gareth Jones and Toby Chopra)
[And read the next article to see why the push of that source by the Scarlet Woman may have caused what you have just read.].

3/15/2019 Poland’s ruling party picks LGBT rights as election battlefront by Joanna Plucinska and Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk
Police officers stand guard as far-right protesters try to block first in the city "Equality Parade" rally in support
of the LGBT community in Lublin, Poland October 13, 2018. Jakub Orzechowski/Agencja Gazeta/via REUTERS
    WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland’s ruling nationalist party aims to stem a decline in its popularity ahead of two key elections this year with warnings that opposition support for LGBT education is a threat to Polish culture and should be blocked wherever possible.
    The Law and Justice Party (PiS) has condemned a new school sex education program planned in Poland’s opposition-ruled capital Warsaw, calling it an infringement of traditional Catholic values by Western liberalism.
    PiS has targeted LGBT rights as it strives to reverse a decline in popularity amid corruption allegations against financial regulators and questions about party chief Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s business dealings, among other things.     Poland’s European Coalition, an umbrella grouping of opposition parties, has passed PiS by two points ahead of May’s European Parliament elections, according to a new opinion poll.    Parliamentary elections will follow in the autumn.
    The approved lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) education program in Warsaw is meant to teach students about sexual orientation, discrimination and reproductive health, according to standards set by the World Health Organization.
    Conservative politicians, Roman Catholic leaders and commentators argue such lessons will rob parents of the right to decide how their children should be educated and see children discovering their sexuality too early.
    “The whole social mechanism of preparing a young person, first a child and then a youth, for future roles as women and men, to start a family, for the role of mother and father, is being questioned.    It could be destroyed,” Kaczynski told a PiS party convention on Saturday.
    He added that if the opposition prevailed in the coming elections, it would “continue this attack on families, on children,” and urged voters to help PiS foil such outcomes.
    Over half of Poles think homosexuality is not normal but can be tolerated, while a quarter believe it should not be tolerated at all, according to a poll carried out in late 2017 by CBOS.
    Poland remains one of Europe’s most devout countries.    Roughly 90 percent of the 38 million population identify as Catholics and some 12 million attend mass every Sunday.    But while PiS is popular in small town and rural areas of Poland, it draws much less support in larger cities like Warsaw.
ATMOSPHERE OF FEAR?
    Some analysts said the PiS decision to zero in on LGBT matters in an election year was a strategy of playing on fear of the unfamiliar to win votes at a time when support for the PiS is floundering among young voters and urbanites.
    “What the ruling party is doing isn’t a normal discussion about LGBT rights.    Through certain connotations, linking this subject with a so-called threat to children, politicians are trying to create an atmosphere of fear,” sociologist Malgorzata Fuszara told daily Rzeczpospolita on Wednesday.
    The tactic worked for PiS previously, analysts said, noting how in 2015 it used anti-migrant rhetoric to drum up support before its election defeat of the governing center-left Civic Platform.
    “Here they’re playing on fear just like they did with migration.    Only this time it’s not against migrants and Islamic countries but against the expansion of Western valuesz,” said Aleksander Smolar at the Stefan Batory Foundation.
    For their part, Polish bishops said in a statement that the Warsaw sex education program would undermine democracy by limiting parental rights and eroding free speech, as children would be instructed in ways at odds with Polish tradition.
    PiS has used its electoral mandate to strengthen Catholic values, vowing to “lift Poland from its knees” in its fight against the alleged imposition by countries like Germany and France of a more secular, liberal way of life.
    “We don’t want families to be replaced by a new social structure.    We don’t want the state, specialists or experts to be the only ones to decide on how we raise our children,” said Zdzislaw Krasnodebski, a PiS ally in the European Parliament.
    Polish schools do not currently offer formal sex education, instead teaching students how to prepare for “family life.”
    Poland ranks second to last out of 28 European Union states when it comes to equality and non-discrimination, according to Rainbow Europe, an organization linked to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.
    Gay marriage is illegal in Poland and homosexual partnerships are not legally recognized.
    PiS has long focused on bolstering the traditional family unit, comprised of a mother, father and children through social spending programs such as “500+,” which awards 500 zlotys ($131) a month per child to families with more than one child.
(Additional reporting by Marcin Goclowski Editing by Justyna Pawlak and Mark Heinrich)
[I am glad to hear that there is at least one country that is fighting back against the sins that are being forced on countries, and Poland and the Catholic Church should be pushing it more since the church just experienced the results of sexual abuse of children by priests who were probably abused themselves by homosexuals and somehow the world managed to make that pliable to the world as okay, but not in the eyes of GOD.].

3/16/2019 Pope reactivates plans for South Sudan trip by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis attends an audience with the President of South Sudan Salva Kiir
at the Vatican, March 16, 2019. Vatican Media/¬Handout via REUTERS
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis has asked aides to resume plans for a visit to South Sudan, a trip that had to be scrapped in 2017 because of the civil war in the world’s youngest country.
    During a meeting with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir on Saturday, Francis “expressed the wish to ascertain the conditions for a possible visit to South Sudan,” a Vatican statement said.
    It added that he wanted to make the trip as “a sign of closeness to the population and of encouragement for the peace process.”
    Oil-producing South Sudan, which became independent in 2011, descended into civil war in December 2013 when a dispute between Kiir and his sacked deputy Riek Machar sparked fighting, often along ethnic lines.
    In September, Kiir, who is Catholic, and Machar, a Presbyterian, signed a peace deal calling on the two main rival factions to assemble, screen and train their respective forces and unify them into a national army before the formation of a unity government in May.
    Three days ago, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group said in a report that the six-month-old peace deal risked collapse because none of these steps have occurred, just two months before the deadline.
    More than half of the population of South Sudan is Christian, while Sudan is predominantly Muslim.
    In 2017, Catholic Church leaders in the country said they had expected the pope would visit the capital, Juba, in the autumn of that year.    The tentative plans were scrapped because of security concerns.
    About 400,000 people have been killed, and more than a third of the country’s 12 million people uprooted by the civil war – a conflict punctuated by multiple rounds of mediation followed by renewed bloodshed.
    The original trip was to have lasted only one day for security reasons and the pope was to have flown in after spending a night in another African country.
    Francis is expected to visit several African countries this year, including Madagascar.
    The pope was to have made the 2017 trip to South Sudan with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, head of the worldwide Anglican communion, in an effort to promote unity in the mostly Christian country.
    The conflict sparked Africa’s worst refugee crisis since the 1994 Rwandan genocide and plunged parts of the country into famine.
    More than 875,000 refugees have fled into neighboring Uganda since the war broke out.
    The pope and Kiir discussed the return of refugees, the Vatican statement said.
(Additional reporting by Hereward Holland in Nairobi)

3/17/2019 As Xi heads to Italy, Vatican says China should not fear Church by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: China's President Xi Jinping attends a meeting with Portugal's Parliamentary President Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues
at the Parliament in Lisbon, Portugal, December 5, 2018. REUTERS/Pedro Nunes/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – A top Vatican official says China’s government should not fear “distrust or hostility” from the Roman Catholic Church, writing amid speculation over whether President Xi Jinping will meet Pope Francis this week.
    Senior Vatican sources have said Francis is willing to meet Xi and that intermediaries had made overtures to the Vatican, but the Chinese side had not yet formally asked for a meeting.    Any encounter would be the first between a Chinese leader and a pope.
    Xi’s visit, starting Thursday, is his first to Italy following a historic agreement in September between the Vatican and the Chinese government on the appointment of bishops in China.
    Beijing cut diplomatic ties with the Vatican in 1951 and has remained concerned that an independent Church in China could threaten its authority.
    “The Holy See (nurtures) no distrust or hostility toward any country,” Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin writes in the introduction of a new book on China to be published on Tuesday.    An advance copy of Parolin’s comments in the book, “The Church in China – A Future Yet to be Written” – were made available to Reuters.
    Parolin, second only to the pope in the Vatican hierarchy, said the Catholic Church’s work in China “cannot be separated from a stance of respect, esteem, and trust toward the Chinese people and their legitimate state authorities.”
    This appeared to be another attempt by the Vatican to allay Beijing’s concerns.
    While the historic September agreement initiated an unprecedented direct dialogue between the Vatican and China, Beijing and the Holy See have not resumed diplomatic, relations.
    Parolin wrote that the previously “inextricable knots” in relations between China and the Vatican could be untied through a new, unified approach involving a mix of “theology, law, pastoral work, and even diplomacy.”
    It is routine for heads of state and government visiting Italy to also meet the pope.    A Vatican source said it could be inserted into Xi’s schedule “at the last minute.”    A Vatican spokesman said it is not on the pope’s schedule.
    The September deal, in the making for more than 10 years, gives the Vatican a long-sought say in the choice of bishops in China.    Critics, particularly conservative Catholics, have labeled it a sellout to the Communist government.
    China’s approximately 12 million Catholics have been split between an underground Church swearing loyalty to the Vatican and the state-supervised Catholic Patriotic Association. Now both sides recognize the pope.
    Many believe the September deal is a precursor to resumption of diplomatic ties with Beijing.
    That would mean severing relations with Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a renegade province.    The Vatican is the self-ruled island’s last remaining diplomatic ally in Europe.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Toby Chopra)

3/18/2019 Tea, prayers and Brexit: church to promote unity at cafe-style meetings
FILE PHOTO: Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby gives and address during an Armistice Service at
Westminster Abbey in Westminster, London, Britain, November 11, 2018. Paul Grover/Pool via REUTERS
    LONDON (Reuters) – British churchgoers will be encouraged to discuss Brexit over tea and prayers as the Church of England appeals for unity in the face of uncertainty and division over Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.
    Britons voted 52-48 percent for Brexit in a referendum in 2016, and divisions among both politicians and the people of Britain have widened as Prime Minister Theresa May has struggled to unite the country around her plan for how to implement that vote.
    The Church of England said it was encouraging parishes to hold “informal cafe-style meetings” on the weekend of March 30, Britain’s long-scheduled departure date, to encourage people to “get together and chat over a cup of tea and pray for our country and our future.”
    It has also picked out Bible passages and written prayers to encourage unity in the face of Brexit uncertainty.
    “A century from now the Church will be remembered for how it responded at this crucial moment in the life of our nation and country.    Will we be those who worked to defuse tension and hostility?” Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, said in a statement.
    Police have vowed to deal robustly with a rise in abuse of politicians as splits over Brexit have led to insult-slinging and threats of violence.    A week before the 2016 vote, a Labour lawmaker was killed by a man obsessed with Nazis and extreme right-wing ideology.
    The Muslim Council of Britain has said Brexit risks intensifying a “climate of suspicion and hostility” against Muslims, while the Board of Deputies of British Jews has said the government should listen to minority groups through the Brexit process.
    The Church of England released a downloadable pack of suggested readings, a “prayer for the nation” and separate prayers for the UK parliament and European Union, as well as a list of “conversation starters.”
    “Wherever people stand on Brexit, honour the integrity of their position,” the document says.
    “Recognize that, for some there may be a deep sense of anxiety and loss – and for others, a sense of the game turning in their favour.    Both may be valid.”
(Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

3/19/2019 French Cardinal Barbarin says pope refused his offer to resign over sex abuse case
FILE PHOTO: Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon, arrives to attend his trial, charged with
failing to act on historical allegations of sexual abuse of boy scouts by a priest in his diocese,
at the courthouse in Lyon, France, January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Emmanuel Foudrot
    PARIS (Reuters) – Philippe Barbarin, the French Roman Catholic cardinal convicted of failing to report sexual abuse charges, said on Tuesday that Pope Francis had turned down his offer to resign but had suggested he stand aside for a while.
    Barbarin, who is appealing his guilty verdict, said in a statement that he had agreed to the idea for the good of the diocese in the city of Lyon.
    “On Monday morning, I put forward my resignation to the hands of the Holy Father.    Invoking the presumption of innocence, he declined to accept this resignation,” Barbarin, who is the Archbishop of Lyon, said in a statement issued by the Catholic Church.
    “At his suggestion and given how the Church of Lyon has suffered for the past three years, I have decided to step aside for a while and hand over the day-to-day running of the diocese to Vicar General, Father Yves Baumgarten,” he added.
    Barbarin told France’s KTO television that he would stay out of day-to-day activities for a while, depending on the court appeal process, although he would remain head of the dioceses in title and would continue to sign off on documents.
    He added that he decided to take a step back to allow the dioceses to heal and turn the page.
    “I think that my dioceses has been suffering a lot for a long time,” Barbarin told KTO television.
    “I was also particularly touched by one of the victims who said during the trial that… yes, you have been suffering for around three to four years.    Do you realize that we have been suffering for around 30 to 40 years.    That was painful to hear,” he said.
    In a separate statement, the Vatican acknowledged that the pope had not accepted the resignation offer and had let Barbarin decide what was best for his diocese.
    “The Holy See is keen to reiterate its closeness to the victims of abuse, to the faithful of the Archdiocese of Lyon and of the whole Church of France who are experiencing a particularly painful moment,” the Vatican statement said.
    A court in Lyon ruled this month that between July 2014 and June 2015 Barbarin covered up allegations of sexual abuse of boy scouts in the 1980s and early 1990s by a priest who is due to go on trial later this year.
    Barbarin, 68, the highest-profile cleric to be caught up in the child sex abuse scandal inside the French Church, was handed a six-month suspended prison sentence. He has denied the allegations and has launched an appeal.
    The trial put Europe’s senior clergy in the spotlight at a time when the pope is grappling with criticism over the Church’s response to a decades-long sexual abuse crisis that has gravely damaged its standing around the globe.
    Victims of sexual abuse by clergymen say a top-level conference at the Vatican last month failed to come up with concrete measures to tackle the issue.
    An Australian court last week sentenced former Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell to six years in prison for sexually abusing two choir boys in Melbourne – the most senior Catholic to be convicted for child sex offences.
(Reporting by Marine Pennetier, Sudip Kar-Gupta and Bate Felix; Writing by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Ed Osmond)

3/21/2019 395 clergy accused of abuse in Illinois - Report including names goes back decades by Aamer Madhani, USA TODAY
    CHICAGO – Nearly 400 Catholic clergy members in Illinois have been accused of sexual misconduct, but church officials have informed congregants of only a fraction of those, according to attorneys who represented clergy sex abuse victims across the USA.
    A 182-page report, published Wednesday by the Minnesota-based law firm Jeff Anderson and Associates, includes the names, background information, photos and assignment histories of each accused clergy member.
    “The danger of sexual abuse in Illinois is clearly a problem of today, not just the past,” the report concludes.    “This will continue to be a danger until the identities and histories of sexually abusive clerics, religious employees and seminarians are made public.”
    Anderson said he hopes the report will push church leaders to publicly identify hundreds more of the accused.
    The men named in the report worked in the Archdiocese of Chicago and the dioceses of Belleville, Joliet, Peoria, Rockford and Springfield.
    The Rockford Diocese said in a statement that it has not disclosed allegations against many of the clergy on Anderson’s list “because the accusations either have not been substantiated or are completely without merit.”
    Diocese officials said they were unaware that one former priest on the list, the Rev. Ivan Rovira, had been found to have committed sexual abuse of a child after he left Northern Illinois in the early 1970s.    The Brownsville, Texas, Diocese earlier this year placed Rovira on its list of “clergy with credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor.”
    Rovira admitted to Brownsville Diocese officials in 2002 that he had sexually abused a boy during his time in Texas.    He was forced to leave the ministry and later fled to Mexico, according to the Anderson report.
    “Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this list, and the list covers the time frame of 1908, when this diocese was established, to the present,” the Rockford Diocese said in its statement.    Officials at the five other dioceses did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
    Attorneys culled the names of the clergy in the report from legal settlements and news reports detailing accusations of sexual abuse.    Although lawsuits were filed involving many of the accused, the majority of the claims were settled, according to the report.
    “We’ve chosen to reveal this information because the Catholic bishops and religious orders who are in charge and have this information ... have chosen to conceal it,” Anderson said.
    The six Illinois dioceses released the names of 185 clergy members who church officials determined were credibly accused of abuse.    The Anderson list includes those who were identified by the Illinois dioceses and more than 200 additional priests and deacons.
    Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who left office in January, issued a preliminary report in December that found at least 500 clergy from Illinois’ dioceses have faced allegations of abuse.    The church has not publicly acknowledged or thoroughly investigated those claims, Madigan’s report found.
    Madigan launched her investigation in August after a landmark Pennsylvania grand jury report detailed claims against more than 300 “predator priests” who had abused at least 1,000 victims over roughly six decades.
    The list published Wednesday includes priests and deacons whose affiliations in some cases date back decades.    Many of the accused have died.
Patricia Gallagher Marchant, a survivor of sexual abuse, speaks outside the Archdiocese of Chicago on Jan. 2. KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

3/22/2019 Mississippi governor signs ‘heartbeat’ abortion law
    JACKSON, Miss. – Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant on Thursday signed one of the strictest abortion laws in the nation – a measure that bans most abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, about six weeks into pregnancy.    Bryant’s action came despite a federal judge’s decision last year striking down a less-restrictive law limiting abortions in the state.    The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights called the new measure “cruel and clearly unconstitutional” and said it would sue to block the law from taking effect on July 1.

3/22/2019 Morocco’s hidden Christians see pope trip as chance to push for freedom by Ahmed Eljechtimi
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis is seen during the weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square,
at the Vatican February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Yara Nardi/File Photo
    RABAT (Reuters) – Moroccan converts to Christianity, a tiny minority in an overwhelmingly Muslim country, are looking to Pope Francis’ visit next week as an chance to press their demands for religious freedom.
    Francis will spend two days in Rabat on his first trip to the North African country from March 30-31 – the first visit there by any pope in nearly 35 years.
    He will spend time with Roman Catholics – most of them expatriate Europeans, mainly French, and sub-Saharan African migrants – who are free to worship in churches such as the capital’s art deco St. Peter’s Cathedral.
    But unlike those “foreign Christians,” Moroccan converts say they are forced to worship at home, in secret.    Conversion from Islam to Christianity is banned – as it is in many Muslim countries – and proselytizing is punishable by up to three years in prison.
    One group backing them – the Moroccan Association for Religious Rights and Freedoms – has already written to the Vatican, raising its concerns, and it is planning a sit-in outside a church in Rabat on the eve of the visit.
    “We want laws that protect religious minorities in the country on an equal footing,” the head of the association, Jawad El Hamidy, said.
    “We will seize the pope’s visit to put more pressure on the state to protect religious freedoms.”
NO DISCRIMINATION
    Morocco has marketed itself as an oasis of religious tolerance in a region torn by militancy – and has offered training to Muslim preachers from Africa and Europe on what it describes as moderate Islam.
    Government spokesman Mustapha El Khalfi said the authorities did not violate religious freedoms.    “There is no persecution in Morocco and there is no discrimination on the basis of faith,” he told reporters when asked about the accusations.
    But converts point to the constitution, which formally recognizes the existence of Moroccan Muslims and Jews – but not of Moroccan Christians.    They also point to their day-to-day experience.
    “When I went to a church to declare my faith, I was told that I was prohibited to do so by Moroccan law,” said a 40-year-old Moroccan Christian who gave his name as Emmanuel and asked not be shown while filmed.
    “We call on Moroccan authorities and the Holy Father to seize the opportunity offered by this papal visit to launch a sincere dialogue on religious freedom for Moroccan citizens,” the Coordination of Moroccan Christians, a local lobby group, said.
    There are no official statistics, but leaders say there are about 50,000 Moroccan Christians, most of them from the Protestant Evangelical tradition – outnumbering the estimated 30,000 Roman Catholics in the country.
    There was no immediate response from the Vatican to the Association’s letter.    But the most senior Roman Catholic in Morocco – the Archbishop of Rabat, Cristobal Lopez Romero – offered his support.
    “We as Catholic Christians appreciate that we fully enjoy the freedom of faith but we will be happier if the Moroccan people could also enjoy that,” the Spanish cleric told reporters.
    “I would love to be able to become Moroccan without having to change my religion.”
(Editing by Ulf Laessing, Philip Pullella and Andrew Heavens)

3/23/2019 Michigan deal bars LGBT discrimination in state adoptions
    LANSING, Mich. – Faith-based adoption agencies that are paid by the state of Michigan will no longer be able to turn away LGBT couples or individuals because of religious objections under a legal settlement announced Friday.    The agreement was reached between Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office and the American Civil Liberties Union, which sued in 2017 on behalf of two lesbian couples and a woman who was in foster care in her teens.    Michigan contracts with private agencies to place children with new families.

3/23/2019 Pope accepts resignation of Chilean cardinal accused of covering up abuse by Philip Pullella
Archbishop of Santiago, Ricardo Ezzati, leaves the prosecutor's building after a hearing over allegations he
covered-up sexual abuse of minors, in Rancagua, Chile, October 3, 2018. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati as archbishop of Santiago, the highest-ranking member of the Catholic Church in Chile, who has been caught up in the country’s sex abuse scandal.
    The decision to accept Ezzati’s resignation, announced in a Vatican statement on Saturday, comes at a time of sustained criticism of the Church’s response to a decades-long sexual abuse crisis.
    Victims of sexual abuse by clergymen say a top-level conference at the Vatican last month failed to come up with concrete measures to tackle the issue.
    On March 13 an Australian court sentenced former Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell to six years in prison for sexually abusing two choir boys in Melbourne – the most senior Catholic to be convicted for child sex offences. Pell is appealing.
    Ezzati, 77, faces multiple charges of cover up, including some relating to the case of Oscar Munoz, a former top aide to the Santiago Archbishopric, who is facing trial on charges he abused and raped at least five children. He denies wrongdoing.
    “I leave with my head held high,” Ezzati told reporters in Santiago.    “Every accusation has been responded to, and we will have to wait for what justice says: it is not enough for one to be accused of a cover-up; it has to be proven.”
    In October, Ezzati exercised his right to remain silent after being summoned for questioning by a state prosecutor over the allegations.
    His resignation brought to eight the number of bishops who have stepped down since all of the country’s 34 bishops offered their resignations en masse during an emergency meeting with the pope last May over allegations of a cover-up.
    The May meeting was held after Vatican investigators produced a 2,300-page report alleging that senior Church officials in Chile had failed to act on abuse claims and in some cases hid them.
    Despite his resignation as archbishop of the Chilean capital, Ezzati will keep his title of cardinal.    Until he turns 80, he also will be eligible to enter a conclave to elect a new pope after Francis’ death or resignation.
    The Vatican said the pope had named Bishop Celestino Aós Braco of the Chilean city of Copiapó, as “apostolic administrator” to run the Santiago archdiocese until a new archbishop is named.
    Apart from the eight active bishops who have resigned in Chile, last year Francis defrocked two other Chilean bishops who had been accused of molesting children.
    The pope also defrocked Father Fernando Karadima, an 88-year-old Chilean priest who was accused of sexually abusing teenage boys over many years and who was at the center of the Chilean abuse scandal.
    Chilean civil justice has investigated about 120 allegations of sexual abuse or cover-ups involving 167 Church officials or workers.
    On Monday, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the French Roman Catholic archbishop of Lyon, who a French court convicted of failing to report sexual abuse charges, offered his resignation to the pope, but Francis turned it down.
    Church authorities in Poland last week issued a study showing that almost 400 children had been sexually abused by clergy between 1990 and 2018.
(Additional reporting by Marion Giraldo Marroquin in Santiago, Editing by Crispian Balmer and Louise Heavens)

3/25/2019 Pope visits Italy’s ‘flying house’ to sign papal document
Pope Francis kisses a baby during a visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Loreto on the
feast of the Annunciation, in Loreto, Italy March 25, 2019. REUTERS/Yara Nardi
    LORETO, Italy (Reuters) – Pope Francis signed a new document on young people during a visit on Monday to a site that some Catholics believe was the house of Jesus Christ’s mother, flown by angels from the Holy Land to Italy’s Adriatic coast.
    Francis traveled to the city of Loreto, site of one of Italy’s most visited religious shrines, where he said a Mass, comforted many sick people, and signed a paper he has written on the role of young people in the Church.
    The document, known as an “apostolic exhortation,” is his assessment of a month-long synod of bishops at the Vatican last year.
    The document, now being translated from the original Spanish, is expected to tell young people that they should not be obsessed with doctrinal minutiae but blend the Church’s rules with social activism to help those in need.    Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said its title is “Christus Vivit” (Christ Lives) and that it will be published on April 2.
    According to popular tradition, the tiny house at Loreto was where the Madonna lived in Nazareth and where, according to the Bible, an angel appeared to her to tell her she would give birth to Jesus.    Monday is a religious holiday, the Feast of the Annunciation, marking this event.
    The Holy House of Loreto or the Flying House of Loreto, as it is known, was miraculously saved by angels so it would not be destroyed after Christian crusaders were expelled from Palestine in the 13th century, according to the tradition.
    A more earthly explanation, also offered on the shrine’s website as an alternative, is that a wealthy family of merchants who ruled over what is now part of Greece and Albania and whose surname was Angeli (angels), had the stones brought over by ship.
    The house is now part of a large basilica that attracts hundreds of thousands of pilgrims each year.
    In his address to crowds in the square outside the shrine, Francis did not mention the tradition but said Loreto was a place of spirituality, faith and devotion.
    He also repeated his defense of the traditional family and his opposition to gay marriage.
    “In the delicate situation of the world today, the family based on marriage between a man and a woman assumes an essential importance and mission,” he said.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Frances Kerry)

3/26/2019 Library schedules new Drag Queen Storytime by Darcy Costello, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    The Louisville Free Public Library has scheduled a new Drag Queen Storytime for May, after canceling the March event without explanation.
    The event, a first for Louisville libraries, invites guests to “channel your inner fabulous” with special guest Vanessa Demornay.    The event is set for 2-3 p.m. May 18 at the main branch on York Street.
    Mikhail Schulz, who’s been performing as Demornay for 15 years, said he was honored to be asked to participate.
    “It’s an amazing opportunity for kids to see people that maybe live outside of the norms of society and that are marching to the beat of their own drum,” Schulz said.    “It’s something I wish I had seen as a child.”
    “I hope it inspires kids that like sparkly, pretty things like me, and encourages them to explore who they are,” added Shulz, who isn’t affiliated with the Derby City Sisters, the group originally scheduled for the first event.
    The library canceled the event earlier this month, but interim director Lee Burchfield provided no explanation except for saying that it wasn’t “because it was a Drag Queen Storytime.”
    “We had to cancel this one, but we’re committed to hosting an event like this in the future,” Burchfield told the Courier Journal at the time.
    He said Monday that he expected a “welcoming audience” for the upcoming program in Louisville.
    “The controversial but popular and successful Drag Queen Story Hours that have happened in cities across the country are programs consistent with the library’s values of respect for individuals and inclusion,” Burchfield said in a statement.
    Drag Queen Storytimes have gained popularity, sometimes sparking controversy, across the country.    Such events led to a lawsuit in Louisiana and a protest in Evansville, Indiana, at its first program last month.
    The canceled event was with the Derby City Sisters, a Louisville group dedicated to empowering the LGBTQ community and the city through community service, outreach, advocacy and education for safer sex awareness.
    Before it was canceled, some people opposed to the event wrote hateful comments on Facebook about the LGBTQ community.    After it was canceled, others criticized the library system for backing down, suggesting it was because of the potential controversy.
    The Derby City Sisters event cancellation led to a statement from Louisville’s library union, condemning “hatred and intolerance to LGBTQIA people.”    On Monday, Christopher McDavid, who performs under the name Sister Petty Davis, said Derby City Sisters is still working to reschedule its storytime event and is also considering a brunch storytime or one centered on Pride.
    As for the library event: “We wish them well and hope it will be a huge success,” McDavid said, adding that he is worried the new event might face similar controversy to what the Sisters saw.
Darcy Costello: 502-582-4834; dcostello@ courier-journal.com; Twitter: @dctello.
[This is not what I want kindergarten and preschool children to be taught, try it on high school students and see what happens.].

3/26/2019 Australian prosecutors seek jail for media over Pell trial coverage by Sonali Paul
FILE PHOTO - Vatican Treasurer Cardinal George Pell is surrounded by Australian police and members of the media as
he leaves the Melbourne Magistrates Court in Australia, July 26, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Dadswell/File Photo
    MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australian prosecutors are seeking jail and fines for dozens of journalists and media outlets for alleged contempt of court over their coverage of Cardinal George Pell’s child sex abuse trial last year, a court summons showed on Tuesday.
    The Director of Public Prosecutions in Victoria has asked the state’s Supreme Court to send journalists to jail or impose fines for breaching a suppression order on coverage of the trial, aiding and abetting overseas media’s contempt of court, and “scandalizing the court.”
    The court has set April 15 for a first hearing on the application.    The summons included 23 journalists and 13 news outlets.    No foreign media or journalists were named.
    Last year, the County Court of Victoria imposed a suppression order on reporting of the trial of former Vatican treasurer Pell to prevent prejudicing the jury in that case and a second trial on older child sex offences that had been set for March.
    A jury in the first trial found Pell guilty on Dec. 11 of abusing two choir boys.    After the verdict, some Australian media ran headlines flagging that an unnamed high-profile person had been convicted of a serious crime that could not be reported.
    In February, Judge Peter Kidd sentenced Pell to six years jail. Pell is the most senior Catholic worldwide to have been convicted for child sex abuse.
    No Australian media named Pell or the charges in their reporting in December although some overseas media, including the Daily Beast and the Washington Post, named the cardinal and reported he had been found guilty of sexually assaulting two choir boys.
    The gag order, which had applied across Australia “and on any website or other electronic or broadcast format accessible within Australia,” was only lifted on Feb. 26 when the charges for the second trial were dropped.
    Journalists summoned for contempt of court include reporters from Nine Entertainment Co, The Age, The Australian Financial Review, Macquarie Media, and several News Corp publications.
    The list includes high-profile radio commentator Ray Hadley and the editor-in-chief of the Australian Financial Review, Michael Stutchbury.
    Hadley’s employer, Macquarie Media, declined to comment on the allegations as they are now subject to legal proceedings.
    “Nine and the named employees deny the allegations but as the matter is now before the courts, Nine will not comment further at this time,” a Nine spokeswoman said.
    Nine is owner of a television network as well as Fairfax Media and the newspapers The Age and the Australian Financial Review named in the summons.
    News Corp, which had several newspapers and journalists named in the summons, said: “We will vigorously defend all charges and resolutely stand by our editors and journalists.”
    Under the state of Victoria’s open courts law, breaches of suppression orders can result in jail time of up to five years and fines of nearly A$100,000 ($71,000) for individuals and nearly A$500,000 for companies.
(Additional reporting by Byron Kaye in Sydney; Editing by Sam Holmes)

3/26/2019 Women at Vatican magazine quit to protest ‘male control’ by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: A woman reads a copy of the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano as she waits for the canonisation ceremony in St Peter's Square at the Vatican, April 27, 2014. REUTERS/Max Rossi/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The all-female staff of the Vatican newspaper’s monthly magazine on women’s issues have resigned abruptly en masse, saying the new editor was trying limit their autonomy and put them “under direct male control.”
    “Women Church World” has run a series of controversial stories, including on the sexual abuse of nuns by priests and nuns working for free as servants for bishops.
    Lucia Scaraffia, who started the magazine seven years ago, has called for a Vatican commission to investigate sexual abuse of women in the Catholic Church.
    In an open letter to Pope Francis, she said the 11 women felt they were being “reduced to silence” and denounced an attempt to “return to the antiquated and arid custom of decisions from above, under direct male control.”
    The women will also explain their decision to quit in an editorial next month.    Copies of it and the letter were made available to Reuters by one of the members on Tuesday.
    In the editorial, Scaraffia lamented an attempt to return to selection of women “who assure obedience, renouncing any possibility of opening a true, free and courageous dialogue.”
    In a statement, Andrea Monda, who became editor of newspaper L’Osservatore Romano three months ago, denied the accusations.    He said he had guaranteed the women “the same total autonomy and same total freedom” the magazine had previously enjoyed and had only made some suggestions about story ideas and people to involve in them.
    Monda, a layman, said he has confirmed the magazine’s budget despite cost-cutting elsewhere in the Vatican’s media operations.    He rejected accusations that he was seeking a return to “self-referential clericalism” and said “Women Church World” would continue to be published.
    The resignations were the latest in more than a year of upheavals in the Vatican’s communications department.
    The previous editor of the Vatican newspaper, Giovanni Maria Vian, a close friend of Scaraffia, was abruptly replaced by Monda on Dec. 18.
    The same reshuffle of the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications saw Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli, a friend of Pope Francis, named editorial director of all Vatican communications.
    On Dec. 31, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke, an American, and his Spanish deputy, Paloma Garcia Ovejero, resigned over disagreements on overall communications strategy.
    Monsignor Dario Vigano resigned as overall head of Vatican communications in March after a scandal over a doctored letter he distributed to journalists.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Catherine Evans)

3/27/2019 Chile court orders Catholic Church to compensate victims in sex abuse case
FILE PHOTO: Chilean priest Fernando Karadima is seen inside the Supreme Court building
in Santiago, Chile, November 11, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Vera
    SANTIAGO (Reuters) – A Chilean appeals court ruled on Wednesday that the Catholic Church should pay compensation to three victims in a sex abuse case involving former Santiago parish priest Fernando Karadima, potentially opening the floodgates to similar civil lawsuits.
    The unanimous decision requires the Church pay 100 million pesos ($146,000) each for “moral damages” to Juan Carlos Cruz, Jose Andres Murillo and James Hamilton.    The men accuse Karadima of having sexually abused them decades ago, and the Church of having covered up that abuse.
    Church officials were not immediately available for comment.
    The appeals court’s decision is the first to require Chile’s powerful Roman Catholic Church to pay damages amid an ongoing sex abuse scandal that last year prompted Pope Francis to apologize to the church’s community worldwide.
    The case could pave the way for a flood of civil lawsuits seeking monetary damages from the Latin American country’s Catholic Church, and beyond.
    The decision may still be appealed to Chile’s Supreme Court.
    Chilean investigators have looked into about 120 allegations of sexual abuse or cover-ups involving 167 Church officials or workers.
    The scandal last week prompted Pope Francis to accept the resignation of Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, the archbishop of Santiago and the highest-ranking member of the Catholic Church in Chile.
    Karadima, now 88 and living in a nursing home in the capital, has long denied accusations that he sexually abused the claimants.    He was never charged by civilian authorities because the statute of limitations had expired.
    He was, however, found guilty of sexual abuse in a Vatican investigation in 2011, and was defrocked by the Pope last month.
(Reporting by Erik Lopez, writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

3/28/2019 Pope, in Morocco, hopes to boost King’s moderate Islam vision by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis is seen during the weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square,
at the Vatican February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Yara Nardi/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis makes a lightning trip to Morocco this weekend to promote inter-religious dialogue and support efforts by the North African country’s King Mohammed VI to spread a moderate form of Islam.
    Francis, who will spend only about 27 hours in the country, is making his first visit there and the first by a pope since 1985.
    Morocco, which is nearly 100 percent Muslim, has marketed itself as an oasis of religious tolerance in a region torn by militancy – and has offered training to Muslim preachers from Africa and Europe on what it describes as moderate Islam.
    Shortly after he arrives on Saturday, Francis and the king will visit an institute the monarch founded in 2015 for the training of imams and male and female preachers of Islam.    The Vatican said it will be the first time a pope visits such a school.
    The king founded the school, which is named after him, and it is attended by students from Africa and Europe.
    “The king is very committed to containing fundamentalist tendencies and this is a very significant place, not only for Morocco, but for all of the Magreb,” Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti told reporters at a briefing on the trip on Thursday.
    Two student imams – one from Europe and one from Africa – will tell the pope and the king of their experiences.
    In a video message to Moroccans, Francis said he was making the trip as a “a pilgrim of peace and of fraternity, in a world which has great need of both."    He said Christians and Muslims had to respect each other’s diversity and help each other.
    Roman Catholics – most of them expatriate Europeans, mainly French, and sub-Saharan African migrants – make up less one percent of the population of about 35 million.
    With only about 23,000 Catholics in the country, nearly half of them will attend a papal Mass at a stadium on Sunday.     “Even if some people practice their faith, there are may be some frustrations,” said Bonkoulou Loubaki Daria Thiphaine, a social worker from Congo Brazzaville who has been living in Morocco for 14 years.
    “Yes, they go to churches but they ask themselves what is really the proof that Morocco accepts us as Christians?    I think that with the pope’s visit, everyone will understand that even if Morocco is a Muslim country, Christians are welcome here,” she said.
    “Foreign Christians” such as Thiphaine and Moroccan Jews, who are recognized by the constitution, are allowed to worship openly.    But the authorities do not recognize Moroccan converts to Christianity and many of those worship secretly in homes.
    Conversion from Islam to Christianity is banned – as it is in many Muslim countries – and proselytizing is punishable by up to three years in prison.
    The Vatican considers the trip a spiritual continuation of Francis’ historic visit to the United Arab Emirates last month, when he became the first pope to set foot on the Arabian Peninsula.
    Migration will be another main topic.    There are about 80,000 sub-Saharan migrants in Morocco and several thousand refugees, the Vatican says.
    Francis, a strong defender of the rights of migrants, will meet with about 60 of them in a Church-run center.
(Additional reporting By By Ahmed Eljechtimi and Hassan Aloui in Rabat; Editing by Toby Chopra)

3/28/2019 It was getting out of hand – Pope explains ring kissing mystery by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: A youth kisses the ring of Pope Francis during a meeting at the municipal theater
in Rio de Janeiro, July 27, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The mystery of why Pope Francis repeatedly withdrew his right hand as a long line of people bowed and tried to kiss it this week has been resolved – he did not want to spread germs.
    “It was a simple question of hygiene,” Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti told reporters on Thursday after he asked the pope directly.
    Gisotti explained that there were many people in line and the pope did want to spread germs as one person after another repeatedly kissed his hand at short intervals.
    Monday’s footage went viral on social media and was featured on late-night comedy shows in the United States.
    The pope’s refusal quickly entered what are known as the Catholic cultural wars between conservatives and progressives.
    One conservative Catholic website that often criticizes the pope called the episode “disturbing” and another said the pope should resign if he did not like rituals.
    “He likes to embrace people and be embraced by people,” Gisotti said.
    The spokesman noted that the pope does allow individuals to kiss his hand and ring in limited numbers, such as he did with an elderly Italian nun at Wednesday’s general audience when Francis award her for decades of service to the poor in Africa.
    Some Vatican watchers noted that even former Pope Benedict, a hero to nostalgic conservatives, and his predecessor John Paul, did not like having their hands kissed – at least not by long lines of people, for the sake of expediency.
    A close papal aide told Reuters on Tuesday he was “amused” by all the fuss.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella, Editing by William Maclean)

3/29/2019 Pope enacts new legislation to prevent child abuse in Vatican by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis speaks to the faithful during a visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Loreto on the
feast of the Annunciation, in Loreto, Italy March 25, 2019. REUTERS/Yara Nardi
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis on Friday enacted sweeping new legislation to protect children from sexual abuse within the Vatican and other Holy See institutions in Rome as well as by its diplomatic corps worldwide.
    Previously, the abuse of minors and vulnerable people came under various legal provisions, some of them instituted on an ad hoc basis.
    The new provisions mark the first time a unified and rigorous policy for the protection of children, which the Vatican has been demanding from local churches, has been compiled for the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church.
    The changes were issued under the form of an Apostolic Letter, a 12-article law, and a set of detailed guidelines affecting personnel in the Vatican and its related institutions such as pontifical institutes and embassies.
    While there are few minors who live inside the Vatican, such as children of security officials, there is a “pre-seminary” on Vatican grounds that houses altar servers, and many children visit Vatican institutions such as the museums every day.
    The “pre-seminary,” from where some of the teenage boys who study there have gone on to become priests, was hit by a sexual abuse scandal in 2017.    It involved one boy alleging that he had been abused by another minor.    He said it was made possible by inadequate supervision on the part of adult priests.
    The pre-seminary was mentioned specifically in one of the articles of the new legislation.
    The over-arching law, which the Vatican first promised to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2013, goes into effect on June 1.
    It calls for a Vatican official or employee convicted of abusing a child to be dismissed, sets up procedures for reporting suspected abuse, and imposes more screening of prospective employees to prevent hiring potential abusers.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Mark Heinrich)


3/30/2019 Brunei defends tough new Islamic laws against growing backlash
FILE PHOTO: Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah attends the retreat session during the APEC Summit
in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on November 18, 2018. REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo
    KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Brunei has defended its right to implement Islamic laws that would allow death by stoning for adultery and homosexuality against growing global criticism.
    Brunei, a Muslim-majority former British protectorate with a population of around 400,000, will implement the Sharia laws from April 3, punishing sodomy, adultery and rape with the death penalty, including by stoning, and theft with amputation.
    The laws, elements of which were first adopted in 2014 and which have been rolled out in phases since then, will be fully implemented from next week, the prime minister’s office said in a statement on Saturday.
    “The (Sharia) Law, apart from criminalizing and deterring acts that are against the teachings of Islam, also aims to educate, respect and protect the legitimate rights of all individuals, society or nationality of any faiths and race,” the statement said.
    Some aspects of the laws will apply to non-Muslims.
    Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, 72, is the world’s second-longest reigning monarch and is prime minister of the oil-rich country.    He ranks as one of the world’s wealthiest people.
    Brunei, which neighbors two Malaysian states on Borneo island, already enforces Islamic teachings more strictly than Malaysia and Indonesia, the other majority Muslim countries in southeast Asia. The sale of alcohol is banned and evangelism by other religions is forbidden.
    The country does not hold elections, but any discontent is assuaged with generous government polices including zero taxes, subsidized housing, and free healthcare and education.
    The expected implementation of the strict Islamic laws has drawn widespread criticism.    Politicians in Europe and the United States have attacked the plans and raised concerns with Brunei.
    Stoning people to death for homosexuality or adultery is appalling and immoral,” former U.S. vice president Joe Biden said in a Twitter post on Friday.    “There is no excuse – not culture, not tradition – for this kind of hate and inhumanity.”
    Oscar-winning actor George Clooney has called for a boycott of luxury hotels owned by The Brunei Investment Company, such as the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Dorchester in London and the Plaza Athenee in Paris.
(Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by David Holmes)

3/30/2019 Pope arrives in Morocco for two-day trip
Pope Francis is received by Morocco's King Mohammed VI upon disembarking from his plane at Rabat-Sale
International Airport near the capital Rabat, Morocco, March 30, 2019. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS
    RABAT (Reuters) – Pope Francis arrived in Morocco on Saturday to start a two-day trip centered on inter-faith relations.
    The Alitalia plane carrying the pope, his entourage and journalists arrived at the Moroccan capital’s airport, where King Mohammed VI greeted him.
(reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

3/30/2019 ‘Wound’ of migration not solved by physical barriers, pope says by Philip Pullella and Ahmed Eljechtimi
Pope Francis delivers a speech as he and King Mohammed VI of Morocco visit the Hassan Tower
esplanade in Rabat, Morocco, March 30, 2019. REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal
    RABAT (Reuters) – Pope Francis said on Saturday the plight of migrants was “a wound that cries out to heaven” and could never be healed by physical barriers.
    Francis, starting a two-day visit to Morocco, also backed Moroccan King Mohammed VI’s efforts to spread a form of Islam that promotes inter-religious dialogue and rejects violence in God’s name.
    In recent months, migration has again risen to the fore of national political debates in a number of North African and European countries and the United States.
    U.S. President Donald Trump has promised to fulfill his campaign pledge to build a wall along the border with Mexico and on Friday threatened to close the border next week if Mexico did not stop immigrants reaching the United States.
    “The issue of migration will never be resolved by raising barriers, fomenting fear of others or denying assistance to those who legitimately aspire to a better life for themselves and their families,” Francis said at the welcoming ceremony.
    “We know too that the consolidation of true peace comes through the pursuit of social justice, which is indispensable for correcting the economic imbalances and political unrest that have always had a major role in generating conflicts and threatening the whole of humanity,” he said.
    Morocco has become a key departure point for African migrants trying to reach Europe after crackdowns that closed or limited routes elsewhere.    Italy’s anti-immigrant interior minister has closed ports to rescue ships run by charity groups.
    Francis, who has made defense of migrants and refugees a key part of his preaching, said he was concerned about their “frequently grim fate” and receiving countries must acknowledge that migrants were forced to leave their homes because of poverty and political upheaval.
    From the airport to the city center, Francis, 82, was driven in a white popemobile on a drizzly day as the 55-year-old king rode beside him standing up in a separate vehicle, a vintage black 1969 open-top Mercedes 600 Pullman.
    In the afternoon, the pope spoke again of migration during a visit to a Church-run shelter.    He called migration “a great and deep wound that continues to afflict our world at the beginning of this 21st century.    A wound that cries out to heaven.”
    He said migrants and refugees had rights and dignity “independent of their legal status” and that host communities should reject “all forms of discrimination and xenophobia.”
    Francis and the king visited an institute the monarch founded to train imams and male and female preachers of Islam.
    Morocco, which is almost entirely Muslim, has promoted itself as an oasis of religious tolerance in a region torn by militancy.    It has offered training to Muslim preachers from Africa and Europe on what it describes as moderate Islam.
    Francis, making the first papal visit to Morocco in 34 years, praised the monarch for providing “sound training to combat all forms of extremism, which so often lead to violence and terrorism, and which, in any event, constitute an offense against religion and against God himself.”
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Edmund Blair and Marie-Louise Gumuchian)

3/31/2019 As pope visits Morocco, tiny Jewish community looks on with quiet pride by Ahmed Eljechtimi and Philip Pullella
Pope Francis attends a meeting with representatives of other Christian denominations at
Saint Peter's Cathedral in Rabat, Morocco, March 31, 2019. REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal
    RABAT (Reuters) – Suzanne Harroch speaks and sings in Judeo-Moroccan, a language of a once-thriving Jewish community that numbered about 300,000 – one of the largest in the Muslim world.
    Today, she and her husband are two of only 2,500 Jews left in Morocco, a community that is aging and dwindling even as it enjoys constitutional recognition and protection.
    “I identify myself as Moroccan first, then Jewish,” the mother of three said in her house in Rabat ahead of Pope Francis’ visit, which Jews have welcomed as an opportunity to highlight a status they say is unique in the Muslim world.
    On Saturday, Jewish leaders joined Christian representatives in the front row at two events presided over by the pope and King Mohammed VI on interfaith dialogue.
    Morocco’s 2011 constitution recognizes the “Hebraic” constituent as a component of the national identity.    Jews in the north African Kingdom have their own courts, family code and schools and even a state-supported Jewish heritage museum.
    Unlike many Moroccan Jews, who left for Israel, Europe and America in the past six decades because of grinding poverty and political uncertainty, Harroch and her husband decided to stay.
    “Morocco is where I belong.    I feel safe here,” said Harroch, who worked as hotel director until her recent retirement.    Her husband is also Jewish and works as a doctor serving the Muslim community.
    She now dedicates her time to singing in Judeo-Moroccan as part of a musical group made up of Muslim musicians who help her delve deep into the country’s ancient Jewish heritage.
    The Moroccan Jewish community dates back to Roman times and for centuries Jews served the royal court as ambassadors, diplomats, ministers and advisors.
    During the French colonial era, King Mohammed V refused to apply the anti-Semitic measures imposed by the collaborationist French Vichy regime during the Nazi occupation of France in World War Two.
    In 2010, his grandson, the current king, launched a program to restore hundreds of synagogues, Jewish cemeteries and heritage sites across the country, and reinstated the original names of some Jewish neighborhoods that had been changed during and after the colonial era.
    The king also paid for the restoration of the Jewish cemetery in the island nation of Cape Verde, more than 2,000 miles away, as it contains the graves of Moroccan Jews who emigrated there.
    Moroccan Jews say they feel protected by the king.
    “He is the head of all the faithful, both Muslims and Jews,” said Davide Toledano, head of Rabat’s Jewish community, which now has less than 200 members.
    Morocco’s 23,000 Roman Catholics – most of them expatriate Europeans, mainly French, and sub-Saharan African migrants – make up less one percent of the population of about 35 million.
    Addressing the pope on Saturday, the king, who is also Morocco’s top religious authority, said: “I cannot speak of the land of Islam as if only Muslims lived there …. I protect Moroccan Jews as well as Christians from other countries who are living in Morocco.”
    Zhor Rehihel, director of the museum of Moroccan Judaism in Casablanca, is a Muslim.
    “Jewish heritage is part of our collective and diverse Moroccan identity that we should preserve,” she said.
(Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi; Editing by Philip Pullella and Raissa Kasolowsky)

3/31/2019 Conversion is not your mission, pope tells Catholics in Morocco by Philip Pullella and Ahmed Eljechtimi
Pope Francis greets the faithful as he leaves Saint Peter's Cathedral in Rabat, Morocco, March 31, 2019. REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal
    RABAT (Reuters) – Pope Francis told the tiny Catholic community in predominantly Muslim Morocco on Sunday that their mission was not to covert their neighbors but to live in brotherhood with other faiths.
    Francis has used his two-day trip to stress inter-faith dialogue. He has also backed Moroccan King Mohammed VI’s efforts to spread a form of Islam that promotes inter-religious dialogue and rejects violence in God’s name.
    Morocco’s 23,000 Roman Catholics – most of them French and other European expatriates and migrants from sub-Saharan Africa – make up less than one percent of the population of 35 million.
    “Christians are a small minority in this country.    Yet, to my mind, this is not a problem, even though I realize that at times it can be difficult for some of you,” he said at a meeting with Catholic community leaders in Rabat’s cathedral.
    Conservative Catholics have criticized the pope’s opposition to organized or aggressive recruiting of potential converts.
    “The Church grows not through proselytism but by attraction,” Francis said to applause.     “This means, dear friends, that our mission as baptized persons, priests and consecrated men and women, is not really determined by the number or size of spaces that we occupy, but rather by our capacity to generate change and to awaken wonder and compassion,” he said.
    Moroccan authorities do not recognize Moroccan converts to Christianity, many of whom worship secretly in homes.
    Conversion from Islam to Christianity is banned, as it is in many Muslim countries, and proselytising is punishable by up to three years in prison.
    “The problem is not when we are few in number, but when we are insignificant,” Francis said, adding that Catholics were called to be an integral part of inter-religious dialogue in a world “torn apart by the policies of extremism and division.”
    At a Mass for about 10,000 catholics in a sports arena before he was due to return to Rome, the Pope also stressed the need for inter-religious dialogue, saying people should resist “classifying ourselves according to different moral, social, ethnic or religious criteria.”
    On Saturday, Francis and King Mohammed VI visited an institute the monarch founded to train imams and male and female preachers of Islam.     Morocco promotes itself as an oasis of religious tolerance in a region torn by militancy.    It has offered training to Muslim preachers from Africa and Europe on what it describes as moderate Islam.
    At Saturday’s event, Francis praised the king for providing “sound training to combat all forms of extremism, which so often lead to violence and terrorism, and which, in any event, constitute an offence against religion and against God himself.”
    Also on Saturday, Jewish leaders joined Christian representatives in the front row at two events presided over by the pope and the monarch on interfaith dialogue.
    Francis’ appeal for inter-religious dialogue was made more poignant on Sunday by the presence in Rabat cathedral of Father Jean-Pierre Schumacher, a 95-year-old French monk who survived what is known as the Tibhirine massacre in Algeria.
    In March 1996, seven French monks were kidnapped in a monastery in the central Algerian village of Tibhirine during the civil war between the government and Islamist rebel groups.
    The monks were held for about two months and found dead, except Schumacher, who managed to escape.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian)

3/31/2019 Pope condemns politicians who want walls to keep migrants out
Pope Francis addresses reporters aboard the plane bringing him back following a two-day
trip to Morocco March 31, 2019. Alberto Pizzoli/Pool via REUTERS
    ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (Reuters) – Pope Francis on Sunday said political leaders who want walls and other barriers to keep migrants out “will end up becoming prisoners of the walls they build.”
    The pope made his comments to reporters aboard the plane returning from Morocco in response to a question about migration in general and about U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to shut down the southern border with Mexico.     “Builders of walls, be they made of razor wire or bricks, will end up becoming prisoners of the walls they build,” he said. (Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)
[Since you like them so much the U.S. will put them on a boat and sail them to Italy and let them walk into the walls of the Vatican and or stay in Italy or the Vatican, and the U.S. will be safer as Hungary is.].

3/31/2019 Pope defends decision to reject French cardinal’s resignation by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis addresses reporters aboard the plane bringing him back following a two-day trip
to Morocco March 31, 2019. Alberto Pizzoli/Pool via REUTERS
    ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (Reuters) – Pope Francis on Sunday defended his decision to reject the resignation of Philippe Barbarin, the French Roman Catholic cardinal convicted on charges of failing to report sexual abuse.
    Speaking to reporters on the plane returning from a two-day trip to Morocco, Francis said he was obliged to give the archbishop of Lyon the benefit of the doubt until his appeal is heard.
    “I can’t accept it because in juridical terms, in classic world jurisprudence, there is the presumption of innocence as long as the case is open, and he has appealed,” Francis said.
    Barbarin offered his resignation when he met the pope on March 18.
    A court in Lyon ruled on March 7 that between July 2014 and June 2015, Barbarin covered up allegations of sexual abuse of boy scouts in the 1980s and early 1990s by a priest who is due to go on trial later this year.
    Barbarin, 68, the highest-profile cleric to be caught up in the child sex abuse scandal inside the French Church, received a six-month suspended prison sentence. He has denied the allegations and launched an appeal.
    “When the second court hands down its decision, then we will see what will happen.    But we must always have the presumption of innocence.    This is important because it goes beyond the superficial condemnation by the media,” the pope said.
    “Maybe he is not innocent, but the presumption (of innocence) must be there,” the pope said.
    The Barbarin trial put one of Europe’s most senior clergymen in the spotlight at a time when the pope is grappling with criticism over the Church’s response to a decades-long sexual global abuse crisis.
    Barbarin has stepped aside temporarily pending the appeal and has handed over the day-to-day running of the diocese to a vicar general.
    He has said he would remain head of the dioceses in title and would continue to sign off on documents until the appeal process is over.
    The Church’s credibility has been damaged in much of the world by abuse scandals in countries including Ireland, Chile, Australia, France, the United States and Poland, paying billions of dollars in damages to victims and forcing parishes to close.
    The scandals have reached the upper echelons of the Vatican itself with the conviction of Cardinal George Pell, jailed this month for six years for abusing boys in his native Australia.    He had served as the Vatican treasurer and a member of the pope’s innermost council of cardinals until his conviction last year.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Peter Cooney)


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