From The Alpha and the Omega - Chapter Eight
by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved SCARLET WOMAN 2019 JULY-SEPTEMBER
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 JULY-SEPTEMBER
This file is a continution of Scarlet Woman 2018 or return to Scarlet Woman 2019 April-June or continue to Scarlet Woman 2019 October-December
7/1/2019 Millions celebrate LGBTQ pride in New York amid global fight for equality by Maria Caspani and Matthew Lavietes
Activists march in the Queer Liberation March in Greenwich Village during the 2019 World Pride NYC
and Stonewall 50th LGBTQ Pride day in New York, U.S., June 30, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Millions lined the streets of New York on Sunday to wave rainbow flags, celebrate the movement toward LGBTQ equality and renew calls for action in what organizers billed as the largest gay pride celebration in history.
Some 150,000 parade marchers and an estimated 4 million spectators commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising that triggered the modern LGBTQ movement, with corporate sponsorship and police protection that would have been unthinkable half a century ago.
Similar parades were being held around the world, with celebratory events in liberal democracies and growing fights for equality in other places.
North Macedonia held its first gay pride march on Saturday. In Singapore, marchers called for scrapping a law banning gay sex. In Turkey, members of Istanbul’s gay and transgender community gathered for a small rally that ended with tear gas and rubber bullets on Sunday after their annual march was banned for the fifth consecutive year.
“It’s hard for us today, but can you even imagine what some of these people went through in the past? There’s no way to thank them,” said Josh Greenblatt, 25, an actor wearing red sunglasses, a white crop top, ripped jeans and gold-heeled boots at the New York event. Greenblatt said he found his outlandish outfit “empowering,” and he had plenty of competition from revelers stripping down to the barest of essentials and celebrating New York’s legalization of toplessness for women. One woman wore a skintight rainbow dress with a rainbow afro about 2 feet (60 cm) high. A shirtless man sporting rainbow-colored wings and high white platform shoes strutted up Broadway. Rainbow onesie leotards were popular, and there were plenty of colorful wigs, patent leather, fishnets and bright makeup.
The festivities were set to conclude on Sunday night with closing ceremonies at Times Square and a waterfront concert by Madonna.
The world’s marquee gay pride parade was preceded on Sunday by a protest march by thousands of anti-corporate dissidents who rejected a uniformed police presence and commercial sponsorship, while demanding LGBTQ equality.
The Queer Liberation March aimed to call attention to the killing of black trans women, protest U.S. detentions of migrant children and oppose actions by U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration to curtail the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other queer people.
In San Francisco, companies such as Alphabet Inc’s Google, Facebook Inc, T-Mobile and Netflix Inc lent the parade a corporate flavor. Dissidents opposing corporate sponsorship blocked an intersection of the parade route, shouting: “Stonewall was a riot.”
“The system of policing upholds white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, gender binaries and capitalist rule,” one San Francisco protester said over a megaphone.
Some during the events also paused to consider the state of LGBTQ rights under Trump, who has banned transgender people in the military, cut HIV/AIDS research and supported so-called religious freedom initiatives to curb LGBTQ protections.
The White House says Trump has long advocated LGBTQ equality and noted that he backed a global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality.
“They could turn back gay marriage. Don’t ever fool yourself,” said Christopher Edward Andrew, 53. “Elections matter. Votes matter.” The U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in a landmark ruling in 2015.
In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, police raided New York’s Stonewall Inn, ostensibly to shut down a Mafia-owned establishment selling watered-down liquor without a license. But the raid followed a series of others at gay bars in the Greenwich Village neighborhood, and the patrons fought back, forcing police to barricade themselves inside.
That touched off several nights of riots and the birth of a movement.
New York was designated the site of World Pride this year, drawing an estimated 4 million people to the city, where straight allies joined LGBTQ people in defending civil rights.
Mary Glasspool, assistant bishop of the New York Diocese of the U.S. Episcopal Church, said all its churches in Manhattan opened their doors for visitors from across the world.
“We want to show them this is a safe space and God loves everyone,” Glasspool said. “Today, it is about love.”
(Reporting by Maria Caspani and Matthew Lavietes; Additional reporting by Richard Leong and Dan Fastenberg in New York and Emmett Berg in San Francisco; Writing by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and Peter Cooney)
7/2/2019 Rhode Island diocese posts list of credibly accused priests
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence on Monday released a list of clerics, religious order priests and deacons it deems to have been credibly accused of sexually abusing children. The list of 50 names posted on the diocese website includes 19 priests and deacons who are still alive, ranging in age from 60 to 98, although nearly all have been removed from ministry. The list also includes 25 dead priests and six others. It posted where each of the men once worked. The diocese reviewed files dating to 1950.
7/3/2019 Companies support LGBTQ job protection - Corporate giants petition Supreme Court on cases by Richard Wolf, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – More than 200 companies urged the Supreme Court on Tuesday to apply the nation’s job discrimination laws to sexual orientation and gender identity.
In three major civil rights cases the justices will hear when they return to the bench in October, the companies – which together employ more than 7 million workers and have more than $5 trillion in revenue – said “the U.S. economy benefits from a diverse workforce.”
The cases from New York, Michigan and Georgia involve workers who claim they were fired for being gay or transgender:
A decision in the challengers’ favor would mark an important step in the effort to protect the LGBT community from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations, advocates said.
“Laws forbidding sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination are not unreasonably costly or burdensome for business,” the companies argued in legal papers submitted to the high court. “Only a uniform federal rule can enable businesses to recruit and retain, and employees to perform, at their highest levels.”
- A New York skydiving instructor, Donald Zarda, said he was fired because he was gay. He has died, but his sister and life partner continue to press the case.
- A Georgia county government employee, Gerald Bostock, alleged he was fired from his job as a child welfare services coordinator because he is gay.
- A Michigan transgender woman, Aimee Stephens, said she was fired from the funeral home where she worked for six years as Anthony Stephens because of her transition.
Among the companies signing on: Amazon, Apple, Cisco, eBay, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Nike, Starbucks, Uber and two baseball teams, the San Francisco Giants and Tampa Bay Rays.
Other signers include CVS, JPMorgan Chase, Prudential, Wells Fargo, Xerox, Goldman Sachs, Levi Strauss, Northrup Grumman, American Airlines, Walt Disney, Marriott, Hilton, Domino’s and IBM.
Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act bars discrimination based on sex, race, color, national origin and religion. It does not specifically address sexual orientation or gender identity.
Federal appeals courts are divided over the question of sexual orientation, and the Supreme Court agreed to hear two cases that came to opposite conclusions. The transgender woman in the Michigan case won in the lower court.
The LGBTQ rights movement had hoped to get the issue to the high court before Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, the author of several landmark gay rights decisions, retired last summer. The cases will be heard in October before a court with five solid conservative justices and four liberals.
The ruling on gay marriage in 2015 is one of the Supreme Court’s landmark LGBTQ cases. JACQUELYN MARTIN/AP
7/3/2019 Putin to meet pope in shadow of Ukraine crisis by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis leads the Angelus prayer in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican,
June 30, 2019. Picture taken June 30, 2019. Vatican Media/¬Handout via REUTERS
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold talks with Pope Francis on Thursday, a day before Ukraine’s Catholic leaders meet at the Vatican to discuss the crisis in their country, and amid speculation that the visit could be a prelude to the first trip by a pope to Russia.
Putin, who has met Francis twice before, is due to arrive at the Vatican in the early afternoon at the start of a lightning visit to Italy that will also include talks with Italian leaders.
Ukraine, which remains a difficult issue in relations between the Vatican and Russia, is expected to be a main topic of discussions in the official papal library in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.
When they last met in 2015, the pope urged Putin to make a “sincere and great effort” to achieve peace in Ukraine and help bring an end to fighting between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatist rebels in the East.
On Friday, leaders of Ukraine’s Catholic Church and Vatican officials begin two days of meetings to discuss various problems in their country, a former Soviet republic.
Ukraine’s religious world was made tense last year when the country’s Orthodox Church, which for centuries effectively had been under control of the Russian Orthodox Church, declared its independence and set up a national Church.
Russia opposes the Ukrainian Orthodox Church having autocephalous, or self-governing status, saying the move had more political than religious motives.
Putin has aligned himself closely with the Russian Orthodox Church and has accused the government in Kiev of flagrantly meddling in the life of Orthodoxy in Ukraine.
Thursday’s meeting between the pope and Putin will be their first since Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill met in 2016, a landmark step in healing the 1,000-year-old rift between the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity.
Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, and Boris Yeltsin, the first president of post-Soviet Russia, had invited the late Pope John Paul to visit.
But a trip was not possible because of tensions between the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church, the largest and most influential in world Orthodoxy, with 165 million of the world’s 250 million Orthodox Christians.
Apart from his meeting three years ago with Kirill, which was the first in history between a Roman Catholic pope and a Russian Orthodox patriarch, Francis has made a number of visits to countries with predominantly Orthodox populations.
The latest were to Romania and to Bulgaria and North Macedonia earlier this year.
From the Vatican, Putin will meet with Italy’s prime minister and president and attend a conference on Italian-Russian dialogue at the foreign ministry.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; editing by Diane Craft)
7/5/2019 Putin meets pope, Italian leaders on one-day visit to Rome
ROME – Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Pope Francis for “substantive talks” at the Vatican on Thursday, and thanked the pontiff for discussions on a range of topics including Ukraine and the Catholic Church in Russia. Francis received Putin in an hourlong audience at the Vatican Apostolic Palace. The two addressed “various questions of relevance to the life of the Catholic Church in Russia,” the Vatican said in a statement. The Russian president also met with Italian government leaders.
7/9/2019 Pope’s special Mass singles out migrants by Joshua Bote, USA TODAY
Pope Francis prayed for migrants all over the world in a special Mass on Monday.
The closed-door Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica celebrated the sixth anniversary of his visit to the Italian island of Lampedusa, a common entry point off the Mediterranean Sea for migrants and refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe.
“They are persons,” Pope Francis said in his Mass. “These are not mere social or migrant issues. They are the symbol of all those rejected by today’s globalized society.”
The Mass was broadcast on national TV, Reuters reported, but closed to the public. It was attended by 250 people, among them migrants, volunteers and representatives of Catholic aid groups.
The U.N.’s International Organization for Migration reported that more than 300 migrants have died this year trying to cross the Mediterranean.
In May, the pope offered migrant children a ride on the popemobile as a show of support for migrants arriving in Europe.
Last year, he stood by statements from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops condemning President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policies that resulted in migrant children being separated from their parents.
Contributing: The Associated Press
Pope Francis blesses a child as he celebrates a special Mass for migrants, volunteers and Catholic aid groups Monday at the Vatican. AFP/GETTY IMAGES
7/9/2019 UK lawmakers approve bid to legalize same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland by William James
Demonstrators participate in the ‘March For Marriage,’ demanding equal marriage legislation in
Northern Ireland, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, July 1, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyn
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s parliament voted on Tuesday in favor of a plan that would compel the government to legalize same-sex marriage and extend abortion rights in Northern Ireland, if the province is unable to re-establish its own devolved government.
The changes passed with a large majority in parliament in London on Tuesday and turned a routine, technical piece of legislation into a vehicle that could enact major social reforms in Northern Ireland.
The province is the only part of the United Kingdom where same-sex marriage is not allowed, and laws there forbid abortion except where a mother’s life is at risk.
To the south, once staunchly conservative Ireland legalized same-sex marriage in 2015 and liberalized its abortion laws in a separate referendum last year.
The legislation has several stages to pass before it creates a legal duty on the British government to amend Northern Ireland’s laws. That duty only comes into effect if the Northern Irish assembly, which collapsed in 2017, has not been re-established by Oct. 21.
Earlier this year, thousands of people marched through Belfast to demand the recognition of same-sex marriage.
Previous attempts to legislate for same-sex marriage have been blocked by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), a key ally of British Prime Minister Theresa May, despite opinion polls in recent years showing most in the region are in favor.
Advocacy groups have called on the government to bypass the frozen local assembly and introduce legislation in the British parliament in Westminster.
Last year, Britain’s Supreme Court found Northern Ireland’s strict abortion law was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights but said it did not have the powers to make a formal declaration that the law should be changed.
Northern Ireland has been without a devolved executive for 2-1/2 years since Irish nationalists Sinn Fein withdrew from the compulsory power-sharing government with the pro-British DUP.
On-off talks to restore the executive resumed in May after a hiatus of more than a year but have made no obvious progress. Ireland’s government said last week key differences remained.
Sinn Fein, which has consistently raised the DUP’s stance on same-sex marriage as a major stumbling block in the political talks, said the issue should be addressed by the local assembly but that it was inevitable that the British government’s failure to defend “basic rights available everywhere else on the islands would be confronted,” as it was by parliament on Tuesday.
(Reporting by William James and Padraic Halpin in Dublin; editing by Stephen Addison, William Maclean)
7/10/2019 Sour note: Sistine Chapel Choir director resigns after fraud allegations by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: The choir of Sistine Chapel is seen before the arrival of Pope Francis to lead the Feast of the Presentation
of the Lord mass in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican February 2, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The director of the Sistine Chapel Choir, which has provided the musical backdrop to papal events for centuries, has resigned following allegations of fraud and embezzlement.
Monsignor Massimo Palombella has “concluded his service” after Pope Francis approved his request to end his tenure, the Vatican said in a statement on Wednesday. Palombella, 51, has held the post for nine years.
The choir, made up of men and boys and one of the world’s oldest, sings at papal Masses, records for a major label, and tours.
Wednesday’s statement made no mention of an internal investigation involving Palombella and Michelangelo Nardella, a layman who was once the choir’s administrative director and tour manager.
Both have denied wrongdoing. Palombella’s lawyer said she had no comment and Nardella’s lawyer did not immediately return a call.
Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said the investigation, which began last year to probe possible financial irregularities, was continuing.
Palombella directed the choir until last week but Nardella had effectively been replaced in January when the pope moved it under the auspices of another Vatican department and appointed an Italian archbishop to oversee its finances.
Last year, the choir performed at the gala opening of an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York called “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.”
Its 2018 summer tour of the United States was canceled without explanation and the recording of a new CD was also stopped.
When the investigation began last year, Italian media reported that Palombella and Nardella were suspected of siphoning off money into an Italian bank and using it for personal expenses.
The choir is made up of 20 adult professional and salaried male singers and 35 boys under 13 known as the Pueri Cantores.
At the time the investigation began there were also reports that some parents had complained that Palombella had been excessively harsh in verbally reprimanding the boys when they performed poorly.
The choir was founded in 1471, with roots going back to the Schola Cantorum instituted by Pope Saint Gregory the Great around the year 600.
A Vatican source said Monsignor Marco Pavan, director of the boys section, would lead the whole choir temporarily.
7/11/2019 Publishers say tariffs could cause Bible shortage in the US by Travis Loller, ASSOCIATED PRESS
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Religious publishers say President Donald Trump’s most recent proposed tariffs on Chinese imports could result in a Bible shortage.
That’s because millions of Bibles – some estimates put it at 150 million or more – are printed in China each year.
Critics of a proposed tariff say it would make the Bible more expensive for consumers and hurt the evangelism efforts of Christian organizations that give away Bibles as part of their ministry.
HarperCollins Christian Publishing President and CEO Mark Schoenwald recently told the U.S. trade representative that the company believes the Trump administration “never intended to impose a ‘Bible Tax’ on consumers and religious organizations,” according to a transcript of his remarks provided by the publisher.
The two largest Bible publishers in the United States, Zondervan and Thomas Nelson, are owned by Harper-Collins, and they incur close to 75% of their Bible manufacturing expenses in China, Schoenwald said. Together, they command 38% of the American Bible market, he said.
The full size of that market is difficult to gauge. A spokeswoman at HarperCollins said they think about 20 million Bibles are sold in the U.S. each year.
The NDP group, which includes NPD BookScan and PubTrack Digital, captured 5.7 million print Bible sales in the U.S. in 2018. But that figure doesn’t capture all sales, including the large number of Bibles sold by publishers directly to congregations.
Regardless, it’s clear the Bible is the top-selling book in the U.S. By comparison, the next-best seller in 2018 was Michelle Obama’s “Becoming,” which BookScan estimates sold 3.5 million copies.
The proposed 25% tariff would apply to all books, but critics say it would disproportionately affect Bibles and children’s books. Both tend to have specialized printing requirements that Chinese printers are set up to meet while many domestic printers are not.
“U.S. printers moved their Bible printing facilities abroad decades ago, leaving no substantial domestic manufacturing alternatives,” Schoenwald said.
Stan Jantz, president and CEO of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, said that over half of worldwide Bible production takes place in China. The tariff would hurt organizations that give away Bibles and also make it difficult for publishers to sell the Bible at a price people can afford, he said.
“Historically, books have been excluded from tariffs,” Jantz added.
7/11/2019 At Vatican, empty tombs add new twist to missing girl mystery by Philip Pullella
People open tombs in a cemetery on the Vatican's grounds to test the DNA of bones to help solve the 36-year-old disappearance
of a teenage daughter of a clerk in the Holy See, in the Vatican July 11, 2019. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The Vatican opened two tombs on Thursday to see if the body of a girl missing since 1983 was hidden there and ran into a new mystery when nothing was found, not even the bones of two 19th century princesses supposed to be buried there.
Experts were looking for the remains of Emanuela Orlandi, the daughter of a Vatican clerk who failed to return home following a music lesson in Rome. Her disappearance has been the subject of wild speculation in the Italian media for years.
Exhumation work began after a morning prayer in the Teutonic Cemetery, a burial ground just inside the Vatican walls used over the centuries mainly for Church figures or members of noble families of German or Austrian origin.
Officials were expecting to find at least the bones of Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe, who died in 1836, and Princess Carlotta Federica of Mecklenburg, who died in 1840, but there was no trace of either.
“The result of the search was negative. No human remains or funeral urns were found,” Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said.
Gisotti said the Vatican would now examine records structural work done in the cemetery at the end of the 19th century and again about 60 years ago to see if they could shed any light on the new mystery.
Princess Sophie’s tomb led to a large empty underground room and no human remains were found in Princess Carlotta’s tomb, he said.
Theories about Orlandi’s disappearance have run the gamut from an attempt to secure freedom for Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turk jailed in 1981 for trying to assassinate Pope John Paul II, to a connection to the grave of Enrico De Pedis, a mobster buried in a Rome basilica. His tomb was opened in 2012 but nothing was revealed.
Last year, bones found during ground work at the Vatican embassy in Rome sparked a media frenzy suggesting they might belong to Orlandi or to Mirella Gregori, another teenager who disappeared the same year. DNA tests turned out negative.
The Orlandi family later received an anonymous letter saying Emanuela’s body might be hidden among the dead in the Teutonic Cemetery where a statue of an angel holding a book reads “Requiescat in Pace,” Latin for “Rest in Peace.”
The two tombs were opened in the presence of the Orlandi family and descendants of the princesses, who were all equally shocked.
Police in 1983 did not exclude the possibility that Emanuela Orlandi may have been abducted and killed for reasons with no connection to the Vatican or been a victim of human trafficking.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; editing by Jason Neely)
7/11/2019 Amnesty International calls on South Korea to end discrimination of gay soldiers by Josh Smith
FILE PHOTO : A gay couple lies on a lawn during Korea Queer Festival 2015 in
central Seoul, South Korea, June 28, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo
SEOUL (Reuters) – Amnesty International on Thursday called on South Korea to decriminalize same-sex relationships for men in the military, warning current laws fuel violence, discrimination and stigmatization against gay soldiers.
The human rights group said South Korea’s military code “does not comply with the international human rights obligations the state has signed on to.”
“By institutionalizing discrimination, laws criminalizing sex between men reinforce systematic prejudices toward gay men, bisexual men, transgender people and non-binary people, whether in the military or in the street or in the home,” Amnesty said in a report released on Thursday.
The South Korean ministry of defense did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but in the past South Korea has defended the code as necessary to maintain discipline.
The Amnesty report comes as South Korea engages in a broader debate over the future of its conscript military force – with recent court rulings clearing the way for conscientious objectors and political leaders promising to shorten service commitments – as well as controversy over changing social norms.
Amnesty urged South Korea to repeal Article 92-6 of the Military Criminal Act, which it said effectively prohibited and punished sex between men in the military.
“The military code in South Korea allows the invasion of privacy of soldiers alleged to be engaging in sex between men both on and off base, and on or off duty,” the report concluded.
“Decriminalization does not solve the entire issue, but it is a crucial first step toward respecting, protecting and fulfilling the human rights of LGBTI people.”
Homosexual activity is not criminalized for South Korean civilians, but same-sex couples do not have the right to marry of adopt.
In March, the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) submitted an amicus brief in a challenge to the military code now before South Korea’s Constitutional Court, alleging that the code “violates many norms of international law.”
“South Korea’s military sodomy law is a blight on the country’s human rights record and multiple human rights bodies have called for its abolition,” Graeme Reid, the LGBT rights director at HRW, said at the time.
A survey of South Koreans released in March by the Academy of Korean Studies found about 45 percent of respondents were comfortable working around gay people, while less than 16 percent said they would be comfortable with an gay person in their family.
(Reporting by Josh Smith; Editing by Michael Perry)
7/11/2019 Chile removes statute of limitations on child sex abuse amid Church crisis by Natalia A. Ramos Miranda
A woman leaves a candle during a vigil to protest against sexual abuse in the Chilean Roman Catholic Church
outside the Santiago cathedral, in Santiago, Chile, August 20, 2018. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado
SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Chilean President Sebastian Pinera signed into law on Thursday a bill to remove the statute of limitations on sex crimes involving children amid a sex abuse crisis that has rocked the country’s Catholic Church and claimed more than 200 victims.
The law, which first was proposed in 2010, ends impunity in cases that would have previously had a statute of limitations that varied between five and 10 years, depending on the nature of the crime. The new law is not retroactive.
“Beginning today, the passing of time will never more be an accomplice to those who abuse our children, nor an ally of impunity,” Pinera said.
The center-right Pinera revived the nearly decade-old bill last year, following a visit to the South American nation by the pope that brought to the surface a string of abuse allegations now being investigated by prosecutors.
Chile’s Public Ministry says it is investigating more than 150 cases of sexual abuse or cover-up involving the Catholic Church.
The new law applies to crimes of rape, sexual abuse, the production of pornographic materials and prostitution involving children and adolescents.
(Reporting by Natalia Ramos; Writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Bill Trott)
7/12/2019 No bones found in Vatican tombs searched for missing girl
VATICAN CITY – The tombs of two 19th-century German princesses were pried open at a tiny Holy See cemetery Thursday and turned out to be empty, dashing any expectations they held the remains of a teenager who vanished in 1983 after leaving her family’s Vatican City apartment. Emanuela Orlandi’s disappearance is one of Italy’s most enduring mysteries. The gravesite inspections only raised new questions: what happened to the remains of the two princesses who were buried in the sideby- side tombs in 1836 and 1840?
7/13/2019 First LGBTI job fair held in India after gay ban lifted by Sachin Ravikumar
FILE PHOTO: A participant stands behind a rainbow flag during a gay pride parade promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual
and transgender rights, in Chennai, India June 24, 2018. REUTERS/P. Ravikumar/File Photo
BENGALURU (Reuters) – An LGBTI job fair, billed by organizers as the first such event in India, attracted more than 250 people on Friday looking for employment with companies including Intel, Goldman Sachs and Uber.
The event in the southern city of Bengaluru comes after India’s Supreme Court overruled a law banning homosexuality in 2018, which the organizers said now enables companies to freely hire people who have been marginalized for years.
Many Indians who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI) still face stigma and violence.
But the 2018 ruling has helped some in the LGBTI community come out and it now forces companies to be more inclusive, said Srini Ramaswamy, co-founder of Bengaluru-based consultancy Pride Circle, which organized the job fair.
“Now these companies are not going to give an excuse that it is against the law,” Ramaswamy said. “If you’re not being inclusive, it indirectly means you’re being homophobic.”
Western companies including Goldman Sachs, PayPal, Lowe’s, JP Morgan, Deutsche Bank, Accenture and American Express took part in the event, with more than 250 jobs on offer.
A total of 350 candidates had registered for the event which offered roles ranging from experienced positions to entry-level and support-staff, Ramaswamy said.
Software engineer Arun Gnanavignesh said he had felt ostracized by fellow workers when they learned he was gay.
“Colleagues who were really close to me suddenly stopped calling me for movies or to their homes … I was really hurt,” said Gnanavignesh, 22, who has since resigned from that job.
The turnout at the fair was relatively thin, partly because many still fear stigma, and several of the those people Reuters spoke with asked not to be identified.
Typically, job fairs in India attract thousands even when only a few hundred jobs are on offer and the government has faced criticism for its failure to create enough job opportunities for the millions annually entering the workforce.
The government’s national jobs portal currently lists more than 10.2 million active job seekers for some 386,000 vacancies.
Uber, which had a booth and was looking to recruit people at the job fair, changed all its route maps in Bengaluru to rainbow colors on Friday in a show of support.
“We are committed to creating an environment that works for everyone,” Vishpala Reddy, Uber’s regional human resources director, said in an email.
“We also want dignity. Am I not qualified enough to work in an office? Of course I am,” Mala Bai, 27, a transgender law student, who applied for jobs at JP Morgan and Accenture, said.
(Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Nivedita Bhattacharjee; Editing by Euan Rocha and Alexander Smith)
7/13/2019 Israeli education minister favours gay ‘conversion therapy’ by Dan Williams
FILE PHOTO: Israel's Education Minister Rafi Peretz arrives to attend the weekly cabinet meeting
in Jerusalem June 24, 2019. Menahem Kahana/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel’s education minister voiced support on Saturday for so-called gay “conversion therapy,” drawing a disavowal from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose government’s religious-rightist tilt has worried liberals a home and backers abroad.
Conversion therapy, an attempt to alter sexual orientation or gender identity through psychological, spiritual and, in extreme cases, physical means, has been widely discredited in the West and condemned by professional health associations such as the American Medical Association as potentially harmful.
Rafael Peretz, an Orthodox rabbi and head of the ultranationalist United Right party who assumed the education portfolio in the Netanyahu-led coalition last month, said in a television interview he believed conversion therapy can work.
“I have a very deep familiarity with the issue of education, and I have also done this,” he told Israel’s Channel 12 TV.
Giving an example of a gay person he said he had tended to, Peretz said: “First of all, I embraced him. I said very warm things to him. I told him, ‘Let’s think. Let’s study. And let’s contemplate.’ The objective is first of all for him to know himself well … and then he will decide.”
The remarks sparked furor in Israel’s center-left opposition, which ahead of a September election has sought to cast Netanyahu as enabling Orthodox indoctrination in a country whose majority Jews mostly identify as secular or of less stringent religious observance.
Israel’s LGBT Task Force, an advocacy group, demanded Peretz be fired, saying in a statement his views were “benighted.”
Shortly after the interview aired at the end of the Jewish Sabbath, Netanyahu said he spoke to Peretz for “clarification.”
“The education minister’s remarks regarding the pride community are unacceptable to me and do not reflect the position of the government that I head,” the premier said in a statement.
It was the second flap Peretz had caused in less than a week, after Israeli media reported that he had told fellow Cabinet members on Tuesday that the intermarriage of Jews and gentiles in the Diaspora amounted to a “second Holocaust.”
The comparison stirred up anger among U.S. Jews, who are mostly non-Orthodox, and drew a rebuke from the Anti-Defamation League, which said such statements cheapened the Holocaust.
Speaking to Channel 12, Peretz described himself as striving to balance respect for others, no matter their sexual orientation, with his duties as a religious leader.
“I honor everyone as people. I admit that I, personally – I am a rabbi of Israel. Our Torah tells us other things. But that does not mean that I look about now and give them grades,” he said.
(Writing by Dan Williams; editing by Jonathan Oatis)
7/14/2019 St. X names 9 former brothers it says sexually abused minors by Matthew Glowicki, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
St. Xavier High School released a list of former brothers who it says sexually abused minors while either at the Louisville high school or at some point during their years of service.
Nine brothers appear on the list with “credible or established” acts of sexual abuse against youth, two of whom were assigned to St. X at the time of the abuse. Years spent at the high school are noted below.
Only Carbin and McCormack are noted as having credible allegations stemming from their time at St. X.
Allegations against Carbin surfaced in 2004 and 2011 regarding abuse in the early 1960s. He withdrew from the order in 1963, the year after his St. X assignment.
- Brother “Ricardo” Albert Kerressey (1938-1942)
- Brother “Francis Jerome” William Burns (1939-1940)
- Brother “Alois” Donald O’Toole (1940-1941)
- Brother “Brennan” John Devoe (1953-1960)
- Brother “Bosco” Thomas Harrison (1956-1963)
- Brother “Kentigern” William Carbin (1958-1962)*
- Brother “Barton” George Gardiner (1959-1964)
- Brother “Damian” John McMahon (1965-1974)
- Brother “Pierre” James McCormack (1973-1984)* Xaverian records show the allegations about McCormack come from the early 1980s and were reported in 1984. That year, he was “removed from ministry with adolescents” and withdrew from the order in 1987.
“The crisis of abuse in the Catholic Church requires ongoing response both to protect today’s children and affirm, acknowledge and support past victims,” St. X said in an email sent late Friday afternoon.
The news is part of a larger an nouncement by the Catholic Xaverian Brothers order, which on Friday released a list of current, former and deceased members dating back to the 1930s who sexually abused a minor.
“Recent revelations about sexual abuse of minors by priests and religious are leading the People of God to desire greater accountability from the leadership of the Church,” the order said on its website. “We view this disclosure as part of our commitment now to preventing abuse and hope that it may assist survivors of abuse in their healing.”
The organization also released a list of Xaverian Brothers who have a child sex abuse allegation against them that couldn’t be fully investigated — perhaps due to a disclosure after the death of a brother or a lack of complete information about an alleged incident — “but for which there is a reasonable possibility (semblance of truth) that the alleged offense occurred.”
That list, for those who worked at St. X, is:
According to an email sent by St. X, the list was created with the help of a retired FBI agent who reviewed decades of the order’s records.
- Brother “Cosmas” Francis Dailey (1932, 1941)
- Brother “Rudolph” Thomas Holihan (1934-1936)
- Brother “Jerome” Leroy Lamont (1952-1957)
- Brother “Remigius” Francis O’Lone (1952-1955)
- Brother “Lucas” Charles Cummings (1967-1977)* The allegation against Cummings stems from his time spent at St. X. The abuse allegation of a 1968 incident was reported in 2018, according to Xaverian Brothers.
Xaverian Brothers’ review board, “an independent board” of mostly lay professionals in psychology, law enforcement, canon law and human resources, evaluated accusations and investigations of those accusations to make a credibility judgment.
A court conviction or admission of guilt by the brother would also made the allegation credible, the order notes.
The Baltimore-based Xaverian Brothers was founded in Belgium in 1839 with a focus on education and is still affiliated today with schools across the country St. X, an all-male, private, Catholic high school, has been sponsored by the Xaverian Brothers since 1864. It is part of the Archdiocese of Louisville’s network of high schools.
Reporter Matthew Glowicki can be reached at 502-582-4989 or email@example.com. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: courier-journal.com/ mattg
7/16/2019 Trump admin. enacts new Title X rule by OAN Newsroom
The Trump administration is taking another dig at abortion rights. The Department of Health and Human Services announced new regulations Monday for health clinics funded under Title X.
Title X is a federal grant program, which subsidizes family planning and preventative health services for low income families. The regulations, also known as the Protect Life Rule, was first announced by the president last year, and would bar clinics from referring or provide abortion services to patients.
“For decades, American taxpayers have been wrongfully forced to subsidize the abortion industry through Title X federal funding. So today, we have kept another promise. My administration has proposed a new rule to prohibit Title X funding from going to any clinic that performs abortions.” — President Trump.
Although no money has been cut from the grant reserve, it will only go towards clinics who are eligible under the new rule. Planned Parenthood, for example, would be stripped of around $60 million in federal funding for its clinics, which refer for abortion services and are co-located with abortion facilities.
FILE – In this June 4, 2019, file photo, Anti-abortion advocates gather outside
the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)
According to reports, Planned Parenthood currently serves about 40-percent of all clients who benefit from Title X and $4 million people nationwide. Without the federal grants, it will now use its emergency funds.
Several organizations filed emergency petitions to block the administration from enforcing the regulations, however, the Department of Health and Human Services claims there is no judicial order which would prevent the president from enacting the rule while it is being litigated.
7/16/2019 Greek conservatives scrap plans to take clergy off state payroll
FILE PHOTO - Leader of the Greek Orthodox church Archbishop Ieronimos attends the swearing-in ceremony of the newly appointed members
of the government at the Presidential Palace, in Athens, Greece, July 9, 2019. Picture taken July 9, 2019. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis
ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece’s newly-elected conservative government on Tuesday scrapped plans to remove priests from the state payroll, reversing a decision by its leftist predecessor that aimed to carve a clearer distinction between church and state.
Priests in the powerful Greek Orthodox Church have been treated as civil servants in Greece and their salaries – estimated at about 200 million euros annually – have therefore been paid directly from the state budget.
However last October, the then leftist-led government reached a tentative agreement with the Church to remove 10,000 clerics from the state payroll and instead offer an annual subsidy to a special church fund.
Members of the clergy complained that they did not want to lose their civil servant status.
The deal also foresaw a settlement of a decades-old dispute over property rights between the Greek state and the Church, which is one of Greece’s largest real estate owners.
Greece’s international creditors have long urged the country to sell assets and reduce the number of public sector employees.
The conservative New Democracy party won Greece’s snap parliamentary election on July 7, ousting the leftists who had been in power since 2015.
At a meeting with Archbishop Ieronymos of the Church of Greece on Tuesday, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said his government did not plan to amend constitutional articles concerning the status of the Orthodox Church.
The two men also agreed that there should be a discussion over the use of Church property, the prime minister’s office said in a statement.
The Greek Orthodox Church has played a leading role in the life of the country for many centuries and is considered its official religion under the constitution. For many Greeks, their national identity is intricately bound up with their religion.
(Reporting by Renee Maltezou; Editing by Gareth Jones)
7/20/2019 Vatican opens ossuaries in search for missing bodies
Experts open the ossuary at the Teutonic Cemetery, to help solve the 36-year-old disappearance of a teenage daughter
of a clerk in the Holy See, at the Vatican, July 20, 2019. Vatican Media/¬Handout via REUTERS
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Forensic experts extracted bones from two ossuaries within the walls of the Vatican on Saturday as part of an investigation aimed at resolving the case of a girl who vanished in 1983.
Following an anonymous tip-off, the Vatican earlier this month opened two tombs to see if the body of Emanuela Orlandi, the daughter of a Vatican clerk, was hidden there.
Instead, they ran into a new mystery when nothing was found, not even the bones of two 19th century princesses who were supposed to be buried in the Vatican’s tiny Teutonic Cemetery.
After consulting its records, the Vatican announced last week they had located bones under the floor of the Pontifical Teutonic College, which flanks the graveyard.
Structural work was carried out in the cemetery at the end of the 19th century and again about 60 years ago.
Church officials believe the remains of Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe, who died in 1836, and Princess Carlotta Federica of Mecklenburg, who died in 1840, might have been moved and never taken back to their original resting place.
The Vatican has not speculated about whose bones might have been recovered from the ossuaries on Saturday, saying only that they would now be analyzed to try to establish their identities.
Amongst those present as the tiny manhole covers were removed was a representative of the Orlandi family.
Emanuela Orlandi disappeared in 1983 after she left her family’s flat in the Vatican City and headed to a music lesson. She was 15 at the time.
Theories about her disappearance have run the gamut from an attempt to secure freedom for Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turk jailed in 1981 for trying to assassinate Pope John Paul II, to a connection to the grave of Enrico De Pedis, a mobster buried in a Rome basilica.
His tomb was opened in 2012 but nothing was revealed.
The Orlandi family received an anonymous letter earlier this year saying Emanuela’s body might be hidden among the dead in the Teutonic Cemetery where a statue of an angel holding a book reads “Requiescat in Pace,” Latin for “Rest in Peace.”
The Vatican has always denied suggestions it dragged its feet over the investigation.
“With this latest expert operation … the Vatican is once again showing its openness toward the Orlandi family. This openness has been shown from the outset in agreeing to check the Holy Teutonic Campus even on the basis of a mere anonymous report,” it said in a statement on Saturday.
(Reporting by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Stephen Powell)
7/21/2019 Polish police detain 25 after attacks on equality march
Police officers detain a protester during a demonstration against the first Pride Parade in the city of Bialystok, Poland
July 20, 2019 in this picture obtained from social media July 21, 2019. Magda Bogdanowicz/via REUTERS
WARSAW (Reuters) – Police have detained 25 people in Bialystok, eastern Poland, after attacks on those taking part in the city’s first equality march amid accusations that the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party benefits from fuelling anti-gay sentiment.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights have become an issue in Poland ahead of a general election expected in October, with the conservative party depicting campaigners as a threat to traditional Polish values.
“Officers ensure security regardless of the ideas, values and beliefs proclaimed by citizens. Any person who breaks the law (…) should know they can be held responsible,” interior minister Elzbieta Witek said on Twitter on Sunday.
Videos posted on Twitter show men attacking participants in the march, including a woman, and shouting anti-LGBT insults. Some of the attackers were wearing football club t-shirts.
Last year during an equality march in Lublin, another eastern Polish city, activists were hounded by groups of men, who were dispersed by riot police firing tear gas.
This year, at a political rally before European Parliament elections, PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski urged Poles to vote for what he called “the only party that gives a 100% guarantee that our values will be protected.”
LGBT rights constitute foreign values that pose “a real threat to our identity, to our nation,” he said. Some observers see parallels with the party’s 2015 campaign, when it deployed anti-immigrant rhetoric.
“One should condemn any act of hooliganism and I condemn it doubly (…) Firstly because you can’t beat, yank people under any circumstances,” PiS legislator Marcin Horala told broadcaster TVN24.
“But also because nothing helps promote LGBT in Poland as much as giving them the role of victim, as was the case in Bialystok,” he added.
PiS took power in 2015 and remains popular thanks to generous welfare payouts, low unemployment and its nationalist rhetoric.
A newspaper supporting PiS was criticized in recent days by the U.S. and British embassies for its plan to put an “LGBT-free zone” sticker on one of its editions.
(Reporting by Marcin Goclowski; Editing by Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk and Dale Hudson)
[There are still a few countries that fear the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob to allow the sins of Sodom and Gommorah to overtake their country.].
7/22/2019 US pauses enforcement of abortion restriction
WASHINGTON – The Trump administration is giving taxpayer-funded family planning clinics more time to comply with its new rule that says they no longer can refer women for abortions. A notice sent Saturday night to representatives of the clinics by the Department of Health and Human Services said the government “does not intend to bring enforcement actions” against clinics that are making “good-faith efforts to comply.” The department said last Monday that it would require immediate compliance.
7/22/2019 Pope Francis’s envoy tells Syria’s Assad of concern for Idlib’s civilians
FILE PHOTO: Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks during a meeting with heads of local councils, in Damascus, Syria
in this handout released by SANA on February 17, 2019. SANA/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis’s envoy told Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a meeting on Monday of the Pope’s concerns for the humanitarian situation in northwest Syria, a Vatican spokesman said in a statement.
Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson gave Assad a letter in which the pontiff expressed “deep concern” over the situation in Syria, and especially for the civilian population in Idlib province.
Idlib is the last rebel-held region in Syria and remains under the control mostly of Islamist militants, who are under growing pressure from Syrian troops and their allies.
(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio; Editing by Kevin Liffey)
7/23/2019 Slain Russian gay-rights activist had received threats: campaigner
A supporter of LGBT community attends a rally after a murder of Elena Grigoryeva, activist for LGBT rights,
in Saint Petersburg, Russia July 23, 2019. REUTERS/Igor Russak NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES
MOSCOW (Reuters) – A Russian activist for LGBT rights who was fatally stabbed in St Petersburg had regularly received death threats and reported them to police, who did nothing to protect her before she was murdered, a fellow campaigner said.
Elena Grigoryeva, 41, was found dead with multiple knife wounds on Sunday evening, according to a statement from the Investigative Committee, the state body that investigates major crimes.
“Recently she had been a victim of violence and was regularly threatened with murder,” Dinar Idrisov, a rights activist who said he knew Grigoryeva, wrote on Facebook.
“Lena and her lawyer appealed to law enforcement both on account of violence and on account of threats, but there was no noticeable reaction.”
Police in St Petersburg confirmed she had reported being threatened repeatedly, but said the threats had not seemed a risk to her life and were related to domestic conflicts with people she knew, the RBC media portal reported.
Grigoryeva campaigned for gay rights and also took part in anti-war protests and rallies on other issues.
The Investigative Committee’s St Petersburg branch said late on Monday it was working to establish the identity of the suspect or suspects responsible for the murder.
Local online news outlet Fontanka reported on Monday a 40-year-old male suspect from the region of Bashkortostan had been detained.
(Reporting by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Peter Graff)
7/23/2019 Pa. mayor accused of discrimination against LGBTQ has change of heart by OAN Newsroom
The mayor a Pennsylvania city has reversed his original decision to stop an LGBTQ pride flag raising ceremony at city hall. Last weekend posted a video on his Facebook page detailing what he called a moving conversation with a transgender citizen.
The conversation inspired him to reconsider his views of the LGBTQ community. Scott said a “very prominent woman” came to visit him to discuss the pride flag raising ceremony, and shared her story about when she came out to her mother. When the woman was a child, she told her mother she felt like a boy trapped in a girl’s body and asked if God had made a mistake. Her mother’s response: ‘God doesn’t make mistakes’."
“I still choke up…you can put my stamp on the approval, you can put your flag up. The flag is something we should support and maybe I will change my mind on other flags that go up, but this one here — you hit home. I am a God loving person, I believe God created us all equal and he does not or she does not make mistakes.” — Mayor Wally Scott, Reading, Pa.
FILE – In this April 19, 2019 file photo, a gay pride rainbow flag flies along with the U.S. flag in front
of the Asbury United Methodist Church in Prairie Village, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
This comes after the mayor canceled a gay pride flag raising ceremony last week, because he wanted to “keep politics out of it.” Scott originally said the flag represents a political movement, and flying it would be against city policy. He explained that he doesn’t believe flags should be raised at city hall for any type of movements.
The mayor is now experiencing a change of heart. He said he will allow a pride flag to be flown over city hall for the first time in the city’s history. In his latest Facebook video, Scott said the LGBTQ community has his full support and they can reschedule to raise the flag any day they want.
[Our concept of God being able to make a mistake does not justify the sins of the LGBTQ that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob detest those sins as stated in the Bible, not the judicial system.].
7/23/2019 ACLU, Ark. clinic challenge state’s abortion ban by OAN Newsroom
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is fighting Arkansas’ abortion laws by arguing women will seek out unsafe ways of accessing the procedure. The nonprofit organization joined a local clinic in federal court Monday, where abortion advocates testified in favor of the procedure.
Back in February, the state’s Senate voted to ban all abortions except for medical emergencies, but did not include exceptions for rape and incest. The groups challenging the law are looking to keep the last remaining clinic in the state open.
An exam room at the Planned Parenthood is pictured. (Photo/REUTERS/Ilana Panich-Linsman)
The ACLU has claimed that even if the judge allows the ban to go into effect, women will still have abortions.
“And I am concerned, as this doctor testified, that if these laws go into effect we will be returning to that era when many many women will not be able to get safe, effective, caring abortion care and will resort to unsafe practices to obtain an abortion.” — Bettina Brownstein, attorney for the ACLU
If the judge allows the law to go into effect, abortions after 10-weeks will be banned starting on Wednesday, July 23, 2019.
7/24/2019 Slain Russian gay-rights activist had received threats: campaigner
A woman attends a rally after a murder of Elena Grigoryeva, activist for LGBT rights,
in Saint Petersburg, Russia July 23, 2019. REUTERS/Igor Russak
MOSCOW (Reuters) – A Russian activist for LGBT rights who was fatally stabbed in St Petersburg had regularly received death threats and reported them to police, who did nothing to protect her before she was murdered, a fellow campaigner said.
Elena Grigoryeva, 41, was found dead with multiple knife wounds on Sunday evening, according to a statement from the Investigative Committee, the state body that investigates major crimes.
“Recently she had been a victim of violence and was regularly threatened with murder,” Dinar Idrisov, a rights activist who said he knew Grigoryeva, wrote on Facebook.
“Lena and her lawyer appealed to law enforcement both on account of violence and on account of threats, but there was no noticeable reaction.”
Police in St Petersburg confirmed she had reported being threatened repeatedly, but said the threats had not seemed a risk to her life and were related to domestic conflicts with people she knew, the RBC media portal reported.
Grigoryeva campaigned for gay rights and also took part in anti-war protests and rallies on other issues.
The Investigative Committee’s St Petersburg branch said late on Monday it was working to establish the identity of the suspect or suspects responsible for the murder.
Local online news outlet Fontanka reported on Monday a 40-year-old male suspect from the region of Bashkortostan had been detained.
(Reporting by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Peter Graff)
7/24/2019 Settlement expands transgender restroom rights in North Carolina
RALEIGH, N.C. – A federal judge approved a legal settlement Tuesday affirming transgender people’s right to use restrooms matching their gender identity in many public buildings. The consent decree is expected to end a lawsuit challenging the state’s “bathroom bill” and the law that replaced it. The agreement says that nothing in current state law can be interpreted to “prevent transgender people from lawfully using public facilities in accordance with their gender identity” in buildings controlled by the state’s executive branch.
7/24/2019 Pope gives West Virginia diocese new leader after scandal
WHEELING, W.Va. – Pope Francis named Baltimore Auxiliary Bishop Mark Brennan to lead West Virginia’s Catholics on Tuesday following a scandal over the former bishop’s sexual harassment of adults and lavish spending of church money. Brennan, 72, replaces Bishop Michael Bransfield, who resigned in September after a preliminary investigation into allegations of sexual and financial misconduct. Last week, Francis barred Bransfield from public ministry and prohibited him from living in the diocese.
7/24/2019 Conservative Polish magazine issues ‘LGBT-free zone’ stickers
A sticker with words "LGBT-free zone" distributed in weekly conservative magazine
"Gazeta Polska" is pictured in Warsaw, Poland July 24, 2019. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
WARSAW (Reuters) – A conservative magazine in Poland distributed “LGBT-free zone” stickers with its weekly edition on Wednesday, amid a mounting backlash against gay rights in central Europe’s largest nation ahead of a parliamentary election this year.
Diplomats and opposition politicians in Poland have criticized the Gazeta Polska’s campaign and a major bookseller, Empik, as well as the Polish branch of British oil company BP, have said they would not carry the edition.
Gazeta Polska’s editor-in-chief, Tomasz Sakiewicz, said the campaign wasn’t directed against any individual but against those who try to censor views that are critical of “LGBT ideology.”
“i>We wanted to prove that censorship in this case exists and we have proved it,” Sakiewicz told Reuters, referring to criticism of the stickers. “What is happening is the best evidence that LGBT is a totalitarian ideology.”
The nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) government, which has faced accusations of fomenting anti-gay sentiment in recent months, said Gazeta Polska should be free to publish under Poland’s freedom of expression laws.
“As the ruling party, we won’t impose on the free media and the free press what it should write and what stickers it should distribute,” deputy prime minister Jacek Sasin told private TV station TVN on Monday.
The campaign includes stickers with a black “x” through a rainbow flag and was announced last week by Gazeta Polska.
The move comes as PiS has made LGBT rights a central campaign issue, pegging the party against more liberal forces in the country.
The magazine is largely loyal to the government line and receives significantly more advertising placements from state-run companies than other privately run media.
Along with the stickers, gay pride marches have become a pressure point in Poland, with many ruling party politicians saying that they unnecessarily encourage public display of sexuality.
“These kinds of marches, initiated by groups that are trying to force through their non-standard sexual behaviors, awaken resistance … it’s worth considering if such events should be organized in the future,” Education Minister Dariusz Piontkowski told private broadcaster TVN on Sunday.
Police have detained more than 30 people in Bialystok, eastern Poland, after attacks on gay pride march participants on Saturday.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and human rights officials condemned the violence.
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.
(Reporting by Joanna Plucinska and Alicja Ptak, Additional reporting by Anna Koper, Writing by Joanna Plucinska, Editing by Justyna Pawlak and Nick Macfie)
7/24/2019 Macron gambles on cultural shift with bill allowing IVF for lesbians by Michel Rose
FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron waves at reporters at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, July 9, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Platiau
PARIS (Reuters) – The French government on Wednesday sent to parliament draft legislation that would allow in-vitro fertilization (IVF) for lesbian couples and single women, honoring a long-standing campaign pledge but risking a backlash from conservative voters.
The bioethics bill, which would also allow women to freeze their eggs for reasons other than medical to enhance their chances of having children, is the first major societal reform by centrist President Emmanuel Macron. It was delayed while anti-government “yellow vest” protests roiled the country.Only six years ago, former President Francois Hollande’s legislation allowing gay marriage faced strong opposition in a country where the influence of the Catholic Church was thought to have been in decline.
Even so, Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said she did not foresee a re-run of the bitter national debate that split public opinion at the time.
“This is no longer an issue over which the French want to fight,” she told reporters. “All the studies show children born to gay couples or raised by single women have no particular difficulties,” she said.
However, the far-right National Rally party led by Marine Le Pen called for the issue to be put to referendum.
“There is no right to having children,” the party’s vice-president, Jordan Bardella, told LCI television. “Children have a right to have a father and a mother and this law creates children without fathers.”
Lawmakers will begin debating the bill in September and will be allowed a free rather than a party-line vote. With Macron’s centrist party commanding a strong majority, the bill is nonetheless expected to pass.
In a sign France has become more socially liberal since gay marriage was legalized, a BVA poll published on Wednesday in gay magazine Tetu showed 61 percent of French people backed lifting the IVF ban for lesbian couples, up 15 points since 2013.
Macron, who was educated at a Jesuit school and asked to be baptized at the age of 12, has trod carefully in pressing the reform, scarred by the sometimes violent protests in 2013 when he was an advisor to Hollande.
Since his election in 2017, the president has made overtures to the Catholic Church, saying he wanted to “mend the damaged link between State and Church.” Those comments prompted outrage in secular France, where faith and state were separated by law in 1905.
Medically assisted reproduction – such as IVF – is widely available to all women in countries such as Britain, Belgium, Spain and Israel.
But in France, it has fed into a broader debate about the commercialization of healthcare and gay rights.
Healthcare in France is largely covered by the state. The legislation provides for public funds to cover the full cost of IVF for lesbians and single women, as it does for heterosexual couples. The government anticipates an additional 2,000 IVF requests on top of the roughly 150,000 IVF attempts made each year.
Surrogacy for gay couples will remain banned, however, with the government deeming the issue too incendiary. “It would have raised the issue of the commercialization of women’s bodies,” Buzyn said.
The bill also ends anonymity for sperm donors, who will have to agree to having their identity revealed if their children ask to know their biological father when they turn 18.
(Reporting by Michel Rose; Additional reporting by Simon Carraud; Editing by Richard Lough and Frances Kerry)
7/25/2219 Judge blocks Arkansas abortion restrictions - State attorney general confident laws will stand by John Bacon, USA TODAY
A federal judge in Little Rock temporarily blocked tight restrictions on abortion from taking effect Wednesday in Arkansas, citing “imminent irreparable harm” to patients seeking to terminate pregnancies.
District Court Judge Kristine Baker issued a temporary injunction late Tuesday, saying the state should not enforce the restrictions until their constitutionality has been determined. Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and Little Rock Family Planning Services, the state’s only surgical abortion clinic, pressed the legal challenge.
“We’re relieved that these bans and restrictions have been blocked from taking effect, and we’re determined to see them struck down for good,” said Holly Dickson, interim executive director for the ACLU of Arkansas.
The 159-page ruling blocks the state from enforcing the laws, including a measure prohibiting the procedure 18 weeks into pregnancy. The blocked laws include a requirement that doctors performing abortions be board-certified or board-eligible in obstetrics and gynecology.
A Little Rock clinic that performs surgical abortions has one physician who meets that requirement, but he works there a few days every other month.
Baker blocked a law prohibiting doctors from performing an abortion if it’s sought because the fetus has Down syndrome.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge expressed confidence that the laws will survive legal review.
“The last minute attempt by the ACLU to block Arkansas’ laws is frustrating, but not unforeseen,” Rutledge said in a statement. “The action was only the initial step, and I anticipate further action in the near future in our defense of these laws that protect the life of mothers and their unborn children.”
7/26/2019 Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega, leading political figure, dead at 82 by Nelson Acosta and Sarah Marsh
FILE PHOTO: Archbishop of Havana Cardinal Jaime Ortega, who helped restore relations between Cuba and the
United States, leads a mass at Havana Cathedral in Cuba, May 7, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
HAVANA (Reuters) – Roman Catholic Cardinal Jaime Ortega, who came to leverage a rare level of political influence in Cuba for someone outside the Communist Party and played a key role in the island’s now-defunct detente with the United States, died on Friday at the age of 82.
A series of Masses will be held in the Cathedral of Havana from Friday afternoon through Sunday, Jenny Martinez Lara, of the church’s Felix Varela Cultural Center, told Reuters.
Cardinal Ortega will be buried at 3 p.m. (1900 GMT) on Sunday, she said.
Nelson Crespo, Ortega’s personal secretary, told Reuters the cardinal had passed away at 6:16 a.m. (1014 GMT) after a long battle with cancer.
“His tireless pastoral work and his love for Cuba led him to decisively strengthen relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the State,” the Cuban government said in a brief statement.
A labor camp inmate in the 1960s when Fidel Castro’s revolutionary government was rounding up religious figures and other perceived ideological enemies, Ortega became archbishop of Havana in 1981 at a time when Cuba was still officially atheist.
For the more than three decades that followed, as Castro’s stance on the Roman Catholic Church softened, Ortega boosted its visibility and power, building a working relationship with the government thanks partly to his nonconfrontational style.
Ortega hosted three popes, and negotiated the release of dozens of political prisoners in 2010 and 2011.
The softly spoken cleric rose to become one of Cuba’s leading political figures, particularly after Cuba reformed its constitution in 1992, changing the state from atheist to secular and guaranteeing freedom of religion. When Raul Castro became president in 2010, Ortega backed his attempts to open up the country and to restore relations with Western nations.
At a critical moment in secret talks between Cuba and the United States that led to a detente in December 2014, it was Ortega who relayed messages between Pope Francis, Castro and then-U.S. President Barack Obama.
Some critics said he abandoned victims of oppression, becoming too cozy with government, in exchange for a seat at the table of power.
Shortly before retiring in 2016, he said there were no political prisoners in Cuba, although Cuba’s leading dissident human rights organization countered there were 60, including about two dozen people held for conducting peaceful protests.
Ortega also refused to back the Ladies in White as an opposition group. But at the same time he obtained and repeatedly defended their right to peacefully protest every Sunday after Mass, the first such permission granted since the 1959 Revolution.
The group was founded by female relatives of imprisoned dissidents in 2003, who after their family members were freed due in part to Ortega’s efforts, continued to protest for the release of other political prisoners.
Church officials said Ortega’s job was to stand up for basic principles such as religious freedom and the well-being of all Cubans, not to promote any partisan political agenda.
Ortega studied theology in Quebec and became parish priest in the mid-1960s in his birthplace of Jagüey Grande in Matanzas province, also taking care of neighboring parishes because of a shortage of priests.
He served eight months in a labor camp in 1966-67, an experience he said taught him a lot about life.
He was named bishop of Pinar del Rio by Pope John Paul II in 1978 and archbishop of Havana three years later. The pope appointed him cardinal in 1994.
(Additional reporting by Marc Frank; editing by Rosalba O’Brien, Steve Orlofsky and Jonathan Oatis)
7/27/2019 Polish rights campaigners gather in Warsaw to condemn homophobic violence
Participants attend a protest against violence that took place against the LGBT community during the
first pride march in Bialystok earlier this month, in Warsaw, July 27, 2019. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
WARSAW (Reuters) – Over 1,000 people gathered in Warsaw on Saturday in support of LGBT rights a week after the first pride march in the city of Bialystok was marred by violence.
Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party has made LGBT rights a campaign issue ahead of parliamentary elections expected in October, with many politicians arguing pride marches promote unnecessary public displays of sexuality.
“The tension is growing and is tied to the politics of the ruling party, which are hateful and intolerant,” said Marta Zawadzka, a 17-year-old student who attended the gathering. She said examples “include blaming LGBT people and painting them as paedophiles and bad people.”
Disapproval over displays of LGBT rights spilled over on the streets of Bialystok last Saturday. Videos posted on Twitter showed men attacking marchers and shouting anti-LGBT insults.
Police have detained over 30 people in connection with the violence while politicians, including Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, have condemned the attacks.
A Warsaw court this week put a temporary hold on the distribution of “LGBT-free zone” stickers distributed by a Polish conservative magazine.
Those who gathered on Saturday in solidarity with Bialystok waved LGBT rainbow flags and carried rainbow umbrellas, with some condemning the week’s events.
“I am here because of what happened in Bialystok and because of the ‘LGBT-free zone’ stickers,” said Amelia Rae, a 15-year-old student. “If something is going to change than the government needs to change.”
Analysts say PiS hopes to reenergize its mainly rural base by vowing to push back against Western liberalism and benefit from the deepening divisions in society over policies toward minority groups, the environment, abortion and migration.
“Everyone has the right to gather and express their views on any matter. In Poland, we have freedom of assembly,” a PiS spokeswoman told Reuters.
Warsaw held one of its largest pride marches to date earlier this year, with tens of thousands of participants.
(Reporting by Joanna Plucinska and Alicja Ptak; Writing by Joanna Plucinska; Editing by Mike Harrison)
7/28/2019 Pope offers prayers for migrants killed in Mediterranean shipwreck
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis speaks as he leads a special mass to mark International Migrants Day
in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican January 14, 2018. REUTERS/Max Rossi
MILAN (Reuters) – Pope Francis on Sunday offered prayers for migrants who died in the Mediterranean Sea this week, in what the U.N. refugee agency called the worst shipwreck in the area this year.
Speaking to thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Sunday address, the pontiff expressed his sorrow and asked the worshippers to join him in a prayer for the dozens of migrants who died trying to reach Europe. “I learned with pain the news of the dramatic shipwreck that happened in recent days in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, where dozens of migrants, including women and children, lost their lives,” Francis said.
The pope appealed to the international community to act promptly to guarantee safety and dignity for all. Fifty-five bodies have been recovered so far off the Libyan coast, an aid worker said on Saturday, after a wooden boat carrying hundreds of migrants capsized on Thursday.It was unclear how many were on board and how many were still missing and feared drowned after what the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR described as “the worst Mediterranean tragedy of this year.” The Libyan navy on Thursday put the number of migrants on board at 250. The UNHCR said up to 150 were feared dead.
(Reporting by Francesca Landini; Editing by Dale Hudson)
7/30/2019 Weightlifter Hubbard becomes lightning rod for criticism of transgender policy
FILE PHOTO - Weightlifting - Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games - Women's +90kg - Final - Carrara Sports Arena 1
- Gold Coast, Australia - April 9, 2018. Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand competes. REUTERS/Paul Childs
WELLINGTON (Reuters) – Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard’s gold medal-winning performance at the Pacific Games continues to reverberate long after the event, with a New Zealand women’s group demanding sports authorities put a stop to “unfair” competition.
Hubbard, who competed for New Zealand in men’s weightlifting before her transition in her thirties, won two golds and a silver in three of the women’s heavyweight categories at the Games in Samoa earlier this month.
She topped the podium ahead of Samoan runner up and Commonwealth Games champion Feagaiga Stowers in both categories, triggering outrage in the Pacific island nation.
With Hubbard free to compete at next year’s Tokyo Olympics, the 41-year-old has become a lightning rod for criticism of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s guidelines for the inclusion of transgender athletes.br>
On Monday, New Zealand based lobby group “Speak Up For Women,” which advocates that sport must be categorized by sex rather than gender identity, called on the country’s Olympic committee and sports minister to “defend women’s sport.”
“Kiwis (New Zealanders) know that males competing in women’s sport is blatantly unfair,” the group’s spokesperson Ani O’Brien said.
The call follows criticism from British advocates “Fair Play for Women,” who wrote on Twitter that sports officials needed to “wake up” in the days after Hubbard’s Pacific Games titles.
IOC guidelines issued in 2015 said any transgender athlete could compete as a woman provided their testosterone levels are below 10 nanomoles per liter for at least 12 months prior to their first competition.
That has been criticized by some scientists, who say it does little to mitigate natural biological advantages enjoyed by male-born athletes, including bone and muscle density.
Researchers at the Dunedin-based University of Otago said in a peer-reviewed study published earlier this month that the IOC guidelines were “poorly drawn” and the mandated testosterone level was still “significantly higher” than that of women.
The study advocated that the IOC ditch its “binary” approach to competition and consider introducing a transgender category or find another solution that balances the desire for inclusion with the need for a level playing field.
The research was dismissed by transgender advocates and athletes.
“The opinions of scientists although valid, are just that, opinions,” said New Zealand mountain biker Kate Weatherly, who transitioned as a teenager and has become a national champion competing against women.
“I’m not winning by crazy margins and the anecdotal evidence does point to me having little to no advantage.”
Hubbard has shunned the media since competing at last year’s Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast, where she was favorite to win heavyweight gold but injured herself during a lift in the competition.
Her golds at the Pacific Games have renewed her profile and her status as a contender at international events.
They have also re-ignited a debate set to rage all the way to Tokyo in 2020.
“I really don’t think he – she – should ever participate in this (tournament), but I realize we have to (be) inclusive and we cannot exclude these people,” Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi told Reuters of Hubbard’s participation at the Pacific Games.
“They ought to participate in these Games in their own category.”
(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne, additional reporting by Jonathan Barrett, Editing by Nick Mulvenney)
[A MOCKERY OF GODS CREATION OF MAN AND WOMAN AND IT WILL BE DEALT WITH BY THE DIVINE REGARDLESS OF WHAT SOME BELIEVE.].
7/31/2019 Samoa’s ‘third gender’ delicately balances sex and religion by Jonathan Barrett
Samoan fa'afafine Keyonce Lee Hang feeds her grandmother in the family home on the island of
Upolu, Samoa, July 14, 2019. Picture taken July 14, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Barrett
APIA, Samoa (Reuters) – Keyonce Lee Hang is busy finishing preparations for the to’ona’i, a traditional lunch served after Sunday church in Samoa, and attending to her elderly, bed-ridden grandmother.
Strongly built and wearing a floral dress and false eyelashes – and self-named after American singer Beyonce – Lee Hang can’t help but make an entrance, especially when she arrives for Sunday church in her best dress.
Genetically male, Lee Hang is a Samoan fa’afafine, a term that translates as “in the manner of a woman.”
Fa’afafine is a “third gender” in Polynesian culture, according to the Samoa Fa’afafine Association, and has been a part of island life for as long as anyone can remember. Most villages have fa’afafine, with an estimated several thousand across Samoa’s islands.
Outside the South Pacific, particularly the Polynesian islands, it is a largely misunderstood community, according to Lee Hang, who works for the government’s fisheries department.
“Western society tries to fit us [in] a box, to put us under gay, under trans and queer … but I think fa’afafine is our cultural identity – it defines us,” said Lee Hang.
“Despite the body that you have, if you love it, accept it and beautify what you have, it’s all that matters.”
Although most modern fa’afafine partner with men, the identity makes no claim about sexual orientation.
As one fa’afafine put it: “What we do in bed has nothing to do with our cultural identity.”
Samoan law criminalizes sex between men, and culturally, it isn’t acceptable for a man to wear a woman’s clothes; but the fa’afafine community can freely go outside of those boundaries.
When a boy is noticeably effeminate, he will likely be taught the traditional duties of Samoan women, which often means working within the house.
Such individuals are often said to have the “fa’afafine spirit,” though the extent and the age they express their femininity varies.
Lee Hang’s mother, Rona Tauli Lee, said Keyonce was a happy child who showed effeminate signs from age three, and who used to wear her sister’s dresses. “Keyonce is my child and I accept my children as they are,” she said.
All fa’afafine interviewed by Reuters dismissed widely reported claims that fa’afafine could be a designated role by families with lots of sons, as a substitute for a daughter.
Modern fa’afafine have won favor with large parts of the Samoan community for their hard work, especially in leading charitable causes and taking on caring roles, such as looking after the elderly.
During the Olympic-style Pacific Games held in Samoa in July, groups of fa’afafine could be seen handing out sexual health literature and condoms to athletes on the streets of Apia, Samoa’s capital.
Miriama Seeti, a markets store owner in Apia, said it was advantageous to have community members taking on culturally feminine roles with a man’s muscle. This included “carrying coconuts” and “cleaning everything inside the house,” she said.
But there are complexities in being fa’afafine in a deeply religious country like Samoa, where family and church structures are strong, said Samoa Fa’afafine Association president Alex Su’a.
“Most of us are relied on as leaders of our church denominations’ choir groups, youth groups, even the decorators and planners of activities,” said Su’a.
The relationship between fa’afafine and the church is a delicate one and can at times become tense, said Su’a.
Reverend Vavatau Taufao said fa’afafine were welcomed into the church and that many contributed to their congregations.
He said the church, however, considered fa’afafine to be male and the church didn’t endorse same-sex relationships.
Taufao, who is general secretary of the Congregation Christian Church in Samoa, said that fa’afafine used to more regularly partner with women, wore more neutral clothing, and undertook traditional chores associated with both men and women.
“Before we saw our fa’afafine wearing the same clothes as our men – now they are wearing more female dress,” he said.
After preparing lunch, which includes taro, crab, chop suey and pork, Lee Hang changes out of a black and white dress into a floral church outfit, with red flower patterns.
Lee Hang is running more than 30 minutes late for church, located directly across the road from the family home on a coastal road on the island of Upolu.
“Don’t worry,” said Lee Hang’s fa’afafine friend, Vaito’a Toelupe, peering across the road where a large congregation sits, most dressed in conservative white, and the women in hats.
“Church doesn’t start until Keyonce arrives.”
(Reporting by Jonathan Barrett in SAMOA; additional reporting by Jill Gralow; Editing by Michael Perry)
8/2/2019 Liberals fear unrest as Poland Catholic Church doubles down on anti-gay rhetoric by Marcin Goclowski and Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk
FILE PHOTO: Participants attend a protest against violence that took place against the LGBT community during the first
pride march in Bialystok earlier this month, in Warsaw, July 27, 2019. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo
WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland’s Catholic Church has doubled down on the anti-gay rhetoric that has become the nationalist ruling party’s dominant theme in recent weeks, drawing a rebuke from liberal politicians who compared an archbishop’s remarks to incitement to genocide.
In a sermon given to mark the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw uprising by Polish resistance fighters against Nazi occupation, the archbishop of Krakow, Marek Jedraszewski, described Poland as under siege from a “rainbow plague” of gay rights campaigners he compared to Poland’s former Communist rulers.
“Our land is no longer affected by the red plague, which does not mean that there is no new one that wants to control our souls, hearts and minds,” he told a mass in the medieval St. Mary’s Basilica, one of the most important churches for Poles.
“Not Marxist, Bolshevik, but born of the same spirit, neo-Marxist. Not red, but rainbow,” he was quoted as saying by private TVN24 broadcaster.
Robert Biedron, an openly gay politician from the progressive Wiosna party, denounced the sermon.
“We already had such people, politicians who used similar words and that lead to huge slaughters, genocide. This is an incitement to crime, to hatred,” he told news website wirtualnapolska.pl.
Ahead of parliamentary elections expected in October, the ruling PiS party has made hostility to gays a central focus of its campaign, depicting LGBT rights as a dangerous foreign idea that undermines traditional values in staunchly Catholic Poland.
The issue spilled onto the streets in July when thousands of demonstrators went on a rampage through the provincial city of Bialystok to block the city’s first ever LGBT pride parade.
Video showed anti-gay demonstrators, who vastly outnumbered those attending the pride event, chasing people through the streets and beating them. Thirty people were arrested.
RE-ENERGIZING THE BASE
PiS has launched its anti-gay campaign in an apparent attempt to re-energize its mainly rural base, with hostility to LGBT rights partly supplanting the anti-immigrant rhetoric that formed the party’s core message in previous elections.
A conservative magazine distributed “LGBT-free zone” stickers last week, while a number of towns have declared themselves “LGBT-free.”
Unlike nearly all Western European countries, which have legalized same-sex marriage and the adoption of children by same-sex couples in recent years, the former Communist countries of the EU’s east have mostly held back on expanding gay rights. Same-sex marriage and adoptions are both illegal in Poland.
The Catholic Church has unusually strong influence in Poland, having been a focus of resistance to Communist rule for decades. One of Jedraszewski’s predecessors as archbishop in Krakow, the Polish Cold War-era Pope John Paul II, remains a beloved national hero.
Nevertheless, Church influence has declined since its heyday in the 1990s, hurt by polarizing political battles over abortion and more recently by a documentary film on priestly sex abuse.
“I have nothing against LGBT people. What the archbishop has said should not be said in a Church,” said Jaroslawa Szczerbinska, 55, pre-school worker in Warsaw.
According to a survey published by state pollster CBOS on Thursday, the share of Poles criticizing the Church rose last month by 4 percentage points to 38%, while those who assess it favorably fell by 5 points to 48%.
A CBOS opinion poll released in April showed that 54% of Poles think homosexuality should be tolerated. Less than a quarter think it is abnormal and unacceptable.
The violent Bialystok anti-gay demonstration has energized some liberals, with hundreds of people demonstrating in favor of LGBT rights in Polish towns in days that followed.
Agnieszka Kwiatkowska, a sociologist at Warsaw’s private SWPS University, said the Church’s strident anti-gay position “mobilizes radical church supporters but may discourage moderates who are believers, but tolerant.”
“It will also discourage young people who are tolerant of LGBT,” she said. As Church support becomes less universal, its polarizing rhetoric can backfire: “Such a strategy of a besieged fortress works only as long as the fortress is large.”
(Additional reporting by Anna Gavina; Editing by Peter Graff)
[I am glad to hear that at least one Catholic Church and nation is standing up for God and what the bible says to stop this world from becoming totally anti-christian.].
8/3/2019 Amsterdam Canal Pride parade celebrates Stonewall anniversary
Participants cruise the canals in boats during the annual gay pride parade in Amsterdam, The Netherlands August 3, 2019. REUTERS/Eva Plevier
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – One of Europe’s biggest annual Gay Pride parades kicked off on the canals of Amsterdam on Saturday, with over 500,000 visitors from around the world expected to cheer on 80 boats representing a wide variety of organizations from the LGBTI+ community.
“Remember the past, create the future,” is this year’s theme, as the parade commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the so-called Stonewall riots.
The series of often violent demonstrations by the gay community in the summer of 1969, which erupted after a police raid of the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village, is seen as a pivotal moment in the history of the LGBT movement.
Since its start in 1996, the Amsterdam Canal Pride parade has quickly grown into one of the biggest annual events in the Dutch capital.
Its popularity has forced organizers to become stricter over the years, banning private boats from the canals during the parade unless they have paid for a special ticket and prohibiting spectators from bringing their own sound systems to the party.
“Considering the other years, rules are much stricter this year. No very loud music is allowed, no crazy dancing. But we make it our own party,” said one of the participants.
But visitors said the event would remain meaningful for them.
“Every year my mother makes a fancy dress for me. Every year we come to Amsterdam just to support everybody,” said Maartje Bruens, a visitor from Zandvoort. “Love is love.”
(Reporting by Alexandra Regida, editing by Bart Meijer)
[HOW DO YOU JUSTIFY SIN.].
8/5/2019 Coca-Cola ads promoting gay tolerance stir furor in Hungary by Marton Dunai
A billboard, part of a campaign by Coca-Cola promoting gay acceptance, which has prompted a political backlash is seen
in Budapest, Hungary, August 5, 2019. The writing on the billboard reads: "Zero sugar, zero prejudice." REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo
BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Advertisements by Coca-Cola around a music festival in Hungary that promote gay acceptance have prompted a boycott call from a senior member of the conservative ruling party.
The posters, in tandem with the week-long “Love Revolution” event starting on Wednesday in Budapest, show gay people and couples smiling with slogans like “zero sugar, zero prejudice.”
That has irked some supporters of Viktor Orban’s nationalist Fidesz party, which supports a prohibition of same-sex marriage.
On Sunday, Fidesz’s deputy speaker Istvan Boldog called for a boycott of Coca-Cola products during its “provocative” campaign. But with gay acceptance rising among Hungarians, it was unclear if his call would gain traction.
Right-wing news portals echoed his antipathy.
“The homosexual lobby is laying siege to Budapest, leaving no space to avoid this,” complained one, Pesti Sracok.
Orban, who rails against immigrants, promotes “ethnic homogeneity” and seeks to protect Europe’s Christian traditions, opposes equal rights to same-sex couples while also advocating quiet gay-straight co-existence.
Coca-Cola said on Monday the Sziget festival, expected to draw more than half a million people, echoes core principles of the U.S. multinational. “We believe both hetero- and homosexuals have the right to love the person they want the way they want,” it said in a statement.
“THEY NEED ENEMIES”
Fidesz stopped short of endorsing Boldog’s boycott call, saying Hungarians were free to choose whether to drink Coke.
Tamas Dombos, an advocate with the Hatter gay rights group, said the government was homophobic but also aware of society’s growing acceptance of gay lifestyles.
“We have a feeling they are testing people in this subject,” he told Reuters. “The entire government propaganda is built on conflict, and they need enemies. After the EU, migrants, NGOs and even the homeless, now it may be LGBTQ people.”
“Sometimes it’s hard to dissect whether it’s a political strategy or just an inherent real homophobe getting mad at something like Coke’s campaign.”
According to a 2018 Hatter study, nearly two-thirds of Hungarians believe gay people should be free to live as they please, up from less than half in 2002.
Gay rights have caused more of a stir in Poland, where ruling right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party, a Fidesz ally, has launched an anti-gay campaign in an apparent attempt to re-energize its mainly rural base. One conservative magazine distributed “LGBT-free zone” stickers and some towns have declared themselves “LGBT-free.”
In Hungary, the parliament speaker this year said gay adoption was tantamount to “paedophilia in a moral sense.”
Orban has rarely addressed the issue head on, though in a 2016 interview he said gay people “can do what they want but cannot get their marriages recognized by the state… An apple cannot ask to be called a pear.”
(Reporting by Marton Dunai; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)
[Notice that the Pope is absent in these conversations, but God is listening and hearing.].
8/6/2019 Shun hate speech, U.N. tells leaders after U.S. shootings by Stephanie Nebehay
Mourners taking part in a vigil at El Paso High School after a mass shooting at
a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, August 3. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez
GENEVA (Reuters) – Authorities around the world must avoid encouraging hate speech against minorities including migrants and homosexuals, the United Nations human rights office said on Tuesday, after the latest mass shootings in the United States.
U.S. Democrats accused President Donald Trump of stoking racial divisions after the weekend killing of 32 people in Texas and Ohio, but he responded with a condemnation of “racism, bigotry and white supremacy.”
U.N. rights spokesman Rupert Colville welcomed Trump’s remarks, though he also said the high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, backs stricter gun controls.
“We unequivocally condemn racism, xenophobia and intolerance in all their forms including white supremacy,” he said.
“And we call for states in general, including the United States, to take positive steps to eradicate discrimination.”
Asked whether Bachelet’s office believed Trump’s “anti-migrant rhetoric” may have contributed, the spokesman told reporters all authorities should avoid negative stereotypes that foment discrimination or violence.
“We are concerned that these types of messages not only stigmatize and dehumanize minorities – migrants, refugees, women, LGBT and the so-called ‘other’ – but they also leave targeted persons and communities vulnerable to the risks of reprisals and attacks,” he said, noting attacks on synagogues, mosques and a gay nightclub in the United States.
Legislation to regulate hate speech on social media must also balance the right to freedom of expression, he said.
Trump has called for strong background checks on gun buyers, saying “mental illness” and “hatred” are behind shootings.
While mental health might be a factor in some mass shootings, it was not in all, Colville said.
“And the bottom line is if you have assault rifles, there is a risk people will use them, for whatever reason,” he added.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)
[So will I be classified as a hate crime even though it is in my Bible as a sin, and the God they claim hates sin if they have the same God or have been decieved by Satan.].
8/6/2019 In Lebanon, a monastery brings together Christians scattered by war by Ayat Basma
Samuel Botros drinks water at the Monastery of Saint Anthony of Qozhaya in the heart of the Qadisha valley,
in Zgharta district, Lebanon June 23, 2019. Picture taken June 23 , 2019. REUTERS/Imad Creidi
QOZHAYA, Lebanon (Reuters) – The last time Samuel Botros stepped into the Lebanese monastery of Saint Anthony of Qozhaya was in 1978. He was 24, newly married, and the country was in the grip of an all-out war. Like many of his generation, he left. It took him 41 years to return.
The 1975-90 civil war may be over in Lebanon but conflicts in nearby countries like Iraq and Syria have devastated entire communities where Christians once lived alongside Muslims. That has triggered an exodus among people of both faiths, especially among minority sects – like Botros’ Syriac Orthodox community whose roots are in early Christianity.
The monastery, which is nestled in a remote valley in the northern Lebanese mountains and dates from the fourth century, is a meeting place for Christians who have fled conflict.
“It is the war that did this to us. It is the wars that continue to leave behind destruction and force people to leave,” said Botros, visiting the monastery as part of a gathering of his community’s scout group – their first in the region since the 1950s.
The scout group’s roughly 150 members include people living in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinian Territories and further afield. Lebanon was the only country where they could all meet easily and safely, Botros said.
In Iraq, years of conflict, most recently with Islamic State, erased much of the Christian heritage in ancient cities like Mosul and Sinjar in the north. In Syria’s civil war, some of the oldest churches in Aleppo, Homs and other cities were damaged.
Botros, now 65, is about to retire in Sweden where he made his home years ago. He is father and grandfather to children who know Lebanon only through photos.
“I would like them to visit so that when I pass, there is something to pull them back,” he said.
On Sundays and public holidays, the monastery’s small church, with the bell tower and facade, etched into the cliffs is full of people huddled in the pews or standing at the back of the vaulted interior.
Its patron is Saint Anthony, a monk who is believed to have lived in rural Egypt in the fourth or fifth century.
“This place has always been a shrine…we don’t even know when it started. Even when there was no development…people still came,” said Father Fadi Imad, the priest who gives sermons.
Qozhaya lies within a valley known as the Valley of Saints, or Qannoubine in ancient Syriac, part of a wider valley network called Qadisha that has a long history as a refuge for monks. At one time, Qadisha was home to hundreds of hermitages, churches, caves and monasteries. The monastery of Saint Anthony is the last surviving one.
It was an early home for Lebanon’s Christian Maronites, the first followers of the Roman Catholic church in the East.
The Maronites and sometimes the Druze, a Muslim sect, sought the sanctuary of the mountains away from the political and religious dynasties of the times with whom they did not always agree, Father Imad said.
“The inhabitants of this mountain…and they were not only Christians, came here because they were persecuted and weak,” he said.
“Qozhaya holds in its heart 1,600 years of history and it doesn’t belong to anyone, church or faith, … it belongs to the homeland,” he said.
The monastery is surrounded by forests of pine and cedar and orchards that can only be reached via a narrow, winding road.
Its grounds include a cave where visitors light candles, a museum housing the Middle East’s oldest printing press in ancient Syriac and halls for resident priests.
Visitors nowadays include foreign and Arab tourists and local residents including Muslims who sometimes come to ask for a blessing.
Father Imad said the monastery was the safest it had been in its history despite being surrounded by countries at war or suffering its aftermath.
“No one is telling us that they are coming to kill us anymore … at least in Lebanon,” he said.
Before he left, Botros and his fellows stood for a final photo outside the building with the valley behind. With their flags and scarves around their necks, they smiled and cheered as the bells rang.
“What I have seen today I will never forget for as long as I live,” Botros said.
“No matter how long it takes, the son always returns to the mother.”
(Reporting by Ayat Basma; Editing by Frances Kerry)
8/7/2019 Hundreds say Scouts ignored sexual abuse - Accounts of children betrayed and violated by adults they trusted range across country by Cara Kelly, David Heath and Rachel Axon, USA TODAY
A lawsuit filed this week against the Boy Scouts of America says hundreds of former Scouts have come forward in recent months with accounts of sexual abuse, allegations from across eight decades that touch nearly every state.
Lawyers began collecting the accounts this spring as they prepared a suit, which they filed on behalf of a client who alleges his former Scoutmaster plied him with drugs and alcohol before repeatedly sexually abusing him. At a news conference Tuesday, the lawyers said they have nearly 800 other clients who were abused while Scouts.
“It is apparent that the Boy Scout Defendants continue to hide the true nature of their cover-up and the extent of the pedophilia epidemic within their organizations because the vast majority of new victims coming forward involve claims of abuse at the hands of pedophiles who are not yet identified by the Boy Scouts of America,” the complaint reads.
The law firm’s client list, obtained by USA TODAY, alleges molestation ranging from fondling to sodomy. Some of the men accused by former Scouts ended up in court or Continued from Page 1A were punished administratively for similar crimes, sometimes many years after their alleged assaults. About two dozen of the men were kicked out of Scouting for abuse. USA TODAY is naming only those who fit one or more of those categories.
The accused tend to be men of stature in their communities, most of whom volunteered as troop leaders or assistant troop leaders. They were police officers and members of the military, teachers and a mayor, doctors and a child psychologist – with easy access to children.
They allegedly caught their prey in tents and homemade shelters in the wilderness, in their cars shuttling young boys back and forth to Scouting activities, and sometimes in the children’s own homes. Their access was unique to the Boy Scouts itself – at giant Jamborees and secretive Order of the Arrow ceremonies, isolated summer campgrounds and well-used church recreation halls.
“Looking at the hidden predators we’re uncovering, it sends chills down my spine,” said Tim Kosnoff, an attorney in the case who led abusedinscouting.com, a campaign to encourage victims to come forward before the lawsuit was filed late Monday in Pennsylvania state court. “It remains an open question of just how dangerous Scouting is today.”
Accusers step forward
One client claimed a licensed doctor instructed members of his troop to sleep in the nude during campouts, fondling them after they fell asleep. The abuse allegedly continued during medical exams. Decades later, the man lost his license after a similar claim emerged.
Another client accused the former mayor of a small town of fondling him from the time he was 7 until he turned 18. Parents trusted the mayor with the care of their sons in Scouts, the client said. In July, the son of a former employee sued the former mayor, alleging abuse that went on for years. Boy Scouts of America also is named as a defendant.
Although Boy Scouts of America has been dogged by allegations of sexual abuse in recent years, the sheer volume of men lining up to be represented by the law firm hasn’t been seen since the release more than a decade ago of the Boy Scouts’ own ineligible volunteer files. Those confidential records, which became public during an earlier lawsuit, were kept by the organization on suspected or known abusers from 1947 to 2005.
The Boy Scouts of America will have 20 days to respond to the lawsuit after it is served. In a statement late Monday, the organization said it has taken steps to ensure that “we respond aggressively and effectively to reports of sexual abuse.” It said it already was taking action on the new claims.
“Upon receipt of this information from the group of plaintiff’s attorneys, we immediately investigated the limited information provided and our efforts have already resulted in approximately 120 reports to law enforcement,” the statement said. “We are continuing to manually search old paper records at the local level and will continue to notify law enforcement.”
Michael Robinson, a law firm client who agreed to speak publicly, waited more than 40 years to come forward to accuse his pediatrician, Alan Schwartz, of fondling him during campouts.
“You hide it, you don’t want to talk about it,” Robinson said. “But it needs to be talked about now. The public needs to know about it.”
Signs may have been missed
Woven through the law firm’s list is evidence that the organization either was unaware or failed to keep records of some of the Scout leaders accused of abuse. Several cases reviewed by USA TODAY suggest the Boy Scouts of America could have done more to prevent abuse.
New allegations collected by the law firm include those made against Gary Stroup, a former troop leader and teacher. He was banned from Boy Scouts after being accused of groping 11-year-old boys in 1989. Yet he remained a member of the National Eagle Scout Association, according to a letter Boy Scouts sent to his council two years later, reminding them Stroup was ineligible as a Scout volunteer.
Stroup worked as a camp counselor and aquatics instructor at camps in central Ohio and at the 1981 National Jamboree. He repeatedly appealed his ban.
“As a Scout, I was taught that to be a good leader it is my business to find out the other person’s point-of-view before we actually press our own,” Stroup wrote to Scout leaders in 1990. “I am hoping that as the leader of our great movement you will take the time to find out my point-of-view. I am putting my trust in you to do the right thing.”
Stroup was indicted on seven counts of “gross sexual imposition” after the abuse allegations in 1989. Shortly after he was acquitted in early 1990, his lawyer again appealed his Boy Scout membership revocation and submitted 41 letters of support, including from the principal of Avondale Elementary School where he worked, the local Scoutmaster and camp director, the parents of Scouts and the pastor of his Methodist church.
Another accuser, who is among the legal firm’s new clients, said that at the time the Scoutmaster and camp director lobbied for Stroup to remain in the Scouts, Stroup was abusing him. From roughly 1988 to 1990, the former Scout said, he was molested at least 100 times while on camping trips, in Stroup’s car, at home, at church and at school. He said Stroup threatened that his brother and sister would be put into foster care if he ever told anyone.
In 2005, Stroup was indicted on multiple counts of sexually abusing children at two schools where he had worked. He entered a plea on two counts of gross sexual exploitation and was sentenced to four years in prison.
Stroup could not be reached for comment Monday.
USA TODAY was able to match 28 of the alleged accusers with the Boy Scouts’ confidential records, known internally as the “perversion files.” Some of those internal files pinpoint where different levels of the Boy Scouts were slow to respond to abuse allegations.
In at least one case, the Boy Scouts failed to report a case of possible abuse to police.
Philmont Scout Ranch spans 214 square miles in New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo mountain range, a crown jewel in the Scouts’ expansive property holdings, offering more than 1 million Scouts a back-country trekking experience since 1939.
In the summer of 1987, the camp’s general manager learned that an assistant trading post manager had been found with photos of nude young campers. The manager confronted the employee, John Duckworth, according to Boy Scout files, and he readily admitted taking them as the boys ran from a “sweat lodge” to the showers but said he thought it was funny.
At the time, Duckworth was a 37year-old fifth grade teacher in Toledo, Ohio. Most Scout leaders are volunteers, but Duckworth was a paid employee.
Philmont excused the behavior, records show, on grounds that “we had never received any hint of previous impropriety.”
In fact, Duckworth had been arrested eight years earlier for allegedly abusing a child, according to Scout records. Scouts learned of this later from a tip. That case was reportedly resolved, the records say, with “voluntary counseling.”
In June 1988, after a parent complained about new inappropriate behavior, Philmont fired Duckworth. Duckworth hired a lawyer and appealed his dismissal from the Boy Scouts but lost.
Duckworth could not be reached for comment Monday.
Contributing: Trevor Hughes, Marisa Kwiatkowski, Brett Murphy, Matt Wynn, Mark Nichols, Tricia Nadolny, Nick Penzenstadler, Stephen Reilly and Lindsay Schnell
Tom Stewart, right, and his younger brother Matt, settled out of court after suing the Scouts in 2003
for abuse they allegedly suffered at the hands of one of their Scoutmasters.
STEWART FAMILY PHOTO
“You hide it, you don’t want to talk about it. But it needs to be talked about now. The public needs to know about it.” Michael Robinson, Accuser who came forward 40 years later.
The names of hundreds of alleged pedophiles were revealed Monday in a lawsuit that accuses the Boy Scouts of America of allowing an “epidemic” of sexual abuse.
8/7/2019 Boy Scouts of America being sued by hundreds of alleged abuse victims by OAN Newsroom
Lawyers for the group called Abused in Scouting told reporters they are representing hundreds of alleged victims, who are now between 14 and 88 years old. They held a news conference Tuesday to announce the lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America, which was filed Monday in Philadelphia.
One of the plaintiff’s attorneys compared the number to the allegations made against the Catholic Church, claiming this would dwarf that.
“You can’t look at these files and do the math and come away with anything, but the conclusion — that this was a massive problem that was successfully kept hidden from the very people that needed to know this,” stated Tom Kosnoff, lawyer for Abused in Scouting.
Kosnoff said parents, children, and the public all deserve to know what was happening, so they could decide for themselves if being part of the Boy Scouts was worth the risk. The lawyers for the case said they know of 350 alleged child sex predators, and claim those same people could technically still volunteer for the Boy Scouts because very few were flagged as ineligible. They are hoping more victims will come forward to join their lawsuit.
“We need you to join this movement, otherwise the hidden predators will remain hidden and that’s got to stop,” said Kosnoff. “The time has come for a full accounting of what has gone on in this organization, which in my opinion is nothing less than an atrocity.”
In this Saturday, July 27, 2019, photo, a Boy Scout plays an instrument as they conduct a ceremony of taking down the flag during
the 95th anniversary of the Torrington area camp at Camp Workcoeman in New Hartford, Conn. (Bill Shettle/Republican-American via AP)
One of the plaintiffs claims he was attacked multiple times by an assistant scoutmaster in the 1970s when he was 12 and 13 years old, but other victims allege their abuse goes back even further than that.
The Boy Scouts of America has responded to these accusations in a statement. The organization cited what they called “significant steps” taken to address the problem, including better background checks and educating members. They also said the Boy Scouts believe what victims report, and take action to remove the accused persons from their role. The Boy Scouts now have a little more than two weeks to file a response.
8/9/2019 Alleged Scout abusers men of status - Communities trusted them with young lives by Cara Kelly and Nick Penzenstadler, USA TODAY
In their off hours, the men organized camping trips and merit badge training. During the day, working as teachers, counselors and police officers, they were similarly surrounded by children. Résumés betrayed no signs of the danger the men posed.
In a lawsuit filed Monday against the Boy Scouts of America, lawyers said they’ve identified 350 abusers who preyed on young Scouts. Only two dozen of their names are in the Boy Scouts’ disciplinary files, made public in a previous court case.
The list of alleged abusers, obtained by USA TODAY, details molestation ranging from fondling to sodomy. Some of the men ended up in court or were punished administratively for similar crimes, sometimes many years after these newly alleged assaults. Some were kicked out of Scouting for abuse. USA TODAY is naming only those who fit one or more of those categories.
In a statement, Boy Scouts of America said it cares about all victims of abuse and apologizes to anyone harmed during their time in Scouting.
A review of the list and victims’ allegations reveals a disturbingly common detail: Beyond Scouts, many of the accused were in positions to protect, mentor and nurture children.
Michael Nussbaum, 57, is one of nearly 800 clients of the attorneys who filed Monday’s lawsuit in Pennsylvania state court. He said Jon Wyatt’s position as a beloved police sergeant made it difficult for Nussbaum as a child to come forward and be believed.
Nussbaum said he was abused when he was 14 by Wyatt, who was a troop leader. Nussbaum said he was invited to the detective’s bureau for a volunteer opportunity and found himself alone in Wyatt’s office.
“He pulled out a gun and put it on the table and said, ‘Nobody will ever believe you,’ or something to the effect of that,” Nussbaum said. “And he was right.”
Three years later, when he was 17, Nussbaum saw an article in the Miami Herald: Wyatt had been arrested for abusing a 7-year-old. He’s serving a life sentence.
Scout leader James E. Pacitto was accused of sexual abuse by a former Scout in multiple locations across southern New Jersey from 1975 to 1980. Pacitto allegedly let the boy drive, so he could be close, placed his hands on the boy’s abdomen, gave him a rubdown, then touched him inappropriately. That allegation comes from another client of the attorneys behind abusedinscouting.com and Monday’s lawsuit. Several years later, a 16-year-old boy told police Pacitto touched his genitals at a cabin in Laurel Lake in January 1988, according to news reports at the time. Pacitto was arrested the next day by Millville police.
By then, Pacitto was a sixth grade teacher at Rieck Elementary. News of Pacitto’s arrest reached the school board. It voted to take no action “because the charges had not been substantiated.”
A grand jury indicted Pacitto on charges of criminal sexual conduct a month after his arrest. A month later, Millville’s school board voted again to allow Pacitto to continue teaching despite the indictment, noting the charges did not occur while he was teaching.
Soon after, he was honored by the New Jersey governor with a teaching excellence award and given $1,000 to use in his classroom.
In an undercover sting operation in 2017 by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, according to court records, Pacitto was caught at a public park known as a place for sex acts. Pacitto, then 78, was convicted of battery and of entering a place of lewdness.
Pacitto could not be reached for comment.
Troop 95 leader Bert Andress worked in the maintenance department of a vocational school in New Jersey. He sexually abused three boys at the school and at his house from 1988 to 1991. At least two were members of his troop, according to the Asbury Park Press.
According to new accounts brought to the law firm, Andress abused two brothers more than a decade earlier.
In 1992, Andress was indicted by a grand jury on 14 counts of sexual misconduct and endangering the welfare of a child in the later case. He pleaded guilty to engaging in oral sex with the boys.
At the time, Joe DeCanio, the Scouting executive in the area, told the Courier- Post in New Jersey that volunteers were questioned about their criminal pasts, but the organization assumed that a troop’s sponsor, such as a church group, had done the vetting. He said no leaders received criminal background checks.
Boy Scouts of America said that today, all Scout leaders are given criminal background checks.
Pension records show Andress was an employee of Camden County Technical Schools until 2014, retiring with 12 years of service. He still draws his monthly pension. He could not be reached for comment.
Auxiliary state trooper
Donald Dennis was sued in 2015 by 17 men and two women who alleged he abused them for years in the 1960s and 1970s, according to news reports. The News-Times in Connecticut reported that a state police spokesperson confirmed Dennis was an auxiliary state trooper, part of a volunteer force that enforces state laws on highways.
Boy Scouts of America was named in the lawsuit, which said the organization should have known Dennis was dangerous.
In a new allegation, a former Scout said he was abused by Dennis in 1967. On a camping trip, Dennis
came around for “bed check” and fondled him, the former Scout said, telling the child that his “parents did not deserve such a fine boy for a son.” Dennis, who is deceased, is not listed in the Boy Scouts’ ineligible volunteer files, but his assistant is.
The 2015 suit was dismissed last year because the statute of limitations had passed.
Arnold Edward Codispoti abused one Scout for years, starting in 1977, according to a new allegation. The former Scout said Codispoti molested him on Scouting trips and campouts.
In 1986, Codispoti pleaded guilty to sexual abuse. He served six years in prison and nine years on parole, according to a public information officer for the New Jersey Department of Corrections.
He was added to the Boy Scouts’ ineligible volunteer files after sentencing.
A 19-year veteran of the Essex County Police Department in New Jersey, Codispoti was accused of plying children with alcohol before he abused them. He could not be reached for comment.
James Buxton pleaded guilty to 18 counts of felony child molestation in 1990 and was sentenced to 42 years in prison, according to the Los Angeles Times. He was added to the Boy Scouts’ ineligible volunteer files after the charge.
A former Scout who is a client with Abused in Scouting said he was abused by Buxton. It’s unclear whether the allegation is part of the same case.
Buxton started Wonder Valley’s Boy Scout Troop 341 and was its Scoutmaster. It has been disbanded.
According to the Times, Assistant Scoutmaster David Reed pleaded guilty to 16 counts of felony molestation and was sentenced to 38 years in prison.
In a civil case from 1991, a jury awarded $3.75 million in damages to the families of three boys whom Buxton molested in 1988, the Times reported.
Church youth leader
Jack LaHolt, a onetime Boy Scout leader and Mormon church youth leader in Kent, Washington, had numerous allegations made against him during the early to mid-1970s, and one of the law firm’s clients names him.
Court records show that the allegations were brought before two church bishops but were never reported to law enforcement authorities. The documents indicate one of the bishops removed LaHolt from the Boy Scout program and referred him to sexual deviancy therapy through the church, where he was treated for about a year. He returned to the Scouts and was reelevated to Scoutmaster of his former troop.
LaHolt, also known as LoHolt, moved to Canada and could not be reached for comment. In a story in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 2004, LaHolt denied the accusations made in a civil lawsuit, but he admitted abusing other children.
“I don’t let that happen anymore,” he said. “I don’t even get near anybody like that – people who set me up. I don’t have anything to do with kids.”
Sunday school teacher
A former Scout accused Charles Donald Corley, a revered businessman and pillar of the Alabama town where he volunteered with Boy Scout Troop 97 and taught Sunday school at Trinity United Methodist Church. Corley was involved with the youth choir and youth counseling, according to the Birmingham News.
In 1995, he pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual abuse and two counts of sodomy. According to an AL.com report in 2017, authorities said he’d left a trail of abuse over more than 30 years, with as many as 120 victims.
Corley was sentenced to 30 years in prison. With the accrual of time for good behavior, his sentence is set to end next April.
Contributing: Rachel Axon, David Heath, Mark Nichols, Lindsay Schnell, Marisa Kwiatkowski
8/9/2019 Australia prime minister joins transgender policy backlash by Nick Mulvenney
FILE PHOTO: Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison is seen at the Istana in Singapore, June 7, 2019. REUTERS/Feline Lim
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Cricket Australia (CA) have come under fire for a new policy aimed at making the sport inclusive for transgender and gender diverse players, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison describing it as “heavy-handed” and “mystifying” on Friday.
CA issued two policies on Thursday, one setting out the rules for “Elite” cricket, which they said was closely aligned with the 2017 International Cricket Council guidelines, and the other for “Community Cricket.”
While the “Elite” policy demands that trans women must reduce their testosterone levels over a 12-month period to compete in women’s cricket, the “Community” policy requires only a nomination of a gender identity.
There was an immediate backlash on social media with some critics lambasting the governing body for progressive posturing but the majority accusing CA of fundamentally undermining women’s sport.
Morrison waded into the debate in a radio interview with conservative pundit Alan Jones on Friday and suggested the mandatory policies were unnecessary, at grassroots level at least.
“I think it’s pretty heavy-handed to put it pretty mildly,” the prime minister told Sydney radio station 2GB.
“I think it’s a very sensitive issue. I would need to have Cricket Australia understand that this is a very heavy-handed approach they’re taking with local sport, and I think there are far more practical ways to handle these issues than these sort of heavy mandatory ways of doing it."
“And I’m sure these issues have been quite carefully and practically managed at a club level already, and so why there is that necessity to get the sledgehammer out on this is mystifying me.”
CA’s policy initiative followed Sport Australia’s launch of “Trans and Gender Diverse Inclusion” guidelines for all sports in the country last month.
The inclusion of transgender athletes in elite women’s sport has become the subject of huge controversy, with critics arguing that being born male gives an unfair physical advantage even after transition.
Advocates for transgender inclusion argue that the process of transition decreases that advantage considerably and that physical differences between athletes inside sex classes mean there is never a truly level playing field in sport.
Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard’s gold medal-winning performance for New Zealand in women’s events at the Pacific Games in Samoa last month became a lightning rod for criticism of transgender policy in the region.
Hannah Mouncey, an Australian transgender athlete who was part of the consultation process CA carried out in drawing up the policies, said they had set the standard for the governing bodies of professional sport.
“It’s quite easily the best in the world at the elite level and I don’t think we’ll see a better policy come out anywhere,” she told the Canberra Times on Thursday.
“It’s brought together all the best bits of other policies and created one that’s specific to cricket."
“There has to be an elite pathway (for transgender and gender-diverse people), that’s something which shouldn’t be denied to someone just because they’re different.”
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)
8/10/2019 White House moves to enforce abortion restriction on clinics
WASHINGTON – The Trump administration on Friday set a timetable for federally funded family clinics to comply with a new rule that bars them from referring women for abortions.
The move came as Planned Parenthood is threatening to leave the Title X family planning program over the restrictions. The Department of Health and Human Services notified participants they must certify by Sept. 18 that they’re complying with most major provisions of the rule. Plans on how the clinics intend to comply are due Aug. 19.
The following found at https://thehill.com/latino/456851-largest-us-lutheran-denomination-becomes-first-sanctuary-church-body
8/9/2019 Largest US Lutheran denomination becomes first 'sanctuary church body' by Rachel Frazin
The largest U.S. Lutheran denomination announced this week that it would become a "sanctuary church."
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) said in a statement Wednesday that it is "committed to work toward just and humane policies affecting migrants in and outside the U.S."
The ELCA is the first North American denomination to become a sanctuary church body, according to the statement.
According to CNN, besides sheltering undocumented immigrants, the church will also respond to raids, fight deportation cases and give "radical hospitality" to immigrants.
The ELCA will also work on resources for the denomination's more than 9,000 congregations "to help them explore and develop sanctuary ministries," the news network reported, citing church officials.
“It just keeps getting worse and worse in terms of unaccompanied children, separated families, detention centers that are just horrific, and so what we wanted to say as a church body, as the Lutheran church, we wanted to now act with our feet and take action,” Evelyn Soto Straw, director of unit operations and programs for the ELCA’s Domestic Mission, told Religion News Service.
ELCA's presiding bishop, the Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, on Wednesday participated in a march and prayer vigil at the Milwaukee Immigration and Customs Enforcement office.
[We are definitely in the seventh age of the church, which represents the Laodicean Church, which was a Christian community established in the ancient city of Laodicea (on the river Lycus, in the Roman province of Asia, and one of the early centers of Christianity). The church was established in the Apostolic Age, the earliest period of Christianity, and is probably best known for being one of the Seven churches of Asia addressed by name in the Book of Revelation (Rev. 3.14-22). The message to Laodicea is one of judgement with a call to repentance. The oracle contains a number of metaphors.
Rev. 3:15-16 "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." (KJV).
Rev. 3:17-18 "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see." (KJV).]
8/10/2019 Police presence strong at Polish pride march in wake of violence
People take part in the city's first "Equality Parade" rally in support of the LGBT community,
in Plock, Poland August 10, 2019. Agencja Gazeta/Jedrzej Nowicki via REUTERS
WARSAW (Reuters) – More than 1000 people took part in a pride parade in the central Polish city of Plock protected by a cordon of armed police as LGBT rights became a hot button issue in Catholic Poland ahead of a parliamentary election in October.
Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party has made hostility to gays a central focus of its campaign, depicting LGBT rights as a dangerous foreign idea that undermines traditional values.
A pride parade in the provincial city of Bialystok in July was marred by violence after anti-gay protesters chased people through the streets and beat them.
Critics say PiS has fomented anti-gay sentiment and helped lead the violence against the LGBT community in Poland.
Marchers walked through the streets of Plock waving rainbow flags while surrounded by police in riot gear, TV footage from private broadcaster TVN showed.
Politicians, including Robert Biedron, one of Poland’s first openly gay politicians who launched the leftist Wiosna party earlier this year, attended the march.
A group of counter-protesters gathered at the Plock parade and chanted homophobic insults but were blocked from interacting with parade participants by the heavy police presence.
A Plock police spokeswoman told Reuters there were around 950 counter-protesters in total and that two people were detained.
No serious incidents took place, the spokeswoman added, although there were a few scuffles with police, TV footage showed.
“For many years in Poland not much was done to handle such violence. It’s time for these hateful crimes to be punished,” Biedron said in a speech ahead of the march, broadcast on TVN.
PiS has maintained steady support in the polls ahead of the October 13 vote, despite a recent scandal where Poland’s former parliament speaker used government aircraft for private trips.
Analysts say PiS’ criticism of LGBT rights could be a strategy to rally its conservative, rural base.
If parliamentary elections were to take place on Sunday, 43% of Poles would vote for the ruling PiS, the poll, carried out between August 6 and 7, said.
The opposition Civic Coalition would garner 28%, while a leftist bloc of three parties, including the progressive Wiosna, would earn 12%.
Members of Poland’s Catholic Church, seen as a close ally of PiS, have also been critical of LGBT rights in recent weeks.
Marek Jedraszewski, one of Poland’s most senior Catholics, earlier this month compared gay rights campaigners to Poland’s former communist rulers in a sermon given to mark the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw uprising.
On Saturday, around three thousand people gathered in Cracow to express support for Jedraszewski, a Cracow police spokesman told Reuters.
Senior PiS members of parliament, including the deputy speakers of both the senate and parliament, were among those praying outside the Cracow Curia, private broadcaster Radio Zet said.
Earlier this week, hundreds gathered in Warsaw in front of the apostolic nunciature to protest against Jedraszewski’s comments and demand his resignation.
(Reporting by Joanna Plucinska and Alicja Ptak; Editing by Stephen Powell, Kirsten Donovan)
8/10/2019 Pope caps reform of Vatican bank with new statutes by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: New recruits of the Vatican's elite Swiss Guard march in front of the tower of the Institute for Works of
Religion (IOR) during the swearing-in ceremony at the Vatican May 6, 2014. REUTERS/Tony Gentile/File Photo
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis has approved new statutes for the Vatican Bank, making an external audit obligatory and introducing other changes to bolster reforms that have turned around the once scandal-ridden institution.
The statutes, approved in a papal document released by the Vatican on Saturday, cap more than six years of changes at the bank since Francis was elected in 2013, since when he has made reform of the bank one of his priorities.
The bank had been caught in previous years in cases of corruption, tax evasion, embezzlement, money laundering and real estate fraud, some involving top officials and prelates, damaging the Vatican’s ethical credentials.
Andrea Tornielli, the Vatican’s editorial director, called the new rules “an important step in the process of adhering to the best international standards.”
Soon after his election, Francis considered closing the bank, formally known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), but decided to continue reforms launched by his predecessor Pope Benedict.
The new statutes make an external audit mandatory. While this has taken place in the past few years, the previous statutes, issued in 1990 by Pope John Paul, called for internal audits.
The new rules ban bank employees, nearly all of whom are non-clerics, from holding consultancies or other roles with outside institutions.
The number of members of the lay board of supervisors, which is made up of internationally known outside financial experts, is increased to seven from five.
This will effectively strengthen the role of the lay board and weaken that of a supervisory commission of cardinals, whose number remains five.
For decades before reforms were implemented, the IOR was embroiled in numerous financial scandals as people with no right to have accounts opened them and used them for illicit purposes with the complicity of corrupt insiders.
In the past six years, hundreds of accounts have been closed at the IOR, whose stated purpose is to manage funds for the Church, Vatican employees, religious institutes, or Catholic charities.
Last year, the Vatican’s controller, the Financial Information Authority (AIF), carried out an on-site inspection of the IOR to ensure it was complying with anti-money laundering legislation and the outcome was “substantially positive,” the AIF said in its report for that year.
In 2017, Italy put the Vatican on its “white list” of states with cooperative financial institutions, ending years of mistrust. The same year, Moneyval, a monitoring body of the Council of Europe, gave Vatican reforms a mostly positive evaluation, particularly those carried out at the bank.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by David Holmes)
8/14/2019 States allow people to opt out of binary categories, but some have safety concerns - X marks the not: IDs go gender-neutral by Kristin Lam, USA TODAYbr>
Three years ago, no one in the USA was legally recognized as neither male nor female.
Today, thousands of people can point to a gender-neutral marker on state driver’s licenses and identification cards, according to records obtained by USA TODAY. After two more states announced plans last week to offer a gender X or nonbinary marker, advocates said momentum for the option can help validate gender identity, but the designation can also raise safety concerns.
The National Center for Transgender Equality encourages people to choose the marker that feels most appropriate and comfortable, said Arli Christian, the organization’s director of state policy. More states offering the gender-neutral designation, Christian said, allows more people to access accurate IDs.
At least 7,251 gender X IDs and driver’s licenses have been issued in nine states plus Washington, D.C., TODAY’s records request.
Although the number of those people who got the marker for increased privacy around their gender versus the number of people who got it to reflect their nonbinary identity is unknown, advocates described the progress as exciting.
“I’m really happy for all those people, but I’m not surprised there’s quite a few,” said Dana Zzyym, a nonbinary and intersex activist who sued the State Department for a gender-neutral passport. “I think the nonbinary population will surprise a lot of people in this country.”
States issuing gender-neutral IDs
Ten states offer gender X IDs: Arkansas, Oregon, Minnesota, Maine, Utah, Colorado, California, Indiana, Nevada and Vermont. In the coming months, policies in Maryland, New Hampshire and Hawaii will go into effect.
Washington and Pennsylvania announced plans last week to roll out a third gender option, and their departments are likely to pass the rule changes.
In July 2017, Oregon was thought to be the first state to begin issuing gender X IDs, just after Washington, D.C., started its policy. However, Arkansas adopted a policy allowing people to change their gender marker with no questions asked in 2010, and it remains in place, said spokesperson Scott Hardin of the Department of Finance and Administration.
Five other states join Arkansas in allowing people to self-certify, or designate their own gender, while Maine, Utah, Colorado and Indiana require residents to provide documentation for gender changes. Requirements include approval from medical providers, which can be difficult to obtain in places where few doctors are trained to provide gender-affirming care to transgender people, Christian said.
“In order to get the most accurate gender marker on an ID, that reporting should come directly from the individual without additional barriers such as medical documentation and medical provider signatures,” Christian said.
Validation or discrimination?
Mari Wroblewski, 22, has the opportunity to self-certify the gender marker in California.
A nonbinary and intersex person, Wroblewski held on to the paperwork to get the gender X marker for months as the transgender ban in the military went into effect and the Trump administration announced plans to scrap rules protecting transgender people from discrimination in homeless shelters and health care.
The feeling of excitement for the marker gave way to concern, said Wroblewski, who worried that the X designation could out transgender nonbinary people or mark them as “other” in today’s political climate.
Wroblewski considered all the people who examine IDs – from TSA agents, bouncers to bank workers – and asked: Do I want to feel validated in my gender, or do I want to feel safe?
“We give our ID to so many people that have so much power over our lives,” Wroblewski said. “They have the power to decide if we can get a loan or if we can continue to drive and so many other things. These people don’t always outwardly express their bigotry toward people who are trans, intersex and nonbinary, but they certainly can have views that are homophobic, transphobic and that are just essentially dangerous toward us.”
Wroblewski is passing on the X marker for now but respects those who choose the “X” and described the opportunity to get a gender-neutral ID as “incredible.”
The correct ID marker, after all, can affirm people’s identity and benefit their mental health, said Jules Baldino, micro-grants coordinator at Trans Lifeline, a nonprofit transgender support organization. People look at their ID often in daily life, so seeing an official document reflect who they are can be encouraging.
When IDs don’t match how people present their gender, Baldino said, needing to show it can trigger feelings of depression, anxiety and gender dysphoria, a discomfort or distress caused by a discrepancy between a person’s gender identity and sex assigned at birth. Authorities who check the ID may confront the person for the discrepancy, Baldino said, possibly concluding the card does not belong to them.
In the largest survey of transgender people’s experiences in the USA, about a third of respondents who showed an ID with a name or gender that did not match their gender presentation said they were verbally harassed, denied benefits or service, asked to leave or assaulted. The National Center for Transgender Equality, which conducted the survey, has not received any reports of people facing discrimination for having an X gender marker, Christian said.
While working with transgender people applying for grants to update their government IDs, Baldino said, Trans Lifeline has heard safety concerns. Some worry that authorities who check IDs may not understand what a gender X marker means, Baldino said, possibly leading to invasive questions about their sex and body or harassment.
“I think there will be this time where there’s a lot of people who might interact with these IDs who don’t know what that is,” Baldino said. “That could potentially put people’s safety in question.”
More than one-third of transgender people identified as nonbinary or genderqueer, terms describing people whose gender is not exclusively male or female, in a U.S. survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality in 2015.
About 1.4 million American adults identify as transgender, according to a UCLA think-tank report in 2016, and if 35% of those people are nonbinary, that could put the nonbinary population at about 490,000.
The survey and study do not include minors, meaning the numbers could be higher since research shows members of Generation Z are more familiar with nonbinary identity.
About 35% of people ages 7 to 22 say they personally know someone who prefers to go by gender-neutral pronouns such as “they,” according to the Pew Research Center. That number is 12% among baby boomers, and one of four millennials say they do.
Nonbinary people existed long before states began legally recognizing them, said Zzyym, 61.
Zzyym first tried to get the X gender marker on a driver’s license around 2012, before some Gen Z nonbinary activists were old enough to drive. As one of the first to obtain a gender-neutral license in Colorado last year, Zzyym described a feeling of deep satisfaction to USA TODAY: finally, a document that recognized Zzyym’s identity.
Future advances, improvements
As more states consider offering gender-neutral markers for IDs, Baldino described the present as a pivotal moment for recognition of nonbinary identity. Trans Lifeline will continue to offer grants to update IDs and track the processes and fees for updating gender makers in different states, Baldino said.
Policies for updating IDs can be improved, said Christian, who works with state and local governments to make gender changes on documents more accessible by offering self-certification. Removing requirements such as medical documents or court orders can take expensive and time-intensive steps out of the process, especially for people in rural areas.
Various agencies can update their databases to offer a gender-neutral option, the way United Airlines rolled out a nonbinary booking option.
On the federal level, advocates watch Zzyym’s case for a gender-neutral designation on passports play out in the 10th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals. A district court judge ruled in Zzyym’s favor in September 2018, saying the State Department exceeded its authority when it denied Zzyym’s passport application and did not make its decision reasonably. The department filed for an appeal.
“It’s absurd that the State Department would rather me just randomly check a box: male or female,” Zzyym said in a release by Lambda Legal, which represents Zzyym in the case. “It’s not who I am, and it would expose me to greater scrutiny when my Colorado driver’s license now shows ‘X’.”
“We give our ID to so many people that have so much power over our lives. ... They certainly can have views that are homophobic, transphobic and that are just essentially dangerous toward us.” Mari Wroblewski.
Washington is considering a rule change that would allow people to choose a gender X marker on driver’s licenses and identification cards. WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF LICENSING
Intersex and nonbinary activist Dana Zzyym, 61, sued the State Department for a gender-neutral designation on
a passport. The case is in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. LAMBDA LEGAL
[Hermaphrodite in biology, a hermaphrodite is an organism that has complete or partial reproductive organs and produces gametes normally associated with both male and female sexes. Many taxonomic groups of animals do not have separate sexes. The percentage of animal species that are hermaphroditic is about 5%. This is consider a freak of nature for survival.
Transgender people defined as having a gender identity or gender expression that differs from their assigned sex. Some transgender people who desire medical assistance to transition from one sex to another identify as transsexual. This is not a natural process of nature and is a sin against God's creation.].
8/14/2019 Planned Parenthood sets exit from family planning program
WASHINGTON – Planned Parenthood said Wednesday it will leave the federal family planning program within days unless a court puts a hold on Trump administration rules that bar clinics from referring patients for abortions. Spokeswoman Erica Sackin said Planned Parenthood clinics “will be formally out of the Title X program” by Monday unless the full 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco halts the new rules. The appeals court is weighing a lawsuit by Planned Parenthood and others to overturn the rules.
[The Appeals Court has to decide between killing babies or not killing babies.].
8/15/2019 Australian court to rule on ex-Vatican treasurer Pell’s child sex offense appeal next week
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) – An Australian court will rule on the appeal of jailed former Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell’s child sex convictions next week, the court said on Thursday.
The decision by three judges will be delivered in Melbourne at 9:30 am on Aug. 21 (2330 GMT Aug. 20). Supreme Court of Victoria Chief Justice Anne Ferguson will read out a summary of the court’s conclusion, which will be live-streamed, the court said.
Pell, 78, was sentenced in March to six years in prison after a jury found him guilty of five sexual offences against two choirboys at St Patrick’s Cathedral in the late 1990s, when he was archbishop of Melbourne.
He sought to overturn his conviction on three grounds: the jury’s verdict was unreasonable, the judge erred in not allowing the defense lawyers to show a video animation to bolster their closing argument, and Pell did not make his plea physically in front of the jury as required.
Pell has maintained his innocence ever since he was charged.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Sam Holmes)
8/15/2019 Explainer: What next for jailed ex-Vatican treasurer George Pell?
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) – An Australian court said on Thursday that it will rule on an appeal by jailed former Vatican treasurer George Pell against child sex offences on Aug 21.
Pell was sentenced in March to six years in prison after a jury found him guilty of five sexual offences against two 13-year-old choirboys at St Patrick’s Cathedral in the late 1990s, when he was archbishop of Melbourne.
Pell, who strenuously denied the allegations, is the most senior Catholic worldwide to be jailed for child sex offences.
What could happen next?
APPEAL FAILS, CONVICTION STANDS
Three judges could decide unanimously, or 2-1, to allow the conviction to stand.
Pell, 78, would then remain in jail until at least October 2022, when he would be eligible for parole.
He would likely be moved from the Melbourne Assessment Prison to a medium security or minimum security prison in western Victoria, where other sex offenders and a number of jailed former priests are held.
PELL WINS APPEAL, JUDGES RULE JURY GOT IT WRONG
The three judges, or 2-1, could overturn the jury’s guilty verdict because they deem it was unreasonable, based on evidence at the trial.
Between 2016 and 2019, up to 11 out of about 40 attempts by defendants to appeal convictions based on an unreasonable jury verdict in Victoria were successful, said Jeremy Gans, a University of Melbourne law professor.
Pell’s lawyers said the prosecution’s case relied entirely on the “uncorroborated evidence” of one surviving complainant.
What is unusual in this case is that the appeal judges were allowed to see a video of the complainant’s testimony and cross-examination, exactly as the jury saw, rather than just reading a transcript, said Matthew Collins, president of the Victorian Bar Council.
The judges had the benefit of seeing and hearing the “tone of voice, facial expression, being able to see the demeanor of the witness, the pace with which the witness speaks, all of these things which as a matter of ordinary human experience affect our assessment of the credibility of the witness,” Collins said.
If the appeals judges decide the jury must have had a reasonable doubt Pell committed the offences, the conviction would be quashed and he would be released immediately. His criminal record would be erased.
APPEAL COURT QUASHES CONVICTION AS JUDGE ERRED
The appeal judges could overturn the conviction if they decide the trial judge should not have blocked Pell’s lawyers from presenting a video animation during their closing argument.
Pell’s team wanted to show a video graphic depicting the movements of priests, altar servers and choir boys after mass in the cathedral to illustrate their argument that Pell could not have been alone for several minutes with two boys in the priests’ sacristy shortly after mass as the prosecution argued.
The trial judges were also asked to quash the conviction on the ground that Pell did not make his plea in the physical presence of the jury, but rather by a video link in the court house. Collins said he was unaware of any case where this had been a ground for appeal.
If the court overturns the conviction on either of these two grounds, it could order a retrial, but Collins said it would be difficult for Pell to get a fair trial due to the massive publicity surrounding his conviction.
“It would be unlikely you could find 12 people in Australia who hadn’t heard about what had happened and didn’t have a view about what had happened,” he said.
APPEAL TO HIGH COURT
Whichever way the Court of Appeal rules, the decision is likely to be appealed to the High Court of Australia, which could mean Pell’s fate remains up in the air for several more months, Gans and Collins said.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Michael Perry)
8/16/2019 9-year-old girl sues German boys choir, alleging gender bias
BERLIN – A 9-year-old girl is suing a Berlin boys choir, arguing that her bid to join was rejected only because of her gender, in a case that has sparked debate over equal rights versus artistic freedom. The 554-year-old State and Cathedral Choir has never admitted any girls. The choir contends the girl’s rejection was “not predominantly about her gender” and she would have been asked to join if she had displayed extraordinary talent and motivation. And “if her voice had matched the desired sound characteristics of a boys choir.”
8/18/2019 Poland’s Kaczynski condemns gay pride marches as election nears
FILE PHOTO: Poland's Law and Justice (PiS) leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski speaks during a party convention ahead
of the EU election, in Krakow, Poland May 19, 2019. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo
STALOWA WOLA, Poland (Reuters) – Poland must resist the “traveling theater” of gay pride marches, the leader of its conservative ruling party said on Sunday, as the staunchly Roman Catholic country gears up for a parliamentary election on Oct. 13.
Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party has used LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) rights as a key campaign issue, depicting them as a dangerous Western idea that undermines traditional Catholic values.
“The hard offensive, this traveling theater that is showing up in different cities to provoke and then cry… we are the ones who are harmed by this, it must be unmasked and discarded,” PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski said at a party campaign picnic in the town of Stalowa Wola.
The law must be fully enforced to “regulate these matters,” he added, without elaborating.
Kaczynski also said he was “grateful” to a Polish archbishop who said this month that Poland was under siege from a “rainbow plague” of gay rights campaigners whom he compared to Poland’s former Communist rulers.
Only PiS can defend the Catholic Church and ward off threats to the traditional family coming from the West, he said.
“(We must) live in freedom, and not be subject to all that is happening to the west of our borders… where freedom is being eliminated,” Kaczynski added.
Political analysts say PiS’ criticism of LGBT rights could be a strategy to rally its conservative rural base for the election. It is leading in opinion polls and is expected to win a fresh four-year mandate.
Critics say PiS has fomented violence toward the gay community in recent weeks as it has continued to criticize what it calls “LGBT ideology.”
A “gay pride” march in the northeastern city of Bialystok was marred by violence in July as counter-protesters chased down, attacked and yelled at participants.
Police provided heavy protection to a similar march this month in the central city of Plock.
(Reporting by Alicja Ptak; Writing by Joanna Plucinska; Editing by Gareth Jones)
[Good job Poland someone has to stand up to the sins against God in the public sectors since many of the seven Churches of Revelation 3 have not protected, and may God bless your nation.].
8/19/2019 Pope expected to make Thailand visit in November: sources
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis attends the weekly general audience at the Vatican, June 19, 2019. REUTERS/Yara Nardi
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis is expected to make an official trip to Thailand in November ahead of an already announced visit to Japan, becoming the first pontiff in nearly four decades to go to either country, Vatican sources say.
The three sources said the trip would be announced soon.
The late Pope John Paul visited Japan in 1981 and Thailand in 1984.
Francis’ trip to Japan, which he announced himself in January, will take him to Tokyo as well as the two cities hit by U.S. atomic bombs at the end of World War Two – Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The trip to the two countries where Catholics are a tiny minority accounting for less than half of one percent of the population, is expected to last about seven days and start around Nov. 20.
Thailand is predominantly Buddhist and Japan is mostly Buddhist and Shinto.
The trip is part of Francis’ push to increase dialogue with other religions in order to promote world peace.
The stop in Thailand will coincide with the 350th anniversary of the founding of the “Mission de Siam” by Pope Clement IX to oversee missions in Siam, the former name of Thailand.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Ros Russell)
8/21/2019 Ex-Vatican treasurer Pell returns to jail after losing appeal against sex abuse convictions by Sonali Paul
George Pell departs the Supreme Court of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia, August 21, 2019. AAP Image/Stefan Postles via REUTERS
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Former Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell will remain in prison for at least another three years after losing an appeal against his conviction for sexually abusing two 13-year-old choir boys, an Australian court ruled on Wednesday.
Pell, the highest ranking Catholic worldwide to be convicted of child sex offences, was jailed for six years in March after being found guilty on five charges of abusing the two boys at St Patrick’s Cathedral while he was Archbishop of Melbourne in the late 1990s.
Supreme Court of Victoria Chief Justice Anne Ferguson said two of the three judges hearing Pell’s appeal “decided that it was open to the jury to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Cardinal Pell was guilty of the offences charged” and rejected his appeal.
Under the terms of his sentencing, Pell will be eligible for parole in October 2022, when he will be 81.
Pell, wearing a black suit with a priest’s collar, sat quietly in the court with no discernible expression as Ferguson read the judgment.
The jury in his trial heard testimony from a victim who 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. The other victim died in 2014.
“I am grateful for a legal system that everyone can believe in, where everybody is equal before the law and no one is above the law,” the surviving choir boy, now in his 30s, said in a statement read out by his lawyer, Vivian Waller.
“The criminal process has been stressful. The journey has taken me to places that, in my darkest moments, I feared I could not return from,” he said in the statement.
Pell’s spokeswoman, Katrina Lee, said he maintained his innocence and his legal team was examining the judgment to determine whether to lodge a special leave application to the High Court of Australia to hear a final appeal. Pell has 28 days to file the application.
“Cardinal Pell is obviously disappointed with the decision today,” Lee said.
The Vatican said it acknowledged the court’s decision and remained committed to pursuing clergy who carried out abuse.
“As the proceedings continue to develop, the Holy See recalls that the cardinal has always maintained his innocence … and that it is his right to appeal to the High Court,” the Vatican said in a statement.
Pell’s case has attracted global attention because it brought a growing crisis of sexual abuse in the Catholic church, spanning scandals in the United States, Chile and Germany, right to the heart of the papal administration.
The pope has said he would wait for Australian civil justice to take its course before commenting on the case.
Pell was taken back to the Melbourne Assessment Prison on Wednesday and is likely to be moved to a medium-security prison in a rural area in the west of Victoria state where most of the roughly 700 prisoners are sex offenders, including priests.
“Corrections authorities conduct rigorous security and risk assessments on anyone coming into the prison system to ensure their placement is safe and secure,” the Justice Department said in a statement. It does not comment on individual prisoners.
Pell appealed against his conviction to Victoria’s Court of Appeal on three grounds, mainly on the argument that the jury’s verdict was unreasonable based on the evidence at the trial.
However, the court ruled in a 2-1 judgment that the conviction was reasonable, with two judges saying the surviving victim was a “compelling witness, was clearly not a liar, was not a fantasist and was a witness of truth.”
“As might have been expected, there were some things which he could remember and many things which he could not. And his explanations of why that was so had the ring of truth,” the two judges said.
In contrast, they said the evidence by people supporting Pell varied in quality and consistency.
Small groups of activists and victims of abuse gathered outside the court and cheered when they heard the verdict.
Lisa Flynn of Shine Lawyers, representing the father of the choir boy who died, told reporters the judgment sent a “positive message to survivors that they will be heard and that they won’t be called fantasists”
STILL A CARDINAL
Pell is still a cardinal in the Catholic Church and would still be a priest even if he resigns that position.
The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) would have to find him guilty in a separate canonical trial or abbreviated procedure, known as an “administrative process,” before he could be dismissed from the priesthood.
The CDF has been looking into the accusations against Pell since his conviction in Australia.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the courts had done their job and that he expected Pell would lose his Australian honors.
The governor-general of Australia said in a statement Pell’s Companion of the Order of Australia, awarded in 2005, would be reviewed once all legal proceedings were finished.
The dissenting view from Justice Mark Weinberg said the victim “was inclined to embellish aspects of his account” and the evidence contained enough discrepancies and inadequacies to cause him to doubt Pell’s guilt.
The Australian judges said Pell should not be made a “scapegoat for any perceived failings of the Catholic church nor for any failure in relation to child sexual abuse by other clergy.” They said his conviction and sentence was not vindication of the trauma suffered by other victims of abuse.
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, the Catholic church’s top body in Australia, said it accepted the court’s decision and acknowledged the pain that those abused by clergy have experienced through Pell’s trials and appeal.
The current archbishop of Melbourne, Peter Comensoli, said he stood ready to offer pastoral and spiritual help to Pell’s victim, should he seek it.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul and Lidia Kelly; Additional reporting by Philip Pullella in Vatican City; Editing by Michael Perry and Paul Tait)
8/21/2019 China’s parliament rules out allowing same-sex marriage by Ben Blanchard
FILE PHOTO: A participant takes part in a Pride Run, an event of the
ShanghaiPRIDE LGBT celebration in Shanghai, China June 17, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song
BEIJING (Reuters) – Limiting marriage to a relationship between a man and a woman will remain China’s legal position, a parliament spokesman said on Wednesday, ruling out following neighboring Taiwan in allowing same-sex marriage, despite pressure from activists.
Taiwan’s parliament passed a bill in May that endorsed same-sex marriage, after years of heated debate over marriage equality that has divided the self-ruled and democratic island.
China, which claims Taiwan as its territory, has a thriving gay scene in major cities, but there has been little sign the ruling Communist Party will legalize same-sex marriage.
Asked at a news briefing whether China would legalize same-sex marriage, Zang Tiewei, spokesman for parliament’s legal affairs commission, said Chinese law only allowed for marriage between one man and one woman.
“This rule suits our country’s national condition and historical and cultural traditions,” he said. “As far as I know, the vast majority of countries in the world do not recognize the legalization of same-sex marriage.”
Individual Chinese legislators have occasionally in the past few years proposed measures during the annual meeting of the largely rubber-stamp parliament every March to legalize same-sex marriage, without success.
There are no laws against same-sex relations in China and despite growing awareness of LGBT issues, the community has been the target of censors in recent months, fuelling fears of a growing intolerance.
Activists have asked people in China to propose amendments to a draft civil code en masse, though they have admitted they see little chance of success. The parts of the code relating to marriage are expected to pass into law next year.
The code makes changes on issues such as sexual harassment, divorce and family planning, but does not further the rights of the LGBT community, drafts published by parliament show.
Zang said the marriage section of the draft civil code maintains the bond as being between a man and a woman.
Prominent gay rights activist Sun Wenlin told Reuters he was disappointed in the comments, but not surprised.
“I feel that my partner and I are sacrificing our happiness for the country’s legal system,” said Sun, who three years ago had his application to legally marry his partner rejected by a Chinese court.
“They are undermining our life plan of choosing to marry the person we love.”
He added, “I feel I am being excluded, and am absolutely not a consideration for policymakers.”
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Gao Liangping and Beijing newsroom; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
8/21/2019 Pope gives sick girl free run of audience stage, delighting crowd
Pope Francis allows a little girl suffering from an undisclosed illness to move around undisturbed clapping and
dancing on the stage for most of his general audience in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, August 21, 2019. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis allowed a girl suffering from an undisclosed illness to move around undisturbed clapping and dancing on the stage for most of his general audience on Wednesday, delighting the crowd.
The girl, wearing a pink T-shirt reading “Love,” slipped away from her mother at the front of the audience hall and reached the big marble stage. She pranced back and forth in front of him, jumped, and occasionally let go a loud, sharp clap.
Francis signaled to security to let her be. The girl returned to her mother, who tried to keep her still, but only to slip away again and go back to the stage, drawing applause from the crowd in the Vatican’s audience hall.
“This poor girl is a victim of an illness and she does not know what she is doing,” Francis said at the end of the audience, which lasted more than an hour.
“I ask one thing and everyone should respond in their own heart. Did I pray for her when I saw her? Did I pray so the Lord heals her and protects her? Did I pray for her parents and her family?”
“When we see a person who is suffering, we must pray. This situation should help us always ask this question,” he said.
Last year, Francis allowed a boy with autism to romp around the stage undisturbed.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)
8/24/2019 State will pay fees in Kim Davis lawsuit - Judges: Kentucky must cover couples’ costs by Billy Kobin, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
A federal appeals court upheld a ruling Friday requiring Kentucky to pay $224,000 in legal fees related to former Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis’ refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Davis was successfully sued by several couples in 2015 for refusing to follow the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling establishing a right to same-sex marriage.
In 2017, a federal district judge held that the couples suing Davis for marriage licenses clearly prevailed and that the state of Kentucky must pay their legal fees and costs.
While Gov. Matt Bevin has personally supported Davis, once calling her “an inspiration ... to the children of America,” his lawyers argued in January that Davis should foot the legal bill, not the state.
On Friday, a three-judge panel for the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upheld the district judge’s ruling that the state of Kentucky must pay the $224,000 in attorney fees and costs incurred by the same-sex couples.
The governor’s outside counsel, Palmer G. Vance II, declined to comment Friday on the appellate court ruling, deferring to Bevin’s office.
In a previously filed brief, Vance wrote that Davis’ local policy “defied the unequivocal mandate issued by the Supreme Court” and the state’s “interest in upholding the rule of law.”
“As a result, the Commonwealth cannot bear liability for any attorneys’ fees related to challenges to the legality of this local policy,” Vance wrote.
“We respect the court’s decision,” a Bevin spokesman said in a statement.
In Miller v. Davis, which involves eight people who sued Davis over not receiving marriage licenses, the appellate judges agreed with U.S. District Judge David Bunning’s ruling in 2017 that said the state, not Davis or Rowan County, was liable because the state is primarily responsible for regulating marriage.
Bunning had said that Davis, a Republican, was protected because she was acting in her official capacity when she ignored court orders to issue licenses to same-sex couples following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling allowing gay marriage.
In a separate opinion that involves the case of two other couples, the judges agreed Friday that Davis has sovereign immunity as a public official but not qualified immunity as an individual.
Judges noted the second case — involving David Ermold and his partner, David Moore, along with Will Smith and his partner, James Yates — is still in an “early stage” and that a district court has not yet awarded any damages.
Davis’ attorneys, with the Floridabased Liberty Counsel, said in a statement Friday that “Davis will continue to argue that she is not liable for damages because she was entitled to a religious accommodation ... and that her actions did not violate clearly established rights.”
Mat Staver, the founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, said the case involving Davis “is not over.”
“Kim Davis sought a religious accommodation, and today every Kentucky clerk benefits from her efforts thanks to Governor Matt Bevin and the entire general assembly,” Staver said in a statement. “I believe Kim Davis will prevail on the individual damages claim.”
Davis declared she was acting “under God’s authority” when refusing to issue the marriage licenses in 2015 to same-sex couples in the Eastern Kentucky county, a stance that garnered international attention.
Davis spent five days in jail for refusing to issue the licenses and was freed only when a judge ordered her deputies to issue the licenses without her approval.
After the General Assembly passed a law dropping a requirement that marriage licenses bear the signatures of clerks, Davis said she no longer objected to issuing the same-sex licenses.
But she has maintained her opposition to same-sex marriage, visiting the nation of Romania in October 2017 to urge it to amend its constitution to prohibit it, the Courier Journal previously reported.
Davis was defeated by a Democratic challenger, Elwood Caudill, in her bid for reelection as Rowan County clerk in November 2018.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which represented the couples who were denied licenses by Davis, celebrated the appellate court’s ruling Friday.
“By affirming the sizeable fee award, the Court also sent a strong message to other government officials in Kentucky that it is not only unconstitutional to use public office to impose one’s personal religious views on others, but that it also can be a very expensive mistake,” William E. Sharp, an attorney for the ACLU of Kentucky, said in a statement.
“Kim Davis was an outlier who has been replaced by Kentucky voters,” added Ria Tabacco Mar, senior staff attorney for the ACLU. “Today’s decision brings another form of vindication for the Rowan County couples who continued the good fight long after marriage equality became the law of the land.”
Reach Billy Kobin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 502-582-7030. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: courier-journal.com/subscribe.
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis said in 2015 she would not personally issue or authorize marriage licenses for same-sex couples.
Davis lost her reelection bid in 2018 to Democrat Elwood Caudill. TIM WEBB/SPECIAL TO COURIER JOURNAL FILE
8/24/2019 Printer who nixed gay pride shirt goes to Ky. Supreme Court - Says the T-shirt ‘goes against my conscience‘ by Dylan Lovan, ASSOCIATED PRESS
FRANKFORT – A print shop owner who refused to make a gay pride Tshirts argued before the Kentucky Supreme Court that he shouldn’t be compelled to promote messages that go against his religious beliefs.
Blaine Adamson, owner of Hands-On Originals in Lexington, declined a Tshirt order from Lexington’s Gay and Lesbian Services Organization for the city’s 2012 Gay Pride Festival. The design had the text “Lexington Pride Festival” wrapped around the number five, celebrating the event’s fifth year.
The city’s Human Rights Commission said Adamson’s refusal violated its gay-rights fairness ordinance.
On Friday, the high court heard an attorney for the T-shirt maker argue that the First Amendment protects Adamson from having to print that message. The Human Rights Commission argued the T-shirt maker cannot pick and choose who it wants to serve in the Lexington community.
“The purpose of the law is to remove the stigma of discrimination,” the commission’s lawyer, Edward Dove, told the court Friday.
Adamson said after the hearing with the high court that the T-shirt he was asked to print “goes against my conscience.”
“I will work with any person, no matter who they are and no matter what their belief systems are,” Adamson said. “But when I’m presented with a message that conflicts with my faith, that’s just something I cannot print, that’s the line for me.”
Ray Sexton, executive director of Lexington’s Human Rights Commission, said the high court will be making “a critical decision.”
“Can we use religion to legally discriminate against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity?” Sexton asked. He said a ruling against the commission could pave the way for businesses to discriminate on other grounds.
He said commissions across the country are facing similar questions about religious objections and he said Kentucky’s high court should provide some guidance.
The Human Rights Commission ordered Adamson in 2012 to print the shirts and attend diversity training. Adamson appealed and won rulings from the circuit court and state court of appeals. The appeals court said in 2017 the printing business was subject to the city’s fairness ordinance but nothing in that ordinance prohibits a private business “from engaging in viewpoint or message censorship.”
“Can we use religion to legally discriminate against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity?” Ray Sexton, Executive director of Lexington’s Human Rights Commission.
8/28/2019 8-week abortion ban in Mo. blocked by ASSOCIATED PRESS
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A Missouri ban on abortions at or after eight weeks of pregnancy won’t take effect Wednesday after a federal judge temporarily blocked it from being implemented.
U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs put a pause on the law as a legal challenge against it plays out in court, which could take months. He added that Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri likely will succeed in their lawsuit alleging that the law is unconstitutional.
Similar laws have been struck down in North Dakota and Iowa.
Missouri already has some of the nation’s most restrictive abortion regulations. Just one clinic in the state performs abortions.
Sachs’ ruling says allowing the eight-week abortion ban to be enforced would have blocked about half of reported abortions in Missouri.
The law includes exceptions for medical emergencies, but not for rape or incest.
He will allow one portion of the policy to take effect: a ban on abortions based solely on race, sex or a diagnosis indicating the potential for Down syndrome.
The decision to allow that portion of the law to be enforced was lauded by Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt, whose office is responsible for defending the law in court.
8/28/2019 New Jersey court ruling lets assisted suicide go ahead
TRENTON, N.J. – New Jersey can move ahead with a new law allowing terminally ill patients to seek life-ending drugs, a state appeals court ruled Tuesday, overturning a lower court’s temporary hold on the law. Judges Carmen Messano and Arnold Natali ruled that a state Superior Court “abused its discretion” in blocking the law this month. Dr. Yosef Glassman, who brought the lawsuit, had argued the law could compel him to violate his religious and professional morals. Glassman’s lawyer says he will appeal the decision.
8/28/2019 First Chinese bishop consecrated with pope’s OK after deal
VATICAN CITY – A Chinese Catholic bishop was consecrated with Pope Francis’ approval, in the first such ordination since the Vatican and China signed a landmark deal last year over naming bishops. Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni confirmed Tuesday that Monsignor Antonio Yao Shun had received a papal mandate. He was therefore consecrated bishop of Jining, in Inner Mongolia, at a ceremony Monday. It was the first bishop ordination since the Vatican and Beijing signed an agreement Sept. 22 over bishop nominations.
8/28/2019 Mormon church: No weapons allowed by Ryan W. Miller, USA TODAY
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should leave firearms and other lethal weapons at home when they’re on church property, religious leaders said in a recent rule tweak.
A previous policy of the church, widely known as the Mormon church, had called it inappropriate for members to bring weapons onto church property, and the change comes amid calls for stricter gun laws around the country after several mass shootings in recent weeks.
Law enforcement officers are excluded from the revised rule, which went into effect the first week of August, church spokesperson Daniel Woodruff said in a statement.
“Churches are dedicated for the worship of God and as havens from the cares and concerns of the world,” the policy reads. “With the exception of current law enforcement officers, the carrying of lethal weapons on Church property, concealed or otherwise, is prohibited.”
Woodruff said church leaders in Texas recently were sent a letter about the change as a state law is to take effect soon that will loosen restrictions on licensed handgun holders carrying firearms in houses of worship.
Contributing: The Associated Press
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has revised its policy on
weapons on church property.
DOUGLAS C. PIZAC/AP FILE PHOTO
8/29/2019 Ark Encounter sued over property value by Ben Tobi, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
The Grant County Board of Education has sued Ark Encounter and the county’s property valuation administrator for undervaluing the life-size replica of Noah’s Ark in Northern Kentucky.
This undervalued property has allowed Ark Encounter to underpay taxes owed to the board, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in the Grant Circuit Court on July 1.
For the 2017 tax year, the Grant County PVA assessed Ark Encounter’s property at $48,068,200.
However, the education board challenged this number in a 2018 appeal to the Grant County Board of Assessment Appeals. Using statements and documents generated by Ark Encounter, the board said the property has a true fair cash value of $130 million, which is more than 2.7 times the original valuation.
Why does this property valuation matter to the board? Taxes.
Ark Encounter paid the board $275,911.47 for the 2017 tax year. But if the property had been valued higher, the board said it would have gotten approximately $746,200 from Ark Encounter — more than $470,000 of what it actually received.
According to the lawsuit, the Grant County Board of Assessment Appeals denied the education board’s requested reassessment of the property. The board subsequently appealed this decision with the Kentucky Claims Commission, which in turn granted a motion to dismiss the tax appeal jointly filed by Ark Encounter and the Grant County PVA.
The board is looking to have this decision reversed and to be recognized to have standing to appeal the assessment of Ark Encounter’s property.
Donald Ruberg, the attorney representing the board in the lawsuit, told the Courier Journal that the Ark Encounter’s property is “without a doubt” worth more than what the PVA valued it at.
He pointed to an affidavit from Ark Encounter’s accounting firm filed with the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority that said construction and other start-up costs for the Ark amounted to more than $72 million.
“I don’t think there’s any ill motive or bad intent,” Ruberg said. “The PVA has just never been trained to assess arks. I don’t know of any PVA in the commonwealth that could.”
Meanwhile, Ark Encounter filed a motion to dismiss this lawsuit on July 23.
Grant County PVA Eli Anderson deferred all questions to the county’s attorney, Stephen L. Bates II, when contacted by the Courier Journal. The attorney declined to comment.
Melany Ethridge, a spokeswoman for Ark Encounter’s parent company, Answers in Genesis, said the company has no comment “other than to say that as required by law, we have been faithfully paying our property taxes each year as assessed by the county’s PVA, and these monies have greatly benefited the school district.”
The Courier Journal could not reach representatives of the Grant County Board of Education for comment on multiple attempts.
This isn’t Ark Encounter’s only lawsuit. The owners of the five-story museum replica of Noah’s Ark sued its insurers earlier this year for refusing to cover rain damage.
Noah’s Ark is the vessel in the Genesis flood narrative through which God spares Noah, his family and two of each of the world’s animals from a world-engulfing flood.
Ark Encounter, which was founded in 2016, says its version in Williamstown was built to the dimensions in the Bible and is the largest timberframe structure in the world.
People leave the Ark Encounter after getting a preview of Kentucky tourist attraction in 2016. PAT MCDONOGH/COURIER JOURNAL FILE
People make their way to the replica of Noah’s Ark on opening day of the Ark Encounter in Williamstown in 2016. PAT MCDONOGH/COURIER JOURNAL
8/30/2019 New genetic links to same-sex sexuality found in huge study
CHICAGO – The largest study of its kind found evidence that genes contribute to same-sex sexual behavior, but it echoes research that says no specific genes make people gay. The research on DNA from nearly half a million U.S. and U.K. participants identified five genetic variants not previously linked with gay or lesbian sexuality. The variants were more common in people who reported having had a same-sex sexual partner. Most participants weren’t asked about sexual orientation, a drawback that the researchers noted.
[Obviously bogus science trying to be pushed on the human race, and you noticed that they are not telling us who they are, but their conclusion means to me that there is no gene that creates a third gender or anything like that in humans, but if it occurs you are just a freak of nature and will probably end up in a circus show for Leftist.].
9/1/2019 The following is all I presented since that is what the pushers of homosexuality, etc. LGBT wants America believe
9/1/2019 Pope urges politicians to take ‘drastic measures’ on climate change by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis greets the faithful as he arrives for the weekly general audience at the Vatican, August 28, 2019. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis challenged governments on Sunday to take “drastic measures” to combat global warming and reduce the use of fossil fuels, saying the world was experiencing a climate emergency.
Francis issued his appeal, a written message for Sunday’s World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, ahead of the United Nations Climate Action Summit this month in New York, a follow up to the 2016 Paris Agreement to curb global warming.
Calling the U.N. summit “of particular importance,” he added:
“There, governments will have the responsibility of showing the political will to take drastic measures to achieve as quickly as possible zero net greenhouse gas emissions and to limit the average increase in global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius with respect to pre-industrial levels, in accordance with the Paris Agreement goals.”
Francis has made many calls for environmental protection and has clashed over climate change with skeptics leaders such as U.S. President Donald Trump, who has taken the United States out of the Paris accord.
“We have caused a climate emergency that gravely threatens nature and life itself, including our own,” the leader of the world’s 1.3 billon Roman Catholics said in the message for the prayer day, which is marked by various Christian Churches.
“Our prayers and appeals are directed first at raising the awareness of political and civil leaders,” he said, adding that governments should “renew commitments decisive for directing the planet towards life, not death.”
He listed constant pollution, continued use of fossil fuels, intensive agricultural exploitation and deforestation as being among the man-made causes of global warming and said the Amazon, where fires are raging, is “gravely threatened.”
“Now is the time to abandon our dependence on fossil fuels and move, quickly and decisively, towards forms of clean energy and a sustainable and circular economy,” he said.
Other phenomena, such as the melting of glaciers and the presence of plastic and microplastics in the oceans “testify to the urgent need for interventions that can no longer be postponed,” he said.
“Egoism and self-interest have turned creation, a place of encounter and sharing, into an arena of competition and conflict,” he said.
Francis, who wrote an encyclical in 2015 on environmental protection, said now was the time for people to reflect on their lifestyles, urging them not to make “thoughtless and harmful” decisions” on food, consumption and transportation.
“Too many of us act like tyrants with regard to creation,” he said.
Protection of the environment is expected to be a main these of the pope’s trip to Africa, which starts on Wednesday.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella. Editing by Jane Merriman)
9/1/2019 Environment, poverty, corruption on agenda for pope’s Africa trip by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis gestures as he greets Scouts at Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, August 3, 2019. REUTERS/Yara Nardi
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis leaves on Wednesday for Africa, where poverty, the environment, foreign exploitation of resources and corruption are expected to be high on his agenda as he visits the continent where Catholicism is growing fast.
He will spend most of the Sept. 4-10 trip in Mozambique and Madagascar and briefly visit Mauritius at the end.
Fires in the Amazon have given new urgency to the pope’s calls to protect the environment, tackle climate change and promote sustainable development.
Aides say the trip, his second trip to sub-Saharan Africa, is a key opportunity to renew appeals enshrined in his 2015 encyclical “Laudato Si” on environmental protection.
Rampant deforestation has plagued Mozambique and Madagascar. Deforestation, along with soil erosion, made Mozambique more vulnerable when two cyclones hit the country this year.
According to the World Bank, Mozambique has lost 8 million hectares of forest, about the size of Portugal, since the 1970s.
“Here in Mozambique we like to say that not even our wood is ours because the Chinese are taking it all away, said Costantino Bogaio," head of the Comboni religious order in Mozambique. “The earth is ours and we have to protect it more.”
As Asian supplies of valuable hardwoods like rosewood used to make luxury furniture have been depleted, Chinese importers have shifted to Africa. Mozambique is currently the 10th-largest supplier of rosewood to China, according to Chinese customs data cited by U.S.-based non-profit group Forest Trends.
In Madagascar, the world’s fourth-largest island, about 44% of forests have disappeared over the past 60 years, according to the French agricultural research center CIRAD. The environmental danger there is aggravated because 80% of its plant and animal species are not found anywhere else.
Poverty, war and corruption will also loom large during the trip.
According to the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), 80% of Mozambique’s population of about 30 million cannot afford the minimum costs for an adequate diet.
The WFP says more than 90% of Madagascar’s population of 26 million live on less than $2.00 a day and chronic child malnutrition is widespread.
A GREAT DIVIDE
Francis has called for a fairer distribution of wealth between prosperous and developing countries and defended the right of countries to control their mineral resources.
“We must invest in Africa, but invest in an orderly way and create employment, not go there to exploit it,” the pope told Reuters in an interview last year.
“When a country grants independence to an African country it is from the ground up – but the subsoil is not independent. And then people (outside Africa) complain about hungry Africans coming here. There are injustices there!” he said.
Mozambique, a former Portuguese colony, emerged from 15 years of civil war in 1992 but it was only last month that President Filipe Nyusi of the ruling Frelimo party and the leader of the Renamo opposition, Ossufo Momade, signed a permanent cease-fire.
“I think he is going to give a forceful message to the country’s leaders about their responsibility to bring about peace and reconciliation, but also about addressing the root cases of the conflict,” said Erica Dahl-Bredine, Mozambique country representative for Catholic Relief Services.
She said unequal sharing of wealth from extraction industries could spark new conflict.
Francis has called corruption “one of the most decimating plagues” in society.
Mozambique and Madagascar rank in the lowest quarter of Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.
“Corruption is huge. Many Mozambicans have lost faith completely in their political leaders,” said Dahl-Bredine.
Catholicism in Africa grew by 238% between 1980 and 2015, according to the Centre for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. This continuing growth gives the Church increasing influence.
Francis makes an eight-hour stop in Mauritius, a small island in the Indian Ocean that is rich compared Madagascar and Mozambique.
But anti-poverty campaigners say Mauritius’ tax treaties and financial services industry facilitates tax avoidance, draining desperately-needed revenues from poor countries.
Francis will pay tribute to Jacques-Dèsirè Laval, a 19th century French priest who helped former slaves on what was then a British colony.
(Additional reporting by Katharine Houreld in Nairobi and Alexandra Zavis in Johannesburg. Editing by Jane Merriman)
9/1/2019 Pope picks new cardinals, putting his stamp on Church’s future by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis greets the faithful as he arrives for the weekly general
audience at the Vatican, August 28, 2019. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis appointed 13 new cardinals in a surprise move on Sunday, again putting his stamp on the future of a Church he wants to be more open as most of those named are considered progressive on social issues.
Ten of them are under the age of 80 and may one day be called to elect Francis’ successor, increasing the possibility that the next pope will continue his policies.
The new group, which includes bishops and archbishops from Cuba, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia and Guatemala, will be installed at a ceremony known as a consistory on Oct. 5.
The 10 who are under 80 years old and thus eligible to vote in an eventual conclave after Francis, 82, dies or retires, are known as cardinal electors. The other three were given the honour for their long service to the Church.
Francis, who made the announcement at his weekly Sunday address, has now chosen about 70 of the nearly 130 electors. The others were chosen by previous popes. The address was delayed by 10 minutes because Francis was stuck in a Vatican elevator and had to be rescued by fire fighters.
Many of those named on Sunday have reputations as progressives on social issues such as immigration and share Francis’ support of dialogue with non-Christians.
Francis again chose to give the prestigious and influential rank to a number of men from poor or developing nations, places he calls the periphery of the Church and which he feels deserve more attention.
This has further shifted the make-up of the College of Cardinals away from Europe to Africa, Asia and Latin America, increasing the possibility that his successor also will be a non-European.
One of the new cardinals, Czech-born Canadian Jesuit priest Michael Czerny, is the Vatican’s expert on migration, a choice reflecting Francis’ defence of immigrants.
Three others reflect the significance he attaches to relations with Islam. Archbishop Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, head of the Vatican’s department for inter-religious dialogue; the other two are the archbishops of Rabat in Morocco and Jakarta in Indonesia, both predominantly Muslim countries.
The sole Italian in the group of 10 electors, Archbishop Matteo Zuppi of Bologna, hails from the progressive Rome-based Sant’ Egidio Community, which helps the poor, migrants, homeless and refugees around the world.
Another, Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg has taken strong stands against Europe’s populist leaders, saying this year that they were playing an “ignoble game” by fomenting fear of migrants and Muslims. Hollerich called Steve Bannon, U.S. President Donald Trump’s former strategist, a “priest” of populism.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by David Goodman and Susan Fenton)
[Well the Pope is back on the scene about climate change, poor countries and replacement of cardinals, but no mention of the sins of homesexuality, LBGT, and many other things of deviation.].
9/4/2019 Pope heads to Mozambique to help consolidate peace by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis waves as he departs Fiumicino Airport to begin his visit to the African nations of
Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius, in Rome, Italy September 4, 2019. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis heads to Mozambique on Wednesday to encourage the country’s fragile peace, starting a three-nation African tour where climate change, poverty and corruption will also be high on the agenda.
The former Portuguese colony emerged from 15 years of civil war in 1992 but it was only last month that President Filipe Nyusi of the ruling Frelimo party and the leader of the Renamo opposition, Ossufo Momade, signed a permanent ceasefire.
With elections scheduled for October, some fear violence may break out.
“He is coming at a time when we Mozambicans are trying to consolidate peace,” said Manuela Muianga, a biologist and disaster relief manager in the capital, Maputo.
“We Catholics feel that he is a visionary man who can help Mozambique to strengthen hope and make us forget all those things that make us fight against each other. The biggest concern is the fighting between the two parties. I’m sure he will address this,” she said.
Francis, who is expected to talk about peace when he meets Mozambique’s leaders on Thursday, mentioned his concern in a video message to the country ahead of the seven-day trip, which will also take him to Madagascar and Mauritius.
“I think he is going to give a forceful message to the country’s leaders about their responsibility to bring about peace and reconciliation, but also about addressing the root causes of the conflict,” said Erica Dahl-Bredine, Mozambique country representative for Catholic Relief Services.
Climate change is expected to be a topic in Mozambique and Madagascar. Deforestation, along with soil erosion, made Mozambique more vulnerable when two cyclones hit the country this year.
Francis, making his second trip to sub-Saharan Africa, will not be able to visit the city of Beira because of the devastation.
According to the World Bank, Mozambique has lost 8 million hectares of forest, about the size of Portugal, since the 1970s.
Aides say the trip is a key opportunity for the pope to renew appeals enshrined in his 2015 encyclical “Laudato Si” on environmental protection.
Francis challenged governments on Sunday to take “drastic measures” to combat global warming and reduce the use of fossil fuels, saying the world was experiencing a climate emergency.
In Madagascar, the world’s fourth-largest island, about 44% of forests have disappeared over the past 60 years, according to the French agricultural research center CIRAD. The environmental danger there is aggravated because 80% of its plant and animal species are not found anywhere else.
Poverty and corruption will also loom large.
According to the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), 80% of Mozambique’s population of about 30 million cannot afford the minimum costs for an adequate diet.
The WFP says more than 90% of Madagascar’s population of 26 million live on less than $2 a day and that chronic child malnutrition is widespread.
Francis has called for a fairer distribution of wealth between prosperous and developing countries, and defended the right of countries to control their mineral resources.
He has branded corruption “one of the most decimating plagues” in society.
Mozambique and Madagascar rank in the lowest quarter of Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.
“Corruption is huge. Many Mozambicans have lost faith completely in their political leaders,” said Dahl-Bredine.
Francis makes an eight-hour stop in Mauritius, a small island in the Indian Ocean that is relatively rich compared Madagascar and Mozambique.
But anti-poverty campaigners say Mauritius’ tax treaties and financial services industry facilitate tax avoidance, draining desperately-needed revenues from poor countries.
(Additional reporting by Siphiwe Sibeko in Maputo, editing by Ed Osmond)
9/4/2019 School board files appeal to defend transgender policy
A Virginia school board filed a federal appeal to defend its transgender bathroom ban.
The Gloucester County School Board’s appeal appeared Tuesday on the docket for the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond. Briefs containing legal arguments will come next. The board has been in a yearslong legal fight with former student Gavin Grimm, a transgender male. A U.S. District Court judge ruled last month that the board violated Grimm’s rights.
9/4/2019 Pope calls U.S. conservative attacks an ‘honor’ by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis boards the airplane as he departs Fiumicino Airport to begin his visit to the African nations of
Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius, in Rome, Italy September 4, 2019. Vatican Media/¬Handout via REUTERS
ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (Reuters) – Pope Francis said on Wednesday it was an “honor” to be attacked by U.S. Church conservatives and their Catholic media allies, who have criticized him on issues from theology to climate change and even called for his resignation.
The pope’s response to his American critics came on a flight to Mozambique, for a three-nation tour of sub-Saharan Africa, while chatting with French journalist Nicholas Seneze, author of a new book “How America Wants to Change Popes.”
In it, Seneze describes a network of conservative commentators, political operatives, theologians and churchmen who have sniped at Francis, often through well-funded Catholic news outlets and foundations.
“It’s an honor that the Americans attack me,” the pontiff said when asked about this by Seneze.
The pope said he had not yet read the book as aides could not find it, but implied he had heard about it in Italian newspapers.
After Francis left the journalists’ section of the plane, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni returned to issue a statement attempting to clarify his remarks.
“The pope was speaking in an informal context in which he wanted to say that he always considers criticism an honor, particularly when it comes from authoritative thinkers, in this case, those in an important nation,” he said.
In the past few years, Francis has been the butt of criticism from a small but powerful number of American conservatives unhappy with his stands on various theological issues as well as social matters from immigration to climate change.
Their spiritual guru is American cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, who stepped up attacks on Francis after the pontiff demoted him from a senior Vatican post several years ago.
Burke often appears on Catholic conservative media such as the EWTN religious television network, and his speeches are often published in full by sites such as the National Catholic Register, Catholic News Agency and LifeSite News.
Seneze mentions all of them in his book.
For years, Burke enjoyed an anti-Francis alliance with Steve Bannon, but broke with the former Trump White House strategist in June after Bannon said he wanted to make a film version of a sensationalist book about alleged homosexuality in the Vatican.
Another conservative publication, the intellectual journal First Things, has also been highly critical of the pope.
Some of the publications have run petitions by small numbers of Catholic academics in the 1.3 billion-member Church calling the pope a heretic and demanding his resignation over topics from communion for the divorced to religious diversity.
Last year some simultaneously published a document by the Vatican’s former ambassador to Washington, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, calling on the pope to resign.
It contained a number of uncorroborated personal attacks against a string of Vatican officials.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)
9/5/2019 Nurture peace and make it last, Pope tells post-war Mozambique by Philip Pullella and Manuel Mucari
Faithful dance as they welcome Pope Francis for an interreligious meeting at Maxaquene Pavilion
in Maputo, Mozambique September 5, 2019. REUTERS/Yara Nardi
MAPUTO (Reuters) – Pope Francis urged the people of Mozambique on Thursday to nurture their hard-earned peace and strive to provide equal opportunities for all so as not to slip back into civil war.
Francis addressed President Filipe Nyusi of the ruling Frelimo party and leaders of the Renamo opposition at the colonial-style presidential palace, where peacocks roamed lush gardens in contrast to bustling streets outside.
The two sides in the former Portuguese colony fought a 15-year civil war that ended in 1992 and killed about a million people. But only last month did they sign a permanent ceasefire.
“In the course of these years, you have come to realize how the pursuit of lasting peace – a mission incumbent upon all – calls for strenuous, constant and unremitting effort. For peace is like a delicate flower, struggling to blossom on the stony ground of violence,” the pope told them.
Some fear that as the country of 28 million people approaches new elections scheduled for next month, violence could break out, particularly in rural areas where the former rebels have more sway.
Ossufo Momade, leader of Renamo, was in the audience for the papal address and received a round of applause when the president mentioned him.
In his address to the pope, the president vowed to help build a nation “where non-violence becomes a culture lived by all, where politics is practiced through the force of argument and not the force of arms.”
But Francis said if they wanted lasing peace, leaders had to discourage any form of fanaticism and exaltation and strive to improve conditions and opportunities for the marginalized.
“Without equal opportunities, the different forms of aggression and conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and eventually explode,” said the pope, who arrived in Mozambique on Wednesday night.
“GOOD DAY FOR PEACE”
According to the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), 80% of Mozambique’s population cannot afford the minimum costs for an adequate diet.
“It’s definitely a good day for peace and reconciliation,” said Myrta Kaulard, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Mozambique. “For good elections you need peace. For development you need peace.”
Kaulard, who attended the meeting, said Francis’ message would give a “positive boost,” but so would his mere presence, noting the last time Mozambique was in the spotlight was for cyclones that killed more that a thousand people in March.
Francis also touched on environmental problems, another big theme of the trip that will take him on to Madagascar and Mauritius.
He said Mozambicans should be vigilant against pillaging and unethical exploitation of natural resources “driven by a greed generally not cultivated even by the inhabitants of these lands, nor motivated by the common good of your people.”
According to the World Bank, Mozambique has lost 8 million hectares of forest, about the size of Portugal, since the 1970s.
As Asian supplies of valuable hardwoods like rosewood used to make luxury furniture have been depleted, Chinese importers have shifted to Africa. Mozambique is currently the 10th largest supplier of rosewood to China, according to Chinese customs data cited by U.S.-based non-profit group Forest Trends.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)
9/6/2019 Pope, ending Mozambique visit, slams corrupt leaders by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis conducts Holy Mass at Zimpeto stadium, holding the cross that he received as a gift from a hospital visit earlier,
in Maputo, Mozambique September 6, 2019. The cross is made of wood of the huts destroyed by Cyclone Idai in Beira. REUTERS/Yara Nardi
MAPUTO (Reuters) – Pope Francis, ending his visit to Mozambique, on Friday scolded political and business leaders in the resource-rich but poor East African country who allow themselves to be corrupted by outsiders.
On his last day in the country, Francis visited a hospital for HIV-AIDS sufferers run by the Sant’ Egidio community and then said a mass for some 60,000 of people in Maputo’s national stadium.
At the hospital and in his homily, Francis spoke of all four of the main themes of the trip to this country as well as Madagascar and Mauritius – peace, poverty, corruption and environmental protection.
“Mozambique is a land of abundant natural and cultural riches, yet paradoxically, great numbers of its people live below the poverty level,” Francis said in the stadium, in an area of the capital where many people live in shantytowns with houses of corrugated metal roofs.
At the AIDS hospital, the pope saw a cross made of wood and shards of metal from the collapsed roof of the home of an elderly woman.
According to the U.N. World Food Programme, 80% of Mozambique’s population of about 30 million cannot afford the minimum costs for an adequate diet.
“At times it seems that those who approach with the alleged desire to help have other interests. Sadly, this happens with brothers and sisters of the same land, who let themselves be corrupted. It is very dangerous to think that this is the price to be paid for foreign aid,” Francis said.
Mozambique ranks in the lowest quarter of Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.
While the pope did not give any specific examples of corruption, Mozambique is still struggling to recover from the impact of a $2 billion debt scandal, which saw hundreds of millions of dollars in borrowing guaranteed by the Mozambique government disappear. The money was borrowed ostensibly to develop shipyards, maritime security and a tuna fishing venture, but U.S. authorities now say the projects were an elaborate front for a bribe and kickback scheme. Boats acquired for the projects meanwhile are rusting in harbors across Mozambique. Criminal and civil court cases related to the scandal and spanning three continents have ensnared international investment bank Credit Suisse, which helped arrange the loans, three of its former bankers, a former finance minister and the former Mozambique president’s son.
Credit Suisse says it continues to cooperate with regulatory and enforcement authorities in connection with multiple investigations related to the Mozambique maritime transactions. It has said the bankers hid their misconduct from the bank.
Mozambique has charged 20 people over the affair is suing Credit Suisse and others.
Mozambique, already one of the world’s most impoverished countries, is still on the hook for the loans, some of which the government did not disclose. When it admitted to the undisclosed borrowing in 2016 it prompted donors such as the International Monetary Fund to cut off support, triggering a currency collapse and debt crisis.
Francis also spoke earlier of his concern over the environmental degradation in Africa, some it caused by rampant deforestation and extraction industries.
He said that assisting the poor could help put people in touch in touch with the earth, which is also vulnerable, and suffers from “symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life … the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor.”
Deforestation, along with soil erosion, made Mozambique more vulnerable when two cyclones hit the country this year.
According to the World Bank, Mozambique has lost 8 million hectares of forest, about the size of Portugal, since the 1970s.
(Additional reporting by Emma Rumney in Johannesburg; Editing by Alison Williams)
9/6/2019 Bosnians to march for Gay Pride – under heavy police protection by Daria Sito-Sucic
FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo is seen illuminated with rainbow colours to mark International Day
Against Homophobia and Transphobia, in Bosnia and Herzegovina May 15, 2015. The event was held to
raise awareness of the rights of the LGBT community. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo
SARAJEVO (Reuters) – Bosnia’s first Gay Pride march on Sunday will be protected by a major security operation after some conservative Muslim groups had attempted to prevent the event and others organized counter-rallies.
Although opponents of the march in capital Sarajevo have called for peaceful protests, the authorities are nervous that fringe groups or youths could engage in violence in a country where anti-gay sentiment can often be heard in public.
More than 1,000 police officers will secure the event which will be attended by the U.S. ambassador to Bosnia, who is gay, and his partner. Anti-sniper units will be placed on the roofs of buildings along the main route in the city center.
An additional 150 security guards will also be deployed, the organizers said.
Although homosexuality is legal in Bosnia, queer festivals held in 2008 and 2014 in Sarajevo were attacked by Islamist radicals and hooligans and the LGBTI community has largely been in hiding since then. There are no gay bars or places where LGBT people can openly meet.
Ethnically-divided Bosnia went through a devastating war in the 1990s, but organizers say people from across the divides have joined forces to protest against homophobia and discrimination which is widespread in the Balkans and often fueled by religious leaders and right-wing political parties.
Bosnia is the last Balkan country to hold a Pride parade, seen as a test of tolerance of minority rights as it seeks to join the European Union. After North Macedonia held its first Pride in June, it is now Bosnia’s turn, organizers say.
“We have planned the march for a long time, there has been need for it for a long time and we think this is the right moment to organize it,” said Ena Bavcic, one of the organizers.
“LGBT people in Bosnia are much more hidden when compared to other countries of the region and fear more to go out in public,” Bavcic said of the parade, to be held under the slogan “Ima Izac” or “I Want Out.”
“The march will help people to realize that we exist, that we are here, that we are humans,” she added.
Before the war in which 100,000 died, Sarajevo was known as a multi-ethnic city in which four religious communities – Orthodox and Catholic Christians, Muslims and Jews – had lived together for centuries.
But after the 1992-95 siege by Bosnian Serb forces, its population became predominantly Muslim Bosniak.
Sarajevo cantonal Prime Minister Edin Forto supports the event but security is tight after some conservative Bosniak parties had criticized the parade and called for its cancellation. The Orthodox and Catholic churches are also strongly opposed.
A group of conservative non-government organizations have announced a separate march on Saturday promoting “traditional family values.” Another group, led by an Islamic scholar, said it would gather for a counter-rally on Sunday.
“We advocate diametrically opposite attitudes,” Ahmed Kulanic, spokesman for an initiative which says it seeks to preserve the traditional family, said of the Pride march.
Both groups dismissed a possibility of violence.
The march has been supported by EU diplomats and activists from the region and beyond. Eric Nelson, the U.S Ambassador to Bosnia, said he and his partner would take part in the parade in support of all LGBT people and their families.
Posters featuring anti-gay slurs were put up on walls near the U.S. Embassy on Friday.
“Sarajevo has long been viewed as a city of tolerance and its positive reputation will indeed be tested by a new generation of post-war queer youth who refuse to remain invisible,” said Tanya Domi, a human rights professor at Hunter College in New York, who traveled to Sarajevo for the event.
(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Toby Chopra)
9/7/2019 Deforestation must be seen as global threat: pope in Madagascar by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis gives a speech during his meeting with government authorities, leaders of civil society and the
diplomatic corps in the Ceremony Building in Antananarivo, Madagascar September 7, 2019. REUTERS/Yara Nardi
ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) – Pope Francis said on Saturday rapid deforestation and reduction in biodiversity in individual countries should not be treated as local issues since they threaten the future of the whole planet.
Francis made his appeal on a visit to Madagascar, the world’s fourth largest island, which research institutes and aid agencies say has lost about 44% of its forest over the past 60 years, abetted by illegal exports of rosewood and ebony.
Francis zeroed in on endemic corruption, linking it with equally endemic poverty as well as with illegal poaching and exportation of natural resources.
In remarks to a gathering of Madagascar government leaders, Francis said some were profiting from excessive deforestation, adding: “The deterioration of that biodiversity compromises the future of the country and of the earth, our common home.”
Following recent huge fires in the Amazon region, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro rejected international criticism about his policy to expand farmland, saying it was a domestic issue.
“The last forests are menaced by forest fires, poaching, the unrestricted cutting down of valuable woodlands. Plant and animal biodiversity is endangered by contraband and illegal exportation,” Pope Francis said.
Jobs must be created to wean those engaged in work that is harmful to the environment, so that they will not see it as their only means of survival, the pontiff said in his remarks to President Andry Rajoelina and his cabinet.
“There can be no true ecological approach or effective efforts to safeguard the environment without the attainment of a social justice capable of respecting the right to the common destination of the Earth’s goods, not only of present generations, but also of those yet to come.”
Recent massive fires in the Amazon have lent new urgency to Francis’s calls to protect nature, tackle climate change and promote sustainable development – all themes enshrined in his 2015 encyclical on environmental protection.
Madagascar is one of world’s poorest countries. The U.N. Nations World Food Program estimates that more than 90% of its population of 26 million live on less than $2 a day, with chronic child malnutrition widespread.
Also chronic is corruption, Transparency International says.
Francis urged Madagascar’s leaders “to fight with strength and determination all endemic forms of corruption and speculation that increase social disparity, and to confront the situations of great instability and exclusion that always create conditions of inhumane poverty.”
During his first stint in power, Rajoelina’s cash-strapped administration presided over a big spike in deforestation to supply rosewood and ebony to China despite a national ban on such exports, conservation groups say.
Environmental campaign group TRAFFIC estimates that at least one million rosewood logs had been illegally exported from Madagascar since 2010.
At the end of Rajoelina’s first term, a large unexplained stash of rosewood was found at the presidential palace, according to a draft European Parliament resolution in 2017.
As Asian supplies of valuable hardwoods like rosewood used to make luxury furniture have been depleted, Chinese importers have shifted to Africa, according to Chinese customs data cited by U.S.-based non-profit group Forest Trends.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
[Pope you need to push to stop the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah before the fake news of Climate Change because the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will come to the Earth to do more damage to your environment as seen in Revelation well before any signs of what you are promoting now ever occur. The next article even pushes it further.].
9/7/2019 From Catalina to Alexis: Chilean teen first to legally change gender
FILE PHOTO: Catalina Parada (R) and her identical twin sister Maria Ignacia pose with a picture of them from the past, before Catalina
goes to the civil identification registry to change her name for Alexis, in Santiago, Chile, September 5, 2019. REUTERS/Pablo Sanhueza
SANTIAGO (Reuters) – In 2016, Chilean 14-year old girl Catalina began to identify with friends and family as Alexis, a boy. It took Chile’s conservative, Roman Catholic legal system far longer to come around.
Alexis, who was born an identical twin with his sister Maria Ignacia, two weeks ago changed his name and sex in the civil registry, as well as on his birth certificate. The changes paved the way for him to this week request his first government-issued ID.
“I’m happy because I’m the first boy to change his gender legally,” Alexis said.
Chile’s center-right President Sebastian Pinera late in 2018 signed into law a bill allowing people over the age of 14 to change their name and gender in official records.
The law marked a historic shift in the traditionally conservative, predominantly Roman Catholic country.
Chile legalized divorce in 2004, making it one of the last countries in the world to do so. And the country’s ban on abortion, one of the strictest in the world, was lifted only recently, in 2017, though for special circumstances only.
There are no official statistics for the number of trans people in Chile.
(Reporting by Reuters TV; writing by Dave Sherwood; editing by Jonathan Oatis)
[Are predominant Roman Catholic countries slowly going away from Biblical truths?].
The following found at https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/pete-buttigieg-defends-abortion-suggests-bible-says-life-begins-with-breath/
9/6/2019 Buttigieg Defends Abortion by Suggesting the Bible Says ‘Life Begins with Breath’ by Alexandra DeSanctis
Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks with the media at Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, August 13, 2019. (Gage Skidmore)
In an interview this morning on The Breakfast Club radio show, South Bend mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg attempted to rationalize his support for legal abortion until birth by suggesting that perhaps human life begins at the moment of a child’s first breath. Here’s what he said:
[Pro-life people] hold everybody in line with this one piece of doctrine about abortion, which is obviously a tough issue for a lot of people to think through morally. Then again, there’s a lot of parts of the Bible that talk about how life begins with breath. Even that is something that we can interpret differently. . . . No matter what you think about the cosmic question of how life begins, most Americans can get on board with the idea of, ‘I might draw the line here. You might draw the line there.’ The most important thing is the person who should be drawing the line is the woman making the decision.
It’s the latest salvo in a long string of attempts by Buttigieg to paint his entire progressive agenda as the only acceptable set of policies for a moral Christian, insisting that a proper interpretation of Christianity will “point you in a progressive direction.” Time and again, the mayor who considers himself a faithful Episcopalian — has derided Republicans and conservative Christians for their supposed hypocrisy and immorality, while proclaiming the objective moral correctness of his own policy prescriptions.
But when it comes to abortion, he of the unswerving moral compass thus far has fallen silent, repeatedly demurring on whether it’s ever appropriate to limit abortion legally on moral or religious grounds. That is, until today. Now, Buttigieg apparently has managed to locate “lots of parts” of Scripture that, by his implication, would legitimize a regime of abortion on demand until the moment of birth — or even, I suppose, until a newborn child draws his or her first breath.
Evidently, the mayor has decided that it’s to his advantage to embrace the radical, unpopular position of his party, advocating that a pregnant woman alone should have control over whether the unborn human being inside her is permitted to continue living, even after the point when it is able to survive outside the womb. He should at least have the decency not to twist Scripture in defense of his abhorrent decision, and to cease lecturing us about his superior understanding of Christian morality while he’s at it.
[There is nothing worse in God’s eyes than a homosexual running for president and trying to justify his sins by twisting the meanings in the Bible of his own sins and to promote it for other as to abortion, when any God fearing person knows life begins at conception as the Bible says in many verses.
Bible verses related to Conception from the King James Version (KJV).
Jeremiah 1:5 - Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, [and] I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
Psalms 139:13 - 127:16 - For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.].
9/8/2019 Bosnians march in first Gay Pride under tight police protection by Daria Sito-Sucic
Participants are seen during the first gay pride parade in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina September 8, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic
SARAJEVO (Reuters) – Several thousand people marched in Bosnia’s first Gay Pride on Sunday, protected by a major security operation including anti-sniper units after some conservative Muslim groups organized counter-rallies.
The parade in the capital Sarajevo ended peacefully despite fears of violence prompted by aggressive hate speech online in a country where anti-gay sentiment can often be heard in public.
“I have always thought that basic human rights should exist for all and when I saw all those hate comments against the Pride march, I felt it was my obligation to come and show support,” said Sanja, 54, from Sarajevo, who joined the march with her husband.
More than 1,000 police officers secured the event, shielding the walking area with fences and concrete blocks. Anti-sniper units were placed on the roofs of buildings along the main route in the city center.
Bosnia is the last Balkan country to hold a Pride parade, seen as a test of tolerance of minority rights as it seeks to join the European Union. EU diplomats and the U.S Ambassador to Bosnia, who is gay, joined the march in support of LGBT people.
“This is an important step in the protection of the fundamental rights of all citizens in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including of LGBTI persons, who have the right to live their lives free from discrimination, abuse and threats…,” Johannes Hahn, the EU enlargement commissioner, said in a tweet.
BIG STEP FORWARD
Organizers from across the ethnic divide – in a country that went through a devastating war in the 1990s – carried a pink banner with the slogan ‘Ima Izac’ or ‘I Want Out’ in both Latin and Cyrillic scripts.
Activists carried placards reading “Love is not a Privilege” and “Queer Resistance,” waving rainbow flags and singing anti-fascist songs.
“We, LGBTIQ persons, fight every day for our existence, identity and love,” said Branko Culibrk, an organizer, adding that passivity of institutions in Bosnia, where discrimination against minority groups is legally banned, had encouraged violence from homophobic groups.
Earlier on Sunday, several hundred opponents of the Pride march held a peaceful meeting and a walk, carrying placards condemning homosexuality. On Saturday, several conservative groups organized another march devoted to “traditional family values.”
Homophobia and discrimination, often fueled by religious leaders and right-wing political parties, is widespread in the Balkans.
All religious communities in Bosnia condemned the Pride parade but advised followers against resorting to violence.
Many famous Bosnian artists also attended the parade, including music star Bozo Vreco, known for wearing dresses and acknowledging his desire to express both the male and female sides of his personality.
“This is a big step forward for Bosnia and Sarajevo, opening the doors toward Europe and the world,” Vreco told Reuters. “I am so proud and happy, I think that love has won today.”
(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Ros Russell and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)
9/8/2019 Pope celebrates Madagascar’s ‘living saint’, champion of the poor by Philip Pullella and Hereward Holland
Pope Francis arrives at the Akamasoa community with father Pedro Opeka in Antananarivo, Madagascar, September 8, 2019.REUTERS/Yara
ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) – Pope Francis on Sunday celebrated a former student of his who is now sometimes called Madagascar’s “living saint” for having changed the lives of thousands of poor people who once lived in garbage dumps.
Thousands of former slum dwellers, many of them children, gave the pope an ecstatic welcome, leaving him seemingly overwhelmed by the experience, who only hours earlier defended the poor in the homily of a huge open-air Mass.
Francis taught Father Pedro Opeka theology at the Colegio Máximo de San Miguel in Buenos Aires in 1968 while Francis was completing his own studies for the priesthood.
Over the last 30 years, an organization founded by Opeka, whose parents emigrated to Argentina from Slovenia, has built homes for 25,000 people, 100 schools, six clinics and two football stadiums across the island nation. Next year, he plans to build a college for paramedics.
The white-bearded, jovial Opeka, 71, has been called a “living saint” along the lines of Mother Teresa of Calcutta by many in Madagascar because of his work in one of Africa’s poorest countries. He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
The pope met families living in Akamasoa, one of the first villages built by Opeka on the hills above Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo to re-house people living on the municipal dump in the valley below.
“Here in Akamasoa we have shown that poverty is not an inevitable destiny but something that stems from the lack of social responsibility of politicians who have forgotten and turned their backs on the people who have elected them,” Opeka told the pope in the presence of the country’s president.
As children sang and danced, Francis, clearly moved by the experience, said the community of neat candy-colored houses showed it was possible to: “see life in a place that spoke only of death and destruction.”
Residents earn around 50,000 ariary ($13) per week in exchange for breaking rocks by hand or assisting in other construction projects. Children often help on their days off from school.
All are given a house which they rent at a negligible rate, depending on their circumstances.
“Every corner of these neighborhoods, every school or dispensary, is a song of hope that refutes and silences any suggestion that some things are ‘inevitable’,” Francis said.
Much of the stone for the buildings is dug from a huge granite quarry where Opeka says Mass three times a year. Opeka, the son of a mason, refers to the pit as “my cathedral.”
Francis later visited the quarry and read a prayer for manual workers around the world.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella and Hereward Holland; editing by David Evans)
9/8/2019 Pope, on Madagascar visit, condemns clan culture of privilege, graft by Philip Pullella and Hereward Holland
Pope Francis celebrates Sunday Mass at the diocesan grounds of Soamandrakizay in
Antananarivo, Madagascar, September 8, 2019.REUTERS/Yara Nardi
ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) – Pope Francis, on a visit to Madagascar, on Sunday condemned what he said was its clan culture of privilege and corruption that allows a very few to live in wealth while the vast majority languish in grinding poverty.
He spoke in a homily at a Mass on a sprawling field on the outskirts of the capital Antananarivo for hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom had spent the night outdoors in unseasonably cool weather. The Vatican said local organizers had estimated the crowd at about a million people.
As he has since the start of his three-country swing through sub-Saharan Africa, Francis spoke out about the gap between the haves and have-nots on the continent. He has already visited Mozambique and will move on to Mauritius on Monday.
He decried a clan culture that provided a boost only to those connected to it while leaving many others permanently excluded, or at best marginalized without opportunities to improve their lives.
“When ‘family’ becomes the decisive criterion for what we consider right and good, we end up justifying and even
‘consecrating’ practices that lead to the culture of privilege and exclusion: favoritism, patronage and – as a consequence – corruption,” the pontiff said in his homily.
Madagascar is the world’s fourth largest island and one of its poorest countries.
The U.N. World Food Programme estimates that more than 90% of Madagascar’s 26 million population live on less than $2 a day, with chronic child malnutrition widespread.
Corruption is rampant among the country’s political and business class, according to organizations such as Transparency International, which ranks Madagascar in the lowest quarter of its global Corruption Perceptions Index.
President Andry Rajoelina, 45, a Catholic who was elected last year and sat in the front section at Sunday’s Mass, has vowed to fight corruption in the Indian Ocean island nation after his inauguration in January. He said in a tweet after the Mass that he supported the pope’s call for transparency.
General Richard Ravalomanana, secretary of state in charge of the Gendarmerie, told Reuters that the country still lacked a system of meritocracy and positions were given to those who know high-ranking people or those who have money.
“We must break with the practices of the past,” he said, adding that 56 people in his department had been jailed for bribery and influence peddling.
While in Antananarivo, Francis’s motorcade passed by people plying trades like metalworking and carpentry on the sides of dusty roads, followed minutes later by walled-off, European-style villas with gardens and pools.
“As we look around us, how many men and women, young people and children are suffering and in utter need!” the pope said.
(Additional reporting by Lova Rabary; Editing by Mark Heinrich/David Evans and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)
9/9/2019 Pope greets palm frond-waving crowds in Mauritius by Philip Pullella
Faithful welcome Pope Francis as he arrives to celebrate a mass at the monument to Mary, Queen of Peace
in Port Louis, Mauritius, September 9, 2019. Vatican Media/¬Handout via REUTERS
PORT LOUIS, Mauritius (Reuters) – Pope Francis was welcomed by palm frond-waving crowds in Mauritius on Monday as he drove past sugarcane fields on his way to the capital, where he said a Mass on a terraced mountainside overlooking the harbor.
Tens of thousands of people gathered to see the pontiff on his lightning visit at the end of a three-country tour of Africa. He was due to spend about eight hours on the Indian Ocean island.
Mauritius is far richer than the first two countries on his tour – Mozambique and Madagascar – as the former British colony has benefited greatly from tourism and a financial services sector.
But it also has a youth unemployment problem and a sizable income gap between social classes, and the pope addressed both issues in the homily of his Mass.
“Despite the economic growth your country has known in recent decades, it is the young who are suffering the most,” he said.
“They suffer from unemployment, which not only creates uncertainty about the future, but also prevents them from believing that they play a significant part in your shared history. Uncertainty about the future makes them feel that they are on the margins of society; it leaves them vulnerable and helpless before new forms of slavery,” he said.
Roughly one in four young Mauritians are out of work, and the World Bank says household income inequality there has widened since the global economic downturn after 2008. Only recently has it begun to narrow slightly, according to local statistics.
Anti-poverty campaigners say Mauritius’ tax treaties and financial services industry facilitates tax avoidance, draining desperately needed revenues from poor countries.
The main reason for Francis’ trip was to pay tribute to Jacques-Désiré Laval, a 19th century French priest who helped former slaves.
Francis returns to Madagascar for the night and leaves for Rome on Tuesday morning.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Hugh Lawson)
9/10/2019 Pope says Britain should obey U.N., return islands, including U.S. base by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis is flanked by his spokesperson Matteo Bruni and Pope's trip organiser father Mauricio Rueda
as he addresses journalists during his flight from Antananarivo to Rome, after his seven-day pastoral trip to
Mozambique, Madagascar, and Mauritius, September 10, 2019. Alessandra Tarantino/Pool via REUTERS
ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (Reuters) – Pope Francis said on Tuesday Britain should comply with a U.N. resolution and return a chain of islands it holds in the Indian Ocean to Mauritius, including one rented to the United States for the Diego Garcia air base.
In greetings to various delegations after a Mass on Monday in Mauritius, Francis referred to the archipelago and used the name Chagos Islands, which Britain rules as the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT).
Authorities saw the mention as boost for their claim and in an address to the pope on Monday night Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth thanked him for his interest.
Britain detached the Chagos Islands from Mauritius before Mauritius gained independence in 1968. London then expelled the population of the islands, then numbering about 2,000 people, to build the air base on Diego Garcia.
Asked by a Mauritian reporter on the plane returning from a three-nation trip to Africa how he could help the people of Chagos go back home, Francis said:
“When we recognize international organizations, such as the International Court of Justice in The Hague or the United Nations, and give them the capacity to judge internationally, when they speak, if we are (part of) humanity, we must obey.”
“It is true that not all things that are right for humanity are also right for our pockets (financial interests) but international institutions must be obeyed,” he said.
Last February, the International Court of Justice ruled that the Chagos islanders had been evicted unlawfully and told Britain to give back control over the islands to Mauritius.
In May, the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly demanded that Britain give up control over the Chagos Islands within six months. Such resolutions are non-binding.
“If there is an internal dispute or conflict among countries, you go there (the U.N.) to resolve it like brothers, like civil people,” Francis said.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Frances Kerry)
9/10/2019 Pope says he prays U.S.-led schism can be thwarted by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis stands next to his spokesperson Matteo Bruni, as he addresses journalists during his flight from Antananarivo to Rome,
after his seven-day pastoral trip to Mozambique, Madagascar, and Mauritius, September 10, 2019. Alessandra Tarantino/Pool via REUTERS
ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (Reuters) – Pope Francis said on Tuesday he prayed that dissent from American Catholic conservatives would not lead to a schism in the Church and that he was willing to listen to critics and make corrections if necessary.
But in frank comments to reporters aboard the plane returning to Rome from a trip to Africa, he said he was not afraid of a schism. Some of his critics had allowed political ideology to infiltrate religious doctrine, he said.
It was the first time Francis has spoken so openly about the possibility of a schism in the 1.3 billion worldwide Roman Catholic Church, albeit in answer to a question.
Francis also implied that some of his critics were hypocrites for accusing him of being “a communist pope” even though he was saying the same things about social issues that had been said by the late Pope John Paul, who many conservatives consider an icon.
Francis has been the butt of criticism from a small but powerful number of American conservatives unhappy with his stands on various theological issues as well as social matters from immigration to climate change.
An American reporter asked him about the attacks from conservative clerics, Catholic television stations and websites in the increasingly polarized U.S. Church. Some have demanded his resignation, saying he is sowing confusion about moral issues, such as homosexuality and divorce.
“I am not afraid of schisms,” Francis said in a 10-minute response, adding that there had been many in the 2,000-year history of the Church.
“I pray that there won’t be any because the spiritual health of many people is at stake,” he said.
The critics’ spiritual guru is U.S. Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, the former archbishop of St. Louis who stepped up attacks after the pontiff demoted him from a senior Vatican post.
“When you see Christians, bishops, priests, who are rigid, behind that there are problems and an unhealthy way of looking at the Gospel,” Francis said.
“So I think we have to be gentle with people who are tempted by these attacks because they are going through problems. We have to accompany them with tenderness,” he said.
Some conservative political movements in the United States have joined forces with religious conservatives to attack the pope. They reject the pope’s stands on social issues such as climate change and immigration and back Catholic conservative groups who attack his doctrinal stands, such as allowing divorced Catholics to receive communion.
The Argentine pope implied in his response that he believed that political ideology was coloring conservatives’ views of his six-year papacy.
“The things I say about social issues are the same things (Pope) John Paul said. I copy him (and they say) ‘the pope is too communist,'” Francis said.
“Ideology is infiltrating doctrine, and when ideologies slip into doctrine, there is the possibility of a schism,” he said.
Francis said he accepted “loyal criticism” but not from those who dispense it piecemeal via “arsenic pills” nor from those who “throw a stone and then hide their hands.”
Some anti-Francis blogs and websites, particularly in Italy, host anonymous attacks and letters by people the bloggers say are current or former Vatican officials.
The last schism was in 1988 when ultra-traditionalist French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre ordained bishops without papal permission, starting his own movement.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Angus MacSwan)
9/12/2019 Pope invites leaders to Vatican for global compact on education
FILE PHOTO - Pope Francis waves as he arrives for the weekly general audience at the Vatican, September 11, 2019. Vatican Media/¬Handout via REUTERS
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis on Thursday invited world political, cultural, and religious leaders to a meeting at the Vatican next year to agree on “A Global Compact on Education” to better prepare the young for economic, environmental and social challenges.
The Vatican said the meeting, called “Reinventing the Global Educational Alliance,” will take place on May 14 at the Vatican and be preceded by thematic conferences.
These will include topics such as the promotion of human rights and peace, inter-religious dialogue, migration, international cooperation, refugees, economic justice and environmental protection.
In a video message, Francis said he hoped that “authoritative public figures in our world who are concerned for the future of our young people” would respond to his invitation.
The Vatican gave no details on who would be invited.
The meeting is timed to take place on the fifth anniversary of the pope’s landmark encyclical “Laudato Si,” which called for protection of the environment, tackling global warming and gradually eliminating the use of fossil fuels.
The preparatory conferences will take place between this month and April. One will take place in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, which the pope visited last February. The others will take place in Italy and the Vatican.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Robert Birsel)
9/13/2019 Pope Francis to visit Thailand, Japan in November by Panarat Thepgumpanat and Kaori Kaneko
BANGKOK/TOKYO (Reuters) – Pope Francis will visit Asia in November and will be the first pope in nearly four decades to make a trip to Thailand and Japan, Vatican sources said.
The pope will visit Thailand from Nov. 20 to 23 and Japan from Nov. 23 to 26.
Francis’ trip to Japan will take him to Tokyo as well as the two cities hit by U.S. atomic bombs at the end of World War Two – Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Friday.
The visit will be the first papal trip to Japan since 1981.
The stop in Thailand will coincide with the 350th anniversary of the founding of the “Mission de Siam” by Pope Clement IX to oversee missions in Siam, the former name of Thailand. The late Pope John Paul visited Thailand in 1984.
Catholics are a tiny minority in mostly Buddhist Thailand, accounting for less than 2% of the population.
In announcing the Thai trip, Bangkok Archbishop Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovitvanit said the pope’s full itinerary will be announced later.
The Asian papal trip is part of Francis’ push to increase dialogue with other religions in order to promote world peace.
Currently, about 1% of Japan’s population is said to claim Christian belief or affiliation.
Christianity was first brought to Japan by Portuguese missionaries in 1549 and banned in 1614, setting in motion a period of bloody persecution that forced the faithful to choose between martyrdom or hiding their beliefs.
This led to the development of “Kakure Kirishitan,” or Hidden Christians, who kept their religion alive in isolated parts of Japan during the 250 years of suppression that followed the ban. Some rites took on elements of Buddhist ancestor worship, Japan’s indigenous Shinto religion, and folk practices such as prayers for good crops.
The 2016 Martin Scorsese film “Silence” is set in Nagasaki and deals with two priests who travel from Portugal to feudal Japan to search for a mentor who has gone missing and spread the Catholic faith. It’s based on a novel by Japanese author Shusaku Endo, who was Christian himself.
(Additional reporting by Elaine Lies in Tokyo; Writing by Kay Johnson; Editing by Michael Perry)
9/14/2019 Former New Mexico priest gets 30 years for child sexual abuse by Keith Coffman
FILE PHOTO: Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org, holds a sign during the protest outside the venue of the United States Conference
of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) general assembly in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., November 12, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo
(Reuters) – A former Roman Catholic priest who fled to Morocco before he was returned to the United States and convicted of sexually abusing an altar boy in New Mexico in the 1990s was sentenced on Friday to 30 years in prison, prosecutors said.
U.S District Judge Martha Vazquez imposed the sentence in Albuquerque federal court on Arthur Perrault, 81, a onetime Air Force chaplain and colonel, U.S. Attorney John Anderson said in a statement.
“There are few acts more horrific than the long-term sexual abuse of a child,” Anderson said. “At long last, today’s sentence holds Perrault accountable for his deplorable conduct.”br><
Perrault’s trial attorney, Samuel Winder, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Perrault was convicted by a federal jury in April on six counts of aggravated sexual abuse and one count of abusive sexual contact with a minor in 1991 and 1992 at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque and at the Santa Fe National Cemetery, prosecutors said.
The victim, now an adult, testified that Perrault befriended him when he was 9 years old, showering him with gifts and trips before sexually assaulting him, prosecutors said.
Although he was convicted of abusing just one victim, prosecutors alleged in court filings that Perrault was a serial child molester who abused numerous young people over more than 30 years as a priest in New Mexico and Rhode Island.
At his trial, seven other alleged victims testified that Perrault, ordained in 1964, abused them during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
The Roman Catholic Church has been roiled by allegations of sexual abuse since 1992, when the Boston Globe newspaper revealed a decades-long cover-up by church hierarchy of sexual misconduct by its clergy.
The U.S. Catholic Church has paid out more than $3 billion to settle clergy abuse cases, according to BishopAccountability.org, which tracks the issue.
Under federal law, a convicted defendant must serve at least 85% of a sentence, meaning Perrault will likely die in prison.
Perrault fled the United States in 1992 when his criminal conduct became public, prosecutors said. He was located in Morocco, where he was arrested in 2017 following his indictment on the sex charges, and was extradited to New Mexico.
Linda Card, a spokeswoman for the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, said Perrault served in the Air Force Reserve Chaplain Corps, and for a time was on active-duty status.
(Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Editing by Steve Gorman and Tom Brown)
[The question now has the church been cleared of all serial child rapist or even homosexual priest which is not part of the Catholic religion I assume?].
9/15/2019 Police: Florida preacher accused of raping 2 girls in May, July
MIAMI – A Florida preacher has been charged with raping two young girls. The Miami Herald reported that Yunior Beltres, 54, was charged with two counts of sexual battery on a minor. The girls are 9 and 10 years old. They reported the assaults in July, saying they happened in May and June at Beltres’ home in Miami.
Police said each girl was forced to watch the other being assaulted. Beltres is a preacher at Evangelistic Ministry of Columns of Fire. Records show he has been with the church since at least 1996.
9/17/2019 Ex-Vatican treasurer Pell makes final appeal to overturn sex offense convictions
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/File Picture
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Lawyers for former Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell on Tuesday filed an appeal to Australia’s High Court in a final bid to overturn his conviction for sexually abusing two 13-year-old choir boys, the High Court said.
Pell is seeking leave to appeal the state of Victoria’s Court of Appeal ruling which upheld his conviction on five charges of abusing the boys at St Patrick’s Cathedral in the late 1990s when he was archbishop of Melbourne.
By a 2-1 majority, the Court of Appeal in August ruled that “it was open to the jury to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Cardinal Pell was guilty of the offences charged,” with the majority finding Pell’s accuser was not a liar or a fantasist.
Pell’s lawyers have appealed that decision on two grounds tied to whether it was possible for Pell to have committed the offenses in light of all the activity that typically went on after mass in the area of the cathedral where they were said to have occurred.
“The majority erred by finding that their belief in the complainant required the applicant (Pell) to establish that the offending was impossible in order to raise and leave a doubt,” Pell’s lawyers said in the filing to the High Court.
Pell’s lawyers also said the majority was wrong in their conclusion that the verdicts were not unreasonable.
“There did remain a reasonable doubt as to the existence of any opportunity for the offending to have occurred,” the lawyers said in their filing, referring to the judges’ findings.
Pell, the highest ranking Catholic worldwide to be convicted of child sex offenses, was jailed in March for six years. He will be eligible for parole in October 2022, when he will be 81.
There is no guarantee the High Court will hear Pell’s case.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Darren Schuettler, Robert Birsel)
9/18/2019 Millions may risk jail as Indonesia to outlaw sex outside marriage by Tom Allard and Agustinus Bea Da Costa
FILE PHOTO: Indonesian Muslims pray on the first day of the holy fasting month of Ramadan at
Istiqlal mosque in Jakarta, Indonesia, May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan/File Photo
JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia is poised to pass a new penal code that criminalizes consensual sex outside marriage and introduces stiff penalties for insulting the president’s dignity – a move rights groups criticized as an intrusive assault on basic freedoms.
Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim majority country and has substantial Christian, Hindu and Buddhist minorities, but has seen a recent trend towards deeper religious piety and conservative Islamic activism.
The new criminal code is due to be adopted in the next week after parliament and the government agreed a final draft on Wednesday, four parliamentarians told Reuters.
Lawmakers told Reuters that the new penal code, which would replace a Dutch colonial-era set of laws, was a long overdue expression of Indonesian independence and religiosity.
“The state must protect citizens from behavior that is contrary to the supreme precepts of God,” said Nasir Djamil, a politician from the Prosperous Justice Party. He said leaders of all religions had been consulted on the changes given that Indonesia’s founding ideology was based on belief in God.
Under the proposed laws, unmarried couples who “live together as a husband and wife” could be jailed for six months or face a maximum fine of 10 million rupiah ($710), which is three months’ salary for many Indonesians.
A prosecution can proceed if a village chief, who heads the lowest tier of government, files a complaint with police, and parents or children of the accused do not object. Parents, children and spouses can also lodge a complaint.
The inclusion of the new power for village chiefs was warranted because “the victim of adultery is also society,” another lawmaker, Teuku Taufiqulhadi, said.
The Institute for Criminal Justice Reform, an NGO, said millions of Indonesians could be ensnared by the new laws. It noted a study indicating that 40 per cent of Indonesian adolescents engaged in pre-marital sexual activity.
“Across the board, this is a ratcheting up of conservatism. It’s extremely regressive,” said Tim Lindsey, director of the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society.
A maximum one-year prison term also can be applied to a person who has sex with someone who is not their spouse and a close family member lodges a complaint. The law also impacts homosexuals as gay marriage is not recognized in Indonesia.
The code also establishes prison terms for those found to commit “obscene acts,” defined as violating norms of decency and politeness through “lust or sexuality,” whether by heterosexuals or gay people.
The new laws will also apply to foreigners. However, asked whether tourists in Indonesia could face jail for extramarital sex, Taufiqulhadi said: “No problem, as long as people don’t know.”
There would also be a maximum four-year prison term for women who have an abortion, applicable if there was no medical emergency or rape involved. The code further introduces fines for some people who promote contraception, and a six-month prison term for unauthorized discussion of “tools of abortion.”
In addition, local authorities would get greater freedom to introduce punishments for breaches of customary laws not covered in the penal code. There are more than 400 local regulations that activists say impinge civil rights, such as the mandatory wearing of a hijab, an Islamic headscarf for women.
Meanwhile, parliament has reintroduced the offence of “attacking the honor or dignity” of Indonesia’s president and vice president. A similar law was struck down by the Constitutional Court in 2006, and the new version is likely to be challenged by rights activists as well.
Insulting the government and state institutions also carries a prison term.
(Additional reporting by Jessica Damiana; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
9/19/2019 Abortion rate at its lowest since Roe - Study cites pregnancies falling, not restrictions by Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY
The number of abortions in the USA has fallen to the lowest level since the procedure became legal in 1973, according to a new study that cites a decrease in pregnancies rather than tighter restrictions on abortion.
The report from the Guttmacher Institute, which attempts to track all abortions in the USA, counted 862,000 abortions in 2017 – a 7% decline since 2014 – in what it calls 'the continuation of a long-term trend.' The study reported more than 1 million abortions in 2011.
The study says the 13.5 abortions per 1,000 women ages 15-44 is the lowest since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide in 1973.
After that ruling, the number of abortions rose to a high of 1.6 million in 1990 before dropping steadily.
The institute, a research group that supports abortion rights, gathers its data through inquiries of individual providers. Federal data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention excludes California, Maryland and New Hampshire.
Areas with the highest abortion rates in 2017 were the District of Columbia, New Jersey, New York, Maryland and Florida. Rates were lowest in Wyoming, South Dakota, Kentucky, Idaho and Missouri.
The Guttmacher report says the increase of state abortion restrictions in the Midwest and South from 2014 to 2017 does not appear to be the primary driver of declining abortion rates.
From 2011 to 2017, the number of clinics providing abortions in the USA fell by less than 4%, from 839 to 808. During that time, 86% of new abortion restrictions occurred in the South and the Midwest.
From 2011 to 2017, the South had a net decline of 50 clinics – 25 in Texas alone – and the Midwest had a net decline of 33 clinics, including nine each in Iowa, Michigan and Ohio. The West lost a net of seven clinics. By contrast, the Northeast added a net 59 clinics, mostly in New Jersey and New York.
The study says 57% of the decline in the number of abortions nationwide happened in the 18 states and the District of Columbia that did not adopt any abortion restrictions.
'There was also no consistent relationship between increases or decreases in clinic numbers and changes in state abortion rates,' the report says.
Guttmacher President Herminia Palacio said abortion restrictions, regardless of whether they lead to fewer abortions, “are coercive and cruel by design,” having a disproportionate impact on low-income women, The Associated Press reported.
The study notes that fertility rates declined in almost all states from 2014 to 2017, 'and it is unlikely that the decline in abortion was due to an increase in unintended births.'
Factors that may have contributed to the decline in abortion are improvements in contraceptive use and access to them, a decline in pregnancy rates and increases in the number of individuals relying on self-managed abortions outside a clinical setting, the study says.
The study notes that women who have abortions increasingly rely on medication rather than surgery. Medication abortion, using the so-called abortion pill, accounted for 39% of abortions in 2017, up from 29% in 2014.
Support for legal abortion is at its highest level in more than two decades, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll that found a 60% majority say abortion should be legal in most or all cases.
Anti-abortion activists demonstrate outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington
during the March for Life in January. JOSE LUIS MAGANA/AP
[The following articles was another attack on Christianity by the sinful LBGTQ and GOD is watching them.]
6/17/2019 Supreme Court passes on case involving baker who refused to make wedding cake for same-sex couple by Robert Barnes, Reporter covering the U.S. Supreme Court for The Washington Post.
Melissa Klein, co-owner of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, in Gresham, Ore., in 2013. (Everton Bailey Jr./AP)
The Supreme Court on Monday passed up the chance to decide whether a baker’s religious objections to same-sex marriage mean she can refuse to create a wedding cake for a gay couple when state law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The case would have been a sequel to last year’s consideration of the same topic. The court ruled then for a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a gay couple’s wedding reception, but it left undecided whether a business owner’s religious beliefs or free speech rights can justify refusing some services to gay people.
The Supreme Court deliberated for months about whether to take the Oregon case. The delay indicates there were behind-the-scenes negotiations, though the justices did not reveal them. Instead, they simply sent the matter back to an Oregon appeals court and told it to look again in light of the Colorado decision.
It is one of several cases around the country in which bakers, florists, photographers, calligraphers and others have said they don’t want to participate in same-sex nuptials because of religious convictions. So far, courts have largely sided with the plaintiffs, saying businesses that serve the public must offer their services to all.
In the Oregon case, Melissa and Aaron Klein closed their bakery in a Portland suburb, Sweet Cakes by Melissa, after being fined $135,000 for refusing to make a wedding cake in 2013 for a lesbian couple.
Last term, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy found improper religious bias by some Colorado officials against baker Jack C. Phillips. But he acknowledged the decision did not settle the larger issue.
Future courts would need to balance the rights of those with religious objections to same-sex marriage along with the rights of gay people, who “cannot be treated as social outcasts or as inferior in dignity and worth,” Kennedy wrote for the court majority.
Those cases “must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.”
The case involving the Kleins was decided by an Oregon court before the Supreme Court’s decision last June in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
The Kleins framed their case as “whether artists in public commerce are protected by the First Amendment when they decline to create expression that would violate their religious beliefs.”
After seeing one of the Kleins’ cakes at a wedding exposition, Rachel Bowman-Cryer and her mother, Cheryl, visited Sweet Cakes to order one for Rachel’s upcoming marriage.
When Aaron Klein asked the name of the bride and groom, he was told there would be two brides. Klein said the bakery did not make cakes for same-sex ceremonies because the Kleins believe that a marriage is limited to the union between a man and a woman.
The women left, but Cheryl returned to tell Aaron Klein she once shared his views but believed the Bible was silent on the issue. Aaron Klein quoted a verse from the Book of Leviticus: “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.”
Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer filed a complaint with a state administrative agency, arguing that the Kleins’ refusal violated Oregon’s anti-discrimination law, which covers sexual orientation.
The agency agreed the Kleins had violated the public accommodation law and awarded the Bowman-Cryers $135,000. A state appeals court upheld that ruling and rejected the bakers’ argument that it violates the First Amendment to compel them to “express a message — a celebration of same-sex marriage — with which they disagree.”
The Oregon Supreme Court declined to review the decision.
The Kleins’ petition notes that in finding for the right to same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges, the court acknowledged it might strain religious freedom. The decision, it argued, “inevitably requires this court to decide whether that newly recognized marriage right can be wielded not only as a shield in defense of same-sex unions but also — as in this case — a sword to attack others for adhering to traditional religious beliefs about marriage.”
Oregon says the state Bureau of Labor and Industries did nothing more than enforce a “neutral and generally applicable law that requires business owners to provide equal services to all customers without regard to protected status, including race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation.”
A similar case, involving a florist in Washington state who refused to provide flowers for a same-sex ceremony there, is on its way to the high court. The Washington Supreme Court had previously ruled against the florist, reviewed the case in light of the Masterpiece decision, and recently reaffirmed its unanimous decision.
The case is Klein v. Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries.
The following found at https://www.foxnews.com/faith-values/arizona-christian-artists-religious-freedom-court
9/19/2019 Christian artists celebrate religious freedom win in Arizona Supreme Court by Caleb Parke, Fox News
Arizona court backs business owners who refused to make wedding invitations for same-sex couple
The co-owners of Brush & Nib Studio react to their win for religious freedom on 'Fox & Friends.'
A pair of Christian artists are celebrating a religious freedom win at the Arizona Supreme Court,
which found the government cannot force them to make invitations for a same-sex wedding.
Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski, the owners of Brush & Nib Studio, appeared on "Fox & Friends" Wednesday and said they were "extremely excited" at the 4-3 decision that reversed a lower-court ruling in favor of Phoenix's anti-discrimination ordinance.
"We are super excited," Koski, a painter, said about the Monday ruling. "Ever since Joanna and I were little girls we had a dream of being artists and starting a business, and we are just so overjoyed that the city recognized our rights as artists. This was super important to us to stand for artists everywhere across the country."
Christian artists Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski outside the Arizona Supreme Court on Jan. 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
She added: "We do serve everybody and love everybody but it's just certain messages that we cannot promote in our business because of our faith."
Her business partner, Duka, a calligrapher, said the heart of the case, which was ruled narrowly to customized artist creations, comes down to the question: "Can the government force artists by threat of jail time to create art that promotes messages inconsistent with their values?"
"For Breanna and I that includes certain messages about marriage that violate our faith, that includes messages that promote racism or incite violence, exploit women, or demean any member of any community, including the LGBT community," Duka added. "So that's why we're extremely excited the Arizona Supreme Court has ruled in favor of artistic freedom and the right of artists, not the government, to decide what messages we can and can't promote."
But the dissenting opinion in the case called it "deeply troubling," saying the case did not concern the content of the studio's products but was about the identity of the customer.
Kristen Waggoner, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) senior vice president of the U.S. legal division, who represented the pair, said "the very clear message of the court...is that free speech and free exercise rights aren't limited to soft whisperings that go on in the privacy of our homes, but that all Americans have the right to be able to speak and create art that's consistent with who they are. So that right extends to all Americans, not just those who share Breanna and Joanna's beliefs."
For example, Waggoner points out, a Democratic speechwriter should not be forced to write for a Republican and an LGBT filmmaker shouldn't have to make films that contradict their beliefs, either.
"So it's a broad win that extends to everybody," she added.
Last year, ADF and Waggoner also defended a Colorado baker who won his case at the U.S. Supreme Court after refusing to make a same-sex wedding cake. The high court found the state's civil rights commission showed anti-religious bias when it ruled against the baker.
The mayor of Phoenix says the ordinance is still in effect and lawyers for the city are examining potential grounds for appeal.
9/20/2019 Russia widens Jehovah’s Witnesses crackdown with new jailings by Andrew Osborn and Tom Balmforth
FILE PHOTO: 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/File Photo
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia has widened a crackdown against Jehovah’s Witnesses, jailing six adherents of the Christian denomination for extremism in a move rights activists said was unjust and flouted religious freedom.
A regional court in Saratov jailed six Jehovah’s Witnesses on Thursday for up to three-and-a-half years, a court spokeswoman said on Friday.
“Yes they were convicted,” the spokeswoman, Olga Pirueva, said. “Punishments ranged from three years and six months down to two years (in jail).”
The court found the six men guilty of continuing the activities of an extremist organization, a reference to a 2017 ruling from Russia’s Supreme Court which found the group to be an “extremist” organization and ordered it to disband.
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.
The latest jailings follow the conviction in February of a Danish builder in Russia for his association with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Dennis Christensen was found guilty of organizing an extremist group and jailed for six years.
Over 250 Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia are facing criminal charges, according to the group, with 41 in detention and 23 under house arrest.
Under Thursday’s ruling, Konstantin Bazhenov and Alexei Budenchuk were sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail, Felix Makhammadiev to three years, and Roman Gridasov, Gennady German, and Alexei Miretsky to two years in prison each.
The court also banned them from holding leadership positions in public organizations for five years.
Jehovah’s Witnesses say Russia’s constitution guarantees their adherents’ right to exercise freedom of religion and deny wrongdoing.
“The whole logic of the accusation was based on the speculative thesis that faith in God is ‘a continuation of the activities of an extremist organization’,” Jarrod Lopes, a U.S.-based spokesman for the group, said in a statement.
“Instead of searching and proving the guilt of the defendants, the aim of the investigation was to prove their religious affiliation, despite the fact that no religion is prohibited in Russia.”
Lawyers for the men plan to appeal what they regard as absurd convictions, said Lopes.
With about 170,000 followers in Russia and 8 million worldwide, Jehovah’s Witnesses are a Christian denomination known for door-to-door preaching, close Bible study, and rejection of military service and blood transfusions.
They believe the end of the world as we know it is imminent, an event “the obedient” will survive to inhabit the Kingdom of God they believe will follow.
Rachel Denber of U.S.-based Human Rights Watch condemned the court’s ruling, saying the men had been jailed for nothing.
“They should be freed,” Denber said on social media.
(Editing by Timothy Heritage)
9/22/2019 Tens of thousands march for ban on abortions in Slovakia
Demonstrators march during an anti-abortion protest rally demanding a ban on
abortions in Bratislava, Slovakia, September 22, 2019. REUTERS/David W. Cerny
BRATISLAVA (Reuters) – Tens of thousands marched in Slovakia’s capital on Sunday calling for a total ban on abortions in the predominantly Catholic central European country.
Abortion laws in Slovakia are relatively liberal compared to those in countries like Poland or Malta, which have among the strictest laws in the European Union and often allow them only in cases like rape.
In Slovakia, on-demand abortions are legal up until 12 weeks of a pregnancy while abortions for health reasons are allowed until 24 weeks.
Conservative and far-right lawmakers want to allow them only to up to six or eight weeks of pregnancy or ban them outright, and parliament starts debating draft laws to restrict abortions this month.
It is unclear if the proposals will become law since the ruling Smer – a leftist, socially conservative party – and junior center-right Slovak National Party in the government, have not said whether they will back any of them.
Abortions have fallen in the country of 5.4 million to 6,000 last year, from almost 11,000 a decade ago. A Focus agency opinion poll this month found 55.5% of people disagreed with restricting abortions while 34.6% supported the move.
Protesters carrying signs saying “A human is human regardless of size” and "Who kills an unborn child kills the future of the nation” marched in the capital on Sunday demanding a total ban on abortions, including in cases of severe birth defects or rape.
“The life of every human is invaluable, therefore it needs to be protected from conception until natural death,” one of the protest organizers, backed by the Catholic church, said on stage.
The organizers estimated turnout at the protest at about 50,000.
The ruling Smer party has led Slovakia nearly non-stop since 2006 and has built its base by lifting social benefits amid years of economic growth and backing conservative issues.
Ahead of an election next year, the party pledged to back legislation to ban gay marriage and adoption by same-sex couples. Slovak law does not recognize same-sex civil unions.
The most recent official census in 2011 found 62% of the country identify as Roman Catholics, while 6% are Protestants.
(Reporting By Tatiana Jancarikova, editing by Deepa Babington)
9/23/2019 Thousands rally against Indonesian bill to ban extra-marital sex by Stanley Widianto and Agustinus Beo Da Costa
University students protest outside the Indonesian Parliament in Jakarta, Indonesia September 23, 2019. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan
JAKARTA (Reuters) – Thousands of students protested at rallies across Indonesia on Monday against a new criminal code that would outlaw sex outside marriage and gay sex, as lawmakers met the president to discuss how to proceed with a bill that has divided Indonesians.
President Joko Widodo on Friday ordered a delay in a planned vote on the controversial bill – originally slated for Tuesday – and said 14 articles needed further review before it was deliberated by a new parliament, whose term begins next month.
Students rallied on Monday in the capital Jakarta – where some climbed the gates of the parliament to hang banners – and cities including Yogyakarta, in central Java, and Makassar, on Sulawesi island, to oppose the bill.
Meanwhile, lawmakers whose term will end this month met in the presidential palace for talks with the president.
“The bill was delayed so that we could get input, better substance that is in accordance to what the people want,” Widodo told reporters after the meeting, adding the code could be included in the next term of parliament.
Mulfachri Harahap, an MP, said he still hoped a new version could be put to the vote before the end of the month, adding: “Even though there are articles considered problematic, they are not many and they’re debatable.” Critics say the bill violates free speech and discriminates against religious minorities, women and LGBT people. But Islamic groups, including Indonesia’s biggest Muslim group, Nahdlatul Ulama, say the changes reflect “the character and the personality of the Indonesian people and the nation.”
The revisions to the country’s criminal code, which has not been updated since its inception during the Dutch colonial-era, also include penalties for insulting the president’s dignity, a four-year jail term for abortions in the absence of a medical emergency or rape, and a prison term for black magic.
The planned revisions had spurred Australia to update its travel advice, warning citizens of risks they could face from extra-marital or gay sex should the law be passed.
Bali, a Hindu enclave in mostly Muslim Indonesia and the country’s most important tourism destination, is especially popular with visitors from Australia, where one newspaper greeted the news on Friday with the headline: “Bali Sex Ban.”
“I think it’s crazy, because there’s a lot of couples coming to Bali on, like, a romantic holiday, and they are not married, they might be just a boyfriend or girlfriend,” said Sienna Scott, an Australian holidaying on the island.
Local officials said they hoped there might be changes to the bill before it becomes law. “If possible, articles which are sensitive to our lives in Bali can be reviewed or eliminated,” Bali deputy governor, Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardana Sukawati, said.
In Jakarta, students protested in front of parliament against the criminal code and also changes to the anti-graft laws that opponents fear will harm the fight against corruption.
“Because reform has been corrupted, we want the country to go back to the reform mandate,” said Manik Marganamahendra, 22, a student at the University of Indonesia.
(Additional reporting by Sultan Anshori in Bali; Editing by Ed Davies and Alex Richardson)
9/24/2019 Police fire water cannon as Indonesians rally against new laws by Agustinus Beo Da Costa
Demonstrators climb the Indonesian Parliament's fence during university students' protest
in Jakarta, Indonesia September 24, 2019. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan
JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesian police fired water cannon and tear gas to break up protests on Tuesday, as tens of thousands of students gathered in cities nationwide over issues that included a new criminal code that penalizes adultery and revised laws on corruption.
President Joko Widodo on Friday ordered a delay in parliament’s vote on the new criminal code, which would replace a Dutch colonial-era set of laws, saying a new parliament should deliberate on the bill next month.
The revisions to the code also include penalties for sex outside marriage, insulting the president’s dignity, a four-year jail term for abortions in the absence of a medical emergency or rape, and a prison term for black magic.
Though the vote was not included in Tuesday’s plenary session in parliament, some lawmakers have said they would try to come up with a new draft to bring it to a vote before their current term ends at the end of this month.
Students, often wearing colorful jackets from their alma maters, gathered in cities across the country.
One banner held by a woman in a photo posted on social media read: “My crotch does not belong to the government.”
Thousands gathered in the front and back entrances to Jakarta’s parliament building, demanding to meet with parliament speaker Bambang Soesatyo.
Soesatyo held a news conference inside the building urging calm, but refused to answer questions from reporters on whether the vote would be delayed until new parliament takes office, repeating the vote could happen in the current term.
Police then fired water cannon and tear gas in an attempt to disperse the crowd.
Indonesia’s benchmark stock index dropped more than 1% on Tuesday, amid worries over domestic political tensions, said Fakhrul Fulvian, an economist with Trimegah Sekuritas.
Finance Minister Sri Mulyani told reporters she hoped “the things that triggered (the demonstrations) can be discussed through the available political process so there won’t be a wider impact on sentiment.”
THOUSANDS OF POLICE ON STANDBY
On the main street through the capital Jakarta, hundreds of others were marching down toward parliament after protesting in front of the presidential palace, blocking traffic.
“We’re going to parliament to oppose the new law for the anti-corruption agency that are not pro-people but are pro-corruptors,” Fuad Wahyudin, 21-year-old student from an Islamic university in West Java, told Reuters.
“The criminal code is the same, it doesn’t side with the people,” said Wahyudin.
Though the president had ordered a delay in the criminal code, Wahyudin said he wanted to make sure parliament does not pass the bill into law until they change it to reflect demand from protesters.
President Widodo told Indonesians this month he would not compromise in the fight against graft, amid concerns over the officer picked to head the anti-corruption agency and proposed changes curbing its right to wiretap suspects without a warrant.
Police also fired tear gas to disperse thousands of protesters in Bandung, West Java, who hurled rocks at officers near a local parliament building.
Students had stayed in front of Jakarta’s parliament until nearly midnight on Monday, breaking part of the fence and blocking a toll road.
Media reports said more than 5,000 police personnel have been deployed to maintain security in Jakarta.
(Reporting by Gayatri Suroyo, Tabita Diela and Maikel Jefriando; Editing by Ed Davies, Hugh Lawson and Bernadette Baum)
9/24/2019 In remote Amazon, indigenous married Catholics spread gospel, pray for priesthood by Maria Cervantes
Shainkiam Yampik Wananch, a deacon ordered by the Catholic Church, speaks during an interview with Reuters
in Wijint, a village in the Peruvian Amazon, Peru August 19, 2019. REUTERS/Maria Cervantes
WIJINT, Peru (Reuters) – Just before dawn, Shainkiam Yampik beats a drum carved from a tree trunk at the start of a Roman Catholic prayer service in Wijint, a hamlet of thatched-roof huts in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon.
Whispering “Jesusan namanguinde,” or “the body of Christ” in the tongue of the indigenous Achuar people, Yampik gives communion bread to villagers in a small chapel amid a loud chorus of birds and insects outside.
A tribal elder with 10 grown children, Yampik, 48, is a leading Catholic figure in one of the Church’s most remote outposts.
But because Yampik is married, he cannot become a priest. He is an ordained deacon, a lower rank. That means he cannot hear confessions or, more importantly, say Mass, the key sacrament that villagers in Wijint must go many months without because of a lack of priests. The communion bread he distributes is consecrated beforehand by a priest in another town.
But Yampik and other Achuar Catholics in this vast region are hopeful a historic meeting at the Vatican next month will change that.
On Oct. 6, Pope Francis will open a three-week synod of Amazonian bishops where one of the most keenly awaited topics will be whether to allow Yampik and other married men to be ordained as priests in parts of the Amazon, a proposal that would break centuries of Roman Catholic tradition.
The idea is to allow older married men with grown children and a strong standing in the Church – “viri probati” or proven men – to join the priesthood and help fill a gap in their communities.
“I feel it in my heart. I want to be a priest,” Yampik, who like other Achuar in the region was converted by Catholic missionaries decades ago, told Reuters in Wijint.
A three-day boat ride from the nearest town with paved roads, Wijint is one of 827 native communities in the Vicariate of Yurimaguas, a region nearly the size of Panama ministered by just 25 priests, the vicariate’s administrator, Reverend Jesus Maria Aristin told Reuters.
“It’s impossible to reach them all,” Aristin said, recalling a recent visit to a village that required a four-day day trek through jungle marshlands.
At least 85% of villages in the region cannot celebrate Mass every week, a ritual in which Catholics believe communion bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Jesus.
Yampik is one of four married “viri probati” Achuar deacons who will be discussed for the priesthood at the synod, said Aristin, who will attend.
CELIBACY OR SACRAMENT?
The synod will also discuss protection for the Amazon after a global outcry over forest fires this year. But the “viri probati” proposal could be more explosive within the Church, where Francis is already under attack by its conservative wing.
The synod’s working document, branded heretical by its critics, says men could be ordained in the priesthood “even if they already have an established and stable family, in order to guarantee the sacraments.”
Opponents of the reform say it will introduce a slippery slope leading to the abolition of the Church’s rule on priestly celibacy, which became obligatory in the 12th century in part to keep children of priests from inheriting Church property.
The Church teaches that by remaining celibate and unmarried, a priest can devote himself entirely to God and the Church.
But the requirement has crimped efforts to recruit priests to minister to all its current members – much less expand – in traditional strongholds like Latin America, where evangelical Christians are making inroads.
“Viri probati” proponents also say the Church cannot neglect faithful in places like Wijint, a village with no electricity or running water where the Achuar grow cassava root and bananas and hunt wild pigs in surrounding forests.
“What’s more important, celibacy or the Eucharist, the center of Christian life?” said Aristin.
Just four decades ago, the Church’s presence in this far-flung region was growing, thanks to Italian priest Luis Bolla’s success in converting isolated Indians in Peru and Ecuador.
A Salesian missionary, Bolla lived among the Achuar for decades, adopting their customs and language, and leaving a void when he died in 2013.
Today, it is hard to get outsiders to stay in Achuar villages, said Yampik.
“A priest outside of this culture can give himself to us but just for a season. Then he says, ‘I can’t get used to this. I can’t learn the language. I can’t talk,'” Yampik said.
“An Achuar priest would be ours. Where’s he going to go?”
The Vatican has allowed some leeway before. Some Anglican priests who were already married when they converted to Roman Catholicism were able to continue to serve as priests.
But it has not made an exception to its celibacy rule for the purpose of addressing shortages of priests. It is a discipline, though, not a dogma, and therefore can be changed.
The synod does not make decisions. Only the pope can. Participants will vote on various articles in a final document, which will then go to the pope to decide whether to make it into an official Apostolic Exhortation.
Aristin said he was hopeful Francis would relax the celibacy rule for the Achuar. He recalled Francis’ excitement when the pope met Yampik and other local “viri probati” on his 2018 visit to Peru.
“Francis, who’s always a bit mischievous, winked at me and said ‘make some daring proposals for the synod,'” Aristin said.
The “viri probati” proposal is backed by all Catholic congregations in the Vicariate of Yurimaguas. It has also fueled calls for bolder change, including among nuns, who outnumber priests in the Amazon and often carry out the bulk of missionary work in remote areas.
“We sisters clamor for the Achuar deacons to be ordained,” said Maruja Escalante, a nun with the Missionaries of Mary Immaculate and Catherine of Siena order. “I also think it’s important that a woman can become a priest,” she added.
Pope Francis, however, has said that the door to a female priesthood was closed by his predecessor Pope John Paul, and that he would not open it.
CHURCH WITH AN ‘INDIGENOUS FACE’
Achuar is among the last Amazonian tribes to come into regular contact with non-natives and traditionally practiced polygamy and shamanism. To win converts, Bolla infused ancient Catholic rites with indigenous customs, a tradition Yampik keeps alive today.
In the prayer service Yampik led in Wijint, girls sang Achuar ancestral chants to praise the Virgin Mary as villagers gathered around a fire built with three logs, a native ritual adopted to symbolize the Holy Trinity.
That multicultural approach, once considered avant-garde, today is celebrated by the Church under Pope Francis, who has called for a Church with an “Amazonian and indigenous face.”
“Father Bolla had a special vision. He said, ‘evangelization here has to be done without disrupting their culture,'” said Reverend Vicente Santilli, the head of the Salesian House in the Peruvian capital Lima.
Yampik, who like Bolla draws a cross on his forehead in the red face paint of the Achuar, said allowing “viri probati” to become priests would bring his tribe closer to the Church.
“The Achuar are also preaching the word of God,” Yampik said. “We want to be recognized, because here in this corner of the Amazon we don’t feel acknowledged.”
(Reporting by Maria Cervantes; Additional reporting by Philip Pullella in Rome; Writing by Mitra; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Lisa Shumaker)
9/25/2019 Indonesia student protests against law changes enter third day by Stanley Widianto
FILE PHOTO: University students take part in a protest outside the Indonesian Parliament building in Jakarta, Indonesia, September 24, 2019. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan
JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesian students rallied for a third day on Wednesday against proposed new laws, including a criminal code that would ban extramarital sex and insulting the president’s honor, a day after clashes in the capital injured more than 300 people.
Police fired tear gas and water cannon to break up Tuesday’s rallies in Jakarta and another city, some of the biggest since 1998 student protests fueled unrest that led to the fall of former strongman leader Suharto.
Jakarta police chief Gatot Eddy Pramono said 265 students and 39 police were injured on Tuesday, but the extent of their injures was not immediately clear.
Pramono said 94 people were arrested in Jakarta where skirmishes continued late into the night. Some of those detained had carried petrol bombs, he told reporters.
President Joko Widodo on Friday delayed parliament’s vote on the new criminal code, which would replace a Dutch colonial-era set of laws, saying a new parliament should deliberate on the bill next month.
The revisions to the code include penalties for sex outside marriage, insulting the president’s dignity, a four-year jail term for abortions in the absence of a medical emergency or rape, and a prison term for black magic.
Pramono said police are investigating the role of non-student groups in the protests, but he did not give details.
“If it is proven that they caused damage, whether to the cars or fences, or civilians or security forces, we will take strict measures against them and start the legal process,” Pramono said, referring to fences damaged around parliament.
Aside from opposing the new criminal code, students say they are against changes to a law governing the anti-graft agency, known by its initials KPK, and the appointment of new agency commissioners that critics say will weaken the fight against corruption.
On walls near the parliament building in Jakarta, protesters had scrawled: “Parliament is the state’s clown” and “RIP KPK.”
Students also want a ban on military or police personnel taking up public posts, and the release of “Papuan political prisoners,” referring to the remote Papua region convulsed by civil unrest in recent weeks.
The students also call for stepped up prevention of forest fires blamed for haze problems, and a renewed effort to address human rights issues.
Thousands of students held fresh protests on Wednesday in cities such as Gorontalo, on the island of Sulawesi, and Surabaya in Java, media reported.
Students from the University of Indonesia had not yet decided if they would rally on Wednesday outside parliament in Jakarta, student leader Manik Marganamahendra told Reuters.
On Tuesday, speaker of parliament Bambang Soesatyo held a news conference to urge calm, but he declined to say whether the vote on the new criminal code would be held in the current parliamentary session or postponed to a new session.
(Reporting by Stanley Widianto, Gayatri Suroyo and Jessica Damiana; Editing by Ed Davies and Darren Schuettler)
9/25/2019 Indonesian students protest new criminal code by OAN Newsroom
Protests in Indonesia are entering their third day as students denounce proposed changes to the country’s criminal code. Thousands took to the streets of Jakarta on Wednesday to protest new legislation reportedly aimed at reducing the country’s anti-corruption body.
Activists are also protesting new measures seeking to ban extramarital sex and criminalize negative speech against the president. Advocates say the new laws would bring sweeping changes that could be disastrous for human rights and the country’s democracy.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo delayed the legislation last week.
“It turns out there are many things that need to be discussed again to get input from the public, so that of the eight draft laws the president only approved three draft laws and the other five were postponed,” stated Coordinating Minister of Security Wiranto (no last name).
Over 300 people were injured this week after police fired tear gas and water cannons to break up the protests. The new code is set to be deliberated next month.
Students occupy the local parliament during a rally in Padang, West Sumatera, Indonesia, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019.
Clashes between protesters and police occurred in several cities in the country as students rallied against
a new law that critics say cripples the country’s anti-corruption agency. (AP Photo/Rivo Andries)
9/25/2019 Is a transgender man who gives birth a mother? Yes, says UK court
FILE PHOTO: Two police officers stand on duty outside of The Royal Courts of Justice
in London, Britain, July 30, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville -/File Photo
LONDON (Reuters) – An individual who is born female but later becomes male and gives birth to a child should be legally regarded as a mother, England’s High Court ruled on Wednesday.
Freddy McConnell, a transgender man, wanted to be recognised as the father of his son, who was born last year, on the official birth certificate but was told he would have to be registered as the mother.
He sought legal action to quash that decision, saying it breached his and his son’s rights but in a landmark ruling, Andrew McFarlane, President of the High Court’s Family Division, dismissed his claim and concluded that McConnell was the mother.
“It is now medically and legally possible for an individual, whose gender is recognised in law as male, to become pregnant and give birth to their child,” McFarlane said.
“Whilst that person’s gender is ‘male’, their parental status, which derives from their biological role in giving birth, is that of ‘mother.’”
McConnell, who was registered as female at birth, transitioned to live as male when aged 22, later undergoing a double mastectomy and testosterone therapy. Official details, such as his passport and health records, were amended to show his gender as male, court papers said.
In 2016, he suspended the testosterone treatment and became pregnant after undergoing intrauterine insemination fertility treatment using donor sperm, with the baby born in January 2018.
McFarlane said the issue had been “most properly and bravely” raised by McConnell and was an important matter for public debate, but related more to public policy than law.
“Down the centuries, no court has previously been required to determine the definition of ‘mother’ under English common law and, it seems, that there have been few comparable decisions made in other courts elsewhere in the Western World,” he said.
Campaign group Stonewall called the decision deeply disappointing and said the law desperately needed to be updated.
“We believe this ruling is a missed opportunity to send a positive message and recognise all parents, including LGBT parents, for who they are,” said Laura Russell, its director of communications.
(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison)
9/25/2019 Planned Parenthood Advised Hollywood Production Workers by OAN Newsroom
The Director of Arts and Entertainment Engagement at Planned Parenthood told the Washington Post in an article published Monday that she regularly talks with many in Hollywood to steer the dialogue on topics such as abortion. In the article, Planned Parenthood’s Caren Spruch said she’s influenced more than 150 films since 2014 and is constantly contacted for advice on services that the non-profit provides.
Spruch claimed she pushes screenwriters to discuss abortion or encourages story lines on birth control and sexually transmitted infections. The abortion rights activist has her hand in shows like “Shrill” and “Jane the Virgin.” She has had so much of an influence that it has earned her the nickname “Planned Parenthood’s Woman in Hollywood.”
The nation’s largest abortion clinic might see Spruch’s role as relief from the series of shake-ups in the organization’s leadership over the past few months. Dr. Leana Wen served as Planned Parenthood’s president for less than a year before being ousted in July, in part, for refusing to push the organization’s laser-focus on abortion.
FILE – In this June 4, 2019, file photo, a Planned Parenthood clinic is photographed in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)
The clinic’s former president described her termination as “abrupt” on Tuesday at John Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health.
“I wish I could tell a different story about how that experience went. I mean, I was at Planned Parenthood for less than one year. I would just say that I learned a lot in that time.” — Dr. Leana Wen, former Planned Parenthood president.
The doctor also mentioned in articles that Planned Parenthood wanted her to reduce her definition of women’s health care to only include abortion rights, which Wen took issue with.
The president’s firing and the organization’s role in Hollywood suggests how determined the abortion clinic is to push its pro-abortion message. However, the company still needs to first resolve its dispute with Wen after the doctor recently accused the pro-abortion clinic of withholding health care and pay benefits that were promised in her contract.
9/25/2019 Mexico’s Oaxaca state legalizes abortion in historic move for Catholic nation
Anti-abortion demonstrators hold a protest outside the local congress as lawmakers are due to vote on whether to pass
a legislation that would decriminalize abortion, in Oaxaca, Mexico September 25, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Luis Plata
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – The Mexican state of Oaxaca on Wednesday approved a bill to legalize abortion, making it only the second region of the predominantly Roman Catholic country after Mexico City to permit the procedure.
Amid raucous shouts of protest from opponents, the local Congress voted by 24 lawmakers in favor to 10 against to allow abortions during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy in Oaxaca, a southern state that has long been among Mexico’s poorest.
The state Congress is dominated by the leftist National Regeneration Movement of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has avoided taking a clear stand on abortion.
Approval of the measure came just a few days after Lopez Obrador sent a bill to the federal Congress that would grant an amnesty to women serving jail terms for abortion.
Outside of the Mexican capital, which legalized abortion in 2007, the procedure has been illegal in all states until now except under certain circumstances, such as rape.
(Reporting by Diego Ore; Editing by Tom Brown)
9/26/2019 Australia’s most populous state revamps law on abortions
Independent MP Alex Greenwich is hugged by NSW Greens MP Jenny Leong after the passing of the amended Abortion Law Reform Act, which
was passed in the Legislative Assembly in State Parliament, in Sydney, Australia, September 26, 2019. AAP Image/Dean Lewins/via REUTERS
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Legislators in Australia’s most populous state voted on Thursday to decriminalize abortion after a fractious debate that threatened to divide the conservative government of New South Wales.
The legislation revamping a century-old law that made abortion punishable by up to 10 years in prison was passed by a voice vote in the state legislature.
“Abortion has been decriminalized in NSW. Sorry it took so long,” independent legislator Alex Greenwich, one of the sponsors of the bill, wrote in a tweet.
The new law allows terminations for women who are up to 22 weeks pregnant. Beyond 22 weeks, two doctors need to approve an abortion and they also need to seek advice from a hospital advisory committee.
Previously, doctors could perform abortions only if they believed continuing the pregnancy would do serious harm to the woman’s health.
South Australia is now the only state to criminalize abortion.
The legislation introduced by independent lawmakers had split the ruling center-right state government and threatened the leadership of New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
The rift was healed after conservative legislators secured support to amend the bill to require a hospital committee to advise on abortions after 22 weeks.
Nevertheless, the new law threatened to erode support from religious voters, a key electoral block for Berejiklian’s government.
Anthony Fisher, the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, said the vote was a “dark day” for the state.
He said in a statement it “may be the worst law passed in New South Wales in modern times, because it represents such a dramatic abdication of responsibility to protect the most vulnerable members of our community.”
(Reporting by Colin Packham; editing by Darren Schuettler)
9/26/2019 Pride parades in Poland prove flashpoint ahead of general election by Joanna Plucinska and Alicja Ptak
Bartosz Staszewski, 29, and his partner Slawomir Wodzynski, 39, carry a flag as they attend
a Pride march in the town of Kalisz, Poland, September 22, 2019. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov
LUBLIN (Reuters) – Alicja Sienkiewicz was attending a gay pride event in the Polish city of Bialystok in July when a group of young men shouting expletives surrounded her wheelchair and hurled firecrackers.
The 18-year-old student and gay-rights activist said she witnessed the group beating and kicking some parade participants and hurling homophobic insults, prompting police to intervene.
“I’ve never been subject to this level of aggression before,” said Sienkiewicz, who was temporarily wheelchair bound while recovering from an ankle injury. “It was a very traumatic experience for me.”
In Poland, which doesn’t recognize any form of same-sex union, parades to celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (or LGBT) life have become violent flashpoints ahead of an October 13 general election.
The ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) has made “LGBT ideology” a key issue in its election campaign, saying it is an invasive foreign influence that undermines traditional values in staunchly Catholic Poland. Party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski has publicly urged Poles to resist the “traveling theater” of pride parades and described the LGBT movement as “a real threat to our identity, to our nation and to the Polish state.”
Human rights activists and some Poland specialists say the party is fomenting homophobia to fire up its conservative base ahead of the election. The LGBT community has responded by organizing more events, including a parade planned for this Saturday in the city of Lublin in southeastern Poland.
On Tuesday, Lublin’s mayor banned the parade, citing security concerns following violence that accompanied an LGBT event in the city last year. Parade organizers responded by challenging the ban in District Court in Lublin Wednesday.
A PiS spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment from the party and its leader. A government spokesman did not immediately respond for a request for comment.
PiS officials have previously said they are not against gay couples, they just want them to exist as couples in private. Of the party’s focus on LGBT issues, one senior party member said it was responding to public opinion.
A comfortable election victory next month by PiS, which has a comfortable lead in the polls, would give it a mandate to further reshape Poland in its conservative image.
Poland has allied itself with other right-wing governments in Europe such as Hungary’s to fight what it sees as EU attempts to impose liberal, Western values on Eastern European nations.
PiS was elected four years ago promising a raft of socially conservative policies. Some observers say they see parallels with the 2015 campaign, when the party deployed anti-immigrant rhetoric.
“Scaremongering about ‘LGBT ideology’ has almost become official policy in Poland with often nasty insinuations from members of the government and public media now the norm,” said Stanley Bill, a lecturer in Polish culture and politics at Britain’s University of Cambridge in the UK.
He said PiS was targeting its conservative base in an effort “designed to mobilize them to actually get them out to vote.”
A recent poll published by London-based market research firm Kantar Group for a Polish newspaper found a majority of those surveyed said they opposed LGBT marches and more than a third would like to see them banned. The survey was conducted this month and based on 1000 respondents.
“In Poland we are currently dealing with a kind of massive attack on values that are close to us – on our family, on Christian values, on the Church, on the basis of patriotism, on our homeland,” said Marcin Romanowski, a deputy justice minister and PiS candidate for a constituency near Lublin.
“ANGER IN SOCIETY”
Organizers of the LGBT parade in Lublin – the city’s second ever – say they hope will still go ahead as scheduled on Saturday, citing a similar attempt by the mayor to ban last year’s event that was overruled by the Court of Appeal days later.
If it does go ahead, they are braced for trouble. More than 3,000 people signed an online petition urging the mayor to stop the event and its “provocative, aggressive and vulgar” participants.
The previous parade in October 2018 drew crowds of protesters who pelted parade participants with rocks, flares and tomatoes as they progressed from the steps of Lublin castle up through the city’s old town. Riot police responded with pepper spray and water cannons to clear a path through the protesters. The roughly 1,000 parade attendees were matched by a similar number of protesters.
Among those who protested Lublin’s parade in 2018 were members of the Ruch Narodowy, or National Movement, a right-wing group that says it vehemently opposes gay rights.
Rafal Mekler, head of the National Movement’s Lublin chapter, told Reuters that his group wasn’t to blame for last year’s violence, and it wasn’t looking for confrontation on Saturday.
But, he said, he wasn’t responsible for the “huge movement of normal people” who opposed the march. “There is anger in society and we cannot stop (it).”
Preparations for Saturday’s planned march include various safety measures, helmets for the people leading the march and an ambulance with first-aid responders. Organizers have also requested concrete barriers and say they are communicating more closely with police than last year.
The organizers say they have had to change the planned route for security reasons and that they are telling parade participants to hide any LGBT symbols on the way to and from the march.
“It’s a horrific atmosphere we’re living in,” says Bartosz Staszewski, a 29-year-old filmmaker and one of the organizers of Saturday’s event. For him, participating in the parade is a vital part of trying to seek equality. “You show up, you humanize yourself,” he said.
(Reporting by Joanna Plucinska and Alicja Ptak; Writing and additional reporting by Andrew RC Marshall; Editing by Cassell Bryan-Low)
9/26/2019 Silicon Valley goes to the Vatican to talk tech ethics by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Nuns walk next to a member of the Swiss Guard during the weekly general audience
at the Vatican, September 25, 2019. REUTERS/Remo Casilli/File Photo
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The Vatican brought together Silicon Valley heavyweights, Nobel laureates and cyber experts on Thursday to discuss the ethical use of digital technology, in a meeting officials said could provide material for a possible papal document on artificial intelligence.
The three-day conference, which officials said was the first of its kind, is being attended by executives from companies such as Facebook, Mozilla, and Western Digital, Catholic ethicists, government regulators and investment bankers.
“The technology industry … has had the luxury to think that whatever product it built was the common good. That was the shared assumption for quite some time,” said Mitchell Baker, executive chairwoman of Mozilla in Mountain View, California.
“The defense was that liberty or human expression was embodied in the technology coming out of Silicon Valley and was undisputedly good,” she said.
The gathering is taking place amid the rise of cyber espionage, online hate speech and misuse of private data, and signs the industry is struggling to respond.
The conference, whose opening session was open to the media before it went behind closed doors, is the latest example of the Vatican trying to stay ahead of the curve on technology and social issues in order to influence the movers and shakers of the future, regardless of their religion.
Vatican officials said it could provide material for a possible papal encyclical, or papal letter to Church members, on artificial intelligence, much as meetings with scientists helped shape his landmark 2015 encyclical “Laudato Si” on the protection of the environment and global warming.
The conference will discuss topics with tech jargon not commonly heard inside the Vatican such as algorithms and blockchain.
Pope Francis is due to address the conference on Friday.
Gavin Corn, associate general counsel and director of the cyber security law team at Facebook, described how it took down 1.5 million copies in 24 hours of the live streaming by the gunman who killed 51 people in New Zealand mosques last April.
“Despite all these efforts the video did go viral,” he said, saying he was attending in a personal capacity.
He said it was important for tech companies to invest in teams of people to focus on the possible unethical use of products early on in their development.
“Lot’s of people working in the area of AI (artificial intelligence) are determined that this should be developed ethically,” said Bishop Paul Tighe, secretary of the Vatican’s Council for Culture. “We want it to be ‘AI for good’,” he said.
(This story fixes day of week in first para)
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Mark Potter)
9/27/2019 ACLU asks to overturn Kentucky abortion law by Deborah Yetter, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
The American Civil Liberties Union has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down a Kentucky abortion law that requires doctors to perform an ultrasound of the fetus and attempt to show it, describe it and play an audio of the heartbeat to the patient prior to the procedure.
“This sort of extreme political interference in the doctor-patient relationship has no place in the exam room,” said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project.
The 2017 law is among half a dozen laws aimed at restricting or eliminating abortion in Kentucky passed in recent years by the Republican-controlled General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin, an antiabortion Republican who is seeking a second term.
Four laws were enacted this year including a bill that bans abortion once fetal cardiac activity can be detected, usually about six weeks into a pregnancy, and another bill banning abortion for reasons of the race, gender or disability of the fetus. Both have been temporarily blocked by pending court challenges.
In May, U.S. District Judge Joseph McKinley struck down a 2018 Kentucky law banning an abortion procedure commonly performed after the 14th week of pregnancy. The Bevin administration has appealed the ruling.
Republican leaders during the 2019 legislative session expected some of the laws to face legal challenges. But they said they hoped to make Kentucky among states bringing cases before the Supreme Court, now considered more conservative, in hopes of overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.
Kentucky’s ultrasound law, which requires the doctor to present and describe the fetal image to the patient even if she refuses to look or listen, was struck down as unconstitutional in 2017 by U.S. District Judge David Hale.
Hale said the law forced doctors to provide information regardless of whether they found it medically appropriate for women in vulnerable situations.
But it was upheld this year by a threejudge panel with the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on a 2-1 vote following an appeal from the Bevin administration. Judge John Bush of Louisville wrote the majority opinion upholding the law known as House Bill 2.
“We hold that HB 2 provides relevant information,” wrote Bush, an appointee of President Donald Trump. “The information conveyed by an ultrasound image, its description and the audible beating fetal heart gives a patient a greater knowledge of the unborn life inside her. This also inherently provides the patient with more knowledge about the effect of an abortion procedure: it shows her what or whom she is consenting to terminate.” Bevin hailed the decision then as “a major, pro-life legal victory.”
On Thursday, Bevin spokeswoman Elizabeth Kuhn said the governor had “tirelessly fought to protect the unborn by tackling every baseless legal challenge levied by the ACLU.”
“The Sixth Circuit strongly and correctly ruled in our favor, and it is doubtful the Supreme Court will take the case,” she said. “But, if they do, Gov. Bevin is ready to defend it.”
But in a blistering dissent to the 6th Circuit decision, Judge Bernice Bouie Donald, a Tennessee native appointed to the appeals court by former President Barack Obama, said she found the reasoning to be deeply flawed and a setback for the freedom of physicians and their patients.
“I am gravely concerned with the precedent the majority creates today,” she said. “Its decision opens the floodgates to states in this Circuit to manipulate doctor-patient discourse solely for ideological reasons.”
The ACLU, in its petition to the Supreme Court asking it to overturn the 6th Circuit decision, said rather than providing “informed consent,” the law puts both patient and doctor in an extremely distressing situation.
“As a result of this law, while the patient is half-naked on the exam table with her feet in stirrups, usually with an ultrasound probe inside her vagina, the physician has to keep talking to her, showing her images and describing them, even as she tries to close her eyes and cover her ears to avoid the speech,” the petition said. “The commonwealth characterizes this as part of “informed consent,” but it is not.”
The ACLU said the 6th Circuit ruling conflicts with an earlier decision by the 4th Circuit appeals court striking down a virtually identical ultrasound abortion law.
Reach Deborah Yetter at dyetter@ courier-journal.com or 502-5824228. Find her on Twitter at @d_yetter. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal.com/subscribe.
Washington rally on abortion AP
9/28/2019 Polish police protect LGBT marchers as tensions rise before election by Robert Furmanczuk
Participants attend Pride march in Lublin, Poland, September 28, 2019. Agencja Gazeta/Jakub Orzechowski via REUTERS
LUBLIN, Poland (Reuters) – Polish anti-LGBT protesters clashed with riot police in the south-eastern city of Lublin on Saturday just before a gay pride march that has highlighted increased social tensions in the devoutly Catholic nation ahead of an election next month.
Nobody was hurt in the clashes but police said they had detained at least 30 people. Right-wing groups in Poland have expressed strong opposition to gay rights and have targeted such marches in the past.
The nationalist ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party has made “LGBT ideology” a key issue in its campaign ahead of the Oct. 13 parliamentary elections, saying it is an invasive foreign influence that undermines traditional Polish values.
“We’ve had death threats, (this violence) was about forcing us not to have this march,” Bartosz Staszewki, organizer of Saturday’s march, told Reuters.
As a helicopter circled overhead, television footage showed, riot police backed up a by water cannon separating the marchers, who brandished the rainbow flag of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community, from the protesters who had tried to block their route.
Protesters tried to pelt the marchers with eggs, private broadcaster TVN 24 reported.
Many pride marches have become battlegrounds, with riot police often having to protect marchers against counter-protesters. The mayor of Lublin had tried unsuccessfully to have Saturday’s march banned, citing security concerns.
On Friday the Court of Appeal upheld the district court’s decision to allow the march to go ahead.
Activists and researchers say that the rhetoric used by the ruling party is homophobic and that its goal is to mobilize PiS’s conservative base.
PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski has publicly urged Poles to resist the “traveling theater” of Pride marches which he described as “a real threat to… the Polish state.”
PiS officials have previously said they are not against gay couples, they just want them to exist solely in private. They counter charges of homophobia by saying they are responding to Polish public opinion, which remains conservative on the issue.
A survey conducted in August by a global market research firm Ipsos for a Polish website OKO press found that the LGBT movement was ranked by Poles as one of the most serious threats to the country, second only to climate change.
PiS has maintained a comfortable lead in polls for months with support of over 40%, according to a majority of recent polls.
(Reporting by Alicja Ptak, Alan Charlish and Robert Furmanczuk; Editing by Gareth Jones)
9/29/2019 Countries that make weapons of war foment migration but refuse refugees, Pope Francis says by Philip Pullella
A statue by sculptor Timothy P. Schmalz is seen after Pope Francis held a Mass for the World Day
of Migrants and Refugees at the Vatican, September 29, 2019. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis on Sunday scolded countries that produce weapons for wars fought elsewhere and then refuse to take in refugees fleeing the very same conflicts.
The 82-year-old Argentine pope, whose parents were of Italian immigrant stock, has made the defense of migrants and refugees a plank of his pontificate and he has often clashed over immigration policy with U.S. President Donald Trump and populist anti-immigrant politicians in Europe.
Francis has also criticized the arms trade repeatedly and his sermon for 40,000 people in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday linked the issues of war and migration as the Roman Catholic Church marked its World Day of Migrants and Refugees.
“Wars only affect some regions of the world, yet weapons of war are produced and sold in other regions which are then unwilling to take in the refugees generated by these conflicts,” Francis said.
Sunday’s Mass was attended by many immigrants and groups helping them. It was also marked by a mix of African, Spanish and Portuguese music as well as traditional Church music.
Francis said the world is becoming increasingly “elitist and cruel toward the excluded,” adding that it is the duty of Christians to look after all those left behind in a “throwaway culture” taking root in society.
“This means being a neighbor to all those who are mistreated and abandoned on the streets of our world, soothing their wounds and bringing them to the nearest shelter, where their needs can be met,” he said.
People could not remain indifferent to “the bleak isolation, contempt and discrimination experienced by those who do not belong to ‘our’ group,” the pope said.
Francis then inaugurated a large statue in St. Peter’s Square, showing dozens of migrants and refugees from different faiths and different periods of history.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by David Goodman)
9/30/2019 Pope decries world’s indifference to world’s migrants and refugees
VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis on Sunday decried “the culture of comfort” that leads to indifference in the face of a global refugee crisis. The pope who has made caring for migrants a hallmark of his papacy spoke during a Mass for the World Day for Migrants and Refugees. “We cannot be indifferent to the tragedy of old and new forms of poverty, to the bleak isolation, contempt and discrimination experienced by those who do not belong to ‘our group,’” Francis said. The pontiff has often spoken of the need to be welcoming to migrants.
9/30/2019 Pope meets U.S. priest attacked by conservatives for ministering to gays by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis conducts a mass at Santa Marta chapel at the Vatican, September 30, 2019. Vatican Media/¬Handout via REUTERS
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis on Monday gave a high-profile private audience to a prominent American Jesuit priest who has been attacked repeatedly by conservative Catholics and media outlets for ministering to homosexuals.
By meeting Father James Martin during the morning, when the pope’s meetings are part of his published schedule, instead of privately in the afternoon, Francis appeared to be defending Martin pointedly from the attacks.
In the last two years, a number of Catholic seminaries and universities have canceled lectures and appearances by Martin, often after pressure from conservative groups.
Martin, a Jesuit like the pope, is the author of the 2017 book “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity.”
In a Tweet after meeting the pope, Martin said he “shared with him the joys and hopes, and the griefs and anxieties, of LGBT Catholics and LGBT people worldwide. I was so grateful to meet with this wonderful pastor.”
Describing the meeting as one of the highlights of his life, Martin said he felt “encouraged, consoled and inspired” and that the 30-minute audience was “a clear sign of (the pope’s) deep pastoral care for LGBT Catholics and LGBT people.”
Rorate Caeli, one of the conservative blogs that has often criticized Martin, Tweeted after the audience was made public: “It’s the feast of St. Gay Rome.” In another Tweet, Rorate Caeli said: “If that’s not an endorsement, nothing is.”
Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, which calls for reconciliation between the Church and gays, praised the pope.
DeBernardo said in a statement that the meeting “refutes the unjustified barrage of criticism he has received from a minority of Church leaders and other anti-LGBTQ sectors of the Church.”
He called it “a clear signal that Pope Francis is calling the Church to conversion away from the negative messages it has sent in the past about LGBTQ people. It is a day of celebration for LGBTQ Catholics who have longed for an outstretched hand of welcome from the Church that they love.”
The Church teaches that homosexuals should be respected and their human dignity must be defended. It teaches that same-sex attractions are not sinful but homosexual acts are.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Giles Elgood)
[GOD is listening, so you are trusting that LBGTQ persons will not perform homosexual acts and tell you about it this time.].
This page created on 7/1/2019, and updated each month by 7/31/2019, 8/31/2019, 9/30/2019.
Please close this window when done, or select the previous tab or back button to return to previous page.
Or return to the Table of Contents - Chapter Eight or
Or return to the Astronomical Events To Appear Between 2014 Through 2017 A.D. or
Or return to the Beast That Came Out Of The Sea or
Or go to the next subject Global Environment 2019 or
Or return to Scarlet Woman 2019 April-June
Or continue to Scarlet Woman 2019 October-December
2011-2022 ????? Unknown future of the Sixth group of Twelve years