From The Alpha and the Omega - Chapter Eight
by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved SCARLET WOMAN 2020 APRIL-JUNE

    This file is attached to from ďAstronomical Events To Appear Between 2014 Through 2017 A.D.Ē - Chapter Eight by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved.

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4/1/2020 Florida pastor arrested for conducting services by Tamara Lush and Chris OíMeara, Associated Press
    TAMPA, Fla. Ė Officials arrested the pastor of a megachurch after detectives said he held two Sunday services with hundreds of people and violated a safer-at-home order in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
According to jail records, Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne turned himself in to authorities Monday afternoon in Hernando County, where he lives.    He was charged with unlawful assembly and violation of a public health emergency order.    Bail was set at $500, according to the jailís website, and he was released after posting bond.
    Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a news conference Monday that he negotiated with the attorney of Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne to get the church leader to turn himself in to authorities in Hernando County. His church is in Tampa.
    ďNot only did the church comply with the administrative order regarding six-foot distancing, it went above and beyond any other business to ensure the health and safety of the people,Ē said a statement from Liberty Counsel, Howard-Browneís law firm.    ďContrary to Sheriff Chronisterís allegation that Pastor Howard-Browne was Ďreckless,í the actions of Hillsborough Country and the Hernando County Sheriff are discriminatory against religion and church gatherings
    Churches in Ohio, Kentucky and Louisiana have continued to invite worshippers as at least a half-dozen states offer some degree of exemption for faith in their orders to shutter nonessential activity during the pandemic.
    The Tampa church said it sanitized the building, and the pastor said on Twitter that the church is an essential business.    He attacked the news media for ď>i>religious bigotry and hate.Ē    In the statement released late Monday afternoon, Liberty Counsel said the church enforced the 6-foot distance rule between family groups, made sure the staff wore gloves and gave every person who entered hand sanitizer, among other things.
[What happened to the first amendment.].

4/1/2020 Holy Land custodian urges Israel to let clerics celebrate Easter in Holy Sepulchre by Stephen Farrell
FILE PHOTO: A general view shows Church of the Holy Sepulchre, revered as the site of
Jesus's crucifixion and burial, as a prayer session takes place inside the church amid concerns over
the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Jerusalem's Old City March 22, 2020. REUTERS/Ammar Awad
    JERUSALEM (Reuters) Ė Easter celebrations should be permitted inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, even if only by a small number of clerics abiding by anti-coronavirus guidelines, a senior clergyman said on Wednesday.
    Father Francesco Patton, a Franciscan friar who is the Custos of the Holy Land for the Roman Catholic church, urged the Israeli government to allow freedom of worship at the site which is the focal point of Holy Week.
    Israel has imposed tight restrictions on public gatherings to curb the spread of the virus, on Monday barring gatherings of more than two people who are not in the same family, with few exceptions.
    With Easter approaching, the Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox and Roman Catholic authorities who share custody of the Holy Sepulchre issued a joint statement last week saying prayers ďwill continueĒ at the traditional site of Jesusí crucifixion, burial and resurrection.
    But discussions continue about how to ensure safety and continued worship during the most important festival in the Christian calendar, which Catholics celebrate on April 12 and Greek Orthodox a week later.
    ďI think that in this moment our community living in the Holy Sepulchre has the duty and the task to pray in this place for all those who are living around the world,Ē Patton told Reuters.
    ďWe think that to pray is not something useless, we think that it is something that can really change the situation
    The Holy Sepulchre lies at the heart of the Christian Quarter of Jerusalemís walled Old City.    Its doors were shut to the public on March 25.
    Patton said it would be impossible to carry out the annual Palm Sunday procession in Jerusalem on April 5 in anything like the normal manner, with thousands of pilgrims walking from the Mount of Olives to an Old City which now lies deserted.
    But he said services could be filmed and livestreamed worldwide for those unable to attend, and held out hope that the bishops of each church would be able safely to mark the ďmost importantĒ celebrations.
    These include Good Friday, Easter Sunday and the Ė usually Ė crowded Greek Orthodox ceremony of the Holy Fire, symbolizing the resurrection.
    ďWe have to give to Caesar what is of Caesar and we have to give to God what is of God,Ē said Patton.    ďWe respect what is the role and what is the duty of the public and civil power and in the same time we think that the different civil authorities have to respect what is the right of God
    Israel has imposed a partial lockdown, with police and soldiers enforcing Ministry of Heath restrictions requiring people to stay near their homes.    Religious leaders of other faiths have also taken precautions.
    Islamic authorities last month suspended all Muslim prayers around Al-Aqsa Mosque on the hilltop compound known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount.
    At the Western Wall, the holiest place where Jews are allowed to pray in Jerusalem, up to 10 people are permitted to pray with worshippers keeping 2 meters apart.    But the chief rabbi of the site instructed them not to kiss the stones.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said it was too early to know the arrangements for upcoming religious holidays of all religions.
    ďIt all depends on the health regulations,Ē he said.    ďIf the situation is going to be the same with no public gatheringsÖ nothing will be going on, not Passover, not Ramadan and not the Holy Fire ceremony.    We will have to wait and see
(Reporting by Stephen Farrell; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

4/2/2020 Australian court to rule on ex-Vatican treasurerís sex offences appeal on April 7 by Sonali Paul
FILE PHOTO: Cardinal George Pell attends a news conference at the Vatican, June 29, 2017. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
    MELBOURNE (Reuters) Ė Ex-Vatican treasurer George Pell will learn on April 7 whether he can walk free from jail, when Australiaís highest court hands down its judgment on his appeal against historical child sex offences.
    The decision will likely bring to an end the long-running prosecution of the cardinal for sexually assaulting two teenaged choirboys in the 1990s when he was Archbishop of Melbourne.    Pell is the highest ranking Catholic worldwide to be jailed for child sex offences.
    The High Court of Australia said on Thursday it would deliver its judgment at 10am (0000 GMT) on Tuesday, April 7.
    The court could overturn his conviction, in which case Pell would walk free, or it could dismiss the appeal, leaving him in jail. The case could also be sent back to a lower court, but legal experts considered that a slim possibility.
    Pell was convicted by a jury in December 2018 on one charge of sexual penetration of a child under 16 and four charges of an indecent act with a child under 16.    He was sentenced to six years in prison and lost an appeal against his conviction in a lower court last August.
    His appeal to the High Court was heard by seven justices over two days in March, during which numerous questions about the prosecutionís case were raised.
    Legal experts said the release of the judgment within one month of the hearing was relatively quick for a court that typically takes several months to deliver its decisions.
    The decision will be delivered in the middle of the most important week in the Catholic liturgical calendar, when the churchís 1.3 billion members celebrate Easter.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul)

4/2/2020 Pastors arrested for holding services during lockdown by OAN Newsroom
Congregants arrive for an evening service at the Life Tabernacle Church in Central, La., Tuesday, March 31, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
    A Florida pastor, who was arrested for holding services during a mandatory lockdown, has said heís shutting the doors to his church.    Rodney Howard-Browne made the announcement during a live stream service for his church, The River, this week.
This Monday, March 30, 2020, booking photo provided by the Hernando County Jail
shows Rodney Howard-Browne, pastor of The River Church. (Hernando County Jail via AP)
    ďTo protect my people, Iím shutting it down from a tyrannical government, not from the virus,Ē stated Howard-Browne.
    According to the pastor, he had no choice.    He maintains the move was not him caving to pressure from authorities, but due to other circumstances, including death threats.
    ďThe big thing is, I donít want to have a service and then they come, raid the church and start arresting all my pastors and other members of the congregation,Ē explained Howard-Browne.    ďI donít want some crazy people showing up there to come and cause problems, like bringing someone whoís infected with COVID-19 and try to infect the church, saying we were there and whatever
    The pastor was taken into custody on Monday. He was charged with misdemeanor counts of unlawful assembly and violating public health rules after holding two Sunday services.    He remains free on a $500 bail.
    Meanwhile, Alabama Judge Roy Moore has joined the effort to protect church communities from coronavirus-related threats.    On Thursday, Moore announced he will represent Louisiana Pastor Tony Spell, who is also facing charges of violating the ban on large gatherings of people.
Pastor Tony Spell speaks to the media after holding an evening service at the
Life Tabernacle Church in Central, La., Tuesday, March 31, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
    The pastor has said COVID-19 restrictions have destroyed multiple jobs, produced mass hysteria and escalated the risks of religious persecution.
    Spell was arrested this week for holding multiple church services amid a statewide lockdown.    He claimed the state Governor John Bel Edwards is leading an attack on his church and the U.S. Constitution.
    ďThis is an affront, an attack, on all Christians across the world.    If they are to arrest me and take me out of this congregation, my assistant pastor will step in immediately.    When he is arrested, the third man will step in.    My entire congregation stands in solidarity with me as their shepherd.Ē Ė Tony Spell, Pastor at the Life Tabernacle Church
    Judge Moore is not licensed to practice law in Louisiana and it remains unclear in what capacity he would represent the pastor.

4/3/2020 FDA eases restrictions on gay men donating blood by Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON Ė The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday updated its guidelines on blood donations from gay men to better meet the demand for blood during the coronavirus pandemic.
    Men who have had sex with another man within the past three months should not donate, the FDA said.    That abstinence period was decreased from the 12 months previously recommended.
    ďThe COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented challenges to the U.S. blood supply,Ē the FDA said in a statement.     ďDonor centers have experienced a dramatic reduction in donations due to the implementation of social distancing and the cancellation of blood drives
    The policy for female donors who have had sex with a man who had sex with another man to wait to donate blood was also reduced to three months from 12 months, as well as for people who got recent tattoos or piercings.
    Blood donation guidelines for gay men were first implemented as the HIV/AIDS crisis unfolded in the 1980s and initially constituted a lifetime ban for gay men.    That was revised in 2015 to the one-year restriction, but many LGBTQ rights advocates have long considered these restrictions to be discriminatory.
    Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David tweeted this is a ďstep forward,Ē but ďmore needs to be done.Ē
    ďWhile this change by the FDA is a step in the right direction, it still bases itself in bias rather than science,Ē David said.    ďCreating a policy based on identity as opposed to risk is irrational and given the current COVID-19 crisis, it is more critical than ever to prioritize science and facts over fear and bias.Ē
    ďThe FDA has concluded that current policies regarding certain donor eligibility criteria can be modified without compromising the safety of the blood supply,Ē the agency said.
    The updated recommendations are for immediate implementation, the FDA said, and are expected to remain in place at least through the pandemic.    Blood establishments do not have to change their policies to comply with the new FDA> [HIV was the results of the sins of man, so be it, but it still does not justify to consider it to be okay in a society as the ungodly want it to be.
    Thousands of gorillas, chimpanzees, and other African wildlife on the brink of extinction are viciously hunted, butchered, and illegally imported throughout the United States.    Any one of these shipments can bring an HIV infection, an Ebola epidemic, or a number of other deadly diseases right into your neighborhood.    Now we are experiencing coronavirus COVID-19 which came from wombat etc. mixing with other wild animals for food in Wuhan China

4/3/2020 Fla. joins list of states allowing religious exemptions in response to Ďstay at homeí orders by OAN Newsroom
A leaflet listing Holy Week activities sits among empty pews during a live-streamed mass at the St. Augustine
Church & Catholic Student Center, Sunday, March 29, 2020, in Coral Gables, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
    Florida is following the lead of 11 other states with the governorís new Ďstay at homeí guidance, which will allow religious exemptions for houses of worship.
    Governor Ron DeSantis was one of the remaining leaders to issue a Ďshelter in placeí order this week, which asked Floridians to only go out for essential activities.    However, the governorís advisement will allow religious services to continue meeting, in order to protect citizensí First Amendment rights.
    ďI donít think the government has the authority to close a church, Iím certainly not going to do that,Ē he said.    ďAt the same time, we got with the churches and the synagogues very early and said, ĎIn times like this, what you guys are doing, I think, is even more important, but we ask that you do it in a way that is going to be conducive to the overall mission.íĒ
Maria Ramirez prays outside of the St. Augustine Church & Catholic Student Center which is closed to parishioners due
to the new coronavirus pandemic, Sunday, March 29, 2020, in Coral Gables, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
    Floridaís decision to constitute these exemptions came just days after the pastor of a megachurch was charged with misdemeanors, which related to him holding services with more than 500 people in attendance.
    States such as Arizona, Colorado, Texas and Pennsylvania have granted similar privileges to these gathering places.    Each have received additional rules for remaining open.
    Nearly all of the states making exceptions for religious freedom will require every denomination holding in-person services to practice social distancing and take extra precautions to protect members of the congregation.
    Most churches across the country have migrated to online services to help combat the spread of the coronavirus.
The Hillsborough County Sheriffís Office has put an electronic sign on the driveway to The River Church Monday, March 30, 2020, in Tampa, Fla,
after warning the megachurch about violating a safer-at-home order in place to limit the spread of coronavirus. (AP Photo/Chris OíMeara)

4/5/2020 Olive branches handed out on Palm Sunday in near-deserted Jerusalem
A man prays in front of the closed doors of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as members of the Latin Patriarchate
prepare to distribute olive branches to Christian residents on Palm Sunday, during Holy Week
amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Jerusalem's Old City April 5, 2020. REUTERS/Ammar Awad
    JERUSALEM (Reuters) Ė Franciscan friars wearing surgical masks and gloves made house calls in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, delivering olive branches to Christians who are self-isolating as a precaution against the coronavirus.
    One of the friars used a loud-hailer in the streets of the walled Old City to summon people to their front doors and windows, where they received branches and blessings.
    In a solemn ceremony that would usually have been attended by thousands of worshippers, Roman Catholic church leaders then held a special prayer service on the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalemís Old City and the Golden Dome of the Rock.
    ďToday everything is empty and silent and itís very odd, itís very sad,Ē said Acting Latin Patriarch Of Jerusalem, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, who presided over the ceremony.
    The beginning of the Holy Week leading to Easter, Palm Sunday commemorates Jesusí arrival in Jerusalem.    Scripture speaks of his supporters scattering palm fronds in his path, an act often replicated today with branches of other native trees.
    Jerusalemís churches, like Muslim and Jewish places of worship, are closed to the public amid efforts to contain the coronavirus.    That has prompted the faithful to find alternatives to group prayer in a month in which the festivals of Passover, Easter and Ramadan will be marked in close succession.
    At the Vatican, Pope Francis marked Palm Sunday in an empty St. Peterís Basilica, urging people living through the pandemic not to be so concerned with what they lack but how they can ease the suffering of others.
(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Mark Potter and Frances Kerry)

4/5/2020 Mysterious Shroud of Turin on virtual display for coronavirus prayer by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis touches the Shroud of Turin during a two-day pastoral
visit in Turin, Italy, June 21, 2015. REUTERS/Giorgio Perottino/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Ė The Shroud of Turin, the mysterious linen some Christians believe is Jesusí burial cloth, will go on virtual display on Saturday, an extraordinary showing to help the faithful worldwide pray for an end to the coronavirus pandemic.
    Turin Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia made the announcement on Saturday night, saying he had received ďthousands and thousandsĒ of requests to display the shroud now.
    It will be displayed on April 11, Holy Saturday, when Christians believe Jesus was dead in a tomb the day before his resurrection.    Nosiglia will pray before the shroud, and the event will be live-streamed and televised.
    It is stored in a climate-controlled vault in the cityís cathedral and rarely shown because of its extremely fragile state.    It was last shown very briefly in 2018 for a group of young people.    Several million people viewed it in 2015, the last major showing.
    More than 1,000 people have died from the novel coronavirus in Piedmont, the region of which Turin is the capital.    Piedmont borders with Lombardy, the hardest-hit region. More than 15,500 people have died countrywide.
    The Catholic Church has not taken an official position on the shroud, which bears an image, reversed like a photographic negative, of a man with the wounds of a crucifixion.
    It shows the back and front of a bearded man, his arms crossed on his chest.    It is marked by what appear to be rivulets of blood from wounds in the wrists, feet and side.
    Skeptics say it is a masterful medieval forgery and carbon dating tests in 1988 dated it to between 1260 and 1390.    But some have challenged their accuracy, saying the cloth was corrupted by a 16th-century fire and restoration attempts.
    The shroud will be displayed on Saturday without the public.    Nosiglia said he would pray before the cloth starting at 5 p.m. (1500 GMT) and invited the faithful to join from home.
    It will be the latest extraordinary event held by the Catholic Church in the time of pandemic.
    Last month, Pope Francis held a dramatic, solitary prayer service in an empty St. Peterís Square, urging the world to see the crisis as a test of solidarity and a reminder of basic values.
    The Vatican has moved a centuries-old wooden crucifix normally kept in a Rome church to St. Peterís Basilica so that it can be seen during papal events.
    According to tradition, a plague that hit Rome in 1522 began subsiding after the crucifix was taken around the streets of the Italian capital for 16 days.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Pravin Char)

4/5/2020 Pope opens Holy Week amid pandemic; says now is the time to serve by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis leads the Palm Sunday mass in St. Peter's Basilica without public participation due to the spread of coronavirus disease
(COVID-19), at the Vatican April 5, 2020. Vatican Media/¨Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Ė Pope Francis marked a surreal Palm Sunday in an empty St. Peterís Basilica, urging people living through the coronavirus pandemic not to be so concerned with what they lack but how they can ease the suffering of others.
    The service, kicking off Holy Week events leading to Easter, usually attracts tens of thousands of people to a St. Peterís Square bedecked with olive and palm trees.    The service normally includes a long procession of cardinals, priests and faithful carrying palm fronds.
    This time, it was held from a secondary altar behind the main one Francis normally uses and attended by only about two dozen people, including a few aides, nuns and a scaled-down choir, all practicing social distancing.
    The symbolic procession was only several meters long and a few potted olive trees were brought in.
    The Mass was broadcast on television and over the internet to many millions.    Churches in countries around the world were holding similar, virtual services this week because of restrictions on gatherings.
    Cutting a solitary figure, Francis listened as three priests read the gospel account of Jesusí entry into Jerusalem and being hailed as the messiah.
    Holy Week marks the period when Christians commemorate events surrounding the key tenets of their faith Ė that Jesus was betrayed, crucified and rose from the dead.
    In his sermon, Francis urged his listeners to turn to God ďin the tragedy of a pandemic, in the face of the many false securities that have now crumbled, in the face of so many hopes betrayed, in the sense of abandonment that weighs upon our hearts
    The pandemic could help transform fear into service, he said.
    The Vatican has been in its own lockdown, mostly mirroring that in Italy, where more than 15,500 people have died since the outbreak of the new coronavirus epidemic in northern Italy on Feb. 21.
    There are nearly 125,000 cases of the virus in Italy and seven in the Vatican.    The pope and his closest aides have tested negative.
    ďThe tragedy we are experiencing summons us to take seriously the things that are serious, and not to be caught up in those that matter less; to rediscover that life is of no use if not used to serve others. For life is measured by love,Ē Francis said on Sunday.
    ďMay we reach out to those who are suffering and those most in need.    May we not be concerned about what we lack, but what good we can do for others,Ē he said.
    All of the popeís Holy Week services, which normally draw tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists to Rome, will take place in the empty basilica in a scaled-down version.
    The Good Friday Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) procession, which normally takes place around Romeís Colosseum, will instead be held in the relatively small atrium of the basilica.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Frances Kerry)

4/6/2020 COVID-19 lockdowns deemed illegal by La. Church by OAN Newsroom
Pastor Tony Spell speaks to the media after holding an evening service at the Life Tabernacle Church in Central, La.,
Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Spell held services despite facing misdemeanor charges for holding services previously
against Gov. John Bel Edwardsí shelter-in-place order due to the new coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
    The latest coronavirus-related lockdowns are meeting a growing popular backlash both in the U.S. and abroad.
    In recent days, pastor Tony Spell of the Life Tabernacle Church in Louisiana has faced a threat of arrest and trial for continuing to hold church services in defiance of statewide Ďstay-at-homeí order.    Despite such restrictions citing concerns of public health, Pastor Spell said lockdowns are unconstitutional.
    ďWe do not believe the governorís order is legal because both the federal Constitution and the state Constitution protect our right of free exercise and our right to peacefully assemble for that purpose,Ē he stated.
    At least 16 states have declared churches as providers of Ďessential servicesí and have allowed them to remain open amid the lockdowns.    Pastor Spell said people from Kentucky, Georgia and even as far as the state of Washington are traveling to his church in defiance of scare-mongering by the media and government officials.
    ďThey would rather come to church and worship like free people than live like prisoners in their homes for 22 days now,Ē said Pastor Spell.
A police officer asks people who are sitting down on a blanket to move on in Greenwich Park, London, as another London
park closed yesterday with most parks remaining open with the warning that they will close if people fail
to observe the British government guidelines to help stop the spread of coronavirus, Sunday, April 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
    American churches are not alone questioning the legality of government-imposed lockdowns.    On Sunday, thousands of Londoners took to parks and beaches to enjoy the sunny weather despite official restrictions on outdoors activities.
    ďWe did a workout inside and itís not just the same as coming out here in the sun, so itís just good to get outside,Ē stated Craig Wordsworth, a resident of London.
    In addition to legal challenges, virus lockdowns are stirring economic concerns as well.    The army of the unemployed American rose to above 9 million people in just two-weeks.
    Pastor Spell said America and the world need faith and freedom as opposed to crippling government control to overcome this crisis.

4/6/2020 Pope starts fund to help poorer countries deal with coronavirus
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis holds a palm branch as he leads Palm Sunday mass in St. Peter's Basilica without public participation
due to the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the Vatican April 5, 2020. Alberto Pizzoli/Pool via REUTERS
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Ė Pope Francis has started an emergency fund to help areas affected by the coronavirus in developing countries, the Vatican said on Monday.
    It said in a statement that the pope had designated $750,000 of funds at his disposal as an initial contribution.    He has asked Church entities and dioceses to contribute as they can.
    The funds will be distributed via the Pontifical Missions Societies, which supports the work of more than 1,100 dioceses mostly in Africa, Asia Oceania and part of the Amazon region.
    Last month, Francis donated 30 ventilators to Italian hospitals in areas hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

4/7/2020 Ex-Vatican treasurer Pell freed from jail, acquitted of sex offences by Sonali Paul
FILE PHOTO: Cardinal George Pell attends a news conference at the Vatican, June 29, 2017. REUTERS/Remo Casilli/File Photo
    (Reuters) Ė Australiaís highest court acquitted former Vatican treasurer George Pell on Tuesday of sexually assaulting two teenaged choirboys in the 1990s, freeing the 78-year-old cardinal after 404 days in jail.
    The High Court ordered Pellís convictions be quashed and verdicts of acquittal be entered in their place, ending the most high profile case of alleged historical sex abuse to rock the Roman Catholic Church.
    The seven judges of the High Court agreed unanimously that the jury in the cardinalís trial ďought to have entertained a doubtĒ about his guilt.    Pell, who has maintained his innocence throughout the lengthy court process, cannot be retried on the charges.
    ďI hold no ill will toward my accuser, I do not want my acquittal to add to the hurt and bitterness so many feel; there is certainly hurt and bitterness enough,Ē Pell said in a statement shortly before he was driven away from the maximum security Barwon Prison near Melbourne.
    The verdict comes in the middle of Holy Week, the period leading up to Easter, the most important day in the Christian calendar.
    An official Vatican comment was expected later on Tuesday.
    A few hours after Pellís acquittal, Pope Francis offered his morning Mass for those who suffer from unjust sentences.    Francis did not mention Pell by name.
    ďI would like to pray today for all those people who suffer unjust sentences resulting from intransigence (against them),Ē Francis said, speaking extemporaneously at the start of the Mass.
    The pope appointed Pell to overhaul the Vaticanís vast finances in 2014 and has withheld comment on the case through the trial and appeals.
    The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said it was ďdismayed and heartbrokenĒ by the>     ďThis is a disappointing ruling that only exacerbates the mistrust survivors feel,Ē SNAP Australia said in a statement.
    Pell, a polarising figure in Australia for his conservative views, remained a cardinal but lost his treasurer role last year when he became the highest ranked Catholic official worldwide to be jailed for child sex offences.
    He was serving a six-year sentence on one charge of sexual penetration of a child under 16 and four charges of an indecent act with a child under 16, which the plaintiff said took place when Pell was archbishop of the city of Melbourne.
    Pellís first trial ended in a hung jury.    The jury at his second trial in 2018 unanimously found him guilty.    Pell did not take the stand at either trial.
    A lower appeal court had upheld Pellís conviction, but the High Court found it had failed to properly consider evidence that should have raised doubt that he was guilty.
    Pellís accuser, one of two boys the archbishop was alleged to have assaulted, had said the offences took place shortly after Sunday masses, in the priestsí sacristy and corridor of St. Patrickís Cathedral in Melbourne, while Pell was robed.
    The High Court judges pointed to unchallenged evidence from church officials at Pellís trial that he typically spent time talking to congregants on the church steps after mass, he was always accompanied by a priest while robed, and the sacristy was usually a hive of activity after mass.
    The lower appeals court and the trial jury watched a video of his accuserís testimony, described by the prosecutor as ďpowerful and persuasive.Ē    The High Court did not view it and said it should not have been necessary for the appeal court to have viewed it.
    The second alleged victim in the case died in 2014 of a drug overdose.    His father, who is pursuing a civil case against Pell, said through his lawyer Lisa Flynn he was ďin shockĒ and ďfuriousĒ a conviction by a unanimous jury had been overturned.
    ďOur client says he is heartbroken for (his sonís friend, the accuser in the case) who stuck his neck out by coming forward to tell his story,Ē Flynn of Shine Lawyers said.
    Vivian Waller, a lawyer for the accuser, said her client would make a statement on Wednesday.
    While the trial and appeals were held in courtrooms packed with media and supporters for both sides, Tuesdayís decision was delivered to a largely empty courtroom in Brisbane because of national restrictions on travel and public gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic.
    The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference said the acquittal would be welcomed by many and ďdevastating for others
    ďThe result today does not change the Churchís unwavering commitment to child safety and to a just and compassionate response to survivors and victims of child sexual abuse,Ē said Archbishop Mark Coleridge, president of the conference.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Additional reporting by Philip Pullella in Rome; Editing by Jane Wardell and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

4/7/2020 Northern Irish women told to sail to England for abortions despite pandemic by Amanda Ferguson
Naomi Connor, Co-Convener of Alliance for Choice poses with the recommended and safe medication that women in
Northern Ireland are being denied. Belfast, Northern Ireland, April 7, 2020. REUTERS/Jason Cairnduff
    BELFAST (Reuters) Ė Northern Irish women seeking an abortion have been told they must take an 8-hour ferry to England despite the lockdown, as the regional government resists pressure to offer abortions locally and the coronavirus pandemic stops flights.
    Abortion was decriminalised in Northern Ireland last year after the British parliament bypassed opposition from socially conservative Christian politicians in Belfast to bring the region into line with the rest of the United Kingdom, where abortion has been legal for decades.
    But the regional health ministry missed an April 1 deadline to begin providing abortion just as the coronavirus pandemic complicated the governmentís recommended back-up option of travelling to England for the procedure.
    ďWe are in a worse position than we have ever been in,Ē said abortion rights activist Emma Campbell, co-chair of the Alliance for Choice group, which has seen a five-fold increase in calls for help since the travel restrictions were introduced. ďAccess is worse than it has been for over 50 years
    One 39-year-old education worker from County Down who is seven weeks pregnant and seeking an abortion said she had been told by her local doctor that no provision had been set up to provide abortions in Northern Ireland.
    ďI was told I would have to take a ferry, take the pill in the clinic in the morning, then take the other pill and then get the ferry home,Ē she told Reuters.
    ďWhat is happening to women in Northern Ireland is inhumane,Ē she said.    ďHaving to sneak out to get to Liverpool is not what should be happening in 2020.Ēbr>     The only British clinics currently available for women from Northern Ireland seeking publicly funded abortions are in Manchester and Liverpool, but no direct flights are available due to the coronavirus lock-down, activists say.
    A spokeswoman for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, which operates the governmentís booking system for Northern Ireland women requiring abortions, said that due to flight cancellations the ferry was currently the only viable route.
    ďSome in the Northern Ireland Executive are clearly attempting to delay the widespread establishment of services, by refusing to commission services for example ÖĒ spokeswoman Katherine OíBrien said.
    Amnesty International described the situations as ďunfair, dangerous and needlessly putting women and girls at riskĒ and said it was worried it would lead to women attempting unsafe abortions.
    Northern Irelandís First Minister Arlene Foster, who like Health Minister Robin Swann describes herself as ďpro-life,Ē on Monday told a press conference she was against ďabortion on demand
    ďItís a retrograde step for our society,Ē she said.
    Fosterís Democratic Unionist Party on Monday voted against a proposal to allow doctors to prescribe the abortion pill via telephone consultations Ė a measure that has been introduced across the rest of the United Kingdom in the wake of coronavirus lockdown while Swannís Ulster Unionist Party abstained, a source close to the Northern Ireland executive told Reuters.
    The leader of the non-sectarian Alliance Party Stephen Farry wrote a letter to Swann saying women in Northern Ireland had been left in an ďuntenable situation
    The department of health said it was ďconsidering this urgentlyĒ but said it would be an issue for the Northern Ireland executive to decide.
    Alliance for Choice says it has been forced to return to its practice from before abortion was decriminalised and work with other groups to try to source abortion pills from the internet and get a doctor in the Netherlands to assess women and prescribe the pills even though it is not legal to prescribe abortion pills for home use in Northern Ireland.
    However, even this is dependent on supply of pills which have been severely limited by coronavirus, Campbell said.
    Activists say that in addition to a surge in calls seeking help, they have seen a number of examples of women self-harming and at least one attempting suicide.
    Another pregnant woman, a 29 year old beauty industry worker from Belfast, said she had asked a local charity to send her pills but she had no idea if or when they would arrive.
    ďAt this time nothing is certain and itís very scary that itís completely out of my hands,Ē she said.
(Writing by Conor Humphries and Amanda Ferguson; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

4/7/2020 Notre-Dame Cathedral to hold small Good Friday service amid Franceís coronavirus lockdown
A view shows the restoration work at Notre Dame Cathedral, which was damaged in a devastating fire almost
one year ago, in Paris ahead of Easter celebrations to be held under lockdown imposed to slow the spread
of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in France, April 7, 2020. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
    PARIS (Reuters) Ė A small congregation of worshippers will hold a short service on Good Friday at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, a year after it was devastated by fire, but attendance will be limited because of a lockdown during the coronavirus outbreak.
    Seven people will attend the televised meditation ceremony on Friday, when Christians commemorate the death of Jesus Christ.
    ďOnly a few priests will attend the masses that we will celebrate during the Holy Week and people will be able to follow services on radio or on television,Ē Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit said told a video news conference.
    The service will include a wreath rescued after the fire at Notre-Dame.
    There will be no Easter Saturday processions this year because of the lockdown, which limits the size of public gatherings.
    On Easter Sunday, when Christians celebrate Christís resurrection, Aupetit will hold a mass in Saint-Germain líAuxerrois church near Le Louvre museum in the heart of Paris, with about 20 people attending.
    Last year, hundreds of Parisians gathered for Easter Sunday mass at Saint-Eustache church in central Paris and prayed for the swift restoration of Notre-Dame after the fire that ripped through it days earlier, on April 15.
    The fire destroyed the mediaeval cathedralís roof, toppled the spire and almost brought down the main bell towers and outer walls before firefighters brought it under control.
    President Emmanuel Macron has set a target of five years for restoring Notre-Dame, one of Europeís main landmarks.
(This story corrects headline and first paragraph to make clear Fridayís service will not be a mass)
(Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau, Writing by Dominique Vidalon, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

4/8/2020 Priests across America offering drive thru confessions during pandemic by OAN Newsroom
Fr. Steve Buno, Pastor of St. Rita of Cascia Catholic Church in Harahan, La., performs drive-thru Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament,
as a form of social distancing due to the new coronavirus, during Holy Week, Tuesday, April 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
    Priests across the country are offering drive thru confessions to accommodate social distancing policies during the coronavirus pandemic.    The trend has caught on at Christian churches, which have been offering the sacrament after Sunday services.
    One priest in Massachusetts has said he believes God can ďgive us the support to deal with what it is that is happeningĒ in our lives, especially during such an unprecedented time.
    ďWhat weíre doing here is what weíre calling parking lot confessions or drive thru confessions.    Because of the coronavirus, people canít come into the church and we want to make sure that we can give them some level of spiritual sustenance.    Thatís really the ultimate point of this sacrament, is to experience Godís loving embrace in your time of crisis.    So I think, particularly in this time of year with what weíre going through, itís extremely helpful and important for people.Ē Ė Rev. Brian E. Mahoney, Chelmsford Catholic Collaborative
    According to other priests, the challenge will be to figure out how to still be a church in a ďdifferent way
George DeCola, of Richmond, Va., places Drive Thru Prayer signs at a shopping center Thursday April 2, 2020, in Richmond, Va.
DeCola, who is a worship leader at a Lutheran Church offers prayers for those wanting spiritual guidance. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

4/9/2020 CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC - State clamps down on religious services - Governor: One mass gathering could Ďblow upí number of infected by Kala Kachmar, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    With Easter fast approaching and Kentucky closing in on 100 deaths from the coronavirus, Gov. Andy Beshear warned Wednesday that a single mass gathering could ďblow upĒ the number of infected residents.
    He and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer each urged Kentuckians to call off Easter in-person gatherings or risk spreading the deadly virus even further.    On Wednesday, Kentucky reported eight more deaths and at least 200 more cases of COVID-19.     People have celebrated Easter together as a tradition for generations, but the coronavirus doesnít care about.
The April ďpink moonĒ rises above the Big Four Bridge on Tuesday as seen from the Indiana side of the Ohio River.
The bridge was lit up green in honor of the Kentuckians who have died from the coronavirus. MICHAEL CLEVENGER/COURIER JOURNAL
[Ye of little faith that God will protect those who promote Easter or Seder services.].

4/9/2020 Pope creates panel to study whether to allow female deacons
    ROME Ė The Vatican said Wednesday that Pope Francis has created a new commission of experts to examine whether women can be deacons, an ordained role in the Catholic Church reserved for men.    The 10-member commission includes equal numbers of men and women representing the United States and six European countries.    Deacons are ordained ministers who perform many of the same functions as priests.    They preside at weddings, baptisms and funerals, and they can preach.    They cannot celebrate Mass.

4/9/2020 Cardinal Pellís acquittal stirs abuse survivor memories in Ballarat hometown by Sonali Paul and Jonathan Barrett
FILE PHOTO: A resident puts a ribbon on the fence of St Patrick's Cathedral in Ballarat, Australia, February 27, 2019.
The ribbons are part of a campaign to raise awareness and show support for victims of abuse. REUTERS/Jonathan Barrett
    MELBOURNE/SYDNEY (Reuters) Ė A thick line of black tape obscures Cardinal George Pellís name on a board lauding ordained alumni of St Patrickís College in the Australian town of Ballarat as coloured ribbons flutter on doors and mailboxes.
    The high school in Pellís home town has no immediate plans to remove the tape despite the former Vatican treasurerís acquittal this week of the sexual assault of two choirboys in Melbourne in the 1990s.
    The High Courtís decision to overturn a lower courtís ruling and clear 78-year-old Pell, releasing him from jail after serving just over a year of a six-year sentence, has stirred painful memories for child sex abuse survivors in Ballarat.
    Belinda Coates, deputy mayor of the town that has the unfortunate distinction of being a hotspot of historic child sex abuse by Catholic clergy in Australia, said the decision was tough for survivors who have long feared the stigma and trauma of going public with allegations.
    ďThereís been shock and disappointment here at the decision,Ē Coates told Reuters in a telephone interview.
    Pell not only grew up and went to school in the former gold mining town, located some 120 km (75 miles) west of Melbourne, but served there as parish priest from 1973 to 1983.
    Hundreds of people have made claims against the Catholic church in the Ballarat diocese, a region covering the town and 51 surrounding parishes, over alleged incidents from the mid-1960s to mid-1990s.    At least six priests and members of the Christian Brothers religious order have been jailed.
    Allegations by former pupils at a childrenís home and three schools, all run by Christian Brothers, comprised an entire case study in a government-backed national inquiry into institutional child sex abuse.
    After taking evidence from victims and clergy, the so-called Royal Commission found in a 2017 report there was a ďcatastrophic failure in the leadershipĒ of the Ballarat Diocese.    A climate of secrecy to minimise scandal and protect the Catholic Church saw priests accused of abuse quietly moved to other parishes, while records of allegations were destroyed, the commission said.
    Throughout both the Royal Commission hearings and Pellís legal case, coloured ribbons have sporadically adorned buildings in Ballarat as a mark of respect for the abuse victims.    New ribbons appeared this week after Pellís conviction was overturned.
    ďIt demonstrates the groundswell of community support for those affected,Ē said Coates, who travelled to Rome in 2016 with abuse survivors to hear Pellís testimony about the Ballarat Diocese to the Royal Commission.
    Pell, who was not named as an alleged perpetrator at that inquiry, was called to give evidence about his knowledge of other priestsí conduct, and whether he was present when church leaders decided to move offenders between parishes.
    Pell told the inquiry he was not aware of the abuse of children in Ballarat by another priest in the 1970s, but said the Church had made ďcatastrophicĒ choices in its response to complaints.
    In a statement after the High Courtís decision, Pell said he did not want his acquittal to ďadd to the hurt and bitterness so many feel
    Paul Bird, the current bishop of Ballarat, acknowledged the case had been distressing for both those directly involved and others in the community, including victims of abuse and their families.
    ďNow that the highest court in the land has given a judgement, I hope this will bring some sense of resolution to all those affected by the proceedings,Ē Bird said.
    Pell, who grew up as the son of a publican before becoming archbishop of both Sydney and Melbourne on his way to the Vaticanís inner circle, remains a polarising figure in Ballarat.
    Phil Nagle, an abuse survivor who gave evidence to the Royal Commission, said the High Courtís decision was particularly tough given it came as the town, like the rest of the country, is in virtual lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic.
    ďWeíd all go out and have a beer and we canít even do that,Ē Nagle said.    ďJust because all these things donít stick, doesnít mean everyone loves Pell now
    Pellís former Ballarat high school scratched his name from a building when he was convicted last year, as well as masking his name on the alumni board.    St Patrickís this week said it would only consider reinstating Pellís naming honours after all of the findings of the Royal Commission had been released and assessed.
    Large parts of the commissionís 536-page report into the Ballarat Diocese were redacted ahead of Pellís trial.
    Australian Attorney General Christian Porter said this week he is inclined to publish the full findings if prosecutors agree that would not prejudice any anticipated legal proceedings.
    Catherine King, Ballaratís representative in Australiaís parliament, said the ribbons decorating the town would remain a part of the landscape to carry a message of ďNo More SilenceĒ until the unredacted report is released.    Pell declined to comment on Thursday about the report.
    Reflecting local anger, King honoured ďcourageous survivorsĒ after Pell walked free.
    ďI think that many in the community feel very angry and hurt not just by one individual but the way in which our institutions failed so many children in our community and then compounded the harm by treating them so badly for decades
(Reporting by Sonali Paul and Jonathan Barrett; editing by Jane Wardell)

4/9/2020 Irish priest spreads coronavirus Easter cheer from vintage Ďpopemobileí
Father Malachy Conlon is seen inside a vintage 'popemobile', in Cooley Peninsula, Louth, Ireland
April 9, 2020. in this still image obtained from a social media video. JOHN LOGAN/via REUTERS
    DUBLIN (Reuters) Ė An Irish priest refusing to let the coronavirus lockdown keep him from his parishioners came up with an innovative way to spread his Holy Thursday blessing Ė aboard a vintage Ďpopemobile.í
    Father Malachy Conlon rode around a rural peninsula greeting locals who lined the streets from behind partially lowered protective shields in the white, open roofed vehicle that is usually the centrepiece of papal motorcades when the head of the Roman Catholic Church travels the world.
    Conlonís personal Ďpopemobileí was used by Pope John Paul II on trips to Britain and South Africa in the 1980ís.    It was later purchased by a local parishioner, whose widow keeps it in storage nearby, the County Louth priest told Reuters.
    After Ireland ordered citizens on March 27 to stay home until at least Sunday to help slow the spread of the virus, Conlon asked his congregation not to gather together for Easter but to instead receive their blessings from the side of the road.
    ďThe pastoral council talked about reaching out to people at this difficult time and as we talked, this idea evolved. It was all quite spontaneous,Ē Conlon said after his six-hour drive in the north eastern coastal sunshine.
    ďThere were huge crowds, it was a moving turnout.    Iíve never received such a torrent of messages as I have this evening, people deeply appreciative and feeling connected to one another, despite all of the distancing.Ēbr> (Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

4/9/2020 On Holy Thursday, pope hails front-line Ďsaintsí helping virus victims by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis holds a Mass on Holy Thursday at St. Peter's Basilica with no public participation due to the outbreak
of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Vatican, April 9, 2020. Alessandro Di Meo/Pool via REUTERS
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Ė Pope Francis presided at a scaled-down Holy Thursday Mass in an empty St. Peterís Basilica, praising ordinary doctors, nurses and priests who risk their lives helping coronavirus victims as ďthe saints next door
    The Mass, which commemorates Jesusí Last Supper with his apostles on the night before he died, usually packs the basilica with up to 10,000 people, including cardinals, bishops, and ordinary faithful.
    But because of the coronavirus restrictions, it was said from a secondary altar behind the main one Francis normally uses and attended by only two dozen people, including a few aides, nuns and a scaled-down choir.
    They all practiced social distancing Ė most with a pew to themselves Ė in Christendomís largest church.    The service was broadcast live to the faithful on television and over the internet, which has become the new normal for Easter season services.
    Even the traditional foot-washing ritual, which commemorates Jesusí gesture of humility towards his apostles, was eliminated to avoid the possible spread of the virus.
    In his improvised homily, Francis praised those, including priests, who he said are risking their lives in helping victims of the coronavirus.
    ďThese days more than 60 (priests) have died here in Italy while taking care of the sick, in hospitals,Ē he said.    ďTogether with the doctors and nurses they are the saints next door
    More than 18,000 people have died of the coronavirus in Italy, the highest death toll in the world.    The number of confirmed cases has topped 143,000, the third highest global tally behind those of the United States and Spain.
    More than 100 of the dead in Italy were doctors, according to their federation.
    The diplomatic corps would have attended the Mass sitting in the front in full regalia to represent more than 180 countries that have relations with the Vatican.
    They instead organized a fund to contribute to a drive by the Italian Bishops Conference to help hospitals in need, according to a statement by the Cypriot and Italian ambassadors.
    The popeís scaled-down Holy Week events, which began last Sunday and culminate this Sunday on Easter, were being mirrored around the world in churches where services were also being held without public participation in most countries.
    His traditional candlelight Good Friday ďVia CrucisĒ (Way of the Cross) procession around Romeís ancient Colosseum also will not be held for the first time in decades.    It will be replaced by a mini-version in the small atrium of St. Peterís Basilica.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

4/10/2020 On Good Friday, Jerusalem archbishop urges prayer for the suffering and dying by Stephen Farrell
FILE PHOTO: Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and other Roman Catholic church
leaders hold a prayer service on the Mount of Olives overlooking the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem instead of the traditional
Palm Sunday procession, because of restrictions on public gatherings amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). April 5, 2020 REUTERS/ Ammar Awad
    JERUSALEM (Reuters) Ė On a sombre and quiet Good Friday in Jerusalem, the Vaticanís apostolic
administrator in the Holy Land called for prayer for people suffering and dying from the coronavirus.
    ďWe are celebrating Good Friday, the commemoration of the death of Jesus, under very difficult circumstances,Ē Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa said outside Jerusalemís Church of the Holy Sepulchre, revered as the site of Jesusí crucifixion, burial and resurrection.
    He spoke briefly to Reuters before entering the sandstone churchís giant front doors.    The church was closed to the public weeks ago, but was opened on Catholic Good Friday specifically for his entry for prayers and a service attended by a few clerics.
    COVID-19 has infected over 10,000 in Israel, with 92 fatalities.    There have been 263 cases and one death in the Palestinian territories, mostly in the occupied West Bank.
    Jerusalem residents are locked down in their homes for all but essential activities, which do not include religious ceremonies.
    The Christian denominations that share custody of the Holy Sepulchre face closures unprecedented in living memory, as do Jewish and Muslim leaders in a city that has sites sacred to all three faiths.
    Passover, Easter and Ramadan all fall this month, with Catholics celebrating Good Friday today, and Easter Sunday on April 12.
    Death has surfaced itself all over the world, Pizzaballa said, ďso it is important Ö in this place, where this (Jesusís crucifixion) happened that we can pray (and) commemorate (it)
    Pizzaballa called on people ďto be united in the heart, in the prayer, with all those who are suffering and dying
    He then entered the church, its large doors swinging shut behind him.
    Soon afterwards, the piercing sound of singing and prayers emerged from high up in an ancient courtyard atop the Holy Sepulchre, where a church was first built in the fourth century.
(Reporting by Stephen Farrell; Writing by Rami Ayyub)

4/10/2020 Pope continues meetings amid COVID-19, Italy hopes to reopen in May by OAN Newsroom
    As Italy prepares for Easter amid the nationís lockdown due to the coronavirus, One Americaís Stefan Kleinhenz spoke with the National Catholic Registerís Rome correspondent to learn more.

4/10/2020 On Good Friday, Pope hears sorrows of prisoners and victims by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis leads the Good Friday Passion of the Lord in St. Peter's Basilica with no public participation due to
the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the Vatican, April 10, 2020. Vatican Media/¨Handout via REUTERS
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Ė Pope Francis presided at a ďWay of the CrossĒ service held in an empty St. Peterís Square on Friday because of the coronavirus outbreak and listened as both prisoners and their victims recounted their sorrows.
    It marked the first time the procession, commemorating the last hours in Jesusí life, was not held at Romeís ancient Colosseum since the modern-day tradition was re-introduced by Pope Paul VI in 1964.
    Francis watched from under a canopy on the steps of the basilica as 10 people Ė half from the Italian prison system and half from the Vaticanís health services Ė carried a cross and flaming torches towards him.
    Speakers read meditations as the group stopped 14 times to mark each of the ďStations of the CrossĒ starting with the first when Jesus was condemned to death by Pontius Pilate to the last when he was buried in a tomb.
    The meditations are written by different groups each year and this time they were penned by prisoners, including a murderer, from a jail in northern Italy, and prison guards, chaplains, and family members of both prisoners and victims.
    ďI committed an evil immensely greater than any of those that I had received,Ē said the meditation written by the murderer.
    The meditation written by the parents of a murdered girl said ďour condemnation to suffering will never end.Ē
    Francis has often brought attention to the problems of prisoners, including overcrowding, and more recently he has expressed concern that the coronavirus would spread unchecked in jails.
    ďI became a grandfather in prison.    I didnít experience my daughterís pregnancy.    One day, I will tell my granddaughter the story of only the goodness I have found and not the evil I have done,Ē read another meditation.
    The participants prayed before a wooden crucifix which is normally kept in a Rome church and brought to the Vatican for the special service.
    According to tradition, a plague that hit Rome in 1522 began subsiding after the crucifix was taken around the streets of the Italian capital for 16 days in 1522.
    Earlier on Friday, Francis prostrated himself on the floor of an empty St. Peterís Basilica at a ďPassion of the LordĒ service Ė one of the rare times when the pope does not deliver a homily, leaving it to Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher of the papal household.
    Cantalamessa said the pandemic, which has killed nearly 19,000 people in Italy, should be a spur for people to appreciate what really matters in life.
    ďLet us not allow so much pain, so many deaths, and so much heroic engagement on the part of health workers to have been in vain.    Returning to the way things were is the Ďrecessioní we should fear the most,Ē he said.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Frances Kerry and Daniel Wallis)

4/11/2020 Australiaís Cardinal Pell urges Christians to embrace suffering: paper
FILE PHOTO: Cardinal George Pell attends a news conference at the Vatican, June 29, 2017. REUTERS/Remo Casilli/File Photo
    MELBOURNE (Reuters) Ė Suffering should be embraced and redeemed through service even when a result of a miscarriage of justice, Australiaís Cardinal George Pell, who spent 404 days in jail before his sexual abuse conviction was overturned this week, wrote on Saturday.
    Reiterating his innocence, the highest-ranking Roman Catholic cleric to have been jailed in the churchís child sex abuse crisis urged Christians to help those suffering during the coronavirus pandemic.
    ďChristians see Christ in everyone who suffers ó victims, the sick, the elderly ó and are obliged to help,Ē Pell wrote in his Easter message in the Weekend Australian, accompanied by a photograph in which he wears his cardinalís robes.
    ďI have just spent 13 months in jail for a crime I didnít commit, one disappointment after another (Ö) But with every blow it was a consolation to know I could offer it to God for some good purpose, like turning the mass of suffering into spiritual energy
    A powerful government-appointed inquiry in 2017 found widespread instances of child abuse, often covered up, in several thousand Australian institutions, more than half of them religious.
    ďThe sexual abuse crisis damaged thousands of victims,Ē Pell, who was acquitted by the High Court on appeal, wrote in his piece.    ďFrom many points of view the crisis is also bad for the Catholic church, but we have painfully cut out a moral cancer and this is good
    He added, ďSo, too, some would see COVID-19 as a bad time for those who claim to believe in a good and rational God
    Although fewer than a quarter of Australians declare themselves Catholic, the church has weathered the abuse scandals with the closure of a few parishes and its schools still enroll a fifth of all Australian students, government data shows.
    Before walking free on Tuesday, the 78-year-old Pell, a former Vatican treasurer and a polarizing figure in Australia for his conservative views, was serving a six-year sentence for sexually assaulting two teenaged choirboys in the 1990s.
    ďEveryone is confronted with a couple of questions,Ē Pell wrote.    ďWhat should I do in this situation?    Why is there so much evil and suffering?    And why did this happen to me?    Why the coronavirus pandemic?Ē
(This story corrects paragraph 6 to show acquittal by High Court, not Supreme Court)
(Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

4/11/2020 ĎBe messengers of life in a time of death,í pope says on Easter eve by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis leads the Easter vigil Mass in St. Peter's Basilica with no public participation due to the
outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Vatican, April 11, 2020. REUTERS/Remo Casilli/Pool
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Ė Pope Francis urged people to ďnot yield to fearĒ and focused on a ďmessage of hopeĒ as he led an Easter eve Mass in an empty St. Peterís Basilica on Saturday amid the coronavirus pandemic and called for an end to wars.
    The vigil, which normally takes place in a church packed with about 10,000 people, was attended by only about two dozen, including a few altar servers and a smaller-than-usual choir. Because of the coronavirus outbreak, it was scaled back to eliminate several traditional features, such as the baptism of adult converts and a long procession up the main aisle of Christendomís largest church.
    Francis drew a comparison between the Gospel account of the women who found Jesusí tomb empty on the day Christians believe he rose from the dead and the uncertain state of the world today because of the coronavirus pandemic.
    ďThen too, there was fear about the future and all that would need to be rebuilt.    A painful memory, a hope cut short. For them, as for us, it was the darkest hour,Ē Francis said in his homily.
    In countries around the world Catholics followed the papal service or Masses said by priests in their own empty churches and broadcast on television or over the internet.
    ďDo not be afraid, do not yield to fear: This is the message of hope.    It is addressed to us, today. These are the words that God repeats to us this very night,Ē Francis said.
    He encouraged people to be ďmessengers of life in a time of death,Ē again condemning the arms trade and urging those better off to help the poor.
    ďLet us silence the cries of death, no more wars! May we stop the production and trade of weapons, since we need bread, not guns,Ē Francis said.
    ďLet the abortion and killing of innocent lives end. May the hearts of those who have enough be open to filling the empty hands of those who do not have the bare necessities,Ē he said.
    All of the popeís Holy Week activities were modified, taking place with no participation by the public.
    It will be the same for the culminating event on Easter Sunday, when Francis says Mass and delivers his ďUrbi et OrbiĒ (to the city and the world) blessing and message.
    The Easter Sunday Mass usually attracts up to 100,000 people in St. Peterís Square.    This year, it will be held inside the church with a symbolic congregation of fewer than 20 people.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Leslie Adler)

4/12/2020 Australians, New Zealanders observe Easter online and in backyards by Lidia Kelly
Pastor Matt Johnson interacts with parishioners via Zoom on a laptop upon concluding an Easter service he led which is live-streamed
via the internet for the parishioners due to social gathering restrictions implemented to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease
(COVID-19), at One1Seven evangelical Anglican church in Sydney, Australia, April 12, 2020. REUTERS/Loren Elliott
    MELBOURNE (Reuters) Ė With the coronavirus capsizing Easter traditions, Australians and New Zealanders spent Sunday attending church services virtually, setting up camps in backyards and where the law and weather allowed Ė with physically distanced walks on beaches.
    The pace of new coronavirus infections has slowed significantly in both countries in recent weeks, with New Zealand amidst wide-ranging lockdown measures and Australiaís rigid enforcement of social-distancing rules.
    According to Australiaís health ministry, the number of new confirmed cases rose on Sunday by 51, the slowest rate in a month, to 6,289, while there have been 59 deaths.
    In New Zealand, the number of recovered cases of COVID-19 continues to be higher than the number of new infections, with 14 new cases on Sunday bringing the total to 1,049.    Four people have died so far.
    ďThere is no place in the world I would rather be than Australia at the moment,Ē Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said at a televised briefing on Sunday, urging, however, not to become complacent.
    ďWe must maintain our strong position of social distancing
    The popularity of New Zealandís Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Australiaís Prime Minister Scott Morrison has risen, with both leaders hailed for their steps to contain the spread of the virus.
    Unusually hot temperatures of near 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in Western Australia have pushed people to the beach this weekend, but police said that physical distancing was respected.
    With the majority of beaches closed to the public, however, and public gatherings over two people banned, Australians have been forced to become creative, with widespread local media reports of families setting up camps in their backyards.
    Churches and synagogues across Australia have offered their services online, as places of worships have been closed due to the pandemic.
    On Sunday, with Victoria extending its state of emergency for another four weeks, 112 Australians and New Zealanders from the Greg Mortimer cruise ship that had been moored off Montevideo in Uruguay, landed in Melbourne.    Some 60% of passengers on the ship tested positive for coronavirus.
    Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told ABC television that while there will be an uptick in unemployment and a hit to the economy because of the virus, it would be ďvery dangerousĒ to move ahead of medical advice and ease restrictions.
    The government committed on Sunday more than A$18 billion ($11.2 billion) to universities this year, with Education Minister Dan Tehan saying prices for some short courses will be slashed to enable people to ďbinge on studying
($1 = 1.6111 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

4/12/2020 Have we replaced churches with television, cellphones and laptops what about the good old drive-in format
    Build it and people will come as you will see in the next image.
This church got it right no empty church on TV, no laptop sermon, no television sermon, on this day of worship as they came in their vehicles with their family to sit in the parking lot in their vehicle to listen to the sermon on a FM radio channel.    Tell Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear where to stick it where the sun does not shine and never tell a Kentuckian not to do what the U.S. Constitution says about our First Amendment right to do religion or try to take away our Second Amendment rights to defend ourselves from over reaching government.    Christians and Americans will prevail as we thank GOD for his holiness and praise him for providing us our savior Jesus Christ.

4/12/2020 DOJ to regulate social distancing policies through Easter weekend by OAN Newsroom
Patty Duffey, wearing a mask, stops at a station at a drive-thru Stations of the Cross for social distancing due to the
coronavirus on Good Friday at the New Song Church, Friday, April 10, 2020, in Henderson, Nev. (AP Photo/John Locher)
    The Justice Department is defending churches across the country by warning lower level officials to respect every Americanís First Amendment rights.    On Saturday, the departmentís director of communications said although social distancing policies are appropriate during this pandemic, local governments must be careful to avoid singling out religious organizations.
    She emphasized ďthese policies must be applied evenhandedlyĒ and added people who break these guidelines can expect action from the DOJ next week.
    This comes as churches across the country have been forced to temporarily close, prompting many to hold online services. However, some churches are working to stay open.
    Social distancing guidelines in Mississippi have been defied by local religious leaders, despite coronavirus concerns.
    Members of the King James Bible Baptist Church in Greenville filed a lawsuit against Mayor Errick Simmons on Friday, who enforced the distribution of $500 tickets during a drive-in service.    The suit was filed by Jeremy Dys of the First Liberty Institute, which accused local law enforcement of unconstitutionally targeting>
The first of two Easter parking lot services is held at the Immanuel Lutheran Church
in Lawrence, Kan., Sunday, April 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
    Congregants have said they were following social distancing restrictions by listening to the sermon over the radio in the churchís parking lot with cars parked six feet apart.    Though some members of the congregation stayed inside their cars during the service, a number of people were fined for not leaving when police arrived.
    Pastor Charles Hamilton livestreamed the incident online and criticized the mistreatment of his congregants.
    According to officers, parishioners were politely asked to disperse, while those who refused were ticketed.
    The incident followed Mississippi Governor Tate Reevesí recent implementation of a stay-at-home orders.    Mayor Simmons ordered all in-person and drive-in churches to shutter their doors temporarily.

A car is directed to the entrance of the Riverside Drive-In theatre in Vandergrift, Pa., for a screening
of an Easter Service produced by the Harvest Baptist Church of Harrison, Pa., at sunset Friday,
April 10, 2020. The service will be screened each night through Easter Sunday. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
    In Kentucky, Maryville Baptist Church Pastor Jack Roberts confirmed heís prepared to face legal heat over his decision to hold services.
    ďOur stupid governor says you canít get together with your family for Easter.    What are they gonna do, stand at my door and see how many people go in?    Only thing I can tell you is I have two national constitutional attorneys.Ē Ė Jack Roberts, Pastor at Maryville Baptist Church

    Meanwhile, religious leaders in North Carolina are taking unique approaches to accommodate their constituents with drive-in Easter services.    The bishop of St. Patrickís Cathedral of Charlotte provided socially distanced Good Friday mass and communion to congregants outside of the churchís doors.
Bishop Peter J. Jugis expressed frustration about having to break tradition.    However, he noted even though itís hard right now, his church will continue following the stateís rules.

4/12/2020 Banish Ďself-centrednessí, pope tells the world as it faces coronavirus by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis celebrates Easter Sunday Mass behind closed doors due to an outbreak of the coronavirus
disease (COVID-19) at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, April 12, 2020. Andreas Solaro/Pool via REUTERS
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Ė Pope Francis called on Sunday for global solidarity in fighting the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout, urging the relaxation of international sanctions, debt relief for poor nations and ceasefires in all conflicts.
    He also warned the European Union that it risked collapse if it did not agree on how to help the region recover.
    The popeís Easter ďUrbi et OrbiĒ (to the city and the world) message, delivered from an empty St. Peterís Basilica instead of to the usual crowd of tens of thousands in the square outside, was by far his most pressing and political since his election in 2013.
    Saying the message of this yearís ďEaster of solitudeĒ should be a ďcontagion of hope,Ē he heaped praise on doctors, nurses and others risking their lives to save others and hailed those working to keep essential services running.
    ďThis is not a time for indifference, because the whole world is suffering and needs to be united in facing the pandemic,Ē he said in the message, almost entirely dedicated to the pandemicís effects on personal and international relations.
    ďIndifference, self-centredness, division and forgetfulness are not words we want to hear at this time.    We want to ban these words forever!Ē he said.
    Francis expressed sympathy for those not able to bid farewell to their loved ones because of restrictions, for Catholics who have not been able to receive the sacraments and for all those worried about an uncertain future.
    ďIn these weeks, the lives of millions of people have suddenly changed,Ē he said.
    The pope said now was the time for politicians and governments to avoid ďself-centrednessĒ and take decisive, concerted action to help each othersí populations live through the crisis and eventually resume normal life.
ďMay international sanctions be relaxed, since these make it difficult for countries on which they have been imposed to provide adequate support to their citizens,Ē Francis said.
    He also called for debt reductions or forgiveness for the poorest nations, without naming any countries.
    Francis expressed particular concern for the future of Europe, saying it was vital that rivalries that existed before World War Two ďdo not regain forceĒ as a result of the pandemic.
    European Union nations are divided over how to help the continentís economy recover Ė with Italy and other eurozone members seeking the issuance of euro bonds backed by all, but Germany, the Netherlands and other countries opposed to this.
    ďThe European Union is presently facing an epochal challenge, on which will depend not only its future but that of the whole world,Ē Francis said.     ďThis is not a time for division,Ē Francis said.
    The pope repeated a call for a ceasefire ďin all corners of the world,Ē condemned arms manufacturing and said the pandemic should spur leaders to finally end long-running wars such as that in Syria.
    He also appealed for help for migrants and others suffering from existing humanitarian conflicts.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Frances Kerry)
[You are too late Pope the coronavirus has already cause that after it started there has not been any war going on anywhere in the world, but to note is that if it goes away I am certain the wars will come back unless the virus kills off all the warmongers.].

4/12/2020 Portuguese priest celebrates Easter from convertible microcar
Priest Nuno Westwood holds a tour for the neighborhoods of Oeiras to bless for Easter Sunday, as Portugal remains on lockdown
to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Oeiras, Portugal April 12, 2020. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante?
    LISBON (Reuters) Ė Father Nuno Westwood turned the sunroof of a microcar into a pulpit on Sunday to deliver an Easter service on the move through his parish on the outskirts of Lisbon where the coronavirus has confined people to their homes.
    Dozens of residents greeted him from their windows, clapping and waving as his prayers blasted through speakers attached to the roof of a second car, which also bore a giant cross adorned with flowers.
    ďThe idea is, especially at Easter, during this pandemic when people have lost hope a little and are scared, to give them a message of happiness and for them to know they are not alone,Ē he told Reuters.    ďGod is with us all, and thatís the message we want to convey, if only from a car!Ē
    Around 88% of the Portuguese population is Catholic, according to a 2015 survey by the Catholic Church, and priests have resorted to conducting sermons to empty churches and broadcasting online during the countryís lockdown.
    Portugal has so far reported 16,585 cases of the new coronavirus, and 504 deaths, a small fraction of the toll in neighbouring Spain.
(Reporting by Miguel Pereira, Rafael Marchante; writing by Victoria Waldersee; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

4/12/2020 From an empty church, Venezuela cardinal leads Instagram Easter Mass by Brian Ellsworth
Cardinal Baltazar Porras speaks during an easter mass at a closed church as people stream it through social media due the
nationwide quarantine due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Caracas, Venezuela April 12, 2020. REUTERS/Manaure Quintero
    CARACAS (Reuters) Ė Venezuelan Cardinal Baltazar Porras led Easter Mass on Sunday from an empty church, offering a sermon that was broadcast over Instagram to hundreds of people quarantined in their homes because of the coronavirus pandemic.
    Standing before 510 empty seats at the Immaculate Heart of Mary church in the upscale El Rosal neighborhood of Caracas, Porrasí prayers were transmitted by three church associates who among them held four cellphones and a small tablet computer.
    A similar trend has taken place in many parts of Latin America, which has one of the worldís highest concentration of Roman Catholics, as social distancing measures have made traditional church services impossible.
    ďIím like a little kid with a new toy,Ē Porras, 75, said of the newfound use of social media.
    ďIíve seen the enormous possibilities that this offers us, with a few simple cellphones,Ē he said in an interview at the church, a modern building with an angular roof and decorated with statues of saints and purple-trimmed tapestries of Jesus.
    He and other church leaders were preparing another Instagram broadcast in which they planned to make virtual contact with a cardinal in Peru.
    Venezuela has been under quarantine for a month.    President Nicolas Maduro on Saturday extended the measure for another 30 days to prevent the spread of the disease.
    Sofia Fernandez, 58, a lawyer, watched the Mass with her husband, Raul Rodriguez, a management consultant and retired navy officer, in her Caracas apartment on a phone set up on a coffee table next to a wooden crucifix.
    ďReceiving Mass on the phone is something that has allowed us to deepen our knowledge of the faith,Ē said Fernandez, donning a white face mask.
    Authorities last week allowed a limited version of the Nazarene of St. Paul procession, a religious parade through Caracas that emerged after a statue of Christ was credited with helping end a scurvy epidemic in 1696.
    In Argentina, many parishes have held Mass and even choir performances online in the week leading up to Easter.
    The Rev. Guillermo Marco, a priest at San Lucas parish in Buenos Aires that mostly serves university students, said the virtual Mass had expanded his reach since the city went into lockdown a few weeks ago.
    ďI have more people connected for this type of Mass,Ē said Marco, a former spokesman for Buenos Aires Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio who in 2013 became Pope Francis.    ďWhat it gives them is a word of consolation, of encouragement for their spirit
(Reporting by Brian Ellsworth; Additional reporting by Johnny Carvajal and Carolina Cabral in Caracas and Cassadra Garrison in Buenos Aires; Editing by Peter Cooney)

4/12/2020 Kan. Supreme Court decides to uphold Gov. Kellyís social distancing restrictions on religious gatherings by OAN Newsroom
Churchgoers celebrate in their cars during a drive-in Easter Sunday service while in the parking lot at
the Faith City Christian Center Sunday, April 12, 2020 in Kansas City, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
    Kansasí Supreme Court has sided with the stateís governor to limit the size of religious gatherings.    Justices upheld the stateís policies Saturday, in support of the governorís decision to limit the size of religious gatherings to less than 10 people.
    The order was initially overturned by the stateís Legislative Coordinating Council, which argued itís unconstitutional to punish someone for attending religious services.    However, the court determined the council did not have the authority to overturn the governorís policy.
    ďI want to thank the Supreme Court for its expedited review under difficult circumstances,Ē Governor Laura Kelly said in a statement.    ďOur response to this unprecedented pandemic has necessitated that even our most fundamental institutions find alternative methods that preserve public health

A dancer performs during a drive-in Easter Sunday service in the parking lot at the Faith City
Christian Center Sunday, April 12, 2020 in Kansas City, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
    The stateís Supreme Court justices held oral arguments via teleconference, which was live streamed.
    Moving forward, authorities will continue to uphold the policy for residents of Kansas.

4/13/2020 State troopers record license plate numbers - Beshear: ĎNo one is being charged with anythingí by Sarah Ladd, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    As hymns sang out Easter Sunday from a large outdoor speaker overlooking the Maryville Baptist Church parking lot, two Kentucky State troopers placed quarantine notices on parishionersí cars and wrote down their license numbers.
    Inside the church, roughly 50 worshipers ignored Gov. Andy Beshearís order against mass gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic so they could attend services together on Christianityís holiest day.
    Several said as they left that they had no intention of abiding by the notice on their windshields that called for a 14-day self-quarantine or face the threat of ďfurther enforcement measures.Ē
    Beshear said Sunday that those who received notices will get a letter ďasking them to self-quarantine
    ďNo one is being charged with anything,Ē he said. Asked if the state will consider GPS monitoring anklets such as Jefferson County has used for those exposed to COVID-19 who failed to self-isolate, Beshear said ďitís not going to come to that
    ďWe donít need any of that,Ē he said.    ďWe just need people to do the right thing
    But he did take the opportunity to again discourage the church from meeting in person.
    ďThose that want to have mass gatherings send out a signal all around the country to those that donít think this virus is serious, that donít follow the rules and then want to come to a place to make their point,Ē Beshear said.
    Kentucky Health Commissioner Steven Stack was more blunt.
    ďAt what point do our rights to gather entitle us to have other people die as a result?Ē he asked at Beshearís briefing.
    Even so, itís clear that Maryvilleís pastor, the Rev. Jack Roberts, has no intention of ending in-person services, despite the deadly pandemic, putting his church among a handful of others across Kentucky that have rebuffed Beshearís wishes.    Roberts arrived at the church Sunday morning to find several piles of nails dumped at the church entrances to the parking lot.    He said he wouldnít tell his congregation to follow or defy the orders that Beshear announced Friday in his ongoing effort to hold down the spread of COVID-19.
    The virus has killed 97 Kentuckians and infected more than 1,800.
    ďEverybody has to do what they feel comfortable with,Ē Roberts said.    He did cover his own license plate, as did several other parishioners.
    It didnít matter.    Troopers took down the VIN numbers instead.
    Across Kentucky, reports came in of other churches in potential violation of the mass-gathering rules and CDC guidelines on drive-thru services.
    Sgt. Josh Lawson of Kentucky State Police said most of KSPís 16 posts responded to between two and five complaints about church services.
    But they hadnít found any violations of CDC guidelines or other in-person services ó except for Maryville.
    Most calls were for outdoor services, where people remained in their cars.    Those services ďwere specifically mentioned by the governor as being allowed,Ē Lawson said.    At Maryville, the people who stayed in their cars and listened to the service through the outdoor speaker did not receive quarantine notices.
    ďWeíre responding to those calls as we would any other calls for service,Ē Lawson said.
    Elsewhere around Kentucky, troopers used community connections to speak with pastors to advise that ďthey can worship while doing so safely and within proper guidelines.Ē    Lawson said, adding that it has been ďvery non-confrontational
    In fact, several pastors in Eastern Kentucky who were planning to hold inperson services changed their minds and opted for drive-in services, said Harlan County Judge-Executive Dan Mosley.
    Mosley had said in a Facebook post Saturday that he knew of 10 churches in his county that were planning in-person Easter services.
    The Harlan County official noted how a church revival across the state in Hopkins County as well a church gathering in Pulaski County resulted in deadly outbreaks of COVID-19.
    To the churches still planning in-person gatherings, Mosley warned, ďjust know you are putting your members in harmís way, unlike the hundreds of churches in our county that are doing it the right way and having virtual or drive-up services
Church vs. state in a viral pandemic
    The Rev. Roberts couldnít be swayed. He had been determined to move forward with the 11 a.m. Easter service at Maryville despite repeated pleas from Beshear to shift to virtual services and the governorís March 19 executive order prohibiting mass gatherings.
    Earlier this week, the Baptist congregation also received a state-backed order from the Bullitt County Health Department to cease in-person gatherings ďimmediately
    The church rebuffed both, holding a Wednesday evening service that drew roughly 40 attendees.
    Beshearís order for police to record license plates has drawn criticism from numerous Republicans at the state and federal level, including U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, Congressman Thomas Massie and Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron.
    Roberts has said he is ďnot interested in trying to defy the government,Ē but believes his church has a constitutional right to continue to hold worship services inside his church.
    ďIf you read the Constitution of the United States, if you read the constitution of the state of Kentucky, they both say that (Beshear) is infringing on the churchís rights,Ē Roberts said earlier this week.
Most clergy support staying home for Easter
    Beshear has often mentioned in recent weeks that the vast majority of churches, have chosen to hold virtual services to protect their members and the community from the spread of COVID- 19.
    ďTo our knowledge, 99.89% of all churches and all synagogues and all mosques in Kentucky have chosen to do the right thing,Ē Beshear said Saturday.    ďIím just doing my best to save lives.    And there arenít easy answers
    The governor promised that the state is not going to ďpadlock doors or arrest pastors
    Recording license plate numbers, he said, is an effort to ďsay that if youíre going to make the decision to go to a mass gathering during this pandemic, it shouldnít affect other people
    In Louisville, Mayor Greg Fischer reiterated Saturday that he was ďstrongly suggestingĒ churches donít host in-person or drive-in services on Easter weekend.    He also had proposed having law enforcement officers record the license plate numbers of those who attend services so the health department could contact attendees if someone falls ill with COVID-19.
    The mayor pointed to photos published in The Courier Journal of a March 29 service at On Fire Christian Church, 5627 New Cut Road, that show some individuals within 6 feet of each other.
    But U.S. District Judge Justin Walker ordered that Louisville do nothing to interfere with On Fire Christian Churchís Easter service, calling Fischerís move overly broad and unconstitutional.
    ďOn Holy Thursday, an American mayor criminalized the communal celebration of Easter,Ē Walker wrote in a temporary restraining order.
    On Sunday morning, On Fire Christian Church pastor Chuck Salvo stood on a podium above 100 or so cars in the parking lot, starting the Easter morning service by singing ďGod Bless the U.S.A.Ē and waving the American flag to a chorus of honks from churchgoers.
    Before getting into his Easter sermon, Salvo said he recognized that government officials ďare up against a tremendous challengeĒ and led the congregation in a prayer.
    He then recited the CDC guidelines for drive-in services.
    Savannah Eadens, Billy Kobin and Chris Kenning contributed reporting.
    Reach breaking news reporter Sarah Ladd at    Follow her on Twitter at @ladd_sarah. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today:
A protester against Gov. Andy Beshear stands across the street from the Maryville
Baptist Church during their Easter morning service. SCOTT UTTERBACK/COURIER JOURNAL

SCOTT UTTERBACK/COURIER JOURNAL Seth Powell, from Ohio, reacts to a notice put
on his car by the state police while he attended an Easter service at Maryville Baptist Church.

4/15/2020 Ex-Kim Davis lawyer to aid church in suit against state by Sarah Ladd, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    The attorney who represented former Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis when she refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses plans to file a lawsuit against Kentucky on behalf of a church that held controversial in-person Easter services despite the stateís coronavirus fears.
    Jack Roberts, pastor of Maryville Baptist Church in Bullitt County, told The Courier Journal on Tuesday heíll be represented by Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, which represented Davis in 2015 in her legal battle with former Gov. Steve Beshearís administration over the marriage licenses.
    Roberts has continued to hold in-person services despite several state-backed efforts to keep him from doing so as coronavirus outbreaks have been linked to mass gatherings.    Heís also live-streamed his services and provided a drive-in option while saying repeatedly heís ďnot interested in trying to defy the government
    Roberts said last week his lawyers were in the process of filing a lawsuit against the administration of Gov. Andy Beshear, Steve Beshearís son.
    Staver said he hopes to file as early as this week.    Around the nation, Liberty Counsel is working to review more than 1,000 executive orders and helping churches to navigate them and how different orders within states work together.    ďItís kinda like whack-amole,Ē he said.
    Maryville approached the firm first, and the Floridabased law office will be representing the church for free, Staver said.
    He said he takes issue with Kentucky State Police placing notices on churchgoersí vehicles that they will be ordered to self-quarantine while shoppers were filling nearby stores on the same day.
    ďSo if you drove to a Home Depot parking lot, no problem,Ē Staver said.    ďAnd if you drove to the church parking lot, you get ticketed. ... Theyíve intentionally targeted people at church
    ďI think certainly you need to take efforts to protect the health and welfare of people,Ē Staver said.    ďI donít think thereís any debate about that
    Maryville Baptist has provided hand sanitizer in the pews and taped off pews to meet the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionís social-distancing guidelines to keep 6 feet between people.    Staver said itís possible to abide by the CDC guidelines without closing churchís doors.
    ďThese are extraordinary times, we have to take extraordinary protections,Ē Staver said.    ďBut on the other hand ... the constitutional rights donít just simply disappear even in a time of crisis. You have to do some balancing of those
    ďChurches have a constitutional right to meet,Ē he said.    ďWalmart doesnít
    While essential stores do sell some necessary items, he said, they also sell items that arenít necessary.
    Meanwhile, the Bullitt County Health Department on Tuesday sent out certified letters to some attendees of the churchís Easter service.
    Of the 33 notices that state police said troopers placed on cars during the service, only 13 were residents of Bullitt, according to the health department.    The rest were from outside the county, and at least three attendees were from out of state.
    People who stayed in their cars and listened to the service through a loudspeaker did not get notices.
    The letters advise the recipients to stay home and self-quarantine for 14 days, monitor any symptoms and check in every day with the health department.
    Gov. Andy Beshear said on Monday that police also cited 18 businesses for violating the social distancing guidelines.
    ďWe know that COVID-19 is community spread,Ē Bullitt County Health Departmentís public health director, Andrea Renfrow, said in an email.
    ďThis tells public health officials that in addition to personal measures, community measures need to be taken to prevent and slow the spread of disease,Ē Renfrow added.
    The health department said it can also use the license plate information that troopers collected to inform anyone associated with the gathering about exposure if cases arise out of the service, which attracted at least 50 people.
    The Liberty Counsel is no stranger to representing conservative religious issues.
    In late March, it defended a Florida pastor who was arrested in late March for holding a mass gathering despite orders not to.
    In 2015, it represented Davis as she went to jail for refusing to sign same-sex couplesí marriage licenses.    Davis ultimately agreed to a compromise allowing one of her deputies to issue a modified marriage license to anyone who wanted it.    Later, the state legislature removed county clerksí names from Kentucky marriage licenses.

4/18/2020 Hundreds of parishioners attend Orthodox Easter Vigil in Georgia by Margarita Antidze
A believer wearing a protective mask holds a candle outside a church during an Orthodox Easter service, amid the coronavirus
disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Marneuli, Georgia April 18, 2020. Picture taken April 18, 2020. REUTERS/Irakli Gedenidze
    TBILISI (Reuters) Ė Hundreds of Christian parishioners went to churches in ex-Soviet Georgia to attend Orthodox Easter Vigil despite a state of emergency and calls from the government and doctors to stay home amid outbreak of the coronavirus.
    Dozens went to the South Caucasus countryís main Sameba (Saint Trinity) cathedral in the capital Tbilisi, where 87-year-old Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II held the service.
    More attended services in big churches across the country, although some bishops in different regions called on their flock to stay at home, encouraging them instead to tune in to Easter services streamed live on TV or Facebook.
    Crowds were unusually small everywhere compared to the tens of thousands who normally attend this service every year.
    The Catholicos-Patriarch said in his Easter address that the problem of the new virus had caused fear among many and their gaze had turned to God.
    ďWe should not be afraid of temptation, the Christian takes problems with gratitude and sees Godís hand in everything Ö and at the same time tries to find the right solution in the current situation,Ē he said.
    Holy Fire had been brought to Georgia on Saturday night by a charter flight from Jerusalem, where the ceremony in the Church of the Holy     Sepulchre, which symbolizes the resurrection of Jesus after his death on the cross, was attended only by Christian clergymen for the first time in centuries.
    Worshippers came to the Sameba cathedral in Tbilisi before the 9 p.m. start of curfew and planned to stay on church premises until its end at 6 a.m.
    Violators face a 3,000 lari ($1,000) fine.
    ďIt took me more than three hours to come here and I will stay till the morning as my presence demonstrates my dedication and my belief,Ē Mariam, a 27-year-old Tbilisi resident, said.
    Almost everyone, including some priests, were wearing face masks.
    The Georgian Orthodox Church Patriarchy said earlier this month that all Easter services would be held in a traditional manner, but parishioners would be required to maintain social distancing between each other to stem transmission of the virus.
    The Patriarch and majority of Georgian priests were reluctant to call on their flocks to stay at home and have continued to provide the holy sacrament from the same spoon to parishioners, which critics said threatens efforts to contain the coronavirus.
    Georgia has in place a state of emergency until May 10 entailing a 9 p.m.-to-6 a.m. curfew, closures of restaurants, cafes, shops, a ban on public transport and on gatherings of more than three people.    Grocery stores, pharmacies and petrol stations remain open.
    Government officials and doctors have pleaded with citizens to refrain from mass gatherings and to stay at home during Easter celebrations.
    The Caucasus republic of 3.7 million people has reported 388 cases of COVID-19 the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, and four deaths as of Sunday.
(Reporting by Margarita Antidze; Editing by Sandra Maler)

4/19/2020 Bulgarian Christians celebrate Easter amid coronavirus outbreak by Angel Krasimirov
People wearing face masks in an attempt to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) maintain social distance as they attend Orthodox
Easter service outside Sveti Sedmochislenitsi (Seven Saints) church in Sofia, Bulgaria, April 19, 2020. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov
    SOFIA (Reuters) Ė Hundreds of Bulgarian Christians flocked to the Orthodox temples for outdoor services on a surreal Saturday night with the Balkan state one of the few countries where churches remained open over the Easter holidays amid the coronavirus pandemic.
    The Easter holiday is the most significant date on the calendar for the worldís 300 million Orthodox Christians with thousands of Bulgarians usually packing the churches and their ancestral homes all around the country to celebrate Christís resurrection.
    This year many Bulgarians opted to watch services live on TV instead after the government urged people to celebrate and pray from home.    But 58-year-old Radka Petrova, a keen church-goer, said she was not afraid of ďthat virus because the church is a place of healing
    ďIím here because my faith is strong and Iím not afraid,Ē Petrova, wearing a protective mask, told Reuters.    ďI remember the communist times and how mounted policemen used to surround the church to intimidate worshippers
    Bulgarians were unable to practise or study the Christian faith freely during the communist regime, which ended in 1989.
    ďItís only a virus and weíll defeat itÖ Christ is risen!Today weíre celebrating hope in a sea of despair
    The restrictions, imposed due to the coronavirus outbreak, have meant observing an Easter Sunday unlike any Bulgarians have lived through before.
    But while most worshippers maintained social distancing between each other to stem transmission of the virus, clergymen largely failed to observe it during the services.
    The decision to keep churches open has sparked an intense debate on social media in Bulgaria.    Many fear churches could become centres of contagion and pose risks to the most vulnerable Ė the elderly Ė jeopardising the collective effort to contain the disease.
    Bulgaria, which declared a state of emergency until May 13, has imposed a ban on groups of more than two adults congregating together.    It has shut schools, restaurants and other public venues and imposed a ban on non-essential travel.
    ďIn the current situation, we must be better and more humble,Ē Prime Minister Boyko Borissov wrote in Facebook.    ďLetís do everything we can to be proud of our decisions and actions in years to come
    The COVID-19 respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus has claimed 41 lives across Bulgaria and infected nearly 900 people Ė one of the lowest rates in Europe.
    ďOn Easter, our thoughts and prayers will be with those who are no longer among us and those who are fighting this vile disease, doctors and medical workers in particular and everyone who is at the forefront of the fight for life,Ē Bulgarian Patriarch Neophyte said.
    The Bulgarian Orthodox Church has been criticised on social media for keeping its houses of worship open in spite of the coronavirus crisis.    Many Bulgarians also pointed fingers at the church for keeping the practices of people kissing icons in churches, and using shared spoons during communion services.
    The coronavirus pandemic has shut down traditional Easter celebrations in many Orthodox Christian countries, including Bulgarian neighbours Greece, Romania and Serbia.
    Easter mass was held in churches across Romania, Greece and Cyprus but they remained closed to the public.    The official clergy in the three countries has urged people to stay away and watch the service either on radio or TV.
    Serbia imposed an 84-hours lockdown set to last from Friday afternoon until early on Tuesday to keep people inside during Easter festivities.
    Ukraine effectively banned church services to the general public by stipulating that only 10 people are allowed to be present at a service.    The government has also repeatedly urged people to stay at home.
(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Additional reporting by Luiza Ilie, Michele Kambas, Aleksandar Vasovic and Matthias Williams; Editing by Sandra Maler)

4/19/2020 Ruling: Tennessee canít stop abortions by Travis Loller, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    NASHVILLE, Tenn. Ė A federal judge Friday ruled that Tennessee must continue to allow abortions amid a temporary ban on nonessential medical procedures thatís aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.     U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman said the defendants didnít show that any appreciable amount of personal protective equipment, or PPE, would be saved if the ban is applied to abortions.
    Attorneys representing several state abortion clinics argued that Tennessee women will face immediate harm if the ban on abortions is not lifted.
    Alex Rieger, arguing for the Tennessee attorney generalís office, said abortions are not being singled out but treated like any other procedure that is not necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury.    Gov. Bill Lee issued an emergency order on April 8 banning those procedures for three weeks.
    The goal of the ban is to preserve the limited supply of PPE for doctors fighting COVID-19 and to help prevent the community spread of the disease by limiting patient-provider interactions, Rieger said.    The two sides tangled over whether halting abortions would meet or undermine that goal.
    Judges in the past week have ruled to allow abortions to continue in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Ohio and Texas.

4/19/2020 Recovery from coronavirus must be just and equitable, pope says by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis leads Mass and the Regina Coeli prayer in Rome's Santo Spirito in Sassia church without public participation
due to an outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease, in Rome, Italy, April 19, 2020. Vatican Media/-Handout via REUTERS
    ROME (Reuters) Ė Pope Francis called on Sunday for an all-embracing vision of the world after the Covid-19 crisis, saying moving on without global solidarity or excluding sectors of society from the recovery would result in ďan even worse virus
    The pope left the Vatican for the first time in more than a month to say Mass in an almost empty church a few blocks away to mark Divine Mercy Sunday.
    In his homily at the Mass, as well as in his traditional Sunday message afterwards, Francis said the recovery could not leave anyone behind and that now was the time to heal injustice around the world because it undermined the health of the entire human family.
    ďNow, while we are looking forward to a slow and arduous recovery from the pandemic, there is a danger that we will forget those who are left behind,Ē Francis said in his homily in the church of Santo Spirito in Sassia, chosen because it is also known as the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy.
    ďThe risk is that we may then be struck by an even worse virus, that of selfish indifference.    A virus spread by the thought that life is better if it is better for me, and that everything will be fine if it is fine for me,Ē he said.
    Francis, who last ventured into a deserted Rome on March 15 to pray at two shrines for the end of the pandemic, said the recovery should not sacrifice ďthose left behind on the altar of progress,Ē particularly the poor.
    More than 23,000 people have died from the novel coronavirus in Italy and the Vatican has mirrored the nearly six-week-old lockdown in the country, forcing the pope to hold all his Masses and general audiences without the public.
    In his homily, Francis said the pandemic ďreminds us that there are no differences or borders between those who suffer
    In his noon message immediately after the Mass, he called for ďjust sharing among nations and their institutions in order to confront the current crisis in a manner marked by solidarityĒ
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

4/19/2020 Amid stricter lockdown, Greeks roast lamb to celebrate Easter
Vassilis Kourtelis dances as his son Christos prepares spit-roasted lamb at their house on Easter Sunday, during a nationwide lockdown
to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Athens, Greece, April 19, 2020. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis
    ATHENS (Reuters) Ė Greeks celebrated Easter Sunday away from loved ones and their home towns because of a stricter lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus but were still able to enjoy spit-roasted lamb, a traditional part of the festivities.
    The Greek authorities had banned large family gatherings and mass church attendance during the Orthodox Easter week, which ends on Sunday.     Last week, they had doubled fines for all those across the country who tried to travel by car for Easter without a serious reason.
    Greeks stuck to the restrictions and spent the day with their close families and roasted lamb on verandas and balconies for the traditional Easter meal.
    ďWe had ordered and sent lambs to Corfu in order to go and celebrate Easter with relatives, but coronavirus came along and we are stuck here,Ē said Vassilis Kourtelis, 62, from his porch of his house in Athens while roasting the lamb.
    ďBut we are not going to let it ruin our mood, (we are celebrating) here with the family, as if we were there with our relatives.    We send them video calls, they see us as we sing and dance
    Greece has a relatively low rate of infections, which stood at 2,235 by Saturday, including 110 fatalities.
    But as thousands of Greeks travel from Athens to their family homes for the Easter every year, the government was worried people would relax social distancing measures and banned unnecessary movement from Holy Saturday night to Easter Monday midnight, doubling the fines for offenders.
    ďWe have pushed aside the first waves with discipline and solidarity,Ē Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in his Easter address.    ďStaying on the same course, we will soon be starting a gradually transition to a new era
    Athens has said it would unwind its plan to ease the lockdown which ends April 27 after Easter but cautioned this will be a slow process.
    ďI believe next Easter we and others will be with our loved ones, with friends, with relatives, with our children, everyone together,Ē Kourtelis said.
(Reporting by Stamos Prousalis, Writing by Angeliki Koutantou. Editing by Jane Merriman)

4/19/2020 Belarusians flock to churches for Easter, defy stay home calls
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and his son Nikolai light candles during the Orthodox Easter service
at a cathedral in the village of Malye Lyady near Minsk, Belarus April 19, 2020. BelTA/Handout via REUTERS
    MINSK (Reuters) Ė Thousands of Belarusians converged on churches across the country on Sunday to celebrate Easter, ignoring calls from health authorities and church leaders to stay at home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
    Priests had planned to conduct services in empty churches over the Easter weekend observed by Orthodox Christians in many eastern European countries.
    ďThe traditions of our parents, our fathers, grandfathers should be preserved.    I think we did not commit any sacrilege when we arrived today.    I believe that God will protect us,Ē said Sergey who brought some food for the traditional blessing at Minsk Cathedral.    He declined to give his surname.
    Belarus is one of very few countries that did not impose lockdown measures or close borders to curb the epidemic.    State media ridicule fears over the new coronavirus, while the countryís president calls fears around it ďmass psychosis
    President Alexander Lukashenko said on Sunday that the authoritiesí strategy was correct.
    ďYou know my position: we survive these viruses every year,Ē he said.
    The health ministry said on Sunday that 47 people had so far died of the coronavirus.    As of Friday, the country had reported 4,779 cases.
    Neighbouring Ukraine effectively banned the general public from church services by stipulating that only 10 people were allowed to be present at a service.    The government has also repeatedly urged people to stay at home.
    Ukraine reported 5,449 cases of coronavirus as of April 19, including 141 deaths.
(Reporting by Andrei Makhovsky; Writing by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

4/20/2020 Pope to politicians: To fight coronavirus, put country before party by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis leads the Regina Caeli prayer at noon on Easter Monday from the
library of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican April 13, 2020. Vatican Media/ Handout via REUTERS
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Ė Pope Francis urged politicians on Monday to put aside partisan differences in order to deal with the coronavirus crisis in a united way.
    Francisí private morning Mass has been transmitted live on television for the past six week since the outbreak took hold in Italy. Each day he chooses a theme or intention, such as thanking those who provide medical and other essential services.
    ďWe pray today for men and women who have a political vocation,Ē he said at the start of the Mass, adding that ďpolitics is a high form of charity.Ē
    The Mass is attended by only a few close aides instead of several dozen guests, as was the case before the outbreak.
    ď(We pray) for the political parties of various countries, so that in this time of pandemic, they together seek the good of the country and not the good of their own party,Ē he said.
    The leader of the worldís 1.3 billion Roman Catholics did not name any countries or politicians.
    Francis, who has been saying Masses and holding general audiences without public participation, has been drawing attention to the effects of the crisis on societyís most vulnerable sectors, particularly the homeless and migrants.
    On Sunday he called for an all-embracing vision of the world after the Covid-19 crisis, saying moving on without global solidarity or excluding some from the recovery would result in ďan even worse virus
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Peter Graff)
[Dear Pope Italy should put God before country and the party should be praying to God to forgive them from trusting the Chinese so much with the Belt and Road Initiative leading the coronavirus right to you first but then maybe God wanted that for a lesson.].

4/20/2020 Coronavirus crisis stoking anti-Semitism worldwide: report
A man walks past graves desecrated with swastikas at the Jewish cemetery in
Westhoffen, near Strasbourg, France, December 4, 2019. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
    JERUSALEM (Reuters) Ė The coronavirus crisis is stirring anti-Semitism around the world, fuelled by centuries-old lies that Jews are spreading infection, researchers in Israel said on Monday.
    The findings, in the annual report on Anti-Semitism Worldwide by the Kantor Center at Tel Aviv University, showed an 18% rise in anti-Semitic incidents in 2019 over the previous year.
    In the first few months of 2020, far-right politicians in the United States and Europe and ultra-conservative pastors have seized upon the health crisis and its resulting economic hardship to foster hatred against Jews, the researchers said.
    ďSince the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant rise in accusations that Jews, as individuals and as a collective, are behind the spread of the virus or are directly profiting from it,Ē said Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress.
    ďThe language and imagery used clearly identifies a revival of the mediaeval Ďblood libelsí when Jews were accused of spreading disease, poisoning wells or controlling economies,Ē he said during the reportís release.
    Kantor said that as unemployment soars due to lockdowns to contain the coronavirus, ďmore people may seek out scapegoats, spun for them by conspiracy theorists
    He called on world leaders to address the problem of growing extremism ďalready at our door
    Severe and violent incidents against Jews worldwide rose to 456 in 2019 from 387 in 2018, and seven Jews were killed in anti-Semitic attacks last year, the report found.
    In 2019, 122 major violent incidents against Jews were reported in Britain, followed by 111 in the United States, 41 in France and Germany and 33 in Australia, according to the findings.
    Kantor said there had been a consistent rise in anti-Semitism over the least few years, especially online, and in mainstream society, politics and media.
    He said the increased use of social media during the health crisis could facilitate the spread of conspiracy theories, ďproviding simplistic answers for the growing anxiety among the general public
(Reporting by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

4/20/2020 Pope postpones two mega-events by a year because of coronavirus
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis leaves after leading a Mass and the Regina Coeli prayer in Rome's Santo Spirito in Sassia church without
public participation due to an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Rome, Italy, April 19, 2020. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Ė Pope Francis has postponed two major international Catholic Church events by a year because of the uncertainties caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Vatican said on Monday.
    While the Vatican and the pope have postponed a number of events and trips that had been planned for this year, Mondayís announcement was the first time the outbreak has affected the long-term planning of the 1.3 billion-member Church.
    The World Meeting of Families, which was due to take place in Rome next year, was postponed to 2022. World Youth Day, which was scheduled for 2022 in Lisbon, was postponed until 2023.
    Both events, which take place in a different location every few years, draw large crowds and involve international travel by most of the participants.    They last for several days and the pope traditionally closes both.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella, Editing by William Maclean)

4/22/2020 Ruling blocks most abortions in Texas - Appeals court upholds ban amid pandemic by Ryan Autullo, Austin American-Statesman
    AUSTIN, Texas Ė A federal appeals court on Monday approved a ban on most abortions in Texas during the coronavirus pandemic Ė including those induced by medication Ė and continued to flex its muscle in a back-and-forth with an Austin-based district court judge who believes most abortions should be exempt from the stateís ban on non-emergency procedures.
    The decision from a three-judge panel on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals out of New Orleans upholds the inclusion of abortions among the elective procedures banned in a March 22 emergency order from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott aimed at freeing up hospital beds and protective equipment for health care workers.
    Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, in backing the order, left available a rare exception to women whose health would be in danger without an abortion.
    Abbott, like Paxton, is a staunch opponent of abortion and has been accused by abortion-rights supporters of using the public health crisis as political cover to circumvent laws allowing abortion.    The governor has wide latitude to suspend laws in the name of public safety.
    Mondayís order directed U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel to vacate several parts of an April 9 temporary restraining order that, among other things, blocked the enforcement of a ban on drug-induced abortions, which are legal in Texas up to the 10th week of pregnancy.
    It was the second time Yeakel had issued a restraining order in the lawsuit against the wishes of Republican state officials.    The first, on March 30, halted the state from banning abortions under the emergency order.    Paxtonís office appealed to the higher court, which issued a stay.
    Yeakel issued the second order on April 7 with fewer exceptions Ė although still allowing for drug-induced abortions. Paxtonís office again appealed and secured a stay from the higher court on April 9.
    The higher court on Monday accused Yeakel of acting without knowing crucial facts such as whether abortion providers wear masks or other protective equipment when meeting with patients.
    ďThose errors led the district court to enter an overbroad TRO that exceeds its jurisdiction, reaches patently erroneous results, and usurps the stateís authority to craft emergency public health measures,Ē the higher court wrote.
    The higher courtís decision does not apply to pregnant mothers who would exceed Texasí 20-week ban on abortion after Wednesday.
    Abbott issued a second executive order last week extending the prohibition on elective procedures until May 8, with exceptions that do not include abortions.
    The anti-abortion group Texas Right to Life celebrated the ruling, saying it effectively prohibits all but 1.5% of elective abortions in Texas.
    The attorney representing multiple abortion providers Ė Planned Parenthood Center for Choice, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas Surgical Health Services and Planned Parenthood South Texas Surgical Center Ė wrote a letter Friday suggesting to the higher court that Texas would be unharmed by letting abortions go forward.
    The letter, from lawyer Jennifer Sandman, noted that health care facilities that provide abortions do not have hospital beds that could be used by COVID- 19 patients.
    Sandman added that the providers also were agreeing to abstain from requesting personal protective equipment from any public source.
    Aimee Arrambide, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, responded to Mondayís ruling, alleging that Abbott and Paxton ďmanufactured this abortion access crisis in the middle of a pandemic in order to advance their dangerous ideological agenda, and as a result, thousands of Texans are struggling to access the timely care they need
    ďThose errors led the district court to enter an overbroad TRO that exceeds its jurisdiction ...Ē
    5th Circuit Court of Appeals decision
Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. JAY JANNER/AP

4/22/2020 Pope, on eve of summit, urges fractured EU to find unity over coronavirus by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis greets members of the media after leading a Mass and the Regina Coeli prayer in Rome's Santo Spirito in Sassia church
without public participation due to an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Rome, Italy, April 19, 2020. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Ė Pope Francis on Wednesday urged Europe to remain united in overcoming the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, speaking on the eve of an EU summit to discuss a huge but divisive economic stimulus package.
    The pandemic has put new strains on the unity of the 27-member bloc, again exposing splits between the richer north and the poorer south.
    ďIn these times in which we need so much unity among us, among nations, let us pray today for Europe,Ē Francis said at the start of his daily morning Mass, which he dedicates each day to a different theme related to the global crisis.
    He asked for prayers ďso that Europe manages to have this unity, this fraternal unity of which the founding fathers of the European Union dreamed
    It was the second time in 10 days that Francis, a big supporter of the EU, had expressed concern about the bloc. On Easter Sunday he warned that it risked collapse if it did not agree on how to recover together.
    The EUís fiscally conservative northern nations remain keen to keep a tight rein on spending and have rejected calls from the ailing southern states for a joint debt Ė or Ďcoronabondsí Ė to fund the recovery.
    EU states Ė whose leaders are holding a video summit on Thursday Ė have clashed repeatedly over financial responses to the epidemic, on issues from sharing medical equipment to cushioning the immediate economic hit.
    The bloc has relaxed state aid rules and limits on public spending as well as unlocking a half-a-trillion euro rescue plan.
    But Rome, Madrid, Paris, Lisbon and others believe that is not enough and call for more solidarity, casting the challenge as an existential choice for the EU.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Giles Elgood)

4/25/2020 Beshear vetoes bill seeking to limit abortions by Deborah Yetter, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    Gov. Andy Beshear has vetoed a bill that would hand new power to Attorney General Daniel Cameron to regulate abortion clinics and also require abortions be suspended as an elective procedure during the coronavirus pandemic.
    Senate Bill 9, passed in the final hours of the 2020 General Assembly on April 15, also requires doctors to try to save any infant born alive, including after a failed abortion.
    Beshear in his veto message said the bill is not necessary.
    ďCurrent law already protects any child born alive,Ē Beshear said Friday at his daily news briefing, He added he is focused solely on the COVID-19 crisis in Kentucky.
    ďIím just not doing divisive issues right now,Ē he said.    ďWeíve got to defeat this coronavirus
    SB 9 set up a showdown with Beshear, a Democrat who supports abortion rights, and lawmakers over whether he would veto it.    It contained an emergency provision, meaning it would have become law immediately.    Because the bill passed on the last day of the legislative session and lawmakers have adjourned, they have no ability to override Beshearís veto.
    Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky and the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky in a joint statement urged Beshear ďto veto this disastrous legislation
    Cameron, an anti-abortion Republican, praised lawmakers for passing SB 9 as one ďwhich further solidifies Kentuckyís stance on the value of human lifeĒ and urged Beshear to sign it into law immediately.
    Cameron also had called on Beshear to declare abortion an elective procedure, subject to suspension during the coronavirus pandemic.    Beshear has ignored that request.
    Kentucky has only one licensed abortion clinic, EMW Womenís Surgical Center in Louisville. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky is seeking a license to also provide abortions in Louisville and has been granted limited authority to offer the procedure while it is being inspected for licensure.
    In Kentucky, Beshear, like most governors, called for a suspension of elective medical procedures but didnít specifically list abortion, saying he was leaving it to the judgment of medical professionals.
    SB 9 originally was filed as measure to protect infants born alive including those who survive a failed abortion ó an unlikely occurrence in Kentucky, which bans abortion after 20 weeks, before a fetus is viable.
    Reach Deborah Yetter at or 502-582-4228.    Find her on Twitter at @d_yetter.    Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal. com/subscribe.

4/25/2020 Ky. Gov. Beshear vetoes anti-abortion bill OAN Newsroom
FILE Ė In this March 29, 2020, file photo, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear speaks during a media conference
on the coronavirus at the Capitol in Frankfort, Ky. (Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP, File)
    Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear recently vetoed a bill that would have restricted abortions amid the coronavirus pandemic.    On Friday, he shot down the bill because similar legislation in other states has been deemed unconstitutional.    The governor added Kentucky already has laws to protect children from being denied lifesaving medical care.
    His decision came in response to the stateís Senate Bill 9, which aimed to restrict access to abortions during the pandemic and ensure all doctors took reasonable lifesaving measures for born alive victims of attempted abortions.
    ďIím just not doing divisive issues right now,Ē stated Governor Beshear.    ďWeíve got to defeat this coronavirus, weíve got to have 100 percent of our effort aimed towards it and weíve got to have unity in this commonwealth
    State Attorney General Daniel Cameron released a statement later that evening, in which he called Beshearís decision to overturn the bipartisan bill ďreprehensible
    However, pro-choice advocates have applauded the governorís decision.

4/27/2020 Many churches stay closed in Georgia - Congregations balk despite governorís OK by Lorenzo Reyes, USA TODAY
    Though they had the state governmentís backing to reopen congregations to in-person services, many Georgia churches ignored Gov. Brian Kempís measure and remained closed Sunday as coronavirus fears persist.
    Kemp announced April 20 that churches could open their doors ďin accordance with strict social distancing protocols,Ē but ďof course, online, call-in or drive-in services remain good options
    The announcement was part of an easing of restrictions in Georgiaís stayat- home order that is set to lift May 1.
    Despite the go-ahead to resume services, most churches remained relegated to video streaming or drive-in services.
    The Redeeming Love Church of God the Bibleway in Statesboro held two services Sunday, according to its Facebook page.    Both were livestreamed, and each had at least 20 parishioners in attendance.
    Church members recorded video April 10 of Georgia State Police ordering a service to be broken up.    After the incident, church leaders vowed they would continue to ignore the stay-athome order.    In-person services were held the past several weeks, according to the churchís Facebook page.
    ďIíd rather preach over you living, than preach over you dead,Ē Anthony Booker Baptist Ministries Conference of Augusta
    In Louisiana, a similar defiance of stay-at-home orders resulted in Pastor Tony Spell of Life Tabernacle Church in Central being placed under house arrest, according to NBC.
    Mayor Bob Smith of Watkinsville issued a news release Sunday expressing support for the Georgia governorís measures.
    ďI encourage you to get outdoors and exercise,Ē he said.    ďGo to work.    Earn a living.    Assemble to worship.    And be grateful for every day we have
    The Catholic Dioceses in Georgia said Thursday in a statement that it is ďnot authorizing the return to congregating at churches or making our churches available for devotionsĒ through May.
    Many priests and parishioners may fall into a high-risk category for the virus, the dioceses said, and if social distancing guidelines change significantly they will ďreexamineĒ the possibility of congregating.
    The North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church said in a statement April 20 that it advised churches not to gather through May 13 ďas we do our best to do no harm
    Bishop Reginald Jackson, presiding prelate of the Sixth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, issued a directive to more than 520 churches Tuesday prohibiting gatherings for services Sunday, calling Kempís decision ďunacceptable
    The Baptist Ministries Conference of Augusta held a joint news conference Friday, alongside Mayor Hardie Davis, in which President Anthony Booker and Pastors Charles Goodman and Karlton Howard urged residents to heed warnings from medical experts and stay home.    ďIíd rather preach over you living, than preach over you dead,Ē Booker said.
    In his announcement April 20, Kemp also allowed gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, cosmetologists, hair designers, nail care artists, aestheticians, their respective schools and massage therapists to reopen Friday.    Those businesses must observe ďminimum basic operationsĒ that include employee screening, social distancing and wearing of masks.
Contributing: Asha Gilbert, Savannah Now; Wynston Wilcox, The Augusta Chronicle

4/28/2020 Evangelical leader who denounced Trump flips - Critics accuse Mohler of political opportunism by Andrew Wolfson. Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    When Donald Trump ran for president in 2016, evangelical leader R. Albert Mohler Jr. of Louisville denounced him as ďbeneath the baseline of human decency
    He called Trump a ďsexual predatorĒ and the ďrealization of evangelical nightmares
    He said the then-Republican nominee was someone ďwe would not want our children to be around,Ē whom ďhonest evangelicals would not want as a next-door neighbor
    And Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said the fact that a candidate promised to be ďpro-lifeĒ was not a ďsufficient reason Ö to vote for that person against every other consideration
    Four years later, Mohler has changed his tune.
    In a recent video, Mohler, a prolific blogger, speaker and podcaster, said he will vote for Trump this year ó even though his ďmoral estimationĒ of Trump has not changed.
    In the lengthy video recorded April 13, Mohler said the radical divergence between the major parties on abortion, LGBTQ rights and religious freedom was so great that he will vote for a Republican presidential candidate ďfor the rest of my lifeĒ unless the party changes its platform.     They say he wants to be the next president of the Southern Baptist Convention and knows that a ďnever-TrumperĒ could never win.
    Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at University of Virginia, who noted that Trump received 82% the evangelical vote in 2016, asked, ďHow could someone who opposed Trump ever ascend to the presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention?Ē
    Bill Leonard, a retired professor of the history of religion at Wake Forest University, said Mohlerís opposition to Trump in 2016 made him an outlier in a denomination that is shifting to the right.
    Leonard, who once taught at the Louisville seminary, said Mohler must make amends with Baptist megachurch pastors who adore the president.
    But Mohlerís about-face has put him in the spotlight.    A headline on an opinion piece published by the Religious News Service said ďMohlerís turn to Trump is the crowning flip-flop of his career
    And the Christian organization Faithful America, which claims more than 160,000 members, has called for Mohlerís removal from the nonpartisan Gospel Coalition, a group of pastors and elders.
    In a statement, Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons, a Louisville resident named one of nine ďfaith leaders to watch in 2019Ē by the Center for American Progress, said, ďNothing about Donald Trump has changed since 2016, at least not for the better."
    ďThis bizarre endorsement makes you wonder what about Al Mohler has changed,Ē Graves-Fitzsimmons added.    ďIs Mohler compromising his values to improve his chances of becoming the next Southern Baptist Convention president?    If so, that is no way for a Christian leader to behave
    In an email, Sabato quipped, ďMohlerís decision to back Trump this time has eliminated any chance heíll be considered for a chapter in the next edition of ĎProfiles in Courage.í    Yet I can see why heís doing it.    As the old anecdote goes, I am the peopleís leader, there go the people, let me run up to lead the parade
    In an interview, Mohler, who was nominated for the denominationís presidency last November, denied his move was ďmanipulative or opportunistic
    He noted that the election, which was to take place at its annual convention in June, has been delayed a year because of the COVID-19 crisis.
    ďMy evaluation of Donald Trump is unchanged,Ē he said.    ďBut since 2016, he has meant what he said when it comes to judicial appointments and pro-life policies."
    ďHe fulfilled the promises he made on issues of importance to me,Ē Mohler said.
    Mohlerís announcement comes just two months after the launch of a pro-Trump conservative splinter group ó the Conservative Baptist Network, which was formed to counter what members believe is creeping liberalism in the denomination.
    They have denounced what they describe as ďwokeĒ efforts to promote feminism and racial justice.
    Leonard said Mohler has come under fire in those quarters for his public apology last year for supporting a religious leader who was accused of helping conceal sexual abuses at his former church.
    The attacks on Mohler from conservatives are ironic, given that when he was appointed at age 33 to run the Louisville seminary, he led a purge of liberal and moderate faculty members as part of a conservative takeover of the denomination.
    Mohler also has been a leading spokesman for the opposition of gay marriage and other culture war issues.
    In a 2015 book, ďWe Cannot Be Silent,Ē he wrote that Christians should not attend a same-sex wedding ceremony ó even of their own child ó because it ďsignals moral approvalĒ of the union.
    He also has said delaying marriage and limiting family size are both sins, that the Roman Catholic Church teaches a ďfalse gospelĒ and that the pope holds an ďunbiblical office,Ē and that Christians who practice yoga ďeither deny the reality of what yoga represents or fail to see the contradictions between their Christian commitments and their embraceĒ of it.
    Mohlerís reversal on Trump is not his first change of heart in Baptist politics
    In 1984, when Southern Baptist conservatives introduced a resolution declaring that only men were qualified to serve as church pastors and that women should instead concern themselves with the ďbuilding of godly homes,Ē Mohlerís opposition was so strong that he helped purchase an ad in The Courier Journal declaring that God is ďan equal opportunity employer,Ē according to an April 17 column by religion writer Jonathan Merritt published by Religious New Service.
    But Mohler changed his position and now says that while men and women should have ďcomplementaryĒ roles in life, marriage and ministry, only men should pastor and preach.
    Andrew Wolfson: 502-582-7189;; Twitter: @adwolfson.
    ďSince 2016, he has meant what he said when it comes to judicial appointments and pro-life policies
    The Rev. Al Mohler President, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
    President Donald Trump now has the support of evangelical leader the Rev. Al Mohler of Louisville. ALEX BRANDON/AP

4/28/2020 Attorneys fight for religious freedom by Elana Schor, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    NEW YORK Ė As states grapple with when and how to reopen establishments amid the pandemic, religious freedom remains a legal flashpoint Ė particularly for the conservative nonprofits that have taken a leading role in representing churches that have challenged stay-home orders.
    At least a dozen state or federal suits filed since the virus outbreak started have focused partly or fully on freedom to worship in person, according to an Associated Press analysis.
    Those lawsuits break primarily into two strategies.    Both camps Ė which include legal nonprofits with significant experience in court battles over religious liberty Ė see an opportunity to advance their cause by taking on some state and local faith gathering limits ordered during the pandemic.
    But while some suits are framed as full-throated defenses of the right of religious assembly, others have employed narrower strategies.    While a few pastors have grabbed headlines by defying public health orders with large services, some of the nonprofits have found success defending a less polarizing practice: drive-in worship designed to gather the faithful in person, at a distance.
    First Liberty Institute President Kelly Shackelford, whose conservative nonprofit has represented churches challenging drive-in service limits in Kentucky and Mississippi, said his group has discouraged other attorneys from taking cases that may set unwelcome precedents.    The institute has focused on actions that specifically target religious entities, not actions that are being imposed more universally, he said.
    The 23-year-old groupís website on coronavirus notes that short-term gathering limits which cover religious as well as secular meetings ďare okay,Ē so long as they donít become permanent.    It also represents a trio of churches that won approval of drive-in services in their home New York county without filing a suit.
    Shackelford said success hinges on finding the balance between public health and religious freedom: ďWhen is the government going too far?    Whatís appropriate, how does a religious entity navigate this?Ē
    Another nonprofit thatís taken on multiple religious freedom cases during the pandemic, the Alliance Defending Freedom, also has targeted restrictions on drive-in worship. The alliance, a legal advocate representing Christian conservative issues, is a powerful force: It reported spending more than $54 million on its most recent tax return.
    The alliance notched two victories in one week this month on behalf of churches it represented.    Mayors of Greenville, Mississippi, and Chattanooga, Tennessee, eased restrictions on drive-in services after the alliance stepped in.    In a third virus-related case it filed after Easter, a federal judge granted a temporary exemption from Kansasí 10-person limit on religious gatherings to two churches the alliance represents.
    ďWhether youíre religious or not, you should be a champion for religious freedom, because itís going to protect your freedom to believe or your freedom not to believe,Ē David Cortman, vice president of U.S. litigation at the alliance.
Pastor W.R. Starr II preaches during Easter Sunday service in the parking lot
at Faith City Christian Center in Kansas City, Kan. CHARLIE RIEDEL/AP

4/28/2020 Pope says obey rules during exit from coronavirus lockdowns by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis holds weekly general audience virtually from the Library of the Apostolic Palace due to
the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the Vatican April 15, 2020. Vatican Media/¨Handout via REUTERS
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Ė Pope Francis on Tuesday urged people to obey rules aimed at preventing a devastating second wave of infections as their leaders begin to ease coronavirus lockdowns.
    Francis spoke at the start of his daily private morning Mass, where he has been dedicating brief opening comments to various themes related to coronavirus.
    From Europe to the United States to Asia, officials have been dealing with tensions and criticism of stay-at-home orders.
    ďIn these days in which we are starting to have regulations to come out of quarantine, let us pray to the Lord that he gives his people, all of us, the grace of prudence and obedience to the regulations so that the pandemic does not return,Ē the leader of the worldís 1.3 billion Roman Catholic said.
    Francis has been in lockdown himself, with his events streamed on the internet with no public participation.
    His comments were particularly relevant in Italy, where Prime Minister Giuseppe Conteís plans for a staged end to Europeís longest lockdown has been criticised by those who say it is too slow and limited.
    Italy, which at 27,000 has the worldís second-highest number of coronavirus deaths, will allow factories and building sites to reopen and permit limited family visits in the first stage starting on May 4.
    One regional governor broke with Conte, allowing more freedom of movement than allowed in the national plan.
    Even Italyís Catholic bishops criticised Conte for not lifting a ban on holding Masses at the start of the exit strategy.
    Conte has said he will review their demands and come up with a plan soon to allow Masses to be held under safe conditions.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

4/28/2020 Lesbians, gays live in fear of attacks in Kenyan refugee camp by George Obulutsa
Ugandan refugees Suzan Nakajiri and Eva Nabagala, both members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender (LGBT) community, hold hands inside their shelter at the Kakuma refugee camp, in Turkana county,
northwest of Nairobi, Kenya February 22, 2020. Picture taken February 22, 2020. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
    NAIROBI (Reuters) Ė Eva Nabagala hoped she and her young son would be safe from her family when they fled Uganda for a Kenyan refugee camp Ė but instead, the 28-year-old says she was attacked and raped there as punishment for being a lesbian.
    ďI have been threatened with death, I have been beaten, I have been harassed sexually, and I have been sexually abused, raped,Ē Nabagala told Reuters by phone.
    Sheís one of a group of around 300 gay, lesbian and transgender refugees in Kakuma refugee camp in northwestern Kenya, who say other refugees repeatedly attack them because of their sexual orientation.    The group say police and the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, have failed to protect them.
    UNHCR Kenya told Reuters that police investigate reports of violence, assault, or other crimes and UNHCR offers support to survivors.
    ďWhenever we are informed Ö we do our utmost to provide medical, legal and social-economic support and psychosocial counselling to survivors,Ē the agency said.
    Kenyaís national police spokesman Charles Owino said he was unaware of any violence against the group of refugees.
    Nabagala said she and her now two-year-old son came to Kenya in 2018 after her family threatened to kill her because she is a lesbian.
    ďI ran from my home Ö because I wanted to be safe, I wanted protection, but it has turned into something the opposite,Ē Nabagala said.
    Stephen Sebuuma, another Ugandan refugee in Kakuma, said refugees armed with iron bars, sticks and machetes damaged their houses on three occasions, injuring four adults and two children.
    ďPolice insult us instead of helping us,Ē Sebuuma, 32, told Reuters by phone.
    Pictures Sebuuma and another refugee sent to Reuters from the camp showed holes punched in the walls of homes made of corrugated iron.    Kambungu Mubarak, 31, also from Uganda, said the attackers also burnt two houses.
    UNHCR Kenya said as soon as they were informed of the attack, they contacted Kenyaís Refugee Affairs Secretariat, and sent an ambulance.    UNHCR also contacted police, who had started investigations, the agency said. But Sebuuma said the police never helped them.
    ďWe have written complaints, people have gotten OBs (Occurrence Book reports) from police.    So many of them, and police even sometimes chase us, saying Ďwe are tired of youí,Ē he said.
    Same-sex relationships are punishable in Kenya by 14 years in jail.    It is rarely enforced but discrimination is common.
    Kenya also requires refugees to stay in camps, and on Tuesday the government announced it was suspending all movements in and out of camps and the resettlement of refugees in a bid to stem the spread of the new coronavirus.
    Some refugees have tried to leave the camp in the past, but say life was so hard that they returned.    Nabagala left but was raped again in Mombasa, where she had gone seeking shelter, so she came back.
    Another refugee, 23-year-old Winnie Nabaterega, told Reuters by phone that she fled Uganda in 2019 after being raped and becoming pregnant.    Her father pressurised her to marry her attacker.    Her daughter, now two, lives with her.    She is constantly threatened by other refugees, she said.
    ďWe were told because we were homosexuals Ö they would put poison in the water,Ē she said.
(Reporting by George Obulutsa; Additional reporting by Humphrey Malalo in Nairobi; Editing by Katharine Houreld, Giles Elgood and Chizu Nomiyama)

4/29/2020 Knights of Malta Grand Master who healed rift with Vatican dies by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis meets Fra' Giacomo dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto, Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign
Military Order of Malta during a private audience at the Vatican, June 22, 2018. Alberto Pizzoli/pool via Reuters/File Photo
    ROME (Reuters) Ė Giacomo Dalla Torre, the Grand Master of the Knights of Malta who steered the global Catholic chivalric order and charity to reconciliation with the Vatican after a period of conflict, died on Wednesday.
    The Knights said Dalla Torre, 75, had been ill for several months.
    He was elected interim leader in 2017 following the abrupt resignation of Matthew Festing, whose final months of governance were marred by a dispute with the Vatican over the running of the group.
    The groupís Grand Masters usually rule for life and Festing, a Briton, was the first in several centuries to step down.
    The conflict laid bare tensions between a reformist Pope, Francis, and his conservative critics, led by American Cardinal Raymond Burke, the Knightsí chaplain.
    After the Burke faction lost an internal power struggle, Dalla Torre reconciled the group with the Vatican and began a process of reform.
    Dalla Torre was the 80th grand master of the group, whose formal name is Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta.
    It was founded in Jerusalem nearly 1,000 years ago to provide medical aid for pilgrims in the Holy Land.
    It now has a multi-million dollar budget, 13,500 members, 80,000 volunteers and 42,000 medical staff running refugee camps, drug treatment centres, disaster relief programs and clinics around the world.
    Since the upheavals that led to Festingís resignation, the order Ė which is a sovereign entity and has bilateral diplomatic relations with 110 states Ė has been working on a new constitution.
    Reformers, backed by the Vatican, want to revamp its constitution to make its government more transparent and better able to respond to the massive growth it has seen in recent years.
    They also want to make it possible for commoners to reach top positions.    Under the current monarchical hierarchy, the top Knights are required to have noble lineage.    The late Grand Master had the rank of prince and his full name was Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto.
    Under normal conditions, senior members be required to gather in Rome in three months to elect a new grand master but the period likely will be extended because of the coronavirus pandemic, a source in the order said.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; editing by John Stonestreet)

5/3/2020 Pope says coronavirus vaccine must be shared worldwide by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis leaves after leading a Mass and the Regina Coeli prayer in Rome's Santo Spirito in Sassia church without public
participation due to an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Rome, Italy, April 19, 2020. REUTERS/Remo Casilli/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Ė Pope Francis called on Sunday for international scientific cooperation to discover a vaccine for the coronavirus and said any successful vaccine should be made available around the world.
    Francis, who has been delivering his Sunday address from the papal library instead of St. Peterís Square because of the lockdown in Italy, thanked all those around the world who were providing essential services.
    He encouraged international cooperation to deal with the crisis and combat the virus, which has infected nearly 3.5 million people and killed more than 240,000 people worldwide.
    ďIn fact, it is important to unite scientific capabilities, in a transparent and impartial way to find vaccines and treatments,Ē he said.
    Francis said it was also important to ďguarantee universal access to essential technologies that allow each infected person, in every part of the world, to receive the necessary medical treatment
    World leaders pledged in April to accelerate work on tests, drugs and vaccines against COVID-19 and to share them around the globe, but the United States did not take part in the launch of the World Health Organization (WHO) initiative.
    U.S. President Donald Trump has said the WHO was slow to react to the outbreak and was being ďChina-centric,Ē and as a consequence has announced a suspension of funding.    The WHO has defended its handling of the crisis.
    A number of pharmaceutical companies around the world have developed tests to identify antibodies that develop after somebody has come into contact with the virus.
    The Trump administration is planning to speed up development of a coronavirus vaccine with the goal of having 100 million doses ready by the end of 2020, according to a senior U.S. administration official.
    Most experts have suggested clinical trials to guarantee a vaccine is safe and effective could take a minimum of 12 to 18 months.
    On Sunday, the pope also backed a proposal by an inter-religious group known as the Higher Committee on Human Fraternity for an international day of prayer and fasting on May 14 to ask God to help humanity overcome the pandemic.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Edmund Blair)
[They keep showing images of the Pope walking through the public in Italy but all these pictures above here are old pictures of him doing that, and he is still hiding in his Papal Tower.    He needs to put on a mask and walk through real streets in Rome.]

5/4/2020 Federal appeals court allows drive-in church gatherings in Ky. by OAN Newsroom
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear adjusts his face mask during his daily coronavirus briefing at the Kentucky Emergency
Operations Center in Frankfort, Ky., Wednesday, April 29, 2020. (Alex Slitz/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP)
    Ky. Gov. Andy Beshear has been blocked from entirely banning gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic.    A federal appeals court allowed drive-in church services, an alternative backed by Beshear, to continue as long as participants adhere to public health requirements.
    This came after Maryville Baptist Church Pastor Jack Roberts sued the governor last month for allegedly violating religious freedoms with his lockdown orders.    On Easter Sunday, state troopers placed notices on churchgoers cars ordering all attendees to self-quarantine for 14 days.
    ďItís all in the First Amendment to the Constitution, you donít stand out there without that protection,Ē said Pastor Roberts.    ďIf you got that protection, we should have, you canít divide that First Amendment up
Jack Roberts, pastor of Maryville Baptist Church which has continued holding in-person
church services during the COVID-19 pandemic, speaks during the Kentucky Freedom Rally at the state
Capitol in Frankfort, Ky., Saturday, May 2, 2020. (Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP)
    Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron supported the lawsuit and claimed Beshearsí orders targeted faith-based gatherings and violated the First Amendment.
    On Saturday, the court also declined to block in-person church gatherings.    It claimed it was not comfortable extending an injunction since it received the case just 24-hours prior.
    According to Beshear, church-goers will be allowed to resume in-person services at a reduced capacity on May 20 as part of the stateís reopening plan.

5/6/2020 Soros using COVID-19 to push far-left policies by OAN Newsroom
FILE Ė In this file photo dated Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011, chairman, Soros Fund Management, George Soros speaks
during a forum at the IMF/World Bank annual meetings in Washington. (AP Photo Manuel Balce Ceneta, FILE)
    As part of a new initiative, billionaire globalist George Soros is seeking to use the COVID-19 outbreak to enforce radical left policies in the U.S.    The new program, called the ďPeopleís Bailout,Ē brings together 1,000 far-left groups and unions, as well as 100 members of Congress.
    According to Soros, the next virus relief package must be based off of ďfive principles    These include provisions of the Green New Deal, a $15 minimum wage and regular cash payments to each person.
    He added government unions and far-left groups must increase control in all spheres of life as part of the so-called ďnew normal
    Soros is also under fire for his latest attack on religious liberty in the U.S.
    In a recent statement, the Catholic League announced Soros-backed groups are leading a coordinated attack on the State Departmentís Commission on Unalienable Rights.    The league has said he is working to elevate LGBTQ and abortion groups instead.
    The commission was established last year by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to defend the freedom of religion in the U.S. and beyond.    The Catholic League claimed Soros is attacking the church to enforce his far-left agenda of submission and control.

5/6/2020 Coronavirus is no excuse to exploit workers, pope says
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis holds weekly general audience virtually from the Library of the Apostolic Palace due to the
outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the Vatican April 15, 2020. Vatican Media/¨Handout via REUTERS
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Ė Pope Francis said on Wednesday employers must respect the dignity of workers, particularly migrants, despite economic difficulties brought on by the coronavirus crisis.
    ďItís true that the crisis is affecting everyone but the dignity of people must always be respected,Ē Francis said at the end of his general audience, held from the papal library instead of St Peterís Square because of the lockdown in Italy.
    He said he had received numerous messages about labour problems on May 1, the day most countries celebrate workersí rights.
    Francis said he wanted to defend ďall exploited workers and I invite everyone to turn the crisis into an occasion where the dignity of the person and the dignity of work can be put back at the centre of things
    He made particular mention of the exploitation of farmworkers in Italy, most of whom are migrants.
    In recent weeks, there has been a series of arrests in Italy of farm owners and gangmasters who recruit and supervise field workers.    The gangmasters were in most cases also migrants.
    Last week, three farm owners and a Gambian migrant were arrested on charges of exploiting about 50 migrant farmworkers in the southern Puglia region.
    In another recent case, three Albanians who worked as gangmasters for a winery in northern Italy were arrested on charges of forcing migrants to work for up to 10 hours a day without a break and paying them low wages.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

5/7/2020 Justices wary of changes in birth control coverage by Jessica Gresko and Mark Sherman, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    WASHINGTON Ė The Supreme Court seemed concerned Wednesday about the sweep of Trump administration rules that would allow more employers who cite a religious or moral objection to opt out of providing no-cost birth control to women as required by the Affordable Care Act.
    The justices were hearing their third day of arguments conducted by telephone because of the coronavirus pandemic.    The first of two cases before them Wednesday stemmed from the Obama-era health law, under which most employers must cover birth control as a preventive service, at no charge to women, in their insurance plans.
    In 2017, the Trump administration announced it would broaden an exemption to the contraceptive coverage requirement that previously applied to houses of worship, such as churches, synagogues and mosques.    But the change was blocked by courts.
    The Supreme Courtís four liberal justices suggested they were troubled by the changes, which the government has estimated would cause about 70,000 women, and at most 126,000 women, to lose contraception coverage in a year.
    Chief Justice John Roberts, a key vote on a court split between conservatives and liberals, suggested that the Trump administrationís reliance on a federal religious freedom law to expand the exemption was ďtoo broad
    And Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who joined the conversation from a Maryland hospital where she was being treated for an infection caused by a gallstone, gave the governmentís top Supreme Court lawyer, Solicitor General Noel Francisco, what sounded like a lecture.
    ďYou have just tossed entirely to the wind what Congress thought was essential, that is that women be provided these Ö services with no hassle, no cost to them,Ē said Ginsburg, who is expected to be in the hospital for a day or two.
    The courtís conservative justices seemed more willing to side with the administration, with Trump appointee Justice Brett Kavanaugh suggesting the changes might be considered ďwithin the bounds of reasonable.Ē
    Beyond exempting churches, synagogues and mosques from the contraceptive coverage requirement, the Obama administration also created a way by which religiously affiliated organizations including hospitals, universities and charities could opt out of paying for contraception, but women on their health plans would still get no-cost birth control.    Some groups complained the opt-out process itself violated their religious beliefs.
    After the Trump administration took over, officials announced a rule change that allows many companies and organization with religious or moral objections to opt out of covering birth control without providing an alternate avenue for coverage.
    New Jersey and Pennsylvania challenged the rules, and a judge blocked them from taking effect.    The judge found the Trump administration did not follow proper procedures for issuing the rules. An appeals court agreed.
    Even though the Trump rules remain blocked, a ruling by a federal judge in Texas in June already allows most people who object to covering contraception to avoid doing so.
Chief Justice John Roberts suggested that the administrationís reliance on a federal religious freedom law was ďtoo broad.Ē PATRICK SEMANSKY/AP FILE

5/7/2020 Australian inquiry found Pell should have reported child sex abuse by Sonali Paul
FILE PHOTO: Vatican Treasurer Cardinal George Pell is surrounded by Australian police as he leaves the Melbourne Magistrates Court in Australia, October 6, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Dadswell/File Photo
    MELBOURNE (Reuters) Ė An Australian government-appointed inquiry into child sex abuse in the Catholic Church and other institutions found former Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell was aware of child sex abuse by at least two priests in the 1970ís and 1980s and failed to take steps to get the priests removed.
    Previously redacted sections of the Royal Commissionís report, first issued in late 2017, were released on Thursday following Pellís acquittal last month on five counts of sexually assaulting two teenaged choirboys in the 1990s when he was archbishop of Melbourne.
    The report from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse said Pell was aware of child sexual abuse in the church by the 1970s.
    ďWe are also satisfied that by 1973 Cardinal Pell was not only conscious of child sexual abuse by clergy but that he also had considered measures of avoiding situations which might provoke gossip about it,Ē said the Commission, the countryís most powerful public inquiry forum.
    The Commission did not look into specific abuse allegations against Pell, but focused on whether he and other church leaders in Australia were aware of thousands of incidents of abuse dating from the 1970s and what they did to address those issues over the next three decades.
    During that period, Pell rose from being a priest in regional Australia to become archbishop of Melbourne, then archbishop of Sydney.
    The former Vatican treasurer was the most senior Catholic cleric worldwide to be jailed for child sex abuse.    He was freed in April after just over a year in prison, when the High Court of Australia overturned his conviction on the grounds there was not enough evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.
    The Commission found Pell was aware of allegations of child abuse by two priests, Father Peter Searson and Father Wilfred Baker, and should have pushed for their removal.    It also rejected Pellís evidence that he was unaware of why Gerard Ridsdale, another offending priest, was being moved from one parish to another during the 1970s and 1980s.
    Pell, who is now living in Sydney, did not immediately respond to a request for comment through his spokeswoman. He has previously denied allegations he was aware of sexual abuse in the church and failed to act.     The Catholic Church in Australia declined to comment and referred to statements from the archbishop of Melbourne and from Bishop Paul Bird of Ballarat, where Pell was an assistant priest from 1973 to 1984.    The bishop said the diocese would considering the findings released on Thursday.
    ďI acknowledge the past failings in governance in the Diocese that allowed terrible abuse of so many children who were entitled to feel safe in their interactions with the church,Ē he said in a statement.
    The Royal Commissionís five-year investigation was one of the worldís biggest inquiries into child abuse and found several institutions, including the Catholic Church, had repeatedly failed to keep children safe with cultures of secrecy and cover-ups.
    The long awaited findings on Pell will now be studied by Victoria Police to assess whether any further investigations into abuse within the church are warranted.    ďAt this time it would not be appropriate to comment further about any possible action,Ē a police spokeswoman said in an emailed comment.
    Baker, who was sentenced in 1999 to four yearsí jail for child sex offences, was allowed to serve as a priest until 1997, even though there were complaints about him for years. He died in 2014.
    ďArchbishop Pell had the authority to remove Father Baker. Despite that knowledge, Archbishop Pell did not stand down Father Baker at that point in time,Ē the Commission said in its findings.
    Searson, who died in 2009, had faced a range of allegations of physical and sexual abuse over decades but was never charged with child sexual abuse.
    The commission said Pell should have asked questions about why Ridsdale was being moved, given that he knew as early as 1973 that Ridsdaleís actions, such as taking groups of boys away on overnight trips, were a risk.
    Ridsdale, in jail since 1994, has been convicted on more than 130 charges of sexually abusing children over nearly three decades.    His lawyer declined to comment as Ridsdale is awaiting sentencing next week on further abuse charges.
    The commission did not hold Pell responsible for not pushing harder for investigations into two Christian Brothers, a religious community within the Catholic church, who were alleged to have abused children during Pellís time as an assistant priest in the town of Ballarat.
    ďFather Pell said he had no jurisdiction Ďin any senseí over the Christian Brothers.    It was not unreasonable for Father Pell, as a diocesan priest, to believe it was not for him to raise the conduct of Brother Fitzgerald with the provincial,Ē the commission said.
    The commissionís findings were held back by the government to avoid prejudicing Pellís two-year long court proceedings on allegations of abusing two boys at Melbourneís St Patrickís Cathedral was completed.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

5/8/2020 South Korea tracks new coronavirus outbreak in Seoul nightclubs by Sangmi Cha and Josh Smith
A list of precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is seen at an entrance of a club in Seoul, South Korea, May 8, 2020.
    SEOUL (Reuters) Ė South Korean health authorities are investigating a small but growing coronavirus outbreak centred in a handful of Seoul nightclubs, seeking to keep infections in check as the country moves to less restrictive social distancing measures.
    The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said on Friday at least 15 people have confirmed cases of the virus linked to the clubs in Itaewon, a neighbourhood popular with Koreans and foreigners in the city.
    South Korea has reported only a handful of cases in recent days, the majority of them in people arriving from overseas.    The nightclub infections, while still limited, are expected to increase, and come at a time when the country has eased some social distancing restrictions.
    ďThese venues have all the dangerous conditions that we were the most concerned about,Ē KCDC director Jeong Eun-kyeong said on Friday, referring to crowding and ventilation issues.
    ďWe think it is necessary to strengthen management for such facilities and we urge you to refrain from visiting such facilities as much as possible
    Seoul city officials say they have a list of about 1,500 people who have visited the clubs, and more cases have been confirmed in other cities where the patients lived or travelled.    Authorities have asked anyone who visited the clubs over the weekend to self isolate for 14 days and be tested.
    The cluster of infections also raised controversy over the possible unintended side effects of South Koreaís invasive tracing and wide public disclosure of some patient information.
    When several local media outlets identified the nightclubs as ďgay clubs,Ē it sparked criticism the disclosures and media coverage could out lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer(LGBTQ) individuals against their will or lead to discrimination.
    ďGayĒ and ďItaewon coronaĒ were among the top trending terms on South Koreaís Naver web search portal following the reports.
    Some social media users worried that fear of public disclosure could deter some club goers from being tested, and compared the cluster to the countryís largest outbreak, which infected thousands of members of a secretive church.
    The reports included the age, gender, location and movements of the first individual who was tested positive after visiting those clubs, as well as the type of job he worked in, according to Solidarity for LGBT Human Rights in Korea, the nationís largest rights group.
    ďIt is not just unhelpful to disclose information of an individualís movement for prevention efforts, but also a serious human rights violation that invades the individualís privacy and has him outed to society,Ē the group said.
    Some local media later ammended headlines, removing references to ďgay barsĒ but did not make any official apologies.
    Homosexuality is not illegal in South Korea, and there is growing public acceptance of LGBTQ relations.
    Yet discrimination remains widespread and some gay people suffer hate crimes, rights advocates say.
    To battle the coronavirus outbreak, South Korea has embraced a high-tech approach to contact tracing, which can include accessing a patientís cell phone location data, CCTV footage, credit card statements, and other information.
    Automated cell phone alerts are then sent to anyone suspected of having been in the same area as the confirmed case, with health authorities often disclosing details on the patientís gender, age, whereabouts and sometimes workplace in an effort to track new cases.
(Reporting by Sangmi Cha and Josh Smith. Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

5/8/2020 Ore. churches sue Gov. Kate Brown over extended stay-at-home orders by OAN Newsroom
FILE Ė In this July 1, 2019, file photo, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown speaks with the media at the Capitol in Salem, Ore. (AP Photo/Sarah Zimmerman, File)
    Oregon churches have filed a lawsuit against Governor Kate Brown, claiming social distancing orders infringed on their religious liberty.    According to reports, 10 places of worship across the state are calling for a restraining order against ongoing restrictions that ban in-person services.
    This came after the Democrat governor moved to allow gatherings of up to 25 people on Thursday.
    However, church leaders argued this was not enough, especially for those with hundreds of regular attendees.    The groupís lawyer has said Oregonians are tired of their constitutional rights being trampled on.
    ďChurches and church goers are not willing to let constitutionally protected religious rights be infringed upon indefinitely,Ē stated attorney Ray Hacke.    ďWeíre hoping that they will be invalidated and that she will be enjoined from enforcing them
    He went on to say Governor Brown failed to get proper approval from the stateís legislature to extend the stay-at-home order past 30 days.

5/8/2020 Vice President Mike Pence meets with religious leaders in Iowa by OAN Newsroom
Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a discussion with local faith leaders to encourage them to resume in-person church services in a
responsible fashion in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Friday, May 8, 2020, in Urbandale, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
    Vice President Mike Pence met with a group of faith leaders in Iowa this week to discuss the importance of religious institutions amid the coronavirus pandemic.    On Friday, he thanked religious leaders in Des Moines and said they have made an incalculable difference on the nation during these challenging times.
    He also noted social distancing measures prohibiting parishioners from congregating have been a burden on churches.
    The vice president said he hopes these leaders will continue efforts as states prepare to reopen, stressing it will help strengthen the country.
    ďThe importance of now being able to reopen America, a priority that the president put forward two weeks agoÖ, includes the importance of opening up the institutions that strengthen the heart and soul of the American people,Ē stated Pence.
Vice President Mike Pence listens to a question from Temple Bínai Jeshurun Rabbi David Kaufman, left,
during a discussion with local faith leaders to encourage them to resume in-person church services in a responsible fashion
in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Friday, May 8, 2020, in Urbandale, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
    While some leaders argued it is too early to start opening up churches, others confirmed they will begin services within the coming weeks.

5/9/2020 Federal court clears the way for church services to resume in Ky. by OAN Newsroom
FILE Ė In this Sunday, May 3, 2020, file photo, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear speaks during a news conference at the stateís Emergency Operations Center
at the Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Ky., about the coronavirus pandemic. (Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP)
    A federal court has granted a temporary restraining order in Kentucky, which will allow in-person church services to resume in the state.    The Friday ruling prevented Governor Andy Beshearís administration from enforcing the ban on mass gatherings, including in-person church services that followed CDC guidelines.
    Beshear previously announced that church congregations could return to their places of worship beginning May 20th, but cautioned against returning before they were prepared.
    "Just because you can on May 20th doesnít mean that youíre ready, have all the materials to make it safe, or that youíve had time to communicate with your congregation, especially about the safety of the most vulnerable population,Ē stated the governor.
    This came after a federal appeals court cleared the way last week for churches to hold drive-in services.
    Beshearís office has not yet issued a statement regarding the order.

5/10/2020 Judge rules church services OK - Beshear planned to lift ban on in-person worship May 20 by Andrew Wolfson, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    A federal judge ruled Friday that Tabernacle Baptist Church in Nicholasville, Kentucky, ó and churches all around the commonwealth ó may hold in-person services Sunday despite the coronavirus pandemic.
    Tabernacle won a temporary restraining order blocking enforcement of Gov. Andy Beshearís order barring inperson church services to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
    Beshearís order bars also mass gatherings of more than 10 people.
    ďDefendants are enjoined from enforcing the prohibition on mass gatherings with respect to any in-person religious service which adheres to applicable social distancing and hygiene guidelines,Ē U.S. District Judge Greg Van Tatenhove ruled Friday evening.
    The effect of the order is limited: Beshear has said he will lift the ban on church gatherings May 20, although attendance will be limited to follow social gathering guidelines.
    Two other federal judges in Kentucky ó David Hale of Louisville and William Bertelsman of Covington ó had previously ruled that the ban on in-person church services was constitutional.
    But after the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back to Hale, he also issued an injunction Friday night against enforcement of the order, pending the stateís appeal.
    ďJudge Van Tatenhove recognized that Governor Beshearís order Byron, senior counsel at First Liberty Institute, which represented Tabernacle."    ďThe church will gather together for worship on Sunday with grateful hearts and observe the CDCís guidelines to keep everyone safe and well
    Addressing the rulings on Saturday, Beshear said churches are now open but he urged faith leaders to ensure their congregations are welcomed back to a safe space.
    ďMake sure that your sanctuary is just that, is a place of safety and comfort for those that are there,Ē Beshear said during his evening news conference.
    The governor stressed that any house of worship that reopens needs to adhere to guidance his administration recently issued, which includes social distancing and cleaning standards.
    ďIf you havenít read through all the guidance and you canít meet it, donít come back just to come back,Ē he said.
    Attorneys for Tabernacle, including a deputy of Attorney General Daniel Cameron, argued at a hearing Friday that Beshearís order discriminated against the free exercise of religion because people are allowed to shop and gather in conference rooms of law firms and other private businesses.
    Van Tatenhove had asked during the hearing, ďWhy can someone safely walk down a grocery store aisle and not a pew?Ē
    Travis Mayo, an attorney for Beshear, argued that shopping visits are ďtransitoryĒ ó that shoppers leave after buying milk or bread ó while church services are ďcommunal gatheringsĒ where congregants sit near one another for an hour or more.
    But Matthew Martens, a Washington lawyer for the church, said there is no time limit for shopping under Beshearís order that allows visits to stores offering essential services.
    And Van Tatenhove, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, said during the hearing that the state introduced no scientific evidence that church services are inherently more dangerous.
    Beshearís lawyers have maintained the prohibition is not discriminatory because all civic gatherings, including concerts and sporting events, are banned.
    But Deputy Attorney General Barry Dunn noted that every day eight to 12 people, including reporters, gather in the governorís office for his daily briefing.
    He submitted photos as evidence.
    ďOne First Amendment rightĒ ó freedom of the press ó ďcanít trump anotherĒ ó freedom of religion, he argued.
    Van Tatenhove granted Dunnís request to apply his ruling statewide.
    In its suit filed Wednesday against Beshear, the church said it has held online and drive-in services in Jessamine County in the weeks since Beshearís administration issued a March 19 executive order that banned mass gatherings.
    But lawyers for the church said its members hold a sincerely held religious belief that online services and drive-in services do not meet their belief that the church meet together in person for corporate worship.
    Following the pair of Friday rulings, 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges issued a unanimous order Saturday prohibiting Beshear from enforcing a ban on in-person religious services at Maryville Baptist Church.
    Maryville congregants Theodore Joseph Roberts, Randall Daniel and Sally OíBoyle sued Beshear in mid-April after attending the churchís Easter services and receiving a notice from state police on their cars.
    The court reasoned that while Beshear wasnít motivated by ďfaith-based animusĒ and didnít intend to single out faith groups for disparate treatment, his orders were not the least restrictive way of achieving his public safety goals and therefore burdened religious freedom.
    ďThe Governor has offered no good reason for refusing to trust the congregants who promise to use care in worship in just the same way it trusts accountants, lawyers, and laundromat workers to do the same,Ē reads the order by Circuit Judges David McKeague, John Nalbandian and Jeffrey Sutton.
    The court noted that the Maryville church had at least four more worship services scheduled before May 20, and that ďlost time means lost rights
    ďWhile the law may take periodic naps during a pandemic, we will not let it sleep through one,Ē the court wrote.
    Reporter Matthew Glowicki contributed to this report. Andrew Wolfson: 502-582-7189;; Twitter: @adwolfson.
    Travis Mayo, an attorney for Beshear, argued that shopping visits are ďtransitoryĒ ó that shoppers leave after buying milk or bread ó while church services are ďcommunal gatheringsĒ where congregants sit near one another for an hour or more.

5/12/2020 South Korea investigators comb digital data to trace club coronavirus cluster by Sangmi Cha and Josh Smith
Quarantine worker spray disinfectants at a night club on the night spots in the Itaewon neighborhood, following
the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Seoul, South Korea, May 12, 2020. Yonhap/via REUTERS
    SEOUL (Reuters) Ė South Korean authorities were combing through mobile phone data, credit card statements and CCTV footage on Tuesday to identify people who visited nightclubs at the centre of one of the capitalís biggest novel coronavirus clusters.
    More than 100 new cases linked to the nightclubs have brought fears of a second wave of infections in a country held up as a coronavirus mitigation success story.
    Health authorities have tracked and tested thousands of people linked to the nightclubs and bars in Seoulís Itaewon nightlife neighbourhood, but want to find others who they have not been able to identify.
    Authorities fear that the fact some of the establishments were known as gay bars might be putting people off coming forward for testing in a conservative country where homosexuality if still taboo.
    ďWe are using telecom station information and credit card transactions from the nightclubs to identify 1,982 of those who are not available,Ē health ministry official Yoon Tae-ho told a briefing.
    The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) on Tuesday said at least 102 people have tested positive in connection with the cases linked to nightclubs and bars.
    Seoul mayor Park Won-soon put the total at 101 confirmed cases and said 7,272 people had been tested in connection with the cluster, including family members or coworkers of clubgoers.
    Officials had identified 10,905 people who were in the Itaewon area when the cluster of cases is believed to have got going this month, based on cell tower information, and another 494 who used credit cards, Park said.
    Media outlets have identified the nightclubs the first patient visited as gay clubs, sparking concern that the disclosures and media coverage could out lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people against their will or lead to discrimination.
    Human rights group Amnesty International said some media outlets were making the authoritiesí prevention and disinfection measures more difficult by pointing fingers at a ďcertain groupĒ of patients.
    ďAmnesty International Korea Branch urges the authorities and media to take concrete and selective measures to prevent discrimination and stigmatization,Ē the group said.
    Given the sensitivity, authorities have introduced what they call ďanonymous testing,Ē with people only needing to provide a phone number and not a name.
    Park said the number of people getting tested had doubled as a result of the new service.
    But he also said another 20-year-old man who had visited a different club had tested positive, raising concern that the outbreak may not be limited to the venues initially identified.
    South Korea has been widely praised for its prompt action on its epidemic with massive testing and aggressive contact-tracing, significantly reducing the rate of new infections in recent weeks to fewer than 10 cases a day before this new outbreak.
    Officials reported 27 new coronavirus infections across the country as of midnight on Monday, the fifth day of double-digit cases after the first case at the nightclubs was revealed last week.
    In all, South Korea has had 10,936 cases of the coronavirus and 258 deaths.
    President Moon Jae-in called for a prompt action to empower the KCDC to fight the pandemic.
    ďWe cannot afford to hesitate while looking at a crisis in front of us,Ē he said.    ďWe need to urgently reinforce the quarantine and health system
(Reporting by Sangmi Cha; Editing by Josh Smith and Robert Birsel)

5/13/2020 After surviving wars, pestilence, religions use technology to beat pandemic by Angela Moore
FILE PHOTO - A man adjusts a camera to stream midday prayers during Ramadan inside the Islamic Center of Passaic County following
the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Patterson, New Jersey, U.S., May 8, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Picture
    NEW YORK (Reuters) Ė Throw a global pandemic at the worldís religions, and you get confessions via Skype, virtual seders and recitations of the Koran over Facebook.
    The worldís three leading religions have survived famines, plagues, pestilence and wars.    Now, in the 21st century shutdown, New York-area Jewish, Islamic and Christian clerics are turning to technology to help their followers through the coronavirus.
    Worshipers have taken to online connections as the dangers of the virus and uncertainty of self-isolation deepen their spirituality and strengthen their faith, the clerics said.
    ďI think from a spiritual standpoint, itís very empowering,Ē said Sheikh Osamah Salhia, Imam at the Islamic Center of Passaic County in Clifton, New Jersey.
    The government-ordered shutdowns have been ďa chance for us to recognize our real priorities in life and gain a sense of clarity on what really matters: family, community, the masjid (mosque) and its role,Ē he said in an interview.
    While bans on mass gatherings have taken away the communal aspect of prayers, especially during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, the Islamic Center is connecting online with congregants for classes and Koran readings, Salhia said.
    Livestream prayers, however, are not encouraged, he said, adding families should pray together at home.
    This year, many Jews, including Esther Greenberg of New Yorkís Long Island, gathered their families for Passover on Zoom.
    ďUnfortunately, we all canít be together holding each other around, giving hugs and kisses, but weíre doing it virtually because this is what our family does,Ē Greenberg, 73, said at her April 8 seder.
    At the Park East Synagogue in Manhattan, many of the sanctuaryís mostly older congregants have been connecting via the internet for the first time, Cantor Benny Rogosnitzky said.
    ďTechnology has been amazing,Ē said Rogosnitzky.    ďIt really is a lifeline."
    Congregants use online platforms to link not only to morning services but to a supportive community that has grown more spiritual during the crisis, Rogosnitzky said.
    After the lockdown, he said he envisions smaller, shorter gatherings, with barriers in the sanctuary and temperature-takers greeting worshipers.
    ďItís going to be more about, stay separate,Ē he said.
    Contrary to some polls showing declines in virtual religious attendance since the virus outbreak, the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in Manhattan has seen an increase in online worshipers for its Episcopal services, said the Rev. Patrick Malloy.
    ďOne of the great things thatís happening on Sundays is we have people from all over the world, and thousands of them sharing of worship with us every Sunday,Ē said Malloy.
    ďFor the first time, I heard a confession by Skype,Ē he added.    ďYou know, you have to do what you have to do
    Like other clerics, Malloy says he has seen more spirituality in the flock during the pandemic.
    ďWhen youíre locked in your house, and especially when youíre locked in a small New York apartment by yourself, day after day after day, you come to think about the bigger questions,Ē he said.
    When the crisis ends, Malloy said he expects to see the church at least as full as it was before because ďpeople really do miss one another.Ē
(Writing by Peter Szekely; editing by Bill Tarrant and Sonya Hepinstall)

5/14/2020 Priest links grieving families, dying patients by Joe Capozzi, Palm Beach Post | USA TODAY NETWORK
    ATLANTIS, Fla. Ė The priestís cellphone buzzed again.
    An hour earlier that day, April 1, he had given last rites to yet another COVID-19 patient at JFK Medical Center.    But now he was needed again.
    So the Rev. Gabriel Ghanoum repeated his routine as a humble and technologically savvy hospital chaplain on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.
    He slipped his freshly scrubbed hands inside surgical gloves.    He pulled a hospital gown over his clericís collar.    He shrouded his face with protective masks.
    And as he walked into a room where the only sounds were the woosh and hum of a ventilator, he pulled out his smartphone. It was sealed inside a clear sandwich bag.
    Pressing buttons through plastic, he dialed a woman in Austin, Texas, patched in her brother in Atlanta and put them on speakerphone.
    With his left hand, he raised the phone above the face of Tom Craciun, 77, a champion swimmer now in the final moments of a battle with the deadly disease.
    His gloved right hand holding Craciunís, he recited the Sacrament of the Sick ó Our Lord Jesus Christ who promised through the apostle James, is there anyone sick among you? ...
    When he finished, he stood in silence.    And the voices of grieving children and grandchildren, crying out of his phone from the seclusion of their homes, said final goodbyes.
    Then the priest hung up.    Alone now with a nurse and the patient, he sang through his face mask a spiritual hymn ó I have decided to follow Jesus ... no turning back ... the world behind me, the cross before me. ...
    ďI kept singing until his last breath
    About an hour later, the priestís phone would buzz again.
    Father Gabriel, as Ghanoum has come to be known in his nine years as JFKís hospital chaplain, has the name of an angel, and thatís exactly what he is to many relatives barred from the hospital by visitor policies.
    ďThe most wonderful priest, like he came down from heaven,Ē Craciunís daughter, Nancy Jean Pierce, would later say.
    ďEvery experience is very humbling and very powerful,Ē he said, ďbecause you come to know the legacies, the stories, of the dying, but also of the living.    You become the spiritual and emotional archivist
    Itís dangerous, too.
    ďThe moment you have fear, then you cannot be near,Ē he said.    ďYou have to have trust in what you are doing.    The main goal is bringing in the family that cannot see their loved ones and telling them, ĎWe are in it together.    You are not alone.íĒ    Using his smartphone and apps like Zoom and FaceTime as clerical instruments, Ghanoum serves as the ďemotional proxyĒ between the dying and their immediate family, who can virtually watch or listen as last rites are administered.
    The coronavirus pandemic isnít the first time he has faced death.
    In 1985, Ghanoum was a 32-year-old bank executive based in Mexico City.    One day in September, he returned home late from a business trip. At 6:30 a.m., after tossing and turning, he decided to head to his office about 30 minutes away.
    As he approached downtown, he heard what sounded like a bomb exploding.    An 8.0-magnitude earthquake lasted 13 seconds and killed more than 5,000 people.
    After pulling survivors from the rubble, he learned that his own house had been destroyed.    He wondered what might have happened to him if he had fallen asleep the night before.
    The idea of the priesthood, which he had considered as a teenager, took hold. By 1993, he was ordained at St. Jude Catholic Church in Miami.
    A couple of days before Craciun died, at Ghanoumís suggestion, Craciunís daughter and son, along with their own children, made audio recordings of their personal goodbyes to the dying man.
    They texted the files to Ghanoum, who played the recordings on his phone.    Craciun was barely conscious, but Ghanoum said he felt the dying manís hand move as one of the grandchildren said goodbye.
    ďI broke down,Ē he said.    ďI cried
    One day, when the pandemic is gone, the Craciun children plan to invite Ghanoum for dinner at her dadís South Palm Beach condo.
    ďThis has been a blessing and a very humbling experience,Ē said Ghanoum.
    ďThis story is not about me,Ē he said. ďThis is about Ďweí Ė how you can do good and see good in others.    I hope it can inspire other people to do good in the world
    ďThe main goal is bringing in the family that cannot see their loved ones and telling them, ĎWe are in it together.    You are not alone.íĒ The Rev. Gabriel Ghanoum
The Rev. Gabriel Ghanoum uses his smartphone to connect loved ones. THOMAS CORDY/USA TODAY NETWORK

5/14/2020 Vatican to introduce temperature checks at St. Peterís Basilica by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: People walk on St. Peter's Square after the Vatican reports its first
case of coronavirus, at the Vatican, March 6, 2020. REUTERS/Yara Nardi/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Ė People attending Masses in St. Peterís and other papal basilicas in Rome will have their temperature checked as part of measures to contain the spread of coronavirus, the Vatican said on Thursday.
    It did not say when the new measures will take effect.    Public Masses will resume in churches in Italy on Monday under strict conditions outlined in a protocol signed last week by Italyís bishops conference and the government.
    St. Peterís is on Vatican territory and the other three papal basilicas Ė St. Paulís Outside the Walls, St. Johnís In Lateran and St. Mary Major Ė have sovereign, extra-territorial status and so technically are not part of Italy.
    The new rules for churches in Italy include limiting numbers, distancing and masks but they do not impose thermal scanning, meaning the papal basilicas will have even stricter rules.
    Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said thermal temperature scanning will be used at least during services on Sundays and religious feast days.
    He said officials at each basilica will decide the maximum number of people who can safely enter and that Vatican police, Italian police and volunteers will control the flow.
    Bruni did not say when the new provisions would take effect and when Pope Francis would next say a Mass from the main altar of St. Peterís.
    He is due to say a private Mass on Monday at a side chapel where the St. Pope John Paul is buried, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of John Paulís birth.
    Thousands of people usually attend major papal events in St. Peterís and the other basilicas but it is unlikely that those numbers will be allowed in again for some time.
    The pope has been saying Masses in either an empty St. Peterís or the chapel in his residence and the faithful have been watching on television or the internet.
    Technically, St. Peterís has remained open during the Italian lockdown, which began in early March, although only for private prayer and few people have entered because of increased security.
    It was still not clear when it and the other basilicas will be reopened to tourists.
    Italian museums will reopen on Monday but the reopening of the Vatican Museums, which received 7 million visitors last year, will likely be further delayed while safety measures are put in place, according to a Vatican source.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Susan Fenton)

5/14/2020 Pope joins inter-faith prayers against coronavirus, irks ultra-conservatives by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis addresses the faithful after celebrating Easter Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Basilica with no public participation
due to an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Easter Sunday at the Vatican, April 12, 2020. Andreas Solaro/Pool via REUTERS
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Ė Pope Francis joined an inter-faith day of prayer on Thursday to call on God to end the coronavirus pandemic, brushing aside criticism from ultra-conservative Catholic groups, with one accusing him of associating with ďinfidels
    A multi-faith committee formed after the popeís historic visit to the Arabian Peninsula last year came up with the proposal that Christians, Muslims and Jews pray, fast and perform charitable works on Thursday.
    ďMaybe there will be someone who will say ĎThis is religious relativism and it cannot be done,Ē Francis said in the homily of his morning Mass at the Vatican on Thursday.
    ďBut how can we not pray to the father of us all? Each one prays as they know how, as they are able to.    We are not praying one against the other, one tradition against another Ö (but) as brothers,Ē he said.
    The nine-member Higher Committee on Human Fraternity, which is based in Abu Dhabi, promotes dialogue among religions.    It comprises Muslims, Jews and Christians, including a Vatican cardinal and one of the popeís private secretaries, who is an Egyptian priest.
    In Thursdayís initiative, the Committee expressed support for medicine and scientific research but also invited people to pray ďaccording to the teachings of their religion,Ē as well as to fast and do works of charity to ask God to end the pandemic.
    Not all Catholics heeded the appeal.     In a series of tweets, the traditionalist Catholic blog Rorate Caeli mocked the pope. One tweet called the inter-religious prayer day ďFrancisí Fast with InfidelsĒ.     Rorate Caeli accompanied its tweets with pictures of sumptuously laid tables overflowing with food, suggesting that Catholics should feast, not fast, on Thursday.
    One was accompanied by a picture of a roasted piglet.    Observant Muslims and Jews do not eat pork.
    Another influential traditionalist group, The Society of Saint Pius X, called the popeís promotion of the prayer day the ďpoison fruitĒ of the Catholic Churchís dialogue with Islam.
    The traditionalists, a vociferous minority in the 1.3 billion-strong Roman Catholic Church, have consistently criticised the pope since his election in 2013, particularly over his overtures to the Muslim world and his call for a Church that stresses mercy over doctrinal rigidity.
    They have also opposed his support of agreements to limit global warming.
    Despite their tweets, reaction to the committeeís appeal among Catholics Ė as well as among Jews, Muslims and other Christian denominations Ė was mostly positive, with the hashtags #HumanFraternity and #PrayTogether going viral on Twitter.
    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, commonly known as Mormons, tweeted: ďOur hearts are joined with our brothers and sisters in the Muslim, Catholic and other faith traditions
    In his own tweet, Francis said: ďMay God have mercy on us and put an end to this tragedy, this pandemic, as well as the pandemics of hunger, war, and children without an education.    This we ask as brothers and sisters, everyone together
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Gareth Jones)

5/16/2020 Polish archbishop refers child abuse negligence case to Vatican by Joanna Plucinska and Alicja Ptak
FILE PHOTO: Archbishop Wojciech Polak speaks with media representatives after extraordinary sitting of Polish bishops,
to discuss steps the Catholic Church in Poland should take to tackle the problem of paedophilia, at the Polish
Episcopate headquarters in Warsaw, Poland May 22, 2019. Agencja Gazeta/Slawomir Kaminski/via REUTERS/File Photo
    WARSAW (Reuters) Ė The Polish Catholic Churchís most senior archbishop notified the Vatican on Saturday of a Polish bishop accused of shielding priests known to have sexually abused children.
    The referral, unprecedented in the deeply religious country, will test procedures introduced by the Vatican last year to hold to account bishops accused of turning a blind eye to child sex abuse.    The Vatican is now expected to assign an investigator to the case.
    ďI ask priests, nuns, parents and educators to not be led by the false logic of shielding the Church, effectively hiding sexual abusers,Ē Polandís Primate Wojciech Polak said in a statement published on Saturday.
    ďThere is no place among the clergy to sexually abuse minors.    We do not allow for the hiding of these crimes
    The case came to prominence after a film by brothers Tomasz and Marek Sekielski, released on Saturday, showed how bishop Edward Janiak, based in the city of Kalisz, failed to take action against priests who were known to have abused children.
    Janiak, who is still practicing, has not commented directly on the allegations.    He did not respond to a request for comment by Reuters.
    In Janiakís defence, the Kalisz curia said the parents of one of the alleged victims portrayed in the film did not follow the right procedure.
    ďThe recording in the film doesnít show the whole conversation.    It doesnít show the part where we say that the parents shouldíve expressed their concerns to the prosecutor immediately,Ē it said in a statement.
    The Sekielski brothers released another film last year that suggested that known paedophiles were deliberately shifted between parishes.     The film has over 23 million views on YouTube.
    Victims of sexual abuse have long called for measures to make it easier to report alleged cover-ups by the Church.
    Polandís Catholic Church, an institution with close ties to the ruling nationalist Law and Justice party, has faced accusations in the past of shielding priests who abuse children.
    A Church official told Reuters that Janiakís referral was partly the result of the Vaticanís new procedure.
    ďI believe that this is just a facade,Ē said Agata Diduszko-Zyglewska, a co-author of a map marking child sexual abuse by priests around Poland.
    ďFor the last year, the Catholic Episcopate has known that there are bishops who covered up paedophilia cases, and yet none of them have been dismissed
    Poland faces tension between liberals who feel the Church wields too much power and conservatives who see the Catholic faith as a key element of national identity that must be protected.
(Reporting by Joanna Plucinska; Editing by Christina Fincher)

5/17/2020 After weeks of lockdown, overjoyed Greeks return to church by Lefteris Papadimas
Orthodox faithful respect social distancing as they attend the first service open for believers following the easing of
measures against the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Athens, Greece, May 17, 2020. REUTERS/Costas Baltas
    ATHENS (Reuters) Ė Thousands of Greeks returned to church on Sunday after weeks of staying away as a ban on mass gatherings to curb the spread of the coronavirus was eased.
    It was a special moment for those who gathered from early Sunday morning in the courtyard of Ayios Spiridonas Church in Piraeus, where the melodious chants of the Sunday liturgy were broadcast on loudspeakers and heard down to the sea port.
    ďI canít describe my feelings. After two and a half months of quarantine we are in our church again,Ē said Stella Kasimati, 76.    ďWe are allowed what we were deprived of for two and a half months, going to church and Holy Communion,Ē she told Reuters.
    Greeks were not only deprived of weekly congregations but had to spend the highlight of their religious calendar, Easter, which was on April 19, indoors.    The lockdown was introduced in mid-March.
    Normally adjoining pews were replaced with chairs inside the church and in its courtyard as social distancing rules applied.    Chairs were set two metres apart with boundaries in the courtyard marked with red and white masking tape.
    Disposable gloves and antiseptic was available at the entrance.    Some individuals kissed icons, as is customary in the Greek Orthodox religion.    A woman wiped the icon with an antiseptic before the next person approached.
    Church warden Petros Anagnostakis, 74, said preparations to reopen the church had been ongoing for about a week.    ďToday is a great celebration, we are overjoyed and touched, itís a great celebration for us,Ē he said, visibly moved.
    In unison, churchgoers recited the Creed, a declaration of faith in God and Jesus.
    Greece has recorded a lower number of COVID-19 cases and deaths than other countries.     By Saturday evening it had recorded 2,819 cases and 162 deaths.
    ďI think itís a miracle that Greece didnít have that many deaths or people sick,Ē said Kasimati.    ďI believe that was help from God
(Writing by Michele Kambas; editing by Jason Neely)

5/17/2020 Oakland church leaders form coalition to reopen amid lockdown by OAN Newsroom
Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) kneels in prayer before the Blessed Virgin Mary,
ďMother of the Church,Ē statue, as he leads a special liturgy in renewing the consecration of the United States to the care of our Blessed Mother
amidst COVID-19 pandemic at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles Friday, May 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, Pool)
    Thousands of California church leaders have announced they will reopen, even if they have to defy state orders to do so. This week, a group of Oakland based pastors said they will open their congregations on May 31st, despite Governor Gavin Newsomís extended stay-at-home order.
    More than 1,000 church leaders have signed the declaration of essentiality, petitioning the governor to lift the ban that has forced places of worship to remain closed.
    Their announcement followed a bold move by Tesla owner Elon Musk, who decided to resume production in his California based automotive factory last week.
    ďElon Musk, if youíre listening: I canít afford a Tesla, so I canít afford to support you, but what I can afford to do is stand with you.    If the governmentís going to arrest you, come arrest me.    I am going to help the poor, Iím going to help anybody in need.    I donít care where you are, I am going to help you, even if the governor says youíre not essential.Ē Ė Jim Domen, pastor at Church United
    According to the pastors, their churches provide essential services to their communities, such as caring for the homeless and meeting the spiritual, psychological needs of their members.    The added they are needed now more than ever.

5/17/2020 French Catholics celebrate mass in parking lot
A crucifix is displayed during France's first ever drive-in mass in Chalons en Champagne, after the country began a gradual end to the
nationwide lockdown following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, near Reims, France, May 17, 2020. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
    CHALONS-EN-CHAMPAGNE, France (Reuters) Ė Roman Catholics in a town in eastern France were able to attend mass in their cars on Sunday, in the countryís first drive-in religious service since the start of a lockdown eight weeks ago aimed at halting the spread of the coronavirus.
    The mass, held in the town of Chalons-en-Champagne, began with priests in white robes and wearing black face masks holding a procession through the parking lot, as a hymn was played and cars honked their horns.
    The local bishop, Francois Touvet, stood on a podium in front of the cars as he led the service.    Priests later gave out communion wafers to the faithful as they sat in their cars.
    The virus outbreak and government restrictions on all public gatherings, intended to curb the spread of the virus, have forced many people in France and around the world to come up with innovative solutions to continue their activities.
    France began cautiously to emerge from its lockdown on May 11, but indoor religious services remain banned until the end of the month as the government seeks to contain the risks of a second wave of infections.
    ďIt (the lockdown) was really a deprivation for Catholics, as it was for other religions, not being able to gather in our places of worshipÖ We very quickly came up with the idea of this formula of a drive-in mass,Ē Bishop Touvet said.
    ďPeople are in their cars, they come from the same apartment or the same house, they have alcohol gels and masks.    The cars are one metre apart from each other, we give communion, and then we wash our hands,Ē Touvet added.
    Worshippers are prohibited from leaving their vehicle, car-pooling is banned and a maximum number of four people from the same household are allowed per vehicle.
    France has so far reported 142,291 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus and 27,625 deaths, among the worldís highest fatality rates.
    One worshipper, Michelle, was delighted to be able to attend mass again.
    ďThereís mass on television but itís not the same as being with the community at a Sunday service,Ē she said.
    Similar drive-in masses have taken place in other countries including Poland, where a priest has started taking confessions from the faithful in the parking lot of his church in Warsaw.
    In Greece, by contrast, after the easing of a ban on public gatherings, thousands of people returned to church on Sunday after weeks of having to stay away.
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon, Gonzalo Fuentes and Pascal Rossignol; Editing by Gareth Jones)

5/18/2020 Vatican, Italy start return to religious normal as public Masses resume by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis walks inside St. Peter's Basilica to lead a private Mass in a side chapel where St. John Paul II is buried, to commemorate
the 100th anniversary of the late pope's birth, on the day of the full reopening of the basilica as the Vatican eases measures
put in place during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at the Vatican May 18, 2020. Vatican Media/¨Handout via REUTERS
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Ė Pope Francis inaugurated the full reopening of St. Peterís Basilica on Monday and Catholic churches held public Masses for the first time in two months in the latest easing of Italyís coronavirus restrictions.
    Francis said a private Mass in a side chapel where St. John Paul II is buried to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the late Polish popeís birth.
    The basilica, which on Friday underwent a sanitising to make it as cornavirus-free as possible, later opened to the public for Masses by priests on other side altars after the pope had left.
    Signs in English and Italian told those entering that they had to keep at least 1.5 metres (five feet) apart, wear masks and sanitize their hands.
    Churches throughout Italy began holding Masses under strict new guidelines worked out between the countryís bishops and government.
    The faithful will have to wear masks. Priests can celebrate most of the Mass without masks but they will have to wear one, as well as gloves, when they distribute the communion wafer. The communion is to be given in the hand and not the mouth.
    On Sunday, the pope urged Italian to observe the new norms ďin order to defend each otherís health and the health of the people
    But, according to an Italian reporter inside the basilica on Monday morning, at least one priest at a side altar did not wear gloves or a mask while giving communion.
    Technically, St. Peterís has remained open during the Italian lockdown which began in early March, although only for private prayer.    Only very few people have entered because of increased security to avoid gatherings in the square outside.
    The Vatican has not yet announced when the pope will say a Mass from the main altar before the public.    His services since early March have been held in an almost empty chapel in his residence and streamed live on the internet or on television.
    The Vatican has said that when St. Peterís is open for large Masses on Sundays and holy days, thermal scanners will be used to check the temperatures of those going inside.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella, Editing by William Maclean)

5/18/2020 As Catholics mark 100 years since birth of John Paul, shadows remain by Marcin Goclowski
Nurses in protective masks attend a ceremony to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of late
Pope John Paul II next to his monument in Wadowice, Poland May 18, 2020. Jakub Porzycki/Agencja Gazeta via REUTERS
    WARSAW (Reuters) Ė The Catholic Church on Monday marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Pope John Paul II but questions remained about whether he did enough against sexual abuse.
    John Paul was in 1978 elected he first non-Italian pope in 455 years, becoming Polandís most famous son in modern times.
    He reigned for nearly 27 years and Poles looked to him for guidance during communism and in the years following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.    He died in 2005 and was declared a saint in 2014.
    ďJohn Paul II changed worldís history.    Thanks to him, thanks to Solidarity, communism collapsed and we were able to build a free Poland,Ē Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said, referring to the free trade union.
    Most historians concur that the changes would not have come as quickly without the popeís backing for Solidarity.
    On Monday Pope Francis honoured his predecessor by saying Mass at John Paulís crypt in St. Peterís Basilica and the Angelicum, the Rome university where the future pope studied as a young priest, opened a culture institute named after him.
    In Krakow, the city where he was bishop, archbishop and cardinal for 20 years, dozens of people prayed, lit candles and left flowers below the window of the residence from where he addressed crowds during his return trips as pope.
    ďWhen I was a small girl I attended a papal Mass.    I feel a bond with him,Ē said Karolina Malik, 40.     But critics said his legacy was cloudy.
    They have said it was still not clear how much John Paul knew about Marcial Maciel, accused of being one of the Churchís worst paedophiles.    He abused even the children he had fathered secretly while living a double life and being feted by the Vatican and Church conservatives, according to a report from the Legionaries of Christ Catholic religious order.
    ďJohn Paul ignored and dismissed reports of sexual abuse by clergy. He defended some of the most notorious predators of the abuse crisis, including Maciel,Ē Anne Barrett Doyle of the U.S.-based abuse tracker, said on Monday.
    Although allegations against the founder of the Legionaries of Christ religious order surfaced as early as 1954, the Vatican only began slowly acknowledging Macielís abuse in 2006, when Pope Benedict ordered him to retire to a life of ďprayer and penitenceĒ. Maciel died in 2008.
    Former Legionaries say Maciel gave huge contributions to the Vatican during the papacy of John Paul, who admired the Legionariesí orthodoxy and ability to produce vocations.
    The official who was in charge of John Paulís sainthood cause, Polish Monsignor Slawomir Oder, told reporters on Friday that the commission that investigated his life found no evidence that he neglected or covered up abuse scandals.
    In Krakow, Natalia Zembrzycka, 52, said she just wanted to pray.
    ďAs far as paedophilia is concerned Ė John Paul II did so many good things for so many people and for the Church, that we want to remember him this way, and we donít want to reflect on these dirty issues,Ē she said.
(Reporting by Marcin Goclowski; Additional reporting by Wojciech Zurawski and Philip Pullella; editing by Philip Pullella and Lisa Shumaker)

5/19/2020 Priestís holy water squirt gun hits target - Photos of unorthodox service a social media hit by Nídea Yancey-Bragg USA TODAY
    Photos of a Roman Catholic priest in the Detroit area using a squirt gun to spray parishioners with holy water in an attempt to maintain social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic have gone viral.
    The images of Rev. Tim Pelc were shared on social media during Holy Week by the St. Ambrose Church in Gross Pointe Park, Michigan.    Although the photos of the 70-year-old priest were originally shared more than five weeks ago, they have since inspired a Reddit photoshop battle and viral memes which the church described as ďpretty cleverĒ in a Facebook post.
    In the images, Pelc can be seen wearing a mask, face shield and rubber gloves and shooting water into car windows as the vehicles stop by the steps of the church.    One photo shows Pelc standing behind a car with its hatchback door up, shooting water at a basket of flowers.
    Pelc told ďTodayĒ he came up with the idea while trying to find a safe way to continue the tradition of blessing Easter baskets and ensure children had a fun memory of Easter during coronavirus shutdowns.
    ďI thought, what could I do that would keep the quarantine restrictions going and give kids the experience of Easter?Ē    Pelc told the outlet.    ďAt noon, the Saturday before Easter, I went out there and there was a line of cars waiting
    Pelc told BuzzFeed News that he was a little concerned about how the Vatican might react when the photos of him squirting holy water began circulating widely on the internet.    But, he said, ďI havenít heard anything yet
    The church and surrounding communities have taken the pandemic seriously, Pelc said.    Parishioners have tied blue ribbons on trees at the church for each person who has died of COVID- 19 in Michigan.    That number is now approaching 5,000.
Contributing: The Associated Press
Rev. Timothy Pelc blesses Easter baskets outside St. Ambrose Church in Grosse Pointe Park, Mich. Pelc
sprayed holy water from a squirt gun instead of blessing baskets inside the church. NATALIE WHITE VIA AP

5/20/2020 Preacher who claimed Christians immune to virus appears in Myanmar court
Burmese-Canadian preacher David Lah, who is accused of organising prayers in defiance of restrictions on gatherings imposed by the government during
a lockdown due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, arrives at a court in Yangon, Myanmar May 20, 2020. REUTERS/Myat Thu Kyaw
    (Reuters) Ė A preacher who said Christians were immune to the coronavirus and then contracted it himself appeared in a Myanmar court on Wednesday to face charges over organising services in defiance of a ban on gatherings.
    David Lah, a Canadian citizen of Burmese origin, and another man, Myanmar national Wai Tun, face a maximum three-year prison term under the disaster management law over the church services held in the commercial capital of Yangon in early April.
    Neither could be reached for comment.
    In a sermon posted online in late March, Lah had told followers: ďIf you hear the sermon of God, the virus will never come to you.    I declare it with the soul of Jesus Christ
    Judge Moe Swe told journalists after the hearing at a Yangon court that Lah would be remanded in Insein prison until June 3 while police continue their investigations.
    Lah had previously been taken to hospital and was then under quarantine at a hotel.    Wai Tun was not present in court.     About 20 people who participated in the gatherings in early April subsequently tested positive, an official said at the time.
    This led to a cluster of 67 cases, Thar Tun Kyaw, a spokesman for Myanmarís health ministry, told Reuters on Wednesday.     The Yangon Region COVID-19 Control and Emergency Response Committee said in a statement that Lah and two other pastors had held services after a March 13 ban was introduced.
    The coronavirus has infected nearly five million people globally and killed more than 322,000.    More than half the coronavirus cases in South Korea, at the beginning of the outbreak there, were linked to gatherings at a church.
    Myanmar, which has reported 193 cases of the virus and six deaths, is a Buddhist-majority nation but Christians comprise about 6% of the population.
(Editing by Nick Macfie)
[For 5,000 years humans and religious persons suffered from hook worm, and in the early 1900's a man found a cure for it, so you will have to wait for a person to come up with a cure.].

5/20/2020 DOJ warns Calif. Gov. Newsom the stateís reopening plans could violate religious freedoms by OAN Newsroom
FILE Ė In this April 11, 2020, file photo, a person films pastor Nicolas Sanchez, center left, celebrating
Easter Vigil Mass at his church decorated with candles and pictures sent by his parishioners attached
to their pews at St. Patrick Church in North Hollywood, Calif. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
    The Justice Department is calling on the governor of California to do more when it comes to accommodating in-person religious gatherings in the state.
    In a letter addressed to Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) Tuesday, the department raised a series of civil rights concerns and warned the stateís stay-at-home order could be violating religious freedoms.
    Specifically, the notice questions why religious gatherings are not considered essential, while other sectors such as the entertainment and eCommerce industries are being allowed to resume operations.
    Eric Dreiband, the assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice said Newsomís policies effectively act as a sort of differential treatment that are unfairly singling out religious worshipers with restrictions that are not being imposed on other activities.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announces new criteria related to coronavirus hospitalizations and testing that could allow counties to open faster
than the state, during a news conference at Mustards Grill in Napa, Calif., Monday May 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, Pool)
    Dreiband said while the Department of Justice does not seek to control how California determines what should and should not be able to reopen, the department wants to make sure the stateís restrictions and guidelines uphold the Constitution and federal protections for civil rights.
    This comes as religious leaders across the state have heightened calls for the governor to allow them to reopen, while many others have already suggested they would reopen on their own>     ďGovernor Newsom open the doors.    Itís way past time.    We have what is needed in our community with the rise of the new pandemic of emotional, spiritual, the dire needs.    We have the answer.    So, Governor, open the doors.Ē ó Rev. Larry Ihrig, founder Ė Celebration Church
    At this time, Newsomís office has not yet responded to the letter.

5/21/2020 More than 1,200 Calif. religious leaders to open churches on May 31st, despite state order by OAN Newsroom
FILE Ė In this April 11, 2020, file photo, a person films pastor Nicolas Sanchez, center left,
celebrating Easter Vigil Mass at his church decorated with candles and pictures sent by his parishioners
attached to their pews at St. Patrick Church in North Hollywood, Calif. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
    More than 1,200 religious leaders in California will be reopening their places of worship to hold in-person services on May 31st, despite Governor Gavin Newsomís temporary ban on religious gatherings.
    ďGovernor Newsom, unlock these doors,Ē stated Reverand Neil Mammen.    ďGovernor Newsom, open up our churches
    A coalition of church leaders and members have signed a ďdeclaration of essentiality,Ē which stated they will open their doors without state approval.
    ďThe church is essential, especially for times like these,Ē said Bishop Bob Jackson.
Parishioners wear face masks as they file out of an in-person Mass at Christ the
King Catholic Church in San Antonio, Tuesday, May 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
    According to pastors, during tough times like these, churches need to be opened to address the needs of their parishioners.
    ďWe have all kinds of emotional issues that are going on in our church, we have marital issues in our church,Ē explained Pastor Matt Brown.    ďWeíre seeing a spike in depression, suicides and drug addiction
    The Department of Justice has sent Newsom a letter telling him not to discriminate against places of worship.
    Under stage two of the governorís reopening plan, various businesses and organizations will be allowed to resume operations.    However, churches arenít permitted to reopen for in-person services until stage three.
    Thereís no telling when California will reach that phase.
The Rev. Praveen Lakkisettit, left, wears a face mask as he delivers communion to parishioners during an in-person
Mass at Christ the King Catholic Church in San Antonio, Tuesday, May 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
    ďI think itís time we list churches as essential, just like Home Depotís essential, medicineís essential and many other things that are open right now,Ē added Pastor Brown.    ďSpiritual health is just as essential as physical and emotional health
    The pastors are planning to observe social distancing guidelines, limit capacity, provide sanitizing supplies and take other precautions upon reopening.

5/21/2020 Authorities investigate Miss. church fire as possible arson by OAN Newsroom
Photo via Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves Twitter.
    A Mississippi church involved in a legal battle with local officials has burned down in a suspected act of arson. According to reports, the First Pentecostal Church in Holly Springs was destroyed after an explosion set the building on fire.
    Investigators reported finding graffiti in the parking lot, which read, ďBet you stay home now you hypocrites
    The churchís pastor has said he had no idea who could be behind the fire.    He added the church had no enemies.
    ďWeíre going keep the faith, weíre going keep doing what weíve always done,Ē said Pastor Jerry Waldrop.    ďMaybe not on this location, but Iíll get with our faithful people and maybe rent a building, or whatever we need to do for the time being
    The pastor sued the city in April, saying police disrupted an Easter service even though parishioners had been practicing social distancing.    However, the city claimed the church had violated the rules by gathering in a large group.

5/22/2020 Muslims pray in Berlin church to comply with social distancing rules
Muslims pray inside the evangelical church of St. Martha's parish, during their Friday prayers,
as the community mosque can't fit everybody in due to social distancing rules, amid the coronavirus
disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Berlin, Germany, May 22, 2020. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
    BERLIN (Reuters) Ė A Berlin church is hosting Muslims who are unable to fit into their mosque for Friday prayers because of social distancing guidelines.
    The Dar Assalam mosque in the NeukŲlln district normally welcomes hundreds of Muslims to its Friday services.    But it can currently only accommodate 50 people at a time under Germanyís coronavirus restrictions.
    During the holy fasting month of Ramadan, the nearby Martha Lutheran church stepped in to help, hosting Muslim prayers in Arabic and German.
    ďIt is a great sign and it brings joy in Ramadan and joy amid this crisis,Ē said Mohamed Taha Sabry, the mosqueís imam, who led his congregation in prayer watched over by a stained-glass window depicting the Virgin Mary.
    ďThis pandemic has made us a community.    Crises bring people get together
    Places of worship reopened in Germany on May 4 after being shut for weeks under a coronavirus lockdown, but worshippers must maintain a minimum distance from one another of 1.5 metres.
    The church, a red-brick neo-renaissance building in Berlinís Kreuzberg district could hardly offer a sharper contrast to the cultural centre in Neukoelln where the Muslim congregation is accustomed to gathering.
    ďIt was a strange feeling because of the musical instruments, the pictures,Ē said worshipper Samer Hamdoun. ďBut when you look, when you forget the small details, this is the House of God in the endÖĒ
    The Islamic Council, an umbrella group of 400 mosques, said in April that many face bankruptcy because the closures stretched into the holy fasting month of Ramadan, usually a vital period for donations.
    The churchís pastor, Monika Matthias, said she had felt moved by the Muslim call to prayer.
    ďI took part in the prayer,Ē she said.    ďI gave a speech in German.    And during prayer, I could only say yes, yes, yes, because we have the same concerns and we want to learn from you.    And it is beautiful to feel that way about each other
(Reporting by Reuters TV, writing by Katie Stephens and Thomas Escrit; Editing by Gareth Jones)

5/23/2020 More than 40 diagnosed with COVID-19 after Frankfurt church service
People attend a protest against the government's restrictions following the coronavirus
disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Berlin, Germany, May 23, 2020. REUTERS/Christian Mang
    FRANKFURT (Reuters) Ė More than 40 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus following a church service in Frankfurt, Germanyís financial center, earlier this month, the head of the cityís health department told a news agency on Saturday.
    ďMost of them are not seriously ill.    As far as we know only one person has been admitted to hospital,Ē Rene Gottschalk told the dpa agency.
    The service took place on May 10 at a Baptist church, the departmentís deputy chief Antoni Walczok told local newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau. On its website the church says it holds services in both German and Russian.
    ďThe situation is very dynamic,Ē Walczok told the paper, adding the church did not violate official guidelines aimed at containing the spread of the virus.
    Churches in the German state of Hesse, where Frankfurt is located, have been able to hold services since May 1 provided they adhere to official social distancing and hygiene rules.
    Frankfurtís health department was not available for comment outside business hours on Saturday.
(Reporting by Reuters Television; Edited by James Drummond and Peter Graff)

5/23/2020 Vatican Museums, Holy Seeís cash cow, to reopen from June 1 by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: A couple view a 16th century frescoe of Italy in the Vatican Museum's Gallery of Maps at the
Vatican January 22, 2010. The maps in the gallery were commissioned by Pope Gregory XIII and depict all the
regions of Italy and its principal cities at the time. REUTERS/Chris Helgren/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Ė The Vatican Museums will reopen on June 1, the Vatican said on Saturday, ending a closure caused by the coronavirus lockdown that has drained the Holy Seeís coffers.
    A statement said the Museums, which house some of the worldís greatest Renaissance masterpieces as well as ancient Roman and Egyptian artefacts, can be visited from the beginning of June, though only by making on-line reservations in order to control the number of people.
    Visitors will have their temperatures checked and will have to wear masks and use hand sanitizer.    Staff will wear masks and gloves and health workers will be on hand.     Similar conditions will apply to visitors to the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo south of Rome.
    Italian museums began reopening on May 18 as part of a staged easing of lockdown measures in the country where nearly 33,000 people have died from the virus.
    The pandemic has drastically slowed the flow of funds to the Vaticanís coffers.    The Museums received some 7 million visitors last year and are the Holy Seeís most reliable source of income, previously generating an estimated $100 million yearly.
    Even after the reopening, officials fear that enhanced security measures, social distancing requirements, new health regulations and an expected dearth of international tourists will erode ticket and souvenir sales.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by James Drummond)

5/24/2020 Gov. Newsom slated to issue guidelines for reopening houses of worship in Calif. next week by OAN Newsroom
California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a news conference at the Veterans Home
of California Friday, May 22, 2020, in Yountville, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, Pool)
    California Governor Gavin Newsom has said he expects to provide plans on reopening churches by Monday amid mounting pressure from President Trump. On Friday, he stated he looks forward to reopening houses of worship in a safe and responsible manner.
    This came hours after the president designated churches as essential businesses, which he said must be allowed to open immediately.
    ďToday, Iím identifying houses of worship, churches, synagogue and mosques as essential places that provide essential services,Ē said     President Trump.    ďSome governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential, but have left out churches and other houses of worship, it is not right
    Earlier this week, Newsom announced his state is weeks away from allowing churches to reopen.
    However, the Justice Department has issued a formal warning and pointed out extending church closures could be deemed a violation of the First Amendment.

5/24/2020 Senate Democrats call on SBA to allow Planned Parenthood to keep PPP loans by OAN Newsroom
FILE- In this June 4, 2019, file photo, a Planned Parenthood clinic is photographed in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)
    Senate Democrats raised the alarm on the Trump administration after the Small Business Administration asked Planned Parenthood centers to return the Paycheck Protection Program loans they were given.
    Led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), dozens of Democrats sent a letter to the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration Friday, asking that they stop pressuring the clinics to return $80 million they were ďrightfully given
    Schumer went on to say the administration is engaging in what is an ďideologically based attack against critical safety net healthcare providers
    Under the CARES Act, small businesses and non-profits with fewer than 500 employees could apply for forgivable loans amid the coronavirus pandemic.    Planned Parenthood was among those applicants.
    However, President Trump has said the group is ďineligibleĒ under the programís rules because they are a ďsingle entity,Ē making them ďtoo largeĒ to qualify for the stimulus aid. GOP lawmakers have echoed that same message.
    ďIrrespective of whatever line of business they were in, their parent companyís sitting on net assets of over half a billion dollars.    No affiliate of that organization can even operate or exist without approval of that board, so they directly violate the affiliation rules.    They should have known that, and someone at SBA should have known that too.Ē Ė Marco Rubio, U.S. Senator (R-Fla.)
    Planned Parenthood has denied violating any rules.    In a letter to the president, the organization claimed it has nothing to do with their lack of ďeligibilityĒ and everything to do with the administration using a global health crisis to advance a political agenda.
    ďThe Treasury Department and the SBA need to get their fraud investigators in there immediately, because this was a fraudulent act by these Planned Parenthood affiliates,Ē stated Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.).

5/26/2020 Australian media face trial over Pell sex abuse case reporting
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) Ė Dozens of Australian journalists and publishers are set to face trial in November over coverage of ex-Vatican treasurer George Pellís child sex abuse conviction in 2018, facing charges that they breached an Australia-wide gag order in the case.
    Prosecutors in the state of Victoria said 19 journalists and 21 publications aided and abetted contempt of court by overseas media and breached suppression orders imposed by the trial judge.
    Pell was found guilty in December 2018 of sexually assaulting two choirboys, but reporting on the case was gagged so as not to prejudice another trial on separate charges.
    After the verdict some Australian media said an unnamed high-profile person had been convicted of a serious crime that could not be reported, while some overseas media named Pell and the charges.
    The second case was later dropped, and the suppression order was lifted in February 2019.    Pellís conviction was overturned by Australiaís High Court in April.
    Supreme Court of Victoria Justice John Dixon on Tuesday proposed beginning the trial on Nov. 9, although the prosecution and defence have yet to agree on all the issues at stake and whether to go through a single trial or several.
    The prosecution is seeking one trial, which would be held before a judge, but the lawyer representing the charged media organisations and reporters said there appeared to be 13 separate controversies.
    ďThe respondents are very anxious for these matters to be resolved, finally, that have been hanging over their heads for far too long, but we do think itís a question of proceeding with some caution,Ē Matthew Collins, the lawyer for the media organisations, told the court.
    Those facing contempt charges include journalists from Nine Entertainment Coís newspapers The Age and the Australian Financial Review and several News Corp publications.
    Breaches of suppression orders can be punished with jail for up to five years and fines of nearly A$100,000 ($66,000) for individuals and nearly A$500,000 for companies.
    The next hearing in the case is set for July.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; editing by Richard Pullin)

    Places of worship are one place people can gather during a pandemic that forced people apart.    But the risks linger, like when 180 parishioners were exposed during a Mothers Day service in California.    Many Georgia churches stayed closed as restrictions eased.
    Kentucky has been a battleground.    Two federal judges upheld Gov. Andy Beshearís order against gatherings including church service of more than 10 people.    Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Republican, opposed Democrat Beshearís order for church services in a court filing.
    On May 2, a panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily allowed drive-in services by loudspeaker at Maryville Baptist Church.    A week later, the appeals court also allowed inperson services. ď    There are some things you canít do online that you can do in person,Ē said Mathew Staver, a lawyer representing the church, who said two state troopers walked car to car during the drive-in service handing out quarantine notices.
    Other cases are pending.    In Minnesota, churches joined nonessential businesses in suing to block Gov. Tim Walzís orders.    Walz created ďa draconian shutdown that picks winners and losers, with devastating effects,Ē the lawsuit said.
    ďWorshippers across Minnesota have been prohibited from assembling to celebrate Easter and the Passover, while liquor stores have remained open,Ē said the lawsuit from Northland Baptist Church, Living Word Christian Center, Glow in One Mini Golf and Myronís Cards and Gifts.    ďTarget, Walmart, Walgreens and CVS are open, while local Hallmark stores are closed.    Golf courses and bait shops are open, but indoor amusement facilities are shut
    Walz spokesman Teddy Tschann said the governorís actions were grounded in the need to protect the health and safety of Minnesotans.
U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina Wright scheduled a hearing in the case for Tuesday.
    In Virginia, Kevin Wilson, pastor at Lighthouse Fellowship Church of Chincoteague, received a citation after 16 people attended a Palm Sunday service and parishioners were threatened with citations if they returned for Easter. Gov. Ralph Northam barred gatherings of more than 10 people through June 10.
    U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allenís rejected a request from the church to block Northamís order because it does ďnot refer to a religious practice to single it out for discriminatory treatment
    Staver, a lawyer who is appealing the decision and representing the pastor in criminal court, said the church doesnít have an internet option and caters to vulnerable parishioners with histories of prostitution or drug addiction. Churches gained powerful allies.
Trump announced
    Friday that his administration would consider churches and synagogues essential and he told governors to reopen them for the Memorial Day weekend.    The Justice Department had already warned states in letters not to discriminate against places of worship.
    ďThe commonwealth of Virginia has offered no good reason for refusing to trust congregants who promise to use care in worship in the same way it trusts accountants, lawyers and others to do the same,Ē said Eric Dreiband, chief of the departmentís civil rights division.
    Dreiband has also warned California Gov. Gavin Newsom against discriminating against places of worship by resuming operations at schools, restaurants and offices first.
    ďWhichever level of restrictions you adopt, these civil rights protections mandate equal treatment of persons and activities of a secular and religious nature,Ē Dreibandís letter said.
Parishioners gather for daily Mass at Holy Spirit Catholic Church on May 21 in Mustang, Okla. CHRIS LANDSBERGER/USA TODAY NETWORK

5/29/2020 Justices to weigh reopening churches - Links to virus spread at services leave some wary by Richard Wolf, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON Ė The coronavirus has left the Supreme Court with a difficult task: balancing the nationís physical and spiritual health.
    As all 50 states ease restrictions put in place to combat the pandemic, churches and other religious institutions seek equal treatment.    Legal battles have led to showdowns in California, Illinois and elsewhere on the eve of Pentacost Sunday, when churches largely shuttered since before Easter are eager to greet worshippers.
    On one side: President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and many religious leaders who demand that state and local governments treat churches the same as most businesses.    Last week, Trump labeled churches, synagogues and mosques as ďessential places that provide essential services.Ē
    On the other side: governors and public health authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has linked religious services to outbreaks of COVID-19.    In one example, the CDC said 38% of those attending a rural Arkansas church in early March caught the virus, resulting in four deaths.
    The churches have become the latest protesters against strict state coronavirus restrictions.    Legal battles in Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Virginia and elsewhere follow other skirmishes involving abortion clinics, retail businesses and primary election voters.
    Twenty-nine states no longer have prohibitions on religious gatherings, and 21 impose restrictions.    In eight states, churches are subject to unequal treatment, according to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.    Those are California, Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington.
    The Supreme Court has said ďreligious activities canít be treated worse than similarly situated secular activities,Ē said Richard Garnett, director of the program on church, state and society at Notre Dame Law School. The open question: What is the proper comparison?
    A Pentecostal church in Southern California asked the Supreme Court to weigh in on its behalf.    Despite Gov. Gavin Newsomís revised order on Monday allowing churches to reopen at 25% capacity, with no more than 100 worshippers, the church seeks the high courtís intervention.
    ďThousands of churches across the country and in California plan to reopen by May 31, 2020 Ė the Christian holy day of Pentecost Ė in defiĀance of any state executive orders, leading to widespread civil unrest,Ē lawyers for South Bay United Pentecostal Church warned in court papers.    ďThis application concerns an issue of widespread national importance whose resolution is needed to avert a constitutional crisis
    A similar petition from two Romanian American churches in Illinois arrived at the high court late Wednesday, challenging Gov. Jay Pritzkerís limit of 10 worshippers at religious services.
    Federal district and appeals court judges ruled against the California and Illinois churches.    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit noted that the coronavirus is ďa highly contagious and often fatal disease for which there presently is no known cure
    The panelís 2-1 majority quoted the late Associate Justice Robert Jackson, who said if a court ďdoes not temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom, it will convert the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact
    The dissenting judge, Trump nominee Daniel Collins, said California can accomplish its public health objectives ďwithout resorting to its current inflźexible and overbroad ban on religious services.Ē (The ban was lifted after the courtís decision.)    The Supreme Courtís slim conservative majority has come down on the side of religious liberty consistently in recent years.    In the next few weeks, it will decide if state funds can be used to help pay religious school tuition, if employers with religious or moral objections can refuse to offćer insurance coverage for contraceptives and if religious employers can sidestep job discrimination laws.
    The dispute over reopening churches involves the Constitutionís protection of religious freedom, but it also breaks down into a battle over numbers and percentages.    If retail stores can open at 50% capacity, the argument goes, how can states such as California set diffćerent limits for religious gatherings?
    ďPlaintiffćsí sanctuary seats 600 persons, and each service normally brings in between 200 and 300 congregants,Ē the California churchís lawyers wrote.    ďSome of the larger houses of worship in California can seat 1,000 congregants or more.    But under Californiaís guidelines, plaintiffćs will only be permitted to welcome 100 congregants, with no explanation as to the justifiĀcation for this arbitrary cap
    Some experts in religion law see a difference between retail stores with pedestrian traffiŹc and houses of worship where congregants sit in pews for lengthy periods.
    ďThe relevant category is not retail but meetings or gatherings,Ē said Douglas Laycock, one of the nationís leading scholars in religious liberty at the University of Virginia School of Law.    ďIf movies, theaters, political rallies and other secular meetings are still closed, then churches can be closed, too
    San Diego County, where the Pentecostal church is located, notifiĀed the Supreme Court Wednesday that it allows religious services under Newsomís revised order.    The stateís guidance still recommends outdoor ceremonies and remote streaming technology, ďgiven the high risk of this activity
ĎAt the back of the lineí
    Federal appeals courts have divided on the issue of religious worship during the pandemic, amid indications that some judges would rather leave it up to state and local offiŹcials when possible.
    From Minnesota to Mississippi, elected offiŹcials have backed down in the face of religious protests.
    Faced with a lawsuit, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said last weekend that churches could operate at 25% capacity or with up to 250 congregants.    He already had allowed much of the state to reopen with restrictions, including retail stores and shopping malls, and is preparing to open barber shops, hair salons and tattoo parlors next week.
    ďPeople say, ĎWhy am I at the back of the line?íĒ said Eric Rassbach, senior counsel at the Becket Fund.    Why should churches face strict limits, he said, ďif youíre opening up the Mall of America and tattoo parlors?Ē
    In April, a Mississippi mayor facing two lawsuits and the wrath of the U.S. Justice Department allowed for drive-in church services, given that drive-in restaurants already were open.
    When courts have been forced to intervene, some have sought to strike a balance.    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, based in Cincinnati, ruled this month that Kentucky could not stop a Baptist church from holding drive-in services if it adhered to social distancing and hygiene rules in place for nonreligious activities.
    ďRestrictions inexplicably applied to one group and exempted from another ... do much to burden religious freedom,Ē the court said.    ďAssuming all of the same precautions are taken, why is it safe to wait in a car for a liquor store to open but dangerous to wait in a car to hear morning prayers?"
    ďWhile the law may take periodic naps during a pandemic,Ē the court said, ďwe will not let it sleep through one
Congregation members wear face masks as they receive communion from the Rev. Jan Schmidt at the Cathedral
of St. Peter in Chains Catholic Church in Cincinnati on Monday. SAM GREENE/USA TODAY NETWORK

5/28/2020 Planned Parenthood officials reveal clinics allegedly broke law by selling fetal tissue by OAN Newsroom
File Ė A sign is pictured at the entrance to a Planned Parenthood building in New York. (REUTERS photo/Lucas Jackson)
    Newly released video testimony from Planned Parenthood officials reveals it may have violated federal law by allegedly selling fetal organs for profit.
    In the bombshell footage made public by the Center for Medical Progress this week, Planned Parenthood executives and directors admitted under oath to their involvement in the business transactions.
    The 2019 depositions counter earlier denials from the nationís largest abortion provider, when it claimed they didnít engage in any illegal activity regarding fetal tissue donations.
    Under federal law, any reimbursements collected must be associated with transportation fees, employee pay or processing costs.
    Dr. Dorthy Furgerson is the chief medical officer of the largest Planned Parenthood affiliate, Mar Monte, which services more than 30 locations in California and Nevada.    She explained the clinicís reasoning behind choosing to sell to company Stem Express over Advanced Bioscience Resources; that reason being greater financial incentive.
    Over the course of three months, the affiliate collected $25,000 from Stem Express.    While the doctorís statements suggest the clinic of being profit-driven, testimony and documents from Gulf Coast Clinic Director Tram Nguyen disclosed set prices for specific organs.
    ďExhibit A says that the fee to Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast for a fetal liver will be $750 and the fee for fetal liver and a thymus from the same POC would be $1,600,Ē she explained.    Nguyen further stated she wanted to ďmove forwardĒ with the deal.
    David Daleiden, the journalist who released the videos, was previously sued by Planned Parenthood over undercover footage, which the provider claimed was ďheavily edited.Ē    The 2015 footage captured high-ranking officials discussing alternate abortion techniques used to provide the most suitable fetal tissue to sell and prompted angry protests outside the companyís locations nationwide.
    The latest controversy comes as the abortion provider recently came under fire for accepting a Paycheck Protection Program loan.    President Trump criticized the organization for being too large to qualify, while the Small Business Administration demanded the return of $80 million in aid from 37 affiliates.
    Since making the sworn depositions public, Daleiden is calling for action from Congress.    He said, ďthe U.S. Department of Justice must escalate the enforcement of laws against fetal trafficking to the highest level of priority

6/2/2020 Justices wonít speed church reopenings - Roberts: Elected officials, not judges, should decide by Richard Wolf, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON Ė A deeply divided Supreme Court refused Friday night to allow churches in California and Illinois to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic with more worshippers than state plans permit.
    Chief Justice John Roberts, who cast the deciding vote in the more consequential California case announced just before midnight, said choosing when to lift restrictions during a pandemic is the business of elected officials, not unelected judges.    He was joined in the vote by the courtís four liberal justices.
    Roberts, the only one of the five to explain his vote, compared in-person church services to other forms of assembly.    His conservative colleagues who dissented compared the services to secular businesses.
    ďAlthough Californiaís guidelines place restrictions on places of worship, those restrictions appear consistent with the Free Exercise Clause of the First AmendmentRoberts wrote.    ďSimilar or more severe restrictions apply to comparable secular gatherings, including lectures, concerts, movie showings, spectator sports, and theatrical performances, where large groups of people gather in close proximity for extended periods of time
    Writing for three of the four conservative justices who dissented, Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh said Californiaís current 25% occupancy limit on churches amounted to ďdiscrimination against religious worship services
    ďThe basic constitutional problem is that comparable secular businesses are not subject to a 25% occupancy cap, including factories, offices, supermarkets, restaurants, retail stores, pharmacies, shopping malls, pet grooming shops, bookstores, florists, hair salons, and cannabis dispensaries,Ē Kavanaugh wrote.
    The legal battle reached the high court days before Pentecost Sunday, when churches that have been restricted to virtual or drive-by services since before Easter are eager to greet congregants.
    In the California case, the court sided with Gov. Gavin Newsomís decision to limit in-church gatherings to 25% of capacity, and no more than 100 people.
    In a second, separate case arising in Illinois, the justices earlier denied two Romanian American churchesí petition because Gov. J.P. Pritzker lifted his stateís restrictions Friday, making the complaint essentially moot.    The court said the churches could file ďa new motion for appropriate relief if circumstances warrant
    The religious disputes over governorsí reopening plans are most heated in states that impose limits on religious gatherings.    While 30 states no longer have prohibitions, 20 and the District of Columbia impose restrictions, according to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.    They are most severe in California, Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington.
    President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and many religious leaders have demanded that state and local governments treat churches the same as most businesses.    Last week, Trump labeled churches, synagogues and mosques ďessential places that provide essential services
    But some states and public health authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have linked religious services to outbreaks of COVID-19.    In one example, the CDC said 38% of those attending a rural Arkansas church in early March caught the virus, resulting in four deaths.
Monica Asitimbay prays at Holy Trinity Church in Hackensack, N.J., May 17.

6/3/2020 Archbishop angry at Trumpís shrine visit - President goes to 2nd religious landmark by David Jackson, Michael Collins and Nicholas Wu, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON Ė A day after a much criticized photo op at a fire-damaged church near the White House, President Donald Trump took his anti-protester ďlaw and orderĒ message to a Catholic shrine, a visit that drew swift condemnation from a top church official.
    Trump and first lady Melania Trump traveled across town Tuesday for a brief visit to St. John Paul II National Shrine adjacent to the Catholic University of America.    The shrine is a place of prayer for Catholics but welcomes people of all faiths.
    The Trumps posed for photos in front of a statue of Pope John Paul II outside the shrine and stood silently for a few minutes, hands clasped in front of them.    They did not make remarks.
    Washington Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory slammed the presidential visit in a statement shortly before the Trumpsí arrival.
    ďI find it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people even those with whom we might disagree,Ē Gregory said in a statement.
    Trump visited the shrine a day after he walked across Lafayette Park next to the White House and posed for cameras outside St. Johnís Episcopal Church, which was slightly damaged after it was set on fire by protesters late Sunday night.
    Violent protests erupted in Washington and dozens of other cities across the country after the death of George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis who died in the custody of police.
    Critics hammered Trump because police used smoke canisters, pepper spray and shields on protesters in Lafayette Park, clearing a path for the president to walk to St. Johnís, the historic building known as the church of presidents.    The show of force came roughly half an hour before a 7 p.m. curfew was to take effect in Washington.
    Church officials protested that Trump did not call them about his plans to visit St. Johnís on Monday.
    Mariann Budde, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, which includes St. Johnís Episcopal Church, told CNN she was outraged by the use of force to get people out of the way for a photo op.
    Gregory noted that Pope John Paul II was ďan ardent defender of the rights and dignity of human beingsĒ and ďcertainly would not condone the use of tear gas and other deterrents to silence, scatter or intimidate them for a photo opportunity in front of a place of worship and peace
    U.S. Park Police said Tuesday it didnít use tear gas.
    White House officials said Trump wanted to pay his respects to St. Johnís after a fire was set in its basement during protests Sunday.    After the St. Johnís visit, the White House put out a statement saying protesters had been repeatedly warned to exit the park before the curfew.
    ďThe perimeter was expanded to help enforce the 7 p.m. curfew in the same area where rioters attempted to burn down one of our nationís most historic churches the night before,Ē spokesman Judd Deere said.    ďProtesters were given three warnings by the U.S. Park Police
    In a tweet less than two hours before his visit to the shrine Tuesday, Trump took credit for crackdowns in Washington Ė and Minneapolis.     ďD.C. had no problems last night,Ē he said.    ďMany arrests.    Great job done by all.    Overwhelming force. Domination.    Likewise, Minneapolis was great (thank you President Trump!)
    A couple of hundred peaceful protesters gathered down the street from the shrine before Trumpís arrival, holding chanting, ďNo justice, no peaceĒ and ďBlack lives matter.Ē    Police on the scene wore vests but not riot gear.
    As Trumpís motorcade arrived, some protesters shouted expletives, and others raised their middle finger.
    Some drivers honked in support as they passed by and shook their fists out their car windows.
    The White House originally planned for Trump to sign an executive order on international religious freedom during his visit to the shrine, said Ken Balbuena, the shrine spokesman.    Trump instead signed the order when he returned to the White House.
    Staging the signing event at the shrine ďwas fitting, given St. John Paul II was a tireless advocate of religious liberty throughout his pontificate,Ē Balbuena said.    ďInternational religious freedom receives widespread bipartisan support, including unanimous passage of legislation in defense of persecuted Christians and religious minorities around the world.    The shrine welcomes all people to come and pray and learn about the legacy of St. John Paul II
    The shrine to the late pope sits on the site of the former John Paul II Cultural Center, which the Knights of Columbus bought in 2011.    The lay Catholic organization established it as a shrine to John Paul and added a museum exhibit about his life.    Daily Masses are held at the shrine, which is a pilgrimsí destination.
Contributing: William Cummings
Police used smoke canisters and pepper spray to clear protesters before President Trump walked to St. John's Episcopal Church on Monday. GETTY IMAGES
    Wow?    The Democrats are going nuts over Trump holding up a bible to promote Christianity which you would never see any of them to do I guess because their hand would catch on fire for holding it and to enter a church and ask for their sins to be forgiven and the Pastor then to diss him for daring to go to his church should be a sign to anyone of what antichrist means.    They now believe in the god called "WOKE," that means you must submit your lives to their case without any resistance and it sounds like Chairman Mao must have come back to life.

6/4/2020 Males allowed to compete in female high school sports by OAN Newsroom
    The state of Connecticut is allowing transgender athletes to compete in female sports, which critics argue violates Title Nine by depriving females of an equal opportunity in sports.    The Department of Education has issued a letter in favor of those female athletes.
    One Americaís Christina Bobb has more from Washington.
[Another overreach of the antichristian society.].

6/10/2020 CORONAVIRUS IN KENTUCKY - 18 church members test positive - Pastor, Beshear spar over virus spread by Billy Kobin, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    Clays Mill Baptist Church in Jessamine County, Kentucky, has temporarily halted in-person worship services after at least 18 members recently tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
    But pastor Jeff Fugate, who stood alongside Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron in April and called for Gov. Andy Beshear to lift restrictions on in-person worship, stressed there is ďno indicationĒ anyone contracted the virus while at church.
    ďI decided it would just be best to go back to online services until we can figure out exactly whatís going on and we can figure out what to do,Ē Fugate told The Courier Journal on Saturday.    ď... The last thing I want is for my folks to get sick
    But Randy Gooch, executive director of the Jessamine County Health Department, said evidence suggests the cases are linked to attendance at the church.
    ďOur disease investigation is indicative of these cases tracing back to their contact with other cases at Clays Mill Baptist,Ē Gooch said.    ďOur initial case was confirmed symptomatic when they attended church, so this gives us good reason to believe they are connected
    Gooch said 10 of the cases are residents in Jessamine County, while eight are from Fayette County.
    Clays Mill Baptist Church, on Brannon Road in Nicholasville, just south of the Lexington city limits, held in-person services on May 17 and May 24, Fugate said.
    That came after a federal judge had ruled in favor of Tabernacle Baptist Church, also in Nicholasville, in its lawsuit that sought to block enforcement of Beshearís order barring in-person worship amid the coronavirus pandemic.
    The May 8 ruling from U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove allowed churches around the commonwealth to resume in-person gatherings slightly ahead of schedule.    Beshear had said he would lift the church gathering ban on May 20.
    Fugate said he also gathered staff and some families at Clays Mill Baptist Church on May 10 not for worship but to explain the various social distancing measures and safety guidelines that would be in place as in-person services restarted.
    Those precautions included spreading out people in pews, asking members over the age of 60 to stay home and having hand sanitizer readily available, Fugate said.
    On Memorial Day, the day after the May 24 worship services, Fugate said several members received positive COVID- 19 test results.
    After more positive results came in, Fugate said he spoke with Dr. Steve Davis, the medical director for the Jessamine County Health Department, about ďhow easily the virus spreads
    Fugate said he decided to move back to online-only worship and worked with Davis to craft a letter sent out to church members that explained the COVID-19 cases and the importance of getting tested.
    Several children and residents of both Jessamine and Fayette counties were among the infected church members, Fugate said.
    The pastor added that all of the infected members ďare fineĒ and have not suffered serious complications.
    But Fugate added that ďthe thing that concerns me mostĒ is how several of the infected members had been asymptomatic before testing positive for COVID- 19.
    Clays Mill Baptist Church will continue with online worship services until June 21, when the congregation of roughly 2,500 members will consider resuming services in a new outdoor tent, Fugate said.
    ďFolks can park all the way around the new tent and listen on the radio if they want to stay in their cars outside of the tent,Ē     Fugate said, adding that about 400 people could fit inside the large tent, though social distancing measures may dictate otherwise.
    ďThrough this whole thing, Iíve advocated for people to not attend if sick,Ē Fugate said.    ďOur folks have been appreciative of us going back online, and Iíve always been upfront and forthright with them
    Beshear and Fugate took swipes at each other Monday after the governor was asked about the COVID-19 cases impacting Clays Mill Baptist Church members.
    ďI hope that everybody (who) tested positive from services at Clays Mill has seen or talked to a doctor,Ē Beshear said near the end of his daily briefing on the coronavirus situation in Kentucky.    ďWe want all of you to be OK
    Beshear then mentioned how Fugate stood with Cameron in April and said, ďGovernor, we can do this safely
    ďWell, he couldnít,Ē Beshear said.
    Fugate responded to Beshear in a Facebook post Monday night, telling the governor his statement earlier in the day was ďwrong
    ďThere is no evidence that anyone contracted the virus at our church.    That was only an Ďinsinuationí by the media,Ē Fugate wrote.    ďThey may have got the virus at a grocery store or another place of business that they had visited. ... Your bias and misinformation against Ďchurchí is too obvious
    ďOur church was not closed down by anyone, it was me personally who decided to close the church for a couple of weeks,Ē Fugate added.    ďThe media took that to mean that there was an outbreak at our church and you believed it and repeated it.        Not true.    But it was another opportunity for you to show your bias once again
    As of Tuesday afternoon, the Jessamine County Health Department reported 77 cases of COVID-19 and no deaths, with 60 of those infected individuals recovering from the virus.
Reach Billy Kobin at or 502-582-7030.    Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: subscribe.
[Kentucky has seen at least 11,708 cases of COVID-19 and 477 deaths.    The state has tested 287,587.    The article did not say whether these people were wearing mask and or doing social distancing, having faith is one thing but reality is the other, but churches can open and still be safe.]

6/11/2020 ďFinallyĒ say activists as Swiss same-sex marriage bill advances
FILE PHOTO: A rainbow flag is pictured on the window at Vogay, an association for the sexual and
gender diversity, after an interview about the upcoming "gay wedding" vote in the Swiss Parliament in
Lausanne, Switzerland, June 1, 2020. Picture taken June 1, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
    ZURICH (Reuters) Ė Switzerlandís lower house of parliament approved draft legislation on Thursday to let same-sex couples marry in a country that has lagged other parts of western Europe in gay rights.
    Despite opposition from conservatives, legislators also voted to let lesbian couples use sperm donations to conceive children.    The legislation will now move to the upper house for a final vote.
    ďBy 132 votes to 52, with 13 abstentions, the National Council says YES to #EhefŁralle with real equality!Ē rights group Pink Cross wrote on Twitter, using a hashtag meaning ďmarriage for all
    Campaigners said the change had been a long time coming.    Switzerland passed a law specifically protecting lesbian, gay and bisexual people from discrimination only in February.
    ďFinally, it was about time for this basic human right!Ē wrote one Twitter user, using the name you_can_call_me_flower.
    The draft law is moving through parliament 13 years after civil partnerships became legal in Switzerland, helped in part by progressive partiesí electoral gains in October that shifted parliament more to the left.
    A survey commissioned by Pink Cross in February showed more than 80% of Swiss support same-sex marriage.
    However, the countryís political institutions have tended to be more conservative than the general public, and the upper house is typically more cautious about social change.
    ďIn the future, marriage should be open to all opposite- and same-sex couples, that is the core of the proposal,Ē Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter told the debate.
    ďThe Federal Council (the government) welcomes the fact that this will eliminate todayís unequal treatment,Ē he added.
Click here for a Thomson Reuters Foundation Factbox on gay marriage around the world.
(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

6/11/2020 Polish archbishop urges protection of Ďfamily valuesí ahead of vote by Wojciech Zurawski
Catholic faithful take part in a Corpus Christi procession in Wroclaw, Poland June 11, 2020. Kuba Atys/Agencja Gazeta via REUTERS
    KRAKOW, Poland (Reuters) Ė A Polish archbishop on Thursday sought to reaffirm Christian family values at the heart of conservative President Andrzej Dudaís re-election campaign, saying foreign ďideologiesĒ were undermining the institution of marriage.
    Archbishop Marek Jedrazszewski delivered the message to hundreds of people gathered, despite social distancing rules amidst the coronavirus outbreak, for a procession in the city of Krakow to mark the Catholic Corpus Christi holiday.
    ď(Foreign) ideologies undermine the institution of marriage and the family and we find their echo frequently in our homeland,Ē Jedraszewski said.    ďThis is even more painful because it puts us in clear opposition to more than 1,050 years of Christian tradition in our nation
    Duda, an ally of the ruling right-wing nationalist PiS party seeking a second term at the polls on June 28, vowed on Wednesday to protect family values in part by banning education surrounding LGBT issues.
    The PiS argues that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) ďideologyĒ is an invasive foreign influence undermining traditional values in the staunchly Catholic nation.
    Dudaís main opponent is liberal Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski of the centre-right opposition Civic Platform (PO) party.    He has drawn criticism from religious conservatives for introducing education about LGBT matters in Warsaw schools.
    The PiS is keen to secure Dudaís re-election as it would cement its grip on power to complete reforms to the judiciary and media sectors that the European Union has challenged, saying they violate EU standards on democracy and rule of law.
    Duda remains the frontrunner but his lead has shrunk as the coronavirus crisis has damaged the economy.
    The Krakow archdiocese called on participants in the Corpus Christi gathering to respect social distancing rules, like wearing masks, but many did not do so, a Reuters witness said.
    Poland has 28,201 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 respiratory disease and 1,215 deaths.
(Reporting by Joanna Plucinska and Alicja Ptak; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

6/11/2020 Gay Trump supporter fired for political beliefs by OAN Newsroom
    A gay Trump supporter in Florida said he was fired over his political beliefs.    32-year-old David Leatherwood is a conservative who resides in St. Petersburg.
    With a significant following on Twitter, he frequently posts his views on social media and often takes a comedic approach on both political and social issues.    He also collaborates with other conservative influencers.    Some of their humorous clips have even gone viral.
    Leatherwood claims that because heís gay, the left expects him to think and act a certain way.    Itís because of this that those unhappy with his opinions created an alleged smear campaign in effort to get him fired from his job at Craft Kafe.    They also threatened to boycott the establishment if he wasnít let go.
    Those who were upset specifically took issue with posts where Leatherwood suggested that ďall lives matterĒ and where he referred to Antifa as a domestic terrorist organization.
    Despite being a loyal employee for over four and a half years, Leatherwood was terminated from his job.
    ďIf I have freedom of speech outside of the job, am I not still a citizen while inside the job?Ē ó Krystal Gilliam, uses social media to voice opinion
    In most cases, you are free to protest wages, hours and working conditions. When it comes to politics, however, your job could be at risk.    Some reports suggest conservatives have even been fired for simply attending a Trump rally.
    ďFor some employers, the mere fact that the person was there and was identified with one side or another was enough to bring the employer to the point of separating the worker,Ē explained John Balitis, Fennermore Craig director and attorney.
    Craft Kafe has yet to make a public statement.    After being questioned over its decision to let Leatherwood go, the coffee shop admitted his political views didnít bother anyone in the workplace and even sparked ďgood conversation.Ē    The comments were made in private messages obtained by One America News.
    The coffee shop said Leatherwood was entitled to his First Amendment right, but suggested the decision to fire him came after ďcustomer complaints and negative feedback.Ē    It even said it ďmight of made a mistake
    Meanwhile, an online donation page has been created to help Leatherwood while he searches for a new job.
    Leatherwood said heís taking a stand and companies that ďbow to the mobĒ must be held accountable.    He also noted that heís not letting the incident stop him from supporting President Trump.

6/12/2020 For gay stars of banned condom ad, no let-up in Polandís LGBT rights clampdown
Gay married couple Dawid Mycek (35) and Jakub Kwiecinski (38), who were featured in an advert for Durex condoms along with straight couples,
embrace as they pose for a photograph in Hel, Poland June 11, 2020. Picture taken June 11, 2020. REUTERS/Matej Leskovsek
    WARSAW (Reuters) Ė For Jakub Kwiecinski, a ban by Polandís public broadcaster on a condom advert featuring him and his husband has come as no surprise, but it does make him uneasy about what targets a government clampdown on LGBT rights will pick on next.
    The advert features both gay and straight couples, and broadcaster TVP told Reuters its decision not to air the footage in the staunchly Catholic country followed ďa large number of complaints Öabout advertising clips with intimate content.Ē    It did not specify further.
    But the ban, which took effect this week, roughly coincided with a promise by President Andrzej Duda, an ally of the governing right-wing nationalist PiS party, to allow no teaching of LGBT issues in schools if he wins a second term in office on June 28.
    ďWhen we found out (about the ban) Ö we were honestly not surprisedÖ We see Polish TV is becoming a government mouthpiece,Ē Kwiecinskiís partner Dawid Mycek, 35, told Reuters TV.
    For Kwiecinski, 38, a former producer at TVP, there is ďsome kind of paradox that in Poland where we donít have sexual education, TV commercials try to do what our government should do
    Poland has refused to recognise any form of same-sex union Ė Kwiecinski and Mycek got married in Portugal Ė and the PiS labels what it terms lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ďideologyĒ an invasive foreign influence that undermines traditional values.
    Several pro-LGBT parades became flashpoints for violence in the run-up to national elections last year, and the country was this year voted the worst in the European Union for LGBT rights in a poll by Brussels-based NGO ILGA-Europe.
    Kwiecinski, who says TVP laid him off in 2017 two days after he published a video with a Christmas song featuring him and Mycek, is not hopeful that ranking will change any time soon.
    ďThere is a concern about what will happen next,Ē he said.    ďFirst they remove you from the advert, and then theyíll say that all the LGBT plots from the movies and series will be removed
(Reporting by Lewis Macdonald and Alicja Ptak; editing by John Stonestreet)

6/12/2020 Rep. Andy Harris to ask DOJ to investigate fine on Baltimore area church by OAN Newsroom
Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., speaks during a Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations
Subcommittee hearing about the COVID-19 response on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 4, 2020. (Al Drago/Pool via AP)
    Congressman Andy Harris (R-Md.) is siding with a Baltimore area church that was fined for opening despite ongoing coronavirus lockdowns.
    Rep. Harris told reporters he will enlist the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the citation given to Calvary Baptist Church if the fine is not lifted by Tuesday.
    Last week, Baltimore County said the church broke a code citing unsafe structures.    However, the congregationís leader, Stacey Shiflet, has argued his facilities are extremely safe. Shiflet said heís never put his members health at risk while exercising their First Amendment right.
    The church first reopened in May at a limited capacity and leaders said they have followed strict public health safety guidelines since opening back up.

6/13/2020 Southern Baptist leader under fire - Petition seeks firing of seminary president by Billy Kobin, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    A Christian social justice organization wants the Louisville-based Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to fire its president, R. Albert Mohler Jr., for his ďfailure to condemn systemic racism and police violenceĒ in recent comments.
    Faithful America, which claims more than 160,000 members from every major Christian denomination, has collected over 11,000 signatures on its online petition that was posted Monday and addressed to the trustees of the Louisville seminary.
    The petition takes offense at what Mohler said during a June 3 episode of his daily podcast, ďThe Briefing,Ē when the evangelical leader discussed President Donald Trumpís photo op two days earlier with a Bible outside of St. Johnís Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C.
    To clear a path for Trump that day, authorities forced out peaceful protesters who were calling attention to the death of George Floyd while in Lafayette Square, which is between the White House and the historic church.
    Images of the dispersal and Trumpís resulting photo op caused further division in a nation already reeling from days of protests over the deaths of Floyd and other black Americans at the hands of police.
What did Mohler say?
    Mohler said during his podcast that the meaning of Trump holding up a Bible outside of the church ďisnít clear.    And thatís part of the problem
    He proceeded to recap the incident and how some White House sources say it was meant to ďdemonstrate courage and toughnessĒ and also affirm religious liberty.
    ďThe problem right now is that America needs not only showmanship, it desperately does need statesmanship, and it needs a president who will perform the actions and speak the words that are going to build up the nation and its trust as we go through a very troubling time,Ē Mohler said.
    ďAnd one of the challenges for supporters of the president in this context is understanding that it is so easy for the president himself to walk on his own message in the midst of trying to convey something substantially or symbolically in this context of American life
Mohler acknowledged he was ďleft with a bit of befuddlement myselfĒ over the photo op before adding that ďa significant sector of the media is going to continue to show these kinds of visions over and over and over again, as if they make a self-evident point against the president
    The Southern Baptist leader then quickly turned to Trumpís comments over using the Insurrection Act to quell protests and said it was ďnot an irrational statement
    ďAs youíre looking at the mayhem and chaos on American streets, and youíre looking at the images that came in overnight of widespread looting and insurrection in those streets, it is clear that our national political order cannot stand this kind of uncertainty, and mayhem, and violence and disorder,Ē Mohler said.
    Mohler, a conservative who helped push out liberal and moderate faculty members at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary when he became president in 1993, also said the photo op had ďironies abounding
    One of them is how Trump stood outside of St. Johnís Episcopal Church, part of a denomination that Mohler said has ďincreasingly moved itself to the far left of American theology and American public life
    ďIt has been openly affirming LGBTQ, and you could just go through the list of the issues of liberal activism for a matter of decades,Ē Mohler said, adding that the Episcopal church has been ďhemorrhaging membersĒ and is ďlikely to go the way of the dodo
    What does the petition say?
    Faithful America says Mohler used Trumpís photo op ďas an excuse to ignore black livesĒ during his podcast.
    ďDr. Albert Mohlerís failure to condemn systemic racism and police violence in his recent daily podcasts ó despite his condemnation of protesters ó enables white supremacy and ignores the God-given dignity of black lives,Ē the petition says.    ďThis failure is made even more conspicuous by Dr. Mohlerís use of President Trumpís St. Johnís photo op to change the topic away from racism and to an unprovoked attack on the Episcopal Church
    The petition also refers to Mohlerís comments in a 1998 interview with CNNís Larry King, when the Baptist leader said that while the Bible does not endorse slavery, it does require slaves to obey their masters.
    After that interview resurfaced last month, Mohler told the Religion News Service he made an ďincredibly stupid commentĒ and ďI repudiate the statements I made
    But the Faithful America petition declares that Mohlerís recent podcast coupled with his ďpast defense of slaveryĒ make it ďapparent that he is unfit to serve as president of a major Christian institution, particularly one in a city racked by the murder of Breonna Taylor
    Louisville police officers fatally shot Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman, while serving a drug-related warrant at her South End apartment in March.
    No drugs were recovered, and protesters have since chanted her name at the demonstrations around the country.
    ďAs your fellow Christians, we call on the Board of Trustees of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to immediately fire Dr. Mohler as president,Ē the petition concludes.
    Apart from its most recent petition, Faithful America has also called for Mohlerís removal from the nonpartisan Gospel Coalition, a group of pastors and elders.
    That demand came as Mohler has faced criticism for saying he will vote for Trump this year after denouncing him four years ago as ďbeneath the baseline of human decency
    How did Mohler respond to the petition?
    Mohler was ďnot available to talkĒ about the petition, a spokesman told The Courier Journal.
    Caleb Shaw, director of communications for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, sent the following statement: ďDr. Albert Mohler has consistently condemned racism his entire tenure at Southern Seminary and has been a leader in the Southern Baptist Convention in condemning the sin of racism in any form.    This so-called petition is a bald-faced lie originating from a far-left organization that has no regard for truth.    The effort was then fueled by internet trolls.    It deserves no further comment
    Reach Billy Kobin at or 502-582-7030.    Support strong local journalism by subscribing today:
    President Donald Trump holds a Bible as he visits outside St. John's Church on June 1 in Washington. PATRICK SEMANSKY/APM
[The above article really shows how bad the antichrist is growing as the Scarlet Woman is in action around the world.].

6/12/2020 Transgender couple in limbo as Hungary bans changes to identity papers by Marton Dunai
Elvira Angyal, 53-year-old transgender woman makes her make-up inside her house in
Polgardi, Hungary, June 10, 2020. Picture taken June 10, 2020. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo
    POLGARDI, Hungary (Reuters) Ė For Hungarian transgender couple Tamara Csillag and Elvira Angyal life is on hold, their wedding postponed, and they are angry.
    Hungary last month banned people from changing their gender on identity documents, in a move LGBT+ advocates said was creating panic among transgender people who feared an increase in discrimination and attacks.
    Tamara, 57, filed her paperwork two years ago, days before the government temporarily banned alterations to identity documents Ė that ban is now permanent.
    Elvira, 53, completed her paperwork years before, but Tamara is forced to write ďThomasĒ on official documents.    The couple have put their wedding plans on hold while Tamara is forced to remain legally male.
    ďThis slope we are on is politically conceived,Ē said Tamara in the house the couple share with 17 cats and four dogs.    ďThe government created this abyss Ö It makes me so angry
    Rights groups say hostility to LGBT+ people has increased since nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban won a third term in 2018.    The European Union has long criticised Orbanís right-wing government over its record on the rule of law and civil liberties.
    According to ILGA, an international lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex advocacy group, Hungary slipped the most in Europe in terms of gay rights in 2019, although it is still ahead of nearly all eastern European countries.
    ILGA says Poland, where homophobia has been part of the ruling PiS partyís ideology and election strategy, ranks last in the EU.
    Hungaryís ranking was primarily due to its handling of the transgender issue, ILGA said, as well as some hostile rhetoric from the ruling Fidesz party.
    Tamas Dombos, a director of the LGBT+ rights group Hatter Society, said though gender change procedures numbered a few dozen per year in Hungary, there may be tens of thousands of trans people in the country.    Most opt not to go through the process.
    Gender change procedures are legal in Hungary and subsidised by the state to a small extent but are prohibitively expensive for many people.    Gay marriage is not recognised, but legal partnership is.
    Transgender people are the most at risk of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts among LGBT+ groups, Dombos said.    One in four attempt suicide before transition.
    The new law, authored by Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjen, says: ďSince it is impossible to fully change biological sex, it is necessary to fix in law
    In a statement sent to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, at the time the law was passed in parliament, the government said it left everyone ďfree to exercise their identities as they wish
    Tamara disagrees.    She says harassment forced her to leave a job, the five children she raised while suppressing her true self ignore her, and now the government is targeting her, preventing her from completing her documentation.
    ďWe have fought Ö for future generations,Ē she said.    ďWe will fight on. We have to persevere
(Reporting by Marton Dunai; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

6/15/2020 Lawyers are working to help build the LGBT community
    The LGBT community and our allies celebrate June as PRIDE MONTH.    We remember a riot that started at the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969, when our community stood up to the New York City Police Department and said we will no longer allow you to arrest us for drinking while queer.
    In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental illness.    In 1992, the Kentucky Supreme Court decided that sodomy was no longer a crime.    The U.S. Supreme Court caught up with Kentucky in 2003.    In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage.
    If you have ever seen ďQueer EyeĒ you might think that all gay men are obsessed with shopping, decoration, fitness, grooming and throwing parties.    If you have ever seen ďRuPaulís Drag Race,Ē you might think we all strive to wear outrageous wigs and sequined dresses.    But I think it is important to show you that we have different identities, a variety of profiles and varied careers.    I would look pathetic in a Speedo and Iíve never worn glitter.
    My friend, and our ally, Shannon Fauver, knows that lawyers ARE working in the background to help build the LGBT community as well as our entire society.    But often what lawyers do is not as visible.    If you look at the civil rights movement, you think of Rosa Parks or Dr. King, you donít think of Fred Gray, Charles Hamilton Houston or Thurgood Marshall fighting in the courtrooms.    Approximately 3% of the lawyers in the U.S. identify as LGBT.    Our allies most certainly outnumber us.
    June 2020 is the fifth anniversary of the LGBT Law Section of the Kentucky Bar Association.    While all Kentucky attorneys must belong to the KBA, membership in a section is voluntary.    I want to celebrate those five years of growth.    I am incredibly proud to be one of the co-founders of this group.    Iím a member of two bar associations.    I also belong to the National LGBT Bar Association.    I wanted to profile a few of my friends.
    Kevin Brown is the interim commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Education.    Fayette Circuit Judge Ernesto Scorsone is one of three judges.    Ernesto was one of the lawyers who won the Wasson case in 1992; he was the first openly gay member of the Kentucky General Assembly and first openly gay circuit court judge.    Ernesto was the first attorney to ask the KBA Board of Governors to create an LGBT Law Section.    We have two other judges in the section as well.    We have members who work for the federal government, state government and in various county and municipal jobs. We have two law school professors.    We have Keith Elson who runs the nonprofit Kentucky Youth Law Project.    We have two corporate counsel at internationally known companies.    We have JoAnne Wheeler Bland, the most amazing transgender person I know. We have prominent folks in private practice such as John Selent who recently funded a scholarship at Brandeis School of Law for LGBT students.    We have amazing allies like Fauver and Dan Canon who fought all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court for marriage equality.    Something they didnít need!
    These folks are not what youíd call rich and famous.    But they are ALL committed to making our STATE a better place FOR EVERYONE Ė not just the LGBT residents.    I am proud to celebrate LGBT PRIDE MONTH.    I am PROUD to be an openly gay attorney who works with these compassionate people.    I certainly never imagined when I graduated from law school in 1978 that I would actually become known as a leader and advocate for the LGBT community.    Or that I would regularly speak to the Kentucky Supreme Court or write about it in The Courier Journal.
    I never believed I was mentally ill or was worth less because I was gay.    But I mentor several fellows who are still told that.    I hope that this column is an example of courage and hope to all the LGBT youth, indeed to all the residents of our commonwealth.    We canít just wear our faith, or our professional title, as some sort of mark of approval.    It is imperative that our lives challenge everyone to examine the prejudices they hold about our community and to admit they are rubbish.    Itís too easy to hide behind flags and Bibles.    The Jesus I worship threw the money changers out of the Temple.     He denounced the priest and Levite who ignored the beaten and bloody traveler going to Jericho Ė letís make that local, how about instead of being from Samaria, the good guy was from Russell, California or the West End neighborhoods of Louisville?    Indeed, Jesus instructed us to go and do likewise Ė to get blood on our clothes by helping the wounded, and to spend money to pay for rehabilitation?
    Now, more than ever, ďUnited we stand, divided we fall
    Bruce Kleinschmidt is an attorney and advocate for diversity and inclusion.Your Turn Bruce Kleinschmidt Guest columnist
Kentuckiana Pride Parade participants walk along River Road

6/15/2020 Obama-era transgender health protections revoked - Move lets doctors deny care based on identity by ASSOCIATED PRESS
    WASHINGTON Ė In a move applauded by President Donald Trumpís conservative religious base, his administration on Friday finalized a rule that overturns Obama-era protections for transgender people against sex discrimination in health care. The Department of Health and Human Services said it will enforce sex discrimination protections ďaccording to the plain meaning of the word Ďsexí as male or female and as determined by biology.Ē    This rewrites an Obama era regulation that sought a broader understanding shaped by a personís internal sense of being male, female, neither or a combination.
    LGBTQ groups say explicit protections are needed for people seeking sex-reassignment treatment, and even for transgender people who need care for common illnesses such as diabetes or heart problems.
    ďTransgender people should not be refused care at a doctorís office.    They have medical and mental health needs like all people.    LGBTQ individuals and their families need to receive health care equity,Ē said Dr. David Rosenthal, founding medical director for the Center for Transgender Care at Northwell Health in Great Neck, New York.
    ďMy LGBTQ+ patients are people Ė people who work, people we see at the grocery store and the park, people who have families, people who have every skin color, and people that need access to equitable health care,Ē he said.
    But conservatives say the Obama administration exceeded its legal authority in broadly interpreting gender.
    Behind the dispute over legal rights is a medically recognized condition called gender dysphoria Ė discomfort or distress caused by a discrepancy between the gender that a person identifies as and the gender at birth. Consequences can include severe depression.     Treatment can range from sex-reassignment surgery and hormones to people changing their outward appearance by adopting a different hairstyle or clothing.
    Many social conservatives disagree with the concept.
    ďUnder the old Obama rule, medical professionals could have been forced to facilitate gender reassignment surgeries and abortions Ė even if they believed this was a violation of their conscience or believed it harmful to the patient,Ē said Mary Beth Waddell of the religious conservative Family Research Council. Under the Obama-era rule, a hospital could be required to perform gender-transition procedures such as hysterectomies if the facility provided that kind of treatment for other medical conditions.    The rule was meant to carry out the anti-discrimination section of the Affordable Care Act, which bars sex discrimination in health care but does not use the term ďgender identity.Ē
    Womenís groups say the new regulations also undermine access to abortion, which is a legal medical procedure.
    More than 1.5 million Americans identify as transgender, according to the Williams Institute, a think tank focusing on LGBT policy at the UCLA School of Law.    Among high school students, 1.8% identify as transgender, and these students were more likely to report violence, victimization, substance use and suicide risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    A bigger number Ė 4.5% of the population Ė identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, according to Gallup.
    Roger Severino, head of the Health and Human Services Department unit that enforces civil rights laws, said transgender people continue to be protected by other statutes that bar discrimination in health care on account of race, color, national origin, age, disability and other factors.
    For the administration itís the latest in a series of steps to revoke newly won protections for LGBTQ people.
    The administration also has moved to restrict military service by transgender men and women, proposed allowing certain homeless shelters to take gender identity into account in offering someone a bed, and concluded in a 2017 Justice Department memo that federal civil rights law does not protect transgender people from discrimination at work.
Contributing: Grace Hauck

6/16/2020 LGBTQ ruling to affect Kentucky - Advocates say fight for equal rights isnít over by Chris Kenning, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    The U.S. Supreme Courtís landmark decision Monday to ban workplace discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender workers will vastly broaden protections in Kentucky ó but doesnít end the fight for equal rights, advocates said. The 6-3 ruling, announced just two weeks shy of the fifth anniversary of the courtís legalization of gay marriage, held that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects such workers from being fired, denied promotions or treated differently.
    Kentucky was among the 27 states with limited or no workplace protections for the LGBTQ community, who number roughly 11 million nationwide.    Despite Fairness Ordinances in 19 cities and one county, 70% of the state lacked those protections.
    ďGiant leaps in equality do not happen by accident,Ē tweeted U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, a Democrat from Louisville.    ďThis is the result of decades of tireless work by LGBTQ+ organizers, advocates, and activists nationwide
    Yet the ruling doesnít protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in other areas of public life, said Chris Hartman, Louisvilleís Fairness Campaign director.
    Despite a ďhistoricĒ ruling, he said, ďeven after today, itís still legal to deny an LGBTQ person housing or public accommodations in most of our commonwealth and most of the United States
    He said the ruling could bolster the push for a statewide fairness law after repeated failure of the Kentucky legislature to support it.    Similar laws have been adopted in 22 other states.
    Itís also likely to prompt new legal challenges, including those seeking to get judges to similarly interpret state civil rights laws to include gay, lesbian and transgender people, said Samuel Marcosson, a law professor at the University of Louisville. The decision came as a surprise to some given the courtís conservative majority.
    The opinion was written by Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trumpís first nominee to the court. He was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and the courtís four liberal justices.    Associate Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh dissented.
    ďI am encouraged that Justice Gorsuch and Chief Justice Roberts had the courage to do what is right, rather than what might have been convenient,Ē said Louisville attorney Bruce Kleinschmidt, a member of the National LGBT Bar Association.
    Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear on Monday said the court ďdid the right thing
    The courtís decision, arriving amid a painful national debate over racial justice and policing, was also hailed as a boon to more rural areas of Kentucky, where LGBTQ rights advocates are fewer and conservative religious views still hold sway.     A 2017 survey of LGBTQ Americans for the Harvard School of Public Health found that 22% said they faced discrimination in housing and 20% in jobs.
    ďWhile Kentucky was making patchwork progress, many smaller rural areas still saw no end in sight.    Thereís finally big headline news thatís positive and has been much needed,Ē said Cody Lander, of Madisonville, who has organized gay pride festivals.     ďEven with the progress weíve made in Madisonville, there are still folks who would be let go or had to remain Ďin the closetí for fear of losing their job,Ē he said.
    Congress has debated but not approved bills adding sexual orientation to the list of protected traits under the law.    The Democratic-controlled House passed the Equality Act last year, but the Republican-controlled Senate has not considered it.
    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
    One of his Democratic challengers, Amy McGrath, on Monday called on the Senate to pass the bill.
    Mondayís ruling also doesnít apply to discrimination against transgender Americans by the military, making it ďan outlier amidst a national consensus that arbitrary discrimination is harmful and wrong,Ē according to the California-based Palm Center, a research institute that studies the military and LGBTQ populations.
    ďWith transgender workers protected by federal law in all other sectors, the militaryís transgender ban is now even harder to defend,Ē said Aaron Belkin, the Palm Centerís director.
    Despite the rulingís limitations, it was good news for Nicholas Breiner, a former choral teacher who filed a lawsuit alleging he was fired at a middle school in Mount Sterling, Kentucky, in 2017 because he is bisexual.    The district denied that was the reason, and the suit is still pending.
    ďWeíre seeing years and years of working finally coming to fruitionĒ despite there being ďa long way to go,Ē Breiner said.
    Hartman said he expects to continue to ďplay defenseĒ in fighting Republican-sponsored bills in the state legislature.    Several this year aimed to bar transgender youths from school sports or from obtaining certain gender-identity medical care.
    Kent Ostrander, executive director of the conservative Family Foundation of Kentucky, said job discrimination protections for LBGTQ people was ďa reasonable thing.Ē
    ďIt is awkward.    I can understand how a funeral home might not want a funeral director being a male who is dressed as a female,Ē which may be ďdisruptive or unsettling for them,Ē he said.    ďI fully identify with that concern, but obviously the case has gone to the Supreme Court and the court has ruled
    The Supreme Courtís ruling Monday came in three cases, involving two gay men and a transgender woman, from Georgia, New York and Michigan.    The cases, heard in early October, are among the most significant on the courtís docket this term.
    The challenges from the fired workers picked up where the same-sex marriage battle left off in 2015, when the court ruled 5-4 that states cannot bar gay or lesbian Americans from matrimony.
    What was different this time was the court itself: The author of four major opinions expanding gay rights, retired Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, has been succeeded by the more conservative Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
    ďAn employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex,Ē Gorsuch wrote.    ďAn employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law

    Some in Kentuckyís LGBTQ community say those who argue that job discrimination is rare when it comes to identity are misinformed.
    ďI lived in fear for a decade of my life worrying every day that being out as an openly gay man would someday come back to haunt me,Ē said Robert Kyle May, founder of Big Sandy LGBT+ Safe Zone in Eastern Kentucky.    ďI personally know people who have been fired because their employers found out more about how they identify.    I also know people who worry about being fired, being overlooked for promotions, or being sabotaged in the workplace if their identities become known
    May added, ďThis ruling is crucial for helping protect LGBTQ+ people across the United States of America and, particularly, within the rural communities where LGBTQ+ affirming resources are limited
    Reporter Chris Kenning can be reached at ckenning@ or on Twitter @chris_kenning.
Demostrators gather in front of the Supreme Court on Oct. 8 as the justices hear three challenges from New York,
Michigan and Georgia involving workers who claimed they were fired because they were gay or transgender. JACK GRUBER/USA TODAY NETWORK

The U.S. Supreme Court was deeply divided in the ruling on LGBTQ protections in the workplace. JACK GRUBER/USA TODAY NETWORK

6/16/2020 LGBTQ workers gain Supreme Court victory - Ruling grants protection under civil rights law by Richard Wolf, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON Ė A divided Supreme Court further advanced the cause of LGBTQ rights Monday, ruling that a landmark civil rights law barring sex discrimination in the workplace applies to gay, lesbian and transgender workers.
    The decision was written by Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trumpís first nominee to the court.    He was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and the courtís four liberal justices.    Associate Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh dissented.
    ďAn employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex,Ē Gorsuch wrote.
    ďCongress adopted broad language making it illegal for an employer to rely on an employeeís sex when deciding to fire that employee. We do not hesitate to recognize today a necessary consequence of that legislative choice: An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.Ē     The ruling is likely to have a sweeping impact on federal civil rights laws barring sex discrimination in education, health care, housing and credit.    Lawsuits pertaining to those laws are pending in lower courts, which are required to follow Supreme Court precedent.
    In addition, the Trump administralaw tionís brand-new rule narrowing the legal definition of sex discrimination in health care to omit transgender people will be jeopardized.    The ruling does not, however, help when it comes to ongoing discrimination against LGBTQ people in public accommodations.
    The ruling came in three cases, involving two gay men and a transgender woman, from Georgia, New York and Michigan.
    The three plaintiffs were Gerald Bostock, a former child welfare services coordinator from Georgia; Donald Zarda, a former New York skydiving instructor who died at 44 in 2014 but was represented by his sister and former partner; and Aimee Stephens, a former funeral home worker from Michigan who is transgender and who died March 12.
    At issue: the text of a 1964 civil rights barring employment discrimination based on sex, and whether that term should be understood to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
    Lawyers for the two gay workers said they were fired for dating men, while female employees were not. Lawyers for their employers said they were treated the same as if they were female employees who dated women.
    James Esseks of the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented Zarda and Stephens, said: ďThe court has caught up to the majority of our country, which already knows that discriminating against LGBTQ people is both unfair and against the law
    Alito, who wrote more than 100 pages in dissent for himself and Thomas, accused the courtís majority of writing legislation, not law.
Joseph Fons celebrates in front of the Supreme Court on Monday after it ruled that workplace bias laws apply to LGBTQ people. CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES
[My comment about the above two articles: As it is seen in the news lately of Antichristian forces have been trying to destroy and change any values of decency in the area of abortions, LGBTQ values, and recently civil right issues which have gone from being twisted and vanquished of any normality and now the SCARLET WOMAN is beginning to win and all the rest of us who condemn their actions may find ourselves the ones who will become discriminated against in the coming years by the oncoming queen of prophetic Babylon and we will have to pray for help from the one who was promised to come and save us from the onslaught which you are seeing in the streets of America in many of the Democrat controlled states and or cities.].

6/16/2020 Gay-Straight Alliance helps reduce school bullying, study finds - Student-run clubs link LGBTQ youth and allies by Elinor Aspegren, USA TODAY     For students and teachers who want to curb bullying at their schools, one solution could be establishing a Gay-Straight Alliance.
    The presence of a GSA at school is associated with decreased levels of bullying of students for their weight, gender, religion, disability and sexuality, according to a study released Monday by researchers at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut.    GSAs are student-run clubs that traditionally served as safe spaces for LGBTQ youth in middle and high schools, but theyíve also emerged as vehicles for social change related to racial, gender and educational justice.
    ďBy bringing together LGBTQ youth and supportive non-LGBTQ peers, GSAs provide a unique opportunity to foster social inclusion and acceptance,Ē lead author Leah Lessard told USA TODAY.
    Ninety-one percent of LGBTQ teens report at least one experience of bias based bullying, according to the study.    Seventy-three percent of teens surveyed report experiences of bias based bullying for reasons beyond their sexual or gender identities.
    Joe Kosciw, director of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network Research Institute, told USA TODAY that ďthe presence of a GSA raises awareness of LGBTQ issues, as well as demonstrates to LGBTQ students that they have allies in their schools, thereby contributing to a more respectful student body
    A survey in 2014 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 38% of high schools nationwide had an active GSA, the absence of which can lead to increased bullying and increased stress among LGBTQ students.    The Rudd Center study reported that LGBTQ youth have a heightened risk of suicide, depression, sleep troubles and eating disorders.
    ďGSAs represent a promising avenue to support healthy outcomes for LGBTQ teens,Ē Lessard said, noting that GSAs not only deter bullying but act as a social resource to reduce health consequences of bullying.
    ďItís important the youth have allies and friends that they can rely on to stick up for them and also hold other peers accountable for exclusionary behaviors and attitudes,Ē she said.
    A study in 2016 out of the University of California-Berkeley reported that LGBTQ students at schools with GSAs were 36% less likely to be fearful for their own safety.
    According to Lessardís study, multiple forms of bias-based bullying were lower at schools with GSAs, which decreased adverse health outcomes.
    Sarah Milianta-Laffin, a STEM teacher at Ilima Intermediate School in Hawaii and supervisor for the schoolís GSA, said her campus hosting one ďserved to inoculate the student body against some identity bullying,Ē pointing to studies that show having a GSA can reduce suicide attempts for all students.

6/17/2020 ANALYSIS - Court not as conservative as expected -Trump picks prominent in latest gay rights case by Richard Wolf, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON Ė It took President Donald Trump only 11 days in office to decide that Coloradoís Neil Gorsuch deserved a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.    Trump followed that up with his nomination of Marylandís Brett Kavanaugh one year later.
    During their short time on the high court, the two conservatives have shown they are willing to tangle with doctrinaire conservatism Ė and with each other.    Along with Chief Justice John Roberts, the courtís swing vote, they are denying Trump the reliable conservative majority he expected.
    The volatility that Gorsuch and Kavanaugh bring to the court was on display Monday in the courtís 6-3 decision giving gay, lesbian and transgender workers protection under a 1964 federal law banning employment discrimination.    It was the biggest decision by the court this term, and Trumpís nominees played leading roles.     Roberts, who could have kept the writing of the opinion for himself, assigned it to Gorsuch, the most junior of the six justices in the majority. Kavanaugh, who most frequently sides with the chief justice, often against the courtís other three conservatives, penned one of two vehement dissents.
    The result left Trump somewhat surprised but accepting of the courtís Ė and his nomineesí Ė verdict.    ďThey ruled, and we live with their decision,Ē the president said, adding it was a ďvery powerful decision, actually
    Gorsuch, even more than Roberts, emerged as the likely swing vote in October, when the case was argued.    He said the argument was at least ďin playĒ that the prohibition on sex discrimination in the federal law includes a workerís sexual orientation and gender identity.    But he worried a ruling for LGBTQ rights would entail ďmassive social upheaval
    Fast forward eight months, and Gorsuchís concern for what he called ďjudicial modestyĒ went out the window.    His ruling for three workers fired because they were gay or transgender was based on his fierce adherence to the literal meaning of words and laws.    Roberts and the courtís four liberal justices were not put off by that reasoning, joining the opinion in full.
ĎTrying to follow the lawí
    It wasnít the first time Gorsuch veered from the conservative course most of his advocates expected.    Folksy and self-deprecating, the courtís lone Westerner came from Colorado in 2017 and amply filled the late conservative Associate Justice Antonin Scaliaís seat on the bench.    It took him only two terms to lead his colleagues in dissents.
    At the same time, Gorsuch has made peace with the courtís liberals, often siding with Associate Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg in defense of the ďlittle guyĒ being surveilled, accused, tried or convicted of a crime.
    In a span of seven weeks last term, Gorsuch dissented twice from the courtís refusal to hear Sixth Amendment challenges to criminal prosecutions.    He was joined both times by Sotomayor, perhaps the courtís most liberal justice.
    Still, he has been a reliable member of the courtís five-man conservative majority in most major cases over the past three terms.    Those include 5-4 decisions upholding Trumpís ban on travel from several majority-Muslim nations, barring public employee unions from collecting ďfair shareĒ fees from nonmembers and removing federal courts from policing even the most extreme partisan election maps.
    ďWhat Iím doing is not my preference.    I am trying to follow the law,Ē he told USA TODAY last September.    ďNobodyís telling me what to do
Scaliaís influence
    If he cast himself in Scaliaís image, the comparisonwas difficult to make Monday.    Scaliaís name was cited 21 times in the majority opinion and dissents Ė 19 of them by the dissenters.
    ďThe court attempts to pass off its decision as the inevitable product of the textualist school of statutory interpretation championed by our late colleague Justice Scalia, but no one should be fooled,Ē Associate Justice Samuel Alito wrote.    ďThe courtís opinion is like a pirate ship.    It sails under a textualist flag, but what it actually represents is a theory of statutory interpretation that Justice Scalia excoriated Ė the theory that courts should Ďupdateí old statutes so that they better reflect the current values of society
    Where Gorsuch and Kavanaugh have differed, it is often Kavanaugh who aligns with Roberts and the liberals.    In his first term, Kavanaugh agreed with Roberts in more than 90% of the cases.    This term, he had been the only justice to agree with the majority in every decision, until Monday when he parted ways over LGBTQ rights.
    ďWhen this court usurps the role of Congress, as it does today, the public understandably becomes confused about who the policy makers really are in our system of separated powers,Ē Kavanaugh wrote.    ďThe best way for judges to demonstrate that we are deciding cases based on the ordinary meaning of the law is to walk the walk, even in the hard cases when we might prefer a different policy outcome
    Gorsuch usually sticks to the letter of the law or the Constitution; Kavanaugh frets over the consequences of the courtís decisions.
    Their combined impact has yet to give legal conservatives the results they expected.    In the 2018 term Ė the first including both of Trumpís nominees Ė only seven cases united the five conservatives against the four liberals, compared with 14 the year before.    This term, there have been only six such pure conservative majorities.
    The court has many major rulings to come in the next few weeks on abortion, immigration, religion and the presidentís efforts to keep his tax returns and financial records away from congressional and law enforcement investigators.    Those still could unite the five conservatives.
    ďThey ruled, and we live with their decision.Ē President Donald Trump
Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch, left, and Brett Kavanaugh, right, soon may be called upon
to rule on cases that involve President Donald Trumpís personal records. JASPER COLT/USA TODAY

6/17/2020 Ruling protects LGBTQ job rights - Employees canít be fired for sexuality or gender by Brent Schrotenboer, USA TODAY
    The U.S. Supreme Court delivered a ruling Monday that effectively makes it illegal for businesses across the nation to fire employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
    In the 6-3 decision, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects gay or transgender employees from employment discrimination, giving the LGBTQ rights movement another big victory from the nationís highest court.
    What will change from this ruling, and does it cover employees at small businesses in all states?
    USA TODAY consulted with experts in this area of the law to find out:
    What protections were in place before the ruling?
    It depended where someone lived.    A patchwork of state laws determined how much protection employees had from discrimination.
    In 27 states, there are no explicit statewide laws protecting people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations, according to Freedom For All Americans, a bipartisan campaign to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination.
    An employee in one of these states conceivably could be fired for being gay or transgender Ė and would have no guaranteed rights against it.
    In 21 other states, plus the District of Columbia, employees had full protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodation.
    The ruling ďis a really big deal because before this, there certainly were employers who believed that they could just end the employment of somebody for being gay or transgender,Ē said Jennifer Levi, director of the Transgender Rights Project at the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD).    ďSo this is really an important clarification of the scope of federal law
Demonstrators gather in front of the Supreme Court during an LGBTQ rights case. JACK GRUBER/USA TODAY
[We should not fret over judgments made by man since it is the GOD in heaven who will make the final decision of who is in sinful lifestyles and will have to answer for that eventually just teach your children what is right and what is wrong and unnatural.].

6/18/2020 Vatican urges Catholics to drop investments in fossil fuels, arms by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: People walk on St. Peter's Square after the Vatican reports its
first case of coronavirus, at the Vatican, March 6, 2020. REUTERS/Yara Nardi
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Ė The Vatican urged Catholics on Thursday to disinvest from the armaments and fossil fuel industries and to closely monitor companies in sectors such as mining to check if they are damaging the environment.
    The calls were contained in a 225-page manual for church leaders and workers to mark the fifth anniversary of Pope Francisí landmark encyclical ďLaudato SiĒ (Praised Be) on the need to protect nature, life and defenseless people.
    The compendium suggests practical steps to achieve the goals of the encyclical, which strongly supported agreements to contain global warming and warned against the dangers of climate change.
    The manualís section on finance said people ďcould favor positive changes Ö by excluding from their investments companies that do not satisfy certain parameters.Ē    It listed these as respect for human rights, bans on child labor and protection of the environment.
    Called ĎJourneying Towards Care For Our Common Homeí, one action point called on Catholics to shun ďshun companies that are harmful to human or social ecology, such as abortion and armaments, and to the environment, such as fossil fuels
    Another section called for the ďstringent monitoringĒ of extraction industries in areas with fragile ecosystems to prevent air, soil and water contamination.
    Last month, more that 40 faith organizations from around the world, more than half of them Catholic, pledged to divest from fossil fuel companies.
    The Vatican bank has said it does not invest in fossil fuels and many Catholic dioceses and educational institutions around the world have taken similar positions.
    The document urges Catholics to defend the rights of local populations to have a say in whether their lands can be used for oil or mineral extraction and the right to take strong stands against companies that cause environmental disasters or over-exploit natural resources such as forests.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

6/19/2020 Attorney General Barr supports Idaho law banning transgender females from competing in womenís sports by OAN Newsroom
Attorney General William Barr speaks during a roundtable with President Donald Trump about Americaís seniors,
in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Monday, June 15, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
    Attorney General William Barr has voiced his support for an Idaho law that prohibits transgender females from participating in womenís sports.    In a statement, Barr defended the bill by arguing it is unfair for biological females to have to compete against biological males.
    This came after Idaho Governor Brad Little signed the Fairness in Womenís Sports Act earlier this year.    Its two provisions required public sports teams to designate themselves as male, female or coed.    It also banned transgender athletes from competing against women.
    The bill has faced heated debate from parties on both sides.
    One coach described gender segregation as the ďbest, if not only, way to ensure fairness for biological girls in interscholastic sports
    Idaho state Rep. Barbara Ehardt suggested allowing boys to compete against girls ďshatters our dreamsĒ and ďreverses nearly 50 years of advances for us as women
Gov. Brad Little announces Idahoís progression into Stage 4 of the stateís economic recovery after a shutdown in March to prevent
the spread of COVID-19, Thursday, June 11, 2020 at the Idaho Statehouse in Downtown Boise. (Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman via AP)
    The ACLU has argued that the bill is in violation of the Equal Protection Clause.
    ďThis bill is discriminatory, invasive and entirely unnecessary,Ē stated ACLU spokesperson Kathy Griesmyer.    ďAs the billís sponsors themselves even mention, there have been no known complaints or disputes with the current policy
    However, in his statement, the attorney general cited the Equal Protection Clause as the very reason the state is allowed to ďrecognize the physiological differences between the biological sexes in athletics.Ē    He went on to say that segregating the teams based on sex actually provides females with equal protection.
    The law is expected to be enforced in Idaho as of July 1st.    Sports teams that are affiliated with public schools or cities will be required to abide by it.

6/20/2020 Pope, in first post-lockdown audience, thanks Italian doctors by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis holds the weekly general audience at the Library of the
Apostolic Palace at the Vatican, June 10, 2020. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Ė Pope Francis on Saturday held his first audience for a group of people since Italy lifted its coronavirus lockdown, granting it to health workers from the Italian region most affected by the pandemic.
    ďYou were one of the supporting pillars of the entire country,Ē he told doctors and nurses from the Lombardy region gathered in the Vaticanís frescoed Clementine Hall, which had not been used for months because of the crisis.
    ďTo those of you here and to your colleagues all across Italy go my esteem and my sincere thanks, and I know very well I am interpreting everyoneís sentiments,Ē he said.
    He thanked the health workers, who wore masks, for being ďangels,Ē including by lending their cell phones to dying patients so they could say their final goodbyes to their loved ones.
    Italy returned to relative normality on June 3 when Italians were allowed to move between regions again.    But rules such as social distancing in public and wearing masks are still in effect.
    Nearly 35,000 people in Italy have died of coronavirus, the fourth highest number in the world after the United States, Brazil and Britain.
    Nearly 170 of them were doctors and the pope paid special tribute to them in his address on Saturday.
    At the end the meeting, the pope joked about what he called ďthe liturgy of the greetingĒ explaining that they would take a group picture but he would ďbe obedient to the rulesĒ and greet them from a distance as he passed down the aisle.
    Francisí weekly general audience is still being held without the public and streamed over the internet, although he has resumed giving his Sunday message from his window since St. Peterís Square was reopened last month.
    He has resumed public Masses but with only about 50 people allowed.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Christina Fincher)

10/21/2020 Kentucky county still stands opposed to same-sex marriage by Andrew Wolfson, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    SALYERSVILLE Ė Before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage five years ago, trucking company owner John Salyer said he vehemently opposed it, in part because ďif just anybody can get married, it will take away something from my marriage
    Salyer says that hasnít happened.    But he says he still opposes same-sex marriage ďwholeheartedlyĒ as a matter of faith and biology.    ďThe mechanics only work between a man and a woman,Ē he said.
    Salyer, 58, was born and raised in Magoffin County, which in 2004 cast the highest percent of votes Ė 94% Ė for a constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage.
    And Salyersville Mayor James ďPeteĒ Shepherd said earlier this month, ďI donít think the attitudes have changed at all
    During a recent visit, a Courier Journal reporter had to interview 10 people before finding one who said he supports the right of the LGBTQ community to marry.
    Dwayne Risner, 42, a millwright, called same sex-marriage ďridiculous Ė the Bible says we are supposed to marry and make babies
    Tim Cole, 59, said: ďThis ainít California
    And Michael Rose, 48, a disabled former coal miner, said: ďIím a man of God and would never support it.    Two men canít reproduce and neither can two women
    An inspection of the 483 marriage licenses issued in Magoffin County since the Supreme Court on June 26, 2015, legalized same-sex marriage nationwide found only one issued to a same-sex couple, two lesbians who declined to comment.
    Located 170 miles east of Louisville, Magoffin County is famous for two things: voter fraud Ė a local lawyer once called it the ďvote-buying capital of the worldĒ Ė and as the hometown of pornographer Larry Flynt.
    Nearly 30% of its 12,783 residents live in poverty, and even before COVID-19, its unemployment rate, 18.6% in March, was the highest of the commonwealth's 120 counties.
    Flynt once said there are so few jobs in Magoffin that its biggest industry is jury duty.
    But it is also home to 85 churches, most of them evangelical.
    Pastor Justin Williams of Lakeland Baptist Church said he knows same-sex couples and treats them with dignity and respect.    ďI love them,Ē he said.    But Williams said that ďscripture defines marriages as between a man and a woman and that Jesus affirmed    But not everyone in Magoffin thinks that means same-sex marriages donít deserve equal protection under the law.
    At Parkway Gun and Pawn, where a shoplifting sign warns, ďGod is watching you and so are we,Ē Josh Poe said he supports same-sex marriage because such couples deserve the same legal and financial benefits of marriage as straight ones.
    Poe is an outlier in Magoffin in more ways than one.    A former offensive lineman for the Morehead State University Eagles, he is one of only 5% of adults in the county with a four-year college degree.
    At a luncheonette nearby that has three tables and no sign, Poeís grandfather, Kenneth Poe, 82, a retired miner, said he also supports same-sex marriage.
    Asked why, he gave a one-word answer: ďJustice
    Some other county residents, like pharmacy tech Felicia Day, say they grudgingly accept it.    ďI donít care for it, but itís their life,Ē she said outside of Frazier- Prater Drugs.
    And Arriettia Joseph, 56, a former nursing home assistant who was left with a disability when a 550-pound patient fell on her Ė and who has a 39-yearold lesbian daughter Ė said, ďWhat other people do is their business
    But her friend Marie Risner was probably more typical.    She said she opposes same-sex marriage and wishes it was illegal again.
    ďIt is not right,Ē she said.
    Andrew Wolfson: 502-582-7189;

6/21/2020 Poles run for LGBT equality ahead of presidential vote by Alan Charlish
Members of a group supporting LGBT rights protest in Warsaw, Poland June 20, 2020. Jedrzej Nowicki/Agencja Gazeta via REUTERS
    WARSAW (Reuters) Ė Around a hundred Poles took part in an ďEquality RunĒ on Saturday, condemning discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community during a presidential election campaign where gay rights have provoked fierce debate.
    The run took place as a number of anti-government protests from groups including LGBT rights protestors and feminists took place in Warsaw.
    Facing an increasingly tight contest for the June 28 vote, incumbent President Andrzej Duda, an ally of ruling nationalists Law and Justice (PiS), has attempted to rally his conservative base by taking aim at what he calls LGBT ďideology
    PiS has said this is a foreign influence undermining traditional values.
    ďWe need to show that we are everywhere, that we exist, we do sport, we have fun, itís not like we are people with a foreign ideology,Ē said 26-year-old office worker Zoska Marcinek before the race.
    The runners, some decked out in the rainbow flag of the LGBT community, ran 5 kilometres along the banks of the Vistula river.
    Duda has drawn criticism for comparing the push for LGBT rights to Soviet indoctrination.    A member of his campaign team said in a television broadcast last Saturday that LGBT people were not equal with ďnormalĒ people.
    Duda has said his words on LGBT ďideologyĒ and communism were taken out of context, while his campaign team has rejected accusations of homophobia.
    Around 200-300 people gathered at a separate protest called ďPeople, not an IdeologyĒ in central Warsaw, brandishing placards with slogans like ďMake Peace, Stop PiS
    ďI am a normal personÖ like every other person, and I demand equality,Ē said 22-year-old student Weronika Tomikowska during the protest.
    LGBT rights have been major campaign theme in staunchly Catholic Poland since the main opposition candidate and Warsaw mayor Rafal Trzaskowski introduced a sex education programme in city schools over a year ago that includes teaching about LGBT issues.
(Reporting by Alan Charlish and Pawel Florkiewicz; Editing by Jan Harvey)
[There is at least one country that is still following the word of God and they are Catholics in Poland, but the Catholics in many other countries have caved into the demonstrations in fear I guess mostly politics but even the Catholic Church in Rome and the Pope are not condemning the sins because they have got in bed with the Globalists even after the homoexual activities that attacked their church with extreme child sexual molestation and even today we still do not know if it has been stopped or covered up.].

6/21/2020 Pope says coronavirus should spark new environmental awareness by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis leads a traditional Corpus Christi (Body of Christ) feast Mass in St. Peter's
Basilica at the Vatican, June 14, 2020. Tiziana Fabi/Pool via REUTERS
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Ė The drastic reduction in pollution during coronavirus lockdowns around
the world should lead to greater concern for the environment as restrictions are lifted, Pope Francis said on Sunday.
    At his Sunday address in St. Peterís Square, Francis said the pandemic made many people reflect on their relationship with the environment.    The square reopened to the public a month ago and Italyís last travel restrictions were lifted on June 3.
    ďThe lockdown has reduced pollution and revealed once more the beauty of so many places free from traffic and noise.    Now, with the resumption of activities, we should all be more responsible for looking after our common home,Ē he said, using his term for the Earth.
    Air and water pollution levels plummeted in many places.
    In Venice, the usually dark waters of the cityís canals were so clean because of reduced boat traffic that fish could be seen for the first time in many years.
    Dolphins swam closer to ports, racoons emerged in New Yorkís Central Park and mountain goats roamed streets in Wales.
    In some cities, such as Milan, pollution reduction spurred officials to plan more pedestrian islands and cycling paths.
    The Roman Catholic Church is currently marking the fifth anniversary of Francisí landmark encyclical ďLaudato SiĒ (Praised Be) on the need to protect nature.
    In a 225-page manual released on Thursday, the Vatican said Catholics should disinvest from fossil fuel industries and closely monitor companies in sectors such as mining to check if they are damaging the environment.
    Francis, speaking a day after the United Nations World Refugee Day, also said the coronavirus crisis has highlighted the need to ensure protection for refugees because they had become more vulnerable to exploitation.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Frances Kerry)
[I rest my case about who has made their bed with the GLOBALIST WORLD GOVERNMENT and is riding on the back of the BEAST with the 7 heads to be protected from the secular world instead of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.]

6/23/2020 Pandemic? Recession? In Polish vote, gay rights in focus again by Joanna Plucinska and Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk
Elzbieta Mieszczanska-Blaszczyk, her husband Marek Blaszczyk and lesbian daughter Aleksandra pose for a photograph in a
garden in Warsaw, Poland, June 21, 2020. Parents of gay/transgender children worry for their future as they watch
the presidential election campaign turn to LGBT issues. Picture taken June 21, 2020. REUTERS/Aleksandra Szmigiel
    WARSAW (Reuters) Ė Sixty-year-old Marzenna Latawiec is determined to brave the risk of coronavirus and vote in Polandís presidential election on Sunday, but itís not the pandemic or the countryís first economic recession in three decades that is firing her up.
    The mother of two gay sons from Warsaw wants to turn what she sees as a growing tide of state-sponsored homophobia, which she blames in part on the incumbent President Andrzej Duda.
    ďI donít care whether [homophobic speech] is cynicism or an expression of regular, pure hatred,Ē Latawiec told Reuters.    ďI cannot accept that any adult, mature person can speak like this and not face consequences for what the words stir up
    Amid a pandemic-inspired downturn which has thrown hundreds of thousands of Poles out of work, Duda, 48, has sought to paint himself as the guardian of the governmentís social programmes that have helped reduce poverty for many Poles, while mobilising his conservative base with attacks on LGBT ďideology
    His challenger in staunchly Catholic Poland is centrist Warsaw mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, also 48, who has vowed to end hate speech and protect those who face attacks.
    Latawiec, an IT specialist who plans to vote for Trzaskowski, believes that in their campaigning, Duda and the nationalist government he supports are ďde facto acquiescing to hate crimes
    Competing for a second five-year term, Duda said this month that LGBT (lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender) ďideologyĒ was more dangerous than communist doctrine, and pledged to ensure public schools are banned from discussing gay rights.
    For the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS), such rhetoric is part of a broader agenda aimed at instilling more conservative and patriotic values in public life which it believes are under threat from liberal western influence
    Dudaís campaign aides say accusations such as that by Latawiec are false and ignore his calls for respect for all citizens.    Duda argues he is simply defending Polandís moral ďbackboneĒ that is rooted in European Christian civilisation.
    ďMy parentsí generation fought for 40 years to get rid of communist ideology from schools so it couldnít be forced on children, so that the youth would not be brainwashed, indoctrinated,Ē he told supporters at a campaign rally.
    ďThey didnít fight for this so that a new ideology would appear which is even more destructive
    His long-held lead in opinion polls has begun to crumble in recent weeks, however, as voters grow frustrated with Dudaís allegiance to PiS, which the European Union says subverts democratic norms through policies such as its court reforms.
    Surveys still showed Duda winning Sundayís first round of voting with around 40% of the vote compared to Trzaskowskiís 27%.    But the two appear tied in a possible run-off between the top two candidates due on July 12 if no one polls more than half the ballots.
    Duda won 35% and then 52% of votes in two rounds of elections five years ago.
    Trzaskowski announced plans last year to launch a legal and psychological support hotline for LGBT people and to ensure schools had specialists who can help LGBT children.
    A long-time European Union emissary for his party, the centrist Civic Platform, he entered the election race late, replacing a flagging candidate after the ballot, originally set for May 10, was postponed due to the pandemic.
    Trzaskowski, however, has sidestepped questions in the campaign over whether he would support allowing gay marriage, underscoring the sensitivity of the issue in Poland.
    Trzaskowskiís runner-up in opinion polls, the independent Catholic journalist Szymon Holownia, says he would allow gay civil partnerships, and would limit the participation of state leaders in church events, rife under PiS.
    ďI donít think Poland will become like Ireland but I would like it to be a tolerant, secular state,Ē Holownia, who once studied to become a priest, told Reuters.
    Surveys show Holownia likely to win some 9% of votes on Sunday, but some have suggested he would have a slightly better chance of beating Duda in the July 12 run-off than Trzaskowski.
    Earlier this month, Latawiec and a handful of other parents of LGBT children held a protest in front of the presidential palace in Warsaw to call on Duda to change his language.
    Elzbieta Mieszczanska-Blaszczyk, 65, the mother of a lesbian daughter, said later she believed homophobia had been declining in Poland until PiS came to power in 2015.    ďWhatís most important to me is that Duda loses,Ē she told Reuters.
    Her daughter, Aleksandra Blaszczyk, is thinking of emigrating.
    ďWouldnít it be easier to leave and live in a world where being homosexual is like being left-handed?,Ē she said.
(writing by Justyna Pawlak; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)
[The Antichristian forces continue to attack one of the strongest country that refuses to cave into the sins of the LGBT crap and defying Christian values and call it homophobic and hate crimes, which they are also calling GOD who will determine their fate in time.].

6/24/2020 Religious leaders split over LGBTQ rights - Supreme Court ruling reveals nuanced debate by Wenei Philimon, USA TODAY
    Growing up in the Orthodox Jewish community, Daniel Atwood never had a Jewish LGBTQ person he could look up to.    He long-awaited the moment he would be ordained as a rabbi.
    But after completing his schooling at New Yorkís Yeshivat Chovevei Torah in 2019, Atwood was denied ordination once the school discovered he was engaged to a man.    Months later in Jerusalem, Atwood was ordained as the worldís first openly gay Orthodox rabbi.
    ďIn a lot of communities, queer people are seen as, Ďitís OK to be here but, itís not the ideal way to live,íĒ Atwood said. ď    Itís seen as a personal challenge, something I should be struggling with, something I should be sad about. However, thatís not my approach to life
    Atwood is among many progressive faith leaders who celebrated the Supreme Courtís historic ruling last week outlawing discrimination against LGBTQ people in the workplace.    But other religious leaders who oppose LGBTQ rights questioned the decision, particularly as to whether it applies to religious institutions that are often protected by First Amendment freedom of speech rights.    The division is unfolding as more religious Americans have become supportive of LGBTQ rights, even as their leaders denounce such changes.
    The courtís decision prohibits employers from firing someone because of their sexual orientation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
    Franklin Graham, leader of the Samaritan Purse, an influential evangelical relief group, and an evangelist for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, said the ruling may infringe on the rights of religious groups who oppose LGBTQ rights.
    ďItís more than just protecting gay people,Ē Graham said of the ruling.    ďI donít think gay people should be discriminated against, but at the same time, Christians shouldnít be discriminated against either.    We should have the freedom to exercise our faith and belief and be able to share what we believe
    Many conservatives Christians believe God made man and woman to be together and that LGBTQ sex is a sin, Graham said.    He urged Christians to pray about their beliefs and contact lawmakers about their opposition to the Supreme Court decision.
    In the ruling, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote that exactly how the decision will affect religious liberty ď    are questions for future cases.Ē    Under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, the government is prohibited from ďsubstantially burdening a personís exercise of religion
    The Supreme Court is expected to look further into LGBTQ rights and religious liberty protections during its next term, which begins in October.    Earlier this year, the court agreed to hear Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, which centers on whether faith-based child welfare organizations can reject LGBTQ families and others seen as acting against their religious beliefs.
    The courtís recent record on LGBTQ has been mixed, with a majority of justices ruling in 2015 that all states must recognize and grant same-sex marriages.    In 2019, however, a majority ruled that the Trump administration could block most transgender people from serving in the military while lower courts reviewed cases challenging the policy.    Six of the Supreme Court Justices are Catholic and the other three are Jewish.
    In his dissent in the workplace discrimination case, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito warned that the ruling ďwill threaten freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and personal privacy and safety
    Many religious groups in the U.S. have long opposed LGBTQ civil rights, but as political beliefs have evolved and gay Americans have fought for the right to be their true selves, many people of faith have shifted their opinions.
    In 2014, 62% of Americans said LGBTQ Americans should be accepted, up from 50% of Americans who said the same in 2007, according to the Pew Research Center.
    Among religious Americans, 81% of Jewish people and 70% of Catholics said LGBTQ people should be accepted.    Meanwhile, 53% of evangelical Protestants surveyed in the poll said LGBTQ rights should be discouraged.
    The United States Conference of Catholic Bishopsí president and archbishop, Josť Horacio Gůmez, released a statement last week saying he was deeply concerned about the Supreme Courtís decision to redefine the legal meaning of ďsex,Ē calling it an injustice that will have implications in all aspects of American life.
    ďBy erasing the beautiful differences and complementary relationship between man and woman, we ignore the glory of Godís creation and harm the human family, the first building block of society,Ē he said, Religious higher education institutions, including the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities, Catholic University of America and Brigham Young University in Utah, submitted an amicus brief in the case arguing that expanding civil rights protections to include discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity ďwould negatively impact faith-based institutions of higher education in significant and far-reaching ways
    Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, said the ruling ďwill have seismic implications for religious liberty, setting off potentially years of lawsuits and court struggles, about what this means, for example, for religious organizations with religious convictions about the meaning of sex and sexuality
    Other religious leaders praised the ruling.
    The Most Rev. George Lucey, presiding bishop at the American National Catholic Church, an independent institution founded by former Catholic members, said Christianity preaches love for oneís neighbor, and therefore discrimination against LGBTQ Americans should not be tolerated.
    ďI donít think God cares about who we love,Ē Lucey said.    ďI think God just cares that we love everyone
    The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings of the national Episcopal Church, which signed a friend of the court brief along with more than 720 interfaith leaders supporting the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case, celebrated the ruling in a Facebook post.
    ďAs Christians, we bear a particular responsibility to speak out, because attempts to deny LGBTQ people their dignity and humanity as children of God are too often made in the name of God,Ē Jennings said.    ďThis way of fear is not the way of Jesus Christ, who teaches us to cast out fear
    Danya Ruttenberg, a writer who is a rabbi and educator at Tufts and Northwestern universities in Massachusetts, said, ďIím grateful that this ruling offers more workplace protection to human beings who are created in the divine image,Ē she said.    ďBut it is not absolute protection. It would be so easy to say that someone doesnít fit in the work culture
Gay rights advocates celebrate outside the Supreme Court after the justices legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015. JACQUELYN MARTIN/AP

6/26/2020 Church of England needs to review statues over slavery, archbishop says
FILE PHOTO: Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby leaves after attending a special service at the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) St. Stephen's
Cathedral along Jogoo road in Nairobi, Kenya January 26, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya/File Photo
    LONDON (Reuters) Ė The Church of England must review statues and monuments in its places of worship to ensure that any with links to slavery are removed or are given appropriate context, its spiritual leader, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, said on Friday.
    The Anglican Church, a central part of English public life and governance for centuries, is the latest institution to reflect on its role following worldwide protests inspired by the death of George Floyd in police custody in the United States.
    Welby, the most senior cleric in the worldwide Anglican communion, which has some 85 million followers in 165 countries, said forgiveness was needed over issues of racial injustice, but that could only come after appropriate action had been taken.
    ďIf you just go round Canterbury Cathedral there are monuments everywhere, or Westminster Abbey.    We are looking at all that.    Some will have to come down,Ē Welby said in a BBC interview.
    Asked to clarify if statues needed to be removed from Canterbury Cathedral, Welby said this was not his decision.
    ďWeíre going to be looking very carefully and putting them in context, and seeing if they all should be there,Ē he said.    ďThe question arises, of course it does
    Protesters in Bristol, western England, tore down a statue this month honouring Edward Colston, a 17th century merchant and slave trader who used his profits to endow schools and charities in the city that continue to carry his name.
    Local authorities in England and Wales run by the main opposition Labour Party have said they will review public statues and monuments.    The Bank of England has also said it will check whether it still has any pictures on display of former governors who had links to the slave trade.
    Welby defended images of Jesus as northern European Ė which some campaigners say reinforce ideas of white racial superiority Ė but said it was now common in Anglican churches worldwide to depict him as sharing worshippersí ethnicity.
    ďYou go into their churches and you donít see a white Jesus.    You see a black Jesus, or a Chinese Jesus, or a Middle Eastern Jesus ó which of course is the most accurate ó or a Fijian Jesus
(Reporting by David Milliken; editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Gareth Jones)
[So the anarchist better stay away from churches or they may experience something they would not like because God is not Woke but what the bible says it is and we all know where Jesus was born.].

6/27/2020 Judge orders N.Y. lockdown measures unconstitutional by OAN Newsroom
FILE- In this March 18, 2020 file photo, a sign posted at St. Thomas Church in New York announces that public
services are postponed due to coronavirus concerns. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
    A federal judge has ruled New York officials can no longer restrict religious services from meeting.    On Friday, district Judge Gary Sharpe decided the actions of Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio and others violated citizensí First Amendment rights.
    In his ruling, Sharpe noted Cuomo and de Blasio sent conflicting messages by praising protests and criticizing religious services.
    The mayor even spoke at one such protest, but claimed there was a difference between the riots and a desire to worship at church.
    ďAn entire nation simultaneously grappling with an extraordinary crisis, seated in 400 years of American racism,Ē he stated.    ďIím sorry, that is not the same question as the understandably aggrieved store owner or the devout religious person who wants to go back to services
    Sharpeís ruling will allow religious services to meet under the same requirements as businesses, with 50% capacity and with congregants six feet apart.

6/28/2020 Spanish village makes its own rainbow after councilís gay pride flag banned by Graham Keeley
A woman walks past rainbow flags placed on a street during the International LGBT Pride Day,
in Villanueva de Algaidas, southern Spain June 28, 2020. REUTERS/Jon Nazca
    BARCELONA (Reuters) Ė When police ordered a local mayor in southern Spain to take down a rainbow flag put up to celebrate gay pride on Friday because it was illegal, more than 300 households in the village rallied to the cause and flew their own flags.
    By the time gay pride celebrations took place in Spain on Sunday, the Andalusian village of Villanueva de Algaidas near Malaga was awash with flags hanging from balconies, windows and even a bar in solidarity.
    Juan Civico, Socialist mayor of the village of 4,000 inhabitants, only found out it was illegal for authorities to fly the flag after three residents complained about the one he had put up.
    Civico said the local government was bound by a recent ruling by the Spanish Supreme Court that only official flags, of Spain, its regions or the European Union, can be flown from council buildings.
    ďAfter the complaints, we studied what we had to do. We saw that under the law we had to remove the flag. But the people can put what they like on their balconies,Ē said Civico.
    Hearing about the police action, Antonio Carlos AlcŠntara who runs a shop in the seaside resort of Torremolinos, 62 km away, had an idea.
    He sells rainbow flags in his shop in the resort, which is popular with the LGBT community, but because of the coronavirus they were not selling and he had plenty in stock.
    After he put out a message on the councilís Facebook page asking if anyone in Villanueva de Algaidas wanted to fly a rainbow flag, he received more than 100 requests for the flags, prompting him to drive over and hand out another 300.
    ďThe village is full(of flags).    It is incredible,Ē AlcŠntara said.
    Piedad Queralta hung two flags from her house in the village.

6/29/2020 Turkey defends anti-gay tweet by head of Turkish Red Crescent
FILE PHOTO: Riot police prevent LGBT rights activists from marching for a pride parade, which was banned
by the governorship, in central Istanbul, Turkey, June 30, 2019. REUTERS/Murad Sezer/File Photo
    ANKARA (Reuters) Ė Turkey defended an anti-gay tweet by the head of the Turkish Red Crescent, describing him as a victim of ďLGBT propagandaĒ after his comments were condemned by an international body.
    Kerem Kinik, chairman of the Red Crescent Society of Turkey made the comments on his official Twitter account on Sunday, celebrated by LGBT people around the world as international Pride Day.
    ďWe will not let you step on human dignity,Ē Kinik wrote.
    ďWe will protect nature and the mental health of our children.    Weíll fight against those who violate healthy creation, who make abnormal look normal by using their power of communication and impose their paedophiliac dreams cloaked as modernity on young minds
    Kinikís comments drew a rebuke from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the network of the movementís national groups, where he serves as one of five vice presidents.
    ďThe views expressed by Dr. Kinik do not represent the views of the IFRC: these words are both wrong and offensive,Ē it said, adding that it was assessing its next step.
    ďThe IFRC has clear code of conduct which forbids any form of homophobia, hate speech or prejudice, and all staff and representatives are bound by that code, including Dr. Kinik
    Fahrettin Altun, Turkish presidencyís communications director, said on Twitter that ďLGBT propaganda poses a grave threat to freedom of speech,Ē adding that the IFRC ďbecame complicit in that attack by targetingĒ Kinik.
    ďWe wonít be silenced!Ē he wrote.
    Homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey, but hostility to it is widespread. Authorities have cracked down on LGBT events and marches.    A 2019 report on LGBT rights from the advocacy group ILGA Europe ranked Turkey second to last of 49 countries.
    Kinik responded to IFRCís criticism in another tweet, saying his approach was ďfully coherentĒ with the IFRCís principles because he opposed paedophilia.
    ďMy personal views from yesterday is to advocate for protection of our children from any harm.    I trust this is our responsibility towards their silent scream,Ē Kinik wrote, in English.
    In April, Ali Erbas, head of Turkeyís Directorate of Religious Affairs, said Islam condemned homosexuality because ďit brings illnesses and corrupts generations
(Reporting by Ece Toksabay; Additional reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Jonathan Spicer, Kevin Liffey and Peter Graff)

6/30/2020 High court rejects La. abortion restrictions - Roberts joins liberal justices in 5-4 ruling by Richard Wolf, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON Ė A narrowly divided Supreme Court struck down state restrictions on abortion clinics Monday for the second time in four years, signaling that its conservative shift under President Donald Trump has not eliminated a deep split over abortion rights.
    The court ruled 5-4 that a Louisiana law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals would unduly burden women.    Chief Justice John Roberts joined the four liberal justices in the result.
    The court reached the same conclusion in 2016 regarding a Texas law, but since then Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh had succeeded retired Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, giving abortion opponents hope for even more substantial restrictions.    Associate Justice     Stephen Breyer wrote the main opinion for the four liberal justices. He agreed with a federal trial court that found Louisianaís law ďposes a Ďsubstantial obstacleí to women seeking an abortionĒ and ďoffers no significant health-related benefits
    Roberts made clear in a separate opinion that he dissented from the Texas ruling four years ago but that high court precedents must be followed.    Unlike his fellow conservatives, he accepted the findings regarding the lawís projected impact reached by federal District Judge John deGravelles, who was named to the bench by President Barack Obama.
    ďThe Louisiana law imposes a burden on access to abortion just as severe as that imposed by the Texas law, for the same reasons,Ē he wrote.    ďTherefore Louisianaís law cannot stand under our precedents
    The other four conservative justices wrote separate dissents.    The main one by Associate Justice Samuel Alito, which the others joined at least in part, said the dispute should have been sent back to the trial court for new findings.
    ďThe courtís ruling today will not stop those hell-bent on banning abortion,Ē said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which represented the abortion clinic challenging the law.    ďWe will be back in court tomorrow and will continue to fight state by state, law by law to protect our constitutional right to abortion.    But we shouldnít have to keep playing whack-a-mole
    Anti-abortion groups agreed the decision wonít end the debate.
    ďWe will not relent until the Supreme Court once again respects the will of the people and ceases its lawless attacks on the right to life and representative government,Ē said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List.    She called the ruling ďa bitter disappointment
    Louisiana, which leads the nation with 89 abortion restrictions passed since 1973, has three clinics left Ė one each in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport.    A federal judge who struck down the 2014 law found that it likely would force two out of business.
An anti-abortion protester stands outside the Supreme Court on Monday. The court
struck down a Louisiana law regulating abortion clinics. PATRICK SEMANSKY/AP

    This page created on 4/1/2020, and updated each month by 4/30/2020, 5/31/2020, 6/30/2020.

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