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

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

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10/1/2020 U.N. To Tackle Gender Equality, Chief Calls It Greatest Rights Challenge by Michelle Nichols
FILE PHOTO: Women take part in a demonstration to mark the International Safe Abortion
Day in Monterrey, Mexico, September 27, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Lopez/File Photo
    NEW YORK (Reuters) Over the past week, 190 countries addressed the United Nations General Assembly, nearly all of them represented by presidents, prime ministers and ministers.    Only nine of them were women.
    United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that women watching have a perfect right to feel that they are not represented, and their voices are not valued.    He also told world leaders last week: Gender inequality remains the greatest single challenge to human rights around the world.
    The General Assembly will convene again on Thursday for a high-level meeting to mark the 25th anniversary of a landmark conference on women where then-U.S. first lady Hillary Clinton declared that womens rights are human rights and push for gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.
    Chinese President Xi Jinping, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and other world leaders are due to speak on Thursday.
    At the 1995 conference in Beijing 189 countries agreed to make a priority the full and equal participation of women in political, civil, economic, social and cultural life at the national, regional and international levels, and the eradication of all forms of discrimination on the grounds of sex.
    Many diplomats have lamented that the world would struggle to agree such a strong declaration now.    A main point of contention in recent years has been long-agreed international language on womens sexual and reproductive health and rights.
    On womens rights issues at the global level, the fear now is that 25 years after Beijing there is a counteroffensive to reduce the magnitude of womens rights, French U.N. Ambassador Nicolas de Rivire said on Wednesday.    We want to avoid that and we are aiming at further progress and not regression.
    U.S. President Donald Trumps administration has led a push at the United Nations against the promotion of sexual and reproductive health and rights for women because it sees that as code for abortion.    It has opposed such language in U.N. resolutions.
    Trump told world leaders last week that America will always be a leader in human rights and that his administration is advancing opportunity for women and protecting unborn children.    U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is due to take part in Thursdays U.N. meeting.
    In May, Washington accused the United Nations of using the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to promote access to abortion through its humanitarian response to the deadly global outbreak. The United Nations rejected the accusation.
    The Trump administration cut funding in 2017 for the U.N. Population Fund because it said it supports, or participates in the management of, a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.    The U.N. said that was an inaccurate perception.
    Womens rights to health care services, including those related to sexual and reproductive health, must be protected, U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet tweeted on Monday, which was international safe abortion day.
    Guterres also said the world needs to end a horrifying increase in violence against women and girls during the COVID-19 pandemic, describing it as a hidden war on women and adding: Preventing and ending it requires the same commitment and resources that we devote to other forms of warfare.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Mary Milliken and Grant McCool)

10/1/2020 Vatican Releases Financial Figures, Promises Transparency by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: A nun passes by tourists taking pictures on St. Peter's Square as Pope Francis gives his weekly general audience virtually from
a library inside the Vatican due to measures to contain the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the Vatican August 5, 2020. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) The Vatican released its most detailed-ever financial figures on Thursday, acknowledging it might have been swindled before but promising the faithful who have been shocked by money scandals that it would become like a glass house in its transparency.
    The Vatican economy minister, Father Juan Antonio Guerrero, said the Vaticans total net assets in 2019 were about 4 billion euros, which is believed to be the first time any such figure has been given.
    He spoke in an interview with Vatican media as a 12-page consolidated financial statement was released for the Holy See, the central administration of the Roman Catholic Church.
    The statement, the first since 2016, includes figures on about 70 departments that oversee the governing of the 1.3 billion-member worldwide Church, its media operations and its embassies abroad.
    It does not include the Vatican bank and the Vatican museums, which are both big money-makers.
    The 4.0 billion euro figure, which Guerrero gave in the interview without providing details, is all-encompassing, while the detailed consolidated statement regarded only the Holy See.
    The Holy See had a deficit of 22 million euros in 2019 after extraordinary expenses, down from a 50 million euro deficit in 2018.    The deficit is expected to grow this year because the coronavirus pandemic has drained income, particularly from the museums.
    The Vatican has been caught up in a scandal involving the purchase by its Secretariat of State of a luxury building in London through various players it has accused of being unscrupulous.
    One of the key figures involved in the London deal, Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu, until 2018 the number two in the Secretariat of State, was fired by Pope Francis last week under separate accusations of embezzlement and nepotism. Becciu, 72, denies all wrongdoing.
    It is possible that in some cases, the Holy See, apart from being badly advised, was also swindled, Guerrero said.
    In June, Vatican police arrested Gianluigi Torzi, an Italian middleman who was part of the London property deal, and charged him with extortion, embezzlement, aggravated fraud and money laundering. Torzi, who denies wrongdoing, was later released provisionally.    Five Vatican employees lost their jobs last year over the deal and are still under investigation.
    Guerrero said Peters Pence, money from direct contributions from the faithful to the pope, was not used to cover losses from the London deal.    He did not say if the fund was used for the original purchase in 2014.
    The economy of the Holy See has to be a glass house. The faithful have a right to know how we use resources, he said.
    He said the Vatican was centralising all investment decisions under one department.
    The Secretariat of State used its funds to buy the London building, which would not be possible after centralisation.
    Guerrero was named last year to succeed Australian Cardinal George Pell, who returned to Rome on Wednesday.    Pell was cleared of sexual abuse charges in Australia after spending 13 months in prison.    It was not clear if he will resume any Vatican role.
    Pell had accused Beccui of blocking Vatican financial reforms and after Becciu was fired, Pell said the pope is to be thanked and congratulated.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Frances Kerry)

10/1/2020 Secy. Pompeo Visits Catholic Charity In Rome by OAN Newsroom
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrives at the SantEgidio Community headquarters in Rome, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020.
Pompeo is in Italy as part of his six-day trip to Southern Europe. (Guglielmo Mangiapane/Pool Photo via AP)
    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Rome where he thanked a Catholic charity for their humanitarian work across the globe.    He met with top religious leaders Thursday and residents at the Santegidio Community charitys headquarters.
    Its truly a blessing for me to come see this place, you do such remarkable works, said the secretary.    The State Department has worked with you all for a long time, we will continue to do so.
    Pompeos visit took place just one day after he participated in a conference urging the Vatican to crackdown on Chinas humanitarian violations against religious and ethnic minorities.    He praised religious freedom and the charitys work across the world.
    The work that youve done to take of the people in the world who are the most needy and most difficult conditions is truly remarkable, its the lords work, he stated.
    Pompeo is set to continue his tour of Italy while meeting with officials at the Pontifical North American College in Rome and the Villa Borghese Gallery on Thursday.

10/2/2020 Louisville bans conversion therapy on kids by Sarah Ladd, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    The discredited practice of using conversion therapy on minors is now banned in Louisville.
    Mayor Greg Fischer, with LGBTQrights advocates standing behind him, on Thursday signed an ordinance banning the practice against minors in the city.
    Our LGBTQ kids, they dont need to be converted or repaired, Fischer said.    They need to be loved, supported and accepted for who they are.
    Conversion therapy tries to change ones sexual orientation or gender identity and has been condemned by the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association.
    The Louisville Metro Council passed the ordinance in mid-September.    The ordinance passed committee unanimously the week prior and passed Metro Council 24-1.    The lone no vote was Councilman Stuart Benson, who said he didnt think the matter was in the councils lane.
    Councilman Bill Hollander, who introduced the ordinance, said, I am confident that we will look back and be amazed that we were actually still talking about conversion therapy in 2020.    Im glad to say that Louisville helped end it by the signing of this ordinance today.
    Chris Hartman with the Fairness Campaign used the opportunity to speak up about the Breonna Taylor movement.
    There is no bigger LGBTQ-rights issue in America right now than the cry for justice for Breonna Taylor, and an end to police violence against Black and brown Americans, Hartman said.
    He also condemned the charges brought against state Rep. Attica Scott and her daughter, Ashanti, after their arrest last week while attempting to reach a church right before curfew.    They were arrested alongside protest leader Shameka Parish Wright, who all face felony riot charges.
    Few have done as much for our community, for LGBTQ rights locally and in Kentucky than state Rep. Scott, he said.    Id like to take this moment, not just to call for justice for Breonna Taylor but to call on another longtime Fairness Campaign ally, Jefferson County Attorney Mike OConnell, to immediately drop these felony charges against Attica, Ashanti and Shameka.    And that I think will further advance justice for all of us.
    Louisville is the second Kentucky city to have banned conversion therapy.    Covington passed a similar ordinance earlier in the year.
    Jacob Conway with Ban Conversion Therapy Kentucky said the passage of this ordinance in Louisville, as the gateway to the South, will hopefully give us the momentum we need to move forward in passing a statewide law that will ban this harmful, discredited, torturous practice.
    Reach breaking news reporter Sarah Ladd at    Follow her on Twitter at @ladd_sarah.Support strong local journalism by subscribing today:

10/2/2020 Macron Launches Crackdown On Islamist Separatism In Muslim Communities by Michel Rose
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks with President of Yvelines Departmental Council Pierre Bedier, prior a speech
presenting his strategy to fight separatism, in Les Mureaux, near Paris, France October 2, 2020. Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS
    PARIS (Reuters) French President Emmanuel Macron pledged on Friday to fight Islamist separatism, which he said was threatening to take control in some Muslim communities around France.
    France has struggled with homegrown Islamist militancy for years, but Macrons government is increasingly worried by broader signs of radicalisation often non-violent within Muslim communities, French officials say.
    They cite the refusal of some Muslim men to shake womens hands, swimming pools that impose alternate time slots for men and women, girls of as young as four being told to wear full-face veils, and a proliferation of madrassa religious schools.
    Macron said a bill tackling Islamist separatism would be sent to parliament early next year.    Under the new law, home-schooling would be severely restricted to avoid children being indoctrinated in unregistered schools that deviate from the national curriculum, he said.
    What we need to fight is Islamist separatism, Macron said during a visit to the impoverished Paris suburb of Les Mureaux.    The problem is an ideology which claims its own laws should be superior to those of the Republic.
    Among other measures, the teaching of Arabic in France would be encouraged and an Institute of Islamology created, Macron said.    But foreign imams would no longer be able to train clerics in France.
    Prefects local representatives of the central government would be given powers to annul decisions by mayors to restrict school cafeterias or swimming pools to women or men only.
    Muslims of France association president Amar Lasfar told Reuters that he was not sure that a new law was necessary, as applying existing laws could reach the same result.    He also took issue with Macrons choice of words.
    It is a speech that tries to point at a danger, and I do not quite agree. In Islamism there is the word Islam and I think he could have talked about extremism or radicalisation.    One cannot stigmatise all Muslims, he said.
    More than 250 people have been killed on French soil over the past five years in attacks by Islamist militants or individuals inspired by jihadist groups.
    Less than two years before the next presidential campaign, Macron is keen not to leave himself open to attacks from far right and traditional conservative parties, who take a hard line on crime and immigration and who want a stricter application of French laws on secularism.
    France follows a strict form of secularism, known as laicit, which is designed to separate religion and public life. The principle was enshrined in law in 1905 after anti-clerical struggles with the Catholic Church.
    In recent decades, the growing desire among French Muslims to express their religious identity has shifted the focus of balancing religious and secular needs onto Islam.
    Many French Muslims, though, have long complained of discrimination and marginalisation that have contributed to poverty and social alienation within their communities.
    At the heart of the matter is the question of what it means to be French in a country with Europes largest Muslim minority numbering around 5 million or 7-8% of the population.
    Macron said Islam and radical Islamism should not be conflated and that he wanted an enlightened Islam in France.
(Reporting by Michel Rose; Additional reporting by Elizabeth Pineau; Editing by Richard Lough, Geert De Clercq and Alex Richardson)

10/3/2020 Pope Signs New Encyclical, But Is Title Inclusive Enough?
Pope Francis signs his latest encyclical, titled "Fratelli Tutti" (Brothers All), in the crypt where
St. Francis of Assisi is buried in Assisi, Italy, October 3, 2020. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS
    ASSISI, Italy (Reuters) Pope Francis travelled outside Rome on Saturday for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic broke out to sign his latest encyclical in the crypt where St. Francis of Assisi is buried.
    The encyclical, titled Fratelli Tutti (Brothers All), will be released on Sunday. It covers solidarity among people in the post-pandemic world.
    The title has prompted criticism, particularly in the English-speaking world, where it was seen as not being inclusive.
    In Italian, fratelli means brothers but it is also used to mean brothers and sisters, as is the masculine plural in other romance languages.
    The Vatican said the title was taken from the first two words of guidelines, known as Admonitions, written by St Francis to his followers in the 13th century and thus could not be changed.
    The pope always uses brothers and sisters to open his weekly general audiences on Wednesdays and his Sunday blessing.
    Encyclicals are the most authoritative form of papal writing but they are not infallible.
    Because it deals with social issues, Fratelli Tutti is what is known as a social encyclical, as opposed to those about Church doctrine.
    When he was elected in 2013, the Argentine pope took his papal name after the saint to show his closeness to the poor.    St. Francis is known as The Little Poor One because he renounced his wealthy family to serve the needy.
    The pope signed the encyclical after saying Mass in the crypt where the saint in buried in the basilica of the hill town in Umbria.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Giles Elgood)

10/4/2020 Pope Says Free Market, Trickle-Down Policies Fail Society by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis delivers the Angelus prayer from his window on the day of the release of his new encyclical, titled
"Fratelli Tutti" (Brothers All), at St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, October 4, 2020. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Pope Francis said on Sunday that the COVID-19 pandemic was the latest crisis to prove that market forces alone and trickle-down economic policies had failed to produce the social benefits their proponents claim.
    In an encyclical on the theme of human fraternity, Francis also said private property cannot be considered an absolute right in all cases where some lived extravagantly while others had nothing.
    Called Fratelli Tutti (Brothers All), the encyclicals title prompted criticism for not using inclusive language after it was announced last month.
    In Italian, Fratelli means brothers but it is also used to mean brothers and sisters.    The Vatican said it was taken from the "Admonitions," or guidelines, written by St Francis of Assisi in the 13th century to his followers and could not be changed.
    The pope says in the first line of the 86-page encyclical that St. Francis had addressed his brothers and sisters that way.    In the document, he uses the term men and women 15 times and speaks several times about defending the rights and dignity of women.
    Encyclicals are the most authoritative form of papal writing but they are not infallible.
    The encyclical, which Francis signed in Assisi on Saturday, covers topics such as fraternity, immigration, the rich-poor gap, economic and social injustices, healthcare imbalances and the widening political polarisation in many countries.
    The pope took direct aim at trickle-down economics, the theory favoured by conservatives that tax breaks and other incentives for big business and the wealthy eventually will benefit the rest of society through investment and job creation.
    There were those who would have had us believe that freedom of the market was sufficient to keep everything secure (after the pandemic hit), he wrote.
    Francis denounced this dogma of neo-liberal faith that resorts to the magic theories of spillover or trickle as the only solution to societal problems.    A good economic policy, he said, makes it possible for jobs to be created and not cut.
    The 2007-2008 financial crisis was a missed opportunity for change, instead producing increased freedom for the truly powerful, who always find a way to escape unscathed.    Society must confront the destructive effects of the empire of money.
    Francis repeated past calls for redistribution of wealth to help the poorest and for fairer access to natural resources by all.
    The right to private property can only be considered a secondary natural right, derived from the principle of the universal destination of created goods, he said.
    A Vatican official said the pope was referring to those with massive wealth.
    The pope wrote that the belief of early Christians that if one person lacks what is necessary to live with dignity, it is because another person is detaining it was still valid.
    Those with much must administer it for the good of all and rich nations are obliged to share wealth with poor ones.    But he said he was certainly not proposing an authoritarian and abstract universalism.
    Some ultra-traditionalist Catholics have accused Francis of secretly backing a perceived plot for a One-World Government, a debunked conspiracy theory.
    Without naming countries or people, Francis condemned politicians who seek popularity by appealing to the basest and most selfish inclinations or who enact policies of hatred and fear towards other nations,
    Addressing racism, a key issue in the United States following the Black Lives Matter movement, Francis said: Racism is a virus that quickly mutates and, instead of disappearing, goes into hiding, and lurks in waiting.
    He repeated calls for the abolition of nuclear weapons and the death penalty, positions which have been assailed by conservative Catholics, particularly in the United States
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Giles Elgood)
[Well it looks like the Pope has gone with the Globalist promoting the BLM movement who are anarchist.].

10/5/2020 New Zealand Ruling Party Vows To Ban Efforts To Alter Sexual Orientation
FILE PHOTO: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addresses the media after participating in a televised debate with
National leader Judith Collins at TVNZ in Auckland, New Zealand, September 22, 2020. Fiona Goodall/Pool via REUTERS
    WELLINGTON (Reuters) New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arderns centre-left government vowed on Monday to ban conversion therapy, which aims to change a persons sexual orientation, if returned to power, as widely expected, in polls on Oct. 17.
    The globally discredited treatment, which harms and stigmatizes members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans community has adherents in New Zealand, however.
    A recent survey showed more than one in six respondents reported being subjected to the efforts of psychiatrists, psychologists or counsellors to stop them being trans or non-binary, Labour Party leader Tamati Coffey said.
    Conversion therapy has been linked to severe adverse mental health issues, including depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation thats why it will be banned under a re-elected Labour Government, Coffey said in a statement.
    It is a practice that causes harm and is out of place in the kind, inclusive and modern country we are.
    Arderns Labour-led government, which is in a coalition with the Green Party and the nationalist New Zealand First Party, is widely seen as winning in the election.
    In the past, Ardern has spoken in support of banning conversion therapy.    Alhtough brought up a Mormon, she left the church because of its conservative view on the LGBT community, and in solidarity with her gay friends.
    Several U.S. states, such as California, Colorado, New York and Washington have banned conversion therapy, which is sometimes performed by religious establishments and can include hypnosis and electric shocks, as a movement grows against it.
    Neighbouring Canada re-introduced a bill this month to criminalise such efforts.
(Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

10/5/2020 Top Israeli Rabbis Pray For President Trump To Recover From COVID-19 At Jerusalems Western Wall by OAN Newsroom
U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman prays during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot at the Western Wall, the
holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalems Old City, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
    Top Israeli rabbis gathered at Jerusalems Western Wall to pray for President Trumps recovery from COVID-19.    The religious officials remembered the President while celebrating the Jewish High Holy Days Monday morning.
    This came after news of the Presidents positive coronavirus diagnosis rocked the world with leaders across the globe expressing their support and wishes for a speedy recovery.
    U.A. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman also joined the rabbis during Mondays prayer.
    If theres one thing you cant do too much of right now is to pray, to pray for the health of the entire world, he stated.    I was able to have the privilege to pray at this holy place, to pray for people that I know very well who are inflicted with corona and people who I dont know at all who are inflicted by corona.
    The event came as President Trump continues to show signs of recovery from the coronavirus.

10/6/2020 2 justices refer to Davis as victim, criticize same-sex marriage ruling by Morgan Watkins, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    The U.S. Supreme Court denied an appeal from former Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis this week, but two of its justices suggested Davis may have been one of the first victims of the courts cavalier treatment of religion when it issued a 2015 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage.
    Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito who both dissented in Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that permitted same-sex marriage nationwide also doubled down on their opposition to the five-year-old decision in a statement about the dismissal of Davis appeal.
    Davis may have been one of the first victims of this courts cavalier treatment of religion in its Obergefell decision, but she will not be the last, Thomas wrote Monday, in a statement Alito joined.
    Davis made international news and briefly ended up in jail for contempt of court five years ago after she refused to give same-sex couples marriage licenses in the Eastern Kentucky county, even though the Supreme Court had determined such unions were legal.
    On Monday, Thomas called Davis a devout Christian who found herself faced with a choice between her religious beliefs and her job.
    Due to Obergefell, those with sincerely held religious beliefs concerning marriage will find it increasingly difficult to participate in society without running afoul of Obergefell and its effect on other antidiscrimination laws, Thomas wrote.    Moreover, Obergefell enables courts and governments to brand religious adherents who believe that marriage is between one man and one woman as bigots, making their religious liberty concerns that much easier to dismiss.
    However, Thomas and Alito agreed the Supreme Court should not grant Davis appeal.    And the courts rejection of her request clears the way for a lawsuit against her, which focuses on her previous refusal to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples, to move forward.
    This petition implicates important questions about the scope of our decision in Obergefell, but it does not cleanly present them, Thomas wrote.
    Mondays decision to deny Davis appeal, and Thomas and Alitos accompanying statement, comes as the U.S. Senate plans to move forward with the confirmation process for President Donald Trumps nominee to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who helms the Republican- controlled Senate, has praised Trumps nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett.    So have other conservative senators whove signaled they would vote to confirm her even though the Nov. 3 election is just weeks away.
    The prospect of a third Trump nominee getting confirmed to the nations most powerful court has prompted questions and speculation about how the justices might rule on future cases as well as whether past decisions like the one legalizing samesex marriage could be imperiled.
    And on Monday, Thomas and Alito indicated theyre open to revisiting that particular ruling.
    By choosing to privilege a novel constitutional right over the religious liberty interests explicitly protected in the First Amendment, and by doing so undemocratically, the court has created a problem that only it can fix, Thomas wrote.     Reach reporter Morgan Watkins: 502-582-4502; mwatkins@courier; Twitter: @morganwat kins26.    Support strong local journalism
    However, Thomas and Alito agreed the Supreme Court should not grant Davis appeal on the same-sex marriage case.

10/6/2020 Church Of England Failed To Protect Children From Sexual Predators, Inquiry Says by Guy Faulconbridge and Michael Holden
FILE PHOTO: Canterbury Cathedral is seen in Canterbury, southern Britain, January 15, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo
    LONDON (Reuters) The Church of England failed to protect children from sexual predators within its ranks for decades, allowing abusers to hide in an attempt to defend its own reputation rather than following its duty to protect young people, an inquiry said on Tuesday.
    The Church apologised for the abuse and said it would learn lessons from the inquiry.
    From the 1940s to 2018, 390 people who were clergy or in positions of trust associated with the Church have been convicted of sexual offences against children, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse said.
    Over many decades, the Church of England failed to protect children and young people from sexual abusers, instead facilitating a culture where perpetrators could hide and victims faced barriers to disclosure that many could not overcome, Professor Alexis Jay, chair of the inquiry, said.
    If real and lasting changes are to be made, its vital that the Church improves the way it responds to allegations from victims and survivors, and provides proper support for those victims over time, she added.
    The primary concern of many senior clergy was to uphold the Churchs reputation, the inquiry said.    Senior clergy often declined to report allegations to the appropriate agencies and hindered criminal investigations, allowing some abusers to escape justice.
    Responding to the findings on behalf of the Church, Jonathan Gibbs, Bishop of Huddersfield, said: The report makes shocking reading and while apologies will never take away the effects of abuse on victims and survivors, we today want to express our shame about the events that have made those apologies necessary.
    The whole Church must learn lessons from this Inquiry, Gibbs said.
    The report recommended that both the Church of England and the Church in Wales should each introduce a Church-wide policy on the funding and provision of support to victims of child sexual abuse concerning clergy.
    The report detailed the case of Peter Ball, a former bishop of Gloucester, who in 2015 pleaded guilty to indecent assault.
    Ball had suggested to victims that humiliation which included praying naked, masturbation and flagellation was part of the teachings of St Francis and would provide a more direct route to a closer relationship to God.
    One of his victims, Neil Todd, took his own life aged 38 in 1992. Nothing was done about a complaint by Balls housekeeper to a senior bishop working with the Archbishop of Canterbury.
    George Carey, then Archbishop of Canterbury, supported Ball who sought to use his relationship with Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, to influence an investigation, the report said. Carey later expressed his regret over the case.
    In a letter to the inquiry, Charles said: It remains a source of deep personal regret that I was one of many who were deceived over a long period of time about the true nature of Mr Balls activities.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Michael Holden, Stephen Addison and Gareth Jones)

10/7/2020 South Korea Proposes Compromise Abortion Law After Landmark Court Ruling by Sangmi Cha
FILE PHOTO: Pro-abortion law protesters take part in a rally to support the abortion law in
front of the constitutional court in Seoul, South Korea, April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
    SEOUL (Reuters) South Korea on Wednesday proposed allowing abortion up until the fourteenth week of pregnancy as part of a new law designed to comply with a landmark ruling by the constitutional court that struck down a decades-long ban.
    South Korea criminalised abortion in 1953 when its leaders wanted to boost the population, but exceptions to the law were introduced in 1973, including when the pregnancy was caused by a sexual crime.
    However, the Constitutional Court overturned the ban in April last year, saying it unconstitutionally curbed womens rights and ordering the government to come up with a new law.
    Under the new proposal, abortion would be banned after 14 weeks except in the case of a sex crime, or if the health of the mother is at risk, or if the fetus shows signs of severe birth defects, in which case abortion would be allowed up to 24 weeks, the Justice Ministry said in a statement.
    It also allowed the use of the drug mifepristone for performing abortions.
    The proposal drew criticism from both sides of the debate, with womens rights groups arguing that the law is still focused on punishing women.
    Instead, any law should focus on how to safely provide the procedure, the Joint Action for Reproductive Justice in Seoul said in a statement.
    The Catholic Bishops Conference of Korea issued a statement opposing the justice ministry decision, saying that children should be protected from the very moment of conception.
Ahead of the courts ruling, opinion polls showed around three-quarters of South Koreans supported dropping the ban.
    South Korea has a fertility rate of 1.1 births per woman, the lowest of 198 countries and falling far behind the global average of 2.4, according to the 2020 United Nations Population Fund report.

10/7/2020 N.Y. Democrat Leaders Slammed For Targeting Jewish Communities by OAN Newsroom
Members of the Orthodox Jewish community gather on a street near a synagogue in the Borough Park neighborhood
of Brooklyn during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
    New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is facing backlash for increased health measures that some say are singling out New York Citys Orthodox Jewish communities.
    On Tuesday, Cuomo detailed a new plan to tackle a recent spike in COVID-19 infection rates in the Big Apple.    This includes plans to close down schools in hot spots around the city and shutter businesses in affected areas.
    Step one, you take the most dramatic action within the cluster itself where you have the highest density of cases, stated the Democrat governor.    Understanding that the people in that cluster interface with the surrounding communities, take additional action in the communities surrounding the cluster.
    According to officials, the worst hit areas include the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, which have large orthodox Jewish communities.
    Cuomo went on to warn against mass gatherings by saying there have been several instances of religious institutions holding events with a thousand people in attendance.    However, community leaders blame the city for not collaborating with them to enforce rules.
    Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is also facing backlash for announcing the shutdown on Sunday, which fell on the second day of the Jewish holiday festival Sukkot.    This is a time orthodox Jews refrain from using phones or computers.
An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man and woman wheel strollers with sleeping children in them as they cross a street on the Jewish
holiday of Sukkot, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
    Although De Blasio said he was aware of the holiday, he claims he wanted to get the information out as soon as possible.    Some have criticized the move by saying it shows city halls incompetence and lack of sensitivity towards Jewish residents.
    Gov. Cuomo said he plans to speak with community leaders on Wednesday to discuss the matter.

10/7/2020 Orthodox Jewish Community Protests Latest COVID-19 Restrictions by OAN Newsroom
Members of the Orthodox Jewish community surround a rubbish fire in the street, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in
the Borough Park section of the Brooklyn borough of New York. (Joe Marino/New York Post via AP)
    Orthodox Jewish demonstrators rallied against state and city leaders latest COVID-19 restrictions this week.    Protesters took to the streets in Brooklyn on Tuesday night, where they set several things, including face masks, on fire.
    Jewish community leaders blasted the latest restrictions, which were proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, to close down several schools and businesses this week.
    They have suggested they are a targeted group, as stricter restrictions have been placed on communities where Jewish people are the main demographic.
    However, de Blasio has said they are still working out the details.
Members of the Orthodox community speak with NYPD officers, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, in the
Borough Park neighborhood of the Brooklyn borough of New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
    The new restrictions will go into effect on Friday.
    Were working with the state to get very clear, exact boundaries, put that online and make it searchable by address, he stated.    Again, enforcement will start tomorrow when we send out agencies to do enforcement.

10/8/2020 Hungarian Government Calls New Childrens Book Homosexual Propaganda, Causing Stir by Krisztina Than
A woman holds a book "Wonderland is for everyone", that has galvanized public debate and has drawn attacks from politicians
of the ruling Fidesz party, is pictured at a bookstore in Budapest, Hungary October 8, 2020. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo
    BUDAPEST (Reuters) Hungarys nationalist government on Thursday condemned a book of modern fairy tales for children published by a lesbian group as homosexual propaganda and said it should be banned.
    The book Wonderland Is For Everyone, was published last month by the Labrisz Lesbian Association, and has sparked a public debate in Hungary, where signs of official intolerance of LGBT+ people are increasingly emerging.
    A politician from the far-right fringe Our Homeland party tore the book apart and shredded it at a press conference and called it homosexual propaganda.    Asked about the book at a press briefing, Prime Minister Viktor Orbans cabinet chief also called it homosexual propaganda.
    Sexual identity is a private matter but there is a threshold namely that homosexual propaganda should not be directed at children, Gergely Gulyas said, adding this amounted to endangering minors.
    Dorottya Redai, a project leader with the publisher responded: We reject the unfounded accusations that we would be causing harm to children.    The politicians remarks amounted to hate propaganda she added.
    In power since 2010, Orban has promised to build a new era with major cultural changes in Hungary.    His government has so far refrained from strong attacks on the LGBT+ community, unlike Poland, where homophobia has been part of the ruling PiS partys ideology and election strategy.
    However parliament, with the ruling partys majority, voted in May to ban transgender people from changing their gender on identity documents.
    Bulcsu Hunyadi, an analyst at think tank Political Capital said the government seized on the book to prevent the far-right dominating the agenda, but was unlikely to step up its anti-LGBT stance to the extent seen in Poland ahead of the 2022 parliamentary elections.
    Hungarian society is a lot more secular and more accepting towards LGBT people (than Polish society), he said.    This today could be followed with some policy moves but I dont think Fidesz will build a big campaign around the issue.
    The first 1,500 copies of the book, which contains 17 stories with characters from various social backgrounds, sold out quickly.
    The Hungarian Publishers and Booksellers Association said several bookshops had been threatened and become the target of hate mongering.     Leave the bookshops alone, it said, rejecting condemnation of the book.
(Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

10/8/2020 Eric Trump: President Trump Literally Saved Christianity by OAN Newsroom
FIL- In this Oct. 10, 2019 file photo, Trump Organization executive vice president Eric Trump participates in the
Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit at Union West in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
    Eric Trump is highlighting his fathers efforts to protect freedom of religion in America.    The Trump organization executive criticized Democrat governors in several states for shutting down churches while keeping liquor stores open as essential businesses.
    Eric said Democrats selective approach to lockdowns has exposed the partisan nature of their policies disguised as public health measures.
    The Democratic Party, the far-left has become the party of the quote-on-quote atheists, he stated.    They want to attack Christianity, they want to close churchestheyre totally fine keeping liquor stores open, but they want to close churches all over the country.
    Eric went on to say the Democrats have failed to support most of the Presidents initiatives to address social and economic problems.

10/8/2020 In Midst Of Cardinal Scandal, Pope Seeks To Reassure Money Inspectors by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis poses with experts of Moneyval after a meeting with the Committee of Experts of the
Council of Europe at the Vatican, October 8, 2020, in this still image taken from a video. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Pope Francis sought to assure external inspectors of the Vaticans financial operations on Thursday that he was pushing ahead with reforms, as the Holy See reeled from a scandal in which he fired a powerful cardinal.
    In an address to Moneyval, the Council of Europes financial monitoring arm, Francis listed recent actions he had taken to make Vatican finances more transparent.
    He appeared to refer to the Vaticans latest financial scandals when he quoted the gospel story of Jesus driving the merchants from the temple and telling them You cannot serve both God and money
    Last month, the pope fired Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu, accusing him of embezzlement and nepotism.    Becciu has denied all wrongdoing.
    Moneyval is making one of its periodic inspections to check the Vatican is complying with international norms to combat money laundering and financing of terrorism.
    The measures that you are evaluating are meant to promote a clean finance, in which the merchants are prevented from speculating in that sacred temple, Francis said.
    Italian media have this week run interviews with a woman who says she received 500,000 euros from Becciu to run a parallel diplomacy to help missionaries in conflict areas.
    Cecilia Marognas purported work for the Vaticans Secretariat of State, where Becciu held the number two position until 2018, was not previously known.
    In an emailed response to Reuters on Wednesday, Beccius lawyer, Fabio Viglione, said the cardinal knew Marogna but that his dealings with her had been exclusively about institutional matters,    He did not mention her comments about the funds, which Marogna said went through a company she started in Slovenia.
    Marogna, 39, who like Becciu is from Sardinia, did not reply to a phone message from Reuters.
    Addressing the inspectors, Francis pointed to his approval in June of sweeping new rules for procurement and spending meant to cut costs, ensure transparent competition and reduce the risk of corruption in awarding contracts.
    Moneyval has given the Vatican increasingly positive evaluations since its first inspection eight years ago but has lamented the slowness of its judicial arm in carrying out investigations and bringing suspects to trial.
    In his email, Beccius lawyer also denied Italian media reports that his client had sent money to Australia to help enemies of Cardinal George Pell, the former Vatican economy minister who was cleared this year of sexual abuse charges in Australia after spending 13 months in prison.
    Pell had accused Becciu of blocking Vatican financial reforms and after Becciu was fired, Pell said the pope is to be thanked and congratulated.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Catherine Evans)

10/10/2020 County In Calif. Reopens Houses Of Worship by OAN Newsroom
Screengrab via NewsChannel 3-12.
    Portions of California are preparing to reopen places of worship as COVID-19 restrictions are slowly being lifted.    Ventura County announced the reopening of churches this week.
    This came after the county moved into the less restrictive stage of the states reopening plan, the red tier.    Under the new guidelines, people can gather indoors at 25% capacity or up to 100 people, whichever is fewer.
    Masks and physical distancing will still be mandatory, while water fountains will be turned off.    One church in the county reported they will save indoor mass for weekday services, when fewer people typically attend.
    Were limited to 75 persons in the church for social distancing, but outside, we can accommodate easily in the garden 100, 120 people, stated Priest Tom Elewaut.    I wouldnt want to turn 25 to 45 people away on Sunday mass.
    The church is planning to spread out indoor visitors in different rooms, with the service streaming on televisions throughout the church.

10/10/2020 Pull Investments From Companies Not Committed To Environment, Pope Says by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis speaks during a meeting with the Committee of Experts of the Council of Europe
at the Vatican, October 8, 2020, in this still image taken from a video. Vatican Media/ Handout/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Pope Francis on Saturday urged people to pull investments from companies that are not committed to protecting the environment, adding his voice to calls for the economic model that emerges from the coronavirus pandemic to be a sustainable one.
    Francis spoke in a video message for an online event called Countdown Global Launch, A Call to Action on Climate Change.
    Science tells us, every day with more precision, that we need to act urgently if we are to have any hope of avoiding radical and catastrophic climate change, he said.
    The pope listed three action points: better education about the environment, sustainable agriculture and access to clean water, and a transition away from fossil fuels.
    One way to encourage this change is to lead companies towards the urgent need to commit to the integral care of our common home, excluding from investments companies that do not meet (these) parameters and rewarding those that (do), he said.
    He said the pandemic had made the need to address the climate crisis and related social problems even more pressing.
    The current economic system is unsustainable. We are faced with a moral imperative to rethink many things, he said, listing means of production, consumerism, waste, indifference to the poor, and harmful energy sources.
    In June, a Vatican document urged Catholics to disinvest from the armaments and fossil fuel industries and to monitor companies in sectors such as mining for possible damage to the environment.
    Other speakers and activists at the online event included actress Jane Fonda, Britains Prince William, former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Christina Fincher)

10/12/2020 Mexican president asks Pope Francis for conquest apology
    MEXICO CITY Mexicos president published an open letter to Pope Francis on Saturday calling on the Roman Catholic Church to apologize for abuses of Indigenous peoples during the conquest of Mexico in the 1500s.    In the letter, President Andrs Manuel Lpez Obrador also asks the pope to lend Mexico ancient pre-Hispanic Mexican or colonial-    era documents. The letter comes as Mexico struggles with marking the 500th anniversary of the 1519-21 conquest, which led to the death of much of the countrys pre-Hispanic population.
[Sorry Pres Obrador he is too busy promoting the Globalist takeover of countries sovereignty for the liberal lefts pet projects.].

10/12/2020 Four Vatican Swiss Guards Test Positive For COVID-19 by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: A Swiss guard wearing a protective face mask is seen at the San Damaso courtyard ahead of
the weekly general audience at the Vatican, September 16, 2020. REUTERS/Yara Nardi/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Four members of the Vatican Swiss Guards, the elite and colourfully dressed corps that protects the pope, have tested positive for COVID-19, the Vatican said on Monday.
    The results came in over the weekend and added to three other residents or citizens of the tiny Vatican city-state who have tested positive in recent weeks, according to a statement.
    They are believed to be the first in the corps to test positive.
    Nearly all of the guard are single men who live in a barracks just inside the Vatican gates.    The commanders and married members live in separate apartments.    All members have Swiss nationality.
    The Vatican said all of those who had tested positive had mild symptoms.    They have been isolated and tracing of those with whom they had been in direct contact was underway.
    The Vatican last week instituted prevention measures stipulating that everyone had to wear masks, even outdoors, and practice social distancing.
    But some have noted that Pope Francis does not wear a mask at his general audiences and sometimes comes in relatively close contact with visitors, who are wearing masks.    Sometimes, the visitors lower their masks so the pope can hear them and Vatican security men have not intervened to ask them to cover their mouth and nose.
    Some of his closest aides also have not been wearing masks at the audiences.
    The pope had part of one lung removed during an illness when he was a young man in his native Argentina.
    He sometimes breathes heavily after climbing steps and some Vatican officials have speculated that difficulty breathing may be a reason he does not wear a mask in large spaces.
    He has, however, worn masks in cars taking him to venues.
    Italy on Friday topped 5,000 new COVID-19 cases in a single day for the first time since March.
    The county is set to ban private parties and limit the numbers of guests at weddings and funerals among new restrictions aimed at curbing a surge in coronavirus infections.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Alex Richardson)

10/12/2020 Pope Meets Australian Cardinal Pell In Midst Of Money Scandal by Philip Pullella
Cardinal George Pell attends a private audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican, October 12, 2020. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Pope Francis met on Monday with Australian Cardinal George Pell, the Vaticans former economy minister who has returned to Rome after the firing of an Italian cardinal whom Pell had accused of obstructing financial reform.
    Pell was cleared earlier this year of sexual abuse charges in Australia after spending 13 months in prison, and it remains unclear whether he will take up another role in the Vatican.
    The Vatican announced the meeting between Pell and Pope Francis in a statement on the popes daily private audiences, but gave no details.    It went very well, Pell told reporters in front of his residence just outside the Vatican walls.
    Pell returned to Rome on Sept. 30, just days after the pope fired Pells nemesis, Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu, who was accused of embezzlement and nepotism.    Becciu has denied all wrongdoing.
    While Becciu was number two in the Vaticans Secretariat of State and Pell was economy minister, the two had a very stormy relationship.
    Becciu told reporters the day after he was sacked about a meeting between Pell, the pope and Becciu where Pell told Becciu, You are dishonest, and Becciu replied: How dare you!
    After Becciu was sacked, Pell said: The Holy Father was elected to clean up Vatican finances.    He plays a long game and is to be thanked and congratulated on recent developments.
    Pell said he hoped the cleaning of the stables would continue.
    Beccius lawyer has denied Italian media reports that his client sent money to Australia to help Pells enemies while he was facing the sexual abuse charges.
    Through his lawyer, the Australian man who accused Pell of sexually abusing him two decades ago denied Italian reports speculating that he may have been bribed to testify.
    Pells Australian lawyer, Robert Richter, called for an investigation to track the money trail.    He said it should include Italian and Australian investigators.
    If one is to give any credence to what has been alleged, then it is critical that all proper money-tracing exercises be undertaken, Richter told Reuters.
(Additional reporting by Sonali Paul in Melbourne; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

10/13/2020 RACE IN AMERICA - The goal is clear: to limit companies from training on a wide range of well-researched themes in the diversity, equity, and inclusion space. Joelle Emerson founder and chief executive officer of diversity and inclusion strategy firm Paradigm - Trumps order is facing pushback- Diversity push is at crossroads by Jessica Guynn, USA TODAY
    Michelle Kim received an email last week from a corporate client who asked her to make sure her anti-racism talk would comply with the White Houses new executive order prohibiting the use of terms such as white privilege. She offered to cancel the agreement instead.
    Even if I could deliver a compelling talk without using the term, I could not agree with the spirit of the ask, Kim, an author and CEO of Awaken, which provides interactive diversity, equity and Inclusion workshops, wrote on Twitter.    I understand the predicament companies are in right now Does this expose us to legal risk?    Will we get sued?    Will we lose our government contracts? President Donald Trumps decision to restrict the federal government and its contractors from engaging in what he calls divisive and un-American diversity training is sending a chilling effect throughout corporate America just as companies were stepping up efforts to address racial disparities following the death of George Floyd, a Black man, under the knee of white officer in Minneapolis in May.
    Its already having a massive effect and will continue to have a massive effect until its rescinded or if its rescinded, said Franklin Turner, a partner with law firm McCarter & English who represents multinational contractors and small and medium-sized companies.
    The executive orders stated goal is to combat offensive and anti-American race and sex stereotyping and scapegoating.
    A White House memo in late September suggested rooting out ideologies that label entire groups of Americans as inherently racist or evil in diversity training materials by searching for keywords such as white privilege, systemic racism, intersectionality and unconscious bias.
    Critics say the executive order is a broadside against diversity and inclusion programs that will impair efforts by business and government to reverse decadeslong patterns of discrimination and exclusion.    A USA TODAY investigation found that more than 55 years after the Civil Rights Act, less than 2% of the top executives at the nations largest companies are Black.
    Research shows that fostering diverse and inclusive workplaces boosts financial performance and increases innovation but corporations are pulling back on diversity and inclusion training out of fear of losing out on government contracts that are critical, if not the lifeblood, of their businesses, Turner says.
    Behind the scenes, civil rights leaders and industry groups are exploring legal challenges to the executive order, similar to organized opposition to the presidents Muslim travel ban.    Those efforts are expected to intensify if Trump wins reelection.
    Proponents of the executive order argue that it only prohibits racist or sexist teachings, like that one race or sex is inherently superior to another.    But the White House memo on how to interpret the order makes clear that the intended impact is far broader, said Joelle Emerson, founder and chief executive officer of diversity and inclusion strategy firm Paradigm.
    The goal is clear: to limit companies from training on a wide range of wellresearched themes in the diversity, equity, and inclusion space.
Pushback grows from civil rights, industry groups
    Pushback is growing from civil rights leaders and industry groups.    Dozens of civil rights groups including the NAACP Legal Defense and     Educational Fund and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law this week condemned the executive order as another sign of Trumps support for white supremacists while demonstrating deep hostility to civil rights and racial justice.
    On Thursday, a group of 11 technology, software and advertising industry groups that represent thousands of government contractors, called on the Trump administration to rescind it.    The executive order fails to acknowledge the realities of ongoing racial inequality and inequities in America and represents an unwarranted intrusion into private sector efforts to combat systemic racism, according to the letter sent to the Office of Management and Budget and the Labor Department.
    I need every companys legal team to fasten their seat belts and be willing to go to bat for people willing to speak truth to power, Kim said.    And I need executive leaders to signal to their teams were no longer in compliance mode were in the right side of history mode.
    Asked about his executive order during the first presidential debate, Trump said: They were teaching people that our country is a horrible place, its a racist place.    And they were teaching people to hate our country.    And Im not gonna allow that to happen.
    Democratic challenger Joe Biden responded: Nobodys doing that.
Trump order inspired by conservative activist
    The executive order stems from appearances by conservative activist Christopher Rufo criticism of critical race theory on Fox News Tucker Carlson Tonight.    Critical race theory teaches that racism pervades government and other American institutions, giving white people an advantage.
    What Ive discovered is that critical race theory has become, in essence, the default ideology of the federal bureaucracy and is now being weaponized against the American people, Rufo, director of the Center on Wealth and Poverty at the Discovery Institute in Seattle said on Carlsons show.
    Rufo celebrated achieving his goal ... persuading the President of the United States to abolish critical race theory in the federal government posting on Facebook moments after Trump issued the order.
    The Trump administration is not just pushing back against the belief that American society is inherently racist.    Its also challenging corporate efforts to rebalance the scales by elevating more Black executives and executives of color into leadership ranks.
    In recent weeks, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which oversees federal contractors for the Labor Department, has questioned whether diversity initiatives at Microsoft and Wells Fargo to double the ranks of Black managers and executives over the next five years violate federal laws barring discrimination based on race.    Both corporations say they believe their initiatives comply with those laws.
    Guidance issued by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs outlines strict but vague requirements for complying with Trumps executive order on diversity and inclusion training that seem to cover essential and foundational concepts, Turner said.
    The agency has set up a hotline so that any individual or group can file a complaint against a government agency or federal contractor for perceived violations by phone or email. Third parties can also file a complaint on behalf of an individual or a group, the guidance says.
    They are inviting complaints, obviously, and I wouldnt be shocked if the complaints started to pour in, Turner said.
    The worry is that folks who attend trainings who dont like an aspect of the training can use this order, even this guidance, to cause problems because of the lack of really concrete standards here and because so much of this is so incredibly subjective.
    Corporations could face extraordinarily harsh penalties, Turner said.    If found in violation, they could have their contracts suspended or terminated and could be declared ineligible for future contracts, according to the guidance.
    The message is watch out, Turner said.    Contractors dont take those threats lightly.    They could potentially put an end to their business.
President Donald Trumps order calls diversity training divisive. AP

Tom Andresson holds a Black Lives Matter sign opposite pro-Trump supporters
At the University of Utah last week in Salt Lake City. HANNAH-GABER/USA TODAY

10/13/2020 Keeping The Faith: Thousands Pray In Portugals Main Catholic Site For End To Pandemic
Pilgrims take part in a candlelight vigil during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak,
at the Catholic shrine of Fatima, Portugal October 12, 2020. REUTERS/Catarina Demony
    FATIMA, Portugal (Reuters) Standing in circles marked to keep social distance, thousands of faithful gathered and held candles at one of Catholicisms most famous sanctuaries in Portugal on Monday evening, with many praying for the end of the coronavirus pandemic.
    Every October, around 100,000 people head to the Fatima Sanctuary many of them by foot to mark the third and last reported vision of the Virgin Mary more than 100 years ago.    But, this year, only 6,000 people were allowed in the massive outdoor venue because of coronavirus restrictions.
    Many of the faithful, all wearing masks, took the opportunity to pray for those affected by the outbreak.
    We need living in community the pandemic ruined this, said Francisco Simoes, who walked more than 120 kilometres (74.56 miles) to the Catholic event.    We ask our Virgin Mary to free us from this damn pandemic and to help those who are sick, who have suffered and lost loved ones.
    The Catholic Church teaches the Virgin Mary appeared to three Portuguese children in 1917 in Fatima, which was then an impoverished farming village.    It believes the Virgin Mary gave the children three messages, the so-called secrets of Fatima.
    Pope Francis made two of the shepherd children saints in 2017.
    Among the crowd, 60-year-old Antonio Manuel stood next to a small statue of the Virgin Mary he carried all the way from Valongo, a town in the Portugals northern region, around 200 kilometres north of Fatima.
    This year I pray for doctors, nurses, security forces, for journalists, who are also fighting, Manuel said.    And I ask for all who work against the coronavirus.
    Though Portugal only has 87,913 confirmed coronavirus cases and 2,094 deaths, the pandemic is set to leave long lasting scars on the countrys tourism-dependent economy, including in places like Fatima, where businesses are highly dependent on foreign visitors to survive.
    It is a very difficult period for everyone, said Jose Fernando as he waited for the mass to kick off.
(Reporting by Catarina Demony and Miguel Pereira in Fatima; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

10/13/2020 Italian Woman In Vatican Financial Scandal Investigation Arrested by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, who has been caught up in a real estate scandal, speaks to the media a
day after he resigned suddenly, in Rome, Italy, September 25, 2020. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane/File Photo
    ROME (Reuters) A 39-year-old Italian woman with links to a deposed Roman Catholic cardinal was arrested on Tuesday in connection with the Vaticans latest financial scandal, Italian police and the Vatican said.
    Cecilia Marogna had worked for Cardinal Angelo Becciu, a former top Vatican official who was fired last month by Pope Francis, who accused him of embezzlement and nepotism.    Becciu has denied all wrongdoing.
    An Italian finance police official told Reuters Marogna was arrested in Milan.    Italian media reports said she was arrested under an international warrant issued by Vatican magistrates.
    A senior Vatican source said Holy See magistrates suspected Marogna of embezzlement and aggravated misappropriation in complicity with others.
    In recent days, Italian media have run interviews in which Marogna said she had received 500,000 euros ($587,350) from Becciu to run a parallel diplomacy to help missionaries in conflict zones.    She has denied wrongdoing in the interviews.
    Her purported work for the Vaticans Secretariat of State, where Becciu held the No. 2 position until 2018, was not previously known.
    Beccius lawyer, Fabio Viglione, has said the cardinal knew Marogna but that his dealings with her had been exclusively about institutional matters.
    Marogna, who like Becciu is from Sardinia, has said the funds she allegedly received from Becciu went through a company she started in Slovenia.
    Becciu has also been caught up in a Vatican scandal revolving around the use of Church money to invest in a luxury building in London.
    During his tenure as No. 2 in the Vaticans Secretariat of State, that department purchased a luxury building in London as an investment.
    A Vatican investigation into that deal, which involved several Italian middlemen, led to the suspension last year of five Vatican employees, the resignation of the Vaticans police chief and the departure of the former head of the Vaticans Financial Information Authority (AIF).
    Becciu has denied all wrongdoing in the deal and defended the purchase, saying the property has increased in value.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella in Rome; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Matthew Lewis)

10/14/2020 Health officials probe Tenn. worship protest by Rachel Wegner, NashvilleTennessean | USATODAY
    NASHVILLE, Tenn. Christian worship leader Sean Feucht hosted a worship protest that is now under investigation by health officials after it drew thousands of people who appeared to be largely without masks Sunday night.
    Feucht, who is based in California and has amassed hundreds of thousands of followers across social media, posted a video of the gathering, saying the event faced resistance and had three venue changes before landing at the courthouse grounds.
    ... BUT THE CHURCH WILL NOT BE SILENCED! he said in a tweet Monday.
    Videos and photos posted by those who attended appear to show some people keeping a distance from one another, while others crowded together.
    Nashville officials said Monday morning that organizers did not apply for a permit to host the event and that the Metro Public Health Department is investigating what happened.
    We have worked very hard to slow the spread of COVID by taking a measured approach to protect the community, an emailed statement from the health department said.    The Health Department is very concerned by the actions that took place at the event and we are investigating and will pursue appropriate penalties against the organizer.
    Dr. Alex Jahangir, leader of the citys coronavirus task force, said the concert Sunday was the exact kind of gathering that could damage Nashvilles progress against the virus, which the mayor often describes as fragile.    Jahangir said he was unaware of the concert until Monday morning and said it was highly unlikely it was approved by city officials.
    Any time there are a lot of people together, without masks, I have concerns, and that holds true in this scenario, Jahangir said.
    Makayla McKibben, 23, said she and several friends traveled from Chattanooga, Tennessee.
    She said some of her friends chose to socially distance, and others stood closer.    She also said some chose to wear a mask, and others did not.    She said she saw the night as an opportunity to express unity and exercise freedom to gather and worship.
    These events that are being held are considered a worship protest, she said on Monday to the Nashville Tennessean, part of the USA TODAY Network.    Because its outside, if you want to make up your mind to stand far away or wear a mask you get to choose.
    Dr. William Schaffner, a renowned expert on infectious disease at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said the event is all but guaranteed to draw some attendees who were unknowingly infected with the virus.    The transmission risk at the event was higher than normal because singing and shouting causes people to exhale more forcefully, which projects contagious droplets farther, he said.
    Based on the sheer size of the gathering, Schaffner said he could say with 100% certainty the virus was spread at the event.
    Feuchts events appear to be connected by his Let Us Worship tour across the United States.
    He hosted a gathering in Atlanta on Saturday and plans to host several more in Charleston, South Carolina; Kansas City, Missouri; Pittsburgh; and Washington, D.C., in the weeks to come, according to his website.
    He has drawn widespread attention along with scrutiny as he has hosted gatherings despite COVID-19 restrictions in recent months.
    After Feucht invited people to an outdoor event in Redding, California, on July 22, city and county leaders expressed concern over the safety of the gathering.    At the time of the event, the state allowed indoor and outdoor worship gatherings, but only if safety measures such as keeping 6 feet from anyone not in your immediate household are kept.
    Gatherings in Salem, Oregon; Fort Collins, Colorado and West Palm Beach, Florida, in recent months stirred similar concerns along with baffled responses to why Feuchts gatherings were allowed while many others were restricted.
    West Palm Beach did not issue a permit for Feuchts event, on the grounds that it was framed as a protest, not a recreational event.
    Father Thomas McKenzie, of Church of the Redeemer in Nashville, said the event left him feeling unsettled.
    When any protest includes people in close proximity, not social distancing in a time of global pandemic, thats irresponsible, he told The Tennessean on Monday.
    McKenzie said he learned of the gathering via social media after the fact.    Further, he said that coming to Nashville a city that has allowed worship gatherings made it feel like a slap in the face.
    For this guy to come into town and start what is potentially a superspreader event and do it in the name of Jesus and say hes protesting so we can worship is foolishness, McKenzie said.
    If he could do something like this responsibly?    Totally fine, he said.    I dont blame the people who went.    I understand that.    But its the irresponsibility that I find appalling.
Contributing: Brett Kelman, The Tennessean; USA TODAY Network
    We have worked very hard to slow the spread of COVID by taking a measured approach to protect the community.
    Email from Nashvilles Metro Public Health Dept.
A worship service/protest takes place Sept. 11 in City Park in Fort Collins, Colo., organized by Sean Feucht.
Feucht organized a similar event in Nashville on Sunday, which is under investigation. SUBMITTED

10/14/2020 Pope Francis Keeps His Distance At Audience Over COVID Concerns
Pope Francis holds the weekly general audience at Aula Paolo VI, at the Vatican, October 14, 2020. REUTERS/Yara Nardi
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Pope Francis stayed a safe distance from well-wishers at his weekly general audience on Wednesday, saying new rules aimed at curbing the coronavirus meant he had to hold back.
    I would like to, as I usually do, go down and get closer to greet you.    But with the new regulations, it is better if we keep a distance, Francis said from a stage.
    It often happens that when I go down, everybody gets close and piles up. And its a problem because there is a risk of infection.    This way, everyone wearing their mask and maintaining their distance, we can go forward with the audiences.
    The 83-year-old pope resumed his weekly audiences in September after a six-month break because of the contagion, which has killed more than 36,200 people in Italy.    However, with infections rising again, there was concern that Francis was getting too close to visitors.
    Underscoring the growing problem, the Vatican said on Monday that four members of the Swiss Guards, the elite and colourfully dressed corps that protects the pope, had tested positive for COVID-19.
    The pope, who does not wear a mask at the audiences, had part of one lung removed during an illness when he was a young man in his native Argentina.
    He sometimes breathes heavily after climbing steps and some Vatican officials have speculated that difficulty breathing may be a reason he does not wear a mask in large spaces.
    Instead of arriving from the door at the back of the hall and making his way through the crowds, the pope walked through the stage door and smiled and waved to the faithful from a distance.    They stood and applauded him.
    Sorry if today I greet you from far away, but I believe that if everybody, as good citizens, follows the regulations of the authorities, it will help to handle the pandemic.    Thank you, he said.
(Reporting by Emily Roe; Writing by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

10/14/2020 Vatican Court Hears Graphic Description Of Sexual Abuse by Philip Pullella
Vatican Court President Giuseppe Pignatone speaks during a hearing of the trial of two Italian priests,
one charged with raping an altar boy in a youth seminary and the other of abetting and cover up, at the Vatican,
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) (Graphic content in paragraph 6)
    A Vatican court heard graphic descriptions of sexual abuse on Wednesday as two priests went on trial, one charged with repeatedly raping an altar boy in a youth seminary and the other of covering up the attacks.
    The first hearing lasted only eight minutes as charges were read to Father Gabriele Martinelli, 28, who was a minor for most of the time of the alleged abuse, and Father Enrico Radice, 72, who was rector.
    Neither of the two defendants has responded publicly to the accusations and the defence has not yet entered a formal plea.
    The abuse took place between 2007 and 2012 in the Pius X Pre-Seminary, which houses altar boys who serve Mass in St. Peters Basilica, sometimes for the pope, and are thinking of becoming priests.
    Martinelli later went on to become a priest and the prosecution says Radice did not block the ordination even though he knew about the abuse.
    A clerk read out charges including how Martinelli allegedly forced a boy known by his initials LG to undergo carnal acts, acts of sodomy, masturbation on himself and on the boy, at different times and in different places inside Vatican City.
    The trial in the Vaticans tiny courtroom is the first concerning abuse committed inside the city states walls.
    The alleged abuse began when LG was 13, and Martinelli continued the abuse of LG for about a year after he turned 18, the prosecution>     The court charged Radice with cover-up, including writing letters to Italian church officials trying to divert investigations.    Radice had given Martinelli supervisory responsibilities over the other altar boys, the court was told.
    The case exploded in 2017 when Italian journalists reported that a whistleblower who was a roommate of LG reported the abuse but was later expelled from the pre-seminary.    A Vatican inquiry began that year and indictments were issued in 2019.
    Court President Giuseppe Pignatone, a former Italian anti-mafia magistrate, gave the defence until Friday to present more documentation.    The trial resumes on Oct. 27.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

10/15/2020 Violent deaths of transgender people hit new high -Five of the deaths were during past three weeks by Elinor Aspegren, USA TODAY
    A record number of transgender and gender nonconforming people 32 have been killed by violence this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
    Those statistics include five deaths in the past three weeks, said the LGBTQ advocacy group, which began keeping records in 2013.
    But that number is likely even higher, since many trans people killed by violence are misgendered by police and can be misreported in the media, said Sarah Kate Ellis, president of LGBTQ media advocacy group GLAAD.
    Violence facing transgender Americans, especially Black trans women, requires urgent resources and attention from federal state, and local government agencies and elected officials, she said.
    On Oct. 7, Brooklyn Deshuna, a 20- year-old Black transgender woman, was found fatally shot in Shreveport, Louisiana. Just a day before, Felycya Harris, a 33-year-old Black transgender woman, was shot and killed in Augusta, Georgia.
    Michelle Michellyn Ramos Vargas, a transgender woman from Puerto Rico in her mid-30s, was found fatally shot Sept. 30 in San Germn, Puerto Rico.    Two days earlier, Mia Green, 29, a Black transgender woman was killed in Philadelphia.
    Aerrion Burnett, a 37-year-old Black transgender woman, was found dead of a gunshot wound on Sept. 19 in Independence, Missouri.    It is ridiculous that we have to continue to hashtag our friends names and add them to a list of names to be memorialized every year, and that we expect it, Carter Brown, executive director of National Black Trans Advocacy Coalition, told USA TODAY in July.
    We expect it because too many trans women of color are continuously being murdered and beaten with minimum or no consequence being brought to the assailants.
    A June 2020 report from Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund and Equality Florida found that 2018 saw a 41% increase in reported crimes directed against transgender individuals.
    While just 16% of the trans population in the U.S. is estimated to be Black, 79% of known trans homicide victims were Black, the report showed.
    And in 2017, which held the previous high of transgender murders of 29, 71% of victims of hate violence were people of color, 52% were transgender and 40% were transgender women of color, according to a report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs that year.
    Cabot Petoia, spokesman for National Black Justice Coalition, which is an American civil rights organization, said in a statement that these attacks highlight the epidemic of violence that too many members of the trans community face a problem that appears to be accelerating.
    The organization, which also records transgender homicides, has recorded 35 murders of transgender people this year.
    The violence that Black trans women and femmes experience at the intersection of anti-Blackness, misogyny and transphobia is a public health issue a sign of a society that needs to heal, Petoia said.    We need urgent action pushing for both legislative and community- based protections for our Black trans, femme, and gender nonconforming siblings.
Civil rights groups say it appears that the epidemic of violence toward the trans community appears to be accelerating. JACK GRUBER/USA TODAY

10/16/2020 Research: LGBTQ discrimination widespread in US by Kate Sosin, The 19th
    Ten years ago, a spate of suicides prompted LGBTQ journalist Dan Savage and his partner, Terry Miller, to record a YouTube video promising queer teens that life would get better.    Today, that mantra has been turned into an international movement and a nonprofit.
    Thats one of dozens of organizations working toward improving life for queer youth.    Research shows that more young people - 20%, according to GLAAD - identify as queer than ever before.
    Despite all of that progress, a new study from the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank, and the research group NORC at the University of Chicago, reports that young queer adults face staggering rates of discrimination.
    I was honestly shocked by the findings in the survey, just how widespread discrimination was, said Sharita Gruberg, one of the studys authors.
    The survey, conducted in June, captured responses from 1,528 self-identified LGBTQ adults 18 and older.
    Discrimination forced 54% of queer people to hide personal relationships, the report says.
    Fifty-five percent of transgender people reported avoiding public places for that reason.
    More than 1 in 3 LGBTQ Americans (36%) said they were discriminated against over the past year, and 69% of nonbinary people reported facing discrimination in the same timeframe.    Among transgender Americans, the rate was 3 out of 5.     As stark as those numbers are, its the data among young adults that truly floored Gruberg: 67% surveyed in the study reported being discriminated against in the past year.
    The findings are a marked jump from a similar survey that the Center for American Progress conducted in 2017 that found one in four LGBT adults reported discrimination.
    Over half of those responding to this years survey said they were discriminated against in public while trying to use a bathroom, take public transit or go shopping, the report notes.     This is just people going about their daily lives, Gruberg said.    She is unsure why the numbers have increased so dramatically.
    Conducted at the height of the pandemic, the survey sheds light on troubling realities facing LGBTQ people as the virus ravages communities.    Discrimination took a toll on the mental health of 52% of those surveyed.    For Black LGBTQ people, that figure skyrocketed 77%.    The findings, however, do align with other research on the community during the pandemic.    A poll released by the LGBTQ suicide prevention organization The Trevor Project found depression skyrocketing among queer youth as many face isolation in unsupportive homes.
    This year has been difficult for everyone, but it has been especially challenging for LGBTQ youth, and particularly Black LGBTQ youth, who have found themselves at the crossroads of multiple mounting tragedies, said Amit Paley, CEO and executive director of The Trevor Project, in a statement.
    That Trevor Project poll reported that over 40% of LGBTQ youth said that the pandemic had hampered their ability to express their gender or sexual orientation; 55% of those surveyed said they had anxiety and 53% said they were suffering from depression.
    One glimmer of hope?
    That is that the Affordable Care Act is working, said Gruberg, adding 88% of queer people said they had health insurance.
    This story was published in partnership with The 19th, a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom reporting on gender, politics and policy.

10/17/2020 COVID-19 Case Confirmed In Popes Vatican Residence
FILE PHOTO: A priest is silhouetted along Via della Conciliazione street, near to the Vatican City, at the first weekly general audience led by Pope Francis,
open to the public for first time since the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Rome, Italy, Sept. 2, 2020. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) A man living in the same Vatican residence as Pope Francis has tested positive for COVID-19 and gone into isolation, the Vatican said on Saturday.
    The man, who was not identified and did not have symptoms of the illness, left the Santa Marta residence and went into isolation along with others with whom he had had direct contact, a statement said.
    Someone else living in the residence which has about 130 rooms and suites tested positive for the coronavirus when the pandemic hit Italy in March.
    Pope Francis, who had part of one lung removed during an illness when he was a young man in his native Argentina, is tested regularly for COVID-19.
    He had a normal schedule on Saturday, receiving three people in separate private audiences and addressing a large group of Italian police.
    The Vatican, a tiny city-state surrounded by Rome, has been only lightly affected by the coronavirus, with about two dozen confirmed cases in total.
    Three Vatican residents who tested positive recently have recovered, Saturdays statement added.
    Four members of the Swiss Guard, the elite and colourfully dressed corps that protects the pope, tested positive for COVID-19 last week.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Helen Popper)

10/18/2020 Churchgoers In Dutch Bible Belt Defy Coronavirus Instructions
Dutch worshippers from a conservative branch of Protestantism gather in a church, as the government instructs to limit indoor groups to 30 to try to curb
the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Staphorst, Netherlands October 18, 2020, REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw
    STAPHORST (Reuters) Hundreds of Dutch worshippers from a deeply conservative branch of Protestantism gathered in churches across the Netherlands on Sunday, defying government instructions to limit indoor groups to 30 to try to contain surging coronavirus infections.
    Although Dutch churches are exempt on constitutional grounds from the government order, almost all church associations had said they would follow the rules, after massive gatherings in some Protestant churches last week had sparked outrage.
    Reformed Protestant churches in what is known as the Dutch Bible Belt had made it clear they would continue to receive considerably more than 30 faithful at a time, despite the heavy criticism.
    The Bible Belt intersects the Netherlands from the southwest to the northeast and consists mainly of churches of the Reformed Protestant movement, formed in the 19th century, whose adherents also follow a traditional, conservative lifestyle.
    The main Reformed Protestant church in Staphorst, in the north of the Netherlands, which can normally accommodate about 2,000 people, said it would allow 150 people per service this Sunday, and they would space themselves at least 3 metres apart.
    The church had around 600 people in attendance at each service last Sunday, who wore no face masks and did not refrain from communal singing.
    A large church in Barneveld in the centre of the country said it would welcome around 250 people at each of its three services on Sunday.
    We have already scaled back our capacity drastically, a church spokesman told national news agency ANP.
    First we limited attendance to 600, then 400, and if the number of infections keeps rising, we will limit it further.
    The Netherlands entered another partial lockdown last week, after becoming one of Europes hotbeds for new infections.    Numbers of new infections have reached record levels almost every day since mid-September, with the total number of infections doubling within three weeks.
(Reporting by Bart Meijer and Piroschka van de Wouw; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

10/18/2020 Pope Expresses Support For Detained Fishermen In Libya
FILE PHOTO: Rosetta Incargiola, the mother of one of 18 fishermen detained in Libya, cries at a protest calling for
the release of the sailors in Rome, Italy, October 14, 2020. Picture taken October 14, 2020. REUTERS/Yara Nardi
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Pope Francis expressed support on Sunday for 18 fishermen held in Libya, weighing in on a standoff between Italy and the administration of Khalifa Haftar, one of the North African countrys two rival leaders.
    I want to say a word of encouragement and support for the fishermen who have been held in Libya for more than a month, and for their families (who) are hoping to be able to embrace their dear ones soon, Francis said at his weekly blessing in St. Peters Square.
    Libyan patrol boats detained two Sicilian fishing boats on Sept. 1 and brought the crews to Benghazi, where the military commander Haftar holds sway.    The crews, made up of Italians and Tunisians, were accused of operating in Libyas territorial waters.
    The fishing grounds have been disputed since 2005, when Libyas then ruler, Muammar Gaddafi, unilaterally extended Libyan territorial waters to 74 nautical miles offshore from 12.    Haftar, who controls eastern Libya, is trying to enforce this.
    Italian newspapers have reported that Haftar wants Italy to hand over four Libyan nationals convicted of human trafficking in return for freeing the fishermen.    Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio told parliament on Thursday that such an exchange would be unacceptable.
    Francis also called for talks to bring peace to Libya, which is divided between Haftars Libyan National Army (LNA) and the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA). The GNA is internationally recognised.
    Brothers and sisters, the time has come to stop every form of hostility and favour dialogue that brings peace, stability and unity to the country, he said.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Frances Kerry)

10/19/2020 Archbishop performs exorcism to cleanse site of protest
    SAN RAFAEL, Calif. The archbishop of San Francisco performed a short exorcism ceremony Saturday outside a Catholic church where protesters had earlier toppled a statue of Father Junipero Serra, saying the ceremony was intended to drive out evil and defend the image of Serra.    Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone performed the ritual in front of some 150 supporters before holding a special Mass inside St. Raphael Catholic Church and an expected march to a Planned Parenthood clinic, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

10/19/2020 Polish Womans Quest For Abortion Exposes Conflicted Society by Alicja Ptak
Car rides during a protest against imposing further restrictions on abortion law in Poland, a country
with some of the strictest abortion rules in Europe, in front of the Constitutional Court building in
Warsaw, Poland October 19, 2020. The flag reads "Women's strike". Dawid Zuchowicz/Agencja Gazeta via REUTERS
    WARSAW (Reuters) In April, in the midst of a nationwide coronavirus lockdown in Poland, Katarzyna found out that the baby she was carrying had a severe genetic disorder and would probably die before birth or shortly after.
    She immediately decided to terminate the pregnancy.    When she finally managed to, five weeks later and after meeting some 10 doctors, securing a fallback plan in Germany and researching home methods, she knew she would not try to get pregnant again.
    I knew how difficult it can be to get a legal abortion in Poland, so I chose to be stubborn, said 38-year-old Katarzyna, who lives in a small town in central Poland and already has two daughters, one of them disabled.
    I dont think I could survive this sense of helplessness and the contempt from the medical community if something went wrong again, she said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the subject of abortion is largely taboo in Poland.
    Terminations like hers are at the heart of a fierce public debate about abortion rights in predominantly Catholic Poland, expected to culminate with a rare ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal as early as Thursday on whether they are permissible.
    Many doctors in Poland, which has some of the strictest abortion rules in Europe, already exercise their legal right to refuse to terminate pregnancies on religious grounds.    Some say they are pressured into doing so by their superiors.
    Many in Polands conservative ruling party, Law and Justice (PiS), including its leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, believe abortions requested on the basis of foetal defects should be banned, and that only terminations due to incest, rape or a threat to a womans life or health should remain legal.    Abortion on demand is already banned in Poland.
    But PiS, which came to power five years ago promising to entrench more traditional, Catholic values in public life, has so far been reluctant to push new restrictions through parliament because previous debates sparked a big public outcry.
    Its critics say PiS now hopes instead to use the Tribunal to change policy a charge it denies after a series of judicial reforms that the European Commission says has undermined the independence of Polands courts.
    A group of right-wing lawmakers has asked the Tribunal, which reviews the compatibility of laws with the constitution, to rule on the legality of aborting defective foetuses.
    (Abortion) has always been a difficult issue for parliament, it awakens massive public emotions, said Bartlomiej Wroblewski, a PiS lawmaker and one of those seeking a verdict.
    I thought we needed to find another place where constitutional arguments on the right to life, on human dignity, the ban on discrimination, can be decisive, Wroblewski said.
    PiS denies trying to influence Tribunal rulings, although its shakeup of Polands judiciary has prompted charges at home and abroad that it is subverting democratic norms. PiS says its reforms only aim to make the judiciary more efficient and fair.
    PiS is afraid to take responsibility for making abortion rules more restrictive.    They know perfectly well that current rules are already very difficult to accept, Barbara Nowacka, a left-wing lawmaker, told Reuters.
    They want to ban abortion using the Tribunal, which is politicised and staffed with judges appointed illegally, she said, referring to changes that give the ruling party a bigger say in appointing judges.     Government data shows roughly 1,000 legal abortions are conducted in Poland each year, mostly due to foetal abnormalities.
    Rights activists say thousands more women terminate pregnancies illegally or travel abroad, mainly to Germany, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, where rules are far less strict.
    A friend helped Katarzyna find a doctor in Germany who performs abortions for Polish women in case her hospital in Warsaw backed out.    She was determined to shield her daughters from the shock of losing a severely ill baby sibling.
    If it were not for the coronavirus pandemic, Katarzyna added, I wouldnt have gone begging (for an abortion in Poland) I would have gone abroad."
    The psychological strain was gigantic.
(Additional reporting by Joanna Plucinska and Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk; editing by Justyna Pawlak and Gareth Jones)

10/19/2020 Wait, What? Dutch Justice Minister Explains Lockdown Rules For Weed
FILE PHOTO: Joints containing different types of cannabis are seen in their jars at a coffee shop
in the southern Dutch city of Bergen op Zoom November 18, 2008. REUTERS/Jerry Lampen/File Photo
    AMSTERDAM (Reuters) The Dutch government told parliament on Monday it could sit back and relax as there are no extra rules needed to prevent people having or smoking cannabis in public places during the coronavirus pandemic.
    The government ordered a partial lockdown on Oct. 13, closing restaurants except for takeaway services and forbidding the sale of alcohol and marijuana after 8 p.m.
    But parliament, stressed at the prospect that the rules for weed-smokers might still be laxer than those for alcohol-drinkers, passed a motion directing the government to ensure that smoking marijuana and hashish in public would not be tolerated in public places between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m.
    Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus told the lawmakers in a letter that they might be slightly confused by the complexities of the countrys existing laws and practices.
    Under Dutch law, the possession of marijuana remains technically illegal, Grapperhaus explained in a letter to parliament.    While police do not usually enforce the law against people who hold less than five grams, they always have the power to do so.
    Under the countrys tolerance policy, the drug is sold openly at cafes known as coffee shops.
    But the Oct. 13 lockdown rules had already specified that cafes and restaurants would be closed except for takeaways and that sales of alcohol, marijuana and hashish would be banned after 8 p.m.
    In addition, Grapperhaus wrote, gatherings of more than four people are temporarily banned.    That ensures that police could break up an unruly marijuana-smoking mob if one should ever form during the pandemic.
    Thus, the demands of this motion may be satisfied by making use of existing powers, the minister explained.
(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

10/19/2020 Row In Hungary Around Childrens Book Fuels Fears Of Rising Homophobia by Krisztina Than and Krisztina Fenyo
FILE PHOTO: A book "Wonderland is for everyone", that has galvanized public debate and has drawn attacks from politicians
of the ruling Fidesz party, is pictured at a bookstore in Budapest, Hungary October 8, 2020. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo
    BUDAPEST (Reuters) Boldizsar Nagy hoped that the tales in the childrens book Wonderland Is For Everyone would help youngsters to learn to accept minorities and fight social ostracism.
    Instead, it has caused a stir in Hungarian politics, with the far-right and the ruling nationalist government labelling it homosexual propaganda that should be banned from schools.
    More than 1,200 psychologists have since signed a petition in defence of the book, which was edited by Nagy.    The tales include stories about Tivadar, a bunny born with three ears, an adopted boy, and Batbajan, a Roma boy, who is hated by his step-mother for his skin colour but finds love when he meets Zeke, a fair-haired boy.
    Only a few of the 17 stories that teach acceptance towards people who are in some way different, are about LGBT+ heroes.
    Nagy, 37, who is gay and has Roma roots, says the backlash signals a rise in official intolerance of LGBT+ people and fits into the governments political agenda.
    It is unbecoming that a childrens book is used for inciting hatredor political gains, he said.    Looking at what happened in Poland or Russia, it does not bode well for the future.    We are concerned.
    Russia in 2013 passed a law banning the distribution of propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships to minors.
    Prime Minister Viktor Orbans government, which faces elections in early 2022 and promotes a strongly Christian-conservative agenda, has so far refrained from strong attacks on the LGBT+ community, unlike Poland, where homophobia has been part of the ruling PiS partys ideology.
    This appears to be changing now.
    Orban, who faces the biggest challenge of his decade-long rule due to the coronavirus pandemic and a deep recession, told state radio that Hungary was a tolerant country when it comes to homosexuality, but there is a red line that should not be crossed leave our children alone.     In a speech over the weekend, he returned to the issue.     There is a growing debate around us, a struggle almost at daggers drawn, about the future of our children.    What influences should they be under?How should they relate to their families, to Hungarian identity, and even to the sex they have been born into?
    A government spokesman declined to say if the government was planning any legal changes.    In a reply to Reuters questions he said: We have said all we wanted with relation to this issue.
    The book sold out fast after a lawmaker from the far-right Our Homeland party tore a copy apart and shredded it at a news conference.    On Friday, a new edition came out in print.
    Several actors have volunteered to take part in a podcast, and the support they received was encouraging, Nagy said.    But a widening divide in society around the issue could make lives of LGBT+ people harder, he said.
    It takes years for everyone to accept their indentity which is a stigma in Hungaryespecially if you grow up in the countryside or in a religious family, he said.
    This book was a little bit also self-therapy for me.
    Nagy came out when he was 30 and he was able to openly talk about being gay at work.    Living in a stable relationship for six years, he and his partner want to adopt a child.
    This is only possible in Hungary for gay couples if one of them applies as a single person as Hungary does not allow gay marriage.
    Having been on the waiting list for two years, they had high hopes.    These were dampened on Oct. 5 when the government tweaked legislation, saying that for each child, a married couple should first be searched nationwide.    The civil law already says married couples should enjoy priority in adoption.
    We thought we would have a child by Christmastheoretically single people and gay people can still adopt a child, but this will be a much longer process, Nagy said.
(Writing by Krisztina Than; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

10/20/2020 Pope Wears Mask For First Time At Public Event by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I wearing face masks arrive for an inter-religious prayer service

for peace along with other religious representatives in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli, a church on top of Rome's Capitoline Hill, in Rome, Italy, October 20, 2020. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane
    ROME (Reuters) Pope Francis wore a mask for the first time at a public function on Tuesday when he and other religious leaders attended a prayer service for peace around the world.
    The pope wore a white mask during the service at the Rome Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli.    Previously he wore masks only in a car taking him to his weekly audiences in the Vatican.
    He had come under some criticism, particularly on social media, for not wearing a mask at his general audiences and sometimes coming in relatively close contact with visitors.
    Francis, 83, attended the service with other Christian leaders in the basilica, including the Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians.
    Simultaneously in other locations in Rome, Jews were praying in the citys synagogue and Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu and Muslim leaders also prayed for peace.
    The event took place as the number of people who have tested positive for the coronavirus has risen steadily in Italy in the past few weeks.    Italy recorded 10,874 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, up from 9,338 on Monday.
    There has also been a relatively small spike in the Vatican, where four members of the Swiss Guards, the elite and colourfully dressed corps that protects the pope, have also tested positive for COVID-19.
    The annual event was started by the late Pope John Paul and Romes Catholic Community of Sant Egido in 1986.    It was scaled down this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
    The pope took off his mask while he read his address, as did other leaders when they spoke, but put it back on when he finished speaking.
    The event continued in the adjacent Campidoglio square designed by Michelangelo, where both Christian and non-Christian religious leaders read addresses, some with messages to politicians.
    Peace is the priority of all politics, Francis said.    God will ask an accounting of those who failed to seek peace, or who fomented tensions and conflicts.    He will call them to account for all the days, months and years of war endured by the worlds peoples.
    Francis said the pandemic had shown that no one is saved alone.
    Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual leader of the worlds Anglicans, was to have attended the event but could not because of COVID-19 restrictions.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Mike Collett-White and Alex Richardson)

10/21/2020 Same-sex marriage litigants team up - Both fear effect of Barretts confirmation by Elinor Aspegren, USA TODAY
    Two names will be remembered as on opposing sides in the case that made same-sex marriage equality the law of the land.
    But to each other, they are just Jim and Rick.
    Jim Obergefell became a civil rights activist after the landmark 2015 case bearing his name as the plaintiff.    He and the man on the other side of the v, Richard Hodges, former director of the Ohio Department of Health, have developed a friendship.
    It is awfully fun to surprise people when they find out were friends, Obergefell said.
    More surprising: They share the same commitment to equal rights for all, Hodges said.
    The two litigants teamed up again Tuesday with an urgent message: That the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court is rushed and its very threatening to the LGBTQ community.
    Although they have previously discussed their experiences with the landmark case and their resulting friendship, before this week the two had never actively lobbied for a cause together.
    But Barretts confirmation threatens the very rights he fought for, Obergefell said, and it was time to speak up.
    The fear is very real that marriage rights could be dismantled, Obergefell said in an exclusive interview with USA TODAY before a press conference announcing their opposition to Barretts nomination.    It is very realistic for us to be concerned about what could happen to our right to marry or our families.
    Hodges told USA TODAY that in the 2015 case, he had a duty to defend the Ohio constitution, which barred his agency from acknowledging same-sex married couples.
    But the defense of equal rights is a cause worth fighting for, he said, and he supports marriage equality.
        Of bigger concern to him, however, is that the Senate cant come together to protect people who are suffering from the coronavirus, but we can push a Supreme Court nominee through in record time.
    Recently, the Supreme Court has defended the advancement of LGBTQ rights.    But Obergefell worries that Barretts confirmation could change that.
    Barrett, President Donald Trumps pick to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has given lectures to Alliance Defending Freedom, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated an anti-LGBTQ hate group.    Twenty-seven LGBTQ organizations opposed her confirmation to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017.
    Obergefell pointed to Barretts questioning of whether key rights protections include LGBTQ Americans.
    At a 2016 lecture at Jacksonville University, Barrett said it would strain the text of Title IX to allow transgender people to use public restrooms that match their genders, categorizing trans women as males.
    The high court ruled in June that that same law, which bars sex discrimination in the workplace, applies to gay, lesbian and transgender workers.
    While Obergefell doesnt think that marriage equality legalization will be reversed in the court, he worries that Barretts nomination will mean the rights and responsibilities that come with marriage could be chipped away.
    This disintegration could mean further erosion of protections in employment, education, housing, credit and more for the LGBTQ community, he said.
Contributing: Richard Wolf, USA TODAY; Kate Sosin, the 19th

I put this image here to let you know that your president has got your back and is not afraid to show America the Bible and I bet the Anti-Christians eyes are burning like a vampire in sunlight.

10/20/2020 Tiffany Trump Speaks To LGBTQ Voters At Fla. Rally by OAN Newsroom
Tiffany Trump, daughter of President Donald Trump, pre-records her address to the Republican National Convention. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
    Tiffany Trump hosted a Trump Pride rally in Tampa, Fla. on Saturday, where she urged attendees to re-elect her father.
    Former National Intelligence Director Richard Grenell also spoke at the event, where he slammed vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris for being the queen bee of cancel culture.
    President Trumps youngest daughter told audience members that despite criticism and lies alleged from the left, the President has continued to support members in the LGBTQ community.
    I have friends of mine who reach out and they sayhow would you support your father, we know you, we know your friends are gay, said Tiffany Trump.    I say its because my father has always supported all of youhes never done it for politics, hes never doing it politics.
    She went on to highlight President Trumps efforts to decriminalize homosexuality, which is illegal in 69 countries.

10/21/2020 Australian Police Probe Alleged Vatican Funds Transfer Amid Pell Trial by Sonali Paul
FILE PHOTO: Cardinal George Pell is seen during a private audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican,
October 12, 2020, in this still image taken from a video. Vatican Media/ Handout via REUTERS
    MELBOURNE (Reuters) Australian police are investigating the alleged transfer of Vatican funds to Australia amid the prosecution of former Vatican treasurer George Pell for child sex abuse and have referred the matter to an anti-corruption body.
    The Australian Federal Police (AFP) confirmed on Wednesday they have received information from Australias financial crimes watchdog.
    The AFP is undertaking a review of the relevant information, the police said in emailed comments.
    The AFP said it had also referred some aspects of the matter to the Victorian Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC), which investigates misconduct by state police.
    Police in the state of Victoria in 2017 laid several charges against Pell involving historical child sexual offences, but only one case, involving two former choirboys, went to trial in 2018.
    Italian media recently reported that Pells Vatican nemesis, Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu, sent 700,000 euros ($828,100) to Australia to help Pells enemies while he was facing sexual assault charges.    Beccius lawyer has denied the reports.
    The head of the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) told a Senate committee on Tuesday that the agency had probed the allegations and given information to the AFP and Victoria police.
    I can confirm AUSTRAC has looked into the matter and weve provided information to the AFP and to Victoria Police, AUSTRAC Chief Executive Nicole Rose told a Senate Estimates committee hearing on Tuesday, when asked whether it had investigated the alleged Vatican funds transfer.
    Victoria Police had no comment on the matter on Wednesday.
    Pell was acquitted by Australias High Court in April after serving 13 months in jail on charges he assaulted two choirboys.    His lawyer said the Italian media reports on the alleged transfer of Vatican funds must be probed.
    If one is to give any credence to what has been alleged, then it is critical that all proper money tracing exercises be undertaken, Pells lawyer, Robert Richter, told Reuters on Oct. 5.
    Italian media have reported that the alleged wire transfer may have been used to buy the accusers in Pells trial.    Only one of those is alive.
    Pells accuser in the sexual assault case said through his lawyer that he has no knowledge of any payments allegedly made by the Vatican to Australia.
    His lawyer, Viv Waller, also said she had no knowledge of any payments nor any investigation into alleged payments.
    I have not been contacted by Victoria Police, the Australian Federal Police or AUSTRAC, Waller said in emailed comments.
    When Pell was economy minister, in charge of overhauling the Vaticans finances, he ran into strong opposition from Becciu, who was number two in the Vaticans Secretariat of State.
    The Pope fired Becciu on accusations of embezzlement and nepotism in September.    Becciu has denied all wrongdoing.
    After Becciu was sacked, Pell said: The Holy Father was elected to clean up Vatican finances.    He plays a long game and is to be thanked and congratulated on recent developments.
    Pell returned to Rome on Sept. 30 for the first time since 2017.    He held a meeting with the Pope on Oct. 12.
($1 = 0.8453 euros)
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Michael Perry)

    The Liberals have made it a strong point to push homosexuality and transgenderism on the youth; and the schools, psychiatrists, psychologists, physicians and legislators are all involved in promoting lifestyles that generally cant procreate.    It is a depopulation agenda, and it is satanic.
    You shall not lie with a male, as with a woman; it is an abomination Leviticus 18:22.
    Do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God?    Be not deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate (transgender man to woman), nor abusers of themselves with mankind (homosexuals) 1 Corinthians 6:9.
    The following articles let you know the times that we are in as we see the Scarlet Woman is definitely riding on the back of the Beast.
10/21/2020 Pope Says Same-Sex Couples Should Be Covered By Civil Union Laws by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis wearing a face mask attends an inter-religious prayer service for peace along with other religious representatives in the Basilica of
Santa Maria in Aracoeli, a church on top of Rome's Capitoline Hill, in Rome, Italy, October 20, 2020. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane
    ROME (Reuters) Pope Francis has said that same-sex couples should be protected by civil union laws in some of the clearest language he has used on the rights of gay people since his election seven years ago.
    He made his comments in a new documentary Francesco by Oscar-nominated director Evgeny Afineevsky that was released on Wednesday.
    Homosexual people have a right to be in a family.    They are children of God and have a right to a family.    Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it, he said.
    What we have to create is a civil union law.    That way they are legally covered.    I stood up for that, he said.
    The pope appeared to be referring to when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires and opposed legislation to approve same-sex marriages but supported some kind of legal protection for the rights of gay couples.
    The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual tendencies are not sinful but homosexual acts are.    It teaches that homosexuals should be treated with dignity but is opposed to gay marriage.
    Papal biographer Austen Ivereigh told Reuters that the popes comments in the film were some of the clearest language the pontiff has used on the subject since his election in 2013.
    Pope Francis clear and public support for same-sex civil unions marks a new stage in the churchs relationship with LGBTQ people, said Father James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author of Building a Bridge, a book about Catholic ministry to homosexuals.
    It shows his overall pastoral approach to LGBTQ people, including those who are Catholic, and sends a clear message to those bishops and Church leaders who have opposed such laws, Martin told Reuters.
    A spokesman for United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who is a devout Catholic, described the popes remarks as a very positive move.
    The Secretary-General has spoken out very forcefully against homophobia in favor of LGBTQ rights, that people should never be persecuted or discriminated against just for who they love, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
    The pope, who early in his papacy made the now-famous Who am I to judge? remark about homosexuals trying to live a Christian life, spoke in a section of the film about Andrea Rubera, a gay man who with his partner adopted three children.
    Rubera says in the film that he went to a morning Mass the pope said in his Vatican residence and gave him a letter explaining his situation.
    He told the pope that he and his partner wanted to bring the children up as Catholics in the local parish but did not want to cause any trauma for the children.    It was not clear in which country Rubera lives.
    Rubera said the pope telephoned him several days later, telling him he thought the letter was beautiful and urging the couple to introduce their children to the parish but to be ready for opposition.
    His message and his advice was really useful because we did exactly what he told us.    Its the third year that they (the children) are on a spiritual path in the parish, Rubera says in the film.
    He didnt mention what was his opinion about my family so (I think) he is following the doctrine on this point but the attitude towards people has massively changed, he said.
    In the United States, Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the countrys largest LGBTQ civil rights organization, said in a statement on Wednesday:
    Many members of the LGBTQ community have had difficulty engaging with places of worship because they have not been accepting of LGBTQ people.    We are hopeful that this is another in a line of many actions toward full inclusion and acceptance for LGBTQ people in Catholicism, and in all faiths.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Gareth Jones and Giles Elgood)

10/22/2020 Francis endorses same-sex civil unions by Nicole Winfield, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    ROME Pope Francis became the first pontiff to endorse same-sex civil unions in comments for a documentary that premiered Wednesday, sparking cheers from gay Catholics and demands for clarification from conservatives, given the Vaticans official teaching on the issue.
    The papal thumbs-up came midway through the feature-length documentary Francesco, which premiered at the Rome Film Festival.    The film features fresh interviews with the pope.
    Homosexual people have the right to be in a family.    They are children of God, Francis said in one of his sitdown interviews for the film.    You cant kick someone out of a family, nor make their life miserable for this. What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered.
    While serving as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Francis endorsed civil unions for gay couples as an alternative to same-sex marriages.    However, he had never come out publicly in favor of civil unions as pope, and no pontiff before him had, either.
    Catholic teaching says gays must be treated with dignity and respect but that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.
    A 2003 document from the Vaticans doctrine office stated the churchs respect for gays cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behavior or to legal recognition of homosexual unions.

10/22/2020 Pontiff endorses same-sex civil unions - Homosexual people are children of God, he says by ASSOCIATED PRESS
    ROME Pope Francis endorsed same-sex civil unions for the first time as pope while being interviewed for the feature-length documentary Francesco, which had its premiere at the Rome Film Festival on Wednesday.
    The papal thumbs up came midway through the film that delves into issues he cares about most, including the environment, poverty, migration, racial and income inequality, and the people most affected by discrimination.
    Homosexual people have the right to be in a family.    They are children of God, Francis said in one of his sit-down interviews for the film.    What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered.
    While serving as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Francis endorsed civil unions for gay couples as an alternative to same-sex marriages.    However, he had never come out publicly in favor of civil unions as pope.
    Director Evgeny Afineevsky had remarkable access to cardinals, the Vatican television archives and the pope himself.    He said he negotiated his way in through persistence, and deliveries of Argentine mate tea and Alfajores cookies that he got to the pope via some well-connected Argentines in Rome.
Pope Francis is cheered as he arrives for his weekly general audience at the Vatican. GREGORIO BORGIA/AP

10/22/2020 Venezuelas Maduro, Citing Pope, Asks Congress To Consider Same-Sex Marriage
FILE PHOTO: Revellers smile as they hold a giant rainbow during the gay pride parade in Caracas, Venezuela July 3, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso/File Photo
    CARACAS (Reuters) Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Thursday asked the countrys National Assembly to discuss same-sex marriage during its next term beginning in January, citing Pope Francis comments this week supporting civil unions for same-sex couples.
    The Popes comments were the clearest language yet he has used on the rights of gay people.    Gay marriage is not currently legal in heavily Roman Catholic Venezuela, despite laws or court decisions in other South American countries such as Argentina, Brazil and Colombia legalizing same-sex marriage.
    I have friends and acquaintances who are very happy with what the Pope said yesterday, Maduro said at an event with leaders of his ruling Socialist Party ahead of legislative elections scheduled for Dec. 6.    I will leave that task, the task of LGBT marriage, to the next National Assembly.
    The National Assembly is currently under opposition control.    The opposition has vowed to boycott the vote, arguing Maduro plans to rig it in his partys favor.
(Reporting by Mayela Armas in Caracas and Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

10/23/2020 US support for same-sex marriage at all-time high by Ndea Yancey-Bragg USA TODAY
    The percentage of Americans who support same-sex marriage has reached an all-time high, according to a national poll released Monday.
    The survey, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with the Brookings Institution, found 70% of Americans favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally.    The majority of political and religious groups surveyed also expressed support for same-sex marriage.
    Eighty percent of Democrats, 76% of independents and half of Republicans support marriage equality, according to the survey from the nonprofit, nonpartisan research organizations.
    Most major religious groups followed the same trend, including 90% of religiously unaffiliated Americans, 79% of white mainline Protestants, 78% of Hispanic Catholics, 72% of members of non-Christian religious groups, 68% of Hispanic Protestants, 67% of white Catholics, 57% of Black Protestants and 56% of members of other Christian religious groups.
    White evangelical Protestants were the only major religious group in which a majority (63%) opposes allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry.
    The survey findings were published before news broke Wednesday that Pope Francis endorsed same-sex civil unions, sparking cheers from gay Catholics and demands for clarification from conservatives, given the Vaticans official teaching on the issue.
    More than 8 in 10 Americans favor laws that would protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people against discrimination in jobs, public accommodations and housing.    Majorities of every political and religious group favor these nondiscrimination laws.
    President Donald Trump has restricted transgender people from serving in the military, opposed the Equality Act a bill that would have ensured federal protections for LGBTQ people and revoked protections for transgender students in schools.
    The results also come ahead of the Senate vote to confirm Trumps nominee Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, a move which advocates view as threatening to the LGBTQ community.
    The results are part of the 11th annual American Values survey, which polled 2,538 American adults from Sept. 9 to 22 on a variety of topics.    Although respondents largely agreed on issues of LGBT rights, the survey found supporters of different presidential candidates largely disagree on other major issues, including the coronavirus pandemic and the widespread racial justice protests.
    Republicans and Democrats seem to be living in different countries, PRRI founder Robert P. Jones said in a statement.    Republicans see terrorism and crime as the most pressing issues while Democrats are more concerned about the coronavirus pandemic, health care and racial inequality.
Contributing: The Associated Press; Joshua Bote, USA TODAY
Jasmine Smith marches down Market Street during the LGBTQ Pride Parade in Philadelphia last year. The parade honored
the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots and the beginning of the LGBTQ rights movement. JOSE F. MORENO/AP

10/23/2020 Polish Court Ruling Amounts To Almost Total Ban On Abortion by Joanna Plucinska and Alicja Ptak
People protest against imposing further restrictions on abortion law in Poland in front of the Constitutional Court
building in Warsaw, Poland October 22, 2020. Jacek Marczewski/Agencja Gazeta via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS
    WARSAW (Reuters) Protests gathered across Poland after the Constitutional Tribunal ruled on Thursday that abortion due to foetal defects was unconstitutional, banning the most common of the few legal grounds for ending a pregnancy in the largely Catholic country.
    After the ruling goes into effect, abortion will only be permissible in Poland in the case of rape, incest or a threat to the mothers health and life, which make up only about 2% of legal terminations conducted in recent years.
    The development pushes Poland further away from the European mainstream, as the only EU country apart from tiny Malta to severely restrict access to abortion.
    (A provision which) legalises eugenic practices in the field of the right to life of an unborn child and makes the right to life of an unborn child dependent on his or her health is inconsistent with the constitution, said Julia Przylebska, Head of the Constitutional Tribunal.
    Hundreds marched toward the house of governing party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski on Thursday night after the ruling, some carrying candles and signs that read torture.    Most wore face masks to comply with coronavirus pandemic restrictions.
    Police in riot gear had cordoned off the house.    The Warsaw Police said on Twitter that it reacted with pepper spray and physical force after protesters threw stones and tried to push through the police line.
    Small protests also took place in the cities of Krakow, Lodz and Szczecin.
    Its sick that such controversial things are being decided at a time when the entire society lives in fear (of the pandemic) and is afraid to go into the streets, said Marianna Dobkowska, 41.
    Protests in Warsaw dispersed very early on Friday, with activists calling for further gatherings that upcoming evening.
    Conservative values have played a growing role in public life in Poland since the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party came into power five years ago on a promise to defend what it sees as the nations traditional, Catholic character.
    Curbing access to abortion has been a long-standing ambition of the party, but it has stepped back from previous legislative proposals amid widespread public backlash.
    A group of right-wing lawmakers asked the Tribunal in December 2019 to rule on the legality of aborting when there is serious, irreversible damage to the foetus.
    Today Poland is an example for Europe, its an example for the world, said Kaja Godek, a member of the Stop Abortion public initiative, a separate group.
    Womens rights and opposition groups reacted with dismay.
    The worst-case scenario that could have come true has come true.    It is a devastating sentence that will destroy the lives of many women and many families, said lawyer Kamila Ferenc who works with an NGO helping women denied abortion.
    It will especially force the poor to give birth to children against their will.    Either they have no chance of surviving, or they have no chance of an independent existence, or they will die shortly after giving birth.
    Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic called it a sad day for womens rights.
    Removing the basis for almost all legal abortions in Poland amounts to a ban and violates human rights.    Todays ruling of the Constitutional Court means underground/abroad abortions for those who can afford and even greater ordeal for all others.
    Opponents say the Constitutional Tribunal may have acted on the ruling partys behalf.    While the Tribunal is nominally independent, most of its judges have been nominated by PiS, some to replace candidates picked by the opposition but whose appointment was refused by President Andrzej Duda, a party ally.
    To throw in the subject of abortion and produce a ruling by a pseudo-tribunal in the middle of a raging pandemic is more than cynicism. It is political wickedness, said Donald Tusk, head of the main centre-right group in the European Parliament and a former prime minister of Poland.
    PiS denies trying to influence the court or taking advantage of the pandemic to push through the changes.    Its justice reforms which included the Tribunal have attracted wide international accusations of undermining democratic norms.
    Abortion rights activists say access to the procedure was often declined in recent years in Poland even in cases when it would be legal.
    Many doctors in Poland, which already had some of the strictest abortion rules in Europe, exercise their legal right to refuse to terminate pregnancies on religious grounds.    Some say they are pressured into doing so by their superiors.
    Maria Kurowska, a lawmaker with United Poland, a party in the ruling coalition with Law and Justice said: We are glad with what the Constitutional Tribunal ruled because one cannot kill a child for being sick.    This is not a foetus, it is a child.
(Reporting by Gosia Wojtunik, Kuba Stezycki, Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk, Anna Koper; Writing by Marcin Goclowski, Joanna Plucinska and Justyna Pawlak; Editing by Alexandra Hudson, Sonya Hepinstall and Gerry Doyle)

10/23/2020 Polish Police Detain 15 People After Protests Over Abortion Ruling
Police block a road as people protest against imposing further restrictions on abortion law in Poland near the
Constitutional Court building in Warsaw, Poland October 22, 2020. Jedrzej Nowicki/Agencja Gazeta via REUTERS
    WARSAW (Reuters) Polish police detained 15 people after protests in Warsaw late on Thursday against a near-total ban on abortion, a police spokesman said on Friday.
    Polands Constitutional Tribunal ruled on Thursday that abortion due to foetal defects was unconstitutional, banning the most common of the few legal grounds for ending a pregnancy in the largely Catholic country.
(Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko and Marcin Goclowski; Editing by Gareth Jones)

10/23/2020 Polands top court rules out abortions because of fetal defects
    WARSAW, Poland Polands top court ruled Thursday that a law allowing abortion of fetuses with congenital defects is unconstitutional, shutting a major loophole in the predominantly Catholic countrys abortion laws.    Two judges in the 13-member Constitutional Court did not back the majority ruling.    The Council of Europes human rights commissioner wrote on Twitter that it was a sad day for womens rights.    The court argued that ending pregnancy due to defects amounted to eugenics a 19th century genetic selection theory.

10/23/2020 Victoria Police Not Investigating Vatican Money Transfers To Australia
FILE PHOTO: Former Vatican economy minister George Pell arrives at Rome's Fiumicino Airport after travelling for the first time
since his acquittal on child sex abuse charges in Australia, September 30, 2020. REUTERS/Alberto Lingria/File Photo
    SYDNEY (Reuters) Police in the Australian state of Victoria said they were not conducting any further investigation into a transfer of monies from the Vatican to Australia that they were alerted to by the financial crimes watchdog.
    Victoria Police said in a statement that the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) had made them aware of transfer of monies from the Vatican over a period of time to Australia, but had not advised them of any suspicious activity related to the transactions.     In the absence of any other evidence or intelligence Victoria Police has noted the advice from AUSTRAC.    We are not at this time conducting any further investigation.
    Earlier this week, the head of AUSTRAC told a Senate committee the agency had probed the allegations that Vatican funds were transferred to Australia amid the prosecution of former Vatican treasurer George Pell for child sex abuse, and had given information to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Victoria police.
    The AFP said on Wednesday it was reviewing the information.
    Italian media recently reported that Pells Vatican nemesis, Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu, sent 700,000 euros ($828,100) to Australia to help Pells enemies while Pell was facing sexual assault charges.    Beccius lawyer has denied the reports.
    Pell was acquitted by Australias High Court in April after serving 13 months in jail on charges he assaulted two choirboys.    His lawyer said the Italian media reports on the alleged transfer of Vatican funds must be probed.
(Reporting by John Mair)

10/23/2020 Colo. Churches Win Lawsuit Against COVID-19 Restrictions by OAN Newsroom
Photo courtesy of Denver7
    U.S. District Court Judge Daniel D. Domenico has ruled in favor of two Colorado churches fighting Covid-19 restrictions.    On Thursday, the court handed down the decision and permitted two churches to congregate in greater numbers and without masks.
    The ruling allows the Denver Bible Church and Community Baptist Church in Brighton, Colo. to gather without restrictions.
    Both churches had filed lawsuits against the state for trying to limit religious gatherings while other more secular gatherings were allowed.    Church leaders have said they are thankful for the victory and for the opportunity to worship unrestricted.
    We were so thankful that a federal court would recognize our God-given right to worship him, Pastor Bob Enyart of Denver Bible Church noted.    We can actually singand we can gather.
    Meanwhile, state officials have said they appealed the decision and will take it to a higher court.    Once the appeals case is fully resolved, other churches may be able to follow the precedent set in the case.

10/24/2020 Archbishop Pizzaballa Appointed Jerusalem Patriarch
FILE PHOTO: Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem,
holds a masks as he enters the Church of the Holy Sepulchre before the start of the Easter Sunday service amid
the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Jerusalem's Old City April 12, 2020. REUTERS/Ammar Awad/File Photo
    JERUSALEM (Reuters) Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Vaticans apostolic administrator in the Holy Land, has been named as the new Patriarch of Jerusalem by Pope Francis.
    Pizzaballa, 55, a Franciscan friar, has served as the acting Patriarch for four years and has steered the diocese through a financial crisis and the coronavirus pandemic, when the churches at the birthplace of Christianity were closed throughout its holiest season, Easter.
    In ordinary years, the Holy Land would be preparing for an influx of pilgrims over Christmas but the outbreak has dealt a heavy blow to tourism in Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Nazareth, home to some of its most famous churches.
    We must not be discouraged, Pizzaballa said in a statement on Saturday confirming his appointment.
    Together with the many problems, we also have the resources, the desire and the strength to look forward with confidence, capable of living the ambiguity of this time with Christian hope.
    The diocese covers Israel and the Palestinian territories as well as Jordan and Cyprus, a region which is home to an estimated 300,000 Roman Catholics.
    According to the Catholic News Agency, when Pizzaballa, from Cologno al Serio, Bergamo, in Italy, was appointed apostolic administrator in 2016 one of his most pressing priorities was to rearrange the Patriarchates financial administration as it had amassed debts totalling more than $100 million.
(Reporting by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Stephen Farrell and Alison Williams)


10/25/2020 Pope Names New Cardinals, Putting His Stamp On Churchs Future by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis waves his hand during the Angelus prayer held from a window at Saint Peter's Square, Vatican, October 25, 2020. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Pope Francis, leaving his mark on the Roman Catholic Church into the future, named 13 cardinals from eight countries on Sunday, including nine who are eligible to enter a conclave to elect his successor after his death or resignation.
    The nine new cardinal electors, whom the pope listed in a surprise announcement while addressing pilgrims from his window overlooking St. Peters Square, include Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington D.C.
    Gregory, who will become the first African-American to hold the rank, has become a national figure in recent months.    He has called for dialogue to ease racial tensions in the United States following the death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police in May
    He has also indirectly clashed with U.S. President Donald Trump last June when he said he found it baffling and reprehensible a Catholic Church in Washington allowed Trump to use the facility for a photo opportunity.    Trump supporters later denounced Gregory.
    The 13 new cardinals will be elevated to the high rank at a ceremony known as a consistory at the Vatican on Nov. 28, and the selection of more cardinal electors increases the possibility that the next pope will be someone who will continue Francis policies.
    Francis has now appointed about 57% of cardinal electors, whose number rises to about 128 with the naming of the new cardinals. The others were appointed by Francis two more conservative predecessors, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II.     Church rules usually limit the number of cardinal electors to 120 but popes have bent that limit by naming more, factoring in that some will turn 80 in the coming year.
    The nine new electors come from Italy, Malta, Rwanda, the United States, the Philippines, Chile, Brunei and Mexico.
    Two of the new cardinals, Archbishop Antoine Kambanda of Kigali, Rwanda, and Bishop Cornelius Sim of Brunei appear to be part of Francis policy of giving more prestige to the Church in far-flung places, often where Catholics are a tiny minority.
    His elevation of Archbishop Celestino Aos Braco of Chile to the rank of cardinal is significant because it is part of Francis attempt to heal the country still reeling from a sexual abuse crisis
    The new cardinals predecessor as archbishop of Santiago, Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, was the highest-ranking member of the Chilean Church to be caught up in the scandal.
    The appointment of Aos Braco was particularly stinging to Chileans because he is Spanish and not a native, signalling the popes conviction that an outsider was needed to clean up the situation.
    The four non-electors, who will not be allowed to enter a conclave because they are over the age of 80, are being elevated to the high rank because of their long service to the Church.    They come from Italy and Mexico.
    They include Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, an Italian who has worked around the world and is one of the Churchs top experts on immigration.
    The nine new cardinal electors under the age of 80 are:
Archbishop Mario Grech, 63, Maltese, Vatican-based Secretary of the Synod of Bishops.
Archbishop Marcello Semeraro,73, Italian, prefect of the Vaticans Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
Antoine Kambanda, Rwandan, 61,Archbishop of Kigali.
Wilton D. Gregory, American, 72, Archbishop of Washington D.C.
Jose F. Advincula, 68, Filipino, Archbishop of Capiz.
Celestino Aos Braco, 75, Spanish, archbishop of Santiago, Chile.
Archbishop Cornelius Sim, 69, Brunei, apostolic vicar of Brunei
Augusto Paolo Lojudice, 56, Italian, archbishop of Siena, Italy.
Father Mauro Gambetti, 54, Italian, custodian of the Franciscan convent of St. Francis in Assisi.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Catherine Evans, Susan Fenton and Nick Macfie)
[While the Pope is hiding in his papal tower he selected Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington D.C, who is most likely DEEP STATE Critter and the first African-American to hold the rank, has become a national figure in recent months calling for dialogue to ease racial tensions in the United States following the death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police in May, so he is very liberal gained his post because he clashed with U.S. President Donald Trump last June when he said he found it baffling and reprehensible a Catholic Church in Washington allowed Trump to use the facility for a photo opportunity and Trump supporters denounced Gregory because Trump did not do anything wrong and was holding up a bible.]

I put this image here to let you know that your president has got your back and is not afraid to show America the Bible and I bet the Anti-Christians eyes are burning like a vampire in sunlight.

10/26/2020 Polish Protesters Disrupt Church Services Over Near-Total Abortion Ban by Alicja Ptak and Kuba Stezycki
Demonstrators hold a protest against the ruling by Poland's Constitutional Tribunal that imposes a near-total
ban on abortion, in Krakow, Poland October 25, 2020. Jakub Porzycki/Agencja Gazeta via REUTERS
    WARSAW (Reuters) Thousands of activists disrupted church services across Poland on Sunday, chanting during mass and spraying slogans on walls to protest against a court ruling that amounts to a near-total ban on abortion.
    In the first large-scale demonstrations directly targeting churches in the predominately Catholic country, crowds carried posters depicting a crucified pregnant woman and handed out protest cards to priests.
    A Constitutional Court decision outlawing abortions due to foetal defects has now triggered four days of demonstrations.
    The ruling ended the most common of the few legal grounds left for abortion in Poland and set the country further apart from the European mainstream.
    In southern city of Katowice, a 7,000-strong crowd of mostly women gathered in front of the cathedral, chanting this is war and human law, not ecclesiastical law.    State news agency PAP said police used tear gas after officers were attacked.
    Three dozen protesters interrupted a mass in the western city of Poznan, chanting we are sick of this and holding banners with slogans including Catholic women also need their right to abortion in front of the altar.
    Our rage should be directed towards politicians, but also towards senior church figures as they have also added to this womens hell that the authorities are preparing, said Mateusz Sulwinski, one of the protest organizers in Poznan.
    The leaders of the protests have accused Polands conservative ruling party, Law and Justice (PiS), of pressing the court to tighten restrictions to appeal to the partys base and to please the influential Church.    The party denies that.
    Church leaders have also denied wielding political power.
    The Church does not constitute the law in our homeland and these are not the bishops who decide on the compliance or non-compliance of laws with the Polish Constitution, Polish archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki said in a statement.
    However, the Church cannot stop defending life, nor can it abandon the proclamation that every human being must be protected from conception until natural death.
    A spokesman for the government could not be reached for comment.
    In Krakow, protesters hung black underwear and clothes on lines between trees a reference to early protests against tightening of abortion restrictions where people wore black to show their support.
    In Warsaw protesters sprayed abortion without borders on one church, according to state news agency PAP.    At another church you have blood on your hands was daubed on the wall.
    Some people give priests cards with a bolt symbol symbolising their protest instead of the traditional donation during mass.
    Im here today because it annoys me that in a secular country the church decides for me what rights I have, what I can do and what Im not allowed to do, said media worker Julia Miotk, 26, protesting in front of a church in Warsaw.
    The protests started on Thursday despite bans on gatherings of more than five people imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19.
    Activists said they were planning more protests on Monday afternoon.
(Reporting by Alicja Ptak, Kuba Stezycki, Gosia Wojtunik and Marcin Goclowski; Editing by Alison Williams and Andrew Heavens)

10/26/2020 Abortion Rights Protests Block City Streets Across Poland by Joanna Plucinska and Anna Koper
People protest against the ruling by Poland's Constitutional Tribunal that imposes a near-total
ban on abortion, in Warsaw, Poland October 26, 2020. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
    WARSAW (Reuters) Thousands of Poles blocked city streets in cars, on bicycles and on foot on Monday on the fifth day of protests against a Constitutional Court ruling that amounts to a near-total ban on abortion in the predominantly Catholic nation.
    Carrying banners reading Enough, I wont be your martyr and I want choice, not terror, protesters gathered in several dozens towns and cities in defiance of coronavirus restrictions.
    Women are strong, said Malgorzata Rutkowska, 56, standing in one of Warsaws main thoroughfares, saying the protests would continue until the ban was reversed.
    The court ruling last Thursday fuelled an unprecedented backlash against the powerful Roman Catholic Church in Poland, which is seen as having close links with the conservative nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) government.
    It has also heightened criticism of PiS, which came to power five years ago on a promise to instil more traditional values.
    After the ruling goes into effect, abortion will be banned in the case of foetal abnormalities.    It will be legal only in the case of rape, incest or a threat to the womans health.
    Critics say the court has acted on behalf of the party, which has in the past stepped back from efforts to tighten abortion rules amid public outcry. PiS denies that.
    The tribunal has been part of the governments sweeping overhaul of the justice system which the European Commission says subverts the rule of law by politicising courts.
    The government has called for a halt to the protests because of a rising number of coronavirus cases overwhelming the health care system.
    Except for isolated scuffles with the police, however, the protests have been largely peaceful, and in some cases local media reported police expressing support.
    Whats happening in recent days is absolutely unacceptable, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawieckis chief of staff, Michal Dworczyk, told private radio RMF.    Pandemic rules are being broken.
    Poland recorded 10,241 new coronavirus cases on Monday, compared with a record of 13,632 on Friday.
    Parliament is due to discuss the impact of the court ruling on the governments aid programme for families with disabled children on Tuesday.
    Protests are expected to continue near the house of PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski in an affluent Warsaw neighbourhood.
(Additional reporting by Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk; Writing by Justyna Pawlak; editing by Nick Macfie)

10/27/2020 Pediatric hospital halts 2 intersex surgeries - Advocates hope decision spurs change by other sites, lawmakers by Shefali Luthra, The 19th
    This story was published in partnership with The 19th, a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom reporting on gender, politics and policy.
    A top pediatric hospital has agreed to stop performing certain types of genital surgeries on intersex children if they are too young to meaningfully consent a decision that activists say could be a watershed moment for intersex rights.
    A spokesperson for Boston Childrens Hospital told The 19th that it will not perform clitoroplasty or vaginoplasty in patients who are too young to participate in a meaningful discussion of the implications of these surgeries, unless anatomical differences threaten the physical health of the child.    The decision came from the hospitals behavioral health, endocrinology and urology program.
    Each year, about 1.7% of people are born intersex, or people with sexual or reproductive anatomy that doesnt neatly align into a binary of male or female.    Some people develop those anatomical traits in adolescence or childhood, while others are born with them.
    For decades, the standard medical protocol was to use surgery and hormonal therapy to try to change intersex childrens physical appearance.    Clitoroplasties, the surgical creation of a clitoris (which can involve reducing its size), and vaginoplasty, which involves constructing a vagina, are two such surgeries.    Activists have been protesting these practices for decades, and though legal worldwide they have been condemned by the United Nations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
    Boston Childrens decision could reflect a turning point, activists said. It comes on the heels of a similar move by the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Childrens Hospital of Chicago, which announced in July it would suspend such intersex surgeries.
    One hospital was cool, but people might be like, Oh, thats an anomaly.    Now that there are two hospitals, people in the community are going to feel more ability to pressure their hospitals to do the same, said Pidgeon Pagonis, co-founder of the Intersex Justice Project.
    Boston Childrens change isnt exhaustive.    The hospital has not indicated it will drop other intersex surgeries, including gonadectomies, which constitute the removal of certain reproductive glands, or phalloplasties, which enlarge penises.
    Vaginoplasties and cliteroctomies are very destructive, and its very welcome news, Pagonis said.    But it means theres still more work to do.
    There are a host of physical consequences to intersex surgeries: loss of sexual sensation, incontinence, fertility problems and pain during intercourse are just a few.    And beyond physical consequences, intersex surgeries can have lifelong pyschological impact.
    There are cases when surgery can provide benefits namely, if a child is unable to pass urine, said Sean Saifa Wall, another IJP co-founder.    But those arent the norm.    Broadly, a 2017 report authored by three former U.S. surgeons general noted little benefit to conducting genital surgery on children.
    The level of hypervigilance, of just trauma, the emotional and mental health trauma is lifelong, Wall said.    We can lessen the potential psychological and physical trauma.
    Wall said he hopes Bostons shift spurs change, not only from other hospitals, but from insurance companies and lawmakers as well, so that it is not incumbent on activists to pressure their individual medical providers.
Boston Childrens Hospital says it will no longer perform certain intersex surgeries
on children too young to consent, unless their health is in danger. AP FILE

10/27/2020 Nigerian Judge Throws Out Case Against 47 Men Facing Homosexuality Charge by Alexis Akwagyiram
Some of the men charged with public displays of affection with members of the same sex
sit inside a court in Lagos, Nigeria October 27, 2020. REUTERS/Temilade Adelaja
    LAGOS (Reuters) A judge in a Nigerian court on Tuesday threw out a case against 47 men charged with public displays of affection with members of same sex, ending what had widely been seen as a test of the countrys laws banning homosexual relationships.
    The Nigerian law banning gay marriage, punishable by up to 14 years in prison, and same-sex amorous relationships, prompted an international outcry when it came into force under former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2014.
    The men were arrested in a police raid on a Lagos hotel in the citys Egbeda district in 2018.    Police said the men were being initiated into a gay club, but the defendants said they were attending a birthday party.
    Prosecution and defence lawyers in the case had told Reuters nobody had yet been convicted under the law, which led to the case of the men being widely seen as a test case that could help to establish the burden of proof.
    Prosecutors failed to attend Tuesdays hearing at the federal high court in Lagos, having previously failed to present some of their witnesses in a case that had been adjourned on several occasions.
    Justice Rilwan Aikawa struck out the case and said he had done so due to the lack of diligent prosecution>.
    The specific charge the men faced, relating to public displays of affection, carries a 10-year prison sentence.
    Outside the court, many of the men smiled and cheered, including dancer James Brown who, smiling, said: I am free.    It means a lot of good things.
    Under Nigerian law, defendants in a case that is struck out can be re-arrested and arraigned again on the same charge, whereas that is not possible in cases that have been dismissed.
    Taxi driver Onyeka Oguaghamba, a father-of-four who said he merely drove people to the party, said he was happy the case had been struck out but disappointed that it was not dismissed entirely.
    I am not happy, because Im looking for the matter to end in a way that people will see me and believe what I have been saying from the beginning, he said, adding that the decision meant he could be charged again.
    Oguaghamba and others previously told Reuters they had been stigmatized as a result of the raid and a televised news conference held by police in which they were identified the day after their arrest.
    Chris Agiriga, another of the men, said the striking out of the case would not help him to be reconciled with his family who had rejected him over the matter.
    Since the past two years, this has caused a lot of damage in my life, he said.
    Emmanuel Sadi, a programme officer with rights group the Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERS), said the outcome of the case raised questions about the law used to charge the men.
    You cant even build a case around it, he said.    I hope they (the government) realise how redundant it is as a law, and they are open to removing or repealing it, he said.
    Homosexuality is outlawed in many socially conservative African societies where some religious groups brand it a corrupting Western import.    Gay sex is a crime in countries across the continent, with punishments ranging from imprisonment to death.
(Reporting by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Jon Boyle and Alexandra Hudson)
[I am glad to know there is a country that knows what a sin is and stands by it since it is not natural in nature but the legal system is the problem for God to judge not the people of Africa.].

10/28/2020 Pope Says Lady COVID Must Be Obeyed, Forgoes Mask by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis greets people as he leaves after the weekly general audience in Aula Paolo VI at the Vatican, October 28, 2020. REUTERS/Yara Nardi
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Pope Francis on Wednesday described the COVID-19 pandemic as a tough lady taskmaster who must be obeyed, but he and most close aides did not wear masks at his general audience.
    At the start of the indoor audience Francis apologised to people for not coming down from the marble stage.
    I will stay up here. I would very much like to come down and greet each of you but we have to keep our distances, he said to the crowd of several hundred, nearly all wearing masks.
    If I come down, immediately people will form groups and this is against the care, the precautions, we must have in the face of this lady named COVID, who is doing us much harm, he said.
    The pope and most aides and translators on the stage did not wear masks. Swiss Guards and official photographers on the stage wore masks but bishops and priests who greeted the pope close up removed their masks as they approached him.
    Thirteen Swiss Guards and a resident of the guest house where the pope lives have recently tested positive for COVID-19.
    The pope, who had part of one lung removed because of an illness when he was a young man, has come under fire, mostly on social media, for not always wearing a mask in public.
    On Oct. 20, he wore a mask for several hours at a prayer service in Rome with other religious leaders, taking it off only when he spoke.    Last Saturday, no-one in the popes private library wore a mask when he spoke with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and his delegation.
    In a video conference call with reporters on Tuesday, Father Augusto Zampini, a member of a Vatican commission the pope set up to advise him on the social effects of the crisis, acknowledged Francis inconsistency.
    We are trying to convince him, we are almost there, Zampini said.
(Editing by Janet Lawrence)
[Go back and hide in your papal tower because you are not Jesus Christ who would walk among the lepers and beggars to save them and you are probably in total fear that you got the coronavirus.]

10/282020 Police Warn Of Tougher Action As Thousands Join Abortion Protests In Poland by Alicja Ptak and Joanna Plucinska
Women hold a demonstration outside the Polish embassy in solidarity with protesters in Poland who are demonstrating against a court
ruling that further limits the country's highly restrictive abortion law, in Rome, Italy, October 28, 2020. REUTERS/Yara Nardi
    WARSAW (Reuters) Thousands took to the streets across Poland on Wednesday for the seventh day of protests against a court ruling that further limits the countrys highly restrictive abortion laws.
    Police warned demonstrators not to target churches again after some services were disrupted and buildings defaced in an earlier protest.
    Poland has been rocked by huge demonstrations, most of them peaceful, since its top court ruled last Thursday that abortion due to foetal abnormalities was not permissible under the constitution.
    The decision means only abortions due to incest, rape or a risk to the mothers health remain legal, setting predominantly Catholic Poland far apart from the European mainstream.
    Demonstrators have blamed the nationalist government of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and the Roman Catholic Church which has close ties to the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party for the court verdict.
    In a rare display of anger against the Church last Sunday, demonstrators in Warsaw, Poznan and Katowice disrupted church services and defaced church buildings.
    On Wednesday, organisers called for a nationwide walk-out for women at work. Some employers, including schools, announced a day off to allow people to join the protests.
    Chanting hypocrites, fanatics, thousands marched through central Warsaw, some carrying posters that read Revolution is a woman and Id rather stay home but I have a government to overthrow.
    In light of plans being announced by organisers for further acts of aggression and profanation, the police will take decisive action.    The goal of the police is to ensure public order and safety for all citizens, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
    It was not clear which group or plans the ministry was referring to. A mass demonstration is planned in Warsaw on Friday.
    The government denies influencing the court but the ruling follows five years of PiS efforts to instil more conservative values in public life in close cooperation with the Catholic Church.    It also comes after sweeping judiciary reforms the European Commission says have politicised courts and undermined democratic norms.
    More than 70% of Poles say they oppose the ruling, according to a survey published by the liberal Gazeta Wyborcza daily.
    Kamila Kobrynska, 35, who runs a professional training school for adults in Warsaw, joined businesses across Poland in closing up shop on>     We wont go bankrupt in one day.    This issue is so important, there is no discussion whether we work or protest.
    Supporters of the government were eager for the decision to be implemented.    An anti-abortion campaign group, Ordo Iuris, called for its inclusion in the official gazette so that it goes into effect.
    We believe that every day of delay is a day that we lose another childs life because of suspected flaws or genetic diseases, said director Karolina Pawlowska.
(Reporting by Warsaw bureau; Writing by Justyna Pawlak; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

10/29/2020 Three Dead As Woman Beheaded In Knife Attack At French Church by Eric Gaillard
    NICE, France (Reuters) A woman was beheaded by an attacker with a knife who also killed two other people at a church in the French city of Nice on Thursday, police said, in an incident the citys mayor described as terrorism.
    Mayor Christian Estrosi said on Twitter the knife attack had happened in or near the citys Notre Dame church and that police had detained the attacker.
    Police said three people were confirmed to have died in the attack and several were injured.
    A police source said a woman was decapitated.    French politician Marine Le Pen also spoke of a decapitation having occurred in the attack.
    The French anti-terrorist prosecutors department said it had been asked to investigate the attack.
    Reuters journalists at the scene said police armed with automatic weapons had put up a security cordon around the church, which is on Nices Jean Medecin avenue, the citys main shopping thoroughfare. Ambulances and fire service vehicles were also at the scene.
    The attack comes while France is still reeling from the beheading earlier this month of French middle school teacher Samuel Paty in Paris by a man of Chechen origin.
    The attacker had said he wanted to punish Paty for showing pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a civics lesson.
    It was not immediately clear what the motive was for the Nice attack, or if there was any connection to the cartoons, which Muslims consider to be blasphemous.
    Since Patys killing, French officials backed by many ordinary citizens have re-asserted the right to display the cartoons, and the images have been widely displayed at marches in solidarity with the killed>     That has prompted an outpouring of anger in parts of the Muslim world, with some governments accusing French leader Emmanuel Macron of pursuing an anti-Islam agenda.
(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Giles Elgood)
[A religion who approves beheading people is not a religion it is murder and anti-religious in anyones God.].

10/29/2020 Polish PM Urges End To Abortion Protests To Protect Elderly From Coronavirus by Marcin Goclowski and Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk
FILE PHOTO: People protest against the ruling by Poland's Constitutional Tribunal that imposes
a near-total ban on abortion, in Gdansk, Poland October 28, 2020. REUTERS/Jadwiga Figula
    WARSAW (Reuters) Polands Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki appealed to abortion rights activists on Thursday to halt mass protests, saying they would fuel more coronavirus infections and threaten the elderly.
    Tens of thousands of mostly young people have gathered across Poland since a top court ruling last week introduced a near total ban on abortion in the predominantly Catholic nation.
    Demonstrations have turned into an outpouring of anger against Morawieckis nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party, with protesters blaming it, and the powerful Roman Catholic Church, for the Constitutional Courts decision.
    Coronavirus infections have been rising sharply in Poland over the past weeks and on Thursday the total number of cases topped 300,000, tripling in under a month.    A daily record of more than 20,000 was recorded.
    I am appealing to those protesting. Please focus your anger on me, Morawiecki told a news conference.
    Issues of worldview are very important but lets (discuss them) in a way that doesnt also endanger our mothers and fathers, Morawiecki said, standing in a field hospital being built in Warsaws national stadium.
    The majority of protesters have worn face masks since demonstrations started last Thursday but the gatherings contravene pandemic restrictions that limit the number of people allowed to meet to five.
    Morawiecki sidestepped questions about whether his government would consider legislation that could soften the impact of the courts ruling.
    The court ruled that abortions due to foetal abnormalities, which make up the vast majority of terminations conducted in Poland legally, were not permissible under the constitution.
    After it goes into effect, women will be able to legally terminate a pregnancy only in the case of rape, incest or a threat to their health.    Abortion on demand has been illegal in Poland since 1997, when such terminations were banned by another ruling of the Constitutional Court.
    Opposition critics say Morawiecki is seeking to deflect blame for a struggling healthcare system, which has begun to buckle under the weight of COVID-19 patients.
    The government is focusing on politics instead of the pandemic.    It is fuelling social discontent, centrist Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski told a news conference.
    What I am hoping is that the prime minister take steps for the ruling not to go into effect.
    The government has said it will publish the verdict in its official legal journal, bringing it into force, by Nov. 2.
    Undoubtedly, this is a key moment for the ruling camp.    This is the biggest crisis in five years.    It is a test for authorities, PiS lawmaker Jan Maria Jackowski said.
    Doctors say the pandemic will likely accelerate next week following All Saints Day on Nov. 1 when millions of Poles traditionally visit cemeteries, and estimate that the number of reported infections is far below the reality.
    Morawiecki said the government would discuss any measures related to that on Friday but has so far refused to ban or curtail cemetery visits.
    There are 60 to 80 cars lining up in front of coronavirus drive-through testing centres.    The system is completely blocked, Pawel Grzesiowski, an immunologist, told private broadcaster TVN24.
    The abortion ruling follows five years of PiS efforts to instil more conservative values in public life.
    The education minister said on Thursday universities that have supported abortion rights protests by giving students time off could see their research funding cut.
    A mass protest in Warsaw is scheduled for Friday.
(Reporting by Marcin Goclowski, Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk, Agnieszka Barteczko, Anna Koper, and Pawel Florkiewicz; Writing by Justyna Pawlak; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

10/29/2020 Pope To Return To Virtual General Audiences Due To Participant COVID-19 Case
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis greets people as he arrives at Aula Paolo VI for the weekly
general audience at the Vatican, October 28, 2020. REUTERS/Yara Nardi/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Pope Francis weekly general audiences, which had resumed with the public participating, will be moved back indoors and held virtually after one participant tested positive for the coronavirus, the Vatican said on Thursday.
    A statement said the audiences will be held from the popes official private library, as they were during the height of the lockdown in Italy earlier this year.
    In recent weeks, the public was allowed to return to the audiences, held first in a Vatican courtyard and then in a Vatican auditorium.    But a participant at the Oct. 21 audience tested positive for the virus, the statement said, prompting the change.
    As of next Wednesday, Nov. 4, the audiences will go back to being held in the library in the Vaticans Apostolic Palace without public participation in order to avoid any eventual future risk to the health of the participants.
    The Vaticans decision coincides with a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in Italy.    Recently, 13 Swiss Guards and one person who lives in the residence that houses the pope tested positive for the coronavirus.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

10/30/2020 GLAAD finds many think LGBTQ rights are secure -Group says protections not all enshrined in law by Joshua Bote, USA TODAY
    As protections for LGBTQ people enter the domain of the United States highest court, the vast majority of non-LGBTQ Americans believe that discrimination against LGBTQ should be illegal.     The catch, according to GLAADs 2020 edition of its annual Accelerating Acceptance survey: An overwhelming number of Americans, regardless of sexuality or gender identity, believe LGBTQ people have federal protections against discrimination that are, in reality, not available to them.
    Part of this dissonance, GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis told USA TODAY, is that LGBTQ rights are largely being left out of the conversation.
    It wasnt in any of the debates, and it isnt being covered, she said, pointing out that the only time it was mentioned among the two presidential candidates was during a town hall by Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
    There is also this false narrative that marriage equality was the finish line that marriage gave us all the (same rights as) everybody else, she said.    Theres a whole host of other rights that were overshadowed by marriage equality.
    Among GLAADs findings:
    89% of non-LGBTQ respondents and 78% of LGBTQ respondents believe it is illegal to evict someone from housing because of their gender identity or sexual orientation; 91% of non-LGBTQ respondents believe it should be illegal.
    Dead before the groundbreaking Supreme Court decision in June to prohibit discrimination in the workplace for LGBTQ people.
    Still, in many spheres of life, LGBTQ people are not afforded the same privileges as their counterparts.    Ellis and many other LGBTQ advocates also fear the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court might further impede queer and trans people from obtaining necessary legal protections.
    A vast majority of federal protections, contrary to public belief, are unavailable to LGBTQ people. That includes prohibiting transgender people to serve in the military, trans students accessing the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity, married same-sex couples accessing partner health care benefits, and equal access.

10/30/2020 Popes LGBTQ message draws praise and pushback by Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY
    Francesco, a documentary in which Pope Francis made landmark comments in support of LGBTQ civil unions, prompted international headlines with its Rome Film Festival debut last week.    Director Evgeny Afineevsky spoke about the popes overall message of love in an interview that aired following the documentarys U.S. debut Sunday at the Savannah Film Festival.
    Pope Francis teaches us, Stop putting labels over the people. Stop putting frames over the people.    We are all human beings; we are all children of God.    Thats a big, beautiful lesson we all need to learn, said Afineevsky, speaking from Rome in an interview recorded after the globally discussed premiere.    Thats the most important lesson: It doesnt matter what sexuality you have, what nationality you have, what religion you have.    The most important aspect is to be a good human being.
    The Francesco attention has lasered in on one Francis comment during the two-hour documentary.    Afineevskys film follows the globe-trotting pope before COVID-19 and discusses the issues close to his heart: climate change, refugees and social inequality.
    At the one-hour, six-minute mark, Francis drops the bombshell quote that he supports same-sex civil unions.
    What we have to create is a civil union law, Francis says of same-sex couples.    That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that.
    The Associated Press reported that in the firestorm following the premiere, the pushback to the comments was swift from predictable corners.    Cardinal Raymond Burke, Francis frequent nemesis on matters of doctrine, said the popes comments were devoid of any magisterial weight.    But Burke expressed concern that such personal opinions coming from the pope generate great bewilderment and cause confusion and error among Catholic faithful.
    Christopher Lamb of Britains The Tablet magazine noted Friday that in some countries, the rights of gays are a life and death matter, and that Francis was merely positioning the church to defend LGBTQ Catholics.
    The pope is willing to break a few plates to ensure he communicates this Gospel-based message of compassion, he tweeted.
    Singer Elton John thanked Francis on Instagram, discussing how important his civil union and subsquent marriage to David Furnish has been.
    Giving your blessing to same sex civil unions is a major step towards equality, and a foundation for which countless others can enjoy the same protections and happiness, John wrote to Francis in the post.    God bless you.
    In further controversy around the Francesco documentary, AP reported that Francis media advisers confirmed the filmed comments in fact came from a 2019 interview with Mexican broadcaster Televisa.
    Televisa confirmed the origin of the quotes, but said the comments never aired.    AP quoted a source who said the Vatican, which used its own cameras to shoot the Francis interview and provided raw footage to Televisa afterward, had deleted the civil union quote in question.
    Afineevsky did not address the controversy around Francis comments when the interview aired Sunday, but seemed to allude it when saying of the documentary, I guess every person finds something that bothers him or (that is) close to his heart, something that can change his life.
Contributing: The Associated Press
[Well Pope you opened up the can of worms and it is hard to get them back in and I do not think God will bless you since the Bible says otherwise and it is obvious now that you are part of the Globalist World Government and their policies that it is pushing on the world so have fun riding on the beast.].


10/30/2020 Callers Flood Polish Abortion Helpline After Number Sprayed During Protests by Joanna Plucinska
FILE PHOTO: People protest against the ruling by Poland's Constitutional Tribunal that imposes a near-total ban on abortion,
in front of the Parliament in Warsaw, Poland October 27, 2020. Maciek Jazwiecki/Agencja Gazeta via REUTERS
    WARSAW (Reuters) A Polish abortion rights support group said it had seen a sharp rise in calls to its helpline since activists started spraying its number on buildings, statues and signs during more than a week of mass protests.
    Demonstrators were converging on Warsaw on Friday for their eighth straight day of rallies against a constitutional court ruling that amounted to a near-total ban on abortion.
    The number of our helpline has appeared on public television on sidewalks, walls, even on churches, Justyna Wydrzynska from the support group Abortions Without Borders told Reuters.
    Some of the calls were from women seeking abortions who said they had been turned away by hospitals, even though the ruling is not yet enforceable, she said.
    Others came from people calling to express support or just to check that the number worked, that they could use it when needed.
    Before the protests, the group got around 400 calls a month, Wydrzynska said. In the days after the protest, it received almost 600 phone calls and more than 1 million zlotys ($258,100) in donations, she added.
    Kinga Jelinska, an Amsterdam-based activist who runs an online service called Women help Women providing information on carrying out safe abortions, said she had seen an almost 40% increase in web traffic since the protests began.
    It is because of the protest and solidarity of people who say, no, we are going to support each other spreading and sharing the information including the hotline number and the website, Jelinska said.
    The Court decision on Thursday last week restricted abortions due to foetal defects ending the most common of the few legal grounds left for abortion in Poland and setting the country further apart from the European mainstream.
    A post on the government legislation website says the ruling should be published and therefore effectively enforceable by Nov. 2.
    Many of the callers were unsure whether the ruling had come into force or said they had already been turned away by hospitals, said Krystyna Kacpura, the director of Polands Federation for Women and Family Planning (Federa).
    A lot of hospitals are scared.    They are worried the hospital will be held criminally responsible, that the ruling could be enforced the next day and that it will be binding as of midnight, she added.
    Federa said some woman had been turned back by Warsaws Bielanski Hospital. Hospital director Dorota Galczynska-Zych said staff continued to offer the procedure and would do until the publication but she acknowledged there had been some confusion over how and when the ruling would be enforced.
    De facto, Im not a lawyer, but the Constitutional Tribunal has created a new criminal category that could lead to three years of imprisonment, Galczynska-Zych said in a statement.
    The city of Warsaw released a statement on Monday saying all of its hospitals that had offered abortions earlier would continue to do so until the ruling was published.
    Catholic anti-abortion group Ordo Iuris called on doctors to treat the ruling as immediately enforceable.
    We have to fully protect the rights of these unborn children, already now, Karolina Pawlowska from the group said.
(Additional reporting by Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk, Kacper Pempel and Kuba Stezycki; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

10/30/2020 Thousands In Warsaw Join Biggest Protest So Far Against Abortion Ruling by Alicja Ptak and Pawel Florkiewicz
FILE PHOTO: People protest against imposing further restrictions on abortion law in front of the
Catholic Cathedral in Katowice, Poland October 25, 2020. Anna Lewanska/Agencja Gazeta/via REUTERS
    WARSAW (Reuters) Thousands of protesters from across Poland joined a demonstration in Warsaw on Friday against a top court ruling last week that amounted to a near-total ban on abortion in the predominantly Catholic nation.
    Defying strict rules that restrict gatherings to five people during the coronavirus pandemic, demonstrators walked through central Warsaw streets carrying black umbrellas, a symbol of abortion rights protests in Poland, and banners that read You wont have to walk alone or God is a woman.
    Military police lined the streets, some of them in riot gear, as the demonstration began at 1600 GMT.
    It was set to be the biggest protest yet since a court ruling on Oct. 22 outlawed abortions due to foetal defects ending the most common of the few legal grounds left for abortion in Poland and setting the country further apart from the European mainstream.
    Daily protests have taken place in towns and cities across the country in the past week, and have turned into an outpouring of anger against the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) government and the Roman Catholic church closely allied with the ruling party.
    Far-right groups which support the court ruling also turned out in small gatherings in Warsaw on Friday, and TV footage showed police trying to keep one group away from the protesters.
    The leader of the abortion rights movement in Poland, Marta Lempart, told activists to report any attacks and to resist any threats of prosecution or fines for taking part.    We are doing nothing wrong by protesting and going out on the streets, she told a news conference.
    After the ruling goes into effect, women will only be able to terminate a pregnancy legally in the case of rape, incest or a threat to their health.
    In an effort to ease tensions, Polish President Andrzej Duda, a government ally, proposed legislation on Friday reintroducing the possibility of terminating a pregnancy due to foetal abnormalities, although only limited to lethal defects.
    Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki pledged lawmakers would proceed with the legislation quickly, but demonstrators were unimpressed.
    This is an attempt to soften the situation for PiS, but no sane person should fall for it, activist and leftist lawmaker Joanna Scheuring-Wielgus told Reuters on Dudas proposal.
    The government has accused demonstrators of risking the lives of the elderly by defying strict pandemic rules against large gatherings.    Poland reported a daily record of more than 21,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday.
    Five women were charged with organising an illegal protest in the town of Police on Thursday, which drew 850 people, regional police spokeswoman Alicja Sledziona said on Friday.
    The Catholic Church has said that while it opposes abortion, it did not push the government or the court to increase restrictions.    It called for people to talk and refrain from violence this week, but declined to comment further on Friday.
    PiS, however, has sought to instil more traditional and Catholic values in public life since it took over power in 2015, ending state funding for in vitro fertilisation, introducing more patriotic themes into school curricula and funding Church programmes.
    Catholic anti-abortion group Ordo Iuris on Friday reiterated its support for the court ruling and opposition to the protesters, and called for calm.
    As an institute, we must condemn any violence, no matter in which way it is perpetrated.    Nothing justifies hurting another person even in the face of such social unrest, spokesman Maciej Grajewski said.
    Some bakeries in Poland have been selling goods decorated with a red lightning bolt, another symbol of the womens rights movement in Poland, and some have written the phone number of a hotline helping women seeking terminations in chalk on sidewalks.
(Additional reporting by Marcin Goclowski, Joanna Plucinska, Agnieszka Barteczko and Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk; Writing by Justyna Pawlak; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Susan Fenton)

10/30/2020 Montenegros Top Orthodox Christian Cleric Dies From COVID-19 Infection
A picture of late Metropolitan Amfilohije Radovic, the top cleric of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro,
who died from a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection, is displayed in the Cathedral of the
Resurrection of Christ in Podgorica, Montenegro, October 30, 2020. REUTERS/Stevo Vasiljevic
    PODGORICA (Reuters) Metropolitan Amfilohije Radovic, the top cleric of the powerful Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro, has died from a COVID-19 infection, his office said on Friday.
    Radovic, 82, a fervent Serb nationalist who also wielded major political influence, was diagnosed with the coronavirus on Oct. 6 and had been hospitalised in the Montenegrin capital Podgorica since then.
    After receiving the Holy Sacrament of Communion, Amfilohije the Most Reverend Archbishop of Cetinje, Metropolitan of Montenegro and Littoral, passed away, a statement from his Metropolitanate office said.
    From last December until August this year, Amfilohije played a pivotal role in protests over a contested religion law in the tiny Adriatic country that is a member of NATO and a candidate for membership in the European Union.
    The dispute over the law, which allowed the state to seize some religious property, helped the opposition win the Aug. 30 parliamentary election and unseat the Democratic Party of Socialists of longtime President Milo Djukanovic.
    After the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Amfilohije still appeared regularly in public without a face mask.
    So far, Montenegro has reported 290 deaths and 17,746 infections from the respiratory disease.
    The Serbian Orthodox Church has about 12 million followers, mainly in Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia, all former Yugoslav republics bordering each other.
(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

10/30/2020 Pope Vows To Fight Corruption But Sees It As Uphill Struggle by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis attends the weekly general audience in Aula Paolo VI at the
Vatican, October 28, 2020. Vatican Media/?Handout via REUTERS/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Pope Francis said in an interview published on Friday that he is determined to root out corruption in the Catholic Church but that he is not overly optimistic because it is a centuries-old human problem.
    In an interview with the Italian news agency AdnKronos, Francis also said he listens to his critics but cant allow himself to get bogged down by every negative thing they say.
    Unfortunately corruption runs in cycles.    It repeats itself.    Someone comes along who cleans things up but it starts again until someone else comes along to put an end to this degeneration, he said.
    In a shock move last month, Francis fired Cardinal Angelo Becciu, a former top Vatican official, accusing him of embezzlement and nepotism.    Becciu, who also has been caught up in a scandal involving the Vaticans purchase of a luxury building in London, has denied all wrongdoing.
    Cecilia Marogna, a 39-year-old Italian who worked for Becciu, was released after more than two weeks in jail on Friday pending a judges decision on an extradition request from the Vatican.
    I know I have to do it (fight corruption), I was called to do it, but it will be the Lord to decide if I did well or not.    Sincerely, I am not very optimistic, Francis said, smiling.
    He was referring to the mandate he received from cardinals who elected him in 2013 to clean up Vatican finances after a string of scandals during the pontificates of his two immediate predecessors, Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul II.
    There are cases of malfeasance, of betrayals, that wound those who believe in the Church.    These people (corrupt churchmen) certainly dont behave like cloistered nuns.
    Conservative Catholics have criticised the pope, saying he sends mixed signals on issues such the pastoral care of homosexuals and those who remarry civilly without Church annulments.
    Criticism can be constructive, and if it is I take it all on board because it can lead to self-examination but I cant let myself be dragged down by every non-positive thing written about the pope, he said.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; editing by Jonathan Oatis)
[Maybe there is some truth in that statement that this is the last Pope.].

11/1/2020 French Church In Nice Hit By Deadly Attack Seeks Solace In Mass by Caroline Pailliez
The priest of Notre Dame basilica Franklin Parmentier prays outside during a mass to pay tribute to
the victims of a deadly knife attack in Nice, France, November 1, 2020. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
    NICE, France (Reuters) Shocked local parishioners gathered outside the Notre-Dame catholic church in the southern French city of Nice on Sunday, seeking solace at its first mass in the three days since a knifewielding attacker killed three people inside.
    In Frances second deadly knife attack in two weeks with a suspected Islamist motive, an assailant shouting Allahu Akbar (God is Greatest) beheaded a woman and killed two other people in the basilica.     Church sexton Vincent Loques was one of the victims, along with devout mother-of-three- Simone Barreto Silva, who moved to France from Brazil as a teenager.    A 60-year-old woman, named by church officials as Nadine, was beheaded.
    On Sunday evening, several hundred people gathered on the other side of a security perimetre around the church to follow the mass from a distance.
    I was baptised here, took holy communion here my parents were buried here.    It was very important to come out of solidarity, church regular Michele, 67, said before the mass got underway.    It was a shock It was a barbaric act.
    The Nice attack followed the beheading of a Paris schoolteacher on Oct. 16 by a Chechen-born man, apparently angered that the teacher had shown cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad to teach a lesson on free speech.
    Standing on the steps of the church, which was covered in wreaths and candles, the bishop of Nice, Andre Marceau, paid tribute to the three victims.
    The meaning of this celebration is to speak of our bewilderment, our sadness, our suffering, our feeling of anger maybe, our struggle to understand, Marceau said ahead of the mass.    And above all, to give strength to our peacemaker.
    The church is located not far from the seaside promenade, where a suspected Islamist drove a 19-tonne truck into a crowd in 2016, killing more than 80 people on Bastille Day.
    The people of Nice had suffered enough, said Martine Leroy, a local resident outside the church.
    We form a bloc today, and people need to see this bloc, the whole world needs to see it, she said.    It all has to stop.    Were here to tell our leaders that weve had enough, we want to be able to be at ease walking around in our city.
(Reporting by Caroline Pailliez, Writing by Sarah White; Editing by Peter Graff)

11/2/2020 Poles Protest Again As Abortion Ruling Expected To Take Effect
Demonstrators hold placards during an anti-government protest following the ruling by Poland's Constitutional Tribunal
that imposes a near-total ban on abortion, in Warsaw, Poland November 2, 2020. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
    WARSAW (Reuters) Poles staged further protests in cities across the country on Monday ahead of the expected entry into force of a ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal that bans most abortions and that has prompted nearly two weeks of demonstrations and rallies.
    The Oct. 22 ruling bans terminations due to foetal defects, ending one of the few legal grounds left for abortion in staunchly Catholic Poland and setting the country further apart from Europes mainstream.
    Protesters have flooded into the streets almost every day since the ruling, defying coronavirus restrictions that ban gatherings of more than five people, in an outpouring of anger against the verdict, and more broadly against the nationalist government and its allies in the Roman Catholic Church.
    Footage from private broadcaster TVN24 showed protesters blocking traffic in several streets in central Warsaw.    Traffic was also blocked in the southern city of Katowice and in Poznan in western Poland.
    In Poznan, the protesters stood in a line blocking tram tracks and a road, chanting I will protect my sisters when the state does not protect them and holding banners that read This is war and "Poland is a woman.
    In Katowice cars blocked traffic in the city centre, while in the south-western city of Wroclaw protesters marched with banners that read I think, I feel, I decide.
    The government is expected to publish the ruling later on Monday in its official gazette, meaning it has entered into legal force.
    The protests are the latest and largest manifestation of a conflict between liberals and religious conservatives that has also centred around LGBT rights.    The protests have seen huge mobilisation among younger Poles.
    Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, from the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS), urged the protesters on Monday to take part in talks and not to try and settle differences on the street because of the risks of spreading COVID-19.
(Reporting by Alan Charlish and Anna Koper; Editing by Gareth Jones)

11/2/2020 Polish Abortion Protest Leader Seeks Inspiration From Belarus by Joanna Plucinska and Alicja Ptak
Marta Lampert, leader of the movement Strajk Kobiet (Women's Strike), wears a face mask during
an interview with Reuters, in Warsaw, Poland, October 30, 2020. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
    WARSAW (Reuters) As Polands abortion protests continue into a second week, their top organiser, Marta Lempart, says she is grateful for a clear role model to the East Belaruss opposition movement.
    Tens of thousands have gathered across Poland, with the largest protests on Friday in Warsaw, since the Constitutional Tribunal further limited the countrys already restrictive abortion laws, making terminations due to foetal abnormalities illegal.
    Hundreds marched through the streets and rallied outside universities to keep pressure on Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko to resign.
    Lempart, a 41-year-old lawyer by training and one of the heads of Strajk Kobiet (Womens Strike), thinks the parallels between the Polish and Belarusian movements are clear: they are being run by Eastern Europeans and by women.
    With her thick-framed black glasses and blonde hair speckled with gray, she has led daily marches across Poland, giving speeches to the point of losing her voice and encouraging people to go out on the streets despite the coronavirus pandemic.
    We see that many things work in a similar way in Poland and in Belaruswe are culturally close still.    We are in the European Unionbut we have this common spirit with many countries to the east of Poland, Lempart told Reuters, wearing a black mask bearing the movements signature red lightning bolt.
    I think it is a backlash against a patriarchal culture, against patriarchal states against the fundamentalist religious states, against the states that treat women really badly, she added.
    Unlike Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Lempart is no activism novice having been involved in Polands black protests for womens rights since 2016.
    But she is looking to Tsikhanouskaya for ideas on how to keep protests going despite a surge in coronavirus cases in Poland.
    Strajk Kobiet set up its own coordination council on Sunday, modelling it on the Belarusian initiative which brought together activists, economists and former politicians to plan out the burgeoning revolution in Belarus.
    After the first meeting in Warsaw, Lempart said the group wanted better access to abortion, stronger womens and LGBT rights, the separation of church and state and more support for a struggling healthcare system, small businesses and education.
    Lempart insists the goal of the protests is not to create a political movement, although she is hoping for greater European Union support.
    They should be protecting us, the Polish citizensThey are turning their backs on us and talking just to the Polish government and they should be talking to us, Lempart said.
    In the meantime, the goal of the womens strike is to ensure the protests continue, despite a record daily spike in coronavirus cases in Poland on Saturday of nearly 22,000.
    A blockade is planned on Monday while a solidarity chain into smaller Polish towns is scheduled for Wednesday.     We wont get scared, Lempart said.    People might get tired.    This is our job in supporting people in not getting tired.
(Additional reporting by Kacper Pempel, editing by Ed Osmond)

11/2/2020 Vatican Moves To Clarify Popes Comments On Civil Union Laws by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis attends the weekly general audience in Aula Paolo VI
at the Vatican, October 28, 2020. Vatican Media/?Handout via REUTERS//File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) The Vatican says comments by Pope Francis on civil union laws in a documentary last month were taken out of context and did not signal a change in Church doctrine on homosexuals or support for same-sex marriage.
    The documentary, Francesco, which premiered at the Rome film festival on Oct. 21, made headlines for a comment in which the pope says that homosexuals have a right to be in a family and that civil union laws covering homosexuals are needed.
    The popes comments as portrayed prompted praise from liberals and calls for urgent clarification from conservatives.
    Last week, the Vaticans Secretariat of State quietly sent an explanatory note to its ambassadors, who sent it to bishops.
    The note was first reported by papal biographer Austen Ivereigh.    A Vatican source confirmed it on Monday and the Vaticans ambassador to Mexico posted it on his Facebook page.
    It says that two separate quotes in response to separate questions were spliced to appear as one, deleting the intervening context and questions.
    The documentarys director, Russian-born American citizen Evgeny Afineevsky, told reporters he interviewed the pope but journalists later found the footage in a 2019 interview with Mexicos Televisa.    Some was not previously aired.
    After the documentary premiered, Afineevsky refused to discuss the editing process.    It was not immediately possible to contact him for comment on the Vatican note.
    The note said that in the first quote, the pope was referring to the right of homosexuals to be accepted by their own families as children and siblings.
    Some saw the comments as homosexuals having a right to form families.
    The note said the documentary cut comments where the pope expressed opposition to opposed homosexual marriage and made clear he was referring to civil union laws, which some countries have enacted to regulate benefits such as health care.
    A phrase where Francis said it is an incongruence to speak of homosexual marriage was cut.     It is clear that Pope Francis was referring to certain state provisions and certainly not the doctrine of the Church, which he has reaffirmed numerous times over the years, the note said.     The Church teaches that homosexual tendencies are not sinful but homosexual acts are and that homosexuals must be treated with respect.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella)

11/3/2020 Justices to weigh religious, LGBTQ rights - Barrett to join high court for Philadelphia case by Richard Wolf, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON The Supreme Court has been very, very good for the cause of religious freedom in recent years.    This summer alone, it sided with religious students, parents and employers in a trifecta of major rulings.
    The high court has been kind to the cause of LGBTQ rights as well, granting same-sex marriage rights in 2015 and protection against employment discrimination this past June.
    On Wednesday, both of those winning streaks will be on the line.    Hours after the polls close on Election Day and with a new justice on the bench, the court will be confronted by a case in which one side has to lose.
    At issue is the city of Philadelphias decision to stop referring children in need of foster care to Catholic Social Services, for decades one of its most reliable contract agencies, after discovering that it would not place kids with same-sex couples.
    The dispute pits the Constitutions guarantee of religious freedom against government bans on discrimination.    When the court faced a similar case in 2018 involving a Colorado baker who refused to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, it issued a minor ruling that failed to resolve the question.
    This time, the addition of Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett gives the courts conservatives a 6-3 majority, putting at risk a 30-year-old Supreme Court precedent that made it difficult for religious groups to avoid neutral laws that apply to everyone.    Several justices are eager to overturn the precedent written, ironically, in 1990 by conservative Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.
    In recent years, the court has carved out protections for religious groups and individuals. It ruled that a Missouri church could receive federal funds, private corporations could avoid federal health care regulations regarding contraceptives, and a New York town board could open meetings with Christian prayers.
    This year, the justices approved taxpayer support for religious educationin some circumstances and let religious employers sidestep job discrimination laws and health insurance coverage for contraceptives.
    The court refused to let employers discriminate against LGBTQ workers in a 6-3 ruling in June, but even then Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch reiterated the justices respect for religious liberty.
    We are also deeply concerned with preserving the promise of the free exercise of religion enshrined in our Constitution, he wrote.    That guarantee lies at the heart of our pluralistic society.
200-year history of service
    The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has been serving abused, neglected and orphaned children for more than 200 years.    But in 2018, the city learned from a local newspaper article that Catholic Social Services policy did not allow placements with same-sex couples, so it blocked the agency from making new placements on anti-discrimination grounds.
    The foster care agency sued, but two lower federal courts refused to block the citys action.    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit ruled unanimously that the agency failed to make a persuasive showing that the city targeted it for its religious beliefs or is motivated by ill will against its religion, rather than sincere opposition to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
    The city stands on firm ground in requiring its contractors to abide by its non-discrimination policies when administering public services, the court said.
    In asking the Supreme Court to reverse that decision, Catholic Social Services argued that under the citys policy, the archdiocese would have to violate its sincerely held beliefs.
    Philadelphia demands that a religious agency, an arm of a church, speak and act according to Philadelphias beliefs, said Mark Rienzi, president of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing Catholic Social Services in court.    If it does not, Philadelphia will rid itself of the meddlesome agency.    The Free Exercise Clause was made for cases like this one.
    Sharonell Fulton, for whom the case is named, has worked with Catholic Social Services in Philadelphia to foster 40 children over 26 years.    In a video posted on Beckets website, she said her goal is to show them some love, be there when they need you.
    This is what I want to do, and I wouldnt be able to do it without Catholic Social Services, she said.
    The Trump administration also is opposing the city policy, but it does not argue that the court should overrule its precedent.    As was the case with the Colorado baker, the Justice Department says the court can rule more narrowly for Catholic Social Services, perhaps based on city officials hostility.
Stand up for these kids
    Philadelphia told the court it is eager to have the agency back as a full partner in recruiting and certifying foster homes, but only if it abides by the same nondiscrimination requirement as every other agency.    In the meantime, the agency can continue to manage group homes and provide other social services to foster children.
    The Constitution does not grant CSS the right to dictate the terms on which it carries out the governments work, wrote Neal Katyal, a former U.S. acting solicitor general representing the city.
    The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing a legal services agency and an LGBTQ family advocacy group in the case, says a religious exemption for foster care could endanger other programs, such as after-school care, food banks and homeless shelters.
    Advocates for foster children also note that a large number of children needing foster care are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, making it illogical to exclude LGBTQ couples from the program.
    Religious beliefs should not come before the needs of children, said Stephanie Haynes, executive director of Philadelphia Family Pride.
    The issue has arisen elsewhere.    In Greenville, South Carolina, Brandy Welch and Eden Rogers sought to foster children through Miracle Hill Ministries, the states largest provider of homeless services. As a same-sex married couple, they were rejected.
    Now they are among people on both sides of the emotionally charged issue whose stories are told in scores of friend of the court briefs to the Supreme Court.
    I couldnt just take a no, because it wasnt just a no to me or my wife, it was a no to hundreds of children, Rogers said.    I felt an overwhelming need to just stand up for these kids.
    Welch, who grew up in a conservative, Christian home, said the foster care system also needs families in which gay, lesbian or transgender children would be welcome.
    I can only imagine how many kids are LGBTQ in the system that end up in Christian homes where they may not be able to be themselves, she said.
    Enormous implications Both religious freedom and LGBTQ rights were hot topics last month at Barretts Senate confirmation hearing.
    Republicans lauded her devout Catholicism and personal opposition to abortion, which she said would not influence her legal opinions.     Democrats claimed her association with groups that fight for religious exemptions from anti-discrimination laws represents a risk for gay rights.
    For her part, Barrett described her faith as important, but irrelevant to her jurisprudence.    As for LGBTQ rights, she said, I have never discriminated on the basis of sexual preference and would never discriminate on the basis of sexual preference.
    The phrase sexual preference got her in hot water with the LGBTQ community, because scientific research has shown sexual orientation is not a choice.    In response, she said, I certainly didnt mean, and would never mean, to use a term that would cause any offense in the LGBTQ community.
    While the Supreme Court has issued landmark rulings against discrimination and in support of LGBTQ rights in recent years, several conservative justices have voiced concern that religious freedom was trampled in the process.
    Four of the courts conservatives Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh wrote in 2019 that the Employment Division v. Smith opinion from 1990 drastically cut back on the protection provided by the Free Exercise Clause.
[sexual preference: a person's sexual preference or identity as bisexual, heterosexual, or homosexual : the state of being bisexual, heterosexual, or homosexual.    See the full definition for sexual orientation in the English Language Learners Dictionary. sexual orientation.
    As to the Bible and the WORD OF GOD there are only two sexes, male or female and your preference is which one you are, just as in nature in animals there is only one or the other but obviously some people are born dumb and think otherwise

11/3/2020 Poland Needs Calm To Discuss Disputed Abortion Ruling: Government
FILE PHOTO: An elderly woman holds a flag as demonstrators block a street during an anti-government protest following the ruling by
Poland's Constitutional Tribunal that imposes a near-total ban on abortion, in Warsaw, Poland November 2, 2020. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
    WARSAW (Reuters) Poland needs a period of calm to discuss a ruling by the highest court that bans most abortions, a government spokesman said after the measure did not take effect on Monday as expected following two weeks of mass protests.
    Widespread outrage among women and others greeted the Oct. 22 ruling which bans terminations due to foetal defects, ending one of the few legal grounds left for abortion in a staunchly Roman Catholic country with a deeply conservative government.
    While focused largely on abortion rights, the protests quickly turned into an outpouring of anger against the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) government, its church allies and its traditionalist policies.    On Tuesday two protesters stripped naked in front of the Presidential Palace.
    The governments publications department had initially said the courts verdict would be enforced by Nov. 2, but it has not yet been published in its official gazette, meaning it has not entered into legal force.
    According to the regulations, the judgment of the Constitutional Tribunal should be published in a timely manner, government spokesman Piotr Muller told a news conference when asked about the delay.
    At the moment, however, we all need peace and discussion around this judgment, a quieting down of the public mood and discussions among experts.
    President Andrzej Duda, a PiS ally, has tried to defuse the protests by proposing a bill which would reinstate the right to abortion due to foetal abnormalities, although limited only to lethal defects.
    Opposition politicians questioned whether the PiS could muster enough votes to pass the amendment, after parliament delayed a sitting scheduled for Wednesday for two weeks.
    They dont have any ideas how to resolve the situation in Poland, they do not have a majority in parliament (in favour of the bill), they are afraid to answer questions, opposition Deputy Speaker Malgorzata Kidawa-Blonska told reporters.
    PiS lawmaker and Deputy Parliament Speaker Ryszard Terlecki rejected any suggestion that the government lacked a majority on the issue, saying the postponement was related to the coronavirus pandemic.
    Polands Federation for Women and Family Planning said on Tuesday women had intensified efforts to get a legal abortion in recent days ahead of the court verdict coming into force.
    It said it knew of 61 abortions performed in hospitals in less than two weeks since the Constitutional Tribunals ruling, a rate of occurrence that would send the annual total well above that of 1,100 recorded in 2019.
(Reporting by Alan Charlish, Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk, Pawel Florkiewicz and Anna Koper; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

11/4/2020 SCOTUS To Hear Case On Exemptions For Religious Adoption Agencies by OAN Newsroom
FILE In this Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, file photo the Supreme Court is seen at sundown on
the eve of Election Day in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
    The Supreme Court is gearing up to hear a case on whether there should be certain religious exemptions to anti-discrimination laws regarding LGBTQ individuals.    The high court will hear Fulton v. City of Philadelphia on Wednesday.
    All eyes will be turned toward Justice Amy Coney Barrett as this will be her first major Supreme Court ruling after being confirmed last month.
    This case will see a Roman Catholic adoption agency argue that they have the right to deny adoption rights to same sex couples.    The agencys policy was noticed by the city of Philadelphia in 2018, which caused it to deny the agency access to any available foster children.
    Many believe this will be Justice Barretts first opportunity to show how she will rule in cases related to religious freedoms.    Many on the left fear she will try to work away some LGBTQ civil rights, though she spoke heavily during her confirmation hearings about the separation of her personal beliefs from constitutional law.
    It is the job of a judge to resist her policy preferences, it would be a dereliction of duty for her to give in to them, she stated.    Judges do not run for elections, thus they have no basis for claiming that their preferences reflect those of the people.
FILE In this Oct. 26, 2020, file photo Amy Coney Barrett, listens as President Donald Trump speaks before Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas
administers the Constitutional Oath to Barrett on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington,D.C. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
    Justice Barrett is well known for being a student of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.    When the Fulton v. Pennsylvania case was first heard, Scalia ruled regulations on the church were constitutional as long as they were universally applicable.
    As of now, however, its unclear as to how Justice Barrett will rule on this case and whether or not adoption agencies with ties to religious institutions will be allowed to deny adoption privileges to LGBTQ couples.

11/4/2020 Vatican Investigating Polish Archbishop Over Alleged Cover-Up Of Sexual Abuses
FILE PHOTO: Gdansk Region Archbishop Slawoj Leszek Glodz conducts a funeral service at St Mary's Basilica
in Gdansk, Poland, January 19, 2019. Agencja Gazeta/Renata Dabrowska via REUTERS/File Photo
    WARSAW (Reuters) The Vatican has ordered an investigation into the former archbishop of Gdansk on suspicion of negligence over sex abuse allegations, a month after the pope accepted the resignation of a bishop accused of shielding sexually abusive priests.
    The Vatican Embassy in Warsaw said in a statement that local Church officials would look into allegations against Archbishop Leszek Slawoj Glodz, who retired in August.
    The embassy said the archbishop of Warsaw would investigate Glodz for reported negligence that had led to the alleged detriment of minors by some clergy of the Gdansk Archdiocese.
    Last year priests in Gdansk accusing Glodz of covering up instances of sexual abuse.    At the time, Glodz denied any wrongdoing.    Efforts to reach Glodz for comment on the new inquiry were unavailing, with the Gdansk curia saying he did not have a spokesman and that Glodzs whereabouts were not known.
    Last month, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of the bishop of Kalisz, Edward Janiak, who was accused of shielding priests known to have sexually abused children.
    In May, Church leaders in Poland referred Janiak to the Vatican for judgment after a film by brothers Tomasz and Marek Sekielski purported to show that Janiak failed to take action against priests who were known to have abused children.    Janiak has also denied wrongdoing.
    The Sekielski brothers made another film that suggested known paedophiles were deliberately shifted between parishes.    The film has had more than 23 million views on YouTube.
(This story has been refiled to tweak headline)
(Reporting by Marcin Goclowski; Editing by Philip Pullella and Mark Heinrich)

11/4/2020 Italys Lower House Of Parliament Approves Bill Protecting LGBT+ Community
FILE PHOTO: People take part in the Gay Pride Parade in front of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy, June 8, 2019. REUTERS/ Yara Nardi
    ROME (Reuters) Italys lower house of parliament on Wednesday passed an anti-discrimination bill that makes violence against women and LGBT+ people a hate crime, with those found guilty of such attacks risking longer prison terms.
    The bill was approved by 265 votes to 193 in the 630-member chamber and now needs a final green light from the upper house Senate, where it has the support of the ruling coalition parties, before becoming law.
    It modifies an existing law punishing offences based on someones race or religion with up to four years in jail.
    It is a big step forward against discrimination, hatred and violence, Alessandro Zan, the openly gay lawmaker who promoted the law, wrote on Twitter.
    The change was championed by the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), but faced opposition from right-wing parties and the Italian Roman Catholic Church, which said existing protections were strong enough.
    The conservative campaign group Pro Life and Family has said the bill will make LGBT+ people more equal than others, while Italian bishops warned last June that the new law could curb dissenting opinions, including that a family requires the union of a man and a woman.
    Zan has denied that the bill would impinge on free speech, saying it would only punish those who incite hatred.
    LGBT+ advocacy groups say homophobia is a serious problem in Italy and have long complained that homophobic and transphobic attacks are tried on lesser charges than racist assaults.
    Italys largest LGBT+ rights group, Arcigay, records more than 100 hate crime and discrimination cases each year, but numerous attempts over the last 25 years to create a law to punish acts of homophobia and transphobia have failed.
    In Italy, where same-sex unions were passed in 2016, the approval of civil rights laws has often been marked by strong opposition from Catholic and conservative groups.
(Reporting by Angelo Amante, Emily Roe and Cristiano Corvino; Editing by Nick Macfie)

11/5/2020 4 states ready to roll with recreational pot -Legal now in 15 of 50, while medical OK in 36 by Jay Cannon, USA TODAY
    Americans were still waiting for clarity on the presidential race Wednesday morning.    Perhaps lost in the frantic haze of election night was the legalization of recreational marijuana in four states.
    Arizona, New Jersey, South Dakota and Montana passed legislation permitting the possession of weed by adults, which means 15 states have legalized recreational weed or voted to legalize it.
    South Dakota and Mississippi passed initiatives to allow medical marijuana, which means 36 states permit the legal distribution of medical weed, according to a tally by NORML, a nonprofit marijuana public advocacy group.
    Despite the slew of passages, marijuana stocks fell Wednesday morning, probably a result of the uncertainty of the presidential and congressional elections.
    Oregon, which is already home to legal marijuana use, further relaxed drug laws, becoming the first state to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.    Proponents said the removal of punishments for nonviolent drug offenses and increased social services could help those dealing with substance abuse get their life back on track.
    Proposition 207, which passed Tuesday, would legalize possession of as much as an ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and older and set up a licensing system for retail sales of the drug, starting with the medical marijuana dispensaries operating in the state.
    Sales could begin in March under the measure.
    Once the election results are made official Nov. 30, possessing and growing as many as six plants at home will be legal for adults.
    The measure would allow people convicted of marijuana crimes, such as the felony charge for possession, to have their records expunged by the courts.
    It would establish special social equity licenses for communities historically disenfranchised by marijuana laws.
New Jersey
    In a ballot question Tuesday, voters overwhelmingly backed the possession, sale and use of marijuana for adults 21 and over.
    But the drug will remain illegal until legislators pass a bill decriminalizing it.
    Before marijuana users can light up at home without fear of arrest, the Legislature and Cannabis Regulatory Commission must pass either enabling legislation which would formally direct law enforcement to stop arresting people for marijuana possession or a decriminalization bill.    An alternative, which could happen shortly after results are certified, is a directive from the state attorney generals office ordering police to stop arresting people under marijuana laws.
South Dakota
    The narrow passage of Constitutional Amendment A legalizes the possession, transportation and distribution of up to an ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and over.
    The state resoundingly adopted medical marijuana.
    Based on state law governing the process by which ballot questions take effect, voter-approved cannabis rules wont become law until July 1, 2021.
    A pair of complementary ballot initiatives that would legalize recreational marijuana use for adults were approved on Tuesdays ballot, The Associated Press reported.
    I-190 creates rules for marijuana use, including a 20% tax and the option for individual counties to prohibit dispensaries.    CI-118 amended the state constitution to allow Montana to set the minimum buying age at 21.
    Both measures needed to pass for recreational use to become legal.
    Possession and use of weed would be legal starting Jan. 1, 2021, the bill says, and recreational sales are to begin in January 2022, The Associated Press reported.
Contributing: Ryan Randazzo, The Arizona Republic; Mike Davis, The Asbury Park Press; Joe Sneve, Sioux Falls Argus Leader; Great Falls Tribune staff

11/5/2020 Pope Shakes Up Running Of Vatican Funds After London Property Scandal by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis attends the weekly general audience in Aula Paolo VI at
the Vatican, October 28, 2020. Vatican Media/?Handout via REUTERS/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Pope Francis has stripped the Vaticans Secretariat of State of control over its own funds, moving them to the supervision of its economic offices in an attempt to contain the fallout of a scandal over a luxury London property deal.
    The Secretariat of State is the most important department in the Vatican administration, overseeing the Holy Sees diplomacy and general affairs inside the Vatican and has historically controlled its own funds, investments and real estate holdings.
    An investigation into the London deal, which involved several middlemen, led to the suspension last year of five Vatican employees, the resignation of its police chief and the exit of the former director of its Financial Information Authority.
    In a letter released by the Vatican press office on Thursday, the pope said he was transferring all the assets to a Vatican department called APSA, which will manage them, while they will be overseen by the Secretariat for the Economy.
    The Secretariat of States assets include an annual fund for the popes charities, which is known as Peters Pence.
    In September, Francis fired Cardinal Angelo Becciu, who was number two at the Secretariat when it purchased a building in London as an investment.
    Becciu has denied any wrongdoing after the pope alleged embezzlement and nepotism.
    In the letter, the pope says the Secretariat of State should as soon as possible get out of an investment fund based in Malta.
    Francis also said the Secretariat of State should consider closing its administrative office, where two of the five Vatican employees who were suspended last year over the London deal worked.
    The pope received a mandate from cardinals who elected him in 2013 to clean up Vatican finances after a string of scandals during the pontificates of his two immediate predecessors, Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul II.
    Last June he approved new rules for procurement and spending in the Vatican meant to cut costs, ensure transparent competition and reduce the risk of corruption in awarding contracts.
    He said in an interview with an Italian news agency last month that he is determined to root out corruption in the Catholic Church but that he is not overly optimistic because it is a centuries-old human problem.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Jon Boyle and Alexander Smith)
[Poor Pope during the pandemic he has had all kinds of issues in his little Vatican world.].

11/6/2020 Transgender Couple Wed In Hungary, Land Of Growing Homophobia by Bernadett Szabo and Balazs Kaufmann
Hungarian transgender couple, Elvira Angyal and Tamara Csillag, pose for a picture after
their wedding in Polgardi, Hungary, November 6, 2020. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo
    POLGARDI, Hungary (Reuters) The wedding of Hungarian transgender couple Tamara Csillag and Elvira Angyal looked just like any other, with the nervous pair dressing up and heading off to the rural Hungarian court room where their marriage would be sealed.
    But in the world of nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, this was special as Orban, increasingly hostile to LGBT+ people, has outlawed legal recognition of transgender identity.
    Ironically, that made the wedding possible, as Csillag was stuck with male documents while Angyal had already completed her transition and had the documents to prove it.
    Our dream has come true.    We are so happy to have received an official seal on our relationship, Angyal said after the ceremony, holding hands with her new wife.
    She kissed her and said: I love you.
    I love you back, Csillag said.
    Theirs was far from a smooth journey. Both had families as men before coming out to live as women.    Of seven children between them, only one, Angyals son Patrik, was present.
    One of the biggest joys in life is to see your parents happy, Patrik said.
    Rights groups say Orban and his political allies, the small Christian Democratic party KDNP, have targeted the gay community since he won a third term in 2018.
    For a decade the government has waged a systematic campaign against LMBTQ people, said Luca Dudits of the Hatter rights group. This contradicts European norms and general human rights.
    The wedding came one day after Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjen renewed homophobic attacks with a proposal to enshrine in the countrys constitution a ban on gender propaganda.
    They should not be called family, because that is a sacred notion, Semjen said. They should not adopt children, because childrens right to healthy development is stronger than homosexual couples need for a child.
    Csillag said she was confident enough for such legal moves and propaganda not to shake her.
    What harms children is what the government does, she said.    The next generation might indeed grow up haters.    They will hate us even as they wont know why.
(Additional reporting and writing by Marton Dunai, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

11/6/2020 Vatican Disciplines Polish Cardinal Accused Of Sexual Abuse by Marcin Goclowski
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis delivers an extraordinary "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) blessing - normally given only
at Christmas and Easter - from an empty St. Peter's Square, as a response to the global
coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, at the Vatican, March 27, 2020. Vatican Media/ Handout via REUTERS
    WARSAW (Reuters) The Vatican has disciplined an elderly Polish cardinal who was accused of sexually abusing a minor, the latest of several clerics to be caught up in a widening scandal in the homeland of the late Pope John Paul II.
    The Vaticans nunciature (embassy) in Poland said Cardinal Henryk Gulbinowicz, 97, the former archbishop of Wroclaw, was disciplined after an investigation of allegations regarding the cardinals past.
    It gave no details but last year the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper published an article by a man who accused Gulbinowicz of sexually abusing him when he was a minor in the 1990s and a student in a Catholic seminary.
    The case was brought to prosecutors but they could not proceed because of the statue of limitations.    At the time, the cardinals lawyer said the accusations were false and the lawyer declined to comment on Friday when contacted by Reuters.
    Church authorities in Wroclaw, where Gulbinowicz served as archbishop in 1976-2004, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from him.
    Father Rafal Kowalski, a spokesman for the Wroclaw archdiocese, told broadcaster TVN24: We have to say were sorry.    There is an intention to clear up these issues and judge, so people who have hurt others are punished.
    On Thursday, Vatican ordered an investigation into the former archbishop of Gdansk on suspicion of negligence over sex abuse allegations, and last month the pope accepted the resignation of a Polish bishop accused of shielding sexually abusive priests.
    The nunciature said Gulbinowicz would be banned from practicing his ministry in public, would have to contribute to a fund to help victims of sexual abuse and would be denied burial in what was once his cathedral, a tradition in Catholic countries.
(additional reporting by Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk, writing by Philip Pullella; editing by John Stonestreet)

11/7/2020 Thai LGBT And Anti-Government Protesters Join In Pride Parade
Thai anti-government protesters from the LGBT community hold a pride parade in Bangkok, Thailand, November 7, 2020.REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun
    BANGKOK (Reuters) More than 1,000 members of Thailands LGBT community and anti-government protesters joined in a Pride Parade on Saturday to call for equal rights as well for the ousting of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and reforms to the monarchy.
    A protest movement that emerged in July has drawn a wide range of interest groups to push for greater democracy and human rights in the Southeast Asian country.
    Members of the LGBT community wearing colourful outfits marched in the capital Bangkok with youth and student protesters who tend to favour black clothes.
    We agree that real democracy for Thailand will be the start of equality for Thai people and for rights to be prioritised again, said teacher Lalita Waisinittham, 26.
    Protesters had initially demanded the removal of Prayuth, a former junta leader they accuse of engineering last years election to keep power, but demonstrations have also broken taboos by calling for curbs on King Maha Vajiralongkorns powers.
    Prayuth says last years election was fair and has refused to step down.    The Palace has made no official comment on the protests, but last weekend the king said we love them all the same when asked to comment on the protesters.
    Another anti-government demonstration is due on Sunday.
(Reporting by Matthew Tostevin; Editing by Catherine Evans)

11/10/2020 Australian Media Face Trial Over Cardinal Pells Child Sex Abuse Case Reporting by Sonali Paul
FILE PHOTO: Former Vatican treasurer George Pell arrives after travelling for first time since he was acquitted of
child sex abuse charges in Australia, at Rome's Fiumicino Airport, September 30, 2020. REUTERS/Alberto Lingria
    MELBOURNE (Reuters) A trial began on Monday alleging dozens of journalists, editors and media companies breached an Australia-wide court suppression order in reporting on ex-Vatican treasurer George Pells child sex abuse conviction in 2018.
    Breaches of suppression orders can be punished with up to five years jail and fines of nearly A$100,000 for individuals and nearly A$500,000 for companies.
    Pell was convicted in December 2018 of abusing two choirboys but reporting on the trial and the conviction was gagged by the County Court of Victoria to ensure the cardinal received a fair trial on further charges he was due to face.
    Overseas publications, including the Washington Post and Daily Beast, reported the news shortly after the verdict.    Some of them geoblocked access to Australia, but others did not.
    After that, some Australian media published articles saying they were unable to report major news regarding an unnamed high profile figure, flagging that the news was accessible online.
    The suppression order was only lifted in February 2019, after the second trial was dropped.    Pells conviction was overturned earlier this year after he served over a year in jail.
    Prosecutors in the state of Victoria have charged 10 journalists, five newspaper editors, four online publications and 12 media companies, mainly owned by News Corp and Nine Entertainment and its Fairfax arm, with breaching the suppression order.
    The companies have denied the charges and some of the defendants have refused to admit they knew about the order, prosecutor Lisa De Ferrari told the court on Monday.
    She said, however, emails between reporters and editors showed they were aware of the order.
    One editor at The Age said in an email read out in court: Regarding the suppressed case, I am totally against publishing this story today, as I have said earlier.
    In reply, one of the defendants in the case, The Age editor Alex Lavelle, said in an email he was sympathetic to her view, but that the stories were everywhere and easily accessible.
    We are not breaching the suppression order, just explaining why we cant report on the story, he said in an email.
    The trial, being run online due to COVID-19 restrictions, is scheduled to last up to 15 days.    None of the defendants were in court on Monday.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Michael Perry)

11/10/2020 Hungary Government Proposes Constitutional Amendment Mandating Christian Gender Roles
    BUDAPEST (Reuters) Hungarys government proposed a constitutional amendment on Tuesday requiring children to be raised with a Christian interpretation of gender roles, as Prime Minister Viktor Orbans ruling nationalists turn to anti-LGBT rhetoric to shore up support.
    The draft amendment submitted to parliament by Justice Minister Judit Varga declares that children must be guaranteed an upbringing based on values stemming from Hungarys Christian culture.
    The basis for family relations is marriage, it says.    The mother is a woman, the father is a man.
    It also says Hungary protects childrens right to the gender identity they were born with, using language consistent with a government campaign to outlaw transgender identities.
    Orbans nationalist Fidesz party and his political allies, the small Christian democratic party KDNP, face elections in early 2022 with their grip on power potentially weakened by the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact.
    In past years, Orbans government has mostly focused on condemnation of immigration in Europe.    But it has increasingly turned to anti-LGBT rhetoric as the pandemic hit the economy, following the example of the ruling nationalist PiS party in nearby Poland which made homophobia the centrepiece of its campaign in an election this year.
    In May, Hungary banned gender changes in personal documents.    It has also taken issue with childrens books that portray diversity positively.
    In part of Tuesdays bill explaining the justification for the new constitutional amendment, the government said it was needed to protect children from new, modern ideological trends in the Western world that pose a threat to childrens right for healthy development.
    Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjen said last week that Hungary should enshrine in its constitution a ban on gender propaganda to protect children.    He also said gays should not be allowed to adopt children and start families.     The Hungarian LGBT community fears now that it could become the target of concerted political attacks ahead of the 2022 election.
(Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Peter Graff)

11/10/2020 Report Into Disgraced Ex U.S. Cardinal Shows Failings By Popes, Top Clerics by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick arrives for a meeting at the Synod Hall in the Vatican March 4, 2013. REUTERS/Max Rossi/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY, (Reuters) Pope John Paul II promoted ex-U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick in 2000 despite rumours of his sexual misconduct, a Vatican report found, one of a series of failings by popes and officials who let him rise through the ranks regardless of repeated allegations against him.
    McCarrick, a highly influential figure in the American Church, was expelled from the Roman Catholic priesthood last year after a Vatican investigation found him guilty of sexual crimes against minors and adults and abuse of power.
    With testimony from 90 witnesses and dozens of documents, letters and transcripts from Vatican and U.S. Church archives, the 450-page document offers a remarkable reckoning by an institution known for its secrecy, portraying a man long able to convince superiors of his innocence.
    Even the current pope, Francis, was questioned for the report, which the Vatican said he ordered to be published for the good of the universal Church
    The report said that credible evidence that the former archbishop of Washington, D.C. had abused minors when he was a priest in the 1970s did not surface until 2017.
    But it said the U.S. Church hierarchy was aware of consistent rumours that after McCarrick became a bishop in the early 1980s he preyed on adult male seminarians.
    During extended interviews, often emotional, the persons described a range of behaviour, including sexual abuse or assault, unwanted sexual activity, intimate physical contact and the sharing of beds without physical touching, the reports introduction says.
    McCarrick has said he had no recollection of child abuse and has not commented publicly on allegations of misconduct with adults. Now aged 90, he is living in isolation.
    Barry Coburn, McCarricks lawyer, said in an email that there would be no comment.
    The report has gained significance since it was ordered by Pope Francis in 2018 and one of McCarricks alleged victims has since sued the U.S. Church in a trial expected to home in on what officials knew.
    Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of the abuse tracking group, called it the most significant document on the abuse crisis to come from the Church, particularly the revelations about Pope John Paul.
    But she said Pope Francis should have done more and the report lets him off the hook.
    The report said there was no credible information suggesting misconduct before McCarricks appointments in the 1980s, but that in hindsight, the Vaticans investigations of later allegations against McCarrick were of a limited nature.
    In 1999, Cardinal John OConnor advised Pope John Paul II that it would be imprudent to promote McCarrick because of rumours of sexual misconduct with seminarians in Metuchen and Newark dating back to the 1980s.
    An investigation by the Vatican ambassador to the United States, requested by John Paul, confirmed that McCarrick had shared a bed with young men but said there was no certainty that he had engaged in sexual acts.
    On Aug. 6, 2000, McCarrick wrote to Pope John Pauls private secretary to rebut the allegations made by Cardinal OConnor.     McCarricks denial was believed, the report said.
    In November, 2000, Pope John Paul appointed McCarrick archbishop of Washington, D.C., one of the most prestigious posts in the U.S. Church.    There, he hobnobbed with world leaders and shone as a star fundraiser for the Church.
    The report said investigations in 2019-2020 determined that three of the four bishops had provided inaccurate and incomplete information about McCarricks sexual conduct.    The omissions impacted the conclusions of John Paul IIs advisors and, consequently, of John Paul II himself, the report said.
    It went on to say the Vatican never received a direct complaint from a victim and it was plausible, given the information it had, to characterise the allegations against him as gossip or rumours'.
    John Paul died in 2005 and was declared a saint in 2014.    The report said his willingness to believe McCarricks denial was likely influenced by his experience in his native Poland when the communist government used spurious allegations against bishops to degrade the standing of the Church.
    The Vatican, then under newly-elected Pope Benedict XVI, told McCarrick he should withdraw as bishop after it became aware of more information from a victim identified as Priest 1, the report said.
    Benedict accepted McCarricks resignation in 2006.
    In 2008, three top Vatican officials suggested the pope approve a canonical investigation to determine the truth and, if warranted, impose an exemplary measure'.
    A Vatican official instead asked McCarrick to maintain a lower profile and minimise travel for the good of the Church.    But, because there were no explicit instructions from the Holy Father (Pope Benedict), McCarrick continued public activities.
    The report says Benedict likely rejected the idea of an investigation because there were no credible allegations of child abuse, because McCarrick had sworn on his oath as a bishop that he had not sexually abused anyone and there was no indication of any recent misconduct (with adults).
    After he was elected in 2013, Pope Francis became aware of allegations and rumours concerning McCarricks past behaviour, the report said.
    Believing the allegations had already been reviewed and rejected by Pope John Paul, and well aware that McCarrick was active during the papacy of Benedict XVI, Pope Francis did not see the need to alter the approach that had been adopted in prior years, the report says.
    Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, a former Vatican ambassador, has accused Francis of allowing McCarrick to continue his travels and lifting sanctions he said were imposed by Benedict.    The Vatican has said there were no formal sanctions.
    The report said no documentation of any abuse by McCarrick was given to Pope Francis before 2017, when McCarrick was accused of abusing a minor in the 1970s, leading to the Vatican investigation that led to his expulsion from the priesthood.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; editing by Philippa Fletcher and Mike Collett-White)

11/10/2020 UK Abuse Inquiry Says Catholic Church Prioritised Reputation Over Children by Estelle Shirbon
FILE PHOTO: Cardinal Vincent Nichols attends a reception at the Urban College in Rome Italy October 13, 2019. Arthur Edwards/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
    LONDON (Reuters) The Roman Catholic Church in Britain betrayed its moral purpose over decades by protecting those who sexually abused children rather than caring for their victims, an independent inquiry said on Tuesday.
    In a report, it said the Church had consistently prioritised its own reputation, moving abusive priests and monks to different parishes where some continued to prey on children, and resisting any external intervention.
    Child sexual abuse was swept under the carpet, the report said, describing appalling attacks including sadistic beatings driven by sexual gratification, often perpetrated by deeply manipulative people in positions of trust.
    Victims described the profound and lifelong effects of abuse, including depression, anxiety, self-harming and trust issues, the report said.
    The Catholic Church received more than 900 complaints involving over 3,000 instances of child sex abuse in England and Wales between 1970 and 2015, and there have been more than 100 reported allegations a year since 2016.    The report said those figures likely under-estimated the scale of the problem.
    Lawyer David Enright, representing 20 victims who gave evidence to the inquiry, said the findings showed the Church was incapable of making itself a safe place for children despite repeated inquiries and damning reports.
    The Church has had many, many chances to reform and root out child abuse.    It has failed, he said.
    The report criticised the most senior Catholic leader in England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, for failing to acknowledge any personal responsibility or show compassion for victims in recent cases.
    Shortly after the publication of the report, Nichols said he was ashamed.
    I want to say to every single person who has suffered childhood abuse in the context of the Catholic Church, I am sorry, we will work at this, we will get it better, and to do so we need your help, he said in an interview on Sky News TV.
    But victims and their representatives called for Nichols to resign.
    He has lost all moral authority and must go, said one victim, a former seminarian identified only as Frank, who gave evidence to the inquiry.
    The report also criticised the Vatican and the Apostolic Nuncio, its ambassador to the UK, for failing to provide a witness statement to the inquiry despite repeated requests.
    The responses of the Holy See appear at odds with the Popes promise to take action on this hugely important problem, said Alexis Jay, the inquiry chair.
    Asked about that, Nichols said only that the Holy See was a sovereign state and he had to accept its decision.
    The long-lasting Independent Inquiry on Child Sexual Abuse, which is examining the problem across British institutions and society, published similar findings about the Church of England on Oct. 6.
    Its report on the Catholic Church comes on the same day that the Vatican has published a report into disgraced ex-U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a sex abuser, which pointed to failings by popes, Vatican officials and senior U.S. clerics.
    Separately, the Vaticans former ambassador to France went on trial in Paris accused of molesting four men.
(Additional reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison and Raissa Kasolowsky)

11/11/2020 Many blamed for cardinals abuse - Pope John Paul II knew of claims, Vatican reveals by Nicole Winfield, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    ROME A Vatican investigation into former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has found that a series of bishops, cardinals and popes downplayed or dismissed reports of sexual misconduct with seminarians, and determined that Pope Francis merely continued his predecessors handling of the predator until a former altar boy alleged abuse.
    The Vatican took the extraordinary step Tuesday of publishing its two-year, 449-page internal investigation into the American prelates rise and fall in a bid to restore credibility to the U.S. and Vatican hierarchies, which have been shattered by the McCarrick scandal.
    The report put the lions share of blame on a dead saint: Pope John Paul II, who appointed McCarrick archbishop of Washington D.C., in 2000 despite having commissioned an inquiry that confirmed he slept with seminarians.    The summary says John Paul believed McCarricks last-ditch, handwritten denial: I have made mistakes and may have sometimes lacked in prudence, but in the seventy years of my life I have never had sexual relations with any person, male or female, young or old, cleric or lay, McCarrick wrote.
    But the report also charts the alarm bells that sounded and were ignored, excused or dismissed nearly a decade earlier, when in 1992-93 a series of six anonymous letters were sent to U.S. church officials and the Vaticans ambassador to the U.S. alleging McCarrick was a pedophile who would sleep in the same bed with young men and boys.    Those alarms continued, including when a Catholic psychiatrist traveled to Rome in 1997 to report to the Congregation for Bishops that his priest-patient was a victim of McCarricks abuse.
    McCarrick, 90, was defrocked by Francis last year after a Vatican investigation confirmed decades of allegations that the globe-trotting envoy and successful church fundraiser had sexually molested adults as well as children.    The Vatican had reports from authoritative cardinals dating back to 1999 that McCarricks behavior was problematic, yet he continued to rise to become an influential cardinal, kingmaker and emissary of the Holy Sees soft diplomacy.
    The findings accused bishops dead and alive of providing the Vatican with incomplete information about McCarricks behavior, and of turning a blind eye to his repeated flouting of informal restrictions ordered up in 2006 after Pope Benedict XVI, after receiving yet another alarming report, decided not to investigate or sanction him seriously.
    Most significantly, the findings largely gave Francis a pass, saying he never lifted or modified those restrictions, never named McCarrick a diplomatic agent for the Holy See and never received any documentation about McCarrick before 2017.    It didnt say if Francis had sought such documentation after one of his ambassadors purportedly told him in 2013 that McCarrick was a predator.
    Pope Francis had heard only that there had been allegations and rumors related to immoral conduct with adults occurring prior to McCarricks appointment to Washington, the report says.    Believing that the allegations had already been reviewed and rejected by Pope John Paul II, and well aware that McCarrick was active during the papacy of Benedict XVI, Pope Francis did not see the need to alter the approach that had been adopted.
    Francis changed course after a former altar boy came forward in 2017 alleging that McCarrick groped him when he was a teenager during preparations for Christmas Mass in 1971 and 1972 in New York.    The allegation was the first solid claim against McCarrick involving a minor and triggered the canonical trial that resulted in his defrocking.
    McCarrick now lives in a residence for priests as a layman.    His lawyer, Barry Coburn, declined to comment.
    The report contains heartbreaking testimony from people who tried to raise the alarm about McCarricks inappropriate behavior, including with children, starting in the mid-1980s.
    One woman identified only as Mother 1 told investigators that she sent a series of anonymous letters to U.S. Catholic leaders, warning them about McCarrick.    She described how she once discovered McCarrick, a family friend, with his hands rubbing her two sons inner thighs in the living room.    It was more than strange.    It was abnormal.    I almost dropped the casserole dish I was holding in my hands.    Her letters went unheeded, and McCarrick continued his rise.
    While the findings provided new details about what the Vatican knew and when, it didnt directly blame or admit that the churchs internal old boys club culture allowed McCarricks behavior to continue unchecked.        Catholic cardinals and bishops have long been considered beyond reproach and claims of homosexual behavior have been used to discredit or blackmail prelates, so they often are dismissed as rumors.    There has also been a widespread tolerance of sexually active men in the supposedly celibate priesthood.
    James Grein, whose testimony that McCarrick abused him for two decades starting when he was 11 and was key to McCarricks downfall, said he was pleased the report was finally released.    He said he was hopeful it would bring some relief as well as a chance to clean up the church.
    There are so many people suffering out there because of one man, Grein said.    And he thinks that hes more important than the rest of us.    Hes destroyed me and hes destroyed thousands of other lives.
    The bishops of the four U.S. dioceses where McCarrick served Metuchen and Newark, N.J., New York and Washington, all welcomed the report, despite the shame the McCarrick scandal has brought on the church and the pain he caused his victims.
    Like everyone else, I am disgusted and appalled by what has taken place, said Metuchen Bishop James Checchi.
    He lamented that his dioceses founding in 1981, with McCarrick as its first bishop, would always be associated with the history of Theodore McCarrick and the culture of abuse, silence and shame that was allowed to perpetuate in the dark corners of our past.
    Francis commissioned the report after the retired Vatican ambassador to the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, issued a blistering expose of the McCarrick cover-up in 2018, naming around two dozen U.S. and Vatican officials who knew of his misconduct but failed to effectively sanction him.
A Vatican report says Pope John Paul II believed former Cardinal Theodore McCarricks denial of sexual-abuse allegations. MASSIMO SAMBUCETTI/AP

11/11/2020 Report on disgraced cardinal puts most blame on Pope John Paul II by John Bacon, USA TODAY
    A Vatican investigation into disgraced ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick lashed out at bishops, cardinals and a pope-turned-saint who downplayed ominous reports about the Catholic kingmakers sexual abuse of children and seminarians.
    But the 400-page internal investigation released Tuesday by the Vatican goes easy on Pope Francis, saying the pontiff accepted his predecessors naive belief in McCarricks impassioned denials.    Francis defrocked McCarrick, 90, last year after the investigation confirmed decades of allegations that he had sexually molested children and adults.    The Vatican had reports from authoritative figures dating back more than two decades yet allowed the prelates rise in the church to continue unchecked.
    Todays report paints a picture of fraternal lenience and silence, Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of, told USA TODAY.
    Barrett Doyle described the report as the Vaticans first forthright account of its own cover-up of a sexual predator.    But, she says,     Francis is treated too gently.    It lets Pope Francis take no responsibility for not stopping McCarrick sooner, she said.    Nobody gave him the files, he knew only that there had been rumors, etc. ... Wasnt the pope curious to see if those rumors had substance?    Any concerned person with access to Google could have discovered they did.    Jim Bretzke, a priest and professor of theology at John Carroll University in Ohio, says the release of the McCarrick report provides a glimpse of the deeply entrenched culture of clerical cover-up as well as a significant change in how the culture operates.
    Never apologize, never explain, never admit may have been the bureaucratic guidelines in the Church for decades, but clearly the release of this report shows that this clerical culture is beginning to change slowly but surely, Bretzke told USA TODAY.
    James Grein says he is glad the report was released. Grein says he was 11 when McCarrick, then a New York priest, began abusing him in the late 1960s.    Grein says McCarrick was a family friend and that years later, when Grein told Pope John Paul II of the abuse, the pope simply said he would pray for him.    Nothing was done.
    There are so many people suffering out there because of one man, Grein said.    And he thinks that hes more important than the rest of us.     Hes destroyed me and hes destroyed thousands of other lives. ...Its time that the Catholic Church comes clean with all of its destruction.
    The report targets John Paul, who appointed McCarrick archbishop of Washington, D.C., in 2000, despite having commissioned an inquiry that confirmed he slept with seminarians.    The pope died in 2005.    The report says John Paul was fooled by McCarricks denial.    In the 70 years of my life, I have never had sexual relations with any person, male or female, young or old, cleric or lay, nor have I ever abused another person or treated them with disrespect, McCarrick wrote.    Bretzke emphasized that the report makes clear John Paul had been apprised of very serious allegations but nevertheless appointed him archbishop and elevated him to cardinal.
    Regrettably, Pope John Paul IIs attitude toward reports of clerical sexual abuse has been confirmed in many other instances, Bretzke said.    True or not, this neglect does not reflect well on the deceased pope.
Contributing: The Associated Press

11/11/2020 After McCarrick Report, Pope Vows To Uproot Evil Of Clerical Sexual Abuse by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick during an interview with Reuters at the North American College in Rome February 14, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Pope Francis, in his first public comment after the release of an explosive report on the Vaticans mishandling of the case of ex-U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, on Wednesday again vowed to put an end to sexual abuse in the Church.
    Yesterday, the report about the painful case of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was published. I renew my closeness to the victims of every abuse and the commitment of the Church to uproot this evil, Francis said at his weekly general audience.
    He then closed his eyes and prayed silently.
    The 450-page report said the late Pope John Paul II promoted McCarrick in 2000 despite rumours of his sexual misconduct, one of a series of failings by popes and officials who let him rise through the ranks regardless of repeated allegations against him.
    The report also said that in 2008 former Pope Benedict overruled proposals from top aides that McCarrick undergo a Church investigation to determine the truth and, if warranted, impose an exemplary measure'.    He was instead given a verbal warning and told to keep a low profile.
    Francis words also followed an independent inquiry in London on Tuesday that said the Roman Catholic Church in Britain betrayed its moral purpose over decades by protecting those who sexually abused children rather than caring for their victims.
    Last week in Poland, the Vatican disciplined an elderly cardinal who was accused of sexually abusing a minor, the latest of several clerics to be caught up in a widening scandal in the homeland of the late Pope John Paul II.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Alex Richardson, William Maclean)

11/11/2020 Ga. Democrat Senate Hopeful Warnock Voiced Praise For Controversial Preacher by OAN Newsroom
Democratic U.S. senatorial candidate Raphael Warnock speaks to the media after casting his ballot at State Farm Arena on
October 21, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. Warnock is hoping to unseat incumbent Kelly Loeffler. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)
    Georgia Democrat Senate hopeful Raphael Warnock is under fire for his repeated praise of a controversial pastor.
    On Tuesday, a report by Breitbart drew attention to several comments Warnock has made about Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who he has referred to as a prophet.
    Warnock said Wright has a legacy of social transformation which he noted has been the hallmark of the reverends ministry.
    The pastor ignited controversy in 2008 when he gave a sermon that appeared to suggest the U.S. was to blame for 9/11 before infamously proclaiming God damn America.
    No, no, nonot god bless America but God damn America, Wright said.    Thats in the Bible for killing innocent peopleGod damn America as long as she keeps trying to act like she is God and she is supreme.
(SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
    Warnock has referred to the controversial sermon as a homily on confusing god and government.    The Democrat and his church also appear to have a history of voicing support for highly controversial far-left figures.

11/12/2020 Contempt Charges Dropped Against Three Editors In Pell Conviction Reporting Trial by Sonali Paul
FILE PHOTO: Former Vatican treasurer George Pell arrives after travelling for first time since he was acquitted of
child sex abuse charges in Australia, at Rome's Fiumicino Airport, September 30, 2020. REUTERS/Alberto Lingria
    MELBOURNE (Reuters) Charges against three News Corp online editors were dropped on day four of a trial on allegations that media firms broke an Australia-wide court suppression order on reporting ex-Vatican treasurer George Pells child sex abuse conviction.
    Lawyers for the reporters, radio and TV presenters charged in the case opened their defense on Thursday by submitting to the judge that they have no case to answer, as the prosecution had failed to present any evidence that the journalists actually published or caused to be published the stories in question.
    The Crown prosecutor surprised the court by dropping charges against the digital editors of the Australian publications, the Geelong Advertiser online, the Weekly Times and The Advertiser on Thursday.
    Prosecutor Lisa De Ferrari gave no reason for the sudden move, more than 18 months after the charges were first laid.
    Testimony from News Corp counsel Marlia Saunders on Wednesday showed that online editors had no control over stories that were automatically uploaded to their online services by a centralised News Corp publishing system.
    After the prosecutor closed her case, the lawyer for News Corp, Will Houghton, sought to release journalists from the case.
    He said a previous case made clear that where a journalist writes an article but really has no control over whether the article or parts of it are in fact published, that cannot attract criminal liability for a common law charge of contempt.
    The trial continues on Friday.
    Pell was convicted in December 2018 of abusing two choirboys but reporting on the trial and conviction was gagged by the County Court of Victoria to ensure the cardinal received a fair trial on further charges he was due to face.
    Overseas publications, including the Washington Post, reported the news shortly after the verdict, but not all of them blocked access to Australia.
    After that, some Australian media published articles saying they were unable to report major news regarding an unnamed high profile figure involved in a serious crime, but some flagged that the news was accessible online.
    The companies, including News Corp and Nine Entertainment Co, have denied the contempt charges.
    Pell was acquitted by Australias High Court in April after serving more than a year in jail.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Michael Perry)


11/12/2020 Egyptian Transgender Woman Faces Uphill Battle Against Stigma
Egyptian transgender man Mohamed Fathallah sits on a motorcycle in Cairo, Egypt, October 19, 2020. REUTERS/Rania Gomaa
    CAIRO (Reuters) Farida Aly spent decades performing blood tests, brain scans and personality tests before doctors issued the needed medical reports to allow her to undergo gender reassignment surgery.
    Born Mohamed Ramadan Aly, the transgender woman is one of the few in the conservative Muslim country able to confront what doctors diagnosed as gender dysphoria.
    I had a life, and I lost it completely.    But I made my decision to be the person I wanted to be, said Aly, 50.
    While the gender reassignment procedure is legal, it is a long and complicated process that is highly stigmatized.
    Discrimination against LGBT+ groups is rife in Egypt, with gay and transgender people facing instances of assault and torture, according to Human Rights Watch.
    The issue was brought to public attention earlier this year when a prominent Egyptian actor revealed on a TV talk show that his son was transgender, and expressed support for him.
    Aly, however, was abandoned by her family and left jobless after extended medical leave, and has had to move to a new town where only a handful of people know about her past.
    Our society will never accept my situation, or wont accept it easily.    Society can accept the opposite of my situation but never my own, I have no idea why.    Its just this rule engraved in their minds, she said.
    The former teacher now tutors children in the neighbourhood to earn a living, but her dream is to one day get married and have a child.
    I had a dream that I had a girl and I raised her, brushed her hair and changed her clothes.    I named her Alaa, and until this day I am referred to as Um Alaa (mother of Alaa)."
    Nobody in the neighbourhood calls me by my (first) name, they call me Um Alaa, she said.
(Reporting by Hanaa Habeib; Writing by Seham Eloraby and Nadine Awadalla; Editing by Aidan Lewis and Mike Collett-White)

11/12/2020 Pope Francis Congratulates Biden, Stepping Into Political Fray by Simon Lewis
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis delivers his weekly general audience from the library in the
Apostolic Palace at the Vatican, November 11, 2020. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS
    WILMINGTON, Del. (Reuters) Pope Francis offered his blessings and congratulations to U.S. President-elect Joe Biden in a phone call on Thursday, seeking to rebuild rapport with Washington after four years of sometimes contentious relations with President Donald Trump.
    The conversation was announced by the transition team for Biden, who will become only the second Roman Catholic president in U.S. history when he enters the White House on Jan. 20. Trump has yet to concede and is pursuing legal challenges.
    Francis has clashed with Trump on a number of issues, including China, climate change, Cuba and immigration.
    The president-elect thanked His Holiness for extending blessings and congratulations and noted his appreciation for His Holiness leadership in promoting peace, reconciliation, and the common bonds of humanity around the world, the transition team said in a statement.
    (Biden) expressed his desire to work together on the basis of a shared belief in the dignity and equality of all humankind on issues such as caring for the marginalized and the poor, addressing the crisis of climate change, and welcoming and integrating immigrants and refugees into our communities, it said.
    In February 2016, when the Republican Trump was still a candidate for the presidency, Francis criticized his promise to build a wall along the border with Mexico, saying a man who wanted to build walls is not Christian.
    After Trump was elected, Francis criticized the presidents decision to withdraw from the Paris accord to limit global warming and his administrations policy separating migrant families entering the United States.
    In an interview with Reuters in 2018, Francis said he was saddened by Trumps decision to roll back a deal the Vatican helped broker during the previous Obama administration to encourage trade and travel with Cuba.
    Biden, who attends Mass on Sundays, will be the first American Catholic president since his fellow Democrat John F. Kennedy in the 1960s.
    Conservative American Catholics, many of whom voted for Trump, have said priests should not give communion to Biden because of his views favoring abortion rights.
(Additional reporting by Pete Schroeder in Washington and Philip Pullella in Rome, Writing by Philip Pullella, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Howard Goller)
[To the Pope: Trump is fighting the Globalist DEEP STATE Beast that you are riding on its back and you do not need walls except the ones you live in now that kept the corona virus out while you hid in it and the people of Italy were dying from no walls from the virus released from China so enjoy your ride to hell as it is on its way and most Americans wish that we keep Trump who we know will protect us from the Beast that came out of the sea with 7 heads and 10 horns which is already in the world and fooling many as well as you as you continue to promote sin.].

11/12/2020 EU Launches LGBT Protection Strategy As Homophobia Rises In East by Jan Strupczewski
FILE PHOTO: European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium August 21, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) The European Unions executive Commission launched its first strategy to protect the rights of LGBT people on Thursday, a challenge to right-wing governments in Poland and Hungary that have become increasingly homophobic in the past year.
    The Commission said LGBT people were facing growing discrimination in Europe, even as most people in the bloc were becoming more accepting of gay rights.
    We will defend the rights of LGBT people against those who now have more and more appetite to attack them from this ideological point of view, EU Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova told a news conference.    This belongs to the authoritarian playbook and it does not have a place in the EU.
    The Commission launched its LGBTIQ Equality Strategy, defining the term as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, non-binary, intersex and queer.
    According to survey figures cited by the commission, 43% of LGBT people last year said they felt discriminated against, up from 37% in 2012.    That increase came even though 76% of EU citizens said lesbians, gays, and bisexuals should have equal rights to heterosexuals, up from 71% in 2015.
    Its 2020, and hate and discrimination of people from sexual minorities really does not belong to Europe, Jourova said.
    The new strategy comes as right-wing governments in some former Communist eastern EU member states have made campaigning against gay rights a central part of their ruling>     Ahead of his re-election earlier this year, Polands President Andrzej Duda campaigned against an LGBT ideology he branded more destructive than communism.    He has pledged to ban teaching of gay rights in schools.
    This week, Hungarys right-wing government proposed a constitutional amendment to require children to be brought up with a Christian interpretation of gender roles, and a law that would effectively ban adoptions by same-sex couples.
    Family law is member states competence, we fully respect it, Jourova said.    However, when applying national law, member states must respect their international human rights obligations and applicable EU law.        Member States should also respect the fundamental values on which the Union is based, including equality and human rights.
    Earlier this year, the Commission cut EU funding to some Polish towns that declared themselves LGBT-free zones.    The Polish government compensated the towns.
    We can never accept LGBT-free zones because they are, actually, humanity free zones, EU Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli told the news conference.
    Jurova and Dalli made clear the EU would not fund any projects that did not respect LGBT rights.
    The Commission has proposed including homophobic hate crimes in a list of so-called Eurocrimes, major offences such as terrorism and human trafficking, for which the EU can set minimum rules.    That would require unanimity among EU members.
    The EU strategy would also seek to ensure that the legal status of relationships in families that include LGBT people cannot be revoked when they cross borders.
(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski, additional reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Marine Strauss and Peter Graff)

11/12/2020 Pope Offers Romes Homeless Free Covid-19 Tests At Vatican by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: A homeless person feeds pigeons, before Pope Francis leads Palm Sunday mass without public participation
due to the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the Vatican, April 5, 2020. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Pope Francis is offering free coronavirus tests for Romes poor and homeless as part of the Roman Catholic Churchs World Day of the Poor activities, the Vatican said on Thursday.
    The swabs are being offered at a clinic off St. Peters Square that the pope set up several years ago to provide basic medical care to destitute people, some of whom live on the streets in the neighbourhood around the Vatican.
    Italy surpassed the one-million infections mark on Wednesday, leap-frogging Mexico to become one of the top 10 worst-affected countries globally, according to a Reuters tally. [L8N2HX6L3]
    Archbishop Rino Fisichella told reporters that some 50 coronavirus tests a day were being done and the initiative would continue indefinitely.
    Those who test negative get a certificate to enter a shelter and those who test positive are directed to further treatment.
    Many of Italys homeless are foreigners who do not have a family doctor with the national health system and Italians who become homeless, because of economic difficulties, often are too embarrassed to return to their family doctors.
    The pope established the World Day of the Poor four years ago to bring attention to the needy, particularly in developed countries.    It is being marked this Sunday.
    In past years, he has held Mass for thousands of poor people in St. Peters Basilica and then treated 1,500 homeless people to lunch in a Vatican auditorium.
    Because of coronavirus restrictions, only 100 poor people will attend Mass in the vast basilica.
    The lunch has been cancelled but about 5,000 food parcels will be delivered to poor families, including 2.5 tons of pasta donated by an Italian food company.
    More than 350,000 masks will be given to students in Romes less affluent outskirts.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

11/15/2020 French Catholics Hold Open Air Mass To Protest Against COVID-19 Restrictions
Parishioners wearing protective face masks pray at Graslin square during an open air mass in Nantes, as public masses are suspended during the second national
lockdown as part of the measures to fight a second wave of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in France, November 15, 2020. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
    NANTES, France (Reuters) Catholics held an open-air mass in the western French city of Nantes on Sunday to protest against COVID-19 restrictions, under which masses are banned in churches.
    Some Catholics also gathered by the Saint Louis Cathedral in Versailles, near Paris, but police banned a demonstration planned by Catholics in the capital.
    In Nantes, which is home to one of Frances best-known cathedrals, dozens of people, wearing face masks, knelt down with umbrellas in pouring rain to pray in the central Graslin Square, and to support calls for public masses to resume.
    It is very hard for us.    Its like we are being deprived of our food.    We need our spiritual food.    When we are deprived of our mass, it is like being deprived of our food, said Jerome Duchesne, a protester taking part in the ceremony in Nantes.
    Duchesne said the masses should resume since churches and cathedrals could easily adopt COVID-19 sanitary protocols, such as by having sufficient spaces between worshippers.
    As part of a lockdown that came into effect on Oct. 30, large public gatherings in all religious venues have been banned, due to fears that the COVID-19 virus can spread rapidly in enclosed spaces.
    Earlier this year, a large religious gathering in the French city of Mulhouse resulted in a big COVID-19 cluster during the first wave of the virus in February and March.
    In Paris, police stepped up controls over the weekend to ensure residents were complying with lockdown rules.
(Reporting by Stephane Mahe, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

11/16/2020 Saint Pope John Paul II A Hasty Halo? by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope John Paul II and Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, give their blessing at the end
of the weekly general audience at the Paul VI hall in the Vatican, September 1, 2004. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) During his 27-year pontificate, Pope John Paul II canonised so many people that some dubbed the Vatican the saint factory.
    Now, the Polish popes own legacy is under a shadow and some Catholics are asking if declaring him a saint in 2014, a record nine years after his death, may have been a hasty decision.
    Last week, the Vatican issued its report on ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a star of the U.S. Church who was expelled from the priesthood last year after an internal investigation found him guilty of sexual abuses of minors and adults and abuse of power.
    It showed that John Paul had promoted McCarrick in 2000 to be archbishop of Washington DC despite persistent rumours of sexual misconduct, believing his personal denial and overruling several senior Church officials who had advised him against it.
    The report rekindled a debate between John Pauls defenders and detractors that had accompanied his canonisation an official recognition that a person lived and died in such an exemplary manner that they are with God in heaven and worthy of public veneration or cult across the Church.
    Saints are human beings, and saints, in their humanity, can be deceived, wrote papal biographer George Weigel.
    The head of the Polish bishops conference said McCarrick had cynically deceived John Paul, but not all Poles agreed.    In Warsaw, someone placed a sticker on a street sign reading John Paul II Avenue to make it read Victims of John Paul II Avenue.
    In the United States, the influential National Catholic Reporter newspaper urged bishops to suppress the cult of the late pope.    That meant that, while he would still be considered a saint, schools or churches should not bear his name and activities of devotion towards him should be private.
    It is time for a difficult reckoning.    This man undermined the global Churchs witness, shattered its credibility as an institution, and set a deplorable example for bishops in ignoring the accounts of abuse victims, its editorial said.
    Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said he had no comment.
    The McCarrick Report said John Pauls willingness to believe the former cardinals denial was likely to have been influenced by his experience in his Poland, when communists used false abuse allegations to weaken the Church.
    John Pauls defenders have offered the same explanation to counter allegations that he turned a blind eye to Father Marcial Maciel, the     Mexican founder of the Legionaries of Christ religious order who was the Churchs most notorious sexual abuser.
    The problems that have arisen over John Pauls treatment of McCarrick prove that it is a mistake to be too hasty in canonising anyone, said Father Tom Reese, senior analyst for the independent Religion News Service.
    I oppose canonising popes because it is often more about Church politics than sanctity, he said.    Saints are supposed to be models to be imitated.    How can you model yourself after a pope unless you are a pope?
    John Paul canonised nearly 500 saints, compared to 300 in the previous 600 years.
    He changed an earlier rule that the process leading to canonisation, known as a cause, could not start until 50 years after a persons death.    He cut it to five years and permitted fast-track exceptions.
    When Pope Benedict XVI was elected in 2005, he waived the rule, allowing John Pauls cause to start only weeks after his death.
    Catholic author Dawn Eden Goldstein tweeted that the McCarrick Report had not changed her belief that John Paul was a saint, but had changed how she prays to him:
    I now pray: Dear St. John Paul II, You broke it.    You fix it.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

11/16/2020 LGBT Activists Welcome Rainbow Light Show In Poland, Say More Action Needed by by Alicja Ptak
Palace of Culture and Science is illuminated in rainbow colours in a gesture of solidarity with the LGBT
community during International Day of Tolerance in Warsaw, Poland, November 16, 2020. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
    WARSAW (Reuters) Several cities in Poland illuminated buildings with rainbow colours on Monday in a gesture of solidarity with the LGBT+ community, but activists called for more support in the face of rising hostility.
    LGBT rights have been a flashpoint in Poland over the last two years, with politicians tied to the ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party and senior members of the Catholic Church arguing against what they term LGBT ideology
    Last week liberal Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, along with several other city mayors, pledged to illuminate buildings with rainbow colours to mark the International Day for Tolerance.
    To many religious conservatives in predominantly Catholic Poland, Trzaskowski represented a threat to traditional values when he signed an LGBT+ Charter pledging, for example, to introduce education about LGBT rights in Warsaw schools.
    But LGBT+ activists say Trzaskowski has not fulfilled the promises he made, which included creating a shelter for young LGBT+ people who became homeless after coming out to their families.
    This is obviously a symbolic gesture and we welcome it when it comes from mayors of smaller cities and smaller towns, said Hubert Sobecki, an activist with a non-governmental organisation Love does not exclude.
    We expect more from someone who pledged to do something tangible for the community, he said, adding that two years after the LGBT+ Charter was signed there was absolutely no action from the municipality.
    A Warsaw city hall spokeswoman said the mayor was committed to the charters proposals but their implementation was a complex process and some efforts had been halted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
    Buildings were also illuminated in Gdansk, Krakow, Poznan, Wroclaw and other smaller towns.
    Activists say hostility is rising against LGBT+ people in Poland, which does not recognise any form of same-sex marriage, and there have even been calls for Pride parades to be banned.
    Bartosz Staszewski, a filmmaker and LGBT activist, said the illumination of a bridge over the Vistula river in Warsaw made him think of a trans activist who died after jumping off a bridge.
    I have such terribly bad associations when now the same bridges are simply rainbow-lit and nothing more will happen in Warsaw, he said.
(Reporting by Alicja Ptak; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

11/16/2020 Polish Cardinal Accused Of Sexual Abuse Dies Aged 97
FILE PHOTO: Polish cardinals Jozef Glemp (R) and Henryk Roman Gulbinowicz walk through the Vatican April 7, 2005. REUTERS/Tony Gentile/File Photo
    WARSAW (Reuters) A Polish cardinal who was accused of sexually abusing a minor has died at the age of 97, Polands Roman Catholic Church said on Monday.
    Cardinal Henryk Gulbinowicz, the former archbishop of Wroclaw, had been disciplined after an investigation into allegations regarding the cardinals past, the Vaticans nunciature (embassy) in Poland said earlier this month.
    The Church said on Twitter that he had died on Monday morning.    Polish media said Gulbinowicz had been in hospital in a serious condition for more than a week.
    I am asking God in His mercy to forgive the deceased for what caused suffering to the victims and pain to the community of believers, Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, Polands most senior cleric, wrote in a message of condolence.
    Last year, Polands Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper published an article written by a man who accused Gulbinowicz of sexually abusing him when he was a minor in the 1990s and a student in a Catholic seminary.
    The case was brought to prosecutors but they could not proceed because of the statue of limitations. At the time, the cardinals lawyer said the accusations were false.
    However, Gulbinowicz was barred from practising his ministry in public and ordered to contribute to a fund to help victims of sexual abuse, the nunciature said.
    It also said he would be denied burial in what was once his cathedral, a tradition in Roman Catholic countries.
    Gulbinowicz was the latest of several clerics to be caught up in sexual abuse scandals in Poland, the homeland of the late Pope John Paul II, where the Catholic Church remains very influential.
    The Vatican recently ordered an investigation into the former archbishop of Gdansk on suspicion of negligence over sex abuse allegations, a month after Pope Francis accepted the resignation of a Polish bishop accused of shielding sexually abusive priests.
(Reporting by Alan Charlish; Editing by Gareth Jones)

11/17/2020 Australian Media Trial Over Pell Conviction Adjourned; Judge Considers Dismissing Charges by Sonali Paul
FILE PHOTO: Former Vatican treasurer George Pell arrives after travelling for first time since he was acquitted of
child sex abuse charges in Australia, at Rome's Fiumicino Airport, September 30, 2020. REUTERS/Alberto Lingria
    MELBOURNE (Reuters) An Australian judge on Tuesday adjourned a trial of Australian journalists and media to consider whether to dismiss charges they breached a court suppression order on reporting of ex-Vatican treasurer George Pells 2018 child sex abuse conviction.
    Supreme Court of Victoria judge John Dixon said he expected to make the decision in a few days.
    Lawyers for the media asked the court to throw out the whole case, or dismiss charges just against the journalists as they were not responsible for publishing their articles, or dismiss charges against media outside the state of Victoria News Corps Courier Mail and Daily Telegraph, and Nine Entertainments Sydney Morning Herald and 2GB Radio.
    Pell was convicted in December 2018 of sexually assaulting two choirboys, but reporting on the trial and outcome was gagged by the County Court of Victoria to ensure the cardinal received a fair trial on further charges he was due to face.
    Overseas media, including the Washington Post, reported the news, naming Pell and the charges, shortly after the verdict.     After those were published, some Australian media ran stories saying they were unable to report major news regarding an unnamed high profile figure but flagged the news was accessible online.
    The state of Victorias prosecutors allege that publications breached the gag order by encouraging readers to find the news online, potentially tainting jurors in the second trial Pell was facing. Pell never faced a second trial.
    Lawyers for the media argued on Tuesday that the prosecutions case provided no evidence that anyone who read the Australian articles went on to search for overseas articles.
    Your honour might think this journalism crossed a line, but the question is what line did it cross, the lawyer for Nine and Mamamia, Matt Collins, told the court.
    The medias lawyers also argued that had anyone looked for those overseas articles, they would not have found the articles that the prosecution presented in its case, as those were mostly written after the Australian articles and broadcasts.
    Thirteen of the 100 charges in the case were dropped last week.
    Breaches of suppression orders can be punished with up to five years jail and fines of nearly A$100,000 ($73,240) for individuals and nearly A$500,000 for companies.
    Pell was acquitted in April after he served more than a year in jail.
($1 = 1.3654 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Michael Perry)

11/17/2020 After McCarrick Scandal, U.S. Bishops Call For Greater Transparency by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Roman Catholic Cardinal Emeritus Theodore McCarrick, part of a U.S. clerical delegation, looks on during
a meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran September 17, 2011. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl
    (Reuters) U.S. Roman Catholic leaders called on Monday for greater transparency and vetting in the appointment of bishops after the scandal of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who rose through the ranks despite repeated allegations of sexual misconduct.
    The American bishops made the suggestions during their annual general assembly, held virtually this year because of the coronavirus pandemic and in the wake of an explosive 450-page report issued by the Vatican last week.
    McCarrick, a star of the U.S. Church, was expelled from the priesthood last year after an internal investigation found him guilty of sexual abuse of minors and adults and abuse of power.
    The report showed that Pope John Paul II had promoted McCarrick in 2000 to be archbishop of Washington DC despite persistent rumours of sexual misconduct.    The late pope believed his personal denial over the word of several senior Church officials who had advised him against promoting McCarrick.
    The lesson learned is that we should take very seriously the recommendations and comments that come from those in authority, Donald Hanchon, an auxiliary bishop of Detroit, said during a public session of the meeting that was streamed on the Internet.
    Bishop Mark Brennan of Charleston, West Virginia, said procedures leading to the appointment of bishops which are for the most part secret and carried out by Vatican representatives should be transparent.
    We should look at the way bishops are vetted, he said.    Brennan added that once a priest is slated for a promotion to the bishopric, his name should be made public before he takes office.
    He suggested a two-month period to give people time to come forward with any information they may have.
    Im really amazed with the autonomy we have, that we are really beholden to no-one, said Bishop William Wack of Tallahassee, Florida.
    Its a stunning, stunning report people knew, there were whispers about things but no-one put the pieces together and very few people confronted the offenders directly, Wack said.
    Other bishops suggested the Church set up a system whereby seminarians studying for the priesthood are asked regularly if any bishop is abusing his power.
    McCarrick has said he had no recollection of child abuse and has not commented publicly on allegations of misconduct with adults.    Now aged 90, he is living in isolation.
    The report found that he used his authority over the careers of priests and seminarians to force them to sleep with him.
    The former cardinal was also a formidable fund raiser and often gave monetary gifts to other bishops and Vatican officials.
    Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth, Texas, said the report mentioned the gifts but did not name who received the money.    He said the information should be made public.
    Several of the bishops defended the legacy of Pope John Paul, saying McCarrick was a pathological liar who had deceived the pontiff.
    John Paul died in 2005 and was declared a saint in 2014, a record nine years for a process that sometimes takes decades or even centuries.     Critics have said the canonisation process was too hasty.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella in Rome, Editing by Rosalba OBrien)

11/18/2020 Poland And Hungary Dig In Over EU Budget Stand Off by Marton Dunai and Alan Charlish
FILE PHOTO: Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrives for the first face-to-face EU summit since the
coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Brussels, Belgium July 19, 2020. John Thys/Pool via REUTERS
    BUDAPEST/WARSAW (Reuters) The prime ministers of Poland and Hungary accused European Union countries of blackmail on Wednesday, digging their heels in after vetoing the blocs budget and post-COVID recovery package.
    The two countries on Monday blocked the EUs 2021-2027 budget and the recovery plan, worth a combined 1.85 trillion euros ($2.2 trillion), because access to the funds would be conditional upon respecting the rule of law.
    Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that he would ask lawmakers to vote on a resolution supporting the governments stance regarding the veto, after an address to parliament in which he railed against what he said was unequal treatment of some member states.
    If our partners do not understand that we do not agree to unequal treatment of states then we will really use that veto in the end, he said.
    The EU must be built on a foundation of law and legal certainty . Without this principle of legal certainty, the EU is a mechanism of arbitrary decision-making by Eurocrats and de facto by the European oligarchy, he added.
    He said one reason that some EU states wanted to pressure and blackmail Poland was the countrys opposition to tax havens.    We will not let ourselves be blackmailed, he said.
    Poland has made reforms of the judiciary a key plank of its bid to reshape Poland and remove what it sees as a residue of Communist influence.    Critics, including the European Commission, say the reforms are designed to increase political control of the courts.
    Hungarian Premier Viktor Orban, whose nationalist government is under investigation for undermining the independence of Hungarys courts, media and non-governmental organisations, linked his veto to his continued opposition to mass immigration into the EU.
    Once this proposal gets adopted, there will be no more obstacles to tying member states share of common funds to supporting migration and use financial means to blackmail countries which oppose migration, Orban said in a statement published by state news agency MTI earlier on Wednesday.
    There was no immediate reaction to his comments from the EUs executive Commission.
    The budget and recovery package do not have any specific clauses about immigration, which Orban has long opposed as a threat to national and European identity and culture.
    Political Capital analyst Patrik Szicherle said Orbans comments were aimed at shoring up support among his nationalist base and at broadening his options in upcoming talks.
    He wants to dilute the conditions enough not to limit his room for manoeuvre, he said.    At the same time frugal states like the Netherlands want firm conditions (to disbursement of funds) This is a stalemate we dont see a clear path out of.
    The eastern states are big recipients of EU subsidies.
    Germany, which holds the EUs rotating presidency, said on Tuesday it was confident of finding a compromise.
    Czech and Slovak foreign ministers, at a joint news conference on Wednesday, urged swift action to ensure a speedy release of money sorely needed to revive Europes pandemic-stricken economy.
    Czech Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek said the German presidency could probably end the deadlock before year-end.
    Slovak Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok said the deadlock does not please anybody there is still space to find a solution, to depoliticise the whole issue.
(Additional reporting by Jason Hovet in PRAGUE, Alan Charlish, Joanna Plucinska, Agnieszka Barteczko, Pawel Florkiewicz and Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk in WARSAW; Editing by Gareth Jones, Bernadette Baum and Mark Potter)

11/18/2020 Blood On Your Hands: Polish Ruling Party Boss Slams Opposition Amid Protests by Alan Charlish
People take part in a protest organized by the Strajk Kobiet (Women's Strike) movement, following a court ruling imposing
a near-total abortion ban, in Warsaw, Poland, November 18, 2020. Slawomir Kaminski/Agencja Gazeta/via REUTERS
    WARSAW (Reuters) Polands ruling party leader accused opposition politicians of having blood on their hands for supporting protests the government blames for helping to spread COVID-19, as police kept demonstrators against an abortion ruling away from parliament.
    Protesters had planned to blockade parliament as part of demonstrations against a top court ruling that amounted to a near-total ban on abortion.
    Police kept them away from the building and local media reported that scuffles broke out in the city centre.    A left-wing lawmaker said a member of their party was beaten by police.
Television footage showed a line of riot police blocking the route of protesters.
    A police spokesman could not be reached for comment.
    All the demonstrations you supported have cost the lives of many people you have blood on your hands, Law and Justice (PiS) party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski told opposition lawmakers in the parliament.
    PiS have blamed the protests for spreading COVID-19.
    Earlier footage from private broadcaster TVN 24 showed protesters playing drums and dancing in the street, while others carried placards with slogans including Womens Hell.
    While centred on abortion, the protests have seen a broader outpouring of anger at Polands nationalist rulers and their allies in the     Catholic church, the latest manifestation of a battle between liberals and religious conservatives that this time touches on the governments response to COVID-19.
    Pictures on social media showed large numbers of police vans outside parliament before the protest was due to start.
    The fact that there are so many police officers shows that PiS are afraid of women, left-wing lawmaker Joanna Scheuring-Wielgus told Reuters by telephone.
    A PiS spokeswomen could not immediately be reached for comment.
    The protests took place as Polish lawmakers met in the parliament to discuss issues such as the countrys veto of the European Unions budget and a post-COVID recovery package.
(Reporting by Alan Charlish, Editing by William Maclean and Tom Brown)

11/19/2020 George Soros Urges EU To Stand Up To Hungary And Poland On Recovery Fund
FILE PHOTO: Billionaire investor George Soros attends the Schumpeter Award in Vienna, Austria June 21, 2019. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner
    LONDON (Reuters) Billionaire financier George Soros said the European Union must stand up to Hungary and Poland and cannot afford to compromise on the rule-of-law provisions it applies to the funds it allocates to member states.
    Hungary and Poland on Monday blocked the adoption of the 2021-2027 budget and recovery fund by European Union governments because the budget law included a clause which makes access to money conditional on respecting the rule of law.
    This delay the launch of the 1.8 trillion euro package that combines the EUs long-term budget and the blocs economic recovery plan.
    In a Project Syndicate article published on Thursday, Soros said Hungary and Polands veto of the EU budget and coronavirus recovery plan could be circumvented.
    If there is no agreement on a new EU budget, the old budget could be extended on a yearly basis.    If this is the case, Poland and Hungary would risk not receiving any payments under new rule of law conditions, the financier and philanthropist argued.
    The EU cant afford to compromise on the rule-of-law provisions, Soros wrote.    He added that in the case of Hungary, EU funds should be directed to local authorities.
(Reporting by Dhara Ranasinghe; editing by Sujata Rao)

11/19/2020 Hungary Reiterates It Cannot Back EU Budget In Its Present Form
FILE PHOTO: Gergely Gulyas, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbans chief of staff speaks during
an interview in his office in Budapest, Hungary on September 16, 2019. REUTERS/Gergely Szakacs
    BUDAPEST (Reuters) Hungary cannot accept the European Unions budget and post-COVID recovery package in its present form as it amounts to blackmail, Prime Minister Viktor Orbans chief of staff reiterated on Thursday.
    There is zero chance for the EU budget or the rescue package to take effect in its present form, Gergely Gulyas told a briefing, saying Hungarys veto was in past tense.
    Hungary and Poland on Monday blocked the EUs 2021-2027 budget and recovery plan, worth a combined 1.85 trillion euros ($2.2 trillion), because access to the funds would be conditional upon respecting the rule of law.
    Orban, whose nationalist government is under investigation for undermining the independence of Hungarys media and non-governmental organisations, has linked his veto to his continued opposition to mass immigration into the EU.
    Gulyas said that in theory the EU budget and the so-called Next Generation recovery fund could be treated separately.
    However, he said in practice it would be difficult because leaders considered them together in July, and there could be several member states which would find it unacceptable that the recovery fund takes effect, while the future of the budget is uncertain.
(Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Giles Elgood)

11/19/2020 Head Of Greek Church, Archbishop Ieronymos, Tests Positive For COVID
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis (L) gestures next to Archbishop Ieronymos II on the Greek Island of Lesbos during a visit aimed at supporting refugees and drawing
attention to the front line of Europe's migration crisis in Lesbos, Greece, April 16, 2016. REUTERS/ Filippo Monteforte/pool/File Photo
    ATHENS (Reuters) The head of the Church of Greece, Archbishop Ieronymos, has tested positive for COVID-19 and is being treated with mild symptoms in a central Athens hospital, Greek media reported on Thursday.
    Ieronymos, 82, is the spiritual head of the Church in the deeply devout nation of more than 11 million which overwhelmingly identify themselves as Greek Orthodox Christians.
    Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who met the prelate on Nov. 14, has twice in the past seven days tested negative for the novel coronavirus; once before his meeting with the cleric, and a second time before travelling to the United Arab Emirates, an official statement said.
    Taking that into account, experts recommend there is no reason for precautionary quarantine, government spokesman Stelios Petsas said, adding the government wished Ieronymos a speedy recovery.
(Reporting By Michele Kambas, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

11/20/2020 CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC - Churches are asked to halt in-person services - Places of worship divided over governors request by Ben Tobin and Ayana Archie, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear asked religious leaders Thursday to suspend in-person services at houses of worship, resurfacing a controversial issue in Kentuckys battle to curb the surging coronavirus.
    And while some members of the Kentucky Council of Churches are receptive to the idea, other church officials immediately rejected the request and said they wont change their plans.
    That includes the nearly 300 Catholic churches across the commonwealth, including more than 100 in the Archdiocese of Louisville.
    At this time, we will not be suspending public liturgies but encourage all to act in a responsible way that respects the seriousness of this pandemic and the health and safety of all, Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz said.
    Its an approach, he added, that is also being followed by bishops from the dioceses of Lexington, Covington and Owensboro.
    Beshears request came as Kentucky on Thursday reported a record-breaking day for new COVID-19 cases 3,649 and a positivity rate of 9.18%.    The governor also reported 30 new coronavirus related deaths.    It was the states second- highest COVID-19-related death toll for a single day.
The Cathedral of the Assumption, part of the Archdiocese of Louisville, will not suspend in-person services. MICHAEL CLEVENGER/COURIER JOURNAL
    Beshear said he discussed the recommendation with the Kentucky Council of Churches in a biweekly phone call and that leaders on the call were receptive and that many houses of worship in Kentucky already have been holding virtual services.
    Without providing specific examples, Beshear said Kentucky has had at least 35 examples in the past six weeks of community spread at houses of worship through services, potlucks, revivals and other events.
    It is a request, Beshear said during his virtual press briefing Thursday.
    But Ill tell you what, I think the vast majority of houses of worship out there, first of all, are already doing this, seeing whats going on in their community. They want to protect their congregations, and our faith leaders have been so incredible in their leadership during this.
    Beshears request is a recommendation, unlike the mandate he issued in March that was struck down by a federal court as unconstitutional two months later.
    Beshear faced criticism for that directive, particularly when he sent Kentucky State Police troopers to Maryville Baptist Church on Easter.    The troopers placed quarantine notices on cars and wrote down license numbers as attendees attended services inside the Bullitt County church.
    Ken Gilbert, the pastor for Union Church in Berea and a leader with the Kentucky Council of Churches, said Beshear reached out to the group late last week about virtual services. The group represents 11 denominations and 16 regional areas in Kentucky and has more than 1,100 member churches.
    Gilbert said while he cannot speak for all of the churches, he believes many will comply with Beshears request.
    The vast majority of the churches, they were trying to be very, very, very careful already, and would be very receptive to the governors request, Gilbert said.
    A few other Louisville churches reached by The Courier Journal on Thursday evening were also receptive.
    At the Christ Temple Christian Life Center in western Louisville where Bishop Michael Ford Sr. died from the coronavirus last month virtual services will continue as they have for the last couple of months, until at least New Years Day, trustee E. Andre Douglas said.
    In spite of what the governor says, we put precautions in place a while ago, Douglas said of the church on South 45th Street.    We wont be doing anything else until further notice, until we know for sure that our patrons will be protected.
    Deer Park Baptist Church, 1733 Bardstown Road, also will continue its virtual services.
    We will follow that order, a representative said.    We are virtual and will continue to be.
    Kurtz said he and the states other Catholic bishops wanted to reiterate the importance of following all of the guidelines that have been in place for the past several months.    He added that the church would continue to provide remote liturgies and the dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass.
    Catholics are called to attend Mass every Sunday unless such a dispensation is issued.
    Kurtz said the churchs directives for in-person attendees include wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands.
    The archdiocese also told leaders at local Catholic schools they should consider switching to virtual classes until early January because of increased COVID-19 cases in classrooms and the community.
    Kentucky has seen an exponential rise in COVID-19 cases in November, with the commonwealth recording its five highest days of new cases this past week.    Beshear announced Thursday that 1,550 Kentuckians were in the hospital, 358 were in intensive care units and 199 were on a ventilator due to the deadly disease.
    And as of Thursday, 112 of Kentuckys 120 counties were in the red zone meaning they had 25 or more new cases daily per 100,000 people.
    Given the spike in coronavirus cases across Kentucky, Beshear outlined a new set of mandates Wednesday to help curb the spread of the disease, including shutting down most K-12 schools until the end of the semester.
    Other coronavirus-related restrictions will start Friday and stay in effect through Dec. 13.    Those include closing indoor dining services at restaurants and bars, and limiting capacity at gyms to 33%.
The Cathedral of the Assumption is seen Thursday. The Louisville archdiocese will continue in-person services. MICHAEL CLEVENGER/COURIER JOURNAL

11/20/2020 For Hungarys Same-Sex Couples, A Narrow Window To Adopt Is Closing by Krisztina Than and Krisztina Fenyo
Same sex couple Adam Hanol and Marton Pal play with their four year old adopted
son Andras at a playground in Budapest, Hungary, November 19, 2020. REUTERS/Krisztina Fenyo
    BUDAPEST (Reuters) After three years, Marton Pal and his partner Adam Hanol received the phone call they had been waiting for in 2018 and a few months later they adopted Andris, a smart and lively boy who has since turned four.
    As a Hungarian same-sex couple, the only way to adopt was if Pal applied as a single person.    During interviews they told the adoption agency that they were in fact a couple. After 6 months, he got the permission.
    In the same year they decided Andris should have a brother or sister, and this time Hanol applied. They have been waiting since November 2018 for the phone to ring again.
    Now they fear that call will never come, since Hungarys nationalist government is putting forward legislation that would practically ban adoption by same-sex couples in what rights groups have said is an attack on the LGBTQ community.
    The legislation says single people can only adopt with special permission from the minister in charge of family affairs.    Even though Hanol has a valid permit, they think their chances have now diminished.
    Andris has been a miracle, that we could have him in our lives, so we are very grateful for that but I think our chances have deteriorated now, Pal said, playing with Andris in a leafy playground on the Buda side of the Danube.
    Anybody dealing with arranging adoption is at least in waiting mode now, or rather afraid to offer children to couples like us or single people, Hanol added.    They wont give up though.
    The government, which has stepped up anti-LGBTQ rhetoric as the coronavirus crisis hit the economy, has also proposed a constitutional amendment that declares the basis for family relations is marriage The mother is a woman, the father is a man.
    In May, Hungary banned gender changes in personal documents and has taken issue with childrens books that portray diversity positively.     Prime Minister Viktor Orbans cabinet chief Gergely Gulyas told a briefing that the physical and mental development of a child is ensured if he has a father and a mother, adding that there could be exceptions and thats why the bill allows single people to adopt as well.     Lydia Gall, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, said the legislation encouraged intolerance.
    This latest attack on the LGBT community in Hungary really shows the importance and emergency of why EU funds should be linked to the respect for rule of law and our common European values, Gall said, referring to a debate in the EU after Hungary and its ally Poland vetoed the blocs budget.
    Hungary and Poland, where the ruling party made campaigning against gay rights a key part of its ideology, refuse to back the EUs financial plan because the money is conditional on respecting the rule of law.
    For same-sex couples in Hungary, the governments domestic campaign and increasing homophobia are a life-changer.
    Balint Meiszterics, who planned to apply for adoption with his partner next year, said he was angry and sad at the same time, as the new bill could stop them having a family.
    The message here is that the government has an idea how a family should look like, how a true Hungarian looks like, and those who do not fit this have no place here, he said.
(Writing by Krisztina Than; Editing by Giles Elgood)
[The above statement 'respect for rule of law and our common European values' should tell you the Godlessness that the European Union is all in except a few nations who know the difference.].

11/20/2020 Vatican Asks Instagram To Investigate Mysterious Papal Like Of Model
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis greets people as he leaves after the weekly general audience in Aula Paolo VI at the Vatican, October 28, 2020. REUTERS/Yara Nardi/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) The Vatican said on Friday that it had asked Instagram to investigate how a like attributed to Pope Francis official account ended up on a photo of a scantily clad Brazilian model.
    The like was discovered earlier this week by one of the 2.4 million people who follow Natalia Garibotto on the photo and video sharing site.
    A Vatican spokesman said Instagram was looking into the matter.    A Vatican source said that, according to early indications, the like did not come from the Vatican and that it was unclear whether the account had been hacked.
    All of the popes social media accounts are managed by a communications office.    He has 7.4 million followers on Instagram.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Gareth Jones)

11/23/2020 Pope Says His Brush With Death Helps Him Relate To Covid Victims by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis delivers his weekly general audience virtually in the pope's official private library in the Apostolic Palace without public
participation due to the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the Vatican, November 4, 2020. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Pope Francis says in a new book that he can relate to people in intensive care units who fear dying from coronavirus because of his own experience when part of his lung was removed 63 years ago.
    Italian newspapers published excerpts of the new book Let Us Dream: The Path to A Better Future, on Monday ahead of publication next month.
    In the book, a conversation with one of his biographers, Briton Austen Ivereigh, Francis talks in some of the most personal terms to date about the time he was hovering between life and death.
    I know from experience the feeling of those who are sick with coronavirus, struggling to breathe as they are attached to a ventilator, he said.
    Francis was a 21-year-old seminarian in the second year of his studies for the priesthood in his native Buenos Aires when an illness that had been mis-diagnosed as influenza worsened and he was hospitalised.
    They took about a litre and a half of water out of one lung and I was hanging between life and death, he said.
    Several months later doctors removed the upper lobe of his right lung. Today, the 83-year-old pope can be heard breathing heavily after climbing stairs.
    (The experience) changed my bearings, he said.    For months I didnt know who I was, if I would live or die, even the doctors didnt know.    I remember hugging my mother one day and asking her if I was about to die.
    Francis recounts how a nun who worked as nurse helped save his life by secretly doubling the doses of penicillin and streptomycin that a doctor had prescribed.
    Thanks to her regular contact with sick people, she knew what patients needed better than the doctor and had the courage to put that experience to work, he said.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

11/23/2020 Pope, For First Time, Says Chinas Uighurs Are Persecuted by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis delivers his homily during a Mass celebrated as part of World Youth Day,
at St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, November 22, 2020. Vincenzo Pinto/Pool via REUTERS
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) In a new book, Pope Francis for the first time calls Chinas Muslim Uighurs a persecuted people, something human rights activists have been urging him to do for years.
    In the wide-ranging Let Us Dream: The Path to A Better Future, Francis also says the COVID-19 pandemic should spur governments to consider permanently establishing a universal basic income.
    In the book, a 150-page collaboration with his English-language biographer, Austen Ivereigh, Francis speaks of economic, social and political changes he says are needed to address inequalities after the pandemic ends.    It goes on sale on Dec. 1.
    He also says people who see wearing masks as an imposition by the state are victims only in their imagination and praises those who protested against the death of George Floyd in police custody for rallying around the healthy indignation that united them.
    I think often of persecuted peoples: the Rohingya, the poor Uighurs, the Yazidi, he said in a section where he also talks about persecuted Christians in Islamic countries.
    While the pope has spoken out before about the Rohingya who have fled Myanmar, and the killing of Yazidi by Islamic State in Iraq, it was the first time he mentioned the Uighurs.
    Faith leaders, activist groups and governments have said crimes against humanity and genocide are taking place against Uighurs in Chinas remote Xinjiang region, where more than 1 million people are held in camps.
    Last month, during a conference at the Vatican, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blasted China over its treatment of Uighurs.
    Beijing has rejected the allegations as a attempt to discredit China, saying the camps are vocational education and training centres as part of counter-terrorism and deradicalisation measures.
    Many commentators have said the Vatican was reluctant to speak out on the Uighurs earlier because it was in the process of renewing a controversial accord with Beijing on the appointment of bishops.    The accord, which Pompeo urged the Vatican to abandon, was renewed in September.
    Francis also gives his clearest support to date in the book to universal basic income (UBI), a controversial policy espoused by some economists and sociologists in which governments give a fixed amount of money to each citizen with no conditions attached.
    UBI was a cornerstone of the campaign of Andrew Yang last year during the Democratic presidential primaries in the United States.
    Recognising the value to society of the work of nonearners is a vital part of our rethinking in the post-Covid world.    Thats why I believe it is time to explore concepts like the universal basic income (UBI) he said.
    By providing a universal basic income, we can free and enable people to work for the community in a dignified way, he said.
    Francis again criticised trickle-down economics, the theory favoured by conservatives that tax breaks and other incentives for big business and the wealthy eventually will benefit the rest of society through investment and job creation.
    He called it the false assumption of the infamous trickle-down theory that a growing economy will make us all richer.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing By Tom Brown)

11/23/2020 Catholic Leaders In Mexico Move Guadalupe Pilgrimage Online To Avoid Crowds
FILE PHOTO: Pilgrims camp at the Basilica of Guadalupe during the annual pilgrimage in honor of the Virgin of
Guadalupe, patron saint of Mexican Catholics, in Mexico City, Mexico December 11, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
    MEXICO CITY (Reuters) Mexican church and civic leaders on Monday canceled an annual gathering that attracts massive crowds of Catholic pilgrims to protect people amid an intensifying coronavirus outbreak.
    The feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe celebrated on Dec. 12 typically features lavish pageantry at her namesake basilica in the north of Mexico City where throngs of pilgrims arrive on their knees in prayer.
    But this year the festivities will move online, according to a statement issued by the bishops conference and city government.
    The health conditions the country is experiencing due to COVID-19 do not permit us at this time to celebrate the Virgin of Guadalupe together at her sanctuary, the statement said.
    The closure will run from Dec. 10 through Dec. 13, and a security perimeter will be erected to ensure compliance.
    The basilica is the most visited Catholic shrine of the Americas and was built next to a hill where legend holds that Jesuss mother, Mary, appeared to an Aztec man in the 1531 just a decade after the Spanish conquest of Mexico.
    The authorities said that while millions would like to attend the celebration in search of comfort in the face of anguish, despair and helplessness the common good motivates us to take containment measures to avoid further spread of the virus.
    Since the pandemic reached Mexico in the spring, most in-person religious gatherings, including Catholic Masses, have been pared back or simply canceled and replaced with online services.
(Reporting by David Alire Garcia and Raul Cortes Fernandez; Editing by Nick Macfie)

11/23/2020 Polish Police Scuffle With Protesters Demanding Free Abortion, Free Education
Demonstrators scuffle with police during a protest following the ruling by Poland's Constitutional Tribunal that imposes
a near-total ban on abortion, in Warsaw, Poland, November 23, 2020. Maciek Jazwiecki/Agencja Gazeta/via REUTERS
    WARSAW (Reuters) Police scuffled with protesters who gathered in front of Polands Education Ministry on Monday following a ruling that tightened restrictions on abortion rights in the Catholic country.
    Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets since the Constitutional Tribunal ruled on Oct. 22 to further limit already restrictive abortion rules, the latest phase of a battle between liberals and religious conservatives in Poland.
    Strajk Kobiet (Womens Strike) organised a car blockade on a bridge in Warsaw and dozens gathered separately in front of the ministry in the capital Warsaw late on Monday afternoon, footage from private broadcaster TVN showed.
    Protesters unveiled a large poster outside the ministry that read Free Abortion, Free Education and chanted schools free of fascism, state news agency PAP said.
    Police cordoned off the building with vans, blocking protesters and lifting up those sitting on the ground, TV footage showed.
    Szpila, an anti-repression activist group, said four protesters were detained by police.    A spokesman for the Warsaw police did not respond to a request for comment.
    While centred on abortion, the protests have channeled a broader outpouring of anger at Polands nationalist rulers and their allies in the Catholic church.
    The ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party has faced criticism for appointing Przemyslaw Czarnek, a vocal critic of the spread of LGBT ideology, as minister of education, in what many see as a lurch further to the right on social issues.
    Police said one protester was hurt after trying to pull protective glass from a police vehicle.    Local media had earlier reported a protester was hit by a police van.     The ruling nationalists have faced criticism for allowing for an increasingly firm police response to the protests.
(Reporting by Joanna Plucinska and Alicja Ptak, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

11/23/2020 Dutch Populist Baudet Steps Down Before Election Over Party Members Racist Slurs
FILE PHOTO: Dutch politician Thierry Baudet of the Forum for Democracy party looks on before a televised debate moderated by journalist
Jeroen Pauw, on the eve of European elections in Amsterdam, Netherlands, May 22, 2019. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw/File Photo
    AMSTERDAM (Reuters) Dutch politician Thierry Baudet, leader of the anti-immigration Forum for Democracy, said on Monday he will step down ahead of a parliamentary election in March following allegations that young party members made anti-Semitic and homophobic comments.
    Baudet, who has been winning over supporters of anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders and the party of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, said he did not want to be associated with the remarks, allegedly posted in a chat group for members of the partys youth wing.
    They are terrible messages Nazism, anti-Semitism, racism they are ideas I want nothing to do with, he said in a video statement on Twitter.    I want to take political responsibility as head of the party and will give up my spot on the ballot.
    Baudet said the party would be led by someone else during the election but he would stay on as a member of parliament.    Dutch news agency ANP said Baudet would remain party chairman.
    Baudet opposes immigration, denounces the media, and emphasises Dutch first cultural and economic themes.    He opposes the euro and thinks the Netherlands should leave the European Union.
    His FvD party performed well in provincial elections in 2019 and he had planned to contest the election in March, when a new parliament and prime minister will be chosen.
    The party is likely to win some seats and is currently polling ninth out of the 13 main parties taking part in the vote.
(Reporting by Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Alison Williams)
[This article is a definite reason to believe that the European Union is definitely gone totally leftist anti-christian as you see they are condemning a man who is promoting anti-immigration, wants his country to be first before the EU so I like him.].

11/24/2020 Poland Awaiting Developments In U.S. Before Recognising Biden
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President-elect Joe Biden receives a national security briefing in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., November 17, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner
    WARSAW (Reuters) Poland will wait to see how the political and legal situation develops in the United States before recognising Joe Biden as the new president, Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau said on Tuesday.
    Bidens victory on Nov. 3 is awkward for Warsaws right-wing conservative government, which set great store by its relationship with Trump, securing a pledge of a permanent U.S. military deployment, while straining the tolerance of Brussels and European Union allies over its handling of democratic values.
    After weeks of fruitless legal campaigns, President Donald Trumps administration on Monday cleared the way for Biden to transition to the White House, giving him access to briefings and funding, while vowing to continue fighting the result.
    Polands president has congratulated Biden on a successful campaign, but Warsaw has not officially recognised him as the next U.S. president.
    Asked when he would do so, Rau noted that the Electoral College, which formally elects the president, did not meet until Dec. 14, and that legal challenges could continue until the inauguration on Jan. 20.
    It depends on the political and legal developments in the United States itself, he told public radio.
    During the election campaign, Biden accused Trump of backing authoritarian leaders around the world, citing Poland among others.
(Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko and Anna Koper; Editing by Kevin Liffey)
[I am glad to know that there are at least three countries in the world that can understand that the Democrats are liars and are trying a coup to take over the U.S. by cheating in the elections and we all as Christians are praying for God to help us from that evil as well as help Trump which he has done for them and if what is happening in the world that tells me that the AntiChrist are winning for now which is predicted in the Bible as they will fall in the trap of the final Anti-Christ and final False Prophet Religion and I still have hope that the God in Heaven will help the Great Eagle with Two Wings as did to help God's people in Israel before if there is a rapture to come for true believers.].

11/24/2020 China Says Popes Remarks About Persecuted Uighurs Are Groundless
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis looks on as he celebrates a Mass as part of World Youth Day, at
St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, November 22, 2020. Vincenzo Pinto/Pool via REUTERS
    BEIJING (Reuters) The Chinese foreign ministry on Tuesday dismissed Pope Franciss criticism of Chinas treatment of Muslim Uighurs as groundless.
    In a new book Let Us Dream: The Path to A Better Future, Pope Francis said: I think often of persecuted peoples: the Rohingya, the poor Uighurs, the Yazidi.
    It was the first time he had called Chinas Uighurs a persecuted people, something human rights activists have been urging him to do for years.
    Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian rejected his characterisation of the Uighurs.
    The Chinese government has always protected the legal rights of ethnic minorities equally, he told a media briefing.
    People of all ethnicities in Xinjiang enjoy full protection of their subsistence rights, developmental rights and religious freedom, Zhao said.
    The remarks by Pope Francis are groundless, he said.
    While the pope has spoken out before about the Rohingya who have fled Myanmar and the killing of Yazidi by Islamic State in Iraq, it was the first time he mentioned the Uighurs.
    Faith leaders, activist groups and governments have said crimes against humanity and genocide are taking place against Uighurs in Chinas Xinjiang region, where more than 1 million people are held in camps.
    Beijing has rejected the allegations as a attempt to discredit China, saying the camps are vocational education and training centres as part of counter-terrorism and deradicalisation measures.
    Many commentators have said the Vatican was reluctant to speak out on the Uighurs earlier because it was in the process of renewing an accord with Beijing on the appointment of bishops.    It was renewed in September.
(Reporting by Yew Lun Tian; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

11/24/2020 Papal Butler Convicted In Vatileaks Case Dies
FILE PHOTO: Former papal butler Paolo Gabriele walks in a street in Rome February 18, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Paolo Gabriele, the butler of former Pope Benedict who passed on the pontiffs personal documents to the media and was convicted in the so-called Vatileaks case, has died.    He was 54.
    Official Vatican media said on Tuesday he died in a Rome hospital after a long illness.
    Gabriele worked for several years as Benedicts private butler before leaking letters and other documents from the popes desk in 2012 to an Italian journalist who wrote a book about corruption in the Vatican.
    After his trial and conviction on charges of theft and divulging classified documents, he spent several weeks in the Vaticans tiny jail.     Benedict granted him a pardon for the Christmas season.
    Gabriele was later given a job at a Vatican-owned paediatrics hospital.    He is survived by his wife and three children.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

11/26/2020 European Parliament Says Polish Government Influenced Abortion Ruling
FILE PHOTO: People take part in a protest organized by the Strajk Kobiet (Women's Strike) movement, following a court ruling
imposing a near-total abortion ban, in Warsaw, Poland, November 18, 2020. Kuba Atys/Agencja Gazeta/via REUTERS
    WARSAW (Reuters) The European Parliament accused Polands nationalist government on Thursday of improperly influencing a court that imposed a near-total ban on abortion, and said that showed that the rule of law had collapsed in Poland.
    The head of the court hit back, accusing the European Parliament of unprecedented interference in Polish affairs the latest in a series of clashes between institutions in Warsaw and Brussels.
    Hundreds of thousands of Poles have taken to the streets since an Oct. 22 Constitutional Tribunal ruling that sharply limited Polands already restrictive abortion laws.
    The protests have seen a broader outpouring of anger at Polands nationalist rulers, with many criticising government judiciary reforms they say have allowed ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party to hand pick judges.
    Since coming to power in 2015, PiS has clashed with the European Union over the judiciary reforms, which the bloc says violate democratic standards.    PiS has rejected such accusations.
    Poland and Hungary vetoed the EU budget and a COVID-19 recovery fund this month, after member states sought to tie the funds to adherence to the rule of law.
    The motion from members of European Parliament described the abortion ruling as yet another example of the political takeover of the judiciary and the systemic collapse of the rule of law in Poland.
    The aforementioned ruling was pronounced by judges elected by and totally dependent on politicians from the PiS (Law and Justice)-led coalition, it added.
    The resolution called for EU institutions to do more to support sexual and reproductive health rights across member states and to support grassroots and civil society groups that foster the rule of law.
    It passed with 455 votes for, 145 against and 71 abstentions.
    Julia Przylebska, the head of Polands Constitutional Tribunal, accused the European Parliaments lawmakers of interfering in internal issues.
    MEPs are entering into the area of the independence of the Constitutional Tribunal which violates the separation of powers, and thus the foundations of democracy, she added.
    Polands government has not yet published the court ruling on abortion, meaning it is not yet enforceable.    PiS says the government is waiting for the court to provide a more detailed justification.
(Reporting by Joanna Plucinska and Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk; Additional reporting by Anna Koper; Editing by Peter Graff and Andrew Heavens)
[Great Britain got out of the EU knowing what was coming and Poland and Hungary are trying to refuse to do the changes and fighting back and I am wondering when they will try to leave it if the parties can keep their power over them which is continuosly attacking them and could wear them down just like the anti-christian forces in the United States are trying to do by Democrat Party with help from the Globalist DEEP STATE and the D.C. Swamp which could end the dream of America, so I have prayed to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to help us just like we have done to his favorite country Israel.].

11/27/2020 Pakistans First Transgender Lawyer Goes From Begging To Fighting In Court by Syed Raza Hassan
Nisha Rao, 28, a transgender woman who became country's first practicing lawyer, listens to one
of her clients at office in Karachi, Pakistan November 23, 2020. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro
    KARACHI, Pakistan (Reuters) Lawyer Nisha Rao maneuvers among the throng of black-coated attorneys clustered near Karachis city courts searching for her client.
    But Rao, 28, is not just another lawyer running for a meeting. As Pakistans first transgender lawyer, she has carved a path from the streets to the courtroom and her example is inspiring other transgender people in the conservative Islamic Republic.
    I am proud to have become Pakistan first transgender lawyer, Rao told Reuters.
    Life is hard for transgender persons in Pakistan, where the Supreme Court only allowed them to claim a third gender on their national identity cards in 2009.    The parliament just passed a law in 2018 recognising transgender people as equal citizen and protecting them from discrimination and violence.
    Treated as outcasts, many transgender persons are victims of sexual assault and resort to working as wedding dancers or begging to make a living.
    Rao also ended up begging on the streets after running away from her middle class home in the eastern city of Lahore when she was 18 with two other transgender persons.
    Arriving in Karachi, Pakistans largest city, the elder transgender people she sought refuge with advised her to beg or become a sex worker to survive.
    Rao stood at traffic lights begging from car to car but was determined to escape that path, eventually using her income to pay for law classes at night.
    After several years, she earned a law degree, gaining her law license earlier this year and joining the Karachi Bar Association.
    She has contested 50 cases and is working with a non-governmental organisation fighting for transgender rights.
Rao has broadened her clientele to include non-transgender persons.
    As my case pertains to harassment, I feel that Rao can represent me best since transgenders are subjected to frequent harassment in our society, said Jeya Alvi, 34, an office secretary meeting Rao for a consultation.
    A 2017 census counted 10,418 transgender people out of 207 million in the country, but rights group Charity Trans Action Pakistan estimates there are at least 500,000.
    Rao used to beg here along with us, today she is better than many. But she still helps us, she even responds at midnight (if we contact her), said Nayab, a transgender beggar who goes by one name.
    Rao has even bigger aspirations than becoming an attorney.
    My goal is to become Pakistans first transgender judge, she said.
(Reporting by Syed Raza Hassan; Editing by Gibran Peshimam and Christian Schmollinger)

11/28/2020 Pope Installs New Cardinals, Including First African-American by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Washington D.C., who will become the first African-American to become a cardinal at the Vatican,
speaks to Reuters during a Zoom interview, in this still image taken from video, in Rome, Italy, November 24, 2020. REUTERS via REUTERS TV
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Pope Francis on Saturday installed 13 new cardinals, including the first African-American to hold the high rank, further expanding the pontiffs impact on the group that will one day elect his successor.
    The cardinals were installed in a ceremony, known as a consistory, that was markedly slimmed down because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    Instead of the usual thousands, only 10 guests per cardinal were allowed in St. Peters Basilica as the pope gave the men their ring and traditional red hat, known as a biretta.
    Nine of the 13 are under 80 and eligible under Church law to enter a secret conclave to choose the next pope from among themselves after Francis dies or resigns.
    It was Francis seventh consistory since his election in 2013. He has now appointed 57% of the 128 cardinal electors, most of whom share his vision of a more inclusive and outward-looking Church.
    Thus far, he has appointed 18 cardinals from mostly far-flung countries that never had one, nearly all of them from the developing world.    In Saturdays consistory, Brunei and Rwanda got their first cardinals.
    While Europe still has the largest share of cardinal electors, with 41%, it is down from 52% in 2013 when Francis became the first Latin-American pope.
    With each consistory, Francis has increased the chances that his successor will be another non-European, having beefed up the Church in places where it is either a tiny minority or where it is growing faster than in the stagnant West.
    The nine new electors come from Italy, Malta, Rwanda, the United States, the Philippines, Chile, Brunei and Mexico.
    In his homily, Francis told the men to keep their eyes on God, avoid all forms of corruption, and not succumb to a worldly spirit that can accompany the prestige and power of their new rank.
    Wilton Gregory, the 72-year-old archbishop of Washington, D.C, becomes the first African-American cardinal at a time the United States is examining race relations after a spate of police killings of unarmed Black people.
    Everyone in the basilica except the pope wore a mask.    Each new cardinal removed theirs when they knelt before him to be invested, except Gregory, who kept it on.
    Gregory made headlines in June when he blasted President Donald Trumps visit to a Catholic shrine in Washington, after police and soldiers used tear gas and rubber bullets to clear protesters so Trump could be photographed in front of a historic Washington church holding a Bible.
    Gregory said he found it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated.
    Catholic conservatives condemned Gregory and sided with Trump.
    In an interview with Reuters on Tuesday, Gregory said he wanted to find common ground with U.S. President-elect Joe Biden despite disagreements on issues such as abortion.
    Gregory was one of a handful of new cardinals who were quarantined for about 10 days in their rooms in the Vatican guest house where the pope also lives.    Cardinals from Brunei and the Philippines could not travel and will receive their ring and hat from a papal delegate.
    Four non-electors over 80 were given the honour after a long service to the Church.    The most prominent is Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, an Italian-American who has worked around the world and is one of the Churchs top experts on immigration.
    The new cardinals later paid a courtesy visit to 93-year-old former Pope Benedict XVI, who lives on the Vatican grounds.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Christina Fincher)

11/28/2020 Popes New Cardinal In Mexico Known For Indigenous Outreach by David Alire Garcia
FILE PHOTO: Felipe Arizmendi of Mexico receives his biretta as he is appointed cardinal by Pope Francis, during a
consistory ceremony at St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, November 28, 2020. Fabio Frustaci/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
    MEXICO CITY (Reuters) Among the new cardinals formally installed by Pope Francis on Saturday is an outspoken Mexican cleric who has spent decades ministering to the mostly poor, indigenous communities near the countrys southern border with Guatemala.
    Felipe Arizmendi, known for progressive views on indigenous rights and migrants as well as a staunchly conservative stance on sexuality, was presented with the ring and scarlet red biretta of the so-called princes of the Catholic church at a scaled-down ceremony at the Vatican due to pandemic precautions.
    One of 13 prelates to receive the honorific on Saturday, Arizmendi has served as a bishop in the southern state of Chiapas since the early 1990s, just before the launch of the indigenous uprising led by the Zapatista National Liberation Army, which had issued a declaration of war against the government citing a long history of oppression.
    In the years since, Arizmendi has lauded the Zapatista movements demands for justice, in addition to his embrace of Central American migrants who have for years traveled through southern Mexico on their way to the United States.
    The 80-year-old Arizmendi, author of more than 30 books and a regular newspaper columnist, is just past the cut-off age to be able to vote in future papal conclaves, where new popes are elected.
    Over the past decade, he has also railed against what he described as the spread of homosexualism from cities to rural areas.    While earlier this year he bemoaned too much debauchery in a column otherwise dedicated to arguing that it is wrong to see the coronavirus pandemic as divine punishment.
    Several of the new set of cardinals announced last month but installed on Saturday come from the developing world, including the African nation of Rwanda and Asias Brunei, as Pope Francis continues to remake a more inclusive Church leadership with more prelates from outside Europe.
    The most high-profile new cardinal is Wilton Gregory, the 72-year-old archbishop of Washington D.C. and first-ever African American selected.
    While Europe still has the largest share of cardinals under the age of 80 with 41%, that is down from 52% in 2013 when Francis became the first Latin American pope.
(Reporting by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

11/30/2020 Christmas Will Not Be Canceled Says Bethlehem, Amid Little Comfort Or Joy by Rami Ayyub
FILE PHOTO: Visitors light candles in the Church of the Nativity, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
outbreak, in Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank November 26, 2020. REUTERS/Mussa Qawasma
    BETHLEHEM, West Bank (Reuters) Bethlehem is shaping up for a dismal Christmas: most of the inns are closed, the shepherds are likely to be under lockdown and there are few visitors from the east, or anywhere else.
    Just 12 months ago, the Palestinian town was celebrating its busiest festive season for two decades, amid a sustained drop in violence and a corresponding surge in the number of pilgrims and tourists.
    But hotels that were adding new wings in 2019 are now shuttered because of the coronavirus pandemic.
    Nevertheless, town leaders say the traditional birthplace of Jesus will go ahead with its celebrations, aware that the worlds eyes are upon it at this time of year.
    Bethlehem is going to celebrate Christmas.    And Christmas will not be canceled, said Mayor Anton Salman, as workers behind him erected a huge Christmas tree in Manger Square.
    This Christmas from Bethlehem there will be a message of hope to the whole world, that the world will recover from this pandemic.
    The newly-appointed Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, on Monday sought to rally the Holy Land faithful, saying that preparations had already started.
    His fellow Franciscan friar Father Francesco Patton, the Custodian of the Holy Land, launched the seasonal celebrations on Saturday, presiding over a service in a near-deserted Church of the Nativity.
    This Christmas will be less festive than usual as there will be restrictions, I suppose like any other part of the world, Pizzaballa said in an interview with a Catholic news service.
    Maybe the civil law will forbid us to celebrate as we want; the pandemic will impose restrictions, but none will stop us from expressing the true meaning of Christmas which is to make an act of love.
    Rula Maayah, the Palestinian Authoritys tourism minister, said this year was particularly challenging because it followed record tourism in 2018 and 2019, which then slumped to near-zero foreign tourism, and fewer Christian Palestinians coming as pilgrims.
    A third factor, say tourist guides and souvenir shop owners, is that the pandemics toll on the global economy has devastated sales over the Internet which typically spike during the holiday season.
    At noon in Manger Square in what would normally be a frenetic build-up to Christmas, the plaza was almost empty in November, with just a few people milling around.    Shop after shop was closed and market stalls were selling just a few trinkets.
    In Nativity Street, Michael Canawatis souvenir store is a popular stop for tourist coaches that would typically buy key chains engraved with images of Jesus or intricately carved Nativity scenes made from Palestinian olive wood.
    But Canawati has not opened his shop in weeks, is struggling to pay employees salaries and was forced to permanently close his second store in Jerusalem.
    We are at a dead end.    The shop is full of merchandise, he told Reuters.    The whole world is in the same problem that we are in.    We put some promotions (online) for Christmasand still nothing, Canawati said.
    Elias al-Arja, chairman of the Arab Hotel Association, said the town and the world faced the same problem.
    I have worked in tourism for 30 years.    We have had ups and downs because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but never anything like this.
(Additional reporting by Zainah El-Haroun in Bethlehem and Stephen Farrell in Jerusalem; Writing by Rami Ayyub and Stephen Farrell; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

11/30/2020 Pope Cancels Traditional Pre-Christmas Ceremony Due To COVID-19 by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis leads the Immaculate Conception celebration prayer in Piazza di Spagna
in Rome, Italy, December 8, 2019. REUTERS/Remo Casilli/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Pope Francis has cancelled a ceremony that traditionally begins Romes Christmas season on Dec. 8 at the Spanish Steps because of coronavirus restrictions, the Vatican said on Monday.
    The pope customarily places a wreath of flowers at the base of a 12-metre column bearing a statue of the Madonna and blesses from a distance another wreath already placed around the statues arm by firefighters using a ladder.
    The Vatican said Francis would skip the ceremony, which popes have been carrying out on the feast of the Immaculate Conception since 1953, in order to avoid any risk of contagion caused by gatherings of people.
    Thousands of people usually line the streets near the area to see the pope and pray with him.
    The Vatican said the pope would instead hold a private service to entrust the city, its people and the sick around the world to the Madonna.
    It has already announced that access to all of the popes traditional Christmas activities, including his Urbi et Orbi (To the city and the world) blessing and message, will be restricted because of the COVID-19 crisis.
    Only a limited number of people will be allowed into St. Peters Basilica for papal Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Masses, which will be broadcast on television and streamed on the internet.
    Last month, the popes weekly general audiences were moved back indoors with public participation after a period when a limited number of people were allowed to take part.
    Recently, more than a dozen Swiss Guards and one person who lives in the residence that houses the pope tested positive for the coronavirus and had to be quarantined.
    The first Western country hit by the virus, Italy has recorded 54,904 COVID-19 deaths since its outbreak emerged in February, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain.    It has also registered 1.585 million cases to date.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

12/1/2020 Womens Movement Sweeps Latin America To Loosen Abortion Restrictions by Daina Beth Solomon and Cassandra Garrison
Pro-abortion activist Lupita Ruiz poses for a photo during an interview with Reuters, in Mexico City, Mexico November 11, 2020. REUTERS/Toya Sarno Jordan
    MEXICO CITY/BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) Several weeks pregnant and about to start a job away from home, Lupita Ruiz had no doubts about wanting to end her pregnancy, despite knowing she could face jail time for having an abortion under a law in her state of Chiapas in southern Mexico.
    She asked friends for help until she found a doctor two hours from her town who agreed to do it in secret.
    Five years later, lawmakers in Chiapas are set to consider an initiative to halt prosecutions of women who terminate their pregnancies, part of a movement sweeping Latin America to loosen some of the worlds most restrictive abortion laws.
    Several out of more than 20 Latin American nations ban abortion outright, including El Salvador, which has sentenced some women to up to 40 years in prison. Most countries, including Brazil, the regions most populous, allow abortion only in specific circumstances, such as rape or health risk to the mother.
    Just Uruguay and Cuba allow elective abortions.
    In Mexico, a patchwork of state restrictions apply, but the debate is shifting, Ruiz said.
    When someone talked about abortion, they were shushed, said the 27-year-old activist, who helped draft the Chiapas initiative.    Now I can sit down to eat a tamale and have a coffee and talk with my mom and my grandma about abortion, without anyone telling me to be quiet.
    Change is palpable across the predominantly Roman Catholic region.    A new Argentine president proposed legalization last month, Chilean activists are aiming to write broader reproductive rights into a new constitution, and female lawmakers in Mexico are resisting abortion bans.
    The push can be traced to Argentinas pro-abortion protests in 2018 by as many as one million women to back a legalization bill that only narrowly failed to pass in Pope Franciss home country.
    Catalina Martinez, director for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Center for Reproductive Rights, a legal advocacy organization, said Argentinas example inspired protests across Latin America.
    It was an awakening, she said.
    Outrage at worsening gender violence in Latin America, where the number of femicides has doubled in five years, has also spread awareness of the abortion rights movement and fueled demands for recognition of womens rights in a conservative, male-dominated society.
    Women are finally understanding that they are not separate issues, said Catalina Calderon, director for campaigns and advocacy programs at the Womens Equality Center.    Its the fact that you agree that we women are in control of our bodies, our decisions, our lives.
    The rise of social media has afforded women opportunities to bypass establishment-controlled media and bring attention to their stories, Calderon said.
    Now theyre out there for the public to discuss and for the women to react, and say: This does not work.    We need to do something, Calderon said.
    As in the United States, where conservatives have made gains in restricting a womans right to an abortion, there is pushback in Latin America against the calls for greater liberalization.
    Brazil, under far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, is making it even harder for women to abort.
    The Argentine Episcopal Conference has said it does not want to debate abortion during the coronavirus crisis, and alluded to comments by the Pope urging respect for those who are not yet useful, including fetuses.
    Yet trust in the Catholic Church, which believes life begins at conception, is fading, with many Latin Americans questioning its moral legitimacy because of sexual abuse by priests.
    Argentina could be first up for sweeping change, with a bill submitted to Congress by center-left President Alberto Fernandez seeking to legalize elective abortions.
    Approval for legalization has risen eight percentage points since 2014, according to an August Ipsos poll, with support split nearly evenly between those who favor elective abortion and those who are for it only in certain circumstances.
    The dilemma we must overcome is whether abortions are performed clandestinely or in the Argentine health system, Fernandez said.
    According to the Guttmacher Institute, a U.S.-based reproductive health research organization, an estimated 29% of pregnancies in Latin America and the Caribbean from 2015 to 2019 ended in abortion, encompassing 5.4 million women.    The abortions are often clandestine, so figures are hard to determine.
    The mass demonstrations in Argentina two years ago, known as the green wave protests, have reverberated.
    Since mid-2018, lawmakers in Mexico have filed more than 40 proposals to end punishment for abortion, according to Mexican reproductive rights group GIRE.
    In Chiapas, the de-criminalization effort is the first of its kind since a brief period in the 1990s when abortion was legalized during the left-wing Zapatista rebellion.
    Although Chiapas does not on paper punish abortion with prison, it can jail women for the killing of their infants.
    With Mexicos first leftist government in a century in power, national lawmakers are considering two initiatives to open up restrictions and strip away criminal punishments from places like Sonora state, where abortion can be punished by up to six years in prison.
    Only two federal entities, Mexico City and Oaxaca, allow elective abortions.
    Wendy Briceno, a Sonoran lawmaker who has backed a nationwide legalization bill, said the initiatives have a good chance to pass if the debate centers on womens health, especially given rising outrage over femicides.
    In Chile, activists are celebrating a vote in October to write a new constitution as a chance to expand a 2017 law that permitted abortion to save a mothers life, in cases of rape, or if the fetus is not viable.
    Colombia, where the constitutional court has agreed to consider a petition to remove abortion from the penal code, could set an example, said Anita Pena, director of Chilean reproductive rights group Corporacion Miles.
    Activists agree there is still a long way to go, with restrictive laws entrenched in many countries.
    To Briceno, Brazils shift to the right under Bolsonaro, who has vowed to veto any pro-abortion bills, was a reminder to push even harder for abortion rights.
    No fight is ever finished, she said.
(Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon in Mexico City, Cassandra Garrison in Buenos Aires, Natalia Ramos in Santiago; Additional reporting by Philip Pullella in Vatican City; editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Grant McCool)

12/4/2020 Cities lead way to protect LGBTQ rights, report says by Joshua Bote, USA TODAY
    Cities are taking charge across the U.S. to ensure that LGBTQ protections are in place for residents, according to a report released Thursday from the Human Rights Campaign.
    The organizations Municipal Equality Index, which reviewed legislation in more than 500 cities and municipalities representing 94 million people in its ninth iteration, found that cities have only improved on serving LGBTQ people despite rollbacks and challenges at the federal and state level.
    In many instances, local nondiscrimination laws are the only layers of protection that LGBTQ people have, HRC president Alphonso David told USA TODAY.    Because local officials are often the first and only line of protection against harmful prejudice and discrimination, its imperative that they fight to ensure inclusivity and equity for the most vulnerable, especially those who have multiple marginalized identities.
    By the Human Rights Campaigns metrics, 94 of the cities surveyed achieved a perfect score, six more than last year and a significant improvement from 11 only eight years ago when the equality index first launched.
    These cities have achieved high marks by establishing policies that HRC finds are crucial for LGBTQ peoples welfare: For instance, nearly all of these cities reported LGBTQ hate crime statistics to the FBI, and about two-thirds provide direct services to LGBTQ young people and people with HIV or AIDS.
    Among other benchmarks for cities: extensive nondiscrimination laws, better transgender-inclusive health care for city and municipal employees, and more LGBTQ officials elected to office at the municipal level.
    Its not just cities in states that have historically been friendly to LGBTQ people, either: 61 cities achieved high marks for ensuring the safety and well-being of LGBTQ people despite being in states that do not offer base equality protections.
    David singled out Norman, Oklahoma, the only city in the state to achieve a perfect score despite state laws that include discriminatory adoption policies.    He also praised Anchorage, Alaska, which named its first LGBTQ mayor, Austin Quinn-Davidson, and has adopted nondiscriminatory policies for transgender residents.    Thirty-five municipalities have also enacted laws banning conversion therapy, an improvement of 20% from last year.
    Even cities that didnt achieve perfect scores significantly improved across the board.    The biggest advances were seen in the Plains region, which includes cities in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.
    David hopes the new presidential administration will follow the lead of city and municipal governments by passing the federal Equality Act, something President-elect Joe Biden has indicated he would do in his first 100 days in office.
    The act would provide consistent and explicit anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people across key areas of life, David said.
    But on the local level, it still remains crucial that work toward LGBTQ equality continues, he said.
    When local leaders stand up against this hate and discrimination by enacting inclusive local protections, they are not only imparting vital safeguards that will improve the lives of LGBTQ residents, but they are sending a message of hope to the community, to LGBTQ youth searching for acceptance, and beyond, David said.

12/6/2020 Religious right looks at Biden warily by Elana Schor, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    WASHINGTON Conservative evangelical Christians have been some of Donald Trumps staunchest allies during his presidency.    As his administration draws to a close, some of those backers are approaching President-elect Joe Biden with skepticism, but not antagonism.
    Christian conservatives who stood by Trump through moments of crisis and success are hardly comfortable with his loss, and several have yet to fully acknowledge Biden as the winner of the election amid fraud claims by the president.    But theyre largely not echoing the harsh tone Trump directed toward his Democratic rival during the campaign, when he claimed Biden is against God.
    Texas-based megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress, a Trump booster, said Christians are obliged to pray for what appears to be President-elect Biden.    If he succeeds, all of America succeeds.
    Jeffress said hes deeply disappointed by the apparent loss of a president he considers a friend, but said he will respond to any outreach attempt by Biden, just as he did with Trump.    The possibility that Biden could be pulled away from extremist positions held by other Democrats, Jeffress said, is a plus not just for conservative Christians, but for all of America.
    Its unlikely that Christian conservatives could develop a close relationship with Biden, whose support for abortion rights and stances on other issues are at odds with the religious right.    However, the lack of a combative tone from pro-Trump religious conservatives could create space for some common ground between the Catholic president-elect and other evangelicals who have not tied themselves as directly to Trump.
    If Joe Biden is the president, if thats what it turns out to be, then we need to do everything we can to support him, where we can, the Rev. Franklin Graham said.
    Graham, who leads the Christian nonprofit founded by his late father, the Rev. Billy Graham, is a Trump supporter who offered prayers at his inauguration and this years Republican National Convention.    But while he underscored that his opposition to abortion is one of several fronts where there could be no compromise, Graham said we certainly can work with Biden on other issues.
    During the Obama administration, Graham attended a conversation Biden convened among faith-based advocates about gun legislation.    The pastor also visited the White House in 2014 to discuss the Ebola crisis after a doctor at his global relief charity, Samaritans Purse, successfully fought the deadly disease.
    Still, conservative Christians like Graham exerted scant influence over the Obama administrations agenda and pro-Trump evangelicals are expecting a similar sideline role with Biden. Evangelicals outside those most closely associated with Trump are identifying commonalities where they could partner with Biden.
    One is his plan to raise the annual refugee admissions ceiling to 125,000, a vow he reiterated recently at an event hosted by Jesuit Refugee Services.    The Trump administration had slashed the refugee target to historic lows.
President-elect Joe Biden bows his head in prayer at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wis., in September. CAROLYN KASTER/AP

12/6/2020 Pope updates Vatican financial authority following scandals
    VATICAN CITY Pope Francis has revamped the Holy Sees financial intelligence and anti-money-laundering unit following financial scandals, Vatican officials said Saturday.    The changes involve the organization of the Vaticans financial watchdog agency, renamed the Supervisory and Financial Information Authority.    Until Saturday, the agency was known as AIF, or Financial Information Authority.    The authoritys president, Carmelo Barbagallo, said the changes would strengthen its financial supervisory responsibilities.

12/7/2020 Pope Francis To Make Risky Trip To Iraq In Early March by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis holds weekly audience at the Vatican, December 2, 2020. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) -Pope Francis will make the first visit by a pope to Iraq next March, the Vatican said on Monday, a risky four-day trip that has eluded his predecessors.
    Spokesman Matteo Bruni said Francis, who turns 84 next week, will visit the capital Baghdad, as well as Ur, a city linked to the Old Testament figure of Abraham, and Erbil, Mosul and Qaraqosh in the plain of Nineveh.
    The trip, at the invitation of the Iraqi government and the local Catholic Church, is planned for March 5-8, Bruni said.
    The programme of the journey will be made known in due course, and will take into consideration the evolution of the worldwide health emergency, Bruni said in statement.
    It will be the popes first overseas trip since November 2019.    Trips planned for this year were cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    A Vatican source said one of the aims of the trip was to comfort Christians who, amid wars and conflicts, have been forced to flee from Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries.
    Iraqi President Barham Salih said in a post on Twitter that the trip will be a message of peace to Iraqis of all religions & serve to affirm our common values of justice & dignity.
    Iraq is home to many different eastern rite churches, both Catholic and Orthodox.
    Iraqs small Christian population of several hundred thousand suffered particular hardships when Islamic State militants controlled large parts of the country between 2014 and 2017.    Christians have mostly recovered freedom to worship, especially in parts of northern Iraq since those jihadists were pushed out.
    Many fear further upheaval in Iraq would hit them hard as a minority, however, and still look to migrate.
    In June of 2019, Francis told members of charities that help Christians in the Middle East that whenever he contemplated the problems of the region, he had the constant thought of visiting Iraq.
    He had hoped to make the trip this year but his plans were scuppered first by security concerns and then by the pandemic.     In 2000, the late Pope John Paul II wanted to visit the ancient Iraqi city of Ur, traditionally held to be the birthplace of Abraham, the father of all three of the great monotheistic religions Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
    It was to have been the first leg of a three-step pilgrimage to Iraq, Egypt and Israel.
    But negotiations with the government of then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein broke down and he was unable to go.
    John Paul, who later died in 2005, instead held what the Vatican called a virtual pilgrimage> to Ur in the Vatican and later that year visited Egypt and Israel.
(Additional reporting by John Davidson in Baghdad; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Bernadette Baum)
[Note: Iraq is where the ancient city of Bablyon the false religion of the first city that God confused all there which created all the languages and confusion as they tried to build a Tower to heaven, so is the Pope going there to scope it out as it is prophesied:
Revelation 13:11 Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon.
12 And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast [Globalist creation from the nations into 10 horns or powers the World Trade Organization], whose deadly wound was healed [The head or World Trade Center which was destroyed and came back to life].
13 He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.
14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived.
15 He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.
16 He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads,
17 and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
18 Here is wisdom.    Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.].

12/8/2020 Supreme Court rejects appeal to limit transgender students
    WASHINGTON The Supreme Court declined Monday to take up an appeal from parents in Oregon who want to prevent transgender students from using locker rooms and bathrooms of the gender with which they identify, rather than their sex assigned at birth.    The case came from a school district near Salem, Oregons capital city.    The federal appeals court in San Francisco had upheld a Dallas, Oregon, school district policy that allows transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity.
[The state of Oregon has gone liberal and promoting anti-Christian values and its sad to know that the Supreme Court would force that sin on people and the Scarlet Woman is winning in that some churches and pulpit are denying the way God created one man and one woman, not multiple human forms as these un-natural idiots believe.].

12/8/2020 With Christmas Curtailed, Pope Starts Season With Pre-Dawn Visit To Statue by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis says Mass at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore after making an unannounced pre-dawn visit to the statue of Madonna near the
Spanish Steps on the Roman Catholic feast of the Immaculate Conception, in Rome, Italy, December 8, 2020. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS
    ROME (Reuters) Pope Francis made an unannounced, pre-dawn visit to a Rome landmark on Tuesday to pray after he was forced to cancel the traditional public ceremony because of the coronavirus.
    Popes traditionally go to Romes Spanish Steps area on the afternoon of Dec. 8, the Roman Catholic feast of the Immaculate Conception, to place a wreath of flowers at the base of a 12-metre column bearing a statue of the Madonna.
    The event, usually attended by thousands of people lining the streets and considered the start of the Rome Christmas season, was cancelled this year in order to avoid gatherings that could cause contagion.
    Francis went at 7 a.m. and placed a basket of white roses at the base of the statue in the rain.    During the 15-minute visit he prayed for the city and for all people around the world affected by COVID-19, a Vatican statement said.
    Television footage showed the pope wearing a white mask and holding his own umbrella as he prayed.
    He then went to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, where he said Mass before returning to the Vatican.
    It was the first of a series of Christmas season papal events being curtailed because of the pandemic.
    Only a limited number of people will be allowed into St. Peters Basilica for papal Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Masses, which will be broadcast on television and streamed online.
    Access to his Urbi et Orbi (To the city and the world) blessing and message will also be restricted.
    In October, the popes weekly general audiences were moved back indoors without public participation after a period when a limited number of people were allowed to take part.
    Italy has seen 60,606 COVID-19 fatalities since its outbreak emerged in February, the second highest toll in Europe after Britain.    It has registered 1.74 million cases to date.
(Editing by Janet Lawrence)

12/8/2020 Leading Cardinal Says Church Needs Rules On Status Of Ex Popes by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Australian Cardinal George Pell looks on during an interview with Reuters in
Rome, Italy December 7, 2020. Picture taken December 7, 2020. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane
    ROME (Reuters) Cardinal George Pell, a leading Roman Catholic conservative, said the Vatican needs clear rules to govern the status of future popes who resign rather than rule for life and that such a move would help Church unity.
    Pell is one of the highest-ranking Church figures to speak publicly on the need for rules since 2013, when former Pope Benedict, 93, became the first pontiff in 700 years to abdicate.
    Church law says a pope can resign, as long as he does so willingly and not under pressure, but it lacks specific rules on his status, title, and prerogatives.
    The protocols on the situation of a pope who has resigned need to be clarified, to strengthen the forces for unity, Pell, 79, writes in his book, Prison Journal, which is being published this month and recounts 13 months he spent in solitary confinement.
    Pell, who has always maintained his innocence, was cleared of sex abuse charges in his native Australia in April and has returned to Rome.    He was Vatican treasurer until 2018.
    Since stepping down, Benedict has occasionally allowed his views on specific subjects to be aired outside the Vatican, to the joy of some fellow conservatives who have used them as ammunition to contest his successor Pope Francis more open-minded and inclusive papacy.
    While the retired pope could retain the title of pope emeritus, he should be re-nominated to the College of Cardinals so that he is known as Cardinal X, Pope Emeritus, he should not wear the white papal soutane (cassock) and should not teach publicly, Pell writes.
    Days before Benedict abdicated on Feb. 28, 2013, he scripted his own rules, investing himself with the title pope emeritus, deciding to continue to wear white and to live in the Vatican.
    But his presence has caused some confusion among the faithful, with some extreme right-wing conservatives still refusing to recognise Francis as pope.
    There is only one pope, Pell said in a wide-ranging 90-minute interview with Reuters late on Monday in his Rome apartment across the street from a Vatican gate.
    In the book, Pell writes that probably the measures would be best introduced by a pope who had no surviving predecessor.    That means that in the present Vatican situation, Francis would have to wait until after Benedict dies.
    Others have suggested that since a pope is also the bishop of Rome, a former pontiff should be called bishop emeritus of Rome.
    He would then be subject to the same written rules, last updated in 2004, that cover retired bishops.
    Those rules say any bishop emeritus will want to avoid every attitude and relationship that could even hint at some kind of parallel authority to that of the diocesan bishop, with damaging consequences for the pastoral life and unity of the diocesan community
(Reporting by Philip Pullella, Editing by Rosalba OBrien)

12/9/2020 In Conservative Indonesia, A Gay Ex-Policeman Takes His Battle To Court by Stanley Widianto
Tri Teguh Pujianto, a 31-year-old former police brigadier who was fired in 2018 after 10 years on the job, holds a phone while taking
selfie with his partner at a restaurant in Semarang, Central Java province, Indonesia, December 3, 2020. REUTERS/Stringer
    JAKARTA (Reuters) The first gay Indonesian policeman to sue the conservative countrys police force for wrongful dismissal due to sexual orientation was back in courts this week, determined to be reinstated.
    Tri Teguh Pujianto, a 31-year-old former police brigadier was fired in 2018 after 10 years on the job, after police in a different town apprehended him and his partner on Valentines Day when they were saying goodbyes at his partners workplace.
    The landmark case in the worlds largest Muslim-majority nation was initially thrown out last year after a judge told Teguh he had to wait until the police internal appeals process was completed.    That is now over and Teguh refiled his suit in August in what rights groups say is the first case of its kind.
    This is my fight, my last-ditch effort, Teguh told Reuters.
    Why wont they judge my service for all those years?    Why exaggerate my mistakes, which I dont think were mistakes anyway?
    With the exception of sharia-ruled Aceh province where same-sex relations are banned, homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia although it is generally considered a taboo subject.
    The Southeast Asian country is, however, becoming less tolerant of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community as some Indonesian politicians become more vocal about having Islam play a larger role in the state.
    A survey by the Pew Research Center this year also showed that 80% of Indonesians believe homosexuality should not be accepted by society.
    Discrimination and violent attacks against LGBT people have increased in recent years and police have prosecuted members of the community using anti-pornography and other laws. Lawmakers from four political parties this year have also been trying to garner support, so far unsuccessfully, to pass a bill requiring LGBT people to seek treatment at rehabilitation centres.
    The Central Java police have accused Teguh of violating ethical codes of the national police by the deviant act of having same-sex intercourse, a court document shows.
    Teguhs legal team said they are challenging what they call the elastic nature of the police code of conduct given there is no mention of sexual orientation in police regulations.
    Representatives for the Central Java Police, National Police and the National Police Commission did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.
    Dede Oetomo, a gay scholar who runs the advoacy group GAYa NUSANTARA, said Teguh had made history, whether he wins his case or not.
    Hes broken the mould because hes brave, he said.    My hope is that more activists will emerge from cases like his.
    Teguh now runs a barber shop, a side business that he started in 2013.    He said hes always had the support of family and his friends in the force for his efforts to regain what has been his dream job since high school.
    Asked why he is persevering, Teguh said he was fighting not only for himself.
    I want to fight for basic human rights, so there will no longer be arbitrary actions taken against minorities, he said.
(Reporting by Stanley Widianto; Editing by Kate Lamb and Edwina Gibbs)
[You may think it is a human right but it is not right in the eyes of God who will be the one to judge you in the last trial.].

12/10/2020 Pope Will Say Christmas Mass Earlier To Meet Italy Covid Curfew
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis leads the Christmas Eve mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, December 24, 2019. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Pope Francis Christmas Eve Mass will start two hours earlier, the Vatican said on Thursday, allowing even the limited number of people who can attend to get home by a 10 p.m. Italian curfew to contain the coronavirus.
    A program for the popes Christmas activities showed that the Mass, which normally starts at 9:30 p.m, would instead start at 7:30 p.m.
    As in all of the popes Christmas season events from Dec. 24 to Jan. 6, public participation will be severely limited.     Since the outbreak began in February, Francis has often encouraged people to respect government regulations aimed at containing the virus.
    Italy, the first Western country hit by the virus, has seen 61,739 COVID-19 fatalities, the second highest toll in Europe after Britain.    It has also registered 1.77 million cases to date.
    The Italian government has imposed a number of other restrictions during the holiday season, including a ban on travel within regions between Dec. 21 and Jan. 6.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

12/11/2020 Argentina Lower House Approves Landmark Bill To Legalize Abortion by Nicols Misculin
FILE PHOTO: People attend a demonstration in favour of legalising abortion, outside the
National Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina December 4, 2020 REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian
    BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) -Argentinas lower house of Congress approved a government-backed bill to legalize abortion in the early hours of Friday morning, a big step forward for the legislation that could set the tone for a wider shift in conservative Latin America.
    The draft law, which would provide for the legal termination of pregnancy up until the 14th week, was passed with 131 votes in favor, 117 against and 6 abstentions.    It will now move up to the Senate, where an even tighter vote is anticipated.
    The South American country is the birthplace of Pope Francis, and the abortion bill comes as a number of countries in the predominantly Roman Catholic region are seeing drives to give women greater reproductive rights.
    Following a mammoth debate that began on Thursday, the landmark bill faced a vote on Friday morning, after protesters in favor and against the legislation had massed in the streets outside Congress.
    We are convinced that this offers a concrete answer to an urgent and structural public health problem, said Elizabeth Gmez Alcorta, the governments Women, Gender and Diversity minister, as she opened the session in the Chamber of Deputies.
    The time has come to stop looking the other way.
    Protesters supporting the bill had gathered outside Congress wearing green scarves for an overnight vigil to await the news. A similar vote to legalize abortion was narrowly defeated in 2018.
    Opposition groups, wearing light blue scarves, also took to the streets to demonstrate against the bill.
    The initiative includes a parallel bill which will face a separate vote to assist women who want to continue with their pregnancy and face severe economic or social difficulties.
    Argentine law currently only allows the voluntary interruption of pregnancy when there is a serious risk to the mother or in the event of rape, although activists say many women often do not receive adequate care.
    The country has seen a gradual rise in agnosticism in recent years.    While the current Peronist government is strongly behind the bill, that was not the case in 2018 during the conservative administration of Mauricio Macri.
    We are not in favor of abortion, we do not recommend or suggest it, we are against clandestine abortion that kills thousands of women, Argentine actress and campaigner Carola Reyna posted on Twitter.
    We believe that it is a practice that should be regulated by the State, guaranteeing womens health.
(Reporting by Nicolas Misculin; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Tom Brown)

12/11/2020 Doors Open But Nearly Empty, French Cathedrals Count Cost Of Epidemic by Geert De Clercq
FILE PHOTO: View of the Cathedral, in Chartres, France February 2, 2017. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe/File Photo
    PARIS (Reuters) Frances Chartres cathedral, a vast 13th century building with 18 staff on the payroll, is a costly place to run, and the one million a year who normally come to see its famous blue stained-glass windows are an essential part of balancing the books.
    This year, however, the COVID-19 epidemic has slowed that flood of visitors to a trickle, throwing the UNESCO world heritage site into a financial crisis.
    It is very difficult to survive, Father Emmanuel Blondeau, rector of Notre-Dame de Chartres, told Reuters.
    The Catholic church nationally has lost 90 million euros ($109 million) in revenue this year, the Conference of French Bishops (CEF) estimates.    It has furloughed hundreds of staff and may have to close or sell some places of worship next year, CEFs finance head Ambroise Laurent told Reuters.
    While the state covers their upkeep, churches have to pay for their own staff, heating and lighting.
    That makes the crisis particularly acute for cathedrals, which feel obliged to stay open for the few believers who do come to pray meaning high fixed costs that are no longer being covered by their usual revenue from collections, ceremonies and candle sales.
    At Chartres, candle sales alone would normally raise about 5,000 euros ($6,070) per week, but that has fallen to around 500 euros, said the rector.
    Before the epidemic, the cathedral employed 18 people.    That is now down to 14, who alternate between working part-time and government furlough.
    After a dismal spring, visitors including German and Austrian pilgrims trickled back in the summer.    But from Sept. 21, when Chartres and its region were declared a quarantine zone for COVID-19, they all but stopped coming.
    The Notre-Dame-du-Puy cathedral in Le Puy-en-Velay, central France, is another World Heritage site and a major stage on the Santiago de Compostela pilgrims route.    It too has seen visitor numbers and income mainly from candles and collections plummet.
    Yet shutting its great wooden doors to save money is not an option.    This is a place of pilgrimage, we need to remain open, anyone should be able to come, said its rector, Jean-Loic Ollu.
($1 = 0.8236 euros)
(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; editing by John Stonestreet)

12/12/2020 Mexicos Senior Catholic Leader Backs Civil Unions For Gay Couples by David Alire Garcia
FILE PHOTO: Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes arrives to take part in the inauguration ceremony as Mexico's new Archbishop
at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Mexico February 5, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Romero/File Photo
    MEXICO CITY (Reuters) The Mexican Catholic Churchs highest-ranking bishop agrees with recent comments by Pope Francis in support of legal protections offered by civil unions for gay couples, the prelate told Reuters, stressing that no family member should ever be rejected.
    Mexico is the second-biggest Catholic country after Brazil with around 80% of its nearly 130 million people affiliated with the church.    It has historically been conservative-leaning on social issues.
    Cardinal Carlos Aguiar, archbishop of Mexico City, said in an interview that he backs the popes comments from a documentary that premiered in     October and used previously unseen footage from an interview he gave to Mexican broadcaster Televisa.    The comments marked the first time a sitting pope had advocated any legal protections for gay couples.
    I completely agree, said Aguiar, a long-time ally of Pope Francis, who spoke ahead of Saturdays feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, one of the Mexican Churchs most important annual celebrations.
    In the documentary, entitled Francesco, the pope says, Homosexual people have the right to be in a family, they are children of god, and what we have to have is a civil union law, that way they are legally covered.
    The popes comments did not signal any change in church doctrine on homosexuality or support for same-sex marriage, which the Vatican emphasized after the remarks made headlines across the globe.
    But Francis more open and inclusive tone has marked a sharp contrast with his more conservative predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.
    All of us are children of god, all are members of the family, and if were fighting so that families are united, regardless of their conduct, they dont stop being our children.    And thats what Pope Francis said, everyone has the right to family, said Aguiar.
    The cardinal, who has lobbied against both abortion rights and same-sex marriage, argued that parents should never reject their openly gay children.
    Because if, as it happens unfortunately, a son in a family declares himself openly homosexual, then they dont want to have anything to do with him.    And that cant be, it just cant be, he said, echoing Francis sentiments.
    If they decide as a matter of free choice to be with another person, to be in a union, thats freedom, he said.
    Like the Argentine pontiff, the 70-year-old Aguiar touts landmark church reforms in the 1960s that pushed the church closer to the faithful and also embraced a social teaching aimed at alleviating human misery, while focusing less on what Aguiar called the clerical mentality that prioritizes the institution.
    The key point was to move away from a church that defended itself from the world, he said.
    Aguiar added that much work remains to address poverty and inequality in Mexico and the surrounding region.
    Latin America is the part of the world thats most unequal, he said, >i>and many of us here are Catholic!"
    What kind of witness is that?
(Reporting by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Leslie Adler)

12/12/2020 Polish Government Remains Intact As Junior Partner Votes To Stay
FILE PHOTO: Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki attends a meeting after a night of negotiation during a face-to-face
EU summit amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown in Brussels, Belgium December 11, 2020. Olivier Hoslet/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
    WARSAW (Reuters) The arch-conservative United Poland party decided on Saturday to remain in government despite its opposition to a European Union budget deal, the partys leader said, meaning the ruling coalition will keep its majority.
    United Poland had called for a veto of the EUs 2021-2027 budget and coronavirus recovery fund because of a clause linking cash with respect for the rule of law.
    It said the clause threatened Polands sovereignty and would make funding dependent on the acceptance of liberal policies.
    The eurosceptic party reacted with fury when Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, a member of the largest coalition partner Law and Justice (PiS), agreed a compromise during an EU leaders summit earlier this week.
    But United Poland leader Zbigniew Ziobro, who is the countrys justice minister, told a news conference on Saturday that the partys leadership had voted to stay in the coalition.
    The voting was secret, and by 12 votes of leadership members to eight the motion of one of our colleagues to leave the coalition was rejected, Ziobro said, though he reiterated his partys opposition to Morawieckis deal.
    We believe the prime ministers decision was a mistake we believe there are things you cant measure in amounts of money, he said.
    Many religious conservatives in predominantly Roman Catholic Poland say the EUs rule of law mechanism could be a first step to forcing the country to accept policies like gay marriage.
    United Poland has drawn in hard-right voters opposed to LGBT rights and immigration.
    Ziobro is the architect of judicial reforms which have brought Poland into conflict with the EU and which critics say aim to increase political control of the courts.     The coalitions other partner, Accord, led by Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Gowin, has a more centrist and pro-European approach. It backed the EU compromise.
(Reporting by Alan Charlish, Alicja Ptak and Justyna Pawlak; Editing by Mark Potter and Helen Popper)

12/12/2020 Pope Commits Vatican To Net Zero Carbon Emissions By 2050 by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis conducts a Mass on the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe in St. Peter's
Basilica, at the Vatican, December 12, 2020. REUTERS/Remo Casilli/Pool/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Pope Francis urged countries on Saturday to work towards net zero carbon emissions and committed Vatican City the worlds smallest state to reaching the target by 2050.
    Francis, who has championed environmental causes since his election in 2013, told a U.N. climate summit the 108-acre (44-hectare) city-state surrounded by Rome would be doing its bit to fight climate change.
    The current pandemic and climate change, which are not only environmentally relevant, but also ethically, socially, economically and politically, affect, above all, the lives of the poorest and most fragile, he said in a video message to the summit.
    In addition to adopting some measures that cannot be postponed any longer, a strategy is needed to reduce net emissions to zero, Francis said.
    He committed the Vatican to reducing net emissions to zero by 2050, as well as intensifying environmental management efforts and furthering the rational use of natural resources such as water and planting more trees.
    A Vatican statement said the city-state was moving ahead with plans to substitute all its combustion engine cars with electric or hybrid vehicles.
    It said the Vatican, which began installing solar panels in 2008 and banned single-use plastic bags last year, was now recycling 65% of its waste and aimed to reach 75% in 2023.
    In his address, Francis said the Holy See was committed to promoting, in Catholic schools and elsewhere, an education for integral ecology to favour development and sustainability and encourage economic policies that respect the environment.
    In 2015, Francis wrote a landmark encyclical Laudato Si (Praised Be) on the need to protect nature.    It backed scientific evidence that human activity was to blame for global warming.
    Francis also strongly backed the Paris agreement to limit the global rise of temperatures and has said he was saddened by U.S. President Donald Trumps decision to withdraw from it.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Helen Popper)

12/12/2020 Bolivia Approves First Same-Sex Union Following Legal Battle
Guido Montano and David Aruquipa, a couple and members of the LGBT movement, pose after a news conference where the first same-sex
civil union was recognised by the Bolivian Civil Registry in La Paz, Bolivia, December 11, 2020. REUTERS/David Mercado
    LA PAZ (Reuters) Bolivias civil registry authorized for the first time a same sex civil union following a two-year legal battle, a decision activists in the Andean nation hope will pave the way for an overhaul of the countrys marriage laws.
    David Aruquipa, a 48-year-old businessman, and Guido Montao, a 45-year-old lawyer, were initially denied the right to register their union in 2018 by authorities in Bolivia, who said the countrys laws did not allow same sex marriage.
    The couple, together for more than 11 years, took their case to court. While the Bolivian Constitution still does not contemplate same sex unions, Montao and Aruquipa argued successfully the prohibition violated international human rights standards and constituted discrimination under Bolivian law.
    It is an initial step, but what inspires us is (the goal) of transforming the law, said Aruquipa, a well-known local activist for LGBT causes.
    Despite considerable opposition from religious groups, gay marriage has become increasingly accepted in Latin America, with same sex couples now allowed to marry in Argentina, Ecuador, Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay and parts of Mexico.
(Reporting by Daniel Ramos and Reuters TV, Writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

12/14/2020 Democrats Coming After President Trumps Efforts To Advance Religious Freedoms by OAN Newsroom
President-elect Joe Biden, right, and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, left, share a laugh during an event to announce
several choices for positions in the Biden administration at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
    Secular Democrats are urging Joe Biden to fight what they have described as a national security threat, Christian nationalism and the Trump administrations actions to advance religious freedom.
    Last month, the Secular Democrats of America PAC presented Biden with a 28 page agenda of their recommendations, including eliminating the countrys officials motto of in God we trust.    The group argues the current motto is not inclusive of non-religious people or a secular political ideology.
    In public addresses, President Trump has claimed he does not serve political organizations, but rather the people and God.
    For the last four years the depraved swamp has tried everything to stop me because they know I dont answer to them, I answer to you, he stated. Together we will defeat the corrupt establishment, we will dethrone the failed political class, and we will drain the Washington swamp and we will save the American Dream.
    Further, their agenda criticizes the Trump administrations depiction of the U.S. as a Christian nation based on faith oriented values, which is an idea that has been central to American identity for generations.    Presidents have long included God in his addresses.
    The secular Democrats called for the U.S. to be re-branded as a secularist nation based in revolutionary democratic ideas.    One of the policies recommended is the withholding of federal funds from any faith-based organization that is perceived as discriminatory on the basis of ones religion and the repeal of non-medical exemptions on religious grounds.
    Further, the group recommended Biden discourage politicians from using the words God and country while speaking, but mandate including non-religious advisors attend all faith-based gatherings at the White House.
    Throughout his campaign, President Trump has warned traditional values and religious freedom would be under attack if a potential Biden administration ever stepped into the White House.    The Biden campaign has not commented on the recommendations.

12/15/2020 Hungary Amends Constitution To Redefine Family, Limits Gay Adoption by Marton Dunai and Anita Komuves
FILE PHOTO: Same sex couple Adam Hanol and Marton Pal play with their four year old adopted son Andras at a playground
in Budapest, Hungary, November 19, 2020. Picture taken November 19, 2020. REUTERS/Krisztina Fenyo/File Photo
    BUDAPEST (Reuters) Hungary amended the definition of family in its constitution Tuesday to allow an effective ban on adoption by same-sex couples, another win for the ruling conservatives but decried by one pro-LGBTQ group as a dark day for human rights.
    The nationalist Fidesz party of Prime Minister Viktor Orban has worked to recast Hungary in a more conservative mold since winning a third successive landslide in 2018, and anti-gay verbal attacks and legislation have become common.
    In recent years Orban, facing a unified opposition for the first time, has doubled down on propagating his increasingly conservative ideology, deploying strong language against immigrants and Muslims who he says could upend European culture.
    The new Hungarian constitution defines family as based on marriage and the parent-child relation.    The mother is a woman, the father a man. It also mandates that parents raise children in a conservative spirit.
    Hungary defends the right of children to identify with their birth gender and ensures their upbringing based on our nations constitutional identity and values based on our Christian culture, it says.
    Hungary has never allowed gay marriage but still recognises civil unions.    Adoption by gay and lesbian couples was possible until now if one partner applied as a single person.
    Although there are exceptions when single people or family members can adopt children, the main rule is that only married couples can adopt a child, that is, a man and a woman who are married, Justice Minister Judit Varga wrote.
    The legislation passed on Tuesday follow the passing of a new law earlier this year banning gender change in personal documents and ideological battles over childrens books showing diversity positively.
    Nearby Polands ruling nationalist PiS party also made homophobia a key plank of its campaign in an election this year, endorsing LGBT-free zones despite European Union criticism.
    As per the new law, single people in Hungary must get their adoption requests approved by the family affairs minister, a post held by ultra-conservative Katalin Novak, who promotes the traditional family model.
    Do not believe that us women should continuously compete with men, Novak said in a video published on Monday.    Do not believe that in every waking moment we must measure up and have at least as high positions or as large salaries as (men).
    Rights groups denounced the changes and called on European leaders to raise their voices.     This is a dark day for Hungarys LGBTQ community and a dark day for human rights, said David Vig, Director of Amnesty Hungary.     Masen Davis, Executive Director at Transgender Europe, said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen should pay attention to the issue as the EU reviews Hungarys rule of law record and a connected punitive legal procedure.
    Hungary and Poland last week escaped the immediate prospect of losing EU funding because of rights transgressions seen as contrary to the European mainstream, leaving potential counter-measures weakened and delayed in time.
    We are deeply concerned for the health and safety of trans children and adults in Hungary in such a hostile climate, Davis said.
    Katrin Hugendubel, advocacy director at international gay rights group ILGA, said the changes meant LGBTI children will be forced to grow up in an environment which restricts them from being able to express their identities.
(Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

12/15/2020 Vatican Darth Vader Nativity Scene Gets Earthly Thumbs Down by Philip Pullella
Nativity scene figurines are seen displayed at the Vatican, December 15, 2020. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) St. Peters Square in the Vatican has hosted a few unorthodox nativity scenes over the years, but this seasons entry looks like it came from outer space.
    The futuristic ceramic crche which includes an astronaut and a character reminiscent of Darth Vader from Star Wars has received so many terrible reviews that, if it were a Broadway play, it probably would have closed on opening night.
    Some social media users perhaps in keeping with the prevailing mood of 2020 called it disturbing or lacking reassurance.
    Others were more scathing.
    What in the name of sane Christianity have they created in the piazza in the Vatican, tweeted A.A.
Michelangelo.    Words (are) inadequate for this horrific creation which must have come from the planet Zog.
    Mary, Joseph, the three kings and the shepherds look like cubic chess figures and the animals are squat and square.
    The Vatican uses a different nativity scene each year, usually donated by towns or artists.
    This years modernist, larger-than-life display, which has appeared at various venues, was made by students and teachers in Castelli, an Italian town famous for ceramics, between 1965 and 1975.
    Italians traditionally add a new character to represent a current event.
    Past Vatican nativity scenes have included a broken boat representing the plight of refugees and a person visiting an inmate in a jail cell, symbolising charity.    Last years was sculpted from 720 tons of beach sand.
    The astronaut represents the lunar landings of the late 1960s and early 1970s, according to a description for visitors.
    One person on social media responded by posting a picture showing that figure planting a Vatican flag on the moon.    Another showed Darth Vader asking for directions to St. Peters Square.
    Among the scenes few unqualified fans was American Lino Rulli, who hosts The Catholic Guy, a weekday radio programme in Minnesota.    I dont know what I love more: the spaceman or the guy from the Star Wars Cantina.    I really want a small one for our home, he tweeted.
    For others closer to home, the decision by the Vatican Citys de facto municipal government to use it at the end of 2020 of all years was particularly irksome.
    With this global pandemic and everything else the Christian people, or anyone for that matter, was expecting a sign of rebirth, said Alfredo Chiarelli, 65, who has been selling religious items in the square for 30 years.
    It has confused and saddened a lot of people, he told Reuters.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; editing by John Stonestreet)

12/16/2020 Romanian Top Court Overturns Ban On Gender Identity Studies
FILE PHOTO: A girl wearing a PRIDE cap and a face mask bearing a black X attends an LGBT event outside the president's office to urge him to
send a bill banning gender identity studies back to parliament, in Bucharest, Romania, June 18, 2020. Inquam Photos/Octav Ganea via REUTERS
    BUCHAREST (Reuters) Romanias Constitutional Court overturned on Wednesday a blanket ban on gender identity studies voted through by lawmakers and which rights groups and universities said would infringe on human rights and fuel discrimination.
    Parliament passed the amendment to the education law earlier this year, pushing Romanias sexual politics closer to the conservative stances of neighbouring Hungary and Poland.
    Centrist President Klaus Iohannis challenged the bill, which was approved without public debate, at the top court.
    Socially conservative Romania decriminalised homosexuality in 2001, decades later than other parts of the European Union, and is one of the only EU states that bar marriage and civil partnerships for same sex couples.
(Reporting by Luiza Ilie; editing by Alistair Bell)

12/16/2020 Ex-Vatican Envoy To France Gets 8-Month Suspended Sentence For Sexual Harassment - AFP
FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron (L) greets Apostolic Nuncio to France Luigi Ventura (R) as he presents his New Year
wishes to members of the diplomatic corps at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, January 4, 2018. REUTERS/Yoan Valat/Pool
    PARIS (Reuters) A French court has found former Vatican ambassador to France Luigi Ventura guilty of sexual harassment against five men in 2018 and 2019 and given him an eight-month suspended sentence, AFP reported on its Twitter feed on Wednesday.
    Prosecutors had opened an investigation after a junior official at Paris City Hall accused the papal nuncio, then 74, of molestation in January 2019, and city authorities filed a complaint.    Other men later came forward with similar allegations.
(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

12/16/2020 Justices deny limits on religious services by Richard Wolf, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON The Supreme Court continued its solicitude toward religious freedom in the face of a pandemic Tuesday by giving religious leaders in New Jersey and Colorado another chance to block strict limits on houses of worship.
    The action followed similar ones affecting religious institutions in New York and California.    In all four cases, the high court indicated that states may not impose stricter standards on churches, synagogues and mosques than they do on most commercial establishments.
    New Jersey limits houses of worship to the lesser of 25% capacity or 150 people.    The policy was challenged by a priest and a rabbi who argued their small congregations are penalized more than necessary.
    Religious gatherings ... are still being treated unequally relative to numerous comparable secular activities, including attending school, working at a meatpacking plant, getting a facial, shopping at Costco, playing contact sports, casino gambling, and mass celebrations after a presidential election, they said in court papers.
    In response, state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal wrote that the state was limiting the density of indoor services, rather than the number, and requiring that masks be worn.
    There is nothing discriminatory about that, Grewal said.    This rule applies to all venues where members of the public remain for extended periods, and the few activities subject to higher limits present substantially fewer health risks.
    Colorado restrictions until recently varied depending on the level of COVID- 19 risk.    The church that challenged the state in court was limited to 25% capacity, not to exceed 50 people.
    But Colorado lifted all limits on religious gatherings after the Supreme Courts ruling in the New York case.    That led the courts three liberal associate justices to dissent from Tuesdays ruling.
    The challengers arguments in both states mirrored those made by Christian and Jewish congregations in New York and California.    Last month, the justices ruled 5-4 against New Yorks limits of 10 to 25 worshipers in hardest-hit regions.    This month, they sent Californias restrictions back to a lower court with instructions to consider the New York precedent.
    Even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten, the courts conservative majority opinion said in the New York case.    The restrictions at issue here, by effectively barring many from attending religious services, strike at the very heart of the First Amendments guarantee of religious liberty.
    That was a reversal from actions taken by the justices in response to state restrictions on organized religion during the pandemic.    In the spring, the court refused to lift restrictions on churches in California and Nevada.

12/17/2020 Rome Homeless Send Sunflowers To Pope On 84th Birthday
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis arrives to lead his Wednesday general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican December 14, 2016. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Romes homeless sent sunflowers to Pope Francis for his 84th birthday on Thursday and the pontiff marked the day by sending four ventilators to hospitals in Venezuela, the Vatican said.
    Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said the flowers would be used to adorn the altar in Franciss residence and the ventilators sent to Venezuela would be used primarily to help children with lung diseases.
    He said the pope was marking the birthday in a simple way.

12/17/2020 Pope Sends Envoy To Lukashenko After Exiling Of Belarusian Archbishop by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis conducts a Mass on the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe in
St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, December 12, 2020. REUTERS/Remo Casilli/Pool/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) A special envoy from Pope Francis met on Thursday with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, the Vatican said, following tensions between the government and the Church over the exiling of the archbishop of Minsk.
    The Vatican said in a statement Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, the Vaticans ambassador to Britain and former envoy to Belarus, had met Lukashenko to express the popes worry about the current situation in the country.
    Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, who had angered Lukashenko by defending the rights of anti-government protesters, was blocked from returning to Belarus at the border in August as he tried to come home from a ceremony in neighbouring Poland.
    The official Belarus news agency Belta reported Thursdays meeting between Lukashenko and Gugerotti and released a photo of the two men, but did not mention Kondrusiewiczs exile or tensions in the country.
    Lukashenko has been trying to strengthen his grip on power after mass protests and strikes following a disputed election on Aug. 9.
    Vatican diplomats have been working for nearly five months to persuade Lukashenko to allow Kondrusiewicz to return but have so far been unsuccessful.    The Vaticans foreign minister, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, made a mission to the country in September.
    A senior Vatican source said the Holy See was trying to get Kondrusiewicz back in time for Christmas.
    Other churchmen have faced reprisals from the authorities since the contested polls.    At least two Catholic priests have been detained for participating in protests.
    Belarusians overwhelmingly observe Orthodox Christianity, but the country has small Catholic minorities, observing the Roman rite common in Poland or the Eastern rite found in neighbouring Ukraine.
(Additional reporting by Matthias Williams in Kyiv; Editing by Peter Graff)

12/17/2020 Divert Arms Money To Fight COVID-19, Ensure Vaccine For All, Pope Says by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis conducts a Mass on the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe in
St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, December 12, 2020. REUTERS/Remo Casilli/Pool
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Pope Francis urged world leaders on Thursday to divert funds used for armaments to confront problems such as the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure vaccines reach the poor and most vulnerable nations.
    In his message for the Roman Catholic Churchs World Day of Peace, which is celebrated on Jan. 1, Francis also repeated a call for the establishment of a global fund with money slated for weapons to be used instead to help eradicate poverty.
    The annual message, this year titled A Culture of Care as a Path to Peace, is traditionally sent to heads of state, government, international organisations and other religions.
    How many resources are spent on weaponry, especially nuclear weapons, that could be used for more significant priorities such as ensuring the safety of individuals, the promotion of peace and integral human development, the fight against poverty, and the provision of health care. Francis said.
    Global problems like the present COVID-19 pandemic and climate change have only made these challenges all the more evident, he added.
    Under Pope Francis, the Roman Catholic Church has hardened is stance against nuclear weapons and called for their total abolition.    In 2017, he said countries should not stockpile them even for the purpose of deterrence.
    What a courageous decision it would be to establish a Global Fund with the money spent on weapons and other military expenditures, in order to permanently eliminate hunger and contribute to the development of the poorest countries," he said.
    Francis, who has repeatedly condemned so-called vaccine nationalism, said the poorest nations should not be left behind in the fight against coronavirus.
    I renew my appeal to political leaders and the private sector to spare no effort to ensure access to COVID-19 vaccines and to the essential technologies needed to care for the sick, the poor and those who are most vulnerable, he said.
    He paid tribute to medical staff and other front-line workers who risked their lives by helping coronavirus victims, especially those who died in the process.
    In the face of the pandemic, we have realized that we are in the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, he said.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella. Editing by Mark Potter)

12/18/2020 SCOTUS Denies Ky. Christian Schools Request To Block COVID-19 Restrictions by OAN Newsroom
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear speaks to the media as the first delivery of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine arrives at
University of Louisville Hospital in Louisville, Ky., Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
    The Supreme Court shot down a Kentucky Catholic schools plea for a religious exemption from coronavirus lockdowns.    In a seven-to-two ruling Thursday, the nations high court rejected Danville Christian Academys request.
    The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed in November against an executive order by Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D), which put a halt to in-person learning set to expire in early January.
    The K-12 school was joined in the lawsuit by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron and over three dozen Republican senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The plaintiffs argued the forced shutdown of the school amounted to an attack on religious freedom.
    I agree that we all have a responsibility to abide by the CDC guidelines, but what he has done as it relates to religiously affiliated schools is tell them they dont even have the chance to do that, Cameron stated.
    The high courts ruling states because Beshears lockdown order would be expiring in about a week, the school could wait until then.    It added, theres no evidence the lockdowns will be renewed.
    Two of the courts conservative justices, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, dissented to the ruling.    Alito argued it shouldnt matter how close the order is from being over while Gorsuch dissented based on the First Amendment, specifically religious liberty.
    The court said Danville Christian Academy can file another lawsuit if Beshears order is renewed in the new year.

12/19/2020 Invoking Bible And Moonwalk, Netanyahu Starts Israeli Vaccination Drive
FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the Maccabi Healthcare Services vaccine
complex for COVID-19 in Tel Aviv, Israel December 13, 2020. Marc Israel Sellem/Pool via REUTERS
    TEL HASHOMER, Israel (Reuters) Israel kicked off a coronavirus vaccination drive on Saturday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invoking the Bible and the 1969 lunar landing as he got the countrys first injection.
    Shipments of the Pfizer vaccines began arriving in Israel last week.    Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines are on order.    Israel expects to have enough doses by the years end for the 20% of its population most prone to COVID-19 complications.
    With polls finding that around two-third of Israelis intend to get vaccinated, officials have sought to stave off what they deem fake news about possibly perilous side-effects.
    Netanyahu said he was being vaccinated first in order to encourage others.    Doffing his suit jacket and rolling up a sleeve, he told reporters his was a strong hand and an outstretched arm a play on the Book of Exodus description of Gods power.
    With the procedure at Sheba Medical Center over, Netanyahu paraphrased astronaut Neil Armstrongs first words on the moon:     That was a small jab for a man, a huge step for the health of us all.    May this be this successful.    Go out and get vaccinated!

    Israel, with a population of 9 million, has reported 372,401 coronavirus cases and 3,070 deaths.    It has imposed two national lockdowns and may soon order curbs on high-contagion areas.    Netanyahu has self-isolated three times after exposure to carriers.
(Writing by Dan Williams; editing by David Evans)

12/20/2020 Pope Snubs Vaticans Sci-Fi Nativity Scene, Directs Visitors To Others by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis conducts a Mass on the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe in St. Peter's
Basilica, at the Vatican, December 12, 2020. REUTERS/Remo Casilli/Pool/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Pope Francis on Sunday appeared to add his own thumbs-down to widespread criticism of an unorthodox nativity scene in St. Peters Square, telling visitors to instead visit a nearby exhibition of traditional crches.
    At his last Sunday blessing and address before Christmas, Francis also said the holy day that marks the birth of Jesus had been kidnapped by consumerism.
    Speaking from his window overlooking the square, Francis twice urged people to visit an outdoor exhibit under the squares colonnade where 100 small traditional nativity scenes are on display.
    They demonstrated how people try to use art to show how Jesus was born (and) are a great religious education of our faith, he said.
    He made no mention of the main nativity in the centre of the square, a larger-than-life ceramic assembly of statues that includes an astronaut and a character reminiscent of Darth Vader from Star Wars.
    It has received scathing reviews in the media and from visitors, many of whom have expressed emotions ranging from puzzlement to contempt.
    The Vatican displays a different donated nativity scene each year, chosen by its municipal government.
    This years was made between 1965 and 1975 by students and teachers in Castelli, an Italian town famous for ceramics.    The astronaut represents the lunar landings of the late 1960s and early 1970s, according to a description for visitors.
    In his address, Francis also warned against frenetic consumerism during the Christmas season, urging people to remember those who have nothing.
    Consumerism has kidnapped Christmas, (taking it) away from us, he said.    There is no consumerism in the manger in Bethlehem. What is there is reality, poverty and love.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; editing by John Stonestreet)

12/21/2020 Pope Promises Vatican Workers No One Will Lose Jobs Because Of Pandemic by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis conducts a Mass on the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe in St. Peter's
Basilica, at the Vatican, December 12, 2020. REUTERS/Remo Casilli/Pool/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Pope Francis promised Vatican employees on Monday that none of them will lose their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has severely damaged Vatican finances.
    You are the most important thing here. No one is to left out, no one will lose their jobs, Francis told workers and their children at a special audience held to exchange Christmas greetings.
    The pandemic has wreaked havoc with the Vaticans finances, forcing it to dip into reserve funds and implement some of the toughest cost-control measures ever in the tiny city-state.
    No one should suffer from the ugly economic effects of this pandemicWe have to work harder to resolve this problem, which is not easy.    There is no magic wand. We have to move forward as in the same family, Francis said in improvised remarks.
    Lay employees work in all of the Vaticans administrative departments and also as gardeners, firefighters, police, maintenance workers and in its world-famous museums.
    The pandemic has drastically slowed the flow of funds from the Vatican Museums, which received some 7 million visitors last year and amount to the citys most reliable cash cow.
    The museums, which generate an estimated $100 million yearly, closed for three months in the spring during the first wave of the pandemic, reopened for a limited number of visitors during the summer, and closed again as a second wave hit Italy.
    Earlier this year, top Vatican administrators ordered a freeze on promotions and hirings and a ban on overtime, travel and large events in an attempt to contain costs.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

12/21/2020 Archaeologists Recreate Tiles Of Temple Where Jesus Walked by Rinat Harash
Israeli archaeologist Assaf Avraham polishes a replica of flooring of Jerusalem's Roman-era
Jewish temple, near Jerusalem's Old City November 16, 2020. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
    JERUSALEM (Reuters) When Jesus strode through the ancient Jewish temple in Jerusalem, his feet met hewn-stone, earth-tone tiles that were geometric in design and cool, dappled and scuffed to the touch.
    Such is the understanding of Israeli archaeologists and masons who, drawing on relics and historical texts, have recreated the sacred flooring so it can be experienced today.
    We even made the scratches and all kind of marks that created the same appearance as it used to look like at the time, archaeologist Assaf Avraham told Reuters near the one- metre square, ankle-high replica on the Mount of Olives, overlooking Jerusalems Old City and holy sites.
    According to the New Testament, Jesus went to the temple as a boy for pilgrimage and study and, as an older preacher, cast out its money-changers in anger.    The Gospel of John describes him walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon.
    The temple was designed by King Herod, as were other grand structures in Roman-era Judea.    Surviving tiles from those ruins told the archaeologists what materials had been used hand-tooled limestone and Dead Sea stone, as well as imported marble and that the inlay had been the ornate Opus Sectile style.
    Josephus Flavius, a Jewish historian of the period, wrote that temple courts were laid with stones of all sorts, another indication the tiles were of various colours and textures.     Recreating the floor was very tough work that took seven months, said Avi Tavisal, manager of the team of artisans.     But it was very interesting, and we made it with all our hearts, he said.    We hope that this will be something that the people can come and see and feel and touch and feel the feeling how it was 2,000 years before.
(Writing by Dan Williams, editing by Ed Osmond)

12/21/2020 Vatican Permits Use Of COVID-19 Vaccines Made Using Aborted Fetal Tissue by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a small bottle labeled with a "Coronavirus COVID-19 Vaccine" sticker
and a medical syringe in this illustration taken October 30, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) The Vatican told Roman Catholics on Monday that it was morally acceptable to use COVID-19 vaccines even if their production employed cell lines drawn from tissues of aborted foetuses.
    A note from the Vaticans doctrinal congregation, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said the use of such vaccines was permitted as long as there were no alternatives.
    Both the Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc vaccines have some connection to cell lines that originated with tissue from abortions in the last century, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), which issued a separate note to American Catholics last week.
    The Vatican note said the granting of moral legitimacy was related to the principle differing degrees of responsibility of cooperation in evil.
    This meant that because the pandemic is such a grave danger, such vaccines can be used in good conscience with the certain knowledge that (it) does not constitute formal cooperation with the abortion from which the cells used in production of the vaccines derive, the note said.
    In the absence of safe vaccines made from other sources, it is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.
    The American bishops said the vaccines employed cell lines drawn from tissue obtained from two abortions that took place in the 1960s and 1970s and that often have been replicated since.
    The Vatican note said use of such vaccines does not in itself constitute a legitimation, even indirect, of the practice of abortion.
    It urged the pharmaceutical industry to develop completely ethical vaccines and governments and international organisations to make them accessible to poorer nations.
    The Vatican note said that while the use of vaccines was voluntary, the common good may recommend vaccination, especially to protect the weakest and most exposed.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Alex Richardson and Hugh Lawson)

11/22/2020 Belarus To Allow Exiled Archbishop To Return Home
FILE PHOTO: The Archbishop of Minsk, Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, speaks during an interview in Minsk, Febuary 26, 2008. REUTERS/Vladimir Nikolsky (BELARUS)/File Photo
    MOSCOW (Reuters) -Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko has decided to allow Minsks exiled Catholic archbishop to return home after a personal appeal from Pope Francis, the Vaticans embassy in Minsk said on Tuesday.
    Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz angered Lukashenko by defending the rights of anti-government protesters and was denied entry in August as he tried to return from a ceremony in neighbouring Poland.
    The respected Rome-based website Il Sismografo, which specialises in Vatican affairs, posted a photo of a statement from the Vaticans ambassador in Minsk saying it had been informed by the government that there are no more obstacles to Kondrusiewiczs return.
    In the Italian-language statement, the Vatican ambassador, Archbishop Ante Jozic, thanks the government for responding positively to the request by His Holiness Pope Francis to allow Kondrusiewicz to return in time for Christmas.
    Belarus Foreign Minister Vladimir Makey said earlier on Tuesday that Lukashenko had asked officials to find a solution to the case out of respect for the pope.
    Mass protests demanding Lukashenko leave power erupted after an Aug. 9 presidential election and are still being staged weekly, though their size has diminished amid a crackdown.
    A special envoy from the pope met Lukashenko last week.    Vatican diplomats have been working for nearly five months to persuade Lukashenko to allow Kondrusiewicz to return, and a senior Vatican source said the Holy See was trying to get him back in time for Christmas.
    Belarusians overwhelmingly observe Orthodox Christianity, but the country has small Catholic minorities, observing the Roman rite common in Poland or the Eastern rite found in neighbouring Ukraine.
(Reporting by Tom Balmforth in Moscow and Philip Pullella in RomeEditing by Andrew Osborn and Matthew Lewis)

12/22/2020 Pope Decrees Italian Judge Murdered By Mafia Can Be Beatified
Pope Francis waves as he leads the Angelus prayer from the window of the Apostolic palace in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican
June 22, 2014. Pope Francis on Saturday took on one of Italy's most dangerous organised crime groups, calling it an example
of "the adoration of evil" and saying Mafiosi "are excommunicated".REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi (VATICAN - Tags: RELIGION)
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Pope Francis decreed on Tuesday that Italian judge Rosario Livatino, who was killed by the Mafia in Sicily in 1990, was a martyr for the faith and could be beatified, or declared Blessed.
    Livatino, who was a devout Roman Catholic, was gunned down after a Mafia hit squad ran his car off the road as he was driving on a Sicilian highway.
    Known as the boy judge because he looked younger than his 37 years, Livatino had led many investigations into the mob at a time when Sicilian clans were involved in a full-blown war.
    The decree of martyrdom proposed by the Vaticans Congregation for the Causes of Saints and approved by the pope means there is no need for a miracle to be attributed to Livatinos intercession with God for him to be beatified.
    A miracle would have to be attributed to Livatino in order for him to be declared a saint.
    The Roman Catholic Church teaches that only God performs miracles, but that saints who are believed to be with God in heaven intercede on behalf of people who pray to them. A miracle is usually the medically inexplicable healing of a person.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

12/22/2020 Papal Christmas, New Year Moved Indoors Because Of Coronavirus by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis holds the weekly general audience at the Library of the Apostolic
Palace at the Vatican December 16, 2020. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Pope Francis will read his Christmas message from inside the Vatican instead of from the outdoor central balcony of St. Peters Basilica because of new coronavirus restrictions in Italy, the Vatican said on Tuesday.
    In addition to the Christmas Urbi et Orbi (to the city and world) message, five addresses that were to have been delivered from a window of the Vaticans Apostolic Palace overlooking St. Peters Square between Dec. 26 and Jan. 6 also will be moved indoors.
    The restrictions mean people will not be able to go to St. Peters Square. Papal events will be live streamed and broadcast on television.
    Italians will be placed under a nationwide lockdown for much of the Christmas and New Year holidays.    Non-essential shops will be shuttered between Dec. 24-27, Dec. 31-Jan. 3 and Jan. 5-6.    On these days, people will be allowed to travel only for work, health or emergency reasons.
    The rules will restrict the number of people allowed to attend major papal events inside St. Peters Basilica, such as Christmas Eve Mass, New Years Eve vespers, the Jan. 1 World Day of Peace Mass, and the Jan. 6 Mass on the Feast of the Epiphany.
    The popes Christmas Eve Mass will start at 7:30 p.m., two hours earlier than usual, to allow the limited number of people who can attend to be home by a 10 p.m. Italian curfew.
    As a second wave of the pandemic hit Italy, his weekly general audiences were moved back indoors and held virtually without public participation following several months with a limited number of members of the public.
    Italy, the first Western country hit by the virus, has seen69,214 COVID-19 fatalities since its outbreak emerged inFebruary, the highest toll in Europe and the fifth-highest inthe world. It has also registered some 1.96 million cases todate.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Alexander Smith, William Maclean)

12/22/2020 Two Vatican Cardinals, Papal Aides, Test Positive For Coronavirus Source by Philip Pullella
Italian Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello arrives for a meeting at the Synod Hall in the Vatican March 4, 2013. REUTERS/Max Rossi
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Two Vatican cardinals, including one who spends most of his time helping Romes homeless, have tested positive for the coronavirus, a Vatican source said on Tuesday.
    Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, 57, a Pole who manages Pope Francis charities and has the title of the Vaticans almoner, was hospitalised for treatment of the onset of pneumonia.
    Italian Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, 78, the governor of Vatican City, tested positive and is believed to be in self-isolation in his home in the Vatican, the source said.
    It was not immediately clear if either or both attended an event on Monday at which members of the Vaticans central administration, known as the Curia, exchanged Christmas greetings with the pope.    There was no official Vatican confirmation of the two cardinals test results.
    Krajewski spends much of this time on the streets outside Vatican City helping Romes homeless population.    At the request of the pope, he has set up a clinic, bathing facilities and other services for the homeless just off St. Peters Square.
    He is also very active with Italian charities that help the poor and homeless throughout Italy.
    Italy, the first Western country hit by the virus, has seen 69,214 COVID-19 fatalities since its outbreak emerged in February, the highest toll in Europe and the fifth-highest in the world.    It has also registered some 1.96 million cases to date.
    In September, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, a Filipino who heads the Vaticans missionary arm, tested positive and went into isolation but is believed to be in good heath now.
    During the first wave of the pandemic last spring, more than a dozen Swiss Guard tested positive as well as a person who lived in the same guest house where the pope resides.
    Andrea Arcangeli, the head of the Vaticans health services, said earlier this month that the city-state will start vaccinated residents and staff members early in the new year.
(This story has been refiled to reinstate dropped word of in first paragraph)
(Reporting By Philip Pullella, Editing by William Maclean)

12/24/2020 Pope Urges Help For Poor At Low-Key Christmas Eve Mass Curbed By COVID by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis arrives for a Mass on Christmas Eve in St. Peter's Basilica amid the coronavirus
disease (COVID-19) pandemic at the Vatican December 24, 2020. Vincenzo Pinto/?Pool via REUTERS
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Pope Francis celebrated a low-key Christmas Eve Mass made sombre by the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday and said people should feel obliged to help the needy because Jesus himself was born a poor outcast.
    The Mass was held in a rear section of St. Peters Basilica with fewer than 100 participants and only small number of cardinals and bishops.    It is usually held in the main section of the basilica and attended by up to 10,000 people, including the diplomatic corps representing nearly 200 countries.
    Everyone except the pope and the small choir wore a mask during the Mass, which began two hours earlier than usual so that even the limited number of people who attended could return home by a 10 p.m. curfew.
    The Son of God was born an outcast, in order to tell us that every outcast is a child of God, Francis said in his homily.
    Francis said Christmas should make everyone reflect on our injustice towards so many of our brothers and sisters instead of pursuing our endless desire for possessions and ephemeral pleasures.
    God came among us in poverty and need, to tell us that in serving the poor, we will show our love for him, said the 84-year-old pope, celebrating the eighth Christmas of his pontificate.
    On Friday, the pope will read his Urbi et Orbi (to the city and the world) message from a hall inside the Vatican instead of from the central balcony of St. Peters Square, an event that usually attracts tens of thousands of people.
    Italians are under a nationwide lockdown for much of the Christmas and New Year holidays.    Non-essential shops will be shut between Dec. 24-27, Dec. 31-Jan. 3 and Jan. 5-6.    On these days, people are allowed to travel only for work, health or emergency reasons.
    The restrictions mean people will not be able to go to St. Peters Square or the basilica.    All papal events between Dec. 24 and Jan. 6 are taking place indoors with little or no public participation and being live streamed on the internet and broadcast on television.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Nick Macfie)

12/24/2020 Exiled Archbishop Returns To Belarus After Pope Lobbies Lukashenko Ifax
Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz speaks during a news briefing at a cathedral following his arrival in
Minsk, Belarus December 24, 2020. The Catholic archbishop, who defended the rights of anti-government protesters, was earlier
denied entry as he tried to return to Belarus from a ceremony in neighbouring Poland. REUTERS/Stringer
    MOSCOW (Reuters) Minsks exiled Catholic archbishop has returned to Belarus after Pope Francis successfully lobbied Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko to allow him back, the Interfax news agency reported on Thursday.
    Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz angered Lukashenko by defending the rights of anti-government protesters and was denied entry in August as he tried to return from a ceremony in neighbouring Poland.
(Reporting by Anastasia Teterevleva; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Alison Williams)

12/24/2020 Pope Promises To Visit Lebanon, South Sudan, As Soon As Possible by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis holds the weekly general audience at the Library of the
Apostolic Palace at the Vatican, December 23, 2020. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Pope Francis promised in his Christmas messages on Thursday to visit Lebanon and South Sudan as soon as he could.
    The pope traditionally mentions countries in his Christmas Day message, but he singled out those two nations with Christmas Eve messages because of difficulties each has faced this year.
    I am deeply troubled to see the suffering and anguish that has sapped the native resilience and resourcefulness of the Land of the Cedars,     Francis said, referring to Lebanon, which has been struggling with a deep economic crisis and the aftermath of the Beirut port explosion on Aug. 4 that killed about 200 people.
    Victims are still awaiting the result of an investigation into blast the ruined a swathe of the capital.
    Francis expressed my affection for the beloved people of Lebanon, whom I hope to visit as soon as possible.
    He said he hoped the country could stand apart from conflicts and regional tensions.
    He is already due to visit Iraq March 5-8.
    In a separate message written jointly with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who is the spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican communion, and Church of Scotland moderator Martin Fair, the three church leaders committed to making a previously delayed trip to majority Christian South Sudan as things return to normalcy.
    The message was addressed to South Sudans leaders, former rivals who formed a national unity government in February after years of civil war ravaged the oil-producing yet poor nation.
    A U.N. report said this month that implementing various aspects of a peace accord had stalled in the country, where floods in September displaced hundreds of thousands of people.
(This story has been refiled to fix typographical error in first paragraph)
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Edmund Blair)

12/25/2020 US judge again blocks new Arkansas abortion restrictions
    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. A judge in Little Rock has temporarily blocked four new abortion restrictions hours after they took effect in Arkansas, including one that bans a procedure commonly used in the second trimester.    U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker late Tuesday granted a temporary restraining order blocking the laws, which took effect that day.    The order is set to expire on Jan. 5 unless it is extended.    Baker had issued a similar ruling in 2017 blocking the four laws, but the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated that order in August.
[What else would you expect from a November 2, 2011 President Obama nominated judge to believe in killing unborn babies.].

12/25/2020 Ivorian Christians Celebrate Christmas In Giant Basilica by Loucoumane Coulibaly
Altar boys attend the celebration of Christmas at the Basilica Notre Dame
in Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast December 24, 2020. REUTERS/Luc Gnago
    YAMOUSSOUKRO (Reuters) Thousands of people gathered for Christmas mass at the giant Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in Yamoussoukro late on Thursday to mark the end of a year marred by COVID-19 and a disputed election that opened deep wounds in the West African nation.
    The chapel, whose towering dome is modelled after St Peters basilica in the Vatican, sits on the edge of Ivory Coasts administrative capital, surrounded by flat savannah.
    After nightfall on Thursday, worshippers descended on the church, observing anti-virus measures, including social distancing and hand washing before attending midnight mass.
    My message during these Christmas festivities is to remind our dear compatriots once again that we have one religion, one ethnicity, which is peace, which is a platform for the progress of this nation, said Franck Allatin, rector of the Basilica.
    The economy of Ivory Coast, the worlds top cocoa producer, has been hit hard by the coronavirus as world demand for chocolate falls and trade slows.
    President Alassane Ouattaras decision to run for a third term in an October election sparked deadly violence along ethnic lines that brought back memories of a 2010-11 civil war in which 3,000 people died.
    During the war, the basilica became a point of refuge for those seeking respite from conflict inside its looming stained glass windows.
    I tell myself that 2021 will be a year of hope and a year of peace, said Marius Kouassi, a teacher from Yamoussoukro who came to celebrate Christmas with his wife.
    That is why we are here.
(Editing by Edward McAllister; Editing by Dan Grebler)

12/25/2020 In Christmas Message Curbed By COVID, Pope Calls On Nations To Share Vaccines by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis leads the Mass on Christmas Eve in St. Peter's Basilica amid the coronavirus disease
(COVID-19) pandemic at the Vatican December 24, 2020. Vincenzo Pinto/Pool via REUTERS
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Pope Francis in his Christmas message on Friday said political and business leaders must not allow market forces and patent laws to take priority over making Covid 19 vaccines available to all, condemning nationalism and the virus of radical individualism
    In a sign of the times, Francis delivered his traditional Urbi et Orbi (to the city and the world) message virtually from a lectern inside the Vatican instead of from the central balcony of St. Peters Basilica before tens of thousands.
    The pandemic and its social and economic effects dominated the message, in which Francis called for global unity and help for nations suffering from conflicts and humanitarian crises.
    At this moment in history, marked by the ecological crisis and grave economic and social imbalances only worsened by the coronavirus pandemic, it is all the more important for us to acknowledge one another as brothers and sisters, he said.
    Stressing that health is an international issue, he appeared to criticise so-called vaccine nationalism, which U.N. officials fear will worsen the pandemic if poor nations receive the vaccine last.
    I beg everyone, heads of state, companies and international organisations to promote cooperation and not competition, to find a solution for everyone vaccines for all especially for the most vulnerable and needy in all areas of the planet, he said.
    The most vulnerable and needy must be first, he said, in the Vaticans Hall of the Benedictions, with only about 50 Vatican staff wearing masks sitting along the long walls.
    We cant put ourselves before others, putting market forces and patent laws before the laws of love and the health of humanity, he said.    We cannot let closed nationalisms block us from living like the true human family that we are.
    Francis also appeared to criticise people who have refused to wear masks because it violates their freedom, an attitude that has become widespread in nations such as the United States.
    And neither can we allow the virus of radical individualism to triumph over us and make us indifferent to the suffering of other brothers and sisters, he said.
    Italians are under a nationwide lockdown for much of the Christmas and New Year holiday period.    The restrictions mean people are not able to go to St. Peters Square or the basilica for papal events, all of which have been moved indoors.
    Christmas is above all a time to help others because Jesus himself was born a poor outcast, Francis said on Thursday night at his Christmas Eve Mass, which started two hours early so the few participants could get home in time before a 10 p.m. curfew.
    May the Child of Bethlehem help us, then, to be generous, supportive and helpful, especially towards those who are vulnerable, the sick, those unemployed or experiencing hardship due to the economic effects of the pandemic, and women who have suffered domestic violence during these months of lockdown, he said in his Friday address.
    He then called for peace and reconciliation in Syria, Yemen, Libya, Nagorno-Karabakh, South Sudan, Nigeria and Cameroon and Iraq, which he is due to visit in early March.
    He also asked to comfort those suffering from humanitarian crises or natural disasters in Burkina Fasso, Mali, Niger, the Philippines and Vietnam.

12/26/2020 Argentina Church Asks Lawmakers To Search Their Hearts Ahead Of Abortion Vote
FILE PHOTO: A general view of the Argentina's Senate, as senators hold their first virtual session in history due to the
coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Buenos Aires, Argentina May 13, 2020. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian/File Photo
    BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) The Church of Argentina on Saturday called on the countrys lawmakers to vote their conscience this coming week, when the Senate will take up a bill to legalize abortion that has divided a nation with long-held Roman Catholic roots.
    During a religious celebration in a small city west of Buenos Aires, Bishop Oscar Ojea, president of the local bishops conference and an outspoken opponent of abortion, suggested a no vote was supported by medical science and law.
    Blessed Virgin, we ask you to pause your gaze on the legislators who will decide on a matter of such extreme delicacy, Ojea said during a prayer service, so that you can provoke a serene reflection in their minds and in their hearts.
    On Dec. 11, Argentinas lower house of Congress approved the measure to allow abortion until the fourteenth week of pregnancy.    The coming Senate vote is expected to be close, and controversial.
    A similar bill was defeated by Argentinas Congress in 2018.    Current law allows for abortion only when there is a serious risk to the mothers health or in the event of rape.
    Argentinas abortion rights movement, backed by feminist groups galvanized in recent years to stop violence against women, argues that legalizing the practice would end unregulated abortions that government data has shown among the leading causes of maternal deaths.
    Broad demonstrations are expected both for and against the bill when it is debated in the Senate on Tuesday.
    On the same day, the Senate will also debate a side project to provide assistance to women who want to move forward with their pregnancy and need help facing economic hardship.
(Reporting by Jorge Otaola in Buenos Aires; Writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

12/28/2020 Pope proclaims year of families, offers advice to keep peace
    ROME Pope Francis on Sunday proclaimed an upcoming year dedicated to the family as he urged renewed attention to his controversial 2016 document on family life.    Francis announced the upcoming year on the family would begin March 19, the fifth anniversary of his document The Joy of Love.    Among other things, the document opened the door to letting divorced and civilly remarried couples receive Communion, sparking criticism from conservative Catholics.    Francis made the comments during his Sunday noon blessing.

12/28/2020 After Property Scandal, Pope Tightens Money Controls by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis leads Angelus prayer inside a library, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak,
at the Vatican, December 27, 2020. Picture taken December 27, 2020. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) Pope Francis has issued a new decree making charity funds more transparent and tightening controls on Vatican finances after a scandal over a luxury London property deal.
    The main target is the Secretariat of State, the most important part of the Vatican administration, which must relinquish management of its funds, investments and real estate and submit to supervision by two other economic offices.
    Published on Monday and signed by the pope on Dec. 26, the decree takes effect over two months from Jan. 1.
    In 2014, the Secretariat invested about 200 million euros ($244 million) as a partner in a deal to buy a luxury building in London.    As the deal became onerous, it paid tens of millions of fees to middlemen in attempts to change the terms.
    Cardinal George Pell, the Vaticans former treasurer, told Reuters earlier this month there had been enormous losses.    In September, the pope fired Cardinal Angelo Becciu, a former top Secretariat official.
    An investigation into the London deal led to the suspension last year of five Vatican employees, four from the Secretariat.    The Vatican has also accused the middlemen of extortion.
    The Secretariat of States assets are being transferred to a department called Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See (APSA) and will be overseen by the Secretariat for the Economy.
    The Secretariat of State also loses control of Peters Pence, a fund which the faithful can contribute to and is aimed at helping the pope run the Church and finance his charities.
    In past years, the Vatican has dipped into Peters Pence to cover budget deficits.    The funds reputation has suffered from reports it may have been used for questionable investments, such as the London building.
    The decree sets up three new accounts one for Peters Pence, another for a Papal Discretionary Fund, and a third to hold funds which donors want used for a specific purpose.    To guarantee transparency, they will become part of the Vaticans budget, the pope said in the decree.
    A Vatican statement said the changes to Peters Pence were meant to reassure donors that contributions were properly used.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)
[If you are having economic problems just get a loan form the Globalist World Government which you has supported since the Chinese let the China virus out which killed a lot of Italians from direct flights to Italy first which used to be donors to your church.].

12/29/2020 Putin Regime Arrests Monk Who Called For Political Change by OAN Newsroom
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting to discuss the Ukrainian peace process. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)
    A Moscow court detained a patriotic Russian monk for two months pending trial over his calls for political change.
    In a ruling on Tuesday, the court said Abbot Sergiy Romanov was undermining state security, as he faces charges on three separate counts.
    On Monday, Russian special forces arrested the abbot at his monastery in the Urals Region.    This year, Abbot Sergiy gained prominence on Russian social media for denouncing the Kremlins corruption. He also called for a change of government in Russia.
    You had 20 years to show whos in charge of Russia, Abbot Sergiy Romanov said.    You, President Vladimir Putin, and you Patriarch Cyril, you are all the enemies of Russia, and you put your interests above life eternal.    Step down, or else you will be weighed on a scale and found wanting, and your days are counted.
    Abbot Sergiy has also accused top officials at the Orthodox Church of corruption and illegal commercial activities.
His trial is slated for February.

12/29/2020 Calif. Sex Offenders May Get Early Parole by OAN Newsroom
SAN FRANCISCO MARCH 5: Shannon Minter, standing, speaks to the California Supreme Court
Justices inside the California Supreme Courtroom. (Photo by Paul Sakuma-Pool/Getty Images)
    The California Supreme Court ruled to uphold a new law that allows for the early release of non-violent sex offenders.
    On Monday, the court voted unanimously to uphold part of a ballot measure that gives any non-violent inmates a chance at early parole.    Proponents of the measure, however, argue they never intended for it to apply to inmates convicted of sex crimes.
    On the other hand, the court argues that because of the plain language the law was written in, non-violent sex offenders cannot be excluded.    Critics of the decision questioned how this benefits the victims.
    We need to protect the public, Elk Grove Assembly Member Jim Cooper (D) said.    Theres been a lot of legislation from the past 3 or 4 yearsand some needed reforms, Ill agree with you, but weve gone way overboard.
    He emphasized that victims should be the top priority when considering legislation reforms.    What are we doing to protect the victims?    Cooper questioned.
    The ruling could reportedly allow more than 4,000 nonviolent sex offenders to be released in the state early and on parole.

12/31/2020 Criticism of Vatican message lacks context by Chelsey Cox and Miriam Fauzia, USA TODAY
    The leader of the Catholic church supports vaccination against COVID-19 for Catholics, despite possible ties to aborted fetal cells, according to a Facebook claim.
    CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS !!!!!!! begins a post Dec. 22 by user Oscar El Blue, the owner of Border Network News, a YouTube channel.
    El Blue referred to a screenshot of an article from Agence France-Presse titled Vatican said getting COVID- 19 vaccine morally acceptable.     The Vatican release a statement saying that its OK to get virus vaccines using abortion sale (sic) lines, this was approved today by the globalist pope Francis, El Blue wrote in the caption.
    The Vatican urged Catholics to get the vaccine, saying it is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted foetuses in their research and production process, according to the AFP article.
    A Facebook post on Dec. 21 by another user makes claims similar to El Blues.
    The post features a screenshot of the top of a Wall Street Journal article titled Vatican permits use of COVID-19 Vaccines Linked to Abortion.    Its caption briefly summarizes the first sentence of the article which mentions the moral acceptability of the vaccine without additional context.
    On Dec. 21, the Vatican News reported that Pope Francis approved a statement from the Vaticans Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the morality of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.
    In the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic, the common good may recommend vaccination, especially to protect the weakest and most exposed, the statement says.
    The CDR advised those who refuse vaccines produced with lines from aborted fetuses for moral reasons to take necessary precautions to avoid COVID-19 transmission.
    The statement addresses when vaccines developed using aborted fetal cells should be used.
    When ethically irreproachable Covid-19 vaccines are not available, it is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process, the Vatican News reported.
    The pope did not offer carte blanche approval of COVID- 19 vaccines that used aborted fetal cells during development, as suggested in the online claim.
    El Blue updated his Facebook post with a direct link to the CDR statement after USA TODAY reached out to him Dec. 23.
    The use of cells derived from fetal tissue in clinical research dates back to the 1960s when Leonard Hayflick, a scientist at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia created WI-38 cells from an aborted four-month-gestation fetus.
Since then, Hayflicks cell line has been used to create a multitude of vaccines against rubella, rabies, polio, measles, chickenpox and shingles.    Fetal tissue has been used to study HIV/AIDS, birth defects, Parkinsons and Alzheimers disease, among many others, an application that has sparked fierce social and political debate in the USA.
    When it comes to the COVID-19 vaccines, at least five candidates undergoing clinical trials use fetal-derived cell lines: from Chinas CanSino Biologics, the University of Oxford partnered with AstraZeneca, Janssen (a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson), the University of Pittsburgh and California-based Immunity-Bio.
    HEK-293, used by four of the developers, is a kidney cell line derived from a fetus aborted in 1972.    PER.C6 is a proprietary cell line owned by Janssen that was created from eye cells from an 18-week-old fetus aborted in 1985, according to Science.
    The CanSino, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Janssen and ImmunityBio vaccines use a virus called adenovirus genetically altered to be harmless but loaded with SARS-CoV-2s spike protein genetic code, necessary for viral entry into human cells.    Similar to how Pfizer and Modernas messenger RNA vaccine operates by providing cells instructions on how to make antispike protein antibodies, the altered adenovirus delivers the spike genetic sequence so the body can make the antibodies itself.
    The altered adenovirus cannot replicate on its own, and that is where the fetal-derived cell lines come in by providing their replication machinery and generating vast amounts of the virus.
    Neither Pfizer nor Modernas COVID-19 vaccine involves cells derived from aborted fetal tissue since mRNA development is a different technology.    This was confirmed by UAB News, the news website for the University of Alabama-Birmingham.
    Neither the Pfizer nor the Moderna vaccine uses cell lines that originated in fetal tissue taken from the body of an aborted baby at any stage of design, development or production, UABs Sherri Blank reported.
    The University of Pittsburgh uses the HEK-293 cell line to construct the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein to stimulate an immune response once injected.
Vatican citizens will be vaccinated
    Andrea Arcangeli, deputy director of the Vatican City States Directorate of Health and Hygiene, confirmed that residents, employees and their families will receive the Pfizer vaccine starting in January, according to The Associated Press, the Catholic News Agency and the Catholic News Service.
    We believe it is very important that even in our small community a vaccination campaign against the virus responsible for COVID-19 is started as soon as possible, Arcangeli told Vatican News, according to Catholic News Agency.
    The ingredients in the Pfizer vaccine appear safe for those with moral reservations, according to a letter the company sent to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
    The only active ingredient is nucleoside-modified messenger RNA, or modRNA, which encodes SARSCoV-2s viral spike protein, USA TODAY reported.    The rest are fats, salts and sugar.
    Modernas vaccine is similar aside from a few additional components, such as vinegar and certain glycerols, according to an FDA fact sheet.
    During his annual Christmas Day speech, Pope Francis pleaded with the worlds leaders to make the vaccine accessible to all, according to The Wall Street Journal.
    I plead with all the leaders of states, businesses and international organizations to promote cooperation and not competition and to seek a solution for all, vaccines for all, especially the most vulnerable and needy, he said.
Our rating: Missing context
    A claim that says the pope approved of COVID-19 vaccines that used abortion cell lines in its research ignored an official statement from the Vatican.    The statement endorses vaccines that use aborted fetal cells during research and development if an alternative is not accessible.     Citizens, employees and their families in Vatican City will receive the Pfizer vaccine next year.
Contributing: The Associated Press Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.
    I plead with all the leaders of states, businesses and international organizations to promote cooperation and not competition and to seek a solution for all, vaccines for all, especially the most vulnerable and needy.
    Pope Francis in his annual Christmas Day speech.
Pope Francis puts on his mask on Oct. 20. During a speech on Christmas, Pope Francis pleaded with the worlds
leaders to make the vaccine accessible to all, according to The Wall Street Journal. GREGORIO BORGIA/AP

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