From The Alpha and the Omega - Chapter Eight
by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved SCARLET WOMAN 2018

    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.

    The above left image is from of the Scarlet Woman on the Beast, and the one to the right is my oil painting representing Revelation 13:1-2 the "Beast from the Sea" with seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name, like a leopard, feet of a bear, mouth of a lion, dragon gave him his power, throne, and great authority.
    This chapter is a flashback of the revived Roman Empire’s rise to world dominion.    The two main figures are a Harlot and a seven-headed, ten-horned beast, a judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters a mystery Babylon (Babel) and the judgment of the Great Whore, who controlled many nations which she seduced with a false world religious system.

Rev. 17:4-6 The Mystery of the Scarlet Woman riding on the Beast
    17:4 And the woman was arrayed (‘Periballo’ to cast around or about, to put on, array, to cloth oneself)
in purple (‘Porphureos’ purple, a reddish purple; some have ‘Porphura’ a purple garment)
and scarlet colour (‘Kokkinos’ derived from ‘kokkos’, used of the “berries” from insect eggs, whose Arabic name is girmiz, whence the word crimson came from; used here of the clothing of the “woman” as seen sitting on the “beast”; of interest is that Pope Paul II, made it a crime for anyone but cardinals to wear hats of scarlet),
and decked with gold (‘Chrusoo’ a verb, deck, to gild with gold, chrusos, gold; pp. jewelry made of gold)
and precious stones (‘Lithos’ is used as the adornment of religious Babylon;: gems)
and pearls (‘Margarites’ a pearl),
having a golden (‘Chruseos’ denotes overlaid with gold) cup (‘Poterion’ denotes a drinking vessel of the evil deeds of Babylon; pp. a golden goblet) in her hand full (‘Gemo’ to be full, heavily laden with abominations)
of abominations (‘Bdelugma’ denotes an object of disgust, an abomination used here of the contents of the golden cup in the hand of the evil woman and of the name ascribed to her in verse 5) and filthiness of her fornication (pp. full of obscenities; thus the world-power gives up its hostility and accepts Christianity externally; the beast gives up its God-opposed character, the woman gives up her Divine one.    Christianity becomes worldly, the world becomes Christianized.    The world gains, the Church loses.    The beast for a time receives a deadly wound in Rev. 13:3, but will return worse than ever in Rev. 17:11-14.):

Rev. 17:5 Babylon the Great, Mother of Prostitutes and Idol Worship around the world.
    17:5 And upon her forehead (‘Metopon’ meta with ops ‘eye’; a mark in the forehead means a public profession; pp. A mysterious caption was written on her forehead; as harlots usually had; in contrast inscribed on the mitre on the high priest) was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
    (Paraphrased: “Babylon the Great, Mother of Prostitutes and of Idol Worship Everywhere around the World.”) (This implies a spiritual fact or mystery which was hidden, and incapable of discovery by mere reason, but now revealed.    This is called “the mystery of iniquity,” so when she is destroyed, it is revealed in the man of iniquity, the open embodiment of all previous evil.    Since it was Rome that crucified Christ, it will compromise for political power as in verse 3 the portion of Christianity still in its creed, and thus prepare the way for Antichrist’s manifestation.    The name Babylon, which in the image, Daniel 2, is given to the head, is here given to the harlot, which marks her as being connected with the fourth kingdom, Rome, the last part of the image.    The invisible Church of true believers is hidden and dispersed in the visible Church, the boundary lines which separate harlot and woman are not denominational nor drawn externally, but can only be spiritually discerned.    Some believe that the Roman Church is a harlot, whereas the evangelical Protestant Church is in principle and creed, a chaste woman; with the Reformation as a protest of the woman against the harlot.    Whatever it is today you can be sure that it was caused by all three.)

    Rev. 17:6 The Woman and the Blood of the Saints
    17:6 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus (‘Methuo’ signifies to be drunk with wine; of being in a state of mental intoxication, through the shedding of men’s blood profusely; thus success in eliminating all who opposed her):
and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration (‘Thambos’ amazement, ‘thauma’,admiration; pp. I stared at her in horror).

    I have always believed that there were only eleven disciples that Jesus sent out into the world to spread the gospel.
    Judas hanged himself, thus only eleven of them left.
    The original twelve disciples are listed in Matthew 10:2-4, “These are the names of the twelve disciples: 1. Simon Zelotes (who is later called Peter), 2. Andrew; 3. James (son of Zebedee), 4. John, brother of James, 5. Philip, 6. Bartholomew, 7. Thomas, 8. Matthew, the tax collector; 9. James son of Alphaeus, 10. Thaddaeus, 11. Cleopas mentioned as one of the disciples that Jesus met on the way to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), 12. Judas Iscariot the brother of James, who hanged himself, leaving only eleven, although some claim he was replaced with Matthias but was it after Jesus' crucifiction."
    They were never called Apostles, especially not 12 of them.
    Paul, originally called Saul, began the title of Apostle, although not one of the original twelve, described himself as an apostle, one "born out of due time" (e.g., Romans 1:1, 1 Corinthians 15:8 and other letters).    He was called by the resurrected Jesus himself during his Road to Damascus vision and given the name "Paul" [Acts 9:1–9].    With Barnabas, he was allotted the role of apostle in the church [Acts 13:2].    He referred to himself as the apostle of the Gentiles [Rom 11:13].
    As the Catholic Encyclopedia states, "It is at once evident that in a Christian sense, everyone who had received a mission from God, or Christ, to man could be called 'Apostle'."; thus extending the original sense beyond the twelve.
    Since Paul claimed to have received the gospel through a revelation of Jesus Christ after the latter's death and resurrection (rather than before like the twelve), he was often obliged to defend his apostolic authority (1 Cor. 9:1) and proclaim that he had seen and was anointed by Jesus while on the road to Damascus.
    James, Peter and John in Jerusalem accepted his calling to the apostleship from the Lord to the Gentiles (specifically those not circumcised) as of equal authority as Peter's to the Jews (specifically those circumcised) according to Paul [Gal 2:7–9].    "James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars ... agreed that we [Paul and Barnabas] should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews."[Gal 2:9]
    Paul, despite his divine calling as an apostle, considered himself perhaps inferior to the other apostles because he had originally persecuted Christ's followers [1 Cor. 15:9].    In addition, despite the Little Commission of Matthew 10, the Eleven chose by Jesus did not limit their mission to solely Jews as Cornelius the Centurion is widely considered the first Gentile convert and he was converted by Peter, and the Great Commission of the Resurrected Jesus is specifically to "all nations."
    I can see that the newly found religion of Christianty and its Great Commission was founded and it went through years of threats of harm, death, and still survived with good intent, but somehow over time somehow it got out of whack and as seen in the Revelation 17 above some things occurred as you will read in the following.

    A few hundred years ago, Fox’s Book of Martyrs was chained to every pulpit, alongside the Holy Bible.    I suppose people decided to turn their heads away from such violent crimes and become more “dignified.”    We dishonor those who suffered by burying their testimonies and martyrdom.    It also seems most churches today are too “dignified” for the Holy Spirit and fire, Who fell on the apostles of the early church. (Acts 2)!
    The following are excerpts taken from Fox’s Book of Martyrs – Zondervan Publishing House (1926).
    In 1493 and 1494 Jews were expelled from Spain.    Emphasis mine: 1492- Roman Catholics Edict of Expulsion of Jews from Spain, caused the start of the New Age Movement as can be seen in the following from “The Alpha and the Omega” - Volume III by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 12/26/1998, all rights reserved, entitled "History of the Bible," seen under “Jewish Mysticism Arose from the Spanish Inquisition.”
    Beginning with Constantine the Spanish Inquisition was an effort by the Roman Catholic Church to seek out and punish heretics (anyone or those who opposed the church teachings).    Although it occurred throughout Europe this was one of the best known.    During the Middle Ages from the court of Pope Gregory IX, the Jews suffered persecution, since its results tortured and burned anyone who refused to change their beliefs.    In 1492, for example, they were expelled from Spain, at which point the Inquisition was turned against the Protestants.    Some Hebrew authors tried to understand such Jewish suffering by examining the relationship between God and human beings.    Much of the literature of these writers formed part of the Jewish mystical tradition called the Cabala.    The Zohar (Book of Splendor), written chiefly in Aramaic with some Hebrew sections, is the greatest work of Cabalist literature, believed to have been written by Moses de Leon of Spain in 1200.
    Believe it or not this persecution may have led to what is presently called the New Age Movement.    Since Mysticism evolved to such groups as the Buddhist, Taoist and Hindu mystics, a Judaic group called Hasidic, Islamic Sufi sect, some Roman Catholic saints, and even the Quakers.
    I find it amusing that the Gentile authorities’ treatment of the Jews and the spread of Jewish mysticism may have created the poison for the world to choke on in modern times, even till the "end of the time of the Gentiles.")
    Does the Vatican sit atop the blood of the saints.    Revelation 18 describes her brutal end for heresies and having committed such abominable crimes.
    The Catholic Church has never issued an apology for the crimes committed during the Inquisition and the brutal torture and murders of Protestant Christians, who denounced papal authority, denied Purgatory, the selling of indulgences in sin, the worship of idols, and prayers to the saints and the Virgin Mary.    Neither has any reparation been made to the heirs of the saints who suffered such vile persecutions from the Catholic Church.

    “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that you be not partakers of her sins and that you receive not of her plaguesRevelation 18:4.
    God is calling His sincere believers to come out of Babylon's abomination, before it’s too late!

Rev. 17:7-8 mentions "The Beast that was (did exist at one time), is not (then it was not in existence), and yet is And shall rise again out of the bottomless pit (It will reappear after being dead) and I think we have determined what that was if you have seen my page "The Beast That Came Out Of The Sea."
Rev. 17:9 Seven Heads are Seven Mountains.(Some believe it to be the past 6 great empires of the world and the 7th one has not risen yet; Others see it as the 1990’s creation of the (G-7) the Seven richest industrial nations of the world which is ready for an eighth to grow from it; Others believe it is a certain city of verse 18 built on 7 hills) which the Woman sitteth (resides).
    Rev. 17:9 And here is the mind (‘Nous’ mind denotes the faculty of knowing, the seat of the understanding) which hath wisdom (‘Sophia’ is used with reference to spiritual wisdom; pp. now think hard).
The seven heads are seven mountains (‘Oros is used symbolically, of a series (‘Hepta’ seven) of the imperial potentates of the Roman Dominion, past and future; some scholars believe the seven heads of the beast represent the six great powers which have dominated the world in the past, and the seventh one has not risen yet.    Others might propose that the seven mountains are the 1990’s creation of the (G-7) the Seven richest industrial nations of the world which is ready for an eighth to grow from it.; pp. his seven heads represent a certain city of verse 18 built on seven hills.),
on which the woman sitteth (pp. where this woman has her residence; implies the Old and New Testament Church conforming to, and resting on, the world-power, i.e., on all the seven world-kingdoms.).

Rev. 17:10 Seven Kingdoms: Five are in the past, One is at present, The other is yet to come.
Rev. 17:11 The Eighth Head: The Seventh Head (revived Roman Empire) will grow an Eighth Head in verse 11 (Some claim this to be "The scarlet animal that is to be destroyed).
    Rev. 17:11 And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth (‘Ogdoos’ eighth is connected to ‘Okta’ eight; here the vision shows that the seventh head will briefly sprout another as an eighth head or an outgrowth which will be destroyed; “the eighth” king, his “wound being healed,” Rev. 13:3, Antichrist manifested in the fullest and most intense opposition to God.    He is “the little horn” with eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things, before whom three of the ten horns were plucked up by the roots, and to whom the whole ten “give their power and strength,” in Rev. 12:13, 17.), and is of the seven (originally came from the seven heads; The eighth is not one of the seven restored, but a new power or person proceeding out of the seven, and at the same time embodying all the God opposed features of the previous seven.    For this reason there are not eight heads, but only seven, for the eighth is the embodiment of all the seven.),
and goeth into perdition (‘Apoleia’ indicating loss of well-being, not of being, is used of the Beast, the final head of the revived Roman Empire; In the birth-pangs which prepare the “regeneration” there are wars, earthquakes, and disturbances, at which Antichrist takes his rise, from the sea, Rev. 13:1; Mark 13:8; Luke 21:9-11.).
(Paraphrased: “The scarlet animal that died is the eighth king, having reigned before as one of the seven; after his second reign, he too, will go to his doom.”).
    [No one can really narrow down who or what this new entity came from, but the following is food for thought.    I ran across a news article dated 6/9/2018 on my “KingOfTheWest2018.htm" file and I discovered the following statement, was made in it and was titled "Russia joined the G-7 in the late 1990s almost a decade after the fall of the Soviet Union, making the group the G-8."    And as it is seen above in prophecy the seventh head will briefly sprout another as an eighth head, which was Russia, the eighth as one of the seven.    So as it says above "in his second reign," which was in 2018, "he too, will go to his doom.]

Rev. 17:12-15 Ten Horns (human responsibility) are Ten Kings, which hated the whore and destroyed her (the Babylonian religious system) with fire in total desolation.
    Rev. 17:12 And the ten horns (‘Deka’ ten is regarded as the measure of human responsibility, used figuratively; ‘Keras’ a horn, is used in the plural, as a symbol of strength in visions on the heads of beasts as symbolic of national potentates; some scholars believe when the seventh kingdom rises it will be a revival of the sixth head, the Old Roman Empire, or a ten-nation confederacy; as seen in verse 14, 16 these ten kings of kingdoms are allies with the beast in its last or eighth form, the Antichrist.    As seen in Daniel 2:34, 44, “the stone smote the image upon his feet,” i.e., upon the ten toes, as interpreted in verse 41-44, to be “kings.”    Therefore the ten kingdoms rise out of the last state of the fourth kingdom under the eighth head.    Having gained the ten kings in the sixth vial with the aid of the spirits of devils working miracles, to make war with the Lamb.) which thou sawest are ten kings (‘Deka’ ten is regarded as the measure of human responsibility, used figuratively; ‘Basileios’ in the plural, of the courts or palaces of kings), which have received no kingdom as yet (pp. not yet risen to power); but receive power as kings one hour (‘Hora’ primarily denoted any time or period; a definite time of short duration, during which “the devil is come down to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”    This is probably the three and a half years of Rev. 11:2, 3; 13:5.    The Antichrist existed long before the fall of Babylon, only at its fall he obtains the ten kings) with the beast (He is connected with Israel as appearing to sit “in the temple of God,” 2 Thessalonians 2:4, Daniel 9:27; 12:11; Matthew 24:15, and city the Lord was crucified in, Rev. 11:8.).
    Rev. 17:13 These have one mind (‘Gnome’ a purpose, judgment, opinion, is translated “mind”), and shall give their power and strength (‘Exousia’ freedom of action, is rendered “strength” or authority) unto the beast.
    Rev. 17:14 These shall make war (‘Polemeo’ literally to fight, to make war; in league with the beast, leading to Rev. 19:19) with the Lamb (‘Arnion’ the Conqueror of the foes of God and His people), and the Lamb (‘Arnion’) shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords (‘Kurios’ power or authority, “Lord”, “master”, “Master”, “Sir”; to be understood of the Lord Jesus), and King of kings (‘Basileus’): and they that are with him are called, and chosen (‘Eklektos’ signifies chosen out, select, see elect), and faithful (‘Pistos’ of servants of the Lord).
    Rev. 17:15 And he saith unto me, the waters (restless strivings of the nations of the world: the masses) which thou sawest, where the whore (‘Porne’ a prostitute, harlot, from pernemi, to sell, is used metaphorically of mystic Babylon, “whore”) sitteth, are peoples (‘Laos’), and multitudes (‘Ochlos’ a crowd or multitude of persons, a throng), and nations (‘Ethnos’), and tongues (‘Glossa’ a language, coupled with ‘phule’).

Rev. 17:16-18 The Woman is the great city, Babylon
    Rev. 17:16 And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate (‘Miseo’) the whore, and shall make her desolate (‘Eremoo’ to lay waste “shall make her desolate”; dismounted her from her seat in verse 3) and naked (‘Gumnos’ signifies of the desolation of religious Babylon; stripped of all her gaud in verse 4.), and shall eat her flesh (‘Sarx’ masses of flesh, carnal possessions; a symbol of what the Church has become.), and burn (‘Katalaio’ to burn up utterly as chaff; the legal punishment of an abominable fornication.) her with fire (‘Pur’ of the future overthrow of the Babylonish religious system at the hands of the Beast and the nations under him).
    Rev. 17:17 For God hath put in their hearts to fulfill his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled (foretelling the rise and downfall of the beast; Rev. 10:7).
    Rev. 17:18 And the woman which thou sawest is that great city (‘Prophetic Babylon the Harlot, the false religious system would include the same occultic practices as ancient Babylon, black magic, demon contact, seances, spiritualism, witchcraft, astrology and sorcery), which reigneth (‘Basileia’ an abstract noun, denoting sovereignty, royal power, dominion Rev. 17:18; “(which) reigneth”, “hath a kingdom”; The Kingdom of God is since the earth is the scene of universal rebellion against God in Rev. 11:15-18; There is but one Kingdom, variously described: of our Lord, and of His Christ; God is everywhere and above all dispensations, whereas ‘the heavens’ are distinguished from the earth, until the Kingdom comes in judgment and power and glory when rule in heaven and on earth will be one.    The Kingdom of Heaven is always the Kingdom of God, but the Kingdom of God is not limited to the Kingdom of Heaven, until in their final form, they become identical Rev. 11:15, 12:10) over the kings of the earth.

    Apparently, they will continue, until God allows their whole center to be destroyed, according to Revelation 18.    “After these things, I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power, and the earth was lighted with his glory, and he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils and the hold of every foul spirit and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird; for all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication (illicit sexual sins) and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her (spiritual fornication), and the merchants of the earth have waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies (the Catholic Church is rich in holdings from the pillage of the saints they slaughtered for centuries, and the leaders of most nations have entertained the Catholic Church).    And I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, that you be not partakers of her sins and that you receive not of her plagues, for her sins have reached unto heaven and God has remembered her iniquities’…Therefore, shall her plagues come in one day, death and mourning and famine, and she shall be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord who judges her; and the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously wii>th her, shall bewail her and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning…and saying, Alas, alas, that great city (the Vatican), that was clothed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and decked with gold, precious stones and pearls!    In one hour so great riches are come to naught, and every shipmaster and all the company in ships and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off and cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city!”.
Revelation 18:1-5, 8-9, 16-18.
Below we can see some “fine linen, purple and scarlet” clearly here is very abundant

…and “decked with gold, precious stones and pearls!” as seen below.
Just some of the “tidbit treasures” owned by the Catholic Church.
    A great amount of the church’s wealth was amassed during the Inquisition, as they pillaged the martyrs of all their worldly possessions.

    “What city is like unto this great city” indeed!
    The Vatican City sits a top the blood of the saints that were slaughtered and pillaged for centuries, without remorse.    Now the little ones suffer at the hands of the abominable that still abide in that great city, but it is coming down!    If you read Revelation 18 in its entirety, you will be able to see a clear description of the Vatican.
    Revelation 17 gives a clear description of the Vatican City, if one has spiritual discernment to understand.    Here is an excerpt:
    “And I saw the woman (church) drunken with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus, and when I saw her, I wondered greatlyRevelation 17:6.
    King David wrote about the demise of the wicked:
    “I have seen the wicked in great power and spreading himself like a green bay tree, yet he passed away and, lo, he was not.    Yes, I sought him, but he could not be found…The transgressors shall be destroyed together; the end of the wicked shall be cut off.” Psalms 37:35-36, 38

    So now we will see what is happening in the world today in the name of religion.    Can the Catholic Church do anything to anyone in the 21st Century for sins against God?    Are we dealing with a society that thinks they are not sinning at all?.


    A Catholic priest, James Csaszar, jumped from an 82-story building in Chicago amidst an investigation into his conduct with a 16-year-old boy.    Csaszar pastored the Church of the Resurrection in New Albany, Ohio, but was on administrative leave during the investigation.
    CBS affiliate WBNS in Columbus obtained an email from the Chief of New Lexington Police to an agent in the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification, with the subject line: “inappropriate relationship between priest and 16-year-old male,” reported
    CBS was quick to report that “no charges had been filed.”
    It is understandable that charges would not have been filed, since the investigation was still underway.    Little has been said about the “relationship” between the cleric and the 16-year-old boy, but apparently something significant brought this man to commit suicide.
    The dicoese issued a statement saying, “We are reminded throughout sacred scripture that God our Father is loving, merciful, compassionate and forgiving.”
    Yes, as long as we repent, and seek not to continue in the same abominations (Romans 6 provides a good commentary on this).
    How many children’s lives do you suppose will be ruined; how many children will be molested, tortured, and sometimes even killed by Catholic “priests,” before that diabolical organization decides to permit their clerics to at least marry, amidst all of their other abominations and heresies?

1/10/2018 ACLU: ‘Bible literacy’ classes go too far by Deborah Yetter, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    “Bible literacy” classes being taught in some Kentucky public schools appear to violate the Constitution by promoting Christianity and Sunday school-style “religious life lessons,” according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky.
    The ACLU’s finding, contained in a letter to the state Department of Education, follows its review of how some school districts have begun offering courses under House Bill 128, a measure passed last year by the Kentucky General Assembly to include “Bible literacy” in public school curriculum.
    The letter asks state education officials to develop “clear, concise and controlled guidance for Kentucky’s schoolteachers” as it works on creating guidelines for courses in Bible literacy.    It said state education officials are devising such guidelines.
    Education Department spokeswoman Rebecca Blessing said the department is working to promote statewide academic standards for Bible literacy classes.
    “Until these standards are finalized and further guidance is provided by the department, it is up to each public-school district to ensure the curriculum used in any classes allowed under HB 128 abides with the letter of the law and the tenets established by constitutional law,” she said.    Supporters of the bill, including Rep. D.J. Johnson, an Owensboro Republican, have argued the Bible literacy curriculum would expand students’ knowledge of culture, history and society.
    “Whether you believe that it’s the word of God or you think it’s a complete work of fiction, you can’t deny the impact it’s had on our culture,” Johnson told Courier Journal last year.
    But the ACLU said it continues to oppose Bible classes in public schools.
    “Religious education is best left to parents, not schools or government officials,” the ACLU letter said.    “For this reason, ACLU of Kentucky representatives testified against the ‘Bible literacy’ bill last year and we continue to believe that Bible literacy courses have no place in our state’s public schools.”
    After Gov. Matt Bevin signed the bill into law, the ACLU sent open records requests to all 173 Kentucky school districts, seeking policies and curriculum for Bible literacy classes, the organization said in a press release.
    While the “vast majority” of school districts are not offering such courses, the ACLU letter said, several do and “there appear to be some serious fundamental and constitutional issues with those courses.”
    While such courses are supposed to be “secular, objective and non-devotional,” the ACLU said it obtained course material from some school districts that do not comply with the law or constitutional restrictions on mingling of church and state, the letter said.
    “In several of these classes, teachers are using the Bible to impart religious life lessons and actively inculcate Christianity,” the letter said.
    Among the districts mentioned by the ACLU with potential problems with Bible literacy instruction are public schools in Barren, Letcher, Lewis, McCracken and Wayne counties.
    School superintendents from several of those districts did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
    In Jefferson County, only Male Traditional High School offers a Bible literacy course as an English elective and has been doing so for several years, according to a Jefferson County Public Schools spokesman. He said it is sanctioned by state education officials.
    Also, Atherton High teacher Rita Cron-Hines has for years done a “houses of worship” field trip as part of her advanced Human Geography course.    Students see different houses of worship throughout Louisville to learn about how religion can affect the cultural landscape, she said.
    Students don’t focus on the beliefs of a particular religion but rather the building itself, Cron-Hines said.     “It’s about, ‘Why does this structure look this way?’” she said.
    She said students look, for instance, at how the impact of the Byzantine Empire may have played into the architecture of Greek Orthodox churches and how different religious beliefs may affect the look of the house of worship.
    The ACLU said in its letter that some courses being taught in Kentucky schools strayed too far from the focus of the Bible literacy law, meant to study the Bible as a work of literature, not a devotional study.
    In some cases, students were assigned to memorize Bible verses, it said.    In other instances, students were asked “What are some promises in the Bible that God gives to everyone who believes in him?” or assigned to “do your best to develop close relationships with other Christians.”
    Some worksheets and other material appear to have come from Sunday school websites and in one county, students viewed religious videos promoting Christianity such as “God is Not Dead 2.”
    The letter advises state education officials to monitor such courses and make sure they comply with constitutional standards.
    “Otherwise, schools will likely face costly and drawn-out litigation, among other consequences,” it said.

1/11/2018 Paducah passes ‘historic’ LGBT ordinance by Thomas Novelly, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    Paducah has become the first city in western Kentucky to pass an anti-discrimination ordinance that would protect the LGBT community.
    In a 4-1 vote of Paducah city leaders on Tuesday evening, the western Kentucky town of around 25,000 people became the ninth city in the state to have a fairness ordinance, an explicit law that prohibits discrimination in housing and public services to the LGBT community.
    “It was a historic night in Paducah and western Kentucky,” said Chris Hartman, the director of the Fairness Campaign.    “I think we’ll see a trend of this passing in other cities down the line.”
    Other cities that have a Fairness Ordinance in Kentucky are Covington, Danville, Frankfort, Lexington, Louisville, Midway, Morehead and Vicco, according to Hartman. City Commissioner Richard Abraham was the only vote against Paducah’s ordinance on Tuesday night, according to a press release from the Fairness Campaign.
    Abraham’s attempt to pass a religious exemption amendment for business owners was shut down.
    Abraham, one of the longest-serving commissioners in Paducah’s history, said he wanted to make sure it was fair for everyone including business people who had objections because of deletions beliefs.
    “I would have preferred that we waited until the higher courts had settled some cases relating to this,” Abraham told Courier Journal.    “Tuesday night, while discussing the amendment, I felt like Solomon. But instead of holding up a baby I was holding a Constitution.”
    Hartman said Abraham’s response has become more common.
    “Now what we’re seeing is this overly cautious attempt to pass broad religious exemption amendments that really take the teeth out of the ordinance,” Hartman said.    Religious exemption from the Fairness Ordinance has been a hot-button issue in Kentucky.
    Back in March of 2012, the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization in Lexington wanted to get a series of T-shirts screen printed from Hands-On Originals.    The owner, Blaine Adamson, declined to print the T-shirts and said it went “against my belief system,” according to a court of appeals document.    The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Rights Commission said Adamson violated the city’s Fairness Ordinance, which outlaw’s discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and sexual identity.
    In November, the Kentucky Supreme Court said it would hear the case between Adamson and the Lexington organization.
    “It was a historic night in Paducah and western Kentucky.    I think we’ll see a trend of this passing in other cities down the line.” Chris Hartman, Director of the Fairness Campaign.

1/16/2018 Activists in Chile say pope must apologize for priest abuse
    Hours before Pope Francis was set to arrive in Chile on Monday, activists called for sanctions against priests who engaged in sexual abuse and anyone who helped cover up their actions.
    About 200 people attended the first of several activities aimed at making the scandal a central topic of Francis’ first visit to Chile as pope.

1/20/2018 Pope shocks Chile by accusing sexual abuse victims of slander
    Pope Francis accused victims of a pedophile priest of slander Thursday — an astonishing end to a visit to Chile meant to help heal the wounds of a sex abuse scandal that has hurt the Catholic Church’s credibility there.
    Francis said that until he sees proof that Bishop Juan Barros was complicit in covering up the sex crimes of Fernando Karadima, such accusations against Barros are “all calumny.”
    The pope’s remarks drew a rebuke from victims and their advocates.    Barros has denied the allegations.    The Vatican sentenced Karadima to a lifetime of “penance and prayer” in 2011.

1/21/2018 Cardinal rebukes pope over Chile ‘slander’ comments about abuse
    Pope Francis’ top adviser on clerical sex abuse implicitly rebuked the pontiff for his accusations of slander against Chilean abuse victims, saying Saturday that his words were “a source of great pain for survivors of sexual abuse.”    Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston, said he couldn’t explain why Francis “chose the particular words he used” Thursday.
    Francis accused victims of Chile’s most notorious pedophile priest of having slandered another bishop who the victims contend knew of the abuse but did nothing to stop it.

1/26/2018 Americans show less acceptance of LGBTQ people, survey says by Susan Miller, USA TODAY
    For the first time in four years, Americans are less accepting of LGBTQ people, a survey found — a setback activists said is stunning but not unexpected after a turbulent 2017.
    Less than half of non-LGBTQ adults — 49% — said they were “very” or “somewhat” comfortable around LGBTQ people in certain scenarios, according to the Accelerating Acceptance report released Thursday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. That number was down from 53% in 2016.
    The survey, conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of LGBTQ media advocacy group GLAAD, reflects an about face from positive momentum reflected in polls GLAAD has commissioned since 2014.    “We are surprised at the scale and the swiftness” in the erosion of tolerance in the course of one year, Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD president and CEO, told USA TODAY.    “But if you are LGBT and living in America, you are seeing this every day.”
    In 2014, 30% of those surveyed said they were “very” or “somewhat” uncomfortable having their child placed in a class with an LGBTQ teacher.    In 2015, that number dipped to 29%; in 2016, 28%.    In 2017, it jumped to 31%.
    The shift is unsettling fallout from the 2016 presidential election, Ellis said, which continued in 2017 amid inflammatory rhetoric and policy rollbacks.    The result: “a permission slip for discrimination and bias” that has permeated society, she said.
[My comment maybe the American public finally realized what the Progressive Socialist Liberal Democrats had pushed on this country for the first time].
        Among issues cited by GLAAD:

4/12/2018 Pope admits making ‘grave errors’ in Chile sex abuse scandal
    Pope Francis admitted he made “grave errors” in judgment in Chile’s sex abuse scandal and invited the abuse victims he tried to discredit to Rome to beg their forgiveness.
    In a letter published Wednesday, Francis summoned Chile’s bishops to the Vatican for an emergency meeting to discuss the scandal.    Francis blamed a lack of “true and balanced information” in his missteps in defending Bishop Juan Barros.

5/10/2018 Mormons severing ties with Boy Scouts, ending long bond
    The Mormon church said Tuesday it will sever ties with the Boy Scouts of America at the end of next year and place its remaining 425,000 boys into a gospel-focused youth program it is developing.
    The move ends a nearly century-old relationship that was based on their shared values.
    The Boy Scouts decided in 2015 to allow gay troop leaders and announced last year they would allow girls in its ranks.    The Mormon church opposes gay marriage.
[At least another church beside the Baptist churches have aknowledged that LGBT is a sin.]

6/1/2018 St. Paul archdiocese will pay sexual-abuse victims $210M
    The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has agreed to a $210 million settlement with 450 victims of clergy sexual abuse as part of its plan for bankruptcy reorganization, an attorney said Thursday.
    It would be the second-largest U.S. payout in the priest abuse scandal.
[It is amusing to me that the Catholic churches think they can pay their way out of their problems.]

6/4/2018 Italy’s new government says it won’t undo gay unions
    The leader of the right-wing party that is sharing power in Italy insists that undoing laws allowing same-sex civil unions and abortion aren’t on the agenda of the new government.
    League leader Matteo Salvini gave those assurances after Family Minister Lorenzo Fontana said that families headed by gay couples don’t legally exist in Italy.    Fontana defined “natural” families as ones in which children have a mother and a father.

6/4/2018 SAME-SEX MARRIAGE RULING THREE YEARS LATER - Protections for LGBT families are in peril - Religious beliefs and gay rights clash where ‘landscape remains uncertain’ by Susan Miller, USA TODAY
    A Supreme Court ruling sanctioning same-sex marriage in 2015 was hailed as a milestone moment that would see discrimination crumble and equality triumph for LGBT couples — and for their children.
    But in the past three years, those parents and kids have faced a brewing backlash that threatens everything from health benefits to a couple’s ability to adopt.
    Two states — Kansas and Oklahoma — passed legislation in recent weeks that allows state-licensed child welfare agencies to cite religious beliefs for not placing children in LGBT homes, a troubling trend for LGBT advocates.
    “We have to acknowledge that marriage equality was a huge victory for security and stability” for LGBT families, said Naomi Goldberg, policy director for the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), which released a report Monday documenting ways the 2015 ruling is undercut and the consequences for kids.    “But the landscape remains uncertain.    Families have to think about ways they may or may not be recognized: when they travel, go to the doctor, go to a restaurant.”
    Goldberg pointed to a Gallup survey released two weeks ago that shows more than two-thirds of Americans back same-sex marriage.    In many families and communities, support for LGBT families flourishes, but “the gap is with legislators,” she said.
    The report by MAP, a think tank that researches and analyzes laws with LGBT implications, cites a refusal to recognize LGBT families by some government officials, state legislators and even courts.     Supporters of religious exemptions — laws that let people, churches, nonprofits and sometimes businesses cite religious beliefs as a reason to not comply with a law — said exemptions are an American right, dating to the Revolution.    The laws “teach us how to live in a pluralistic society that recognizes we don’t all believe the same thing,” said Bruce Hausknecht, judicial analyst at Focus on the Family, a Christian conservative organization that opposes same-sex marriage.
    Exemption laws loom large over the daily lives of LGBT families, according to the MAP report.    Twenty-one states have some type of religious exemption laws on the books.
    “Religion is an important value; it’s protected under the Constitution,” Goldberg said.    “But we also have an American value of not discriminating and treating people fairly.”
    Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have protections from discrimination in public accommodations — meaning that in most places in the country, LGBT parents and kids can be booted from a business by someone who cites a religious belief.
    Kansas and Oklahoma joined six other states that allow taxpayer-funded child service agencies to refuse to place children or provide services to families — including same-sex couples — if doing so would conflict with their religion.
    Todd Vesely, 52, and Joel Busch, 54, know the sting of discrimination well.    They endured nearly an eight-year odyssey to open their home to kids in need when they decided to become foster parents in Nebraska in 2007.     The couple took 10 weeks of classes, passed background checks, bought a bigger house in Lincoln.    Their dream was shattered when they were denied a license because they’re gay.
    “We were totally devastated,” Vesely said when they learned of a state policy that prohibited the Department of Health and Human Services from placing foster children with same-sex couples.
    “Kids need a place to go … no matter what their problems are,” Busch said.    “We offered a safe place.”
    The two realized they were not alone and eventually filed suit with two other couples and the ACLU.
    In August 2015, a court ruled in their favor. The couple, who have now fostered nine children, also have an adopted son, 13.
    Kristy and Dana Dumont first talked about starting a family after the Supreme Court’s marriage ruling in 2015.    Dana, now 42, began sifting through emails she received as a Michigan state employee from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, which launched a campaign to find homes for foster kids.    The photos of the children tugged at the couple’s heartstrings.
    “It is sad to know that so many children do not have stable, loving homes,” Kristy, 40, said.
    The couple, who married in Vermont in 2011, began calling adoption agencies in 2016.    They looked for first-rate school districts, they bought a house near Lansing with a spacious back yard where kids could frolic.    But when they contacted two state-contracted child placement agencies in their county, they were rejected because they are a same-sex couple.
    They are now plaintiffs in a suit with the ACLU challenging the state’s policy of letting faith-based groups spurn gay couples who want to adopt or become foster parents.
    The couple say unheard young voices are at the center of their battle.
    “This isn’t about us as much as it is about the children,” Kristy said.

6/5/2018 Cake ruling no help in Kentucky gay rights case - Both sides in Lexington case see upsides in narrow decision by Andrew Wolfson, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    Can business owners discriminate against gay people on religious grounds?    By ducking that issue Monday in its ruling on a Colorado baker, the U.S. Supreme Court kicked the can down the road – straight to Kentucky [My home state].
    The state Supreme Court now will have to decide on its own whether a Lexington business violated the law when it refused to print a T-shirt for the city’s annual gay pride festival.
    Kentucky’s high court had delayed scheduling arguments in the case while it awaited what was expected to be a landmark decision on the rights of a Colorado baker to refuse to make a custom cake for a gay couple.
    But while the U.S. Supreme Court ruled for baker Jack Phillips in a 7-2 decision, it did so on narrow grounds, holding that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had shown impermissible hostility toward hissincere religious beliefs.”
    Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said the outcome of other cases like this “must await further elaboration in the courts … recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open marketplace.”
    That is now the responsibility of the Kentucky Supreme Court in a case titled Lexington-Fayette County Human Rights Commission vs. Hands on Originals, an emotionally wrought dispute that has attracted friend-of-the-court briefs from two-dozen civil liberties and religious advocacy groups as well as Gov. Matt Bevin.
    The case arose in March 2012 when a gay-rights group known as the Pride Community Services Organization asked Hands on Originals to print a T-shirt and the company’s owner, Blaine Adamson, refused, saying he had religious objections to the message “pride in being gay.”
    The commission found the store had violated the city’s fairness ordinance, part of which prohibits businesses open to the public from discriminating against people based on sexual orientation.
    A circuit judge struck down the ruling and in May 2017 the Kentucky Court of Appeals affirmed, holding 2-1 that the fairness ordinance didn’t trump the company’s right to free speech – including its right to refuse to promote a message it disagreed with.
    The commission appealed, and in October the state Supreme Court agreed to hear the dispute.
    Both sides took comfort in the U.S. Supreme Court decision.
    Luke Goodrich, vice president and senior counsel at the Washington based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which filed a brief for the Lexington printer, said the Colorado case “sends a clear message ... that the government can’t treat religious objectors like second- class citizens.    That’s just what the government did in Hands On Originals.”
    Similarly, Lexington attorney Bryan Beauman, who represents the company, said, “Just as the state of Colorado failed to respect Jack Phillips’ beliefs, the ... Human Rights Commission failed to respect Blaine Adamson’s.    The Supreme Court’s decision makes it even clearer that Blaine and his company, Hands On Originals, should prevail in their case.    Hostility toward people of faith has no place in a diverse society like ours.”
    And Bevin’s general counsel, Steve Pitt, said in a statement: “While we are still reviewing the specifics of the Supreme Court’s decision, this appears to be a big win for religious liberty and a strong indicator that Hands On Originals will prevail in their case.”
    But the executive director of the Human Rights Commission, Raymond Sexton, said while he was disappointed the court hadn’t issued a broader ruling supporting gay rights, he was encouraged because the ruling didn’t preclude that in the future.
    “It looks as if the Supreme Court has decided to kick this can down the road,” he said.
    Other gay rights supporters, including Richard Katskee, legal director for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which also filed a brief in the Lexington case, noted the opinion embraced anti-discrimination laws and said the Colorado agency was merely wrong in how it reached its decision.
    In its friend-of-the-court brief on the T-shirt case, Bevin’s office said that requiring the owners of Hands on Originals to “promote homosexuality” would have violated their religious freedom and freedom of conscience guaranteed under the Kentucky Constitution.
    The Colorado case arose when David Mullins and Charlie Craig sought a wedding cake for their reception and Phillips turned them down, saying he wouldn’t use his skills to convey a message at odds with his religious faith.
    The Colorado civil rights commission ruled for the couple, but the Supreme Court said some of its members showed an impermissible hostility toward Phillips’ religious beliefs, disparaging his faith as “despicable” and comparing “his invocation of his sincerely held religious beliefs to defenses of slavery and the Holocaust.”
[Did the Antichrist finally lose a case in the judicial system?    Continue reading in the next article to hear the cry babies complain that they are not sinners in the eyes of God, who will judge them in the near future.    it is about religion!]

6/5/2018 Gay marriage cake ruling called ‘un-American’ by Thomas Novelly and Emma Austin, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    Supporters of same-sex marriage Monday denounced a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a gay couple.
    Timothy Love of Louisville, one of the plaintiffs in the landmark 2015 case that legalized same-sex marriage, said the court’s 7-2 ruling for baker Jack Phillips was “un-American.”
    “Are we now going to have a hierarchy of rights?”    Love said in an interview.    “It’s really not about religion, it’s about discrimination and hatred.”
    On Monday evening, nearly 50 people rallied in front of Louisville Metro Hall to support gay rights in response to the ruling, including representatives from the American CIvil Liberties Union and Kentucky’s Fairness Campaign.
    “It absolutely does not create a new license to discriminate,” said Michael Aldridge, executive director of the ACLU of Kentucky.    “What it does show us is that we still need statewide fairness protections so that every Kentuckian can go to the stores they want to, can go to the restaurants they want, and live their lives without fear of discrimination.”
    Jeffersonville Pride founder Evan Stoner he encouraged those at the rally to expand their fight to cities that lack a fairness ordinance to protect members of the LGBTQ community from discrimination.
    “Not even the Supreme Court of the United States could make us be mean to each other,” Stoner said.    “We all have a choice every single day to treat everybody with respect and dignity like they deserve.”     Dan Canon, a Louisville lawyer who represented numerous plaintiffs in the 2015 gay marriage case, said earlier Monday he doubts that “history will be very kind to this opinion.”
    “Here, the cake shop owner took on the rights, protections and responsibilities that Colorado law offers to business organizations but wants to still be able to discriminate against potential customers on the basis of their sexual orientation,” Canon said.    “Today’s decision allows him to do that.”
    But religious freedom organizations hailed the ruling, saying the government should not force people to violate their principles to make a living.
    The court held that a state commission had violated the Constitution’s protection of religious freedom in ruling against the baker.
    But the court based its decision on narrow grounds – saying the commission had shown “impermissible hostility” to his religious beliefs.    Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy left open the possibility that other cases raising similar issues could be decided differently.
    “The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts,” he wrote, “all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue respect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.”
    Kennedy acknowledged that denying gay couples equal access to services is “inconsistent with the history and dynamics of civil rights law” but said Phillips may have acted legally under Colorado state law at the time.
    Phillips claimed a religious victory, according to a statement released to USA TODAY.
    “The Supreme Court affirmed that the government must respect my religious beliefs about marriage,” he wrote for USA TODAY.    “It welcomed me back from the outskirts, where the state had pushed me.”
    Love, who was finally allowed to marry his partner, Lawrence Ysunza, after 35 years, thanks to the Court’s 2015 decision requiring all states to allow same sex marriage, said Monday’s ruling made him feel as though no progress can overcome the basic roots of discrimination.
    “It’s going to give those who discriminate against us a vacuum to do it again,” Love said.    “It’s a Pandora’s box.    How can we be married and be legally recognized and have services denied to us?”
    “This fight will continue,” he said. “We’ll be long dead and this battle will still be going on.”
[Maybe this was a warning to you from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and what was put in the Bible about it.]

6/5/2018 Faith in US returns after court’s decision, cake artist says - Your Turn by Jack Phillips Guest contributor
    Storms, whether the actual or figurative kind, are a common but difficult part of life.    One of the longest and most trying storms of my life came to an end Monday with the Supreme Court’s ruling in my case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
    "As a cake artist who owns my own shop, I have always been willing to serve everyone who walks through my doors.    But that doesn’t mean that I create every cake requested of me.    If asked to design a cake that celebrates an event or expresses a message in conflict with my faith, I’m obliged as a matter of conscience to decline.    But I still offer those customers anything else in my shop and tell them that I’d gladly create them a cake for a different occasion."
    "That is exactly what I did in July 2012, when I was asked to create a custom wedding cake to celebrate a same-sex marriage.    But even though I offered to design the couple a cake for another event, they filed a lawsuit, commencing a six-year legal storm."
    "Most storms bring some elements of surprise.    The lawsuit against me was no different.    I was shocked at how many people dismissed my decision as making much ado about nothing.    Yet those folks fail to understand that, as an artist, I pour my heart into my wedding cakes, and that my conscience will not allow me to celebrate something in direct conflict with my faith."
    "People don’t have to share my beliefs to support my freedom.    They just need to agree that the decision should be mine to make — not the government’s to make for me.    And it doesn’t hurt if they realize that depriving me of my freedom deprives them of theirs.    If the government can force me to celebrate events and express views that violate my conscience, they can do it to anyone.
    Storms tend not only to surprise but also to terrify.    I’ve sure had my share of that.    After the government forced me to stop designing wedding cakes, I lost 40 percent of my business.    Since then, I’ve been worried that I’ll have to close my shop — that the revenue left won’t be enough to make ends meet.
    And I’ve been greatly distressed by the death threats hurled at me.    Few things approach the horror of hearing another vow to take your life.
    I was also disturbed by this thought: If the Supreme Court would have ruled against me, what would have happened to the millions of other people of faith — from Christians to Jews to Muslims — who believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman?    I worried that they would face the loss of their livelihood, financial ruin, death threats and even jail time for their beliefs.
    The really big storms have another unsettling effect — they strip us of control.    I can certainly identify with that.    The government ordered me not only to stop doing the wedding work I love, but also to teach my remaining employees, all of whom are my family members, that I was wrong to operate my shop consistent with my faith.    In other words, the state told me to tell my mother that the faith she taught me has no business influencing my life.
    And I was forced to turn over the future of my cake shop to nine Supreme Court justices.    My fate was no longer my own.
    As I waited for their decision, I wondered whether I’d see a break in the clouds — a ruling that the state was wrong to punish me for living according to my beliefs — or another looming storm.    Would the court make clear that I don’t have to hide my faith?    Or would it banish my beliefs and allow the government to bully me?
    Now that the decision has arrived, I can see the sun once again.    The Supreme Court affirmed that the government must respect my religious beliefs about marriage.    It welcomed me back from the outskirts where the state had pushed me
Jack Phillips is the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado

[It’s a dirty job to be righteous these days but somebody has to do it.]

6/5/2018 Justices side with baker in same-sex ruling - Supreme Court awaits ‘further elaboration’ by Richard Wolf, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – A divided Supreme Court on Monday absolved a Colorado baker of discrimination for refusing to create a custom wedding cake for a same-sex couple, ruling that the state exhibited “religious hostility” against him.
    The 7-2 verdict criticized the state’s treatment of Jack Phillips’ religious objections to gay marriage in 2012, several years before the practice was legalized nationwide.    The justices ruled that a state civil rights commission was hostile to him while allowing other bakers to refuse to create cakes that demeaned gays and same-sex marriages.
    As a result, the decision did not resolve whether other opponents of same-sex marriage, including bakers, florists, photographers and videographers, can refuse commercial wedding services to gay couples.    In fact, the court on Monday scheduled a similar case involving a Washington State florist for consideration at their private conference Thursday.
    Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the court’s decision against the same-sex couple, Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins, departing from his long history of opinions in favor of gay rights.
    Kennedy acknowledged that business owners generally cannot deny equal access to goods and services under a public accommodations law.
    “The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts,” Kennedy said.    “These disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.”
    Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor cast the dissents.
Colorado baker Jack Phillips claimed victory Monday after the Supreme Court’s 7-2
[Finally a win for righteousness and decency in a country that the Antichrist have run amok]

6/7/2018 State ed board approves Bible literacy standards by Supriya Sridhar, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    The Kentucky Board of Education unanimously approved standards Wednesday for the state’s controversial Bible literacy classes.
    The classes were criticized this year by the American Civil Liberties Union as an unconstitutional promotion of Christianity and Sunday school-style “religious life lessons,” and the organization sent a letter to the state requesting that it develop clear guidance for teachers.
    The classes were born out of a bill passed last year by the legislature creating state regulations for public high schools to offer elective literature courses on the Bible and Hebrew Scriptures.    The bill reads that students will be given the opportunity to “explore the Bible’s relevance to contemporary society and culture.”
    Education board member Gary Houchens said the standards are meant to guide schools.
    “With this bill, it gave a framework for schools to be able to do it in a way, especially with state standards, that makes it more unified across the state and preserves the integrity of the course as an academic approach to the Bible,” Houchens said Wednesday.
    Kentucky Education Board spokeswoman Nancy Rodriguez said in an email that the department cannot determine curriculum to ensure teachers follow the standards but placed that responsibility with individual schools.
    A spokeswoman for the ACLU did not immediately return a phone call or email seeking comment Wednesday.
    When the bill was passed, supporters said the classes would expand students’ knowledge of culture, history and society.
    In its January letter to the board, the ACLU of Kentucky said it obtained course material from some school districts and had found some classes were being taught as devotional study, rather than literature.
    In some cases, students were assigned to memorize Bible verses, it said.    In other instances, students were asked “What are some promises in the Bible that God gives to everyone who believes in him?” or assigned to “do your best to develop close relationships with other Christians.”
    Among the districts mentioned by the ACLU with potential problems with Bible literacy instruction were schools in Barren, Letcher, Lewis, McCracken and Wayne counties.
    In Jefferson County, only Male Traditional High School offers a Bible literacy course as an English elective and has been doing so for several years, according to a Jefferson County Public Schools spokesman.

6/10/2018 Vatican diplomat in Washington indicted in child porn case
    A Vatican court has indicted on child pornography possession charges a diplomat recalled from Washington last year amid ongoing investigations in three jurisdictions.
    The Vatican said in a statement Saturday that Monsignor Carlo Capella, who was the No. 4 official in its Washington embassy, would face a trial starting June 22.    Canadian police have said Capella allegedly uploaded child porn over the 2016 Christmas holiday.

6/24/2018 Vatican convicts former diplomat of distributing child pornography
    A tribunal convicted a former Holy See diplomat Saturday and sentenced him to five years in prison for possessing and distributing child pornography in the first trial of its kind inside the Vatican.    Monsignor Carlo Capella will serve his time in the Vatican barracks.

7/12/2018 India asks top court to decide on law that criminalizes gay sex
    India’s government on Wednesday asked the country’s top court to rule on whether to repeal or keep a law that criminalizes homosexual acts.
    Government attorney Tushar Mehta asked the court to rule on the issue of consensual sex acts between two adults.    He urged the five justices not to widen the scope of the court decision to issues such as gay marriage, adoption and inheritance.
    The Supreme Court is hearing petitions by activists challenging the law that makes gay sex punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

8/2/2018 Diocese IDs over 70 alleged sex abusers, cites bishops’ failure
    The Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg in Pennsylvania released a list Wednesday of more than 70 of its clergy members accused of sexually abusing or having inappropriate contact with children in cases dating back decades.
    Bishop Ronald Gainer also announced sweeping changes to confidentiality policies and said the names of any men accused of such crimes would be removed from any place of honor in the diocese.

8/17/2018 Church had ‘playbook’ for hiding sex abuse - Grand jury: Priests were treated, returned to jobs by Mike Argento, York Daily Record USA TODAY NETWORK – PENNSYLVANIA
    On July 17, 1990, Father Thomas Smith wrote to his bishop, Donald Trautman, thanking him for meeting with him and expressing appreciation for the bishop’s faith in him and his quest to return to the active ministry.
    At the time, Smith, who had served at a number of churches in the Erie diocese in northwestern Pennsylvania, was on leave of absence, his third such leave since being ordained as a Catholic priest in 1967.
    His absences were termed, in diocese records, as “health leaves.”
    “The initial impulse is to protect the institution, whether that institution is a church or a university or a football program.” Kristen Houser, Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.
    Yet each of the leaves occurred after the church received reports that Smith had raped children.    The diocese responded by sending Smith to a church-run treatment facility, according to this week’s Pennsylvania grand jury report on the Catholic child sex scandal.
    While in treatment, Smith told counselors he had raped 15 young boys, some as young as 7, threatening them with violence if they told and invoking the name of God to justify his actions.    He had first been treated in 1984, and then again in 1986 and 1987.
    Smith was in treatment again when he met with Trautman and expressed his desire to return to a parish.    Trautman wrote in a memo that he was impressed by Smith’s “candor and sincerity” and suggested he would wait a year and a half before considering a new assignment for the priest.
    Smith eventually returned to the ministry and became active in a program called “Isaiah 43.”
Isaiah 43” is a ministry for Catholic children.
    It is a common tale.    The grand jury report contains numerous stories about priests accused of committing terrible crimes against children, repeatedly protected from the consequences of their actions by the church.
    The grand jury found 301 priests who had committed such crimes and more than 1,000 victims, noting that there were certainly more, numbers that raise the question: How did the church keep such widespread criminal activity quiet for so many decades?
    If you consider the culture of the church – a culture of secrecy and deception embedded in its history – it’s not surprising that it was able to keep a lid on widespread child abuse, said Kristen Houser, chief public affairs officer with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.
    “The initial impulse is to protect the institution, whether that institution is a church or a university or a football program,” Houser said.
    The FBI’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime – the division within the bureau that provides profiles of violent criminals, among other things – reviewed much of the evidence received by the grand jury and concluded that its analysis revealed something akin to “a playbook for concealing the truth.”
    First, they reported, the church employed euphemisms for sexual assault, referring to the crime not as rape, but as “inappropriate contact” or “boundary issues.”    In one case, the grand jury reported, a priest’s repeated and violent sexual assaults of children were referred to as “his difficulties.”
    Then, the church did not conduct genuine investigations, often limited to just asking suspected abusers a few questions and accepting what they said as gospel.
    And if a priest had to be removed from his church, they were directed to announce it as “sick leave,” or to not say anything at all.    For the sake of appearances, they were to send the priest for “evaluation” at a church-run psychiatric facility that, more often than not, concluded that the offender was not a pedophile and could return to ministering the faithful.
    If it became known in the community that a priest was a “problem,” they were to transfer him to another parish where nobody knew he was a child molester.
    And, finally, church officials were told: don’t call the cops.    “Handle it like a personnel matter, ‘in house,’” the grand jury reported.
    And when all else fails, lie.

8/19/2018 Kurtz: Priest report ‘deeply painful’ - Accusations of sex abuse hit close to his Pa. home by Thomas Novelly, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    Louisville’s Archbishop Joseph Kurtz said Wednesday that a recent report detailing more than 1,000 cases of child sexual abuse by hundreds of Pennsylvania priests is “deeply painful” and hits close to home for the Keystone State native.
    Kurtz – who was born in Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania, and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Allentown – responded to the far-ranging grand jury report in a statement to the Courier Journal.
    “I find this report deeply painful and grieve for those who have been hurt by these terrible situations,” Kurtz said.    “It is a troubling indictment that Church leadership, called to holiness and chastity, did not provide an example for all of society in dealing with these issues.”
    The grand jury report released Tuesday details graphic abuse and shows that church leaders protected more than 300 “predator priests” in six Roman Catholic dioceses across Pennsylvania for decades because they were more interested in safeguarding the church and the abusers than tending to their victims.
    The report spans more than 60 years beginning in the 1940s and details the sexual abuse of young boys and>     “We can only be healthy as a Church and as a society if we honestly confront and deal with sexual abuse and harassment on all levels,” Kurtz said.    “In doing so, we must renew and strengthen efforts to reach out to victims, promptly communicate with law enforcement, remove offenders, and foster a safe environment for children, youth, and adults in our Church.”
    Many of the priests in the report were from or associated with Allentown, Pennsylvania.    Kurtz served as a high school and college teacher, and administrator, in Allentown, as well as a pastor in Catasauqua and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
    Kurtz said he knew some of the priests, but did not have knowledge of their sexual abuse.
    “As a priest of the Diocese of Allentown during some of the time covered in this report, I know or knew (some are deceased) priests named in the grand jury report but had no direct knowledge of accusations made against them during this time,” Kurtz told Courier Journal.    “I left the Diocese of Allentown in 1999 to become the Bishop of Knoxville.”
    Father James M. McAuliffe, one of the hundreds of priests mentioned in the report, was “sent to Kentucky to spend time in a rehabilitation facility” after accusations were made in 1963 that he had sexually abused a young boy.
    The bishop of McAuliffe’s church was notified by a psychiatrist at the facility that he was “cured of his problems and was ready to be reassigned,” according to the report, though the local bishop did not allow McAuliffe to return to that church.
    When the bishop died, McAuliffe returned to the priesthood and abused other boys, according to the grand jury document.
    The main thing was not to help children, but to avoid scandal,” the report says.    “Priests were raping little boys and girls and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing: They hid it all.”
    Kurtz told the Courier Journal he joins Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Bishop Timothy Doherty, chairman of the conference’s Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People, in their statement denouncing the years of abuse.
    “We are grateful for the courage of the people who aided the investigation by sharing their personal stories of abuse,” the group’s statement said.    “As a body of bishops, we are shamed by and sorry for the sins and omissions by Catholic priests and Catholic bishops.”
Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz was born in Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania, and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Allentown. PATRICK SEMANSKY/AP
[What is amusing to me that this type of neglecting religion's format which is still active as we see above, may have produced the up and coming children who became the present homosexuals, lesbians, transgenders that are violating all of God's biblical principles in our recent times now.    We do not even know how far back in time that this has been going on.    If the Catholic Church and their Pope want to fix this then they need to become more active to prevent it and push what the Bible says on the sinners of our day and show to God that you are really sorry.    As of now Satan himself has won in destroying the confidence in your Church from Paul, and I can here "On his journey, Saul approached Damascus.    Suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.    He fell to the ground.    He heard a voice speak to him, “Saul!    Saul!” the voice said.    “Why are you opposing me?”.    We all know who that was.]

8/19/2018 Why Catholic Church still struggles with sex abuse - Pa. grand jury report found progress, but cover-ups and secrecy continue by Ed Mahon, Holly Meyer and Xerxes Wilson, USA TODAY NETWORK
    In an internal diocese memo from Erie, Pennsylvania, a priest admitted to being “aroused” while tutoring a boy, hugging him and sharing sexually suggestive text messages with multiple boys.
   The priest’s bishop admonished him to “cease and desist,” but Catholic Church leaders didn’t pass that information along to authorities until six years later — and only then in response to a grand jury subpoena.
    The Rev. David Poulson resigned from the diocese in February, three months before he was charged with sexually abusing two boys.
    Poulson’s case is an example of how abuse and cover-up continue to plague the Catholic Church, 16 years after the issue exploded into the national consciousness in Boston.    Since then, the church has vowed to make improvements and paid out billions of dollars of parishioners’ tithes to victims.
    Poulson was one of the 301 predator priests identified in a sweeping grand jury report released Tuesday that detailed child sexual abuse in six Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses and religious leaders’ efforts to cover it up.    The investigation identified more than 1,000 victims.
    “There is an entrenched infrastructure of secrecy in the Catholic Church that continues to reward concealment rather than disclosure,” said Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of, a group that researches sex abuse in the church.
    Much remains hidden still about clergy sex abuse across the USA, she said.    That is why the Catholic Church continues to struggle with it.
    Most of Tuesday’s grand jury report deals with events before the early 2000s.    And it points to promising signs in the past 16 years, saying victims “are no longer quite so invisible.”
    The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in 2002.    It set procedures for addressing allegations of clergy sexual abuse of minors and came after The Boston Globe’s investigation into priest abuse.
    Still, the scandals and cover-ups have continued.    The church has resisted efforts to reform states’ statute-of limitation laws to allow people abused as children, some decades ago, to seek compensation through civil lawsuits.
    “It prevents more victims if we get exposure,” said lawyer Michael Dolce, a child-sex-abuse survivor who advocated for Florida to repeal its statute of limitations for such crimes.
    “Only when they’ve been forced again into a corner are they doing the right thing,” state Rep. Mark Rozzi, a Pennsylvania legislator who testified before the grand jury as an abuse victim, said Wednesday in a radio interview.    Without the grand juries, “they would still be doing exactly what they have always done.”
A women prays before leaving St. Patrick Cathedral in Harrisburg, Pa., following a Mass of Forgiveness on Friday. TY LOHR/USA TODAY NETWORK

8/20/2018 Priests raped little boys, girls; no one held them accountable - Your Turn by Tim Swarens, Guest columnist
    They raped children.    Hundreds of men who pledged to serve in the name of God raped hundreds of boys and girls.    For decades.
    And the rapists were given immunity.    By the one organization – the church – that parents believed they could trust to nurture and protect their children’s souls.
    The depths of abuse and betrayal – the sheer evil – documented in a grand jury report released last week in Pennsylvania are sickening both in the details and in the magnitude of the crimes.
    Two examples: The grand jury found that in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a priest sexually abused five sisters from one family.    In the same archdiocese, a priest raped a 7-year-old while she was in the hospital for a tonsillectomy.
    The report goes on to document similar crimes – some even more perverse – involving about 300 priests over the course of seven decades.    The abuse was inflicted while church leaders looked the other way and, in many cases, helped cover up the crimes.
    “Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all,” the grand jury concluded.    “For decades.    Monsignors, auxiliary bishops, bishops, archbishops, cardinals have mostly been protected; many, including some named in this report, have been promoted.”
    And although the magnitude of abuse documented in the report is staggering, it involves only six archdioceses in one state.    In reality, it’s a global epidemic.    Even Pope Francis acknowledged in June that he was “a part of the problem” in the church’s failure to properly investigate accusations of child sexual abuse in Chile.
    Let’s take time to think about three essential points.    One, it’s tempting to turn away from these types of stories because they bore into reservoirs of deep pain.    I understand; I didn’t want to write this column because of the anger the grand jury report provoked in me.    But we have to face the ugliness of this reality because abusers depend on us to be distracted and because so many children and adults carry the wounds of sexual abuse.    We must engage.
    Two, the sexual abuse epidemic is not contained to the Catholic Church.    It was revealed this week that one of the most prominent, once respected evangelical churches in the world – Willow Creek in South Barrington, Ill. – paid more than $3 million to settle two lawsuits centered on allegations that a volunteer molested two developmentally disabled boys.    Willow Creek already was reeling from a sexual harassment scandal involving the church’s founder, Bill Hybels.
    Clergy and lay leaders in every house of worship need to look honestly at the safeguards they have in place to protect against abuse, their procedures for reporting allegations, and whether there’s a climate of accountability and transparency that includes every person in a position of authority.    Three, religious institutions aren’t the only one that should draw lessons from the Pennsylvania grand jury’s investigation.    As we’ve seen recently at Michigan State University and before that at Penn State, abuse can happen anywhere.    That’s true of assault and other forms of sexual misconduct as well.    No business, church, university – no place where one person holds power over another – is immune.
    “There have been other reports about child sex abuse within the Catholic Church.    But never on this scale,” the Pennsylvania grand jurors wrote.    “For many of us, those earlier stories happened someplace else, someplace away.    Now we know the truth: it happened everywhere.”
    It does happen everywhere.    And we all must face that reality.
[What concerns me is that all the other molestations in the world may have come from individuals that had been abused by Catholic priest for the last 7 decades.].

8/27/2018 Letter: Vatican, pope knew about disgraced archbishop’s behavior
    Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the Vatican’s retired ambassador to the U.S., accused senior Vatican officials of knowing as early as 2000 that the disgraced former archbishop of Washington, Theodore McCarrick, regularly invited seminarians into his bed but was made a cardinal regardless.
    The letter also accuses Pope Francis of knowing about McCarrick’s behavior in 2013 but rehabilitating him.

8/29/2018 Siblings learn they’re among victims of predator priests
    It took 50 years, until the release of a highly publicized investigative report, before sisters Mary Robb Jackson and Cynthia Carr Gardner realized that the parish priest in the Pittsburgh-area suburb where they lived as children had molested both of them.
    The state grand jury report cited cases of siblings among the children sexually abused by clergy within six Roman Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania.    The priests often warned their victims to keep quiet.    That and shame often kept victims quiet and unaware of their siblings’ trauma for years.

8/29/2018 Vatican removes reference to ‘psychiatric help’ for gay kids
    The Vatican scrubbed from the official transcript of a Pope Francis news conference a comment that young gay children might seek psychiatric help.
    Francis was asked Sunday what he would tell a father whose child came out as gay.    Francis said he would counsel prayer, dialogue and space, depending on the child’s age when the “turmoil” manifested.    “Because it means something if it shows when you are still a child, when there are a lot of things to be done, either with psychiatric help or to see how things are.     While it is something else when it shows 20 years later.”
[Apparently they did not do that, instead they just gave them to gay child molesters, dressed like preists.].

9/1/2018 Diocese to pay $1.4M in priest abuse lawsuit - 3 men get settlements from alleged crime in ’80s by Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY
    A Chicago-area Catholic diocese has agreed to pay $1.4 million to settle a lawsuit filed by three men who alleged they were sexually molested by their priest when they were boys.
    The three unidentified men alleged they were repeatedly harmed by Father Leonard Mateo of the Joliet Diocese between 1980 and 1982, before age 11.
    After initial complaints were raised by parents then, Mateo suddenly was transferred to a parish in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, eventually landing in the Philippines where, the lawsuit says, church records show Mateo died in 2004.
    The three first raised their allegations against the priest in 2014.
    “This is a priest who was continuously moved from one parish to the next upon allegations of sexual misconduct, normalizing his sexual abuse of children and dispelling any notion it was wrong,” plaintiff’s attorney Antonio M. Romanucci said.
    Attorneys for the three men say Bishop Joseph Imesch, who died in 2015, reported in a deposition that priests with credible sexual abuse allegations had been allowed to continue ministry within the Diocese of Joliet without any warning to parishioners.
    As part of the settlement, the diocese is not required to admit wrongdoing in the case.
    In a conference call with his attorney, Martin Gould, and a Chicago Tribune reporter, one of the victims identified only as John Doe C said the abuse shattered his trust in priests and led to a lifelong struggle with drugs and alcohol, the newspaper reported Friday.
    “People need to come forward, because that’s what’s going to stop (the abuse) or curb it,” John Doe C told the newspaper.    “The only way the church is going to do anything is if more of these people come forward and then maybe they’ll start enforcing their zero-tolerance policy like they should.”
    According to a lawsuit, Mateo joined the parish in 1977 and later befriended an 8-year-old boy and his 6 year-old brother, who later introduced him to to the third victim, a 10-year-old boy.
    Mateo would treat them to ice cream or take them swimming at the local YMCA.    He eventually lured them to his bedroom in the rectory, according to the lawsuit.
    The sexual assaults continued for two years, according to the lawsuit, until the mother of the two brothers overheard them talking about the incidents and called police.    The diocese, according to the lawsuit, convinced the parents not to press charges, saying Mateo was suicidal and that the diocese would seek treatment for him.
    According to the Joliet Diocese, 35 diocesan priests have had substantiated or credible allegations of sexual abuse of minors made against them since 1986.    Most have been removed from ministry and others have died.
    The lawsuit is only the latest in a series of recent cases involving clergy sexual abuse.
    A grand jury report released in Pennsylvania in August said 300 “predator priests” had abused more than 1,000 children in the state over the past seven decades.
    In Indiana this week, the Diocese of Gary published on its website a list of 10 priests who had served in the diocese and had “been found guilty of credible actions of sexual molestation of minors.”    The list included their names, the number of allegations against them and the actions taken by the diocese.

9/7/2018 New York attorney general issues subpoenas over church sex abuse
    New York’s Attorney General’s Office issued subpoenas Thursday to all Catholic dioceses in the state over how they've handled sexual abuse cases.
    The subpoenas went to the seven dioceses and one archdiocese in New York as Attorney General Barbara Underwood has ordered a civil investigation into sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.
    The Attorney General’s Office also started a hotline in hopes of furthering the effort, she said, citing rampant abuse recently found in Pennsylvania.

9/8/2018 Pope to meet US bishops over priest sex abuse scandal
    The Vatican says Pope Francis will meet Thursday with the head of the U.S. bishops conference and other U.S. church officials over the sex abuse and cover-up scandal roiling the Catholic Church.
    Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has said he wants Francis to authorize a Vatican investigation into ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was removed as cardinal in July after a credible accusation he groped a teen.

9/13/2018 Pope calls summit on sex abuse prevention by Doug Stanglin and Jane Onyanga-Omara, USA TODAY
    Pope Francis, signaling the Catholic Church’s inability to defuse long-running clergy sex scandals, on Wednesday summoned the presidents of Catholic bishops conferences worldwide to the Vatican in February to discuss protecting children and preventing sexual abuse by priests.
    The meeting, on Feb. 21-24, is believed to be the first of its kind and comes amid growing criticism over the pope’s handling of sex-abuse cases dating back decades.
    In addition, Pope Francis will meet Thursday with a group of U.S. church figures led by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.    The meeting will include Francis’ top sex-abuse adviser, Cardinal Sean O’Malley.
    DiNardo has said he wants Francis to authorize a full-fledged Vatican investigation into ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was removed as cardinal in July after a credible accusation that he groped a teenager.    McCarrick, 88, served as Archbishop of Washington from 2001 to 2006.
    The burgeoning scandals have increasingly raised questions about the pope’s personal handling of the issue.
    Earlier this year, after repeatedly discrediting victims of a notorious Chilean predator priest, the pope admitted to “grave errors in judgment” and took steps to make amends, sanction guilty bishops and remake the Chilean episcopacy.
    More recently, a retired Vatican ambassador alleged that Pope Francis had rehabilitated McCarrick, the disgraced U.S. cardinal, from sanctions imposed by Pope Benedict XVI for having molested and harassed adult seminarians.

9/16/2018 San Diego diocese adds 8 priests to list of suspected predators
    The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego has added eight priests to its list of those believed to have molested children.
    The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Bishop Robert McElroy’s move responds to recent events including a Pennsylvania grand jury report that found children had been molested by priests there.
    In 2007, the San Diego diocese settled 144 claims of child sexual abuse by 48 priests and one lay employee.

9/16/2018 CAN THE POPE END CULTURE OF COVER-UP? His summit to discuss prevention, protection by Nicole Winfield, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    VATICAN CITY – The pope’s meeting with a U.S. delegation on the heels of a U.S. bishop’s ouster are the latest twists in an incredible turn of events in the U.S. Catholic Church that began with the June 20 announcement that one of the most prestigious U.S. cardinals, Theodore McCarrick, had been accused of groping a teenage altar boy in the 1970s.
    The Cardinal McCarrick affair – coupled with revelations in the Pennsylvania grand jury report detailing decades of abuse and coverup in six dioceses – has fueled outrage among the rank-and-file faithful who had trusted church leaders to reform themselves after the abuse scandal first erupted in Boston in 2002.
    Outrage has also been directed at Pope Francis and the Vatican and has fueled conservative criticism of Francis’ pontificate.
    In the wake of that, Francis last week accepted the resignation of U.S. Bishop Michael Joseph Bransfield as leader of the Diocese of Wheeling- Charleston, West Virginia.    Bransfield, a native of Philadelphia’s Roxborough neighborhood, was first accused in Philadelphia in 2007 of molesting a minor and enabling the abuse of others - charges he strenuously denied.    The statement issued by church officials, however, described the focus of a new probe ordered by the pope as “allegations of sexual harassment of adults.”
    Like McCarrick - around whom rumors of sexual improprieties with seminarians had swirled for years before his resignation in July - Bransfield has long been dogged by accusations.
    Bransfield had been investigated for an alleged groping incident in 2007 and was implicated in court testimony in 2012 in an infamous Philadelphia priestly sex abuse case.    He strongly denied ever abusing anyone and the diocese said it had disproved the claims.    He continued with his ministry until he offered to retire, as required, when he turned 75 less than two weeks ago.
    The ouster of Bransfield was announced just as the four-member U.S. delegation was sitting down with Francis in his private study in the Apostolic Palace to discuss the sex-abuse scandals in the United States.    Among the four was Bransfield’s cousin, Monsignor Brian Bransfield, secretary-general of the US. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
    The head of the U.S. bishops conference, Houston Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, had requested the papal audience last month following revelations that McCarrick had risen through church ranks even though the allegations of sexual misconduct were known in U.S. and Vatican circles
    DiNardo requested a full-fledged Vatican investigation into the McCarrick affair, and said he also wanted answers to allegations that a string of Vatican officials knew of McCarrick’s misdeeds since 2000, but turned a blind eye.
    A statement issued by DiNardo after the papal audience made no mention of his request for a Vatican investigation.    It said that the Americans briefed the pope on the “laceration” that abuse has caused and that “we look forward to actively continuing our discernment together identifying the most effective next steps.”
    The Vatican hasn’t responded to allegations by its former ambassador to the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, that Francis effectively rehabilitated McCarrick from sanctions imposed by Pope Benedict XVI over allegations McCarrick would routinely invite seminarians to his beach house and into his bed.
    Francis has, however, responded to the overall scandal with a series of initiatives aimed at trying to convince the faithful that he “gets it” and is prepared to take measures to put an end to what he has called the “culture of cover-up” in the church.
    On the eve of the U. S. audience, Francis announced he was summoning the presidents of bishops conferences around the world to a February summit to discuss prevention measures and protection of minors and vulnerable adults.
    The surprise announcement was largely dismissed as a belated damage control effort by victims’ advocates.    Church historians questioned why such an urgent problem was being scheduled for discussion six months from now with the very bishops who are blamed for much of the scandal.
    “Where are the laity and others who might provide both new and uncomplicit voices and insights into the process?” asked Margaret Susan Thompson, associate professor of history at Syracuse University.
    Even DiNardo’s own record on protecting children has now come into question.    On the eve of his audience with Francis, The Associated Press reported that two victims in Houston had accused him of not doing enough to stop a priest who was arrested last week on sexual abuse charges.
    The archdiocese issued a statement last week confirming that both alleged victims had come forward to report abuse by the priest, the Rev. Manuel LaRosa-Lopez, one of them in 2001.
    This handout photo taken on September 13, 2018 and released by the Vatican Media, shows Pope Francis, left, with Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, who leads the U.S. Conference of Bishops; Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, who advises the pope on sex abuse issues; Archbishop of Los Angeles Jose Horacio Gomez, deputy president of U.S. Conference of Bishops; and Monsignor Brian Bransfield of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, general secretary of U.S. Conference of Bishops, prior to a private audience at the Vatican on Thursday, afp/getty images.
    A statement issued by DiNardo after the papal audience made no mention of his request for a Vatican investigation.    Patrick semansky/ap.
    “Where are the laity and others who might provide both new and uncomplicit voices and insights into the process?”    Margaret Susan Thompson, Associate professor of history at Syracuse University
    Pope Francis, above, last week accepted the resignation of U.S. Bishop Michael Joseph Bransfield as leader of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia.    Bransfield was first accused in Philadelphia in 2007 of molesting a minor and enabling the abuse of others – charges he denied. ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
The head of the U.S. bishops conference, Houston Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, right, requested an audience with Pope Francis.    AFP/GETTY IMAGES

9/16/2018 Church failed to learn from shameful past
    An editorial titled “We are the church” published Sept. 6 in The Record, the Archdiocese of Louisville’s weekly newspaper, explains that both Pope Francis and Cardinal Beniamino Stella, who heads up the Vatican clergy office, identify “clericalism” as an element that explains the situation the church now faces – priests who raped and otherwise abused children along with bishops and their staff who covered up the crimes and kept priests in place to commit them again and again.
    While he was in Ireland in August, Pope Francis said, “There is something I have understood with great clarity: This drama of abuse, especially when it is widespread and gives great scandal ... has behind it a church that is elitist and clericalist, an inability to be near to the people of God.”
Your Turn - The Rev. Patrick Delahanty Guest columnist

9/16/2018 EDITORIAL No justice until state looks into dioceses
    Let state AG investigate church, allegations
    It’s not enough to denounce the unspeakable abuse that children have suffered for decades at the hands of Catholic priests.
    There must be justice.
    That’s why Attorney General Andy Beshear must be given more power to investigate Kentucky’s Catholic dioceses, with the state legislature granting permission for a statewide grand jury.
    Abuse victims in Kentucky deserve nothing less.
    They are demanding that abusive priests be exposed and punished, and they are seeking help from the attorney general’s office – their request coming on the heels of last month’s damning report on sexual abuse in Pennsylvania Catholic churches.
    They want the Catholic church to stop calling the heinous abuse of children “inappropriate behavior” and call it what it is – rape and sodomy.
    They rightfully want employees who covered up the abuse to be fired, and they want financial support cut off from convicted priests.
    They want more women in prominent roles, and they want victims of clergy sexual abuse appointed to the Archdiocese of Louisville board that reviews abuse allegations.
    They want the church to stop requiring victims to sign confidentiality agreements to receive settlements, and they want a complete list of the settlements paid since 1990, including names of abusive priests and settlement amounts.
    Simply put, they want this evil exposed and uprooted.
    They want the same thing the Catholic church should want.
    It’s encouraging that Pope Francis has summoned bishops from around the world to the Vatican for an unprecedented conference in February to deal with child sexual abuse in the church.
    These horrific abuses have shaken our communities, this nation and the world.
    The Courier Journal has written extensively about the crisis in the Archdiocese of Louisville, documenting hundreds of abuse allegations and reporting the gut-wrenching stories of people who said they were fondled, molested and raped as children by priests and other church workers.
    In 2003, the archdiocese agreed to pay $25.7 million to settle child sexual-abuse allegations made in 240 lawsuits.    It was the second-largest payout in an abuse case for the Roman Catholic church.
    Church in the United States at the time.    The Diocese of Dallas paid $30.9 million in 1998 to 12 victims
    Clearly a full investigation is warranted here, and a statewide grand jury is needed.
    But in Kentucky, the legislature has not granted the attorney general the authority to convene a multi-county grand jury like the one that enabled Pennsylvania to investigate sexual abuse in the Catholic church.
    The attorney general’s office is drafting legislation to form such a grand jury, and Kentucky lawmakers need to approve it.
    Pennsylvania’s grand jury found sickening abuse as well as evidence that church leaders protected more than 300 “predator priests” in six Roman Catholic dioceses for decades.
    Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, who is from Pennsylvania and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Allentown, called the report painful.
    “We can only be healthy as a church and as a society if we honestly confront and deal with sexual abuse and harassment on all levels,” Kurtz said.    “In doing so, we must renew and strengthen efforts to reach out to victims, promptly communicate with law enforcement, remove offenders, and foster a safe environment for children, youth, and adults in our church.”     The archbishop is right.
    But we can’t trust the Catholic church to do the right thing.    For too long it has failed too many people — especially our youngest and most vulnerable.
    We need a grand jury investigation.
    In Missouri, Attorney General Josh Hawley launched an investigation last month into potential clergy sex abuse in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and the church is cooperating.    It is opening its files and allowing a thorough review.
    The Missouri attorney general’s office will report its findings, and based on the evidence, recommend any charges.
    The same thing must happen in Louisville, and the archdiocese must cooperate.
    The victims in Kentucky deserve justice.

9/26/2018 Catholic Church may face probe - Legislation takes cue from Pennsylvania case by Caitlin McGlade, Luisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    Two Kentucky lawmakers say they will introduce legislation that would help launch a sweeping statewide investigation of the Catholic Church.
    The Legislature will decide next session whether to authorize special statewide grand juries like the one in Pennsylvania that recently exposed rampant sex crimes across six dioceses.
    The Pennsylvania report, which found that church leaders protected more than 300 “predator priests,” highlighted the need for action here, according to the Attorney General’s office.
    Pennsylvania law allows its attorney general to convene statewide grand jury investigations while Kentucky’s does not.    Jefferson County Democrats Jim Wayne and Jeffery Donohue said Tuesday they will pre-file a bill to fix that.    Wayne is retiring so Donohue will carry it through the session.
    Attorney General Andy Beshear said the move is needed not only for Catholic Church matters, but to tackle any kind of crime spanning multiple jurisdictions — Human trafficking, public corruption or drug trafficking, for example.
    “For far too many Kentuckians, justice has eluded them,” Beshear said.
    Under the draft legislation, the Attorney General would need to petition the Supreme Court of Kentucky each time it wants to convene a special grand jury.
    The chief justice would then appoint a supervising circuit court judge from one of the counties involved in the investigation for 180 days, with the possibility of a 90-day extension.
    In response to the grand jury proposal, the Archdiocese on Tuesday told the Courier Journal that “we have always cooperated with the authorities in our response to sexual abuse and will continue to do so.”
    The Louisville Archdiocese paid $25.7 million in the early 2000s to 240 people who said they were sexually abused by priests, religious brothers and church employees.
    But on Sept. 10 protesters at the Cathedral of Assumption in downtown Louisville said justice was not served.
    The group urged the AG to investigate dioceses here and demanded the Archdiocese of Louisville take 16 steps to rectify the legacy of widespread abuse.
    The protest was one of nine held around the nation after the release of Pennsylvania’s grand jury report.
    The local protesters, who included parishioners, victims, social workers and ex-Catholics, said both the Archdiocese of Louisville and the Catholic Church as a whole have failed to support victims of sex abuse and to hold accountable complicit church staff.
    Michael Norris, who was molested by a Louisville priest as a child, said he was relieved to see Beshear taking action.    Norris had written to Beshear about a month ago requesting an investigation.
    “It’s great that they’re listening to the people,” he said.    “They’re going to find filth like they did in Pennsylvania.”
    Wayne said that as a Catholic, an investigation is one way to restore trust in an institution marred by crisis.    Good priests, bishops and others are “outraged at the sewage pit the Catholic Church is finding itself in right now,” he said.
    “We cannot trust our leaders, and this is admitted by our leaders,” he said.    “What this legislation will do is give us an opportunity as a society to make sure that everything is known about the history of sex abuse in the Catholic Church.”
    Beshear asked victims of abuse to call his office at 800-372-2551.
Protesters looked on as Cal Pfeiffer, of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, speaks earlier this month. SAM UPSHAW JR./COURIER JOURNAL

9/27/2018 Priest accused of child sex abuse to stay behind bars pending trial
    A former New Mexico priest, who fled the U.S. decades ago amid allegations of child sex abuse, will stay behind bars pending trial, a federal magistrate decided Tuesday.
    Defense attorney Samuel Winder argued that Arthur Perrault, 80, was not a flight risk as he had no passport, no family and no means of leaving the country.    But prosecutors described him as a danger to the community.

9/27/2018 3 Catholic dioceses in Ohio to release lists of abusive priests
    Three of Ohio’s six Roman Catholic dioceses now say they will release new lists of priests who have been removed from parishes because of sexual abuse and misconduct allegations.
    The Catholic Diocese of Columbus said Wednesday it would release a list in the next few months that will include the names of clergy who have been credibly accused of abuse, whether they are living or dead.
    The Steubenville and Youngstown dioceses also plan to make names public.

9/29/2018 Pope defrocks Chilean priest at center of abuse scandal
    Pope Francis has defrocked a Chilean priest who was a central character in the global sex abuse scandal rocking his papacy, invoking his “supreme” authority to stiffen an earlier sentence because of the “exceptional amount of damage” the priest’s crimes had caused.
    The Vatican said Friday that Francis had laicized the Rev. Fernando Karadima, 88, who was originally sanctioned in 2011 to live a lifetime of “penance and prayer” for having sexually abused minors in the upscale Santiago parish he ran.

10/1/2018 Chinese bishops to attend Vatican synod for first time by Philip Pullella
The Chinese national flag flies in front of a Catholic underground church
in the village of Huangtuang, Hebei province, China, September 30, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Catholic bishops from China will for the first time attend a major Vatican meeting starting this week, the Vatican said on Monday, following a landmark agreement between the Holy See and Beijing.
    “There will be two bishops from continental China.    They were invited by the pope,” Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri told a news conference.    “I think they are already on their way to Rome.”
    The bishops will take part in a month-long meeting, known as a synod, that starts on Wednesday to discuss the role of young people in the 1.2 billion-member Church.
    “In the past the Holy See invited bishops from continental China but they were never able to attend,” Baldisseri said.
    Baldisseri said it was the first time the Beijing government has allowed bishops to leave the country to attend a Vatican synod, meetings which take place every few years on a different topic.
    He said it was a result of the improved relations between the Vatican and Beijing following the signing of the agreement on Sept. 22.
    The deal, which was in the making for more than 10 years, gives the Vatican a long-desired say in the choice of bishops in China, though critics labeled the deal a sellout to the Communist government.
    China’s approximately 12 million Catholics have been split between an underground church swearing loyalty to the Vatican and the state-supervised Catholic Patriotic Association.
    The Vatican has said the absence of a deal could have led to a schism between Chinese Catholics that would have been difficult to heal.
    Concerns remain, however, over the fate of about 12 priests and bishops believed to be in detention in China.
(Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)

10/1/2018 Priest leaves duties in NY as sex abuse allegations investigated
    A Roman Catholic priest accused of sexual abuse and unwanted physical contact dating to the 1980s is stepping away from his official duties while diocese officials investigate the allegations.    Newsday reported that the Diocese of Rockville Center, which covers Long Island, will be looking into the allegations against Monsignor William Breslawski, who has been the pastor of the Church of St. Anthony of Padua in Rocky Point, New York.

10/3/2018 Pope opens major bishops meeting in febrile atmosphere of sex abuse scandals by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis attends a mass for the opening of a synodal meeting in Saint Peter's square, at the Vatican, October 3, 2018. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis opened a gathering of bishops on Wednesday with the Catholic Church in a swirling state of crisis over sex abuse, urging its leaders not to let the next generation’s faith be snuffed out “by our own shortcomings, mistakes and sins.”
    In signs of the extraordinary pressure the Church has come under from the worldwide abuse scandal, Cardinal Charles Chaput, the archbishop of Philadelphia, had called for the “youth synod” to be canceled so the Vatican could concentrate on preparing another bishops’ meeting on preventing sex abuse.
    Cardinal Joseph Tobin, the archbishop of Newark, New Jersey stayed home to deal with the scandal’s fallout, and a Dutch bishop, Robert Mutsaerts of Den Bosch, boycotted, saying the synod lacked credibility.
    More than 250 other bishops from around the world will attend the month-long meeting with about 40 young people invited to take part as observers.
    Two of the bishops are from China, a first following the Vatican’s landmark agreement earlier this month that improved ties with the Communist government.    Applause broke out as the pope noted their presence in his homily of a Mass for tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square.
    Although the synod’s official title is “Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment,” the worldwide sexual abuse scandal looms large in the background and many believe it will be part of the informal agenda in the discussions.
    “May the Spirit give us the grace to be a memory that is diligent, living and effective, that does not allow itself from one generation to the next to be extinguished or crushed by the prophets of doom and misfortune, by our own shortcomings, mistakes and sins,” Francis said in his homily.
    The Church is enmeshed in sexual abuse crises in countries including Chile, Germany, the United States and Australia, and the Vatican knows it has to win back disenchanted young people.
    The synod began a day after a new Pew Research Center survey found that confidence in the way the pope is handling the sexual abuse crisis has plummeted among American Catholics.
    While seven-in-ten American Catholics said the overall opinion of the pope was favorable, six-in-ten said Francis was doing an “only fair” or “poor” job handling the abuse scandal, nearly double the figure at the beginning of 2018.
    Francis said he hoped the meeting, which ends on Oct. 28 and will result in a papal document, will be “anointed by hope.”
    The danger was that young people would be left “exposed to stormy seas, orphans without a faith community that should sustain them, orphans devoid of a sense of direction and meaning in life,” he said.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Peter Graff)

10/3/2018 Hong Kong bishop fears Chinese Catholic ‘suppression’ to continue despite Vatican pact by Greg Torode
Hong Kong's Catholic bishop Michael Yeung attends a Reuters interview at his office in Hong Kong, China October 3, 2018. REUTERS/Bobby Yip
    HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong’s leading Catholic cleric said on Wednesday that he feared continued suppression of Catholics in mainland China despite a landmark accord struck last month between the Vatican and Beijing’s Communist Party leadership.
    Michael Yeung, the Bishop of Hong Kong, said it would take time to address issues beyond the appointment of bishops agreed in the accord.    These included the release of detained clerics and full free expression of religious belief in China.
    The details of the provisional agreement, which gives the Vatican its long-desired approval of the appointment of bishops in China, have not been made public by either side.
    Yeung, whose Hong Kong diocese has for decades served as a free Catholic beachhead on the edge of an officially atheist China, said he had not seen the details.
    “I don’t think the signing of this provisional agreement means the solution of everything.    It takes time, it will take a few years to see,” he told Reuters in a rare interview.
    “A provisional agreement could not stop the suppression, could not stop the churches being torn down and the young folks under 18 still not allowed to go to church.    These things will take time to solve,” he said.
    China’s Foreign Ministry did not respond immediately to a faxed request for comment.    The country is mostly closed for the Golden Week holiday.
    Yeung urged China to provide information about priests and bishops detained on the mainland, some of whom are elderly and held for decades.
    A Reuters report on Sunday cited three sources familiar with the matter who said the plight of the detained clergy remains unresolved and Beijing has provided little clear information about their fate.
    Yeung said many Hong Kong Catholics had been praying for one of the longest held, Bishop James Su Zhimin, who was arrested in 1997 in Hebei province and would now be 86 years old.
    “Whether he is in prison, or kept secret in some other place, or whether he has already died, nobody really knows,” he said.
    Su was part of the underground church, which has been loyal to the Pope for decades – a movement that some critics of the accord fear will be crushed by the state-backed official church that has at times previously chosen its own bishops.
    The deal allows for the Pope to approve bishops first selected by church communities and the Chinese authorities, meaning China’s 12 million Catholics split between the two camps must now effectively integrate.
    Despite his concerns, Yeung said he supported the deal, saying that after years of trouble and talks it was vital to agree on something and move forward.
    The soft-spoken Shanghai-born cleric, who took office in August last year, said he and his Hong Kong flock ultimately had to put their trust in God and the Pope.
    Yeung said he had advised Pope Francis to strike a deal during an audience at the Vatican in August, but had also stressed the need for caution.
    “I said … Holy Father, move forward, don’t be afraid but be cautious,” Yeung said.
    “It is like crossing a river which you have never crossed before.    You have to test the depth of the water, you have to touch the stones.”
(Reporting By Greg Torode; Editing by Darren Schuettler)

10/3/2018 Chile’s most senior Catholic Church figure sidesteps prosecutor questioning by Natalia A. Ramos Miranda and Fabian Cambero
Archbishop of Santiago, Ricardo Ezzati, leaves the prosecutor's building after a hearing
over allegations he covered-up sexual abuse of minors, in Rancagua, Chile, October 3, 2018. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado
    SANTIAGO (Reuters) – The archbishop of Santiago, the most senior figure in Chile’s Roman Catholic Church, has exercised his right to silence after being summoned on Tuesday morning for questioning by a state prosecutor over allegations he helped cover up child abuse.
    Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati faces multiple charges of cover up, including some relating to the case of Oscar Munoz, a former top aide to the Santiago Archbishopric, who is facing trial on charges he abused and raped at least five children.
    The Catholic Church in Chile and elsewhere is facing widespread accusations of sexual misconduct by priests and non-clergy employees and cover-ups by church leaders, and investigations of such claims in multiple jurisdictions.
    Citing Ezzati as a suspect in July has proved particularly painful for church authorities and made his public appearances fraught amid protests.
    In July, he denied any wrongdoing, adding in a statement: “I reiterate my commitment and the commitment of Santiago’s church to the victims.    I have the conviction that I never covered up or obstructed justice and as a citizen will fulfill my duty to contribute all the information that may help clarify the facts.”
    Ezzati attended a pre-arranged meeting with prosecutor Emiliano Arias in the city of Rancagua, 50 miles (80km) south of Santiago, on Tuesday morning. The cardinal stayed just over an hour and left smiling but making no comment to reporters outside.
    His lawyer, Hugo Rivera, told journalists they would seek dismissal of the charges in a court hearing, a date for which has not yet been set.
    “We are not dodging this,” he said.    “For now the cardinal will not make any declaration until we discuss the petition to dismiss (the charges) with the prosecutors’ office."
    “We will discuss everything in public, in court, because we have nothing to hide.”
    Arias told reporters after his meeting with Ezzati that the cardinal’s decision not to submit to questioning brought “no adverse legal consequences.”
    “It is a defense option and a legal right,” he said.    “We will continue to take other statements and to investigate and if necessary we will absolutely summon him again.”
    He confirmed that the cardinal had been told of the charges he was facing but they would not yet be revealed in public.
(Reporting by Natalia Ramos and Fabian Cambero; Writing by Aislinn Laing; Editing by Bill Trott)

10/7/2018 Top Vatican cardinal accuses papal critic of ‘calumny and defamation’
Cardinal Marc Ouellet talks during a news conference to announce the canonisation
of Fray Junipero Serra at the Vatican April 20, 2015. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – A top Vatican official on Sunday issued a scathing open letter accusing an archbishop who launched an unprecedented attack on Pope Francis of mounting a “political frame job devoid of real foundation.”
    Cardinal Marc Ouellet said in the detailed, three-page letter that calls by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano for the pope to resign because he had allegedly covered up sexual misconduct by a senior American churchman were “calumny and defamation.”
    Ouellet, who heads the Vatican’s powerful Congregation for Bishops, issued the letter in response to a bombshell statement on Aug. 26 by Vigano in which he accused a long list of current and past Vatican and U.S. Church officials of covering up for Theodore McCarrick, 88, the former archbishop of Washington, D.C., and called on the pope to resign.
    Vigano said the pope knew for years about sexual misconduct by McCarrick with adult male seminarians but did nothing about it.
    Ouellet’s letter was a point-by-point rebuttal of Vigano’s statements.    He said Vigano, who is in hiding and has issued his accusations exclusively through conservative Catholic media which are traditionally antagonistic toward the pope, had let himself “be convinced of this monstrous accusation.”
    Ouellet, a Canadian, said: “Come out of hiding, repent for your revolt and return to better feelings toward the Holy Father instead of worsening hostility against him.”
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Dale Hudson)

10/8/2018 Vatican defends pope against ‘blasphemous’ cover-up claims
    A top Vatican cardinal issued a rebuke Sunday of the ambassador who accused Pope Francis of covering up the sexual misconduct of a prominent American cardinal, saying his claims were a “blasphemous” political hit job.
    The head of the Vatican’s bishops office said there was no evidence in his files backing Vigano’s claims that Francis annulled any canonical sanctions against ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
    Cardinal Marc Ouellet confirmed for the first time that McCarrick, 88, had been subject to disciplinary measures given uncorroborated “rumors” of misconduct in his past.

10/8/2018 Pope blames devil for Church divisions, scandals, seeks angel’s help by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis talks as he meets youth and the Synod Fathers at the Pope Paul VI hall in Vatican, October 6, 2018. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The devil is alive and well and working overtime to undermine the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis says.
    In fact, the pope is so convinced that Satan is to blame for the sexual abuse crisis and deep divisions racking the Church that he has asked Catholics around the world to recite a special prayer every day in October to try to beat him back.     “(The Church must be) saved from the attacks of the malign one, the great accuser and at the same time be made ever more aware of its guilt, its mistakes, and abuses committed in the present and the past,” Francis said in a message on Sept. 29.
    Since he was elected in 2013, Francis has made clear that he believes the devil to be real.    In a document in April on holiness in the modern world, Francis mentioned the devil more than a dozen times.
    “We should not think of the devil as a myth, a representation, a symbol, a figure of speech or an idea.    This mistake would lead us to let down our guard, to grow careless and end up more vulnerable,” he wrote in the document.
    The Church has recently been hit by one sexual abuse scandal after another, from Germany, to the United States, to Chile.    At the same time, a deepening polarization between conservatives and liberals in the Church has played out on social media.
    Francis’ use of the term “the great accuser” to describe Satan hit a raw nerve with one of the pope’s harshest conservative critics, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the Vatican’s former ambassador to Washington.
    In an 11-page statement published on Aug. 26, Viganò launched an unprecedented broadside by a Church insider against the pope and a long list of Vatican and U.S. Church officials.
    He accused Francis of knowing about sexual misconduct by a former U.S. cardinal with male adult seminarians but not doing anything about it.
    Viganò, concluding that his former boss had singled him out as the devil in disguise, complained in his next statement that Francis “compared me to the great accuser, Satan, who sows scandal and division in the Church, though without ever uttering my name.”
    On Sunday, a top Vatican official issued a scathing open letter accusing Viganò of mounting a “political frame job devoid of real foundation” and contesting his accusations against the pope point by point.
    Francis is so convinced that Satan is ultimately to blame for both the sexual abuse scandals and the divisions within the Church that he has enlisted the aid of spiritual big gun – St. Michael the Archangel.    Michael is mentioned several times in the Bible as the leader of the angels who ousted Lucifer, the fallen angel, from paradise.
    Catholics are being asked to recite the rosary daily in October and conclude it with a prayer to St. Michael that was said after Mass until 1964 but then fell into disuse.
    The prayer reads:
    “St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.    Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil.    May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.”
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Gareth Jones)
[My comment: Maybe he could get President Trump to come over and clean out the Pope's homosexual, child molesting priests and others for him.
    Where have I heard that phrase, "THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT!"

10/10/2018 Belfast bakery did not discriminate in gay cake case, UK court rules
Daniel and Amy McArthur, who own Ashers Bakery in Belfast, speak as they leave the Supreme Court in London, Britain, October 10, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson
    LONDON (Reuters) – A Northern Irish bakery’s refusal to bake a cake iced with a pro-gay slogan on account of its owners’ Christian beliefs was not discriminatory, Britain’s Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday.     Ashers Baking in Belfast was found guilty of discrimination in 2015 for refusing to make a cake for a customer bearing the words “Support Gay Marriage” and a picture of characters Bert and Ernie from the television show Sesame Street.
    It failed in an appeal to the local courts in 2016 but the Supreme Court, the UK’s highest judicial body, overturned that decision, saying the bakers’ objection was to the message on the cake, not to any personal characteristics of the messenger, or anyone with whom he was associated.
    The bakery, which initially accepted the order from Gareth Lee, a gay rights activist, but later contacted him to cancel it and refund his money, would have refused to make such a cake for any customer irrespective of their sexual orientation, the court said.
    “This conclusion is not in anyway to diminish the need to protect gay people and people who support gay marriage,” said Brenda Hale, President of the Supreme Court.
    “It is deeply humiliating and an affront to human dignity to deny someone the service because of that person’s race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or belief but that is not what happened in this case.”
    Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom where same-sex marriage is not allowed.
    The socially conservative Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the province’s largest political party that also props up Britain’s minority government, has blocked attempts to legalize gay marriage.    Party leader, Arlene Foster, retweeted news of the judgment as soon as it was handed down.
    Northern Ireland’s Equality Commission, which backed Lee’s case, said it was disappointed with the judgment and the implications that the beliefs of business owners may take precedence over a customer’s equality rights.
    “There is a concern that this judgment may raise uncertainty about the application of equality law in the commercial sphere, both about what businesses can do and what customers may expect,” it said in a statement.
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin in Dublin and Amanda Ferguson in Belfast; editing by Michael Holden)

10/11/18 Pope Francis compares abortion to mafia-style killing by Jane Onyanga-Omara USA TODAY
    Pope Francis compared abortion to hiring a “hit man to solve a problem” and complained about a “depreciation of human life” on Wednesday.
    The pontiff departed from the prepared text of his homily at his weekly audience on Saint Peter’s Square to make the comments, some of his strongest yet against abortion.
    “Interrupting a pregnancy is like eliminating someone,” Francis said.
    “Is it fair to hire a hit man to solve a problem?    It is not fair.    We cannot take out a human being, even if it is small.”
    His address was dedicated to the commandment exhorting the faithful not to kill.    He also denounced war, exploitation and a culture of wastefulness.
    Francis said some justify abortion as respecting other rights, but he asked, “How can an act that suppresses innocent and defenseless life as it blossoms be therapeutic, civil or simply human?
    It was the second time in recent months that Francis has expressed the church’s longstanding opposition to abortion in violent, stark terms.
    In June, Francis denounced how some couples resort to prenatal testing to see whether their unborn babies have malformations and then choose to have an abortion, which he said was the “white glove” equivalent of the Nazi- era eugenics program.
    Francis has framed both abortion and euthanasia as part of what he calls today’s “throwaway culture,” where the sick, the poor, the elderly and the unborn are considered unworthy of protection and dignity by a society that instead prizes individual prowess and success.
    Official church teaching opposing abortion is absolute, providing for no exceptions.    Francis has acknowledged, however, that women sometimes are driven by circumstance to abortion, and he has extended the ability of ordinary priests – and not just bishops – to absolve them of the sin of abortion if they repent.
    Francis’ comments came during a three-week meeting of bishops from around the world on young people, where sexuality, including premarital sex, is among the topics of discussion.
    Catholic teaching on abortion has been in the headlines lately, including during the divisive confirmation process of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, a Catholic whose vote could overturn legalized abortion in the U.S.
Contributing: The Associated Press
Pope Francis departs from the text of his homily on Wednesday to speak out against abortion. GREGORIO BORGIA/AP

10/10/2018 NYC birth certificates to offer third gender category by OAN Newsroom
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio arrives at city hall in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
    A third gender category will now be available on birth certificates issued in New York City.
    Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the bill into law Tuesday, creating the ‘X category’ for individuals who do not classify their gender as male or female.
    Before the new law, New Yorkers were only allowed to change the gender on their certificate after having gender confirmation surgery.
    Residents will now be able to submit their own legal declarations to change their gender identities instead of requesting a letter from their physician or health care provider.
    De Blaiso is claiming the new legislation will give New Yorkers the “freedom of self-determination and self expression.”
[The antichristian and the against the creator God have spoken and are claiming that that they have created a new gender, a new entity, and a new Genesis.]

10/13/2018 Pope defrocks two Chilean bishops over sexual abuse allegations by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis speaks during the Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican, October 10, 2018. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis has defrocked two Chilean bishops accused of molesting minors, as he tries to tackle the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandals around the world.
    The Vatican said on Saturday that Francisco José Cox Huneeus, 84, the former archbishop emeritus of La Serena, and Marco Antonio Órdenes Fernández, 53, who was archbishop emeritus of Iquique, were expelled from the priesthood following local and Vatican investigations.
    Defrocking, officially called being “reduced to the lay state,” is the harshest punishment the Church can inflict on a member of the clergy and such action has rarely been taken against bishops.
    It comes as the Church faces sexual abuse crises in Chile and a host of other countries, including the United States, Germany and Australia.
    The move prompted speculation that it could be a harbinger of action against other prelates, perhaps including Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, D.C.
    McCarrick lost his title of cardinal in July after a U.S. Church investigation found “credible and substantiated” allegations that he abused a minor decades ago. He denies wrongdoing.
    The pope ordered McCarrick, once of the U.S. Church’s most prestigious figures, to go into seclusion and live a life of prayer.    But he is still an archbishop and priest, pending a Vatican investigation.
    Last month Francis defrocked Father Fernando Karadima, an 88-year-old Chilean priest who was accused of sexually abusing teenage boys over many years.
    Chile’s scandal prompted all of the country’s 34 bishops to offer their resignation to the pope last May.    He has so far accepted seven.
    Cox and Órdenes were not among the 34 because, although they still had the clerical rank of bishop before Saturday, they were no longer running dioceses.
    The Vatican’s announcement came shortly after the pope and Chilean President Sebastian Pinera discussed the crisis at a meeting in the Vatican.
    “We shared the hope that the Church may experience a renaissance and recuperate the affection, the closeness of the people of God, and can continue playing the important role that the Church plays in our country,” Pinera told reporters.
    Earlier this month, the religious order to which Cox belongs, the Schoenstatt Fathers, said the Vatican was investigating an accusation against him relating to the sexual abuse of a minor in Germany in 2004.
    Cox, who is believed to have returned to Germany after a period in Chile, could not be reached for comment.
    According to Chilean media, Órdenes, who resigned as bishop of Iquique in 2012 while under Vatican investigation, was accused of molesting an underage altar boy years ago.
    He is believed to be living somewhere in Chile.    It was not immediately possible to reach him for comment.
    Chilean civil justice has investigated 119 allegations of sexual abuse or cover-ups involving 167 church workers including Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, the archbishop of Santiago.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Additional reporting by Dave Sherwood in Santiago; Editing by Andrew Bolton and Robin Pomeroy)

10/14/2018 Pope defrocks 2 more Chilean priests accused of sex abuse
    Pope Francis on Saturday defrocked two more Chilean prelates accused of sexually abusing minors, and to show greater transparency about how he’s responding to the church’s sex abuse crisis, the pontiff publicly explained why they were removed.
    The Vatican’s unusually detailed statement announcing the laicization of Jose Cox Huneeus and Marco Antonio Ordenes Fernandez signaled a new degree of transparency following past missteps that appeared to underestimate the gravity of the scandal.

10/14/2018 Pope to canonize his two heroes - Paul VI, Romero had long path to sainthood by Nicole Winfield, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis will canonize two of the most important and contested figures of the 20th century Catholic Church, declaring Pope Paul VI and the martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero as models of saintliness for the faithful today.
    Sunday’s ceremony is likely to be emotional for Francis, since he was greatly influenced by both men and privately told confidantes he wanted them made saints during his papacy.    The two represent the epitome of the outwardlooking church that Francis has championed, one that is close to the poor and fights injustice.
    Paul VI and Romero also endured strong opposition from within the church in life and after death – a fate Francis is experiencing now amid the church’s burgeoning sex abuse and cover- up scandal.
    They will be canonized along with five others in a ceremony designed to show that holiness can be attained in all walks of life.
Paul VI
    When Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio delivered the 2013 stump speech to cardinals that got him elected Pope Francis, he made only one citation in the text: Pope Paul VI.
    When later that year Francis issued the mission statement of his papacy, he based it largely on a 1975 text by Paul on evangelization, which Francis once called “the greatest pastoral document” of the modern church.
    “One of the first things he told me when he was elected was that he hoped, he prayed to be able to canonize Paul VI,” said Francis’ former chief of staff, Cardinal Angelo Becciu.
    Giovanni Maria Vian, editor of the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, said Bergoglio matured as a priest, a Jesuit and a Christian while Paul VI was pope from 1963-1978.
    “It’s understood that Paul VI is his pope,” Vian said.
    Paul is perhaps best known for having presided over the final sessions of Vatican II, the tumultuous 1962-65 church meetings that modernized the Catholic Church and opened it up to the world, allowing liturgy to be celebrated in the vernacular rather than in Latin and calling for greater roles for the laity and improved relations with people of other faiths.
    During his 15-year papacy, Paul VI ushered in other reforms as well, including that of the traveling papacy.
    Two of his trips stand out most: In 1964, he traveled to the Holy Land and met with the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, a first since the schism that divided Christianity 1,000 years earlier.
    A year later at the United Nations, Paul delivered the now-famous plea for peace as the U.S. military involvement in Vietnam escalated: “Never again war!    Never again war!
    But it was Paul’s 1968 encyclical “Humanae Vitae” that marked his papacy, reaffirming the church’s opposition to artificial contraception.
    Issued in an era of the contraceptive pill, the 1960s’ sexual revolution and alarm about overpopulation, the stark prohibition empowered conservatives but drove progressives away.
    The document remains one of the most contested and ignored of papal encyclicals, with studies showing that most Catholics disregard it and use artificial contraception.
    “It’s a text that isn’t rooted in reality, where life is absent and above all women are absent,” Monique Baujard, former head of family services at the French bishops’ conference, wrote last month in a Vatican women’s magazine.
Archbishop Oscar Romero
    Francis also longed to declare Archbishop Oscar Romero a saint, convinced that he was a true martyr who willingly gave up his life to stand with El Salvador’s poor and denounce the violence of the military dictatorship.
    Romero, archbishop of San Salvador, was gunned down by right-wing death squads as he celebrated Mass on March 24, 1980, in a hospital chapel.    The military had vehemently opposed his preaching against the army’s repression at the start of the country’s 1980-92 civil war.
    Almost immediately after his death, Romero became an icon of the South American left, with his image frequently appearing alongside the likes of Che Guevara and Salvadore Allende.
    But that politicized fame cost Romero dearly as his saint-making cause wound its way through the Vatican.
    Conservative Latin American prelates, led by the late Colombian Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, feared Romero’s perceived association with liberation theology would embolden the movement, which holds that Jesus’ teachings require followers to fight for social and economic justice.
    “Romero found himself caught in a substantively political conflict between those who saw him as a revolutionary – which he absolutely wasn’t, since he was very gentle – and those who saw him equally as a revolutionary but in a negative sense,” said Romero biographer Roberto Morozzo della Rocca.
    After the cause was held up for three decades, Pope Benedict XVI finally unblocked it in 2012 and Francis, history’s first Latin American pope, pushed it through to its final phases.
    A few months after Romero was beatified in 2015, Francis denounced how Romero had suffered as a martyr twice – once when he was gunned down, and again when his own brother bishops “defamed, slandered and had dirt thrown on his name.”
    Romero’s former secretary, the Rev. Jesus Delgado Acevedo, revealed a private conversation he had with Francis – then Cardinal Bergoglio – in 2007 on the sidelines of a Latin American bishops’ conference in Brazil.
    He recalled asking Bergoglio, then the archbishop of Buenos Aires, “Eminence, one day will Oscar Romero be canonized?    Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo told me it will never happen.”
    Delgado quoted Bergoglio as saying “Listen, if I become pope, the first thing I’ll do is send Lopez Trujillo to San Salvador” to make Romero a saint.
    The remark was a clear dig at Lopez Trujillo, an arch-conservative affiliated with Latin American right-wingers, who has been identified publicly as the man who used his considerable power at the Vatican to scuttle Romero’s saint-making cause for years.
Tapestries of Roman Catholic Archbishop Oscar Romero, third from left, and Pope Paul VI, fourth from left, hang Saturday at the Vatican. ANDREW

10/14/2018 Slain Salvadoran bishop Romero and Pope Paul VI become saints by Philip Pullella
Pope Paul VI and El Salvador's Archbishop Oscar Romero pictures are seen during a Mass for their canonisation at the Vatican, October 14, 2018. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis on Sunday made saints of two of the most contentious Roman Catholic figures of the 20th century — murdered Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero and Pope Paul VI, who reigned over one of the Church’s most turbulent eras and enshrined its opposition to contraception.
    In a ceremony before tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square, Francis declared the two men saints along with five other lesser-known people who were born in Italy, Germany and Spain in the 18th and 19th centuries.
    Both Romero, who was shot by a right-wing death squad while saying Mass in 1980, and Paul, who guided the Church through the conclusion of the modernizing 1962-65 Second Vatican Council, were contested figures within and without the Church.
    Both were naturally timid men who were thrust to the forefront of history by the convulsive political and social changes of the 20th century and both had a lasting influence on the current pontiff, Francis, Latin America’s first pope.
    In his homily, read with tapestries of images of the seven new saints hanging from St. Peter’s Basilica behind him, Francis called Pope Paul “a prophet of an extroverted Church” who opened it up to the world.    He praised Romero for disregarding his own life “to be close to the poor and to his people.”
    Romero, who had often denounced repression and poverty in his homilies, was shot dead on March 24, 1980, in a hospital chapel in San Salvador, the capital of the impoverished Central American country of El Salvador.
    Romero’s murder was one of the most shocking in the long conflict between a series of U.S.-backed governments and leftist rebels in which thousands were killed by right-wing and military death squads.
    It was widely believed to have been ordered by Roberto D’Aubuisson, an army major and founder of the right-wing ARENA party.    He died of cancer in 1992.
    Romero consistently denounced violence by the Salvadoran military and paramilitary against civilians and urged the international community to stop the oppression.
    In his final homily, minutes before he was shot in the heart, Romero spoke of spreading “the benefits of human dignity, brotherhood and freedom across the earth ….”
75,000 KILLED
    The 1980-1992 war in El Salvador between the U.S.-backed army and the Marxist guerrillas of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), which later became the ruling party, left 75,000 dead and 8,000 missing.
    Romero became an icon for Latin America’s poor, appearing on T-shirts similar to those bearing the image of Che Guevara, but his sainthood cause ran into stiff opposition in the Vatican and among powerful conservatives in the Latin American Church.
    Both feared that Romero had become too political in life and even more so in death.
    The process languished for decades.    Francis speeded it up after his election in 2013 and in 2015 the Vatican declared that Romero had died a martyr, killed out of hatred for the faith.
    “His martyrdom continued (even after his death).    He was defamed, slandered … even by his own brothers in the priesthood and the episcopate, Francis said in 2015."    (He was hit by) “the hardest stone that exists in the world: the tongue.”
    Paul VI, a shy man described by biographers as a sometimes indecisive and tormented Hamlet-type figure, guided the Church through the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, which had started under his predecessor, and the implementation of its reforms.    He was elected in 1963 and died in 1978.
    Francis often quotes Paul, showing that he is committed to the reforms of the Council, which allowed the Mass to be said in local languages instead of Latin, declared respect for other religions, and launched a landmark reconciliation with Jews.
    Still today, ultra-conservatives in the Church do not recognize the Council’s teachings and blame Paul for starting what they see as a decline in tradition.
    Paul reigned in the 1960s when many men left the priesthood and vocations fell sharply in a turbulent era of social change that coincided with the sexual revolution and the widespread availability of the birth control pill.
    Despite his many reforms, Paul is perhaps best known for his 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae (On Human Life), which enshrined the Church’s ban on artificial birth control, saying nothing should block the possible transmission of human life.
    The ban, which Paul issued against the advice of a papal commission, became the most contested Church ruling of the 20th century and is still widely disregarded by Catholics.
    Paul also became the first pope in modern times to travel outside Italy to see faithful, ushering in a practice which has become synonymous with the papacy.
    Paul is the third pope that Francis has made a saint since his election in 2013.    The others are John XXIII, who died in 1963, and John Paul, who died in 2005.
(Reporting By Philip PullellaEditing by Keith Weir)

10/21/2018 Chilean court orders Catholic Church to pay damages over abuse: report by Aislinn Laing
FILE PHOTO: Chilean priest Fernando Karadima is seen inside the Supreme Court
building in Santiago, Chile, November 11, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Vera/File Photo
    SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Chile’s Court of Appeal has ordered the office of Santiago’s Archbishop to pay $450 million pesos ($650,000) to three men who alleged they were sexually abused for decades by Chilean priest Fernando Karadima, a local newspaper reported on Sunday.
    Citing a copy of a leaked judgment, La Tercera said the three judges who heard the case on Thursday found in favor of an appeal for “moral damages” against the church for allegedly covering up the crimes.    The case was previously rejected by a lower court for lack of evidence.
    Reuters could not independently confirm the report.    The Santiago Archbishopric, which could appeal to Chile’s Supreme Court, said it was considering “what steps to take.”
    If confirmed by the court on Monday, it would be the first damages order to have been leveled against Chile’s powerful Roman Catholic Church for a scandal of sex abuse and cover-up that prompted Pope Francis to apologize to its faithful.
    Legal experts have said it could pave the way for more claims amid a new climate of discovery which has seen hundreds of people come forward to allege they were abused and criminal prosecutors launch scores of new investigations.
    In a statement hailing the reported verdict, claimants James Hamilton, Jose Andres Murillo and Juan Carlos Cruz – who were invited to Rome earlier this year to tell the Pope about their alleged abuse – said it was the culmination of a “journey that was long and painful, but worth it.”
    “We are witnessing an important cultural shift, in which the abuses of the powerful are beginning to be seen as unacceptable, and Justice is confirming that,” they said.
    Their lawyer, Juan Pablo Hermosilla, told Reuters they believed the report was credible but added: “I don’t have official confirmation yet.”
    Karadima worked for the Santiago Archbishopric as a parish priest in the wealthy suburb of El Bosque for 21 years between 1985 to 2006.
    Now 88 and living in a nursing home in the capital, Karadima has always denied accusations of abuse.    He was never charged by civilian authorities because the statute of limitations on such crimes had expired.    He was found guilty of sexual abuse in a Vatican investigation in 2011, and last month was defrocked by the Pope.
    Hermosilla said that since the case was rejected by a lower court, new evidence had emerged including an email written in 2009 from a former archbishop, Cardinal Francisco Errazuriz, to the then papal nuncio that was read to the court on Thursday.
    In the email, Errazuriz described the trio of accusers as “aggressive” and said he was closing the case against Karadima.
    In a statement responding to the report of a verdict, the Santiago Archbishopric said it did not know the court’s ruling, but that it would have to study it and recent developments in the case before deciding how to act.
    “We must analyze the situation, together with the ruling, to resolve what steps to take,” the archbishopric’s statement said.
(Reporting by Aislinn Laing; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

10/22/2018 Young Catholics urge Vatican to issue inclusive LGBT message
    Catholic bishops are entering their final week of debate on hot-button issues facing young Catholics, including how the church should welcome gays and respond to the clerical sex abuse scandal that has discredited many in the church hierarchy.
    Some of the youth delegates to the monthlong synod of bishops have insisted that the final document express an inclusive message to make LGBT Catholics feel welcome in a church that has often shunned them.
    The Vatican took a step in that direction by making a reference to “LGBT” for the first time in its preparatory document ahead of the meeting.

10/23/2018 Activists march against reported transgender plan by David Crary and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    WASHINGTON – LGBT leaders across the U.S. reacted with fury Monday to a report that the Trump administration is considering adoption of a new definition of gender that would effectively deny federal recognition and civil rights protections to transgender Americans.
    “I feel very threatened, but I am absolutely resolute,” Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Rights, said at a news conference convened by more than a dozen activist leaders.    “We will stand up and be resilient, and we will be here long after this administration is in the trash heap.”
    The activist leaders, speaking amid posters reading “#Won’tBeErased,” later addressed a protest rally outside the White House.
    On Sunday, The New York Times reported that the Department of Health and Human Services was circulating a memo proposing that gender be defined as an immutable biological condition determined by a person’s sex organs at birth.    The proposal would define sex as either male or female, and any dispute about one’s sex would have to be clarified through genetic testing, according to the Times’ account of the memo.
    For LGBT-rights leaders, it’s the administration’s latest attack on transgender Americans.    They also cite an attempt to ban them from military service; a memo from Attorney General Jeff Sessions concluding that civil rights laws don’t protect transgender people from discrimination on the job; and the scrapping of Obama-era guidance encouraging school officials to let transgender students use school bathrooms that matched their gender identities.
    President Donald Trump briefly addressed the latest controversy as he left the White House for a political trip to Houston, but left unclear how his administration plans to proceed.
    “We have a lot of different concepts right now,” Trump said.    “They have a lot of different things happening with respect to transgender right now – you know that as well as I do – and we’re looking at it very seriously.”
    Trump added: “I’m protecting everybody.”
    The Cabinet agency had acknowledged months ago that it was working to rewrite a federal rule that bars discrimination in health care based on “gender identity.”    It cited a Texas-based federal judge’s opinion that the original rule went too far in concluding that discrimination based on gender identity is a form of sex discrimination, which is forbidden by civil rights laws.
    The department said Monday it would not comment on “alleged leaked documents.”    It did release a statement from Roger Severino, head of its Office for Civil Rights, saying his agency was reviewing the issue while abiding by the 2016 ruling from the Texas-based federal judge, Reed O’Connor.
    LGBT activists, who pledged legal challenges if the reported memo leads to official policy, said other courts had issued rulings contrary to O’Connor’s.
    UCLA legal scholar Jocelyn Samuels, who ran the HHS civil rights office in the Obama administration, said the Trump administration would be going beyond established law if it adopted the policy.
    “What they are saying is you do not get to decide your sex; it is the government that will decide your sex,” said Samuels.
Transgender advocates gather in front of the White House in Washington on Monday. CAROLYN KASTER/AP

10/23/2018 Fury over reported federal plan targeting transgender people
    LGBT leaders are reacting furiously to a report that the Trump administration is considering a new definition of gender that would effectively deny federal recognition and civil rights protections to transgender Americans.
    Activists are pledging legal challenges if such a change is put in place and say it would run counter to numerous court rulings.
    According to The New York Times, a draft memo circulated by the Health and Human Services Department proposes defining gender as an immutable biological condition determined by a person’s sex organs at birth.

10/23/2018 Vatican ‘suffragettes’ want vote, change, in a man’s Church by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: A nun enters to take part at the synod afternoon session led by Pope Francis
at the Vatican October 16, 2018. Picture taken October 16, 2018. REUTERS/Max Rossi
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Catholic women say there’s a clerical stained glass ceiling in the Vatican, and they want to shatter it.
    They want to vote in major policy meetings.    They want Pope Francis to deliver on his promise to put more women in senior positions in the Holy See’s administration.    And some of them say they want to be priests.
    “Knock knock!    Who’s there?    More than half the Church!” several dozen Catholic women chanted outside the Vatican on Oct. 3, the first day of this year’s synod of bishops from around the world.
    The role of women in the Church has been a recurring theme at the month-long meeting, which brings together some 300 bishops, priests, nuns and lay participants. Only about 35 are women.
    The subject has come up in speeches on the floor, in small group discussions and at news conferences by participants in the gathering, officially titled “Young People, Faith and Discernment of Vocation.”
    Only “synod fathers,” including bishops and specially appointed or elected male representatives, are allowed to vote on the final recommendations to be sent to the pope, who will take them into consideration when he writes his own document.    Other participants are non-voting observers, auditors or experts.
    Some of the attendees have pointed to what they say is a contradiction in the rules of the synod, which takes place every few years on a different theme.
    This year, two “brothers,” lay men who are not ordained, are being allowed to vote in their capacity as superiors general of their religious orders.
    But Sister Sally Marie Hodgdon, an American nun who also is not ordained, cannot vote even though she is the superior general of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambery.
    “I am a superior general.    I am a sister.    So in theory, logically you would think I would have the right to vote,” Hodgdon, who is also vice president of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), an umbrella group of Catholic nuns, told reporters.
    The membership of female religious orders is about three times larger than that of male orders.
    A petition demanding that women have the right to vote at synods has collected 9,000 signatures since it opened online at the start of this meeting.    It is sponsored by 10 Catholic lay groups seeking change in the Church, including greater rights for women and gays and a bigger role for the laity.
    “If male religious superiors who are not ordained can vote, then women religious superiors who are also not ordained should vote.    With no ontological/doctrinal barrier, the only barrier is the biological sex of the religious superior,” it reads.
    The cause has won some influential clerical male backers.
    At a news conference on Oct. 15, superiors general of three major male religious orders – the Jesuits, the Dominicans and one branch of the Franciscans – expressed support for changes in synod rules in order to allow women to vote in the future.
    Backing also came from Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich, president of the German Bishops Conference and one of the most influential Catholic leaders in Europe.
    “We must face up to the often uncomfortable and impatient questions of young people about equal rights for women also in the Church,” Marx said in his speech to the synod.
    “The impression that the Church, when it comes to power, is ultimately a male Church must be overcome in the universal Church and also here in the Vatican.    It is high time.”
    The Holy See, as the offices of the central administration of the 1.3 billion-member Church are known, and the State of Vatican City have a combined work force of about 4,100 people.    About 700 are women.
    Of the approximately 60 departments in the Holy See, about 10 must be headed by priests because they deal with governance and jurisdiction over other ordained ministers or other sensitive doctrinal matters, the Church says.
    Francis has promised to put more women in senior roles in those other 50 departments.    But more than five years after he was elected, there are only six women in such roles. Five are lay women and one is a nun.    None of them heads a department.
    Francis told Reuters in June he had to “fight” internal resistance to appoint 42-year-old Spanish journalist Paloma Garcia-Ovejero as deputy head of the Vatican’s press office.
    He declined to name those who had resisted, but said he had to use “persuasion,” an apparent reference to the powerful conservative wing of what has been an institution run exclusively by males for 2,000 years.
    The Vatican Museums, which are part of the State of Vatican City, are headed by Barbara Jatta, the first woman to hold the high-profile post which oversees nearly 1,000 employees.
    The pope’s critics, including former Irish President Mary McAleese, say he is moving too slowly.
    “How long can the hierarchy sustain the credibility of a God who wants things this way, who wants a Church where women are invisible and voiceless in Church leadership?” she said at a conference in Rome in March.
    Sister Maria Luisa Berzosa Gonzalez, one of the participants at the current synod, thinks it is time for change – in the synod, and in the wider Church.
    The Spanish nun, whose energy belies her 75 years, has dedicated her life to educating the poor and underprivileged in Spain, Argentina and Italy and is still going strong.
    “With this structure in the synod, with few women, few young people, nothing will change.    It should no longer be this way.    Its participation should be broadened,” she told Reuters.
    Berzosa, who took her vows in 1964, said she supports a female priesthood, a position not very common among nuns her age.
    The Church teaches that women cannot become priests because Jesus chose only men as his apostles.
    Proponents of a female priesthood, like 32-year-old Kate McElwee, who organised the protest on the synod’s opening day, say Jesus was merely acting according to the norms of his times.
    “Some women feel called by God to be priests.    They discern a vocation to the priesthood just as men do,” said McElwee, the Rome-based executive director of the Women’s Ordination Conference, a U.S. lobbying group. McElwee has found kindred spirits in nuns like Berzosa.
    The nun said she knows women won’t be priests in her lifetime because change comes slowly and piecemeal in the Church.
    Still, between one easy laugh and another, her frustration slipped through.
    “I lead spiritual exercises, I develop a deep rapport with people, I teach them how to pray, and then someone else comes along to say the Mass,” Berzosa said.    “It’s not fair.”
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

10/27/2018 Romans protest at eternal decline of Italian capital
People gather outside Rome's City Hall to protest against the decline
of the Italian capital in Rome, Italy October 27, 2018. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
    ROME (Reuters) – Several thousand people protested in front of Rome City Hall on Saturday to denounce the ragged state of the Italian capital, where roads are potholed, rubbish often goes uncollected and wild boar roam the streets.
    Critics say the city has been in decline for years and accuse Mayor Virginia Raggi, who took office in 2016, of failing to fulfill campaign promises to clean up the mess.
    “We’re here because Rome deserves better, because Rome is in a state of neglect the like of which has never been seen before,” said Marita Monaco, 57, who took part in the protest in a Renaissance square designed by Michelangelo.
    “It is a city in disarray, where there are no more rules or social cohesion,” she added.
    Raggi is a member of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and was swept to power following a wave of public disgust over corruption scandals that had battered previous administrations run by both traditional left- and right-wing parties.
    The first female mayor in the history of the city, Raggi says she needs more time to overcome Rome’s myriad problems, but argues that she is already making good progress.
    Her critics say things are getting worse, not better.
    A strike by rubbish collectors has left many trash cans overflowing, potholes riddle the roads, while the local transport system is in permanent crisis.
    More than 20 buses have caught fire on the streets of the city so far this year, largely the result of poor maintenance, while a broken escalator injured more than 20 Russian soccer fans at a city metro station last Tuesday.
    The death this week of a 16-year girl, whose body was found in an abandoned building used by drug dealers, underscored fears about law and order in the city.    Police say they believe the girl was gang-raped and have arrested four migrants.
    Under the hashtag #romadicebasta (“Rome says enough”) residents’ associations and civil society groups banded together to organize Saturday’s protest, which Reuters reporters estimated drew between 5,000-8,000 people.
    “Rome has become an open sewer, a scandal, full of rats, foxes, wild boar and rubbish,” said Rome resident Salvatore Golino.    “We are drowning in trash and we can’t take it anymore.”
    A recent video that went viral online showed a family of boar foraging through sacks of rubbish on a city street.    Another video earlier this year showed a large boar running up a major city road under the gaze of astonished drivers.
    Raggi is standing trial for alleged abuse of office over a contested appointment within her administration.    She has denied the accusation, but has said she will resign if found guilty.
    A verdict is due on Nov. 10 and Raggi’s administration would fall if she left office, potentially opening the way for fresh elections.
(Reporting by Reuters TV; Writing by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Alison Williams)

10/28/2018 How many are attending Ark Encounter?    Founder’s claims at odds with admission numbers by Mike Stunson, Lexington Herald-Leader
    The number of paid visitors at the Ark Encounter in Williamstown in September pale in comparison to its 2017 figures, according to a local geologist who has been obtaining and crunching the numbers.
    But the ark’s founder continues to boast about its popularity.
    Wednesday, Answers of Genesis CEO and founder Ken Ham said it has been “another very busy month at the Creation Museum ... as well as the life size Ark.”    His tweet followed another from Sept. 8 in which he said the Ark Encounter has had “increased attendance.”
    Daniel Phelps, president of the Kentucky Paleontological Society, obtains the Ark attendance numbers from the city of Williamstown every month and reported September attendance at the Ark Encounter was nearly 17 percent lower than in September 2017.    There were 69,207 paid visitors this September, compared to 83,330 in the same month last year.
    He also noted decreases in attendance in August and July from the same months in 2017.    Phelps received the numbers through an open-records request.
    After he gets the numbers, Phelps sends them to various pro-science groups, anti-creationists and atheists along with groups that advocate for separation of church and state, and evangelical Christians that accept evolution, he said.    He also sends them to the Friendly Atheist blog, which published Phelps’ recent findings Tuesday.
    Attendance was calculated through the amount of money received by the city of Williamstown via a safety fee of 50 cents per ticket that pays for ambulances and fire trucks, the Friendly Atheist noted.    The city calculates the number of tickets sold and provides that as well.
    The Courier Journal reported in August the Ark Encounter sold a little more than 860,000 tickets from July 2017 to June 2018, despite estimates from the park in 2016 of 1.4 million to 2.4 million yearly visitors.
    Ham called previous reports about decreased attendance “fake news.”
    The Ark Encounter opened July 2016 and features a life-sized replica of Noah’s Ark that is 510 feet long, 85 feet wide and 51 feet high.
    The attraction was met with controversy that continues to percolate.    Opponents have criticized lucrative tax incentives from the state.    Protests have occurred.
    Williamstown, which expected a flurry of business after the Ark opened, did not receive the impact it expected after the first year.
    In February, the Ark Encounter increased its tickets prices for adults and decreased its pricing for children.    Admission for children 4 years old or younger remained free.
    Ham said in a release earlier this year that visitors have told him their “Christian-themed attractions exceeds what they’ve experienced at the Disney parks, Universal Studios and the Smithsonian museums.”
Families walk by the replica of Noah’s Ark at the Ark Encounter.
Founder Ken Ham has called previous reports about declined attendance “fake news.”

10/28/2018 Blend faith, doctrine with activism, pope tells young at synod’s end by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis celebrates a closing mass at the end of the
Synod of Bishops at the Vatican October 28, 2018. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis, ending a month-long meeting on the theme of Catholic youth, told young people Sunday that in order to be good members of the Church they should not be obsessed with “doctrinal formulae” but blend its rules with social activism to help those in need.
    Francis said a Mass for about 10,000 people in St. Peter’s Basilica to ceremoniously close the Synod of Bishops, officially titled “Young People, Faith and Discernment of Vocation” and attended by some 300 bishops, priests, nuns and lay participants.
    The gathering’s final document, issued late on Saturday night, called for women to play a greater role in Church decision-making as a “duty of justice,” but appeared to water down language that would have been more welcoming to gays.
    “I would like to say to the young people, in the name of all of us adults: forgive us if often we have not listened to you, if, instead of opening our hearts, we have filled your ears,” Francis said in a lighter part of the homily of the Mass, which he co-celebrated with dozens of the bishops who took part in the synod.
    But he also went to the heart of accusations against him by some conservatives in the Church who say he has watered down emphasis on doctrinal matters and Church rules in favor of social issues such as migration, poverty and the environment.
    In his homily, he said both were necessary.
    “Faith passes through life.    When faith is concerned purely with doctrinal formulae, it risks speaking only to the head without touching the heart,” he said.
    “And when it is concerned with activity alone, it risks turning into mere moralizing and social work.    Faith, instead, is life: it is living in the love of God who has changed our lives.    We cannot choose between doctrine and activism.”
    He said young people could not wash their hands about the problems of their neighbors but “dirty them” if they really wanted to imitate Jesus, “not (as) specialists in the sacred, but witnesses of the love that saves.”
    The pope, who attended the synods sessions every day, will now take the final document into consideration when writing his own document, known as an “Apostolic Exhortation.”
(Reporting By Philip Pullella)
[I am assuming that the above makes us feel better that children will not be sexually assaulted by priest anymore.]

10/30/2018 Iowa library considers options after burning of LGBTQ books
    Orange City library director Amanda Vazquez told The Sioux City Journal that officials aren’t sure if they’ll replace the destroyed books.
    Paul Dorr, the director of religious group Rescue the Perishing, released a nearly 30-minute video on Facebook Live in which he denounced the library for having the LGBTQ books and threw them in a burning barrel.

11/4/2018 U.S. warns its citizens in Tanzania before anti-gay crackdown by Nuzulack Dausen
FILE PHOTO - A general picture shows the skyline of Tanzania's port cty of Dar es Salaam, July 12, 2013. REUTERS/Andrew Emmanuel
    DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) – The United States has warned its citizens in Tanzania to be cautious after the commercial capital Dar es Salaam announced a crackdown on homosexuality, a criminal offense in the country.
    In an alert on its website late on Saturday, the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania advised Americans to review their social media profiles and internet footprints.
    “Remove or protect images and language that may run afoul of Tanzanian laws regarding homosexual practices and explicit sexual activity,” it said.
    The alert said any U.S. citizen who was detained or arrested should ensure the Tanzanian authorities informed the embassy.
    Dar es Salaam’s administrative chief Paul Makonda said on Wednesday that a special committee would seek to identify and punish homosexuals, prostitutes and online fraudsters in the city from this week.
    The foreign ministry said Makonda was voicing his own opinion and the planned crackdown did not have national government support.
    “The government of the United Republic of Tanzania would like to clarify that those are his own views and not the government position,” the ministry said in a statement.
    Last October, at least 12 men were arrested at a Dar es Salaam hotel in a raid on a gathering which authorities said was to promote same-sex relationships.
    President John Magufuli has cracked down on homosexuality since winning power in 2015, and a conviction for having “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” could lead to a sentence of up to 30 years in jail.
    Homosexuality remains taboo across much of Africa and gay people face discrimination or persecution, with rights groups often reluctant to speak publicly in defense of gay rights
    In 2016, Tanzania banned non-governmental organizations from distributing free lubricants to gays as part of efforts to control the spread of HIV/AIDS, even though some health experts warn that shutting down such outreach programs could put the wider population at higher risk of infection.
(Additional reporting and writing by George Obulutsa in Nairobi; Editing by Catherine Evans and Adrian Croft)

11/8/2018 Right abandons Davis, same-sex stance by Andrew Wolfson, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    In the end, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis’ refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples was just one of the factors that led voters in the Eastern Kentucky community to sweep her from office Tuesday.
    Her lawyer, Mat Staver, founder of the Florida-based Liberty Counsel, said Davis, who cited “God’s authority” in 2015 when she refused to abide by the Supreme Court’s decision making gay marriage a constitutional right, got “outworked by her opponent.”    “She ran a very low-key campaign,” Staver said.    “She’s not a politician.”
    Keith Kappes, the former editor and publisher of The Morehead News and longtime spokesman for Morehead State University, said Davis’ switch to the Republican Party also hurt her.
    He said she also failed to get the expected groundswell of support from evangelical leaders like former Arkansas governor and GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, who led her out of jail in September 2015 when she was released after serving for contempt of court.
    Morehead City Councilman Tom Carew said the underlying issue in Davis’ loss to Democrat Elwood Caudill Jr., by about 700 votes, was her position on same-sex marriage.
    “Rowan is a fairly progressive county, and the majority of folks thought she was wrong,” Carew said.
    Chris Hartmann, director of the Kentucky Fairness Campaign, which endorsed Caudill, said Davis’ defeat was “incredibly gratifying.”
    “She deserved to lose,” Hartmann said.    “If you don’t do the job, you don’t deserve the job, and Rowan County voters sent that message.”
    Hartmann and others expected Davis would receive hundreds of thousands of dollars of support from conservative donors but that never materialized.
    The most recent spending reports show that she raised only $8,900, to Caudill’s $5,319.
    “She was not helped by religious folk,” Kappes said.
    The Rev. Randy Smith, a former Free Will Baptist pastor in Rowan who supported Davis and now leads a church in South Carolina, said some residents resented the scrutiny she brought to the community and also may have resented that she tried to capitalize on her fame by co-authoring a book with Staver.    'A lot of people wanted a change,' Smith said.
    Caudill, a 20-year employee of the county's property valuation office and a fourth-generation county resident, promised after his primary victory to “serve each and every citizen with dignity and respect” – a swipe at Davis.
    He didn’t respond to requests for comment, and a deputy in the clerk’s office said she was not accepting calls.     “She has no comment for the media,” he said.
    The general election was something of an anticlimax after the Democratic primary contest in May, which included one of the gay men denied a marriage license by Davis.    That candidate, David Ermold, lost the nomination in a four-person race despite raising $200,000 from 22 states, including from Hollywood celebrities Susan Sarandon and Amy Schumer.
    Ermold refused to endorse Caudill, calling him a homophobe and saying the Fairness Coalition’s endorsement was “personally offensive.”    Ermold posted a photo of his ballot on Facebook on election night showing he wrote in “Against Homophobia” rather than vote for either candidate.    Ermold didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
    Davis defeated Caudill four years ago in the Democratic primary for county clerk by only 23 votes.
    Her defeat marks the end of a dynasty in the Eastern Kentucky county about 65 miles east of Lexington.    Her mother served as county clerk for 37 years, and Kim Davis worked for her for years as a deputy.
    Staver said she will now likely work in “some kind of ministry.”
    She brought national attention, including some derision, to the county by refusing to issues licenses to same-sex couples or allow her deputies to do the same.    She cited religious reasons, saying her signature was required on the licenses and suggested she endorsed them.    Critics pointed out she has been married four times to three different men.
    Same-sex couples who she turned away sued her, and U.S. District Judge David Bunning ordered her jailed for contempt of court after a federal appeals court and the Supreme Court denied her requests to stay the order.
    She was released when her deputies began issuing the licenses while she was in jail.
    The state ultimately eliminated the requirement that clerks sign marriage licenses.
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis speaks at a Religious Freedom Rally
in August 2015. She was defeated in her election Tuesday night. MIKE WEAVER/SPECIAL TO THE COURIER-JOURNAL

11/8/2018 Satanic Temple sues Netflix over ‘Sabrina’ use of Baphomet deity by Jonathan Stempel
FILE PHOTO: The Netflix logo is seen on their office in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo
    NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Satanic Temple sued Netflix Inc and Warner Bros Entertainment on Thursday, seeking more than $50 million for their alleged unauthorized use of a statue of the goat-headed deity Baphomet in the series “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.”
    In a complaint filed with the U.S. District Court, the plaintiff, whose stated mission includes encouraging benevolence and empathy among people rejecting tyrannical authority, accused the defendants of copyright infringement, trademark violations and injury to its reputation.
    Netflix referred a request for comment to Warner Bros, a unit of AT&T Inc . Warner Bros spokesman Paul McGuire said that company does not discuss pending litigation.
    According to the complaint, Netflix, which distributes “Sabrina,” and Warner Bros, which produces it, misappropriated the Salem, Massachusetts-based plaintiff’s “Baphomet with Children” in ways implying that it “stands for evil.”     The Satanic Temple, whose formal name is United Federation of Churches LLC, said the statue has appeared in at least four of the first 10 “Sabrina” episodes, which were released on Oct. 26, and was a “key element” of the season finale.
    “The unique elements of TST’s expression of the idea of Baphomet, and particularly the use of a male chest rather than voluptuous large female breasts, and the configuration with a small boy and small girl looking at the Sabbatic Goat head of the statue, were unquestionably copied by defendants,” the complaint said.
    In its complaint, The Satanic Temple also objected that the evil antagonists in “Sabrina” were depicted in a manner “in stark contrast to TST’s tenets and beliefs.”
    The lawsuit also seeks the exclusion or digital removal of the plaintiff’s statue from “Sabrina” episodes.
    “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” is based on the comic book series with the same name from Archie Comics.
    Its main character is a half-witch, half-human teenager portrayed by Kiernan Shipka, who played lead character Don Draper’s daughter Sally in the AMC series “Mad Men.”
    The case is United Federation of Churches LLC v Netflix Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 18-10372.
(This story has been refilled to correct the 4th paragraph, to say plaintiff is based in Salem, Massachusetts, not in Boston) (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Richard Chang)
[The name Baphomet first appeared in trial transcripts for the Inquisition of the Knights Templar starting in 1307.
    It first came into popular English usage in the 19th century during debate and speculation on the reasons for the suppression of the Templars.
    Since 1856, the name Baphomet has been associated with a "Sabbatic Goat" image drawn by Eliphas Levi, which contains binary elements representing the "sum total of the universe" (e.g. male and female, good and evil, on and off, etc.).    On one hand, Lévi's intention was to symbolize his concept of "the equilibrium of the opposites" that was essential to his magnetistic notion of the Astral Light; on the other hand, the Baphomet represents a tradition that should result in a perfect social order.
    The name Baphomet (apparently from mis-hearing the Saracens reciting the name Mohammed) appeared in July 1098 in a letter by the crusader Anselm of Ribemont.
The 19th-century image of a Sabbatic Goat, created by Eliphas Levi. The arms bear the Latin words SOLVE (separate) and COAGULA (join together)

11/12/2018 Professor sues over rebuke for calling transgender student male
    A professor is suing officials at his small, public university in Ohio after receiving a written warning for violating its nondiscrimination policy by not addressing a transgender student using the gender terms preferred by the student.
    Nicholas Meriwether filed a federal lawsuit last week against officials at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, 85 miles south of Columbus.    He contends they violated his rights by compelling him to speak in a way that contradicts his religious beliefs as a Christian.
    Meriwether argued he didn’t discriminate and that he treated the student like “other biologically male students.”

11/13/2018 Bishops will delay votes on steps to combat sex abuse crisis
    In an abrupt change of plans, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opened the group’s national meeting Monday by announcing it will delay for at least several months any action on proposed new steps to address the clergy sex abuse crisis that is rocking the church.
    Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston- Houston said Monday that the delay was requested by the Vatican.

11/14/2018 St. Matthews church booted over LGBTQs by Chris Kenning, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    The Kentucky Baptist Convention on Tuesday cut ties with more than a dozen churches, including at least one in Louisville, for supporting a Baptist religious organization that earlier this year lifted a ban on hiring LGBTQ employees.
    The Louisville-based Kentucky Baptist Convention, which has long opposed same-sex marriage, ordaining gay ministers and believes homosexuality is sinful, voted to end its relationship with KBC affiliated churches that also made financial contributions to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship at its annual meeting in Pikeville.
    The KBC targeted several local churches, including the 1,600-member St. Matthews Baptist, where leaders called the decision ending a 90-year relationship “historic and disheartening.”
    “The Kentucky Baptist Convention had an opportunity to demonstrate to a divided nation that we do not have to agree on everything in order to love each other and partner together in carrying out the mission Jesus called us to. Unfortunately, the Convention chose a different course,” St. Matthews Baptist Senior Pastor Greg Barr said in a statement.    “Our church believes that unity and difference of opinion can co-exist in the service of our Lord.”
    Convention officials said they would lose the cooperation of the statewide organization and ability to join in setting policy.
    At Lyndon Baptist Church, another Louisville-area church kicked out of the convention, Pastor Jim Holladay said he’s not worried about any fallout for his congregation but noted that he or his church haven’t even taken a formal position on the hiring of gay, lesbian or transgender workers.    He declined to say how he felt about it.
    Paul Chitwood, executive director of the convention, said in an interview that the convention could not support groups that “embrace alternative lifestyles” and adopt policies that “redefine what is right and wrong” when it comes to Baptist beliefs that homosexuality is a sin.    He said some churches decided to stop giving to the group.
    The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, which formed in the early 1990s after conservative leaders gained national control of the Southern Baptists, earlier this year lifted a total ban on the hiring of LGBTQ staff but retained it for ministry leadership and missionary roles.
    Bob Fox, the executive coordinator of the fellowship in Kentucky, decried “a campaign of guilt by association, misinformation and inflammatory rhetoric that has division as the inevitable — and preferred — outcome.”
    In the Baptist faith, church autonomy is key, and congregations choose how to worship.    Many have multiple affiliations.
    The powerful Kentucky Baptist Convention, made up of over 2,400 churches with more than 750,000 members across the state, has previously ousted congregations that bless gay unions and welcome people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender as pastors and missionaries.
    In 2014, they voted overwhelmingly to end their longstanding relationship with Crescent Hill Baptist Church in Louisville.
    Last year, Chitwood warned that if the fellowship’s leaders softened their rule against hiring “practicing homosexuals,” it would be a perilous step in the wrong direction.
    In November, a Kentucky Baptist Convention committee voted in Louisville to “monitor” the fellowship’s moves and indicated that the convention might expel churches aligned with the fellowship if it lifts the ban.    The fellowship did so in February.
    Chris Hartman, executive director of the Fairness Campaign, an LGBTQ rights group, said the move would drive congregants away.
    “This heartless move by the Kentucky Baptist Convention deepens its demeaning and discriminatory stance towards LGBTQ people.    What harm does hiring a gay janitor or transgender cafeteria worker do to ministry?    None.    Which is why the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has moved to affirm that someone’s LGBTQ identity doesn’t prevent them doing a non-ministerial job,” he said.
    Hartman added: “If the KBC continues to deny the basic humanity and dignity of LGBTQ people, they’ll see congregants begin to move away from them, as virtually all people — including Baptists — now have LGBTQ family and friends whom they love and support.”
    R. Albert Mohler, who is the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a recognized scholar of Baptist theology, said in an interview that more conservative Baptist churches were maintaining memberships by adhering to strict biblical teaching including those that view homosexuality as amoral.
    “Thankful for the conviction of Kentucky Baptists today,” he tweeted.
Reporter Chris Kenning can be reached at or 502-396-3361. Follow him on Twitter @chris_kenning.
St. Matthews Baptist GOOGLE MAPS    Paul Chitwood
[You are either for God and Jesus Christ or you are the Anitchrist, which means also against God].

11/14/2018 Roman Catholic Bishops take no action on abuse scandal by OAN Newsroom
    Roman Catholic Bishops in the U.S. were unable to take action on accountability measures concerning the abuse of minors by clergy at their conference in Baltimore this week.    A last minute decision by the Vatican to call any decisions on the matter has frustrated church leaders and members.
One America’s Eddie McCoven reports.

11/16/2018 ‘Love will prevail’: Costa Rica’s same-sex couples can marry in 2020 By Alvaro Murillo
    SAN JOSE (Reuters) – Same-sex couples in Costa Rica will have the right to get married by mid-2020, the nation’s constitutional court has ruled, a first for socially conservative Central America.
    In a majority decision made public on Thursday, the court backed the opinion of the San Jose-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which said in January that countries in the region should legalize same-sex unions.
    Legalizing gay marriage was a major campaign promise by President Carlos Alvarado Quesada, who took office in May.
    In recent years, same-sex couples have been allowed to marry in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay and parts of Mexico.
    “It’s now just a matter of time. Full equal rights will come, love will prevail,” Alvarado Quesada tweeted on Thursday.
    The ruling is scheduled to be published in the official gazette next week and will take effect 18 months afterward.
    The court’s ruling, “which confirms the unconstitutionality of the articles that prohibit equal civil marriage, is a big step forward toward equality,” the president added in his tweet.
    The center-left Alvarado Quesada decisively defeated a conservative opponent in Costa Rica’s presidential runoff in April by promising to allow gay marriage and protect the country’s reputation for tolerance.
    Alvarado Quesada said regulations would be modified to comply with the court ruling.
    Despite Costa Rica’s reputation as a socially forward- looking nation, with high education and health standards, reproductive rights such as in vitro fertilization and abortion are not widely accepted, polling has shown.
    Barely 30 percent of Costa Ricans favored same-sex marriage, according to a survey released in January by the CIEP think tank of the University of Costa Rica.
    Costa Rica’s first same-sex wedding was blocked in January by notaries who refused to recognize it until laws forbidding gay marriage are changed.
    Pro-government lawmaker Enrique Sanchez, an activist for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, said legal reforms to implement the law should be carried out smoothly, since the debate on whether same-sex marriage is legal had been settled.
    “This is already a legal reality and now we must concentrate on making the adjustments to implement the law and continue to promote a culture of integration and tolerance in society,” he said.
    The Catholic Church’s Episcopal Conference of Costa Rica criticized the ruling.
    “In the natural order of things, that basic family nucleus of society is based on monogamous and heterosexual marriage,” it said in a statement.
(Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Peter Cooney)

11/18/2018 Pope says world mustn’t turn a blind eye to migrants, the poor
Pope Francis celebrates the Mass marking the Roman Catholic Church's World Day of the Poor,
at Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican November 18, 2018. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis criticized rising wealth inequality and the treatment of migrants on Sunday, saying the world should not ignore those “tossed by the waves of life.”
    “Injustice is the perverse root of poverty,” Francis said at a Mass marking the Roman Catholic Church’s annual World Day of the Poor.    “The cry of the poor daily becomes stronger but heard less, drowned out by the din of the rich few, who grow ever fewer and more rich.”
    Francis also reiterated his support for migrants saying that people must pay attention to “all those forced to flee their homes and native land for an uncertain future.”
    His remarks came as hundreds of migrants from a caravan of Central Americans were stalled at the U.S.-Mexico border after being denied entry to the United States, although Francis made no direct reference to the situation in the United States.
    A report this year by Oxfam said 3.7 billion people, or half of the global population, saw no increase in their wealth in 2017, while 82 percent of the wealth generated last year went to the richest one percent of the global population.
(Reporting by Giselda Vagnoni; Editing by Susan Fenton)

11/19/2018 Pope decries that ‘wealthy few’ feast on what belongs to all
    Championing the cause of the poor, Pope Francis on Sunday lamented that “the wealthy few” enjoy what, “in justice, belongs to all” and said Christians cannot remain indifferent to the growing cries of the exploited and the indigent, including migrants.
    Francis invited about 6,000 poor people and the volunteers who help them to St. Peter’s Basilica where he celebrated Mass on a day the Catholic Church dedicates to the needy.

11/19/2018 Polish Church asks for forgiveness for pedophilia cases
Judges of court of appeal upheld a landmark ruling granting a million zloty ($268,000)
in compensation to a victim of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest in Poznan, Poland,
October 2, 2018. Lukasz Cynalewski/Agencja Gazeta/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS
    WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland’s Catholic Church on Monday asked victims of sexual abuse by the clergy for forgiveness, a month after an appeal court upheld a ruling stating the Church was responsible for the crimes of one if its priests.
    The Catholic Church worldwide is reeling from crises involving sexual abuse of minors, damaging confidence in the Church in Chile, the United States, Australia and Ireland and other countries.
    The Polish court of appeal upheld last month a landmark ruling granting a million loty ($260,000) in compensation to a victim of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest, accepting that the Church was responsible.
    “We ask God, the victims of abuse, their families and the Church community for forgiveness for all the harm done to children and young people and their relatives,” the Polish Bishops wrote in a statement after a conference dedicated to the issue.
    They called on victims to report the crimes to Church and state authorities.
    “We note with sadness that in Poland too there are cases of sexual abuse of children and young people by some members of the clergy and those working in the Church.    We repeat after Pope Francis: ‘The pain of the victims and of their families is also our pain,'” the bishops said.
    Pope Francis will meet bishops from around the world at the Vatican in February to discuss the protection of minors.
    More than 5 million people flocked to cinemas across Poland in recent weeks to watch a movie called “Clergy” that depicts Catholic priests in a highly unflattering light, breaking box-office records.
(Reporting by Marcin Goclowski; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

11/19/2018 Attorneys Generals urge Trump Admin. to abandon Title IX “sex” definition by OAN Newsroom
    A group of 20 attorneys generals are urging the Trump Administration to rethink its approach to protections for transgender individuals.
New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood wrote a letter to Secretaries Alex Azar and Betsy Devos today.
She seeks the Administration’s abandonment of its pursuit of a new definition of “sex” under Title-IX.
    The updated terminology being pursued would only acknowledge someone’s sex as-defined-by, or before, birth.
    Opponents to the measure claim it would effectively eliminate protections for transgender people under federal law.
    However, the White House says individuals would be granted the same civil rights as all Americans.
    President Trump says he’s “looking at it very seriously,” and adds he’s “protecting everybody.”
    The measure is being pursued by the Departments of Health and Human services, and the Department of Education.
    The agencies say they’re pursuing the action as a means to make laws more applicable to a wider-field of people affected.

11/23/2018 Taiwan’s same-sex marriage vote divides families by Ann Wang and Yimou Lee
Leong Guzifer (L), 30, and Ting Tseyen, 27, take part in a rally to support the
upcoming same-sex marriage referendum, in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, November 18, 2018. REUTERS/Ann Wang
    TAIPEI (Reuters) – On a sunny day in a park in Taipei, photographer Austin Haung advises a same-sex couple on how to pose for a pre-wedding photo shoot.    For him, Taiwan’s reputation as a beacon of liberalism in the region means a thriving business.
    “Our clients are mostly same-sex couples from overseas, including Hong Kong, Singapore, China and Malaysia,” said 32-year-old Haung, who hopes to turn his side job into a full-time business targeting homosexual newlyweds from across the region.
    “They said Taiwan is a reassuring place to do the shoot…If they do this in their own country, they worry about being identified or people raising eyebrows,” he said. (To see accompanying package, click on
    In Asia’s first such ruling, Taiwan’s constitutional court declared in May last year that same-sex couples had the right to legally marry, and set a two-year deadline for legalization.
    On Saturday, Taiwan will hold a series of public votes on whether its civil law should now recognize same-sex marriage, after its election authority approved contradicting referendum petitions from both conservative and rights groups.
    The issue has divided Taiwan, at family dining room tables, online and on the streets, with large-scale rallies.
    Haung, who is gay, plans to vote for same-sex marriage, but his mother Zeng, in her early 60s, staunchly objects.    In fact, she has rallied relatives and friends to support the opposing referendum that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
    “There’s no need to protect gay marriage.    If so, there will be more homosexuals in society,” she said.    “The younger generation has their own ideas, but I disagree regardless of what they say.”
    Rights activists say the conservative referendum is “discriminatory” as it goes against a 2017 court ruling that current laws violate the right to freedom of marriage and equality.
    The heated debate over whether to legalize same-sex marriage presents a challenge to President Tsai Ing-wen, who rights activists say has backed away from her promise of marriage equality in the run-up to elections in 2016.
    The same-sex marriage votes coincides with Taiwan’s mayoral and magisterial elections, a test of confidence for Tsai’s government grappling with domestic reforms as well as rising pressure from China, which considers the island its own.
    “I hope Tsai Ing-wen could undertake the leadership responsibility.    The issue has been delayed for so long due to a lack of policy direction from the ruling party,” said Jennifer Lu, co-ordinator of the Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan.
    “The government should protect the rights of marriage for all Taiwanese.”
    Taiwan’s capital Taipei has a celebrated annual gay pride parade that showcases the vibrancy of its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.    The one-week celebration in October, largest in the region, contributed more than $3.3 million to the economy, according to daily Taipei Times.
    LGBT-related businesses are thriving in Taiwan where liberal attitude has earned it a reputation as Asia’s “gay capital.”
    A hub for LGBT rights activists is the Gin Gin bookshop, which was raided by police in 2003 and 500 magazines seized.
    “We have fought a long fight and now have loyal customers coming to our shop at least once a year from all over the world,” said Yang Pingjing, one of the bookshop’s owners.
    Located in an alley at the heart of Taipei with rainbow flags leading up to the staircases, the owner of a decades-old bathhouse for men said his business is now often packed and receives many customers from overseas.
    “I’m not too worried about my business,” said Yu Nanxian, owner of 24-hour Hans Men’s Sauna.    “Once a gay man, you will always be a gay man, no matter the result of the referendum.”
(Reporting by Ann Wang and Yimou Lee; Editing by Michael Perry)

11/23/2018 WH calls SCOTUS to review transgender ban by OAN Newsroom
    The Trump administration is calling on the Supreme Court to enforce its transgender military ban.
    According to reports Friday, the White House is asking the court to take up three challenges to the policy.
    The Trump administration has been attempting to reverse the Obama-era policy allowing for open transgender military service.
FILE – In this July 26, 2017, file photo, a supporter of LGBT rights holds up an “equality flag” on Capitol Hill
in Washington, during an event held by Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Mass. in support of transgender members of the military.
The Trump administration is asking the Supreme Court to fast-track cases on the president’s decision to prevent certain
transgender people from serving in the military. The administration asked the court on Nov. 23, 2018, to take up three cases on the issue. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
    The president announced the decision in a tweet in July 2017, and received push back from different angles.
    Critics accused the president of taking an anti-LGBTQ position.    However, the White House maintains the decision is based on security concerns over our nation’s military.
    It remains unknown if the Supreme Court will take up the case, and it doesn’t take direction from the White House.
    However, the subject matter seems to be without precedent, meaning it’s ripe for a Supreme Court review.

11/24/2018 Taiwan votes in test for pro-independence ruling party as China watches by Yimou Lee and Judy Peng
A woman casts her ballots at a polling station during local elections and
referendum on same-sex marriage, in Kaohsiung, Taiwan November 24, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
    TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan voted on Saturday in local elections that are a key test of support for the island’s pro-independence ruling party ahead of presidential polls in just over a year, with electors also voting in a contentious referendum on same-sex marriage.
    The results will be closely watched in China, which claims self-ruled and proudly democratic Taiwan as its own and which has ramped up pressure on President Tsai Ing-wen and her administration since taking office in 2016.
    In the run-up to the election, Tsai and her government have repeatedly said China is attempting to sway election results with its “political bullying” and “fake news,” accusations Beijing denies.
    “It’s nice weather today, I hope everyone votes,” Tsai told Taiwan media as she cast her vote in the capital Taipei.
    More than 11,000 seats are up for grabs in municipalities, counties, townships and villages, with the southern city of Kaohsiung a key battleground for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which has held the city for two decades.
    Taiwan television stations reported a high turn out, with some polling stations in parts of Taipei and Kaohsiung remaining open past 4 p.m (0800GMT) when the polls are supposed to close.
    Candidates have fanned out across the island to press the flesh and canvass votes, and have held noisy, colorful rallies that have become the hallmarks of Taiwan’s vibrant democracy, in marked contrast to China where the Communist Party tolerates no dissent to its rule.
    Tensions across the Taiwan Strait have heightened with China conducting military drills around the island and snatching away Taiwan’s dwindling number of diplomatic allies.
    Tsai’s domestic reform initiatives, from the island’s pension scheme to labor law, have also come under intense voter scrutiny recently.
    Confidence in the government has waned in recent months after reform moves upset both the opposition and some supporters, who said Tsai had backed away from promises to reduce the deficit and cut pollution.
    Underscoring Tsai’s challenge will be a series of public votes on Saturday on whether to make same-sex marriage legal, an issue which has deeply divided Taiwan.
    “This is a small step for myself, but a big step for mankind,” Chi Chia-wei, a veteran gay rights activist who had petitioned Taiwan’s constitutional court to take up the issue, told Reuters after he voted.
    Tsai has made little progress despite campaigning on a promise of marriage equality in the run-up to elections in 2016.
    In Asia’s first such ruling, Taiwan’s constitutional court declared in May last year that same-sex couples had the right to legally marry, and set a two-year deadline for legalization.
    Voters will also be asked whether the island should join the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as Taiwan, rather than “Chinese Taipei” – the name agreed under a compromise signed in 1981.
    A vote to compete under a Taiwan banner would further rile Beijing, which has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control.
    Results for the mayoral and local elections are expected to be released mid-evening, while the referendum votes may not come out until the early hours of Sunday morning, according to election officials.
(Additional reporting and writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie and Michael Perry)

11/24/2018 Pennsylvania AG asks Senator Lindsey Graham to investigate clergy sexual abuse by OAN Newsroom
    Pennsylvania’s Attorney General asks Senator Lindsey Graham to investigate alleged abuse by leaders within the Catholic Church.
    State Attorney General Josh Shapiro said he hopes the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is likely to be headed by Graham as the next chairman, looks into clergy abuse across the nation, in a tweet today.
    Shapiro was in charge of an investigation into abuse at the Catholic Diocese in the “Keystone State,” which found more than one thousand instances by hundreds of priests.
    He added the abuse found in Pennsylvania was quote “not confined to our state borders.”

11/24/218 Taiwan voters set to block same-sex marriage in referendum by Jess Macy Yu and Yimou Lee
LGBT supporters cry after losing the referendum in Taipei, Taiwan November 24, 2018. REUTERS/Ann Wang
    TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan voters were set to back a referendum that defines marriage as between a man and a woman, dealing a blow to the self-ruled island’s reputation for liberalism in Asia amid a heated debate over marriage equality.
    In Asia’s first such ruling, Taiwan’s constitutional court declared in May 2017 that same-sex couples had the right to legally marry, and set a two-year deadline for legalization.
    But the island’s election authority earlier this year approved contradicting referendum petitions from both conservative and rights groups.
    While the election authority had not yet announced the final results of Saturday’s referendum, more than six million voters approved a series of initiatives opposing marriage equality, passing a threshold needed for a public vote.
    The vote presents a major defeat for rights activists who had campaigned for equal marriage
    “This is a victory for all the people who support family value and the education for the next generation,” the Coalition for the Happiness of Our Next Generation, a group opposed to same-sex marriage, said in a statement.
    “The referendum is illegal and against the constitution, and has sharply divided and harmed the society,” the Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan said in a statement.
    “The result showed that most people were misled by false information from anti-gay groups,” it said.
    The government has said the ruling of May 2017 will not be challenged by referendum results.    But the authorities are expected to enact a special law for same-sex unions after Saturday’s vote.
    The vote presents a challenge to President Tsai Ing-wen, who activists say has backed away from a promise of marriage equality which she made in the run-up to elections in 2016.
    The issue has divided Taiwan, at family dining room tables, online and on the streets, with large campaigns and rallies on both sides of the debate.
    Taiwan hosts the region’s largest annual gay pride parade showcasing its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
(Reporting by Yimou Lee and Jess Macy Yu; editing by Jason Neely)

11/27/2018 Medicine or vice? Socially screened funds struggle to define cannabis industry by David Randall
FILE PHOTO: A woman holds marijuana for sale at the MedMen store in West Hollywood, California U.S. January 2, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo
    NEW YORK (Reuters) – Is marijuana a medicine or a vice?
    The $8 trillion U.S. socially responsible investment industry is grappling with that question as more states approve the recreational use of cannabis, pushing consumption closer to “sin” stocks like alcohol and tobacco that ethically focused investors avoid.
    Ten U.S. states and the District of Columbia have legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21, and New Jersey lawmakers on Monday proposed legalizing it.
    No U.S. public companies are directly selling marijuana, but Canadian marijuana producers like Tilray Inc and Canopy Growth Corp are on U.S. exchanges.    In mid-October Canada legalized recreational cannabis and that is leading fund managers and their clients to decide if they feel comfortable investing in marijuana if it is not for medicinal use.
    Marijuana is used to treat a range of conditions from epilepsy to migraines.
    “There’s a lot of mixed feelings about cannabis, whereas with tobacco there’s a lot of consensus that tobacco is not safe in any amount,” said Jennifer Sireklove, director of responsible investing at Parametric Portfolio Associates, which oversees $220 billion in assets under management.
    Faith-based investors, including some Christian college endowments, are more likely to eschew cannabis completely, while other socially focused clients avoid companies that produce marijuana but will tolerate companies that may sell it as part of their larger business, she said.
    “If there’s a standardized product you can find at a corner store, you may not want to eliminate big parts of the investment universe when cannabis is a small part of a company’s revenues,” she said.
    Funds that do not pass ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) screens like those by index providers such as MSCI Inc will have a narrower list of potential investors, potentially leaving their stock trading at lower price-to-earnings multiples.    Tilray, for instance, has already been a target of investors betting its stock price will fall because of its high valuation.
    The question of cannabis underscores the wide range of investment philosophies in the rapidly growing ESG sector.    While nearly all ESG investors avoid industries that could negatively impact society like weapons, gambling, pornography and tobacco, some will invest in companies that sell alcohol if it is a small portion of their overall businesses.
    Neither Parnassus Investments nor Calvert Funds, the two largest ESG-only firms, have current positions in cannabis companies, each firm said.    Calvert is a subsidiary of Eaton Vance Corp.
    Yet firms such as MSCI, which maintains screened lists of companies that pass certain ESG criteria, say they currently include cannabis companies in their broad lists of ESG-compliant companies.    That could change, however, if a major tobacco firm such as Altria Group Inc or Philip Morris International Inc were to acquire a cannabis company such as Tilray or go into the marijuana market itself.
    Institutional investors that pay to create their own proprietary lists of excluded companies may still opt to avoid cannabis, said Joseph Williams, vice president of MSCI ESG Research.
    “Some clients take a zero tolerance with cannabis regardless of the use case, while others are more nuanced and only want to restrict companies that are focused on the recreational use market,” he said in a recent interview.
    As ESG investors focus on the question of marijuana’s social impact, Jordan Waldrep, fund manager of the $164 million USA Mutual Vice Fund – which specifically invests in the companies that ESG funds avoid – is making a big bet on the sector.
    “Cannabis puts a growth potential on alcohol and tobacco companies that hasn’t existed in a long time for them,” he said.
    Among cannabis companies themselves, he is focusing on companies such as Canopy Growth that have started to establish their own brands, rather than betting on pure growers, he said.    Canopy’s brand lineup, for instance, ranges from hipster-lifestyle division Tweed to its high-end DNA Genetics, which focuses on award-winning strains.
    “The recreational market will be all about brands,” Waldrep said.    “The opportunity for growth is just too strong.”
(Reporting by David Randall in New York; Editing by Jennifer Ablan and Matthew Lewis)

11/29/2018 Prosecutors in abuse case search office of major US cardinal
    Prosecutors investigating a sexual abuse case against a Houston-area priest searched the offices Wednesday of the local archdiocese, which is led by the cardinal who is heading the Roman Catholic Church’s response in the U.S. to sexual misconduct.
    The intensifying investigation has raised questions about how Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and his staff dealt with complaints against Manuel La Rosa-Lopez, who is accused by two people of fondling them two decades ago when they were teenagers.

11/29/2018 President cheers as Ukraine on cusp of church independence by Matthias Williams and Daren Butler
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko makes a statement on a new national independent church
in Kiev, Ukraine November 29, 2018. Mykhailo Markiv/Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS
    KIEV/ISTANBUL (Reuters) – President Petro Poroshenko said on Thursday Ukraine was on the cusp of securing its own independent church, snapping centuries-old ties to a Russian clergy that Kiev accuses of meddling in its affairs.
    Poroshenko’s comments came after the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, home to the global spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians, announced it had drafted a constitutional charter for an “autocephalous,” or self-governing, Ukrainian church.
    Ukraine’s push to create an independent church has incensed Moscow at a time of escalating crisis between the two neighbors following Russia’s capture of three Ukrainian vessels that Kiev fears may be a precursor to a full-scale invasion.
    Relations collapsed following Russia’s seizure of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and the outbreak of a Kremlin-backed insurgency in eastern Ukraine that has killed more than 10,000 people.
    “Today, at the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, historical decisions have been taken on the creation of an autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” Poroshenko said in a televised address.
    Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will soon announce when the Ukrainian clergy is to meet to pick the head of the new church, Poroshenko added.
    Earlier, the Ecumenical Patriarchate said in a statement that “the Holy and Sacred Synod drafted the Ukrainian Church’s Constitutional Charter.”
    Ukraine had sought the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s consent to establish an independent church and won its backing in October, prompting the Russian Orthodox Church to break off diplomatic ties with the Istanbul-based Patriarchate.
    Ukraine’s leadership accuses the Moscow-backed faction of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, widely known as the Moscow Patriarchate, of being a tool of the Kremlin to spread Russian propaganda and foster Russian expansionism.
    The Moscow Patriarchate strongly denies this and says it is working to promote peace in Ukraine.
    Russia accuses Poroshenko of manufacturing crises, both on the church issue and in the naval standoff that erupted on Sunday, in order to whip up Ukrainian national pride and boost his sagging popularity ahead of elections next March.
    Poroshenko said Russia had tried to thwart Ukraine’s bid for church independence but added: “The Lord was with us because we are leading a righteous struggle for our independence.”
    Ukraine and Russia trace their Orthodox Christian roots to Volodymyr the Great, the prince whose baptism in 988 in Kiev led to the christianisation of the region known as “Kievan Rus.”
    Two large Orthodox Churches compete for influence in Ukraine.
    The Moscow Patriarchate, which is aligned with the Russian Orthodox Church, earlier dominated in Ukraine but has been challenged by a rival, known as the Kiev Patriarchate, formed after the 1991 break-up of the Russian-dominated Soviet Union.
    Support for the Kiev Patriarchate swelled after the annexation of Crimea.    It supports church independence and Ukraine’s closer integration with the West.
(Additional reporting by Natalia Zinets in Kiev; Editing by Gareth Jones)

11/30/2018 Europe bank authorities recognize Vatican reform with own country code by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: General view of Pope Francis leading a Mass for the canonisation of the Pope Paul VI
and El Salvador's Archbishop Oscar Romero at the Vatican October 14, 2018. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY(Reuters) – The Vatican has its own vehicle license plates and telephone code.    Now, European financial authorities are granting the tiny city-state its own bank code – VA.
    For an institution that has had plenty of money scandals, Vatican officials see it as a recognition it is repairing its finances.
    “This is further proof that we have left the past behind,” Rene Bruelhart, the Swiss president of the Vatican’s internal regulator, the Financial Information Authority (AIF), told Reuters.
    The Vatican and the Board of European Payments Council announced that the EPC had accepted the Vatican’s application to join the Single Euro Payments Area.
    “To be admitted to this kind of thing you also have to have full commitment to payment service directives and to all kinds of anti-money laundering rules of the European Union,” he said.    “This is quite a significant step.”
    The Single Euro Payments Area, which operates under the auspices of the European Commission, harmonizes the way electronic euro payments are made in Europe, making cross-border electronic payments as simple as domestic payments.
    It comprises 34 countries – the 28 EU states, as well as Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Monaco, and San Marino.    The Vatican will formally join on March 1, 2019, along with Andorra, bringing the total to 36.
    From then on, it will have its own country code on IBANs, or International Bank Account Number.    It consists of up to 34 alphanumeric characters starting with a two-letter national code, such as IT for Italy and GB for Britain.
    The Vatican, which piggybacked into the common currency with Italy in 1999, has so far depended on other banking jurisdictions, mainly Italy, for euro payments across Europe.
    Getting its own IBAN code is seen as a financial emancipation from the neighbor that surrounds it.
    Last year, in a move that ended years of mistrust on the part of Rome’s central bank, Italy put the Vatican on its “white list” of states with cooperative financial institutions.
    Also last year, Moneyval, the monitoring body of the Council of Europe, issued a mostly positive evaluation of the Vatican’s efforts to make its finances transparent and bring them in line with international banking and accounting standards.
    Pope Francis has made cleaning up Vatican finances a priority since his election in 2013.
    Hundreds of suspicious or dormant accounts at the Vatican bank, officially known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), have been reported or closed in recent years.
    In an interview with Reuters in June, the pope, who has broadened AIF’s powers, said he was mostly happy about reforms enacted to once-scandalous Vatican finances.    He said the Vatican bank “now works well.”
    The VA bank code now sits alongside its separate vehicle license plates (SCV for the pope, CV for others) and telephone code (698).
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Alison Williams)

12/2/2018 Be celibate or leave the priesthood, pope tells gay priests by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis leaves after the weekly general audience in
Saint Peter's square at the Vatican November 21, 2018. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Men with deep-rooted homosexual tendencies should not be admitted to the Catholic clergy, and it would be better for priests who are actively gay to leave rather than lead a double life, Pope Francis says in a new book.
    While he has previously spoken of the need for better screening of candidates for the religious life, his comments suggesting that priests who cannot keep their vows of celibacy should leave are some of his clearest to date.
    Francis made the comments in a book-length interview with Spanish priest Fernando Prado called “The Strength of Vocation,” in which he discusses the challenges of being a priest or nun today.
    Francis said in the book that homosexuality in the Church “is something that worries me.”    It is due to be published this week in several languages.    An advance copy of the Italian version was made available to Reuters.
    “The question of homosexuality is a very serious one,” he said, adding that those entrusted with training men to be priests must be certain that candidates are “humanly and emotionally mature” before they can be ordained.
    This also applied to women who wanted to enter female religious communities to become nuns.    In the Catholic Church, priests, nuns and monks all take vows of celibacy.
    The Church teaches that homosexual tendencies are not sinful in themselves, but homosexual acts are.
    Francis said there was “no room for this” in the lives of priests and nuns, adding that the Church had to be “demanding” in choosing candidates for what is known as the consecrated life.
    “For this reason, the Church urges that persons with this rooted tendency not be accepted into (priestly) ministry or consecrated life,” he said.
    He urged homosexuals who are already priests or nuns to be celibate and responsible to avoid creating scandal.    “It is better that they leave the priesthood or the consecrated life rather than live a double life,” he said.
    The interview was conducted in mid-August.    Less than two weeks later, on Aug. 26, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the Vatican’s former ambassador to the Vatican, threw the Church into turmoil with a bombshell statement against the pope and Vatican officials.
    Vigano said a “homosexual network” existed in the Vatican, whose members helped promote each other’s careers in the Church.
    He also accused the pope of having ignored alleged sexual misconduct with adult male seminarians by former American cardinal Theodore McCarrick, 88.
    The Vatican said Vigano’s accusations were riddled with “calumny and defamation.”
    The Catholic Church has been haunted for more than two decades by evidence of thousands of cases of sexual abuse of minors by clergy around the world, in countries ranging from the United States to Australia, Ireland, Belgium, Germany and Chile.
    In July, McCarrick became the first cardinal to resign in nearly 100 years after U.S. Church officials said allegations made in a separate investigation that he had sexually abused a 16-year-old boy almost 50 years ago were credible and substantiated.
    McCarrick has said he had no recollection of the alleged abuse of the minor, but has not commented on the allegations of misconduct with the seminarians, which allegedly took place decades ago.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Kevin Liffey)
[The Pope should have been clearing his SWAMP before writing a book.
    Why do you even have gay, homosexual priest in your flock, or suggest they become priests, since it is against Gods own words as seen below:

    “You shall not lie with a male, as with a woman; it is an abominationLeviticus 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 (This includes transgender man to woman), nor abusers of themselves with mankind (homosexuals)” 1 Corinthians 6:9.]

12/5/2018 Names of 11 priests accused of abuse won’t be made public
    The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that the names of 11 priests accused of sexual abuse in a grand jury investigation will not be released.
    In Monday’s 6-1 decision, the high court said that making the names public would obstruct the right to protect their reputation, which is guaranteed under the state constitution.
    A group of former and current priests had argued that they were denied due process because they didn’t have enough time to defend themselves against a grand jury report that came out earlier this year.
[Well was justice done?].

12/11/2018 Five dead, four wounded in shooting at Catholic cathedral in Brazil
General view of the Catholic cathedral where a gunman opened fire
to the faithful, in Campinas, Brazil, December 11, 2018 REUTERS/Ricardo Lima
    SAO PAULO (Reuters) – A gunman entered a Catholic cathedral in the Brazilian city of Campinas on Tuesday and fatally shot four people attending midday mass before killing himself at the altar, fire department officials said.
    Four elderly people were seriously wounded by the man, who began shooting at the congregation with two guns, according to a spokesman with the fire department in Campinas, an industrial city 100 kilometers (62 miles) northwest of Sao Paulo, where the shooting took place.
    “It was frightful,” witness Alexandre Moraes told the GloboNews channel.    “He entered and shot randomly at people.    They were all praying.”
    The wounded were taken to a hospital in Campinas.
    Firemen at the scene said they had not identified the gunman.
    Brazil had nearly 64,000 murders last year – more than any other country, according to the United Nations.
    However, random mass shootings are relatively rare, with few American-style shootings in schools or other public areas.
(Reporting by Tatiana Ramil and Anthony Boadle; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and Bill Trott)

12/12/2018 Francis to say first Mass by a pope on Arabian peninsula in UAE by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis arrives at Aglona Basilica in Aglona,
Latvia September 24, 2018. REUTERS/Max Rossi/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis will say the first Mass by a pontiff on the Arabian peninsula in February and visit one of its largest mosques when he travels to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
    A program for the Feb. 3-5 trip released on Wednesday showed Francis will celebrate Mass in a stadium in Zayed Sports City on the last day of the trip.
    The freedom to practice Christianity — or any religion other than Islam — is not always a given in the Gulf and varies from country to country.
    In the UAE and Kuwait, Christians may worship in churches or church compounds, and in other places with special licenses.
    Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest sites, bans the practice of other religions.
    Organizers of the trip, the first by a pope to the Arabian peninsula, said it would be the first time Mass would be held in an outdoor, public venue in the UAE.
    There are about a million Roman Catholics in the UAE, all of them expatriate workers.
    Francis, who already has made trips to about half a dozen predominantly Muslim nations, will also visit Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the largest in the country.
    There, he will hold a private meeting with the members of the Muslim Council of Elders.
    Francis has visited mosques before on his trips to predominately Muslim countries, which have included Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Bangladesh, Azerbaijan and the Palestinian territories.
    He has used those trips to call for inter-religious dialogue and to condemn violence in the name of God.
    Francis will also preside at an inter-religious meeting at the Founder’s Memorial, a complex commemorating the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founding father of the UAE.
    The theme of the visit is ‘Make Me a Channel of Your Peace’.    That is taken from the opening words of the Prayer of Peace of Francis of Assisi, the saint whose name he took when elected in 2013.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

12/13/2018 Pope cuts 2 cardinals named in abuse scandal from his cabinet
    Pope Francis has removed two cardinals implicated in the Catholic Church’s sex abuse and cover-up scandal from his informal cabinet.
    The Vatican said Wednesday that Francis in October had written to Chilean Cardinal Javier Errazuriz and Australian Cardinal George Pell thanking them for their five years of service on the so-called Group of Nine, or C-9.

12/13/2018 Australia PM promises stiffer laws against religious discrimination by Colin Packham
Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during the INPEX Gala Dinner
in Darwin, Australia November 16, 2018. David Moir/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
    SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday promised stiffer legislation against religious discrimination, and a new commissioner to act as a watchdog on freedom of religion issues.
    Morrison said his conservative government would introduce a Religious Discrimination Act next year to provide more protections than existing state laws.
    “Australia is a place where discrimination on the basis of a person’s identity — including their religious identity — is unacceptable,” his office said in a statement.
    “It is also a place where we respect the right of religious institutions to maintain their distinctive religious ethos.    Our laws should reflect these values.”    Morrison, an evangelical Christian, angered some religious groups last month when he supported removing rules that allow schools to expel gay students on religious grounds.
    The government will now refer the matter to an inquiry led by the Australian Law Reform Commission, which is set to report next year.
    The delay could help Morrison with conservative voters less than six months away from the next federal election, at which, opinion polls show, his government is on course for a landslide defeat.
    Thursday’s announcement was in response to a review of religious freedoms in Australia led by former Liberal politician Philip Ruddock.
    Conservative groups in Australia have highlighted religious freedom cases in the United States and Britain in their arguments for more protection of religious beliefs.
    They point to the case of a Colorado baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple.    The U.S. Supreme Court later ruled the baker did not breach anti-discrimination laws.
    Legal scholars said Morrison’s government could include similar provisions in the text of its proposed religious discrimination law.
    “Morrison could include exemptions to offer people of faith the ability to deny services because it contravenes their religion.    The devil will be in the detail,” said Luke Beck, a constitutional law professor at Monash University. (Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Darren Schuettler)

12/14/2018 Jesuit order to release list of priests accused of abuse by Dan Horn, Cincinnati Enquirer USA TODAY NETWORK
    CINCINNATI – St. Xavier High School, Xavier University and other Jesuit institutions in the Midwest will find out next week if they’ve employed Catholic priests accused of sexually abusing children.
    The Midwest Province of Jesuits said Wednesday it would release a list naming every priest in the order who has faced a credible accusation of abuse since 1955.    The decision to make the list public comes as the church is under increasing scrutiny from lay Catholics, abuse survivors and criminal prosecutors to resolve a problem that has plagued it for years.    “It’s a step in the spirit of transparency and reconciliation,” said Mike McGrath, a spokesman for the Midwest Jesuits.
    Jesuit churches and schools were notified this week that the list was coming out on Monday, Dec. 17.    The list will be posted on the religious order’s website at, and will include the names of the accused priests, the locations and the dates of the alleged abuse.    Officials at St. Xavier High School sent an email to employees, parents and alumni Wednesday alerting them to the upcoming release of the list.
    “The list is being released in an effort to be transparent about the past, to precipitate victims who desire assistance and make the intent to protect youth unmistakable,” the email said.    St. Xavier Principal Terry Tyrrell said school records show no credible accusations of abuse over the past 40 to 50 years.
    The list will cover more years, however, so school officials will have to wait until Monday like everyone else to find out if allegations were reported to the Jesuits, or if priests who passed through St. Xavier were accused of abusing kids elsewhere.
    “We have a zero-tolerance policy here,” Tyrrell said.
    McGrath said all of the names on the list, which covers Jesuits in all or parts of 12 states, have been reported to local law enforcement over the years.    In many cases, however, the names have not been made public.
    “This isn’t like we’ve been sitting on crimes,” McGrath said.    “We’ve been working very closely over a long period of time to make sure civil authorities were notified.”
    Two of the Jesuits’ four provinces in the United States already have released the names of accused priest.    The fourth is expected to do so later this month.

12/14/2018 German parliament approves ‘third gender’ option
FILE PHOTO: A rainbow flag is seen during the annual Gay Pride parade, also called
Christopher Street Day parade (CSD), in Berlin, Germany July 22, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
    BERLIN (Reuters) – The German parliament has approved a third gender option on official documents for “intersex” people who do not identify as either male or female and may be born with untypical sexual anatomy.
    The German government in August voted to introduce the third category of “various”, alongside male and female, on birth certificates and other documents.
    Both chambers of parliament have approved the new law, with the Bundesrat upper house giving its backing on Friday.
    LGBT campaigners say the measure does not go far enough.    They want new laws to make it easier for people who do not identify with the gender they were born with to change it on official documents.
    The introduction of the new category came after the Federal Constitutional Court called on lawmakers to enact legislation to either introduce a third category or dispense with gender altogether in official documents.
    The ruling followed a court appeal brought by an intersex adult and said that courts and state authorities should no longer compel intersex people to choose between identifying as male or female.
(Reporting by Joseph Nasr; editing by Andrew Roche)

12/14/2018 Priest heads to Rome after serving sentence for child abuse in Chile by Antonio De la Jara
FILE PHOTO: Irish-born Chilean priest John O'Reilly (C) of the Legionaries of Christ
leaves from a court in Santiago, October 15, 2014. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado
    (Reuters) – An Irish-born priest, who was convicted of sexually abusing a girl in his care at a religious school in Santiago but served no jail time for the offense, left Chile on Friday for Rome after serving a four-year sentence.
    Critics have long pointed to the case of the Rev. John O’Reilly as an example of leniency in a country where the Roman Catholic church has long held powerful sway in politics and society.
    A judge in 2014 sentenced O’Reilly, a leader of the Legionaries of Christ religious order, to four years of “supervised liberty” for abusing a preteen girl at the private Colegio Cumbres in the affluent neighborhood of Las Condes between 2007 and 2009.
    O’Reilly completed his sentence on Dec. 10, according to a statement issued by the Legionaries of Christ on Friday, and Chilean courts subsequently expelled him from the country.
    He boarded a flight on Friday in Santiago bound for Rome, where he will await a formal canonical sentence from the Legionaries of Christ, the statement said.
    O’Reilly could not be immediately reached for comment.
    The priest’s release comes as a growing sex abuse grips the Catholic Church in Chile.    Chilean prosecutors this year have investigated hundreds of cases of alleged abuse and cover-up by clergy.    In May, all of the country’s 34 bishops offered their resignation to the pope.
    O’Reilly’s sentence has been criticized as lenient.    During his sentence, he was not confined at home nor required to periodically check in with a parole officer, and was free to travel out of the country.
    Prosecutors had requested he be sent to prison for 10 years.
    The founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Mexican Rev. Marcial Maciel, was found by a Vatican investigation to be a fraud and pedophile who had fathered several children.
(Reporting by Antonio De la Jara; writing by Dave Sherwood; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

12/17/2018 States consult Pa. on clergy abuse - State AG: ‘More horrors’ will likely come to light by Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – Law enforcement officials from up to 45 states have sought assistance from Pennsylvania authorities in pursuit of alleged misconduct by Catholic priests and related efforts to conceal that abuse by the church, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said.
    Shapiro, in an interview with USA TODAY, said the surge of outside inquiries has come just in the past four months since a landmark state grand jury investigation found that more than 300 “predator” priests had abused at least 1,000 victims across six decades.
    Since August, the attorney general said, Pennsylvania authorities have joined forces with their counterparts across the country, helping them craft search warrant applications and grand jury subpoenas.
    Fourteen state attorneys general so far have publicly acknowledged that they have launched separate clergy abuse inquiries, while the U.S. Justice Department is in the midst of a broader review disclosed in October by church officials who had received demands for documents.    At the same time, Shapiro said, 1,450 calls have poured into a Pennsylvania hotline, with many of the contacts providing information not previously known to state investigators during its two-year inquiry.
    “We are learning a lot of new information that we and other law enforcement agencies are investigating,” Shapiro said.    “Law enforcement, in many ways, is just getting started.    I think we’re probably in the third or fourth inning, meaning that we still have a good ways to go and a lot more horrors to unearth.”
    The horrors exhumed by the Pennsylvania grand jury, detailing abuses across six dioceses, sent tremors through the American Catholic church reaching to the Vatican.    Perhaps not since the Boston Globe revealed the extent of similar abuses within the Catholic Church in Massachusetts in 2002, has misconduct by priests and efforts to conceal it been outlined in such detail.
    While stunning in scope, the Pennsylvania grand jury report landed as a wave of abuse allegations also washed over the Catholic Church in Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Guam and the District of Columbia.
    In Texas, state and local authorities last month launched a dramatic raid on the offices of the sprawling Houston-area archdiocese seeking information about a local priest linked to abuse allegations.
    The action drew national attention beyond the extraordinary law enforcement move, because the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese is headed by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, who also serves as the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
    The conference had been poised to take action on the abuse scandal last month in Baltimore at its annual conference, but the Vatican intervened, effectively delaying any announcement until early next year.
    Shapiro said his office had been in contact with the Texas district attorney who oversaw the Houston raid.    The attorney general, however, did not elaborate on the discussions, nor would he discuss his contacts with federal law enforcement officials.
    A primary impediment to the ongoing state reviews is that much of the abuse now being discovered occurred so long ago that existing time restrictions on charging such crimes have either expired or the suspect priests have died.
    Indeed, only two of the 300 priests identified in the Pennsylvania grand jury report involved abuse allegations that occurred within statute of limitations restrictions.
    “None of those who enabled the cover-up could be charged under our laws,” Shapiro said.
    He said it’s too early to know whether any of the new information pouring into the attorney general’s office could result in criminal charges.
    “There is a lot that is of interest to us; there is a lot that is of interest to law enforcement in other jurisdictions,” Shapiro said.    “It is too soon to say what could be actionable or not.”
    The effort to pursue the new allegations also is likely to be difficult, Shapiro said.
    The church “fought us every step of the way,” Shapiro said.    “Every opportunity they had to do the right thing, they did the opposite.”
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said, “Law enforcement, in many ways, is just getting started,”
as other states investigate abuse by clergy. TY LOHR/YORK DAILY RECORD

12/18/2018 Some Americans are denied ‘lifesaving’ health care - Because they identify as transgender by Kristin Lam, USA TODAY
    LOS ANGELES – Grayson Russo desperately needs a surgery similar to a double mastectomy.
    Although someone with a breast tumor is able to promptly schedule such a surgery, Russo fought more than three years simply for approval.
    That’s because Russo experiences gender dysphoria, a discomfort or distress caused by a discrepancy between a person’s gender identity and sex assigned at birth.    Their exhausting battle is not atypical for transgender people, who account for about 1.4 million American adults, according to a 2016 report by a UCLA think tank, and that’s despite organizations such as the     American Medical Association recognizing treatment for gender dysphoria as medically necessary.
    From routine check-ups and emergency room visits to medical and mental health services for gender dysphoria, transgender people face barriers to accessing health care.    Experts and transgender folks tell USA TODAY about doctors denying services, express the need for comprehensive training among medical professionals and share stories of traveling great distances for competent care.
    After years of refusals, Russo almost gave up.    The stress of repeatedly contacting insurance, after changing it and doctors, led to heart palpitations and triggered panic attacks.
    “It messes up your life when there’s this thing about your body that isn’t your body,” Russo says.    “It’s hard to get intimate.    It’s hard to shower, to sleep.”
    Russo, 23, of Agoura Hills near Los Angeles, did not get approval for their top surgery until November.    A transgender non-binary person, someone who is not male or female, they still have to wait about six months for the procedure.
    A section of the Affordable Care Act, the Health Care Rights Law, prohibits most insurance companies – including those with federal funding – from refusing to cover a health care service because a patient is transgender.    Those companies also cannot have explicit or automatic exclusions for services related to gender transition, which can include hormone therapy and gender affirming surgeries, such as top surgery.
    Yet the National Center for Transgender Equality still hears about discrimination cases like Russo’s, says Harper Jean Tobin, who heads policy at the organization.
    A leaked Department of Human and Health Services internal memo reported in October by The New York Times threatens to roll back progress in strengthening transgender rights made in the past 10 to 20 years.
    By reportedly redefining sex as “male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth,” advocates say it erases not only the transgender community, but intersex people, too.
    Composing 1.7 percent of the global population, intersex people are born with a range of biological sex characteristics that may not fit typical notions of female or male bodies.    The intersex community often faces similar discrimination in health care – involving issues of autonomy and consent – as transgender people do, says Kimberly Zieselman, who heads interACT, an advocacy organization for intersex youth.
    The memo’s proposal that “reliable genetic testing” could rebut the sex listed on someone’s birth certificate does not work for intersex people, Zieselman says.     Although many steps would need to happen to turn the memo into concrete policy and potentially reverse decades of precedent, Tobin says the memo is consistent with the Trump administration’s other moves to undermine transgender rights – including President Donald Trump’s transgender military ban, announced in July 2017, and the Justice Department’s directive in October 2017 that transgender people are not protected from workplace discrimination. ‘Life-saving procedures’
    Every six months, Russo goes for check-ups at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Center for Transyouth Health and Development, a multidisciplinary service center for transgender, gender nonconforming and nonbinary people between ages 3 and 25.
    The center’s medical director, Dr. Johanna Olson-Kennedy, says treatment for gender dysphoria faces different levels of scrutiny because personal feelings about gender interfere, leading some to perceive transition-related care as a choice instead of medically necessary.    Not many clinicians, she contends, have personal feelings about thyroid issues or heart conditions.
    “These are life-saving procedures and to deny somebody a life-saving procedure is malpractice,” Olson-Kennedy says.    “And it’s incredibly problematic to put your own feelings and needs and opinions above the needs of the patient.”
    By the time patients come to the program, which sees 1,200 active patients, she says the medical community has often invalidated them.    The center provides medical services including puberty blockers and gender affirming hormones, as well as advocacy and mental health services, support groups for parents and youth, surgery referrals, and education for schools and workplace events.
    It’s unclear whether the leaked HHS memo will become federal policy – but it’s mere existence concerns health care providers, who have fought for progress, and transgender people who are now even more concerned for their health and safety.
    Even if the memo never becomes law, Olson-Kennedy says it sends the message that it is acceptable to disregard, eradicate and even harm people in the trans community.    That, she says, could lead to increased violence, harassment and discrimination.
    “Trans people, people experiencing gender dysphoria, they have a war to wage anyway in their just daily existence,” Olson-Kennedy says.    “It is completely outrageous to add another level of that battle that is coming from the people running the country.    It’s abhorrent.”     “These are lifesaving procedures, and to deny somebody a lifesaving procedure is malpractice.” Johanna Olson-Kennedy, Director of the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Center for Transyouth Health and Development.
Grayson Russo, 23, of Agoura Hills, Calif., went through a three-year battle
against doctors and insurance providers. SANDY HOOPER/USA TODAY
[The "Scarlot Woman" will have a lot of souls to dragged down to hell with her in the future.].

12/18/2018 Catholic Church’s Midwest Jesuit province names 65 priests accused of child assault by OAN Newsroom
    A new wave of names are shocking the nation as the Roman Catholic Church reveals which of its priests are credibly accused of pedophilia.
    The massive Midwest Jesuit province is the latest region to add to a growing list of identified potentially predatory spiritual leaders.    Jesuit officials apologized for their lack of action in a statement Monday, which was followed by a link to the 65 names dating back to 1950.
    Names were split into three sections.    The first, priests who were alive while the church investigated a claim of abuse of a minor or multiple claims made after their death.    The second category names deceased Jesuits who faced a single assault allegation, and the final category names clergymen cited in legal, civil or financial court proceedings.
    The Chicago-based province of the Society of Jesus encompasses 11 states, and spans from Wyoming as far east into Ohio and Kentucky.
    Its comprehensive account isn’t exclusive to those leading in churches, it also includes individuals placed within Jesuit institutions.    Those organizations include 190 colleges and 380 grade schools around the U.S.
(AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)
    The president of the all boys Saint Xavier High School in Cincinnati, Ohio — Tim Reilly — believes the list will benefit the survivors of sexual abuse.
    “The list will allow people to see…you know if there was somebody out there who was abused, they’d say ‘yep, I guess they know about this guy, it’s not on my shoulders anymore’ — I think there’s also that burden if you were abused, ‘was someone else also abused because I didn’t say anything?’ You know, they shouldn’t feel responsible for that, so I think it’ll give some peace to people who were abused,” Reilly explained.
    The announcement follows other recent Jesuit provinces coming out with their own lists in an apparent effort toward public transparency.
    The Midwest province said it will continue updating its list on an as needed basis.    Meanwhile, Jesuit officials said they’ve hired a third party group to investigate any new child sexual assault claims brought to their attention.

12/18/2018 Catholic bishops told to act on sex abuse or lose all credibility by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis celebrates a special mass for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, December 12, 2018. REUTERS/Max Rossi - RC11EC66C6A0/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The Roman Catholic Church’s leading experts on sexual abuse told bishops on Tuesday finally to take responsibility for a global clerical abuse scandal and go and speak personally to victims, or risk seeing the Church lose its credibility worldwide.
    Pope Francis has summoned the heads of some 110 national Catholic bishops’ conferences and dozens of experts and leaders of religious orders to the Vatican on Feb. 21-24 for an extraordinary gathering dedicated to the sexual abuse crisis.
    Victims of clergy sexual abuse are hoping that the meeting will finally come up with a clear policy to make bishops themselves accountable for the mishandling of abuse cases.
    “Absent a comprehensive and communal response, not only will we fail to bring healing to victim survivors, but the very credibility of the Church to carry on the mission of Christ will be in jeopardy throughout the world,” the conference’s steering committee said in a letter to all participants.
    “But each of us needs to own this challenge, coming together in solidarity, humility, and penitence to repair the damage done, sharing a common commitment to transparency, and holding everyone in the Church accountable,” said the letter, which was released by the Vatican.
    The committee is made up of Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, the Vatican’s leading sex abuse investigator, and Father Hans Zollner, an abuse expert based in Rome.
    “The first step must be acknowledging the truth of what has happened,” they said.
    Each bishop was asked to visit survivors of clergy sex abuse in their area to learn first-hand the suffering that they have endured.
    “This is a concrete way of putting victims first, and acknowledging the horror of what happened,” said Vatican spokesman Greg Burke, adding that the February gathering would focus on responsibility, accountability and transparency.
    Last month, when U.S. bishops held their annual assembly in Baltimore, the Vatican asked them to wait until the February meeting before voting on a series of corrective measures.
    The proposals included a telephone hotline to report accusations of mishandling of cases of abuse by bishops, a review board made up of non-clerics to handle accusations against bishops, and a bishops’ code of conduct.
    Victims’ groups and some bishops saw the Vatican intervention as a setback.    But the Vatican said it wanted to see if some of the U.S. proposals could be applied worldwide, not just in the United States.
    The Church is also facing sexual abuse scandals in Chile, Australia and Germany.
    In September, a study commissioned by the German Bishops’ Conference showed that 1,670 clerics and priests had sexually abused 3,677 minors, mostly males, in Germany over a 70-year period.
    A U.S. Grand Jury report in August found that 301 priests in the state of Pennsylvania had sexually abused minors over a similar period.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Gareth Jones)

12/19/2018 Colo. baker faces more legal action over cake for transgender celebration by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this Monday, June 4, 2018, file photograph, baker Jack Phillips,
owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, manages his shop. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
    A Colorado baker is, once again, facing legal action for refusing to make a cake — this time for a transgender celebration.
    Lawyers for Jack Phillip argued the case should be dismissed Tuesday.    They are claiming it is “an obvious setup.”
    The Colorado Civil Rights Commission has accused Phillips of discriminating against transgender attorney Autumn Scardina, who asked for a cake symbolizing her transition to female.
    This comes after Phillips was accused by the same commission in 2012 of refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding.
    While the Supreme Court ruled in his favor in June, a District Court judge decided to let the new case go forward.    The next hearing is scheduled for February.
[Satan and the ACLU hate it when a Christian defeats their anti-christian policies and the Scarlet Woman controls them to attack again.    May God be on you side Phillips, and this time get a lot of money from all who attacked you.].

12/19/2018 Los Angeles bishop resigns over sex abuse as crisis spreads by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Protesters hold signs outside the venue of the United States Conference of
Catholic Bishops (USCCB) general assembly in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., November 12, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis accepted the resignation of a bishop in Los Angeles accused of sexually abusing a minor, the Vatican said on Wednesday, in the latest case of clergy misconduct to shake the U.S. Catholic Church.
    A brief Vatican statement said Alexander Salazar, 69, an assistant bishop in Los Angeles, was stepping down.    It also distributed a letter on the Salazar case written by the current Archbishop of Los Angeles, Jose Gomez.     The U.S. Catholic Church is still reeling from a U.S. grand jury report that found that 301 priests in the state of Pennsylvania had sexually abused minors over a 70-year period.
    There will be a major meeting at the Vatican in February on the global sex abuse crisis.
    Gomez’s letter to the faithful said that in 2005, a year after Salazar became bishop, the archdiocese had become aware of an accusation that Salazar had engaged in “misconduct with a minor” when he was a priest in a parish in the 1990s.
    Police investigated but the Los Angeles district attorney did not prosecute, Gomez’s letter said, adding that Salazar, a native of Costa Rica, “has consistently denied any wrongdoing.”
    The archdiocese’s independent Clergy Misconduct Review Board found the allegation “credible” and informed the Vatican.
    The archbishop’s letter did not explain why the process between the initial accusation and Wednesday’s resignation took 13 years.
    A statement from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles said Salazar’s name resurfaced after Gomez became archbishop in 2011, and ordered a review of past allegations of abuse.
    The archdiocese’s statement disclosed that Gomez’s predecessor, Cardinal Roger Mahoney, sent the case to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), which investigates abuse cases.
    The CDF “permitted Bishop Salazar to remain in ministry subject to certain precautionary conditions, which he has respected.”    The statement did not elaborate on what the conditions were or why he was allowed to return to ministry.
    Benedict XVI was pope between 2005 and his resignation in 2013.
    Pope Francis has summoned the heads of some 110 national Catholic bishops’ conferences and dozens of experts and leaders of religious orders to the Vatican on Feb. 21-24 for an extraordinary gathering dedicated to the sexual abuse crisis.
    Victims of clergy sexual abuse are hoping that the meeting will finally come up with a clear policy to make bishops themselves accountable for the mishandling of abuse cases.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

12/19/2018 Cuba panel closes door on gay marriage constitutional amendment by Sarah Marsh
FILE PHOTO: An activist supporting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community (LGBT - top),
shows a sticker to a printer that reads in Spanish: "All rights for all the families - Constitutional Reform - Cuba 2018,"
in Havana, Cuba, October 9, 2018. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
    HAVANA (Reuters) – The commission in charge of writing Communist-run Cuba’s new constitution has revised an original draft to remove the concept of marriage altogether after originally amending it to open the doorway to same-sex unions.
    The first draft of the new constitution, that was unveiled in July, included Article 68 redefining matrimony as gender neutral rather than between a man and a woman, a project promoted by the daughter of Communist Party head Raul Castro.
    Controversy over that amendment in the macho country dominated a nationwide, three-month public consultation on the new constitution designed to update a Soviet-era one.
    The most vocal critics of Article 68, the evangelical churches, threatened to shoot down the entire constitutional revamp over that single issue in the referendum on the final version scheduled for early next year.
    The commission told the National Assembly on Tuesday the issue of matrimony should be addressed instead in the family code that is set to be updated shortly after the new constitution has been approved.
    The National Assembly is set to vote this week on the final version.    Then it heads to the popular referendum.
    “The commission proposes … removing the concept of matrimony from the project of the constitution as a way to respect all opinions,” the assembly wrote on its Twitter account.    “Matrimony is a social and legal institution.”
    Cuba has made great strides over the past decade on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights and many younger, urban Cubans and LGBT activists welcomed Article 68.
    A majority of Cubans nonetheless appeared to reject it and evangelical churches mobilized the discontent in an unusually strong non-governmental political campaign for Cuba, gathering signatures to petition against it and holding services in protest.
    From August to November, nearly 9 million of Cuba’s 11.2 million citizens attended more than 130,000 community-level meetings nationwide to give their feedback on the constitutional draft, state-run outlet Cubadebate wrote on Tuesday.
    The government has called the process participatory democracy at its best while opponents have branded it a fraud given that the fundamentals of Cuba’s one-party socialist system were never up for debate.     Article 68 proved to be the most polemic, with the majority of those expressing their opinion on it rejecting the amendment, Cubadebate wrote.
    The second-most debated issue was the term and age limits on the presidency, as well as the mode of election of the president.    More than 11,000 Cubans called for the direct election of the president.
    The revised draft keeps the amendments limiting presidents to only two consecutive terms and requiring them to be no older than 60 at the start of their first term, according to Cubadebate.
    The commission, headed by Castro, made a total of 760 changes to the draft constitution, from tweaking a single word to incorporating a full new article, the outlet wrote.    The final version has 219 articles, five more than the original one.
(Reporting by Sarah Marsh; editing by Grant McCool and James Dalgleish)

12/20/2018 Ill. Attorney General: Catholic Church failed to report at least 500 cases of clergy sexual abuse by OAN Newsroom
    A shocking new report has revealed that the Catholic Church in Illinois has failed to report hundreds of clergy members accused of sexual abuse.
    Attorney General Lisa Madigan publicized her findings Wednesday, saying the public was never informed about allegations made against at least 500 priests and clergy members.    Madigan began her investigation in August, following a bomb shell grand jury report which claimed at least 1,000 children had been sexually abused by priests in Pennsylvania.
    “It really makes you question what is the leadership going?    How could they let this go on?    How could they not investigate it?” — Lisa Madigan, Attorney General -Illinois
FILE – In this Nov. 18, 2014, file photo, Archbishop Blase Cupich acknowledges
after the retiring Cardinal Francis George presents the crozier the during his Installation Mass
at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, Pool, File)
    The attorney general said the claims date back decades, and many were not investigated or reported because the person who was accused either died or had already resigned when the allegation was made.
    These findings are now spurring on an in depth investigation, with Madigan now claiming the church has proven it “can not police itself.”
    “What we have found repeatedly is that the Church prioritizes the clergy and the preservation of their assets — they’re not prioritizing the survivors,” she stated.
    The archbishop of Chicago has since responded to the report by saying he regrets the church’s failures to address these allegations.    This topic will surely be a subject of discussion when U.S. bishops gather for a spiritual retreat outside of Chicago in January.

12/21/2018 Pope urges predator priests to turn themselves in by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis leads a special audience with members of a volunteers
association at the Vatican November 30, 2018. REUTERS/Max Rossi/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis on Friday urged predator priests who have sexually abused minors to turn themselves in, making one of his strongest comments ever on the crisis sweeping the Roman Catholic Church.
    While it was not immediately clear if Francis was saying such priests should surrender to the Church judicial system, civil justice, or both, Vatican sources believed it was the first time the pope had made such a direct appeal.
    “To those who abuse minors I would say this: convert and hand yourself over to human justice, and prepare for divine justice,” Francis said in his Christmas address to the Curia, the Vatican’s central administration.
    He spoke two months before a summit on the sexual abuse crisis that will be attended by the heads of some 110 national Catholic bishops’ conferences and dozens of experts and leaders of religious orders in the Vatican.
    Francis has previously used the Christmas address to denounce cases of corruption and mismanagement in the Curia.    This time, he concentrated on the global sexual abuse crisis.
    “Let it be clear that, faced with these abominations, the Church will spare no effort to do all that is necessary to bring to justice whoever has committed such crimes.    The Church will never seek to hush up or not take seriously any case,” he said.
    When the pope has made similar promises of zero tolerance in the past, victim groups have scoffed, saying the Church has to come up with a clear policy to make bishops themselves accountable for the mishandling of abuse cases.
    Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of, a group that tracks abuse cases worldwide, said the pope’s words on their own did nothing to protect children or deter abusers and the Church had to come up with real changes at the conference.
    “Let’s hope that he’s working now on a host of concrete systemic reforms that he plans to present soon to a horrified and grieving people,” she said.
    In his address, Francis acknowledged that the Church had made serious errors in handling the crisis in the past in the past.
    Earlier this year, Francis himself first strongly defended a bishop in Chile who had been accused of covering up abuse, only later to launch an inquiry and accept the resignation of that bishop and other prelates there.
    “It is undeniable that some in the past, out of irresponsibility, disbelief, lack of training, inexperience, or spiritual and human short-sightedness, treated many cases without the seriousness and promptness that was due,” he said, without referring to the Chilean cases.
    “That must never happen again.    This is the choice and the decision of the whole Church.”
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Andrew Heavens)

12/21/2018 Former PA. pediatrician pleads guilty to molesting more than 30 patients by OAN Newsroom
    A former pediatrician in Pennsylvania admits to sexually assaulting more-than 30 child patients.
    During a hearing on Thursday, 71-year-old Johnnie Barto admitted to sexually abusing over two dozen boys and girls as young as two weeks old.
    Prosecutors say the abuse dates back to the 1980’s when Barto was charged with sexually assaulting a 4-year-old girl, and another patients during office visits.    However, the case was thrown-out, and Barto was allowed to keep his medical license after state regulators cited a lack of evidence.
    He was arrested on similar charges in 2017, after a 12-year-old girl came forward with groping accusations, which she said took place during an exam.
    Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, speaking about Barto’s abuse of children, said he “used his power and authority as a pediatrician to abuse them [children] in those instances, to feed his own sick desires.”
    Suspecting there could be more possible victims, the state’s attorney general’s office decided to open up an investigation, and found 30 additional minors had been abused by the doctor.
    In addition to sexually abusing his patients, the 71-year-old also pleaded guilty to molesting two of his family members.
    Barto will appear back in court for sentencing in March.

12/22/2018 Pope gives Rome homeless Christmas gift of new clinic in Vatican
Pope Francis leads a special audience to deliver a Christmas message to
Vatican workers in Paul VI hall at the Vatican December 21, 2018. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis has given the homeless a Christmas gift of a new clinic in St. Peter’s Square where they can get free medical help, the Vatican said on Saturday, announcing his latest move to help Rome’s destitute.
    The Rome Catholic charity Caritas estimated late last year that there are more than 16,000 homeless in Rome and their number congregating near the Vatican has grown visibly in recent years, especially at night when they cluster under arcades to sleep.
    The new clinic with three visiting rooms will be open three days a week and will be staffed by volunteer doctors from the Vatican medical services and Rome hospitals.
    Foot specialists will be available once a week. Charities say homeless people suffer particularly from foot ailments because they rarely remove their socks and shoes, and also wear ill-fitting shoes, causing ailments such as fungal infections, blisters and calluses.
    The new clinic replaces an older temporary one nearby, also set up by the 82-year-old Francis.    He has also opened facilities where the homeless can bathe and get haircuts.
    When it is not serving the homeless, the new clinic, built on the premises of the old Vatican post office, will serve as a first aid station for pilgrims and tourists.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by David Holmes)

12/23/2018 Cuban lawmakers approve new constitution which heads to referendum by Sarah Marsh and Nelson Acosta
Cuba's former President Raul Castro (C-L) talks to his grandson and bodyguard
Raul Rodriguez Castro during a session of the National Assembly in Havana, Cuba, December 21, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer
    HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuban lawmakers on Saturday unanimously approved a revised draft of a new constitution that retains the island’s one-party socialist system but reflects its socio-economic opening since the fall of the Soviet Union.
    The draft new constitution, which has 229 articles and will replace a Cold War era one, will maintain the Communist Party as the country’s guiding force and the state’s dominance of the economy, according to state-run media.    A copy has not yet been distributed to the public.
    The document, however also, legitimizes private business that has blossomed over the last decade, acknowledges the importance of foreign investment and opens the door to gay marriage, according to state-run media.
    It imposes age and term limits on the presidency, after late revolutionary leader Fidel Castro and his younger brother Raul Castro ruled the country for nearly six decades, and introduces the role of a prime minister.
    The current draft incorporates into an original one published in July hundreds of mainly small changes proposed by citizens during a three-month public consultation at community meetings nationwide.    It will go to a referendum next Feb. 24.
    “This process is a genuine and exceptional demonstration of the practice of power by the people and therefore of the markedly participative and democratic nature of our political system,” President Miguel Diaz-Canel told the national assembly in a speech closing its week-long, twice-yearly session.
    The 58-year-old took office from his mentor Raul Castro in April although the latter remains head of the Communist Party until 2021.
    Critics say the fundamentals of Cuba’s system were never up for discussion and the government only included suggestions it wanted to.
    Some, including opposition groups that typically do not mobilize many people, are already campaigning against the constitution online using the hashtag #yovotono (“I vote no”).
    One of the articles revised regards the accumulation of property.    Whereas the first draft originally banned this, the revised constitution simply stipulates that the state must regulate it, according to state-run media.
    However the latest draft also reinserts the aim of “advancing toward communism” that was taken out of the first draft.
    One controversial revision is the elimination of an article that recognized matrimony as the union of two persons as opposed to the union between a man and a woman as in the 1976 constitution.
    That article was the one that sparked the most controversy in a society that has made great strides in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in recent years but remains conservative on the topic.
    The new draft removes the definition of marriage altogether thus still opening the door to same-sex union albeit not giving it the same symbolic level of backing.
    The government has said instead it will update the family code and put it to a referendum in the next two years.
    “There is no setback,” wrote Mariela Castro, the daughter of Raul Castro, who has championed LGBT rights in Cuba in recent years, on Facebook.
    “The fight continues, let’s give a ‘yes’ to the constitution and then close ranks to achieve a family code as advanced as the new constitutional text.”
    She asked for permission to briefly interrupt the assembly meet on Saturday to hug her father in an unusual public display of affection within the Castro family, thanking him for his example “as a parent and as a revolutionary,” sparking applause.
    Still, the decision to put the family code to a referendum has angered Cuban intellectuals who say fundamental human rights should not be put up for vote.    Other laws have not been put to a referendum.
    “Equal rights to marriage in Cuba should be a presidential decree, not a referendum that exonerates the state from responsibility and opens the door to conservative homophobia,” said Harold Cardenas, a professor of Marxism and blogger.
(Reporting by Sarah Marsh, Nelson Acosta and Marc Frank in Havana; Editing by James Dalgleish and Alistair Bell)

12/24/2018 Remember the poor and shun materialism, pope says on Christmas Eve by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis leads the Christmas Eve mass in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, December 24, 2018. REUTERS/Max Rossi
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis led the world’s Roman Catholics into Christmas on Monday, urging people in the developed world to seek a simpler, less materialistic life and condemning the yawning gap between the rich and the poor.
    Francis, 82, marking the sixth Christmas of his papacy, led a solemn service for nearly 10,000 people in St. Peter’s Basilica for his traditional Christmas Eve Mass.
    Security has been tight around the Vatican and many other tourist areas in Rome for the Christmas season.
    Last week police in southern Italy arrested a Somali man suspected of having been a member of Islamic State and who had threatened to bomb churches in Italy, including St. Peter’s.
    In his homily, Francis said the infant Jesus, born in poverty in a stable, should make everyone, particularly those who have become “greedy and voracious,” reflect on the real meaning of life.
    “… Let us ask ourselves: Do I really need all these material objects and complicated recipes for living?    Can I manage without all these unnecessary extras and live a life of greater simplicity?” Francis said.
    “In our day, for many people, life’s meaning is found in possessing, in having an excess of material objects.    An insatiable greed marks all human history, even today, when, paradoxically, a few dine luxuriantly while all too many go without the daily bread needed to survive,” he said.
    Francis, the first pope from Latin America, has made defending the poor a hallmark of his papacy.
    On Saturday, the Vatican said he had given the homeless in Rome a Christmas gift of a new clinic in St. Peter’s Square where they can get free medical help.
    The Catholic charity Caritas estimated late last year that there are more than 16,000 homeless in Rome and their number congregating near the Vatican has grown visibly in recent years, especially at night when they cluster under arcades to sleep.
    Monday night’s Christmas Eve papal Mass was the first held with a new, energy-saving lighting system for the largest church in Christendom.    It employs 100,000 LEDs (light emitting diodes), using only 10 percent of the energy of the previous system.
    On Christmas Day on Tuesday, Francis will deliver his twice-yearly “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, the same balcony where he first appeared after his election on March 13, 2013.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

12/25/2018 Crisis of faith: Tibetan Catholics face modernity in China village by Joyce Zhou and Christian Shepherd
A Tibetan Catholic carries a cross as he walks with the funeral cortege
on Christmas Eve in Niuren village, Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan province, China
December 24, 2018. Picture taken December 24, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
    CIZHONG, China (Reuters) – Ruanna, a 77-year-old Tibetan woman living in a remote Chinese village overlooking the Mekong river, says her Catholic faith has never been in doubt.
    “Since birth, I have attended church and read holy scriptures in Tibetan,” Ruanna said in her home of Cizhong, where Christmas celebrations are on par with Lunar New Year festivities.
    Despite the devotion of older Catholics, church leaders and some parents say it is less so among younger villagers.
    “There is a real crisis of faith at this time.    Basically no young people are joining,” Yao Fei, the village priest, told Reuters.    “It’s something that makes me really anxious.”
    Cizhong – a six-hour drive from the tourist magnet of Shangri-la in Yunnan province – has been predominately Catholic since the 19th century when French missionaries built a church and converted Tibetan Buddhist residents.
    Yao, a Beijing-trained priest sent to Cizhong in 2008, said he had hoped to set up classes to spark interest in the Bible and Jesus.    But he found a younger generation more interested in smartphones and playing video games.     Yao said his plans were also stymied by government restrictions on religious teaching for children, as well as regular checks by officials on church activities.
    “The government also has some restrictions, not allowing us to preach to young people… because they never approve of the church growing,” Yao said.
    China’s constitution guarantees religious freedom, but since President Xi Jinping took office six years ago, authorities have heightened government control of religion and demanded loyalty to the Communist Party.
    Residents of Cizhong have for centuries blended their Tibetan, Chinese and Catholic identities.
    The decorations in Ruanna’s living room are a patchwork of icons, from crosses and images of Jesus to traditional Tibetan scarves and pictures of Xi.
    Around 200 mostly elderly villagers gathered for Christmas morning mass on Tuesday, followed by a cream birthday cake for Jesus and rounds of Tibetan dancing.    It was a lower turnout than in previous years, villagers said.
    Catholic traditions in the village are being eroded by politics and economic development, some villagers and Yao said.
    Outside Cizhong’s Catholic church, a red banner urges people to “listen to what the party says, be grateful for the party’s kindness, and follow the party.”
    “Families are encouraged to have at least one member to join the Communist Party,” said Tibetan hotel owner Hong Xing, a Catholic.    “The party member in family has the responsibility to supervise and educate others.”
    Government investment in hydropower dams on the nearby Mekong river and housing blocks for out-of-town workers have also disrupted the rhythms of local life, Yao said.
    “The living standards of villagers have been getting higher in recent years, (but) they are starting to be less devout,” Yao said.
    “There are more villagers who don’t want to come to prayers or to church.    They want to live it up at home,” he said.
(Reporting by Joyce Zhou and Christian Shepherd; editing by Darren Schuettler)

12/25/2018 See differences as asset, not danger, pope says in Christmas message by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis waves as he arrives to deliver the "Urbi et Orbi" message from the
main balcony of Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, December 25, 2018. REUTERS/Max Rossi
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis, in his Christmas message to the world, urged people on Tuesday to see differences as a source of richness instead of danger and called for reconciliation in places torn apart by conflict.
    Francis delivered the traditional papal “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message to tens of thousands of people in a sunny St. Peter’s Square from the same basilica balcony where he first appeared as pontiff shortly after his election on March 13, 2013.
    Security has been tight around the Vatican for the Christmas season, with military jeeps stationed at key access routes and tourists undergoing metal detector and bag searches.
    Last week police in southern Italy arrested a Somali man suspected of having been a member of Islamic State and who had threatened to bomb churches in Italy, including St. Peter’s.
    In his address, in what appeared to be a reference to the shrill political climate in a number of countries, Francis called for “fraternity among people with different ideas, yet capable of respecting and listening to one another.”
    Francis, the first pope from Latin America, alluded to polarization over migration, saying God wanted “love, acceptance, respect for this poor humanity of ours, which we all share in a great variety of races, languages, and cultures.”
    “Our differences, then, are not a detriment or a danger; they are a source of richness,” he said.
    Francis, 82, called for the resumption of dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians to “undertake a journey of peace that can put an end to a conflict that for over 70 years has lacerated the land chosen by the Lord to show his face of love.”
    He urged the international community to work for a political solution in Syria and said he hoped a truce brokered in Yemen’s civil war could bring relief to a population exhausted by violence and famine.
    The Argentinian-born pope also called for social harmony in Nicaragua and Venezuela, both racked by internal political conflicts.
    The millions of refugees or displaced people in Africa who are in need of humanitarian assistance and food security should not be forgotten, he said.
    In Ukraine, he called for “a peace respectful of the rights of every nation.”    Ukraine’s relations with Russia have been locked in a downward spiral since Moscow annexed Crimea 2014 and backed pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Gareth Jones)

12/27/2018 LGBT parents challenge stereotypes in China by Sue-Lin Wong and Jason Lee
A girl looks at An Hui (L) and his partner Ye Jianbin walking with their sons, An Zhizhong, An Zhiya and An Zhifei
at a residential community in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China September 17, 2018.
The triplets were conceived with the help of a German egg donor. REUTERS/Jason Lee
    SHENZHEN, China (Reuters) – Heads turn when An Hui and Ye Jianbin walk down a street in the Chinese city of Shenzhen with their triplets, who were conceived with help from a human egg donor and a surrogate mother.
    People are mostly curious about their unconventional family, said An, adding that it was not always the case in China where gay couples have long battled conservative Confucian values.
    “I’m lucky because I was born in China during a period of rapid change.    Today’s society is far more tolerant,” the investment manager told Reuters at his office in Shenzhen’s financial district.
    “If I had been born during the Cultural Revolution, I would be dead,” said An, 33, who met his partner Ye in 2008.
    The two men wanted a family and began exploring the option of in vitro fertilization (IVF), with help from a human egg donor and a surrogate mother.
    In 2014, a Thai woman gave birth in Hong Kong to three boys – An Zhizhong, An Zhiya and An Zhifei – who were conceived using human eggs provided by a German fashion model, according to An.
    He declined to identify the women or the surrogacy company that organized the procedures.
(To see a picture essay click on
    The issue of lesbian and gay couples having access to medically-assisted reproductive treatments such as IVF has stirred political debate in several countries, including more recently in France and Israel.
    China’s government has not stated a clear position on the country’s LGBT community, Yanzi Peng, Director of LGBT Rights Advocacy China, a group based in Guangzhou.
    “The best word to describe the attitude of the Chinese government is ‘ignore’,” said Peng.
    “It’s hard to gauge their exact attitude.    They don’t outright object to the LGBT community because that would really go against international attitudes on this issue,” Peng added.
    Other advocates for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community say China should relax laws that limit childbearing to heterosexual couples.
    “Homosexual couples have no way to legally use reproductive technology.    Many people must go abroad to pay an extremely high fee to have children,” said Bin Xu, director of Beijing-based rights group LGBTI+.
    After decades of Communist prudery about sex of all kinds, LGBT Chinese have in recent years been openly tackling bureaucracy, legal uncertainty and entrenched social norms to assert their place in society.
    While large Chinese cities have thriving gay scenes and same sex relations are not illegal, the government has shown no interest in legalizing same sex marriage, and launches periodic crackdowns on gay content online or elsewhere.
    An Hui, who is a member of the ruling Communist Party, said its time to rethink traditional views of family and marriage as China grapples with an aging population and declining birth rate.
    China moved in 2016 to allow couples to have a second child, relaxing curbs dating back nearly four decades.    State media said this year the government was considering scrapping all limits on the number of children a family can>     “In China, lots of people say a family is a bond between a man and a woman, but that’s not necessarily the case,” An said.
    “If a single man has children, a single woman has children, two men have children or two women have children, then for these people they have a family,” he said.    “A family needs love for it to be a family.    It has nothing to do with sexuality.”
(Reporting by Sue-Lin Wong and Jason Lee; Additional reporting by the Shenzhen newsroom; editing by Darren Schuettler)

12/28/2018 Hui Muslim poet fears for his people as Beijing ‘sinicizes’ religion in China by OAN Newsroom
    A prominent Muslim poet in China is speaking out ahead of what he fears could be a crackdown on his people.
    “Every human has dignity and a breaking point — if the persecution is too unbearable, something unpredictable could happen,” stated poet Cui Haoxin.    “As I said, there might be a disaster.”
    China has been increasing pressure on many religions since President Xi Jinping took power.    In the past year, over a million Uighur Muslims have been detained, Buddhists have been forced to pledge allegiance to the Communist Party, and churches have been shut down.
    While China’s second-largest Muslim ethnic group has yet to face persecution, there are signs the Hui may be next.    Officials ordered the demolition of the Hui’s landmark Grand Mosque, but backed down in the face of protests.
    “The fate of this great mosque is certainly tied to the fate of Islam in China, because now it seems like we have gone back to decades ago; people are not allowed to study religion or conduct religious activities,” Haoxin explained.
    The ethnic group faced severe persecution during the cultural revolution, which ended in 1976, but the group has largely supported the Communist Party since and has been spared further crackdowns — unlike the Uighur Muslims.
In this Sept. 28, 2018 photo, Muslim Chinese poet Cui Haoxin reads an Arabic prayer from a Quran in his home underneath
a tapestry in the city of Jinan in China’s eastern province of Shandong. Cui is an outspoken critic of the government’s policies
towards Muslims at home and abroad, writing poetry and tweeting about alleged abuses against Islamic traditions. (AP Photo/Sam McNeil)
    The poet has been censored and detained for speaking out.
    “Most people don’t know the truth, information is still being seriously censored,” he said.    “Some people hear what happened and they feel fear and sympathy, but they dare not express their opinions.”
    One million Muslims and Hui have been detained in reeducation camps in China as Western China remains under intense surveillance from Beijing.    The poet said this reminds him of Nazi concentration camps.
    “At the gates of concentration camps, such as Auschwitz, there were slogans that said ‘labor sets you free’ and now, reeducation camps are officially called training schools, labor training schools, technical training schools, vocational training schools — it is just too similar to the saying ‘labor sets you free,’ it is unavoidable for people to associate and compare the two,” stated Haoxin.

12/29/2018 Sen. Mike Lee Opposes EEOC nominee over alleged “anti-religious” statements by OAN Newsroom
    Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) is voicing his opposition to an appointee to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
    The lawmaker is reportedly looking to side-rail the confirmation of President Trump’s nominee Chai Feldblum.
(Evan Vucci | AP file photo Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.)
    Lee is opposing her nomination because she has a history of making controversial statements about religion, saying Feldblum “sees a conflict between religious belief and LGBT liberty, as quote a zero sum gain.”
    The senator also said he see her beliefs as “fundamentally incompatible with our nation’s long tradition of pluralism and religious freedom.”
    Even if Feldblum is confirmed, the President appointed two republicans to the panel, guaranteeing a 3-to-2 republican majority.
[The Democrat Senators have been dissing nominees because of their religious beliefs, but then what is Lee doing?    When did the religious beliefs in this country claim that we must believe in Pluralism?    That is like when did it change that "We are guilty until we prove our innocense."].

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