Friday, January 31, 2020

White House Briefing On Coronavirus | NBC News (Live Stream Recording)

Why you must stop eating cheese.

Happy Sabbath


Johnson Hails UK's 'New Beginning' as Brexit Day Arrives

Johnson Hails UK's 'New Beginning' as Brexit Day Arrives

Associated Press • Jan. 31, 2020, at 2:08 a.m.

By JILL LAWLESS, Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — Britain begins the day as a member of the European Union. Its status at the end of the day — as a proud nation that has reclaimed its sovereignty, or a diminished presence in Europe and the world — will still be up for debate.

Britain officially departs the EU at 11 p.m. local time Friday, midnight in Brussels (2300 GMT, 6 p.m. EST). The departure comes 3½ years after the country voted by a margin of 52%-48% to walk away from the club that it had joined in 1973.

It’s the first time a country has left the EU, and many in the bloc regard it as a sad day. In Brussels, European Council President Charles Michel and EU Commission leader Ursula von der Leyen are due to sketch out the EU’s first steps as a group of 27, rather than 28.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to meet in the morning with his Cabinet in the pro-Brexit town of Sunderland, in northeast England. He is scheduled to deliver a televised address to the country an hour before departure, calling Brexit “not an end but a beginning.”

According to his office, he will describe it as "a moment of real national renewal and change.”

The government hopes the moment will be marked in a dignified, nontriumphalist fashion, with red, white and blue lights illuminating government buildings and a countdown clock projected onto the prime minister’s 10 Downing St. residence.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

LDS President Nelson: church sending aid to China

Colby Walker
2 days ago

Warehouse workers load supplies as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sends aid to China in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. Respirator masks, protective googles and protective suits are being sent. Photo Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Church partners with Project HOPE to send aid to China

220,000 respirator masks, 870 pairs of protective goggles and more than 6,500 pairs of protective coveralls will be sent to the Shanghai Children’s Medical Center

SALT LAKE CITY — With the growing outbreak of coronavirus, President Russell M. Nelson announced The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will send aid to China.

In a statement from the church, they say they will be sending 220,000 respirator masks, 870 pairs of protective goggles and more than 6,500 pairs of protective coveralls all sent on 79 pallets.

Cameron Hatch, a program specialist with Latter-day Saint Charities says these supplies will replenish a dwindling supply of personal protective equipment in China.

“We are sending these supplies to the Shanghai Children’s Medical Center. The staff will use the equipment as they treat those who have this virus. When they go on break, they have to take the equipment off. When they come back, they need new equipment. So the supplies are depleting quite rapidly.
“Neighboring countries are stockpiling these items for their own needs. Hence the need for us to send supplies from the US.”

Hatch says that President Nelson requested Latter-day Saint Charities to begin looking at their global partners that were already doing work to help with the virus and see if the church could help.

He says that’s when they learned that Project HOPE was already doing work in Wuhan and when they got in touch they specifically asked for the masks, goggles and coveralls.

Interfaith Season’s Faith Fair to feature focus on missing youth in churches

Faith Fair is the premier event of the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundable’s Interfaith Season

on January 29, 2020 10:00 pm

Betty Yanowitz, originally of New York City and now living in Holladay, takes a picture of Bob Prottas, originally of Seattle, Washington, and now living in Salt Lake City, and his wife Sue Prottas, originally of Vancouver, Canada, and now living in Salt Lake City, during the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable’s “Generosity of Faith Fair” open house at the Center for Spiritual Living in South Salt Lake on Monday, Feb. 19, 2018. Sue said that she and Yanowitz are both members of the Roundtable representing the Jewish community.
Jacob Wiegand, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Faith communities in Utah are concerned about the rising generation.

“We have plenty of older members in our faith congregations, but where are the young people? They are missing,” said George Cannon, a volunteer member of the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable.

“It’s not just a problem for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it’s a problem for the Hindus, Muslims and Jews. Everybody is struggling to hold on to their youth because there are so many secular distractions.”

To address the problem, as many as 10 faith communities will come together on Wednesday, Feb. 12, for a “Faith Fair” featuring a panel discussion with youth representatives from different religions to discuss the question, “Where are the missing youth in our churches today?”

Laudato Si' five years on: a continued call for courage

Jan 28, 2020

Pope Francis greets 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, with Tomás Insua by her side, during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 17, 2019. (CNS/Reuters/Yara Nardi)

This year, "Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home" turns five years old. The systems that support life continue to collapse all around us, and the fifth birthday of Laudato Si’ has occasioned a moment of reflection for many.

Where have we come in the last five years? Where is our faith calling us now?

Five years ago, the world was stunned by its first reading of Laudato Si’. Here was a document of unimaginable beauty. Here was a sense of life, a palpable hope for the healing of creation.

I first read Laudato Si’ with friends and colleagues from all around the world, and as we read we sent messages back and forth, sharing a sense of marvel. It’s hard to remember a document that created such wonder. I once counted all the exclamation points in the encyclical and found eighteen. Eighteen!

This document has a boundless enthusiasm for life that has brought many people back to the unfailing gift of joy that our faith offers us. As Laudato Si’ says, “Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise.” (12)

Colorful wildflowers frame the peak of Byron Glacier near Girwood, Alaska, July 3, 2019. Pope Francis' 2015 encyclical "Laudato Si', on Care for Our Common Home" was widely lauded for its scope on the moral and ethical response to protecting Earth's environment for future generations. (CNS/The Compass/Sam Lucero)

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Evangelical pastor claims coronavirus is God’s ‘death angel’ to ‘purge a lot of sin’

By Lee Brown

January 29, 2020 | 12:18pm | Updated

Rick Wiles TruNews

An evangelical pastor is claiming the coronavirus is God’s “death angel” seeking justice for those “transgendering little children” and putting “filth” on TVs and movies.

Christian Pastor Rick Wiles told his TruNews web show viewers to not “get into crazy, whacked-out theories” about what he warned could be a “global pandemic” that kills “hundreds of millions of people.”

He then suggested the virus started in China because of the “godless communist government that persecutes Christians” and “forced abortions” — and said the “death angel” could have eyes on the US.

“God is about to purge a lot of sin off of this planet,” Wiles told his viewers on Monday.

“Look at the United States, look at the spiritual rebellion in this country — the hatred of God, the hatred of the Bible, the hatred of righteousness,” he raged. 

A worker in a protective suit disinfects the Chinese village of Dongxinzhuang as the country deals with the new coronavirus.

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Troubles on All Sides

Troubles on All Sides, January 29

Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger. Zephaniah 2:3.

There is no sadder spectacle than that of those who have been purchased by the blood of Christ ... turning to jest the messages graciously sent to them in the gospel, denying the divinity of Christ, and trusting to their own finite reasoning, and to arguments that have no foundation. When tested with affliction, when brought face to face with death, all these fallacies they have cherished will be melted away like frost before the sun.

How terrible it is to stand by the coffin of one who has rejected the appeals of divine mercy! How terrible to say: Here is a life lost! Here is one who might have reached the highest standard, and gained immortal life, but he surrendered his life to Satan, became ensnared by the vain philosophies of men, and was a plaything of the evil one! The Christian's hope is an anchor to the soul, both sure and steadfast, and entereth into that which is within the veil, whither Christ the forerunner is for us entered. We have an individual work to do to prepare for the great events that are before us. 

The youth should seek God more earnestly. The tempest is coming, and we must get ready for its fury by having repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord will arise to shake terribly the earth. We shall see troubles on all sides. Thousands of ships will be hurled into the depths of the sea. Navies will go down, and human lives will be sacrificed by millions. Fires will break out unexpectedly, and no human effort will be able to quench them. The palaces of earth will be swept away in the fury of the flames. Disasters by rail will become more and more frequent; confusion, collision, and death without a moment's warning will occur on the great lines of travel. The end is near, probation is closing. Oh, let us seek God while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near! The prophet says: “Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger.” 44Messages to Young People, 88-90. 

Maranatha, p.37.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

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The Counterfeit Revival

The Counterfeit Revival, January 25

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, ... having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 2 Timothy 3:1, 2, 5.

Before the final visitation of God's judgments upon the earth there will be among the people of the Lord such a revival of primitive godliness as has not been witnessed since apostolic times. The Spirit and power of God will be poured out upon His children. At that time many will separate themselves from those churches in which the love of this world has supplanted love for God and His word. Many, both of ministers and people, will gladly accept those great truths which God has caused to be proclaimed at this time to prepare a people for the Lord's second coming. The enemy of souls desires to hinder this work; and before the time for such a movement shall come, he will endeavor to prevent it by introducing a counterfeit. In those churches which he can bring under his deceptive power he will make it appear that God's special blessing is poured out; there will be manifest what is thought to be great religious interest. Multitudes will exult that God is working marvelously for them, when the work is that of another spirit. Under a religious guise, Satan will seek to extend his influence over the Christian world.

In many of the revivals which have occurred during the last half century, the same influences have been at work, to a greater or less degree, that will be manifest in the more extensive movements of the future. There is an emotional excitement, a mingling of the true with the false, that is well adapted to mislead. Yet none need be deceived. In the light of God's word it is not difficult to determine the nature of these movements. Wherever men neglect the testimony of the Bible, turning away from those plain, soul-testing truths which require self-denial and renunciation of the world, there we may be sure that God's blessing is not bestowed. And by the rule which Christ Himself has given, “Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16), it is evident that these movements are not the work of the Spirit of God.39The Great Controversy, 464, 465.

Maranatha, p.33.

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Friday, January 24, 2020

Mike Pence and Pope Francis meet in a surprisingly long first visit

Gerard O’Connell

January 24, 2020

Pope Francis greets U.S. Vice President Mike Pence during a private meeting at the Vatican Jan. 24, 2020. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence met Pope Francis in the Vatican at noon on Jan. 24, and the two spoke together in private for an hour, a surprisingly long time for an audience with someone who is not a head of state. It was their first meeting.

Pope Francis welcomed the vice president, who was raised Catholic, and then led him into the private library where he receives heads of state and distinguished guests and where he received President Trump on May 24, 2017.

“I wanted to extend the warmest greetings on behalf of President Donald Trump who so enjoyed his visit here,” Mr. Pence told Francis as they sat down.

Pope Francis then engaged in a private conversation with the vice president, with the aid of interpreters. The length of their conversation would suggest that they went into depth on some topics.

The two spoke together in private for an hour, a surprisingly long time for an audience with someone who is not a head of state.
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When they finished their private conversation, Mr. Pence presented his wife, daughter-in-law and other members of his delegation to the pope. The two leaders then exchanged gifts.

Mr. Pence gave the pope a wooden cross carved from a tree on the grounds of the vice president’s residence. Francis gave him a medallion depicting “the angel of peace,” a copy of his message for the World Day of Peace 2020, as well as copies of some of his writings, including “The Joy of the Gospel” and “Laudato Si’.

Happy Sabbath

NWO: the Vatican, the mark of the beast & upcoming second martyrdom

Thursday, January 23, 2020

church made headlines for asking older members to leave

A church made headlines for allegedly asking older members to leave. But the reality is more complicated

By Harmeet Kaur, CNN

Updated 4:09 PM ET, Wed January 22, 2020

Grove United Methodist Church in Cottage Grove, Minnesota, is temporarily closing in June with plans to relaunch later in the year. Church leaders say the move is intended to attract new members.

(CNN) It started as a local news story. An article in a Minnesota newspaper reported over the weekend that a church asked older parishioners to leave in an effort to attract younger families. As outrage and accusations of age discrimination grew, the story was picked up by more and more news outlets.

But like most stories, the reality is not so simple.

At issue is a plan to revitalize the Grove United Methodist Church in Cottage Grove, a suburb of St. Paul and one of the church's two locations.

The Cottage Grove campus is home to a small, tight-knit community, where members of the congregation lead their own sermons and sing traditional hymns.

But for more than a decade, the campus has struggled to attract new members, particularly younger people, despite Cottage Grove being one of the fastest growing cities in Minnesota. About 30 people worship there weekly and for it to survive, church leaders say things have to change.

The church is planning a relaunch
So in December, Dan Wetterstrom, the lead pastor of Grove United Methodist Church, announced that come June, the Cottage Grove location would be temporarily closing its doors. The campus would reopen later in the year, under the leadership of Jeremy Peters -- a 32-year-old pastor who had experience in developing community relationships and new worship styles.
Wetterstrom's notes from that meeting were emailed to congregants who weren't able to attend, he said, and the news was met with a lot of emotion.

Intolerance and Persecution

Intolerance and Persecution, January 23

If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also

John 15:20

Persecution in its varied forms is the development of a principle which will exist as long as Satan exists and Christianity has vital power. No man can serve God without enlisting against himself the opposition of the hosts of darkness. Evil angels will assail him, alarmed that his influence is taking the prey from their hands. Evil men, rebuked by his example, will unite with them in seeking to separate him from God by alluring temptations. When these do not succeed, then a compelling power is employed to force the conscience.

But so long as Jesus remains man's intercessor in the sanctuary above, the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit is felt by rulers and people. It still controls to some extent the laws of the land. Were it not for these laws, the condition of the world would be much worse than it now is. While many of our rulers are active agents of Satan, God also has His agents among the leading men of the nation. The enemy moves upon his servants to propose measures that would greatly impede the work of God; but statesmen who fear the Lord are influenced by holy angels to oppose such propositions with unanswerable arguments. Thus a few men will hold in check a powerful current of evil. The opposition of the enemies of truth will be restrained that the third angel's message may do its work. When the final warning shall be given, it will arrest the attention of these leading men through whom the Lord is now working, and some of them will accept it, and will stand with the people of God through the time of trouble....

“Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God....” Joel 2:23. “In the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh.” “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Acts 2:17, 21. 

The great work of the gospel is not to close with less manifestation of the power of God than marked its opening.35The Great Controversy, 610, 611.

Maranatha, p.31.

Sunday, January 19, 2020



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Police: Pennsylvania Woman Drives Into Path Of Oncoming Vehicle While Waiting For Calling From God

January 17, 2020 at 6:14 pm

WEATHERLY, Pa. (CBS/AP) — A Luzerne County woman drove into the path of an oncoming vehicle as a way to test her faith, then exhibited no concern about the people who were injured in the crash, state police said. Bail was revoked this week for Nadejda Reilly, 31, of Drums, who is charged with aggravated assault and other offenses over allegations she purposely caused the wreck on Route 93 near Weatherly on Jan. 7.

An investigator said Reilly told him she had been driving around for a few hours, waiting for a calling from God, when she decided to drive through the oncoming vehicle.

“Reilly related God took care of her by not having her injured,” wrote Trooper Bruce Balliet in an arrest affidavit. “Reilly expressed no concerns or remorse for the victims. Reilly also stated she did not care if the other people were injured because God would have taken care of them.”

Two people in the other vehicle were taken to a hospital for treatment of injuries, Balliet wrote.

The online court docket indicated her $50,000 bail was revoked Wednesday.

Her lawyer, Andrew Theyken Bench, filed a notice with the court that Reilly plans to waive her formal arraignment in Carbon County court. He declined comment on the record Friday.

Prosecutor Seth Eric Miller did not return a message seeking comment.

Strong 6.0 quake hits Indonesia's Papua

JAN 19, 2020, 1:26 AM SGT

JAKARTA (AFP) - A strong 6.0 magnitude earthquake shook Indonesia's easternmost region of Papua on Sunday (Jan 19), the United States Geological Survey said.

There was no tsunami warning accompanying the quake which struck inland 158km from the provincial capital Jayapura at a shallow depth of almost 34km, USGS said.

The South-east Asian archipelago is one of the most disaster-prone nations on Earth.

In 2018, a 7.5-magnitude quake and a subsequent tsunami in Palu on Sulawesi island left more than 4,300 people dead or missing.


Thursday, January 16, 2020

Remember when Sunday was a day of rest?


My mother was not a particularly religious woman. She was an Anglican. Her generation of Anglicans regarded religion as duty rather than a passion. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency.

My mother was not a particularly religious woman. She was an Anglican. Her generation of Anglicans regarded religion as duty rather than a passion.

I remember, though, how shocked she was when the law was changed to allow shops to open on Sundays. This was not for any religious reasons. She simply thought it was unfair to expect shop assistants to work on weekends after having worked hard all week.

“For goodness sake! Everybody deserves one day of rest every week.”

In those days, shops and banks closed at around noon on Saturday and remained closed until Monday morning.

Nobody complained. It was simply the way things were. People knew the shops would be shut on Sunday, so they bought the groceries they needed for the weekend in advance.

Banks would be closed. Remember there were no ATMs then, so if you needed money for the weekend, you cashed a cheque on Friday. No big deal.

We don’t really have weekends anymore. We slide through the week, day by similar day, with hardly a blip on the road through life. Nobody needs to plan ahead.

I sometimes think my mother may have been right about Sunday closing. We have allowed shopping to become the new religion. Instead of enjoying relaxed weekends at home with our families, we dash off to the shops, anxious not to miss out on the latest bargains. We are more interested in stuff than we are in each other. One side effect of this shopping religion is that we now tend to judge each other by the stuff we have bought.

Pastors do not link world events to speeding up Christ’s return

January 15, 2020

Source: LifeWay Research

Aaron Earls / LifeWay

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Like many Americans, Protestant pastors in the United States may be watching the recent events related to Iran closely, as well as monitoring other developments in the Middle East, but probably not because they think it has anything to do with Christ’s return.

Pastors are more than three times as likely to believe Christians can speed up the return of Christ by the spread of their faith than by backing certain geo-political changes, according to a new study from LifeWay Research. But those who think evangelism can hasten Christ’s return still represent a minority of all Protestant pastors.

“While Scripture specifically says we cannot know the day or the hour of Jesus Christ’s return, we were interested in pastors’ views on whether Christians can play a role in bringing about that return any sooner,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research.

Around one in eight Protestant pastors (12 percent) believe Christians can speed up the second coming of Jesus by supporting geo-political changes they see in the Bible, with 5 percent strongly agreeing.

Four in five pastors (80 percent) don’t believe their support will have an impact on the timetable of Christ’s return, including 61 percent who strongly disagree.

During heighted conflicts with Syria, a 2013 LifeWay Research study found many Americans were likely to link global conflict with end times.

Almost one in three saw the conflict as part of the Bible’s plan for the end times. One in four thought a U.S. military strike in Syria could lead to Armageddon. And one in five believed the world would end in their lifetime, including 32 percent of evangelicals.

“A large majority of pastors do not see biblical prophecies about future changes among nations as a roadmap for advocating specific international engagement,” McConnell said.

Weekly rest requirements for employees in Israel

Fischer Behar Chen Well Orion & Co

January 15 2020

Pursuant to Israeli employment law, an employer cannot employ workers on their weekly rest day unless it obtains a special permit from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.

A weekly rest is 36 consecutive hours. Under certain circumstances, it is possible to shorten shift workers' weekly rest to 25 consecutive hours.

For Jewish workers, the weekly rest day is Saturday (ie, from the beginning of the Sabbath on Friday evening until Saturday evening). For non-Jewish workers, the weekly rest day is Friday, Saturday or Sunday, as is customary for the employee. Therefore, workplaces that are permitted to operate all week long can employ non-Jewish workers on the Sabbath without violating the law or applying for a permit.

The practical implications of these requirements include the following:
On commencement of their employment, employees can notify their employer that they will not work on weekly rest days in accordance with their religious beliefs. Employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees by denying employment on this basis.
Employees who work on a rest day are entitled to receive 150% of their regular salary.

Employing workers on their rest day without a permit is a criminal offence, which in certain cases may result in fines for the employer's officers and managers.

This article was first published by the International Law Office, a premium online legal update service for major companies and law firms worldwide. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Book Report: The Jesuit Vatican Global Conspiracy

Book Report: The Jesuit Vatican Global Conspiracy

James Arendt

This post is a compilation of quotes from Ronald C. Cooke’s book, “The Jesuit Vatican Global Conspiracy”. You can download the PDF file from here. I appreciate Dr. Cooke’s work because he approaches the conspiracy from a biblical point of view, the same view that the leaders of the Protestant Reformation had, i.e. the papacy being the fulfillment of the prophecies of Revelation 17 and 18. If you do not hold this view, you will forever be looking at all only the sub groups of the conspiracy and not the core itself.

The emphasis in bold font is mine.

In our travels and teaching we find that there is almost a total blackout concerning the sinister aspirations of the Vatican and the Jesuits. Men who purport to write on the great conspiracy that is out to control the world not only never mention the Vatican, but if they do, they make the Vatican out to be the target of the conspiracy rather than the originator of the conspiracy.

The Vatican and the Jesuits have the same goal in mind. They are both working to bring the world to the feet of the Roman Pontiff.

What most people do not realize is that the Jesuits are the C.I.A. of the Vatican. That is, just as Washington often seems to conflict with, and disavow some of the covert activities of the C.I.A especially when they are going to prove embarrassing, so the Vatican from time to time will appear to disavow the activities of the Jesuits.

It is obvious that it is very easy to postulate a Bilderberger, Insider, or Trilateralist type of conspiracy without generating any animosity among the general public. Everyone and anyone can identify against a few rich evil men lurking in the shadows and working to take over the world. But to identify religious men as conspirators causes millions of people to bridle in anger and disbelief.

Error is only defeated by the proclamation of the truth. It is never defeated by compromise, half-truths, or a failure to recognize its existence.

Latin America sits on a veritable power keg because Romanism, which has been entrenched there for four hundred years, has not brought a scintilla of freedom or justice to the oppressed millions who live below the border of the United States and well below the abject poverty line. Romanism has managed to keep the multiplied millions in such a state of miserable existence that we have no hesitation in saying that if Americans rebelled against George III for his repression, they would have rebelled long ago against almost every government in Latin America.

Migrant Caravan Embarks From Honduras, Posing Challenge to Region

Such caravans have angered President Trump, who has tried to compel his regional counterparts to step up their enforcement efforts.

Migrants in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on Wednesday.Credit...Reuters

By Kirk Semple
Jan. 15, 2020

MEXICO CITY — Hundreds of Hondurans, many with hopes of reaching the United States, streamed toward the Guatemalan border on Wednesday in the kind of migrant caravan that, in 2018 and 2019, angered President Trump and posed a direct challenge to governments throughout the region.

Traveling by foot and hitchhiking, the vanguard of the new caravan set off from the northern Honduran city of San Pedro Sula earlier in the week, with others following throughout the day on Wednesday, local media and migrants’ advocates reported.

The migrants met some resistance at the Guatemalan border when Honduran police fired tear gas to repel a group seeking to cross. A spokesman for the Honduran security ministry said the group had tried to leave the country without clearing the proper migration controls, Reuters reported.

President Alejandro Giammattei of Guatemala, who was sworn into office this week, said Wednesday that his government would honor Central American migration agreements that permitted Hondurans to enter Guatemala as long as they had proper identification.

The caravan was reminiscent of the large-scale mobilizations of mostly Central American migrants that provoked the ire of Mr. Trump, who compelled his regional counterparts to step up their migration enforcement efforts by freezing American aid and threatening tariffs.

Under pressure from the Trump administration, the Northern Triangle countries — Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — have all signed agreements with the Trump administration that require migrants who pass through one of those countries to first seek asylum there before applying in the United States.

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Vatican appoints first woman to senior role in Church

15 January 2020

Francesca Di Giovanni will be responsible for co-ordinating the Holy See's relations with the UN

Pope Francis has made an Italian lawyer the first woman to hold a management position in the Vatican's most important office.

Francesca Di Giovanni, 66, will serve as undersecretary for multilateral affairs in the Secretariat of State.

She will be responsible for co-ordinating the Holy See's relations with groups including the UN.

Pope Francis has been vocal in his support for women holding greater positions of authority in the Vatican.

Pope Christmas message urges softening of 'self-centred hearts'

"I hope that my being a woman might reflect itself positively in this task, even if they are gifts that I certainly find in my male colleagues as well," she told Vatican media.

Ms Di Giovanni has worked for the Vatican for 27 years and holds a law degree.

The Battle of the Cornflakes

The Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company, later to be known as Kellog's, was founded on February 19th, 1906.

Advertising for Kellogg's Toasted Corn Flake, 1910s

John Harvey Kellogg and Will Keith Kellogg were brothers from a Seventh-day Adventist family in Battle Creek, Michigan. They had little education, because their parents expected Christ’s Second Coming before they would need it, but John Harvey managed to get a medical degree. He was a fanatical advocate of what he called ‘biologic living’, which involved vegetarianism, no alcohol or tobacco, no tea, coffee or condiments and minimal quantities of eggs and dairy products.

In his middle twenties he became president of an Adventist sanitarium at Battle Creek and practised his principles on the patients, who found the diet so monotonous that he, his wife Ella and his brother W.K., who was eight years younger, started experimenting with cereals. They set up the Sanitas Food Company and tried out products which included slow-baked cereal Granola biscuits, wheat flakes and cornflakes, peanut butter and a cereal-based coffee substitute. They stumbled on the wheat flakes, which they called Granose, by accident one night in 1894 when trying to manufacture an easily digestible form of bread. Granose was the world’s first flaked cereal product. Cornflakes made from toasted maize followed in 1898 and a version with a longer shelf-life in 1902.

The Kelloggs at first sold their products mainly by mail order to their ex-patients, but then began advertising in newspapers and on billboards, while rival entrepreneurs invaded the promising market and copied the Kellogg lines. An ex-patient of the sanitarium named C.W. Post made Grape Nuts, based on the Granola biscuits, and a cereal-based drink called Postum patterned on the Kellogg coffee substitute. By 1900 his Postum Cereal Company was making $3 million a year.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Legion of Christ accused abuser removed from priesthood


January 13, 2020, 9:41 PM EST

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The Catholic Church has removed Mexican Fernando Martínez from the priesthood after considering him guilty of various sexual abuse crimes against minors, the Legion of Christ religious order said Monday.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith decided that Martínez could not continue his priestly duties, but allowed him to remain as a member of the Legion of Christ and the church, a decision that upset his victims.

One of them, Ana Lucía Salazar, who had reported being raped by the priest when she was 8 years old, commented with irony on Twitter.

“The Pope decided that the gentleman continue in the church ranks after raping children,” Salazar wrote Monday. “There's zero tolerance.” The punishment comes nearly three decades after the abuses were reported to Martínez's superiors in the 1990s.

The Legion was founded in Mexico in 1941 by Marcial Maciel. Reports of abuses by its members have been emerging for decades. In 2010, after Maciel's death, the Vatican instituted a reform process following an investigation that showed its founder had created a system of power based on sexual abuse, silence, deception and obedience that allowed him to lead a double life “devoid of any scruples and authentic sense of religion.”

In December, the Legion made public a report that identified 33 priests and 71 seminarians who sexually abused minors during the past 80 years. A third of those cited, including Martínez, were also victims of Maciel.

In November, the Legion released a document about Martínez that spoke of abuses that began in 1969 in Mexico City and continued through the 1990s. Cases have been reported publicly as recently as last year and include abuse of girls between the ages of 6 and 8 at the Instituto Cumbres in Cancun. Salazar was one of those cases.

A persistent complaint of the victims of clerical abuse has been the lack of criminal sanctions against the abusers and those who covered up the abuse. Pope Francis has insisted that the church will not tolerate such conduct.

Martínez is currently in Rome and until now had been allowed to continue in the priesthood though not performing duties in public.

The Legion's announcement comes a week before its leadership holds its general meeting.

Monday, January 13, 2020

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Baptizing babies, Pope Francis defends practice of infant baptism

Elise Harris

Jan 12, 2020

Pope Francis baptizes an infant in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel. (Credit: CNS.)

ROME - Pope Francis baptized more than 30 babies inside the Vatican Sunday and issued a clear defense of infant baptism, saying it gives children the grace and assistance to grow in the faith as they get older.

During a Jan. 12 Mass for the Catholic feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which commemorates Jesus’ own baptism in the Jordan River, Francis administered the sacrament on 32 infants, 15 of whom were girls and 17 were boys.

In his homily, he told parents that “to baptize a child is an act of justice,” because through baptism “we give them a treasure, in baptism we give them a pledge: The Holy Spirit. The child leaves with the strength of the Holy Spirit inside, the Spirit which will defend them, help them, throughout their whole lives.”

“This is why it is so important to baptize them as children,” he said, “because they will grow with the strength of the oly Spirit.”

Though debated among Christian denominations, historians believe infant baptism dates back as early as the 1st and 3rd centuries.

In modern Christianity, the bulk of denominations practice infant baptism, including Roman Catholicism, the Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and the Assyrian Church of the East, as well as the 23 Eastern Catholic churches in full communion with Rome.

However, there has been some resistance to the practice since the Protestant Reformation, with a number of denominations opting for adult baptism or “believer’s baptism” instead, including Baptists, Pentecostalists, Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Church of Latter-day Saints.

Critics of infant baptism often argue against it on grounds that there is no scriptural basis for it, and that at such a young age the person is incapable of belief in the faith they are baptized into. Some also argue that the practice, while it has become traditional in many churches, is no longer necessary given that infant mortality rates are not nearly as high as they were in the early Christian centuries.

In his brief homily, which lasted less than five minutes, Francis told parents that his primary message was the importance of getting their children baptized, because “you bring your children today (so that they will have) the Holy Spirit inside.”

He urged them to take charge of their children’s growth in the faith, ensuring “that they grow with light, with the strength of the Holy Spirit through catechism, help, instruction and the example you give them at home.”

As he has in the past, he also urged parents not to be afraid to attend to their children if they become fussy or upset during Mass.

“They are not used to being closed in a space that’s also a bit hot, they are not used to being dressed like this for a special occasion,” he said, telling parents not to be anxious if their child cries or whines, but to make them feel comfortable and to nurse them if needed.

“It’s a beautiful preaching when a child cries in church,” he said, and urged parents not to forget that “you carry the Holy Spirit inside your children.”

Francis’s Mass for the Baptism of the Lord marks the end of his busy holiday marathon of Masses, speeches and liturgies, officially closing the Christmas season.

As a liturgical footnote, given the design of the Sistine Chapel, the baptism Mass is generally the lone occasion each year when the pope celebrates ad orientem, “towards the east,” meaning with the priest facing the altar rather than the congregation. It’s the style associated with the older Latin Mass prior to the Second Vatican Council in the mid-1960s.



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Sunday, January 12, 2020

Sunday should be made “rest with family” day – Hannah Yeoh

Sunday should be made “rest with family” day – Hannah Yeoh


Yeoh said the proposal could also serve as part of preventive measures in dealing with work-related stress issues. – Bernama Photo

KUALA LUMPUR: Women, Family and Community Development Deputy Minister Hannah Yeoh has proposed that Sunday be made as a “rest with family” day.

She said the proposal could also serve as part of preventive measures in dealing with work-related stress issues.

“…so that those who work would have the time to rest on Sundays. If they don’t do so (get rest), they will be physically tired and get stressed to go to work the next day.

“This can indirectly affect their mental and physical health,” she told Bernama after officiating the Kiara Green Townhouse Family Day here today.

Yeoh who is also Segambut MP also encouraged all residents’ associations to carry out community programmes on a regular basis to foster closer relationships among neighbours.

Meanwhile, on the appeal filed by Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) residents against the high court’s decision to deny their application for a judicial review in relation to the development of a high-rise residential project in Taman Rimba Kiara, Yeoh said the hearing date had been set for Jan 15.

The Taman Rimba Kiara development project sparked controversy in April 2017 when the Kuala Lumpur City Hall issued a development order for a mega project on a 4.9-hectare lot, out of 10.1 hectares of Taman Rimba Kiara.

It was to entail the construction of a 350-unit block of affordable housing for the Bukit Kiara longhouse community and eight blocks of 50-storey luxury condominiums.

TTDI residents opposed the project claiming it would eliminate the green nature of the area.

DBKL would have to pay about RM150 million to the developer if the project is cancelled. – Bernama


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Saturday, January 11, 2020

'Too Much’: Dread Fills Puerto Ricans as New Earthquake Stuns Island

A 5.9-magnitude aftershock came on the 15th day since tremors large and small began terrorizing southern Puerto Rico.

Members of the Puerto Rico Engineers and Surveyors Association inspected a building in Guánica, P.R., on Saturday.Credit...Erika P. Rodriguez for The New York Times

By Patricia Mazzei

Jan. 11, 2020Updated 7:58 p.m. ET

GUÁNICA, P.R. — Not long after José Méndez Marrero, a civil engineer, arrived on Saturday to inspect the damage at a Puerto Rican town crippled by a big earthquake, the ground beneath him groaned. Again.

The woman he had been chatting with on the street began to run into her house.

“No, señora!” he hollered behind her. “To the plaza!”

It was another scary one — a 5.9-magnitude aftershock, on the 15th day since tremors large and small began terrorizing southern Puerto Rico. The quake stunned the island just as signs of life, like trucks selling fresh fruit on the side of the road, had started to return. Now there were more power outages, more cracked buildings, more feelings of dread that the worst of the shaking was, somehow, not yet over.

“Too much,” declared Israel Vélez Irizarry, 49, as he sought shelter in his 1993 Chevrolet Lumina parked outside his aunt’s house. The items inside — pillows, blankets, toys — told the tale of the nights he, his mother, his wife and their three children, ages 3, 7 and 8, had spent waiting for the trembling to end.

“We haven’t been able to shower or anything,” Mr. Vélez said. “It shakes and it shakes — and it looks like it wants to keep going.”

His wife, Desirée Rodríguez, 33, loaded a suitcase into the trunk of the car. They planned to fly on Sunday to Kentucky, to stay with Mr. Vélez’s oldest son.

Even before Saturday’s major aftershock, which fissured more roads and prompted more landslides, Puerto Rico estimated damages from a 6.4-magnitude quake on Tuesday at $110 million. Gov. Wanda Vázquez asked the federal government on Saturday to approve a major disaster declaration, which would clear the way for additional federal assistance, including funds for temporary housing. President Trump approved an initial emergency declaration last week.

“We need to stay calm,” Ms. Vázquez said at a news conference on Saturday afternoon. “This was expected.”

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For Mr. Méndez and some two-dozen members of the Puerto Rico Engineers and Surveyors Association who gathered in downtown Guánica, near the epicenter of the quakes, the violent quake on Saturday prompted Félix Rivera Arroyo, president of the association’s earthquake commission, to issue a stern reminder: No going inside buildings. Visual observations only, an initial inspection to guide future work.

Mr. Rivera’s cellphone kept ringing. Emergency managers from towns like Mayagüez and Aguadilla called asking for expert help.

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Friday, January 10, 2020


UK agency reopens investigation into Christian doctor who prays with patients

UK agency reopens investigation into Christian doctor who prays with patients

By Samuel Smith, CP Reporter| Friday, January 10, 2020

NHS in London, England. | Reuters/Toby Melville

A U.K. regulatory agency is reviewing its decision to close a complaint against a Christian doctor accused of violating professional conduct by praying with his patients.

As previously reported, Dr. Richard Scott of the Bethesda Medical Centre in Margate, Kent, faced the possibility of losing his medical license after a complaint was filed against him last year.

Scott, a general practitioner, was subject to a fitness-to-practice inquiry from the General Medical Council after a complaint was filed by the National Secular Society, a British advocacy group promoting the strict interpretation of separation of church and state.

The organization claimed that Scott made a vulnerable patient feel uncomfortable by praying. The allegation was made to NSS by a friend of the patient, not the patient.

The GMC determined last month after a three-month investigation that the complaint did not merit any action because there was “no evidence that [Dr. Scott] discusses faith in situations where the patient has stated that they do not wish to discuss these matters or that he has continued to discuss faith after a patient has indicated that they do not welcome such a discussion.”

At the time, Scott’s legal representatives from the Christian Legal Centre called the GMC decision to close his case “reassurance to Christian doctors and professionals across the U.K. that they can share their faith in the workplace ... without fear of losing their jobs.”

However, the GMC changed its decision to close Scott’s case after the NSS challenged the closure of its complaint and submitted new evidence that Scott was “openly flouting the council's code of conduct.”

The GMC confirmed to NSS that it is reviewing its decision in Scott’s case under Rule 12 of its fitness-to-practice rules. The rule allows for reconsideration if new information comes to light.

NSS’ challenge alleged that Scott’s patients have complained about religion being pushed on them.

Additionally, NSS pointed to an interview Scott did with The Daily Mail last month in which he said that he has discussed his faith with about 40 patients in the past with only about 10 of them issuing a complaint. One of those complaints, from 2012, went to the GMC.

Also, in an interview with BBC Radio Kent in December, Scott declared that as a Christian doctor, one must consider “who is your ultimate boss.”

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Thursday, January 09, 2020

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U.S. authorities: 'Highly likely' Iran shot down Ukrainian passenger plane

Iran says Ukrainian plane didn't call for help, tried to return

The crew of a Ukrainian jetliner that crashed in Iran on Wednesday, killing all 176 people onboard, never made a radio call for help and were trying to turn back for the airport when their burning plane went down, an initial Iranian investigative report said Thursday.

January 9, 2020, 10:48 AM EST

WASHINGTON — When a Ukrainian passenger jet crashed outside Tehran, Iran, shortly after taking off on Wednesday morning, speculation immediately turned to the conflict between Iran and the United States. And while details remain scant, U.S. authorities believe that it was “highly likely” that an errant Iranian missile brought down the aircraft.

Ukrainian authorities are also coming to that view, after initially seeming to accept the Iranian view that engine failure was at work.

While determining the cause of a crash can take months, if not years, Iranian authorities in the hours since the accident appear to have added to initial suspicions by refusing to allow the kind of collaborative investigation that is commonplace when a civilian aircraft suffers a serious accident.

That has not kept others from reaching conclusions. CBS News and Newsweek both reported on Thursday that Pentagon and intelligence officials now believe that the Iranians, fearful of an American air assault, mistakenly shot down the Ukrainian jet, which was full of civilians.

President Trump endorsed this view, telling reporters Thursday morning that Iran “could have made a mistake.” He discounted “mechanical” issues as potentially at work.

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Pope Slams Leaders on 'Weak' Response to Climate Change

10:52 / 09.01.2020


VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis accused world leaders on Thursday of failing to listen to the concerns of youngsters pushing for global action against climate change.

In his annual speech to Vatican diplomats, the pontiff said climate change was a "concern of everyone," despite a tepid response from the international community.

"Many young people have become active in calling the attention of political leaders to the issue of climate change. Care for our common home ought to be a concern of everyone," he said.

"Sadly, the urgency of this ecological conversion seems not to have been grasped by international politics, where the response to the problems raised by global issues such as climate change remains very weak and a source of grave concern."

Since his papacy began in 2013, the Argentine pontiff has often argued for better protection of the environment. In April, he met teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, who launched the Fridays for Future youth moment against climate change.

That movement has seen millions of people go on strike or spill into the streets demanding climate action.

Around the world, governments faced with a crescendo of deadly weather and dire alarms from science have failed to signal a real determination to act.

Francis said the UN conference in Madrid in December -- widely considered to have been a flop -- raised "serious concern about the will of the international community to confront with wisdom and effectiveness the phenomenon of global warming".

The climate crisis threatening the planet "demands a collective response capable of placing the common good over particular interests," Francis said.

He prayed for those affected by devastating fires in Australia and other areas of Oceania.

Australia's months-long bushfire disaster has killed at least 26 people, destroyed more than 2,000 homes and scorched some eight million hectares (80,000 square kilometres) -- an area the size of Ireland.

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Wednesday, January 08, 2020

"And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars"

And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.

For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.

All these are the beginning of sorrows

Matthew 24:4-8.

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Bill Barr, warrior for theocracy: Why didn't we know this until now?

Bill Barr (Getty Images/Salon)

The attorney general has gradually revealed his terrifying agenda: Who knew, and why was this concealed so long?

JANUARY 3, 2020 2:25PM 

(UTC)CORRECTION: As originally published, this article asserted that William Barr is a member of Opus Dei, the conservative Catholic organization. Opus Dei has issued an official statement asserting that he is not. Salon regrets the error.

It has long been an article of faith (no pun intended) among some on the left that the culture war was simply a cynical tool of the conservative movement to fool the rubes into voting against their economic interests. In this reading, right-wing leaders had no intention of ever following through on culture-war issues. They would string the voters along forever, promising to deliver on abortion or gay rights or guns but never really getting the job done, the assumption being that they could keep the conservative base's intensity at full throttle if those voters believed they were on the cusp of getting their agenda passed. Meanwhile, as the marks were distracted by endless culture-war skirmishes, the big money conservatives would pass laws that benefited themselves and harmed their own voters.

As it happens, it did indeed go down that way. The conservative movement benefactors made out like bandits while Republican voters got screwed economically. But the notion that the rich men in charge would never have to deliver on their culture-war promises was always wrong. Eventually, they would have to pay the piper.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled that they were ready when he withheld the Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland during Barack Obama’s last year and then confirmed the Federalist Society’s darling, true blue social conservative Neil Gorsuch, as soon as Donald Trump took office. Evangelical leaders rushed to Brett Kavanaugh’s defense when he was under fire for his decadent youthful behavior and was accused of sexual assault during the confirmation hearings because they had been assured he would hew to the party line. Kavanaugh's threats to take revenge on all who opposed him probably reassured the religious right that he would vote the right way on the cases they care about.

U.S. Stops Dozens of Iranian-Americans Returning From Canada

More than 60 people were held for additional questioning in Washington State, according to advocacy groups and accounts from travelers.

Traffic entering the United States from Canada at the Peace Arch Border Crossing in Blaine, Wash., in October.Credit...Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

By Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Mike Baker and Mariel Padilla
Jan. 5, 2020

WASHINGTON — Dozens of Iranians and Iranian-Americans were held for hours at Washington State’s border with Canada over the weekend as the Department of Homeland Security ramped up security at border ports after Iran threatened to retaliate against the United States for the strike that killed its top military leader.

More than 60 of the travelers, many returning from work trips or vacations, were trying to come home to the United States on Saturday when agents at the Peace Arch Border Crossing in Blaine, Wash., held them for additional questioning about their political views and allegiances, according to advocacy groups and accounts from travelers.

Most of the travelers were released after the extra scrutiny, according to administration officials, although advocates said some were denied entry into the United States.

Masih Fouladi, an executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, said some were held in a waiting room and questioned for up to 10 hours. Later on Saturday night, when others who had just attended a concert in Canada by an Iranian pop star were trying to cross back into the United States, they were denied entry and told to come back later, Mr. Fouladi said.

When one family asked agents why they were being questioned, an officer told them, “This is a bad time to be an Iranian,” according to Mr. Fouladi, whose group has spoken to the travelers.

“These reports are extremely troubling and potentially constitute illegal detentions of United States citizens.”

Venezuela’s last democratic institution falls as Maduro attempts de facto takeover of National Assembly


By Rachelle Krygier and Anthony Faiola
January 5, 2020 at 8:05 PM EST

CARACAS, Venezuela — The government of President Nicolás Maduro attempted a de facto takeover of Venezuela's legislature on Sunday, swearing in its own candidate as head of the National Assembly in a move apparently orchestrated to rob international credibility from Juan Guaidó, who had led the body and has staked a rival claim as head of state.

The dramatic events marked a sharp escalation in Maduro’s gambit to end Guaidó’s quest to unseat him and sparked immediate condemnation by Washington, which has strongly backed the 36-year-old opposition leader. Opposition officials declared the move an effective “parliamentary coup” meant to consolidate Maduro’s near-dictatorial powers.

“Today, they dismantled the rule of law, assassinating the republic, with the complicity of a group of traitor lawmakers,” Guaidó told reporters outside the parliamentary building.

Later Sunday, Guaidó sought to counter the move by gathering opposition lawmakers at the headquarters of El Nacional, a local newspaper, to cast an official vote. In a 100-to-0 tally — enough to put him over the top in a full session of the 167-seat chamber — those present reelected Guaidó as head of the legislature. Twenty-eight of the 100 were votes from stand-ins of exiled lawmakers.

But Maduro, in an address to the nation, hailed what he called the National Assembly’s “new leadership.”

“A very corrupt person leaves the presidency of the National Assembly today, as a millionaire, a billionaire,” said Maduro, referring to Guaidó. He added, “to justify their defeat, they say that a security operation was launched” to stop them.

The attempt to replace Guaidó — who declared himself interim president a year ago and promised to oust Maduro for claiming reelection in a tainted 2018 vote — appeared to be a carefully organized plan many weeks in the making.

Opposition officials have warned since last month that Maduro’s government was handing out suitcases of cash to woo lawmakers. But they thought they had successfully countered the operation, and on Sunday, Guaidó began the day anticipating his reelection as head of the National Assembly, viewed internationally as the last democratic institution in the authoritarian South American state. Guaidó’s claim as the nation’s true president — recognized by nearly 60 countries, including the United States — has been based on his status as the assembly’s chief.

But security forces loyal to Maduro formed a cordon early Sunday around the assembly building in central Caracas, blocking some opposition lawmakers from entering. Lawmakers who back Maduro — including several allegedly involved in a government plot to buy votes — were allowed to pass. At one point, Guaidó sought to scale the spiked wrought-iron fence surrounding the assembly and force his way in, according to a video issued by the opposition.

Saturday, January 04, 2020

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The Associated Press,Updated January 4, 2020

Richard King, 70, walked down a muddy road on the family ranch near Zortman, Montana. TOMMY MARTINO/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Samples were a black Chicago family, with six children and few resources. The priest helped them with tuition, clothes, bills. He offered the promise of opportunities — a better life.

He also abused all the children.

They told no one. They were afraid of not being believed and of losing what little they had, said one son, Terrence Sample. And nobody asked, until a lawyer investigating alleged abuses by the same priest prompted him to break his then 33-year silence.

“Somebody had to make the effort,” Sample said. “Why wasn’t it the church?”

Even as it has pledged to go after predators in its ranks and provide support to those harmed by clergy, the church has done little to identify and reach sexual abuse victims. For survivors of color, who often face additional social and cultural barriers to coming forward on their own, the lack of concerted outreach on behalf of the church means less public exposure — and potentially, more opportunities for abuse to go on, undetected.

Influential Hispanic Pastor Welcomes ‘Evangelicals for Trump’

The president kicks off 2020 outreach at a Miami church that includes staunch supporters and swing voters.


JANUARY 03, 2020 8:00 AM

Sergio Alvarado / Wikimedia Commons

Your daily news briefing from the editors of CT:

Pastor Guillermo Maldonado has visited the White House several times during Donald Trump’s presidency. Now, the president is coming to his church.

Maldonado leads what’s considered the biggest Spanish-speaking congregation in the country—El Rey Jesús, or King Jesus International Ministry—whose 7,000-seat sanctuary will be the location for today’s “Evangelicals for Trump” rally in Miami, a kickoff to Trump’s 2020 outreach to Christian leaders as well as the Hispanic faithful.

The 54-year-old Honduran American has joined fellow Pentecostal preachers such as spiritual-adviser-turned-faith-outreach-official Paula White-Cain at Trump’s gatherings with evangelical leaders, laying hands on him during a prayer session back in October and visiting most recently for a Christmas reception.

Maldonado serves as an apostle alongside his wife Ana who serves as a prophet at King Jesus, a 23-year-old global ministry that falls in line with the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement. Like leaders at Bethel Church and the International House of Prayer, Maldonado focuses on declaring what he hears as God’s prophetic words.

Maldonado is not only a pastor to his congregation, which holds both Spanish and English services each week, but also a spiritual father to fellow ministers. Beyond the 10 King Jesus churches in the US, Maldonado’s network extends to hundreds of Apostolic churches in 50 countries, plus thousands more who watch him on Daystar and TBN.

A year ago, he claimed he had “activated 1.5 million people in the supernatural.” He describes the practical manifestations of the supernatural, saying that God’s word and his Spirit—released at the right time—transform people’s lives. He shares testimonies of struggling churches of 40 people that turned into booming megachurches of 40,000; secular businesses blessed with dozens of franchises and hundreds of thousands of dollars in profits; and even effective commands to hurricanes to avoid the Miami area.

He’s now one of 70 leaders who have joined the Evangelicals for Trump coalition to back the president in his re-election campaign. King Jesus released a statement explaining that the church has rented space for the event but is not involved in organizing it. Maldonado, the church said, will be appearing in his personal capacity.

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Pope Francis reviews papers Feb. 23, 2019, the third day of a meeting on the protection of minors in the church at the Vatican. For Pope Francis, 2019 included his sixth anniversary as pope, his 83rd birthday and his 50th anniversary as a priest, but it also was a year that saw him still confronted with the clerical sexual abuse crisis and with Vatican financial scandals. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

For Pope Francis, 2019 included his sixth anniversary as pope, his 83rd birthday and his 50th anniversary as a priest, but it also was a year that saw him still confronted with the clerical sexual abuse crisis and with Vatican financial scandals.

He earned more points than ever on his frequent-flyer card, making seven foreign trips in 2019, traveling almost 52,000 miles to visit Panama for World Youth Day, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Romania, Mozambique, Madagascar, Mauritius, Thailand and Japan.

Continuing to push the idea of a "synodal church," one in which all the faithful are asked to reflect on specific issues and then the bishops gather to discern practical responses together, Pope Francis hosted a special Synod of Bishops for the Amazon and issued his postsynod document on young people, "Christus Vivit."

He also declared that the third Sunday of Ordinary Time -- Jan. 26 in 2020 -- would see a global Catholic focus on reading and praying with the Bible with a new celebration of the "Sunday of the Word of God."

On the first Sunday of Advent, he issued a short apostolic letter on the meaning and value of Nativity scenes as a prompt for prayer and contemplation and a simple but profound means of evangelization.

The creche, he wrote, "teaches us to contemplate Jesus, to experience God's love for us, to feel and believe that God is with us and that we are with him, his children, brothers and sisters all, thanks to that child who is the Son of God and the son of the Virgin Mary."

In early November, the "ad limina" visits of the bishops of the United States began; 15 regional groups of bishops are scheduled to make the weeklong visits by the end of February. Bishops in the first five groups reported spending more than two hours in a rather informal session with the pope, telling him about their dioceses and asking for advice.

While continuing to teach about the faith, especially about God's love and mercy, through his homilies at his intimate morning Masses in the chapel of his residence, at visits to Rome parishes and in his Sunday Angelus addresses, Pope Francis also was forced to deal head on with the ongoing scandal of clerical sexual abuse and attempts by bishops to cover up allegations.

The year began with Pope Francis writing a letter to U.S. bishops who were attending a spiritual retreat he had suggested they hold before trying to work out a specific system for handling allegations against bishops and holding each other accountable.

Writing to the bishops at the Jan. 2-8 retreat, the pope acknowledged that the scandal had created a "crisis of credibility" for the U.S. bishops, led to divisions within their body and, he said, to a temptation to look for administrative solutions to problems that go much deeper.