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ITALY/ Pope Francis Endorses Same Sex Marriage; Becomes First Pontiff To Support Homosexuality



ROME (AP) — Pope Francis became the first pontiff to endorse Same Sex Civil Unione-sex civil unions in comments for a documentary that premiered Wednesday, sparking cheers from gay Catholics and demands for clarification from conservatives, given the Vatican’s official teaching on the issue.

The papal thumbs-up came midway through the feature-length documentary “Francesco,” which premiered at the Rome Film Festival. The film, which features fresh interviews with the pope, delves into issues Francis cares about most, including the environment, poverty, migration, racial and income inequality, and the people most affected by discrimination.

“Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God,” Francis said in one of his sit-down interviews for the film. “You can’t kick someone out of a family, nor make their life miserable for this. What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered.”

While serving as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Francis endorsed civil unions for gay couples as an alternative to same-sex marriages. However, he had never come out publicly in favor of civil unions as pope, and no pontiff before him had, either.

The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit who has sought to build bridges with gays in the church, praised the comments as “a major step forward in the church’s support for LGBT people.”

“The pope’s speaking positively about civil unions also sends a strong message to places where the church has opposed such laws,” Martin said in a statement.

However, conservative Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, called for clarification. “The pope’s statement clearly contradicts what has been the long-standing teaching of the church about same-sex unions,” he said in a statement. “The church cannot support the acceptance of objectively immoral relationships.”

Catholic teaching holds that gays must be treated with dignity and respect but that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered.” A 2003 document from the Vatican’s doctrine office stated the church’s respect for gays “cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behavior or to legal recognition of homosexual unions.”

Doing so, the Vatican reasoned, would not only condone “deviant behavior,” but create an equivalence to marriage, which the church holds is an indissoluble union between man and woman.

That document was signed by the then-prefect of the office, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI and Francis’ predecessor.

Director Evgeny Afineevsky, who is gay, expressed surprise after the premiere that the pope’s comments had created such a firestorm, saying Francis wasn’t trying to change doctrine but was merely expressing his belief that gays should enjoy the same rights as heterosexuals.

“The world needs positivity right now, the world needs to care about climate change, care about refugees and migration, borders, walls, family separation,” Afineevsky said, urging attention to the main issues covered by the film.

One main character in the documentary is Juan Carlos Cruz, the Chilean survivor of clergy sexual abuse whom Francis initially discredited during a 2018 visit to Chile.

Cruz, who is gay, said that during his first meetings with the pope in May 2018 after they patched things up, Francis assured him that God made Cruz gay. Cruz tells his own story throughout the film, chronicling both Francis’ evolution on understanding sexual abuse as well as to document the pope’s views on gay people.

Afineevsky had remarkable access to cardinals, the Vatican television archives and the pope himself. He said he negotiated his way in through persistence, and deliveries of Argentine mate tea and Alfajores cookies that he got to the pope via well-connected Argentines in Rome.

“Listen, when you are in the Vatican, the only way to achieve something is to break the rule and then to say, ‘I’m sorry,’” Afineevsky said in an interview.

The director worked official and unofficial channels starting in 2018, and ended up so close to Francis by the end of the project that he showed him the movie on his iPad in August. The two recently exchanged Yom Kippur greetings; Afineevsky is a Russian-born, Israeli-raised Jew now based in Los Angeles. On Wednesday, Afineevsky’s 48th birthday, the director said Francis presented him with a birthday cake at the Vatican.

But “Francesco” is more than a biopic about the pope. Wim Wenders did that in the 2018 film “Pope Francis: A Man of His Word.”

“Francesco,” is more a visual survey of the world’s crises and tragedies, with audio from the pope providing possible solutions.

Afineevsky, who was nominated for an Oscar for his 2015 documentary “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom,” traveled the world to document the film: at Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh, where Myanmar’s Rohingya sought refuge; the U.S.-Mexico border; and Francis’ native Argentina.

“The film tells the story of the pope by reversing the cameras,” said Vatican communications director Paolo Ruffini, one of Afineevsky’s closest Vatican-based collaborators.

Ruffini said that when Afineevsky approached him about a documentary, he tried to tamp down his hopes for interviewing the pope. “I told him it wasn’t going to be easy,” he said.

But Ruffini suggested Afineevsky find the people who had been impacted by the pope, even after just a brief meeting: refugees, prisoners and gays to whom he has ministered.

“I told him that many of those encounters had certainly been filmed by the Vatican cameras, and that there he would find a veritable gold mine of stories that told a story,” Ruffini said. “He would be able to tell story of the pope through the eyes of all and not just his own.”

Francis’ outreach to gays dates to his first foreign trip in 2013, when he uttered the now-famous words “Who am I to judge,” when asked during an airborne news conference returning from Rio de Janiero about a purportedly gay priest.

Since then, he has ministered to gays and transsexual prostitutes, and welcomed people in gay partnerships into his inner circle. One of them was his former student, Yayo Grassi, who along with his partner visited Francis at the Vatican Embassy in Washington D.C., during a 2015 visit to the U.S.

The Vatican publicized that encounter, making video and photos of it available, after Francis was ambushed during that same visit by his then-ambassador, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who invited the anti-gay marriage activist Kim Davis to meet with the pope.

News of the Davis audience made headlines and was viewed by conservatives as a papal stamp of approval for Davis, who was jailed for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses. The Vatican vigorously sought to downplay it, with a spokesman saying the meeting by no means indicated Francis’ support for her or her position on gay marriage.

However, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was fervently opposed to gay marriage when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires. Then, he launched what gay activists remember as a “war of God” against Argentina’s move to approve same-sex marriage.

The pope’s authorized biographer, Sergio Rubin, said at the time of his 2013 election that Bergoglio was politically wise enough to know the church couldn’t win a fight against gay marriage. Instead, Rubin said, Bergoglio urged his fellow bishops to lobby for gay civil unions.

It wasn’t until Bergoglio’s proposal was shot down by the conservative bishops’ conference that he publicly declared his opposition, and the church lost the issue altogether.

In the documentary, Francis essentially confirms Rubin’s account of what transpired. Of his belief in the need for legislation to protect gays living in civil relationships, he said: “I stood up for that.”

Afineevsky declined to say when Francis made the comment, but he began production in 2018 and Italy locked down for the coronavirus in March, suggesting the interview would have occurred in 2018 or more likely 2019.

Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, an organization of LGBT Catholics, praised Francis’ comments as a “historic” shift for a church that has a record of persecuting gays.

“At the same time, we urge Pope Francis to apply the same kind of reasoning to recognize and bless these same unions of love and support within the Catholic Church, too,” he said in a statement.

More conservative commentators sought to play down Francis’ words and said that while secular civil unions are one thing, a church blessing of them is quite another.

In a tweet, conservative U.S. author and commentator Ryan Anderson noted that he and some colleagues had gone on record a decade ago saying they would support federal civil unions for any two adults who commit to sharing domestic responsibilities. Such an arrangement, Anderson said, would leave churches the option of refusing to recognize these unions as marriage.



Twellium Industrial Ltd. And GNFS Work In Unified Command To Manage Fire Outbreak



A major fire broke out in a heap of dried wooden pallets at the Medie Junction in the Ga West District of the Greater Accra Region on February 22. The incident was said to have occurred at around 4:45pm. The fire subsequently spread to one woman’s Tilapia Stall.

Speaking to an eye witness, she said they tried to call the Ghana Fire Service who could not arrive at the scene early enough. Fortunately, one of the neighbouring factories, Twellium Industrial Company, which is about 1.0km away from the junction sent over their Fire Truck to save the situation.

Onlookers say the Twellium Fire engine worked tirelessly to bring the fire under control till the Ghana National Fire Service. Luckily there were no casualties reported.

Residents and Witnesses have commended the Twellium Industrial Company Limited greatly for their act of benevolence and Professionalism to help stop the fire and have encouraged other companies to do same as it has turned out to be important to have a fire truck at the factory.

Reason behind this fire disaster has not been known so far. Enquiry is under process.

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Uganda Military Gives Jail Sentence To Soldiers For Assaulting Journalists



According to reports by the BBC, the Ugandan military has confirmed seven soldiers who assaulted journalists outside the United Nations Human rights office on Wednesday have been given jail sentences of between two to three months at a military detention facility by the disciplinary committee.

The reports added that, the trial of the four privates, a lance corporal and two captains was not open to the public, however; Uganda’s army chief apologised for the violence that left six reporters injured. The incident happened as the opposition MP and musician Bobi Wine was delivering a petition over human rights abuses to the UN.

The journalists were covering Wine, a pop star and lawmaker, as he delivered a petition to the office asking the United Nations to investigate human rights violations on the country including torture, abductions, illegal detentions and others.

The Reuters also reported that, NTV Uganda television showed the journalists running for safety and screaming as the security personnel struck them with batons. Four of those assaulted sustained serious injuries including to the head.

The Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) said in a statement that a military disciplinary committee had tried the seven soldiers, who included a captain, convicted and given them varying sentences ranging from a severe reprimand to 90 days in jail.

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National Chief Imam Names Clemence Gyato As Peace Ambassador



National Chief Imam Osman Nuhu Sharubutu on 28 November named Clemence Gyato as Peace Ambassador. Gyato, a master’s degree holder in Conflict, Peace and Security who is currently a PhD student, is widely renowned among the country’s Zongo youth and lauded for his efforts in conflict resolution, notably in the Alavanyo-Nkonya dispute as well as discord between Hohoe natives and Zongo youth.

Announcing Gyato’s appointment, Sharubutu said his office has “monitored Mr Gyato’s involvement in peacebuilding efforts in various parts of the country,” for which reason he was selected.

In his acceptance speech, Gyato cited a life-changing interaction with a victim of the Somali war. The account led him to the understanding that “no one is safe within a community or society riddled with insecurity. And no one filled with conflict, despair, and anxiety rises to the zenith of any godly profession. So, I set out to do this one thing: be at peace with myself and with all.”

The maxim, Gyato said, has been pivotal to his vision. He also observed that his appointment is testament to the fact that his efforts are being keenly observed by leadership. “This honour bestowed on me for my little, submarine operations within the peace space is something I will cherish considerably.

“Election-related violence has destroyed many African countries. Ghana has escaped this unfortunate conundrum and it is my expectation that the 2020 elections will be no different,” he said.

“It is time we saw peace neither as a prelude to, nor an addendum to elections. It is an ever-constant pre-requisite for personal, familial, and national progress. Insofar as each person values their peace of mind, it then behooves on us to value the peace of our brother, friend, relative, colleague, political opponents, and/ or even perceived enemies.”

Gyato also pledged to continue his mission to be at peace with all as well as “speak and act peacefully to all men.

“I undertake to accept diversity as a strength and use diversity to build a peaceful society. I undertake to do more towards building a peaceful Ghana,” he added.

Meanwhile, Sheikh Ibrahim Cudjoe Quaye, who chaired Gyato’s investiture, Madina MP Hon. Abu-Bakar Saddique Boniface, as well as NDC aspiring Member for Parliament for Madina, Lawyer Francis-Xavier Sosu also pledged peace before and after election 2020.

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“Rawlings Was A Great African Leader”, Stonebwoy Pays Tribute To The Former Statesman



On Thursday’s edition of special interview on Max TV, multiple award-winning Ghanaian reggae & dancehall artiste, Stonebwoy, called on all Ghanaians, including political leaders to acknowledge and recognize the role former president Ft. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings and other African leaders have played as far as Ghana’s democracy is concerned.

According to musician, the former Flight Lieutenant, whose tragic demise occured on Thursday, 12th November 2020 at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, where he was receiving treatment after a short illness, has been a pivotal, absolutely central, figure in the country’s political and economic fortunes, and his lingering political influence on Ghana may be second only to Kwame Nkrumah.

When asked if he has composed a tribute song to honor the late state’s man, Stonebwoy who is known for inspirational songs, focusing on good governance, poverty eradication, and spreading good cheer through positive messages with even more delightful melodies revealed that, though he has no tribute song in his catalogue, he’s recorded songs that revealed his admiration and respect for late president and other notable African leaders.

In 2013, the Ghanaian Dancehall finest act, Stonebwoy delivered a conscious reggae/dancehall on a Beatz Dakay’s Last Breathe Riddim titled “Real Warrior”. The tune talks about acknowledging great African leaders for setting policies the coushined the their electorates. The lyrics of song according to Stonebwoy was inspired by the Heroes and Heroines across the globe.

“Big up… Kwame Nkrumah, Nelson Azumah, Yaa Asantewa, Madeba Mandela, Patrice Lumumba, Muama Gadafe, Okomfo Anokye, Robert Mugabe, Marcos Garvey, Julius Nyerere, Rawlings JJ, Seko Toure, yes Bob Marley, Shaka Zulu, Hailey Selase blessing thing”, Stonebwoy is quoted saying.

“Live like a warrior and die like a soldier, this is the battle of de fittest. Live like a warrior and die like a soldier, de race is not for de swift”

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