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‘It locks you into a disintegrating friendship for life’: the new rules of godparenting

Oddparents or squadparents: its not just the names for todays secular guardians that are causing confusion Once upon a time in Redhill, Surrey, Sophie and Joe asked Jenny and Mark to be godparents to their baby daughter. It made perfect sense to Mark. Joe had been his best man. They went way back. But Jenny wasnt so sure. I said no, because Im not a Christian, she recalls. They said it was fine, as they arent Christian, either, and they werent going to bother with the church bit. I still…

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Faith and freedoms: why evangelicals profess unwavering love for Trump

The faithful have been ardent supporters who turn a blind eye to the presidents moral indiscretions in favor of agenda When Donald Trump took the stage last month at a mega-conference for the Faith and Freedom Coalition, the countrys largest organization of evangelical Christians, he was granted an extraordinary welcome by the groups chairman, Ralph Reed. We have had some great leaders, Reed said, to cheers. There has never been anyone who has defended us and fought for us, who we have loved more than Donald J Trump. We have…

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Roman Catholic church could allow married men to become priests

Vatican summit to discuss plan to address clergy shortage in remote Amazon areas The Roman Catholic church is opening the door to a change in its centuries-old requirement that priests must be celibate in a document suggesting older married men may be ordained in remote areas of the Amazon. A Vatican document has called on the church to consider the far-reaching move as a way to overcome the shortage of clergy in the region. Although the proposals to be considered by the Vatican concern the ordination of married men in…

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Pope Francis declares ‘climate emergency’ and urges action

Addressing energy leaders, pope warns of catastrophic effects of global heating Pope Francis has declared a global climate emergency, warning of the dangers of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of catastrophic effects if we crossed such a threshold. He said a radical energy transition would be needed to stay within that limit, and urged young people and businesses to take a leading role. Future generations stand to inherit a greatly spoiled world. Our children and grandchildren should not have to pay the cost of our generations irresponsibility, he said, in…

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Five more years of Narendra Modi will take India to a dark place | Kapil Komireddi

If the Indian prime minister is returned to office, his sectarian politics will make bigotry the defining ideal of the republic, says author Kapil Komireddi Indian elections are a marvel to behold. The rules stipulate that no citizen should have to travel more than 2km to vote. So the state goes to the voters. Carrying oxygen tanks, election officials scaled the Himalayas to erect a voting booth in a village in Ladakh, 4,500 metres above sea level. In western India, a polling station was set up for the lone human…

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Extreme abortion laws shine light on Trump’s courting of religious right

Evangelical backing for a thrice-married celebrity is not as odd as it seems: on abortion, the supreme court and more, the president has delivered win after win After bowing his head in prayer, King Cyrus, deeply flawed men who nevertheless carried out Gods will. David Barker, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University, suggests Christian evangelicals start with an assumption of human depravity that sets expectations low, so Trumps lying and philandering and Twitter rage and can be overlooked. Speaking at the American Enterprise Institute…

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We watched Notre Dame burn. Can we recapture her spirit?

Paris residents looked on in horror as their beloved lady went up in flames. Now a new battle begins: how best to rebuild her for the centuries ahead Most of us will always remember the moment on 15 April when we heard that rebuild Notre Dame has started and promises to be fierce. The embers seem still warm, but my unruly and angry compatriots are already dividing us into the daring and the timid, those who want to add a touch of 21st-century genius to her, and those who just…

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Salvadoran priest Oscar Romero to be declared saint by Pope Francis

The canonisation of the assassinated archbishop will take place on Sunday in Rome Oscar Romero, the Salvadoran priest who championed social justice for the poor and dispossessed, will be proclaimed a saint by Pope Francis in a canonisation ceremony in Rome on Sunday, almost four decades after he was assassinated by a rightwing death squad. The former archbishop of San Salvador, who was closely associated with the Latin American liberation theology movement of the 1960s and 70s, will be canonised along with six others at the ceremony in St Peters…

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New York to investigate child sexual abuse claims in Catholic dioceses

All eight Roman Catholic dioceses in the state have been subpoenaed as part of the attorney generals investigation into the churchs handling of sex abuse allegations The New York attorney generals office is set to investigate claims of child sex abuse within the states dioceses of the Catholic church. Attorney general Barbara Underwood announced Thursday that her office has created a hotline for victims to use. All eight Roman Catholic dioceses in the state have been subpoenaed as part of her offices investigation into the churchs handling of sex abuse…

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US cardinal accused of concealing abuse pulls out of Dublin event

Donald Wuerl was to speak at World Meeting of Families, which pope is attending A US cardinal has pulled out of a keynote speech at the World Meeting of Families, a global event being hosted by the Roman Catholic church in Dublin, after he was criticised for his handling of child sexual abuse in a damning report. Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, concealed abuse and moved known child molesters to new posts when he was bishop of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania from 1988 to 2006, according to the grand jury…

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Odds and Ends 

Jeff Sessions Religious Liberty Task Force Declares Holy War on LGBT People

Sadly it is no exaggeration, no hyperbole, to say that Attorney General LGBT people, LGBT equality, and LGBT rights on Monday. He declared war on anything that could be perceived to trespass on the "religious freedom" or "religious liberty" of Christianswhich is loosely defined enough to be construed as trespassing on pretty much anything he and his allies choose it to mean. Sessions said this was because there was a dangerous movement to erode the Christian right to worship. There isnt, of course; its an invented bogeyman for a ravenously-pursued…

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Recognition at last for Gentleman Jack, Britains first modern lesbian

Anne Lister has been honoured in the church where she wed, and her tales of passionate affairs are now the subject of a TV drama She was a 19th-century pioneer in many fields: business, travel, mountaineering. But 178 years after her death, Anne Lister is best known for her string of female lovers, with their erotic encounters explicitly chronicled in a coded diary stretching to 27 volumes. Last week, the woman often referred to as the first modern lesbian was honoured with a blue plaque at Holy Trinity church in…

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Pope Francis tells gay man: ‘God made you like this’

Juan Carlos Cruz, who was sexually abused, says pontiff told him God did not mind that he was gay A survivor of clerical sexual abuse has said Pope Francis told him that God had made him gay and loved him, in arguably the most strikingly accepting comments about homosexuality to be uttered by the leader of the Roman Catholic church. Juan Carlos Cruz, who spoke privately with the pope two weeks ago about the abuse he suffered at the hands of one of Chiles most notorious paedophiles, said the issue…

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The Guardian view on Gaza shootings: stop killing unarmed civilians | Editorial

Editorial: Channelling a reckless Donald Trump, Israeli ministers appear to have adopted a dangerous mindset: to destroy the national aspirations of the Palestinians by military force It is inexcusable for soldiers of a military, especially those under democratic civilian control, to shoot and kill protesters, almost all of whom were unarmed, and who pose no credible threat. Yet at the boundary between Gaza and Israel today Israeli soldiers blockading Gaza, Israel imprisoned 2 million people behind barbed wire and military towers. Israel treated the violence as a jailer might a…

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Odds and Ends 

4 Ways Hephaestus Needs To Step It Up Before Ill Even Think About Worshipping Him

The Greek god of metalworking has been trying to get me to pray to him for some time now, and honestly, it’s getting a little old. I’m all about being open to new religious icons, but before I pledge my spiritual allegiance to a greater power, I need to know that my needs are being addressed. Here are four ways Hephaestus needs to step it up before I’ll even think about worshipping him. 1. He needs a cool place of worship near my house: Half the fun of choosing a…

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