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German Pastor Olaf Latzel sentenced for incitement of the people
German Pastor Olaf Latzel sentenced for incitement of the people
Credit: Courtesy of St. Martini Gemeinde zu Bremen

The Bremen District Court has convicted the Lutheran pastor Olaf Latzel of the regional church St Martini parish in the Hanseatic city, of incitement of the people. The fundamentalist pastor had made homophobic and sexist remarks at a marriage seminar in October 2019, and a recording was posted online in March with his consent on his YouTube channel, which has nearly 25,000 subscribers.

According to the court, the statements are incitement and could emotionally justify violence against homosexuals.

Bernd Kuschnerus, the senior theologian of the Bremen Protestant Church, said he was "deeply saddened that a pastor of our church has been convicted of incitement of the people." The statements on which the verdict was based were unacceptable and damaged the reputation of the church, he said. There had been strong opposition to Latzel from the congregations of the Bremen Protestant Church for years. The church leadership has initiated disciplinary proceedings against the pastor, but these are suspended until a legally binding judgment is reached. Latzel's defense filed an appeal.

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Pope's personal physician dies of Covid-19 complications after already heaving cancer

Pope Francis' personal physician, Fabrizio Soccorsi, has died as a result of an infection with the coronavirus. As reported by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, the 78-year-old died after "complications" from a Covid 19 infection. Soccorsi had been admitted to Rome's Gemelli University Hospital on Christmas Day due to cancer.

The 84-year-old pontiff wants to be vaccinated as soon as possible.

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Vatican: "Morally acceptable" to receive Coronavirus vaccines using abortion cell lines
Vatican: "Morally acceptable" to receive Coronavirus vaccines using abortion cell lines
Credit: Raffaele Esposito, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The Vatican said that it is "morally acceptable" to receive a Coronavirus vaccine even if cell lines from tissues of aborted fetuses were used in its production. The Vatican stated that the use of such vaccines "does not in itself constitute a legitimation, even indirect, of the practice of abortion".

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Religious leaders call for end of gay conversion therapy
Religious leaders call for end of gay conversion therapy
Credit: Jmquez, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

Over 370 religious leaders from around the world are calling for an end to the criminalisation of LGBT+ people and a ban on gay conversion therapy, the pseudoscientific practise of trying to change an individual's sexual orientation. The leaders stated that "certain religious teachings have often, throughout the ages, caused and continue to cause deep pain and offence" to LGBTQ+ people and further have "created, and continue to create, oppressive systems that fuel intolerance, perpetuate injustice and result in violence."

Among those who signed are eight archbishops, including South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu; over 60 rabbis, including former Chief Rabbi of Ireland David Rosen; the Catholic former president of Ireland Mary McAleese and various senior Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists and Hindus.

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NXIVM sex cult leader Keith Raniere sentenced to 120 years in prison
NXIVM sex cult leader Keith Raniere sentenced to 120 years in prison
Credit: US Government, Eastern District of NY, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Keith Raniere, founder and leader of American multi-level marketing, cult-like company NXIVM, was convicted of racketeering, sex trafficking, child pornography possession and other crimes last year and has now been sentenced to 120 years in prison on October 27.

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Pope Francis endorses same-sex civil unions
Pope Francis
Pope Francis Credit: Long Thiên (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Pope Francis as made his most explicit endorsement of same-sex civil unions since becoming pontiff while being interviewed for the feature-length documentary “Francesco,” which premiered Wednesday at the Rome Film Festival.

"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."

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Vatican official Cardinal Becciu resigns unexpectedly
Vatican official Cardinal Becciu resigns unexpectedly
Credit: Claude Truong-Ngoc / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The second most senior official in the Vatican's Secretariat of State, Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, has unexpectedly resigned from office after being involved in a controversial deal to use church funds to invest in the purchase a London building. Becciu has denied any wrongdoings.

"Holy Father accepted the resignation from the office of Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and from the rights connected to the Cardinalate, presented by His Eminence Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu," so the Holy See.

"An investment was made on a building. It was good and opportune occasion, which many people envy us for today," Becciu earlier this year.

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Volunteer admits to have started fire at Nantes cathedral
Organ in the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Nantes previous to the fire
Organ in the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Nantes previous to the fire Credit: Jordiferrer (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

After being questioned by the police and released without charges a volunteer at the cathedral in Nantes has confessed to arson. No motive has been given as to why the volunteer warden has started the fire, but his lawyer has stated that he felt "relief" after confessing to the police.

The fire has destroyed the cathedral's 17th Century organ and multiple historically valuable stained windows of stained glass, but the fire brigade has managed to put the fire out before the main structure could be destroyed.

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Man questioned over Nantes cathedral fire
Man questioned over Nantes cathedral fire
Credit: Fx Bellamy via Twitter

A 39-year-old Rwandan refugee has been arrested in connection with a fire in the 15th century Nantes cathedral. The man worked as a volunteer at the cathedral being in charge of locking up the building on Friday night.

Prosecutor Pierre Sennes said that three fires had been started at the site and that there had been no signs of a break-in.

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French cathedral in Nantes on fire
French cathedral in Nantes on fire
Credit: Fx Bellamy via Twitter

The fire department of the Départements Loire-Atlantique has reported that the cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul in Nantes is on fire. 60 fire fighters are combating the fire but according to the fire brigade "The fire is not under control, it is spreading".

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Dalai Lama celebrates 85th birthday, releases first album
Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama in 2021
Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama in 2021 Credit: Christopher Michel / CC BY (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The 14th Dalai Lama has celebrated his 85th birthday on July 6 with releasing his debut album "Inner World". The album release was accompanied by a live stream which featured appearances from his long-time friend Richard Gere, actor Russell Brand and sitar player Anoushka Shankar.

"The best gift for me on my birthday, please keep your own mind, your own heart, more compassionate. And if possible serve others and help other people and animals," so the Dalai Lama at the end of the live stream.

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Covid-19: Saudi Arabia has banned international pilgrims for Hajj this year
The Kaaba in Mecca’s Grand Mosque
The Kaaba in Mecca’s Grand Mosque Credit: Tahir mq (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Saudi Arabia authorities announced on Monday strong restrictions to the Islamic pilgrimage, or Hajj this year. Only citizens who are already resident in the country will be allowed to journey to Mecca.

The Saudi ministry of hajj said the decision was aimed at preserving global public health because of the risks associated with large gatherings.

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Dream City Church claims to have installed technology that "kills 99.9% of Covid-19"
Screenshots of @VaughnHillyard's Tweet, featuring the Dream City Church video
Screenshots of @VaughnHillyard's Tweet, featuring the Dream City Church video Credit: @VaughnHillyard via twitter

The Phoenix megachurch Dream City Church is set to host a Trump rally on Tuesday night. In a video shared by Vaughn Hillyard on Twitter, Pastor Barnett and CFO Brendon Zastrow claim that they had installed a technology in their church that "kills 99.9% of Covid-19 within 10 minutes". The technology named "Clean Air EXP", which was developed by members of the church, uses "ionization of the air" to take "particulates out". The church has since removed the video from its Instagram account.

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Pope Francis urges politicians to move funds from weapons to medical research to prevent future pandemic

During an outdoor prayer service with around 130 attendees, Pope Francis has urged politicians to move funds from weapons towards medical research in order to prevent the next pandemic. Most of the invited people were directly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and most of them wore masks during the prayer service except when leading prayers at the microphone. The Pope himself sat separated from the others and did not wear a mask himself.

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Muslim community thanks IKEA for letting them pray in car park to keep physical distancing
Muslims praying in IKEA car park
Muslims praying in IKEA car park Credit: IGMG Wetzlar FATİH CAMİİ via Facebook

The Ikea store in Wetzlar near the German city of Frankfurt had agreed to let the local mosque use the car park for their prayers. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic distancing measures were required and in a Facebook post, the Muslim community IGMG Wetzlar FATİH CAMİİ thanked the local police and the store for their help in making the prayers possible.

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German authorities report over 40 Covid-19 infections after religious service

The health authorities of the German city Frankfurt am Main have reported over 40 new infected people after a church service was conducted. Church services had been permitted since the beginning of May under strict hygiene rules that mandate disinfectants and a minimum distance between the participants of 1,50 meters.

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Greek police arrests Orthodox priest after he celebrated a mass breaking the Covid-19 measures

The metropolitan bishop Seraphim of Kythira had celebrated a Mass on March 20th despite the country suspending all religions gatherings following the spread of the coronavirus. He was arrested by the police, questioned, prompted to follow the regulations and afterwards released.