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Biden says pope thinks he is a ‘good Catholic’, further fuelling U.S. abortion debate

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U.S. President Joe Biden said on Friday that Pope Francis told him he was a “good Catholic” who can receive communion, widening a gulf between Francis and conservative U.S. bishops who want to deny it because of Biden’s support for abortion rights.

Biden and the pope held an unusually long 1 hour and 15 minute meeting at the Vatican as a debate raged back home on the issue.

Asked if the topic of abortion came up, Biden said: “No it didn’t… we just talked about the fact he was happy that I was a good Catholic and I should keep receiving communion,” Biden told reporters.

The president, who goes to weekly Mass regularly and keeps a picture of the pope behind his desk in the Oval Office, has said he is personally opposed to abortion but cannot impose his views as an elected leader.

In June, a divided conference of U.S. Roman Catholic bishops voted to draft https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-bishops-vote-draft-communion-statement-that-may-rebuke-biden-abortion-views-2021-06-18 a statement on communion that some bishops say should specifically admonish Catholic politicians, including Biden. They take up the issue again next month.

But the pope’s comments to Biden, who disclosed them at a photo opportunity with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, may make it impossible for the bishops to follow through on their plans.

Asked if he and the pope discussed the U.S. bishops, Biden said “that’s a private conversation.”

Biden’s most ardent critics in the U.S. Church hierarchy doubled down ahead of the visit.

“Dear Pope Francis, you have boldly stated that abortion is ‘murder’. Please challenge President Biden on this critical issue. His persistent support of abortion is an embarrassment for the Church and a scandal to the world,” Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, said in a Tweet.

Last month, the pope told reporters that abortion is “murder” https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/pope-says-abortion-is-murder-us-bishops-should-not-be-political-2021-09-15 but appeared to criticise U.S. Catholic bishops for dealing with the issue in a political rather than a pastoral way.

“Communion is not a prize for the perfect. … Communion is a gift, the presence of Jesus and his Church,” the pope said, adding that bishops should use “compassion and tenderness” with Catholic politicians who support abortion rights.

Since his election in 2013 as the first Latin American pope, Francis has said that while the Church should oppose abortion, the issue should not become an all-consuming battle in culture wars that detracts attention from matters such as immigration and poverty.

Biden’s meeting with the pope came three days before the U.S. Supreme Court https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-supreme-court-hear-challenge-texas-abortion-ban-2021-10-22 hears the first of two major cases this year challenging a series of state laws backed by Biden’s rival Republicans limiting abortion rights. Abortion opponents hope the court will overturn the landmark 1973 Roe vs Wade decision that legalised the procedure nationwide.

Both the White House and Vatican statements made no reference to the abortion issue.

EXCEPTIONALLY LONG MEETING

The White House said Biden thanked the pope for “his advocacy for the world’s poor and those suffering from hunger, conflict, and persecution”. Biden also praised the pope’s “leadership in fighting the climate crisis, as well as his advocacy to ensure the pandemic ends for everyone through vaccine sharing and an equitable global economic recovery”.

The Vatican said the two discussed “care of the planet”, health care, the pandemic, refugees, migrants, and “the protection of human rights, including freedom of religion and conscience”.

The Vatican said the private meeting lasted one hour and 15 minutes and then about another 15 minutes were spent for picture taking and the exchange of gifts in the presence of other members of the delegation, such as Biden’s wife, Jill.

The meeting with former President Donald Trump in 2017 lasted about 30 minutes and one with Barrack Obama in 2014 lasted about 50 minutes.

Biden gave the pope a “command coin” sometimes awarded to soldiers and leaders and told him: “You are the most significant warrior for peace I’ve ever met.”

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Nick Macfie and Toby Chopra)

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Designer Virgil Abloh remembered at Fashion Awards

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Designers and celebrities paid tribute to Virgil Abloh at the Fashion Awards in London on Monday, where the late Louis Vuitton and Off-White creative force was honoured as a leader of change within the industry.

Abloh, the American-born son of Ghanaian immigrants, who became fashion’s highest-profile Black designer, died on Sunday https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/louis-vuitton-designer-virgil-abloh-dies-2021-11-28 following a two-year battle with a rare form of cancer.

The 41-year-old, who also worked as a DJ and visual artist, had been menswear artistic director at luxury label Louis Vuitton since March 2018.

“Genius, disruptor … (he) will be missed tremendously by all,” veteran designer Tommy Hilfiger said on the red carpet. “He inspired designers as well as the public.”

Designer and television personality Tan France called Abloh “incredible and a visionary … (who) has done the most beautiful work.”

Abloh, who founded label Off-White, was known for mixing streetwear with high-end suits and gowns while at Vuitton. His influences included graffiti art and hip hop.

“Everyone here is going to be talking about Virgil, everyone here has been impacted by his brilliance,” actor Gabrielle Union said.

At the awards, where Abloh’s photo was projected on stage, the designer was among 15 individuals and brands named leaders of change for their actions in the past year helping the environment, people and creativity.

Others on the list included Balenciaga designer Demna Gvasalia, Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele, and Kim Jones, artistic director for Fendi womenswear and couture as well as menswear designer at Dior. Jones was also named designer of the year at the awards.

Michele also won the trailblazer award, while Hilfiger received the outstanding achievement award.

“I’m absolutely grateful, appreciative, humbled by it, but happy to be here and happy to still keep the business rolling,” Hilfiger, 70, said.

Demi Moore, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Dua Lipa were among the celebrity guests attending the event, a fundraiser for British Fashion Council charities.

 

(Reporting by Hanna Rantala and Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Karishma Singh)

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Bank of Canada to work with Indigenous groups on reconciliation

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The Bank of Canada will work with Indigenous groups to understand the wounds caused by decades of discrimination and determine how reconciliation can create a more inclusive and prosperous economy for all, Governor Tiff Macklem said on Monday.

Macklem, opening a symposium on Indigenous economies, said Canadians could work to correct some of the consequences of those “ugly periods.”

Ottawa forcibly removed thousands of Indigenous children from their communities and put them in residential schools in an effort to strip them of their language and culture, a practice that continues to scar families and individuals.

“The Bank of Canada will be working with a broad spectrum of Indigenous groups to set out what reconciliation means for what we do,” Macklem said.

“Together, we’ll define what reconciliation means for the work of the Bank of Canada — toward a more inclusive and prosperous economy for everyone,” he said.

Canada‘s Truth and Reconciliation Commission called the residential school system “cultural genocide” in 2015, as it set out 94 “calls to action” to try to restore Canada‘s relationship with its Indigenous people, including economic reconciliation.

“We can’t go back and change what’s happened. But we can try to correct some of the consequences,” said Macklem, adding that it is the central bank’s job to create conditions for opportunity for all Canadians.

“Taking concrete steps toward economic reconciliation is our responsibility too. And it’s incumbent upon us to take the time to do this well,” said Macklem.

 

(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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Canada’s Trans Mountain still ‘days away’ from restarting pipeline

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Canada‘s Trans Mountain said on Monday it was “still days away” from restarting the key oil pipeline at a reduced capacity as heavy rains continue to impede restoration efforts.

The pipeline, owned by the Canadian government, ships 300,000 barrels a day of crude and refined products from Alberta to the Pacific Coast. It was temporarily shut down as heavy rains and flooding caused widespread disruption in parts of British Columbia.

The operator said assessments of the impacts from the latest storm are being undertaken with a focus on the Coldwater and Coquihalla regions.

Work was interrupted at some sites on Sunday due to high water accumulation or lack of access, the company added.

The company on Friday had said it was working toward restarting the oil pipeline at a reduced capacity this week.

 

(Reporting by Rithika Krishna in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel and Krishna Chandra Eluri)

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