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Faith and Family

Stay up to date on the latest news and discussions on religion, faith and family.

Pope Francis wears a traditional Mexican sombrero hat he received as a gift by a Mexican journalist aboard the plane during the flight from Rome to Habana, Cuba, on his way to a week-long trip to Mexico, Friday, Feb. 12, 2016. The pontiff is scheduled to stop in Cuba for an historical meeting with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill that the Vatican sees as a historic step in the path toward healing the 1,000-year schism that split Christianity. (Alessandro Di Meo/Pool Photo via AP)

Pope, Russian patriarch exchange symbolic gifts

By Associated Press

The Latest on Pope Francis's historic meeting in Cuba with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill and his subsequent trip to Mexico (all times local): Published February 12, 2016

Recent Stories

6 year old Gavin Price follows the lead of big sister Sydney Price, 11, and prays during Ash Wednesday service at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Haddon Heights, N.J., Wednesday, Feb. 10,  2016.  The Price's are from Mt. Ephraim. (Elizabeth Robertson/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday

This week, Ash Wednesday marked the beginning of Lent, a period of spiritual reflection, fasting and penitence that many Christians undertake each year to prepare for the celebration of Easter.

Syrian refugee children walk in mud from the heavy rain at a refugee camp in the town of Hosh Hareem, in the Bekaa valley, east Lebanon, in this Jan. 4, 2016, file photo. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)

Donors face record request of $9 billion to aid Syrians

- Associated Press

International aid to the victims of Syria's five-year war, including millions forced to flee their homes, has persistently fallen short, but organizers of Thursday's annual Syria pledging conference hope for greater generosity this time around, despite a record request of close to $9 billion for 2016.

A magazine cover welcoming Pope Francis to Mexico is displayed for sale alongside fashion and gossip magazines at a newsstand in Mexico City, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016. The pontiff will arrive to Mexico on Friday, Feb. 12 for a week-long visit. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

5 things to know about pope's trip to Mexico

- Associated Press

History's first Latin American pope travels to Mexico on Friday for a weeklong tour of some of the most violent, poverty-stricken and peripheral places in the Americas. He'll be bringing a message of hope and solidarity to victims of drug violence, trafficking and discrimination - a message the Vatican hopes will also resonate north of the border.

In this Dec. 11, 2014 photo, Dark Sea Salt Caramel Chocolates, currently among the most popular treats made at the R.G.W. Candy Company, are seen displayed at the company near Atlanta, Ill. (AP Photo/Herald & Review, Jim Bowling)

Chocolate: health benefits of the love potion

Our love for chocolate dates back to the Mesoamerican era, 3,500 years ago. Fast forward 2,000 years, chocolate houses opened throughout Europe and served as social clubs and meeting places for the elite. And today, it remains a prized love food of Valentine's Day for everyone -- and even throughout the year.

Sister Mary Valerie, center, hands out bags of popcorn at the Fraternite Notre Dame Mary of Nazareth Soup Kitchen in San Francisco, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. San Francisco nuns who serve the homeless are in danger of getting kicked out of their home after a rent hike of more than 50 percent. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

San Francisco nuns face eviction

- Associated Press

Sister Mary Benedicte wants to focus on feeding the hungry lined up outside a soup kitchen in a gritty part of San Francisco. But the city's booming economy means even seedy neighborhoods are demanding higher rents, threatening to force out an order of nuns who serve the homeless.

In this image released by Paramount Pictures, Ben Stiller portrays Derek Zoolander, from left, Owen Wilson portrays Hansel and Penelope Cruz portrays Valentina Valencia in a scene from, "Zoolander 2." (Philippe Antonello/Paramount Pictures via AP)

'Zoolander 2' tries a little too hard to up the ante

- Associated Press

In case you don't follow the global fashion calendar, Fashion Week has just begun in New York, bringing with it a few nice clothes plus the usual over-the-top weirdness - bizarrely themed runway shows and front-row fashionistas teetering on stilt-like heels, swathed in feathers and smoothed out with dangerous doses of Botox.

Visitors at Butler Beach on Anastasia Island, near St. Augustine, Florida, circa 1950s. (

Preserving Jim Crow history comes with a cost

- Associated Press

Growing up in the 1950s, William Bell had to enter Birmingham's segregated Lyric Theatre though a side entrance, marked "COLORED," that was walled-off from the elegant lobby. He climbed a dimly lit stairwell to watch movies from the steep balcony where black patrons had to sit for generations.

Pope Francis dons a Mexican charro style sombrero, in Mexico City's main sqaure, the Zocalo, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016. Pope Francis kicks off his first trip to Mexico on Saturday with speeches to the country's political and ecclesial elites. The pontiff's five-day visit will include a very personal prayer at the Virgin of Guadalupe shrine. (AP Photo/Christian Palma)

Pope Francis gives tough love to Mexico's political, church elite

- Associated Press

Pope Francis issued a tough-love message to Mexico's political and church elites Saturday, telling them they have a duty to provide their people with security, justice and courageous pastoral care to confront the drug-inspired violence and corruption that are tormenting the country.

Rabbi Dovid Tiechtel poses near the damaged menorah outside the Chabad Center at the University of Illinois in Champaign, Ill., on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. The menorah has been damaged three times in less than a year, most recently on Feb. 7. (AP Photo/David Mercer)

U of Illinois menorah damaged for a third time

- Associated Press

A 9-foot-tall menorah at a University of Illinois Jewish student center has been damaged for a third time in less than a year, police said Tuesday, and the center's rabbi believes school leaders need to take a stronger stand against the vandalism.

A group of Christian employees have accused NASA of violating their First Amendment rights after allegedly banning the word "Jesus" from the Johnson Space Center newsletter. (Wikipedia)

NASA accused of banning 'Jesus'

- The Washington Times

A group of Christian employees have accused NASA of violating their First Amendment rights after allegedly banning the word "Jesus" from the Johnson Space Center newsletter.

In this photo provided by Turkish Islamic aid group IHH, a displaced Syrian boy eats at a temporary refugee camp in northern Syria, near Bab al-Salameh border crossing with Turkey, Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. Turkey was under pressure from the EU to open its border to up to 35,000 Syrians who have massed along the frontier in the past few days fleeing an onslaught by government forces and intense Russian airstrikes in Aleppo. (IHH via AP)

Pope appeals for 'martyred country' of Syria

- Catholic News Agency

The plight of Syrian civilians involved in the nation's ongoing conflict was at the heart of Pope Francis' appeal to the international community on Sunday, in an address where he also called for a renewed commitment to the protection of life at all stages.

With the first case of sexual transmission confirmed in the U.S. last week, the White House announced Monday that President Obama will request $1.8 billion in emergency funding to fight Zika at home and abroad. (Associated Press)

White House requests $1.8 billion from Congress to fight Zika virus

- The Washington Times

The World Health Organization said Monday it wants to fast-track a better test for the Zika virus as dozens of countries cope with yet another scary pandemic, saying doctors on the front lines should at least be able to single out the disease from similar infections in hard-hit Latin America.

Transgender Texas prison inmates can start hormone therapy

Associated Press

A change in Texas prison system policy means transgender inmates who hadn't started hormone therapy before incarceration can do so behind bars if they go through a thorough process to confirm the diagnosis.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's remarks on his Facebook page, regarding the planned construction of an immense cross in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Religion headlines worth 5 minutes of your Friday

Eventually there will be a 210 feet tall (about 19 stories) cross on that plot of land for all to see. It will be visible to planes flying into Corpus Christi International Airport and be able to seen five miles away by land and double that by air.

Ethiopian Airlines offers nonstop flights from Los Angeles to Dublin Airport (DUB) with onward flights to Addis Ababa that allow passengers unrestricted stopovers in Dublin, Ireland.

Airline travel secret: free stopovers

One super secret of flying these days, as noted in a recent issue of Business Traveler, is the free stopover. Those are the cities between Point A and Point B where you can actually get out of the plane and even out of the airport without suffering a penalty.

The outside of the Atlah Church is seen in the Harlem section of New York, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016. Two groups that serve gay New Yorkers are hoping to get the last word on the Atlah World Missionary Church. They want to buy its headquarters at a foreclosure auction. One wants to turn it into housing for gay homeless youth.  (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Gay groups seek to buy Harlem church known for hateful messages

- Associated Press

The end may be nigh for a Harlem church known for hateful public messages condemning gays and President Barack Obama to eternal damnation, and two groups that serve gay New Yorkers are hoping to get an ironic last word on the matter.

Florida woman, 82, tracks down and meets 96-year-old birth mother

- Associated Press

Eighty-two years after she was born to a teenage girl and put up for adoption, Betty Morrell finally has met her 96-year-old birth mother, thanks to the dogged persistence of her granddaughter during 20 years of searching.

David Brody, broadcast journalist and White House Correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network.

Religion headlines worth 5 minutes of your Wednesday

David Brody writes, "What this victory in Iowa proved is that when a candidate authentically courts evangelicals with their time, a near-perfect ground game along with lots of money to propel it, evangelicals will respond. And when they respond in record numbers like they did in Iowa Monday night, they show that they are more than a force in American politics; they're a game-changer."

MTV names post-millennial generation - but does it fit?

- Deseret News

Children born after 2000 will be tasked with "founding the new world," The Atlantic quoted an MTV survey as saying. And here's how that plays into what the entertainment channel is calling the youngest generation.

In this image released by Universal Pictures, Scarlett Johansson, left, and Josh Brolin appear in a scene from "Hail, Caesar!." (Alison Rosa/Universal Pictures via AP)

Review: In 'Hail, Caesar!' a studio fixer's faith is tested

- Associated Press

The Coen canon reaches a crescendo - or rather a warped inversion of one - in "Hail, Caesar!" when the brothers assemble a quartet of religious leaders from various faiths before Josh Brolin's 1950s movie studio "fixer" Eddie Mannix. The scene plays like a theological joke: the Coen version of a priest and a rabbi walk into a movie studio.

A winning wager on Super Bowl 50

Most of the estimated $4.2 billion being waged on Super Bowl 50 will be illegal. You know the annual rituals: friendly workplace wagers, bets at your favorite sports watering hole and bets between rival teams' mayors and governors.

"The madrassas create their own social studies books that divide the world into Darul Islam and Darul Kufr," said Tariq Rahman, liberal arts dean at Beaconhouse National University near Lahore, referring to terms that mean "land of Islam" and "land of disbelief." (Associated Press)

Pakistan's radical madrassas retain clout despite crackdown

Pakistani authorities say they have shuttered over 180 Islamic religious schools called madrassas across the country in a yearlong crackdown on extremism, but even so, the closures affect only a fraction of the total number of seminaries suspected of preaching hatred and promoting a violent brand of Islamic extremism.

FILE - In this Dec. 16, 2010 file photo, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Senate approved a long-delayed bill to boost energy efficiency Friday that includes incentives to cut energy use in commercial buildings, manufacturing plants and homes. (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg, File)

Democrats tell GOP to disband Planned Parenthood 'witch hunt'

- The Washington Times

Congressional Democrats on Tuesday told House Speaker Paul D. Ryan to "immediately disband" a taxpayer-funded probe into Planned Parenthood, saying a Texas grand jury's decision to indict the abortion provider's opponents had discredited a select committee tasked with scrutinizing groups that harvest fetal tissue.

Recent Opinion Columns

'Their Blood Cries Out' in Syria, elsewhere for our help

Twenty years ago, Professor Paul Marshall of the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto, Canada, wrote a book with a particularly uninviting title, "Their Blood Cries Out." This tome, not unlike the 16th century John Foxe's Book of Martyrs, described the persecution of multiple Christians around the world.

FILE - In this undated image released earlier this year by the New York City Health Department, a graphic warning NYC consumers of high salt content in foods that is now required on menus at many fast-food and chain restaurants is already headed for a court fight. The National Restaurant Association says it filed a lawsuit in Manhattan on Thursday, two days after the first-of-its-kind rule took effect. The rule requires chain restaurants to put the salt-shaker icon on menu items that top the recommended daily limit of 2,300 milligrams of sodium, about a teaspoon of salt. (Antonio D'Angelo/New York City Health Department via AP)

Please, don't pass the salt

It has been postulated that diets high in sodium contribute to an annual 2.3 million cardiovascular deaths worldwide and is responsible for 1-in-10 U.S. deaths. And researchers also found that 40 percent of these deaths affect adults 69 years of age or younger.

Dozens of former Wounded Warrior Project employees have accused the charity of needlessly spending millions of dollars in donations on lavish conferences and parties. (CBS News)

Wounded Warrior Project 'a pillar of support'

When my husband first went into the hospital, I was scared. My husband Charlie, an Operation Iraqi Freedom combat veteran, was not coherent and to see the man I love collapse and transform into someone unrecognizable - it shook me to my core.

A marcher holds a sign during the March for Life 2016 in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016 in Washington. January 22 is the anniversary of 1973 'Roe v. Wade' U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

A modern day David and Goliath

This weekend, thousands marched on the Texas Capitol in celebration of life and in memory of the more than 50 million lives lost since the infamous Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. Just two days later, a Harris County grand jury tasked with investigating wrong-doing by Planned Parenthood shocked the nation by instead indicting the messenger.

Military caregivers, PTSD and domestic violence

When Sarah Palin recently discussed events that occurred at her home involving her son, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and domestic violence, she opened up the discussion of the intertwining of PTSD and domestic violence within the military community.

This photo provided by Paramount Pictures shows Pablo Schreiber, from left, as Kris "Tanto" Paronto, John Krasinski as Jack Silva, David Denman as Dave "Boon" Benton and Dominic Fumusa as John "Tig" Tiegen, in the film, "13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi" from Paramount Pictures and 3 Arts Entertainment/Bay Films. The movie releases in U.S. theaters Jan. 15, 2016. (Christian Black/Paramount Pictures via AP)

'13 Hours': a must-see movie

Callista and I saw "13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi" on Monday. It was a tremendous experience. The intensity of the continuous action reminded me a lot of the movie "Black Hawk Down."

Is 'meninism' a good idea?

Many feminists hate "meninism." I, a proud and staunch feminist, don't. Yes, meninism is partly a mockery of the real struggles that women face. Yes, self-proclaimed meninists are mostly privileged white men. But they have raised some real issues.

The truth about the State of the Union

On Monday, the White House tweeted out: "The #EmptySeat in the State of the Union guest box will speak for those who no longer have a voice." As expected, people took quickly to Twitter with their interpretations of that comment.

Lonely hearts

Lonely? Welcome to the club

Have you ever been lonesome? Of course you have. It's natural to feel lonely, especially following a break up or move to a new location. We'd have no country music or blues if no one ever felt lonely!

King Julien in "Madagascar"

Carpe diem: Let's get physical

Our New Year's resolutions reflect our hope and desire to bring about a better us. Our health, whether it is to eat better, exercise more, stress less, or quit smoking, is often a part of this list.

A Yazidi mom and her little girl, 7, retell the horror tales at the hands of ISIS "teachers."

Little Yazidi girl, 7, speaks of ISIS brow-beating

Sitting in a U.N. refugee tent in a camp filled with 18,000 refugees, my stomach turns and my eyes are wet, listening to yet one more horrific, unimaginable crime committed against Yazidi children, girls and women. It is Christmas Eve 2015.

Who said what in the year that was 2015

- The Washington Times

The newsworthy things people said in 2015 could fill pages of The Washington Times newspaper and then some. There are so many quotes, in fact, the sheer volume might break Al Gore's greatest invention: the Internet. I've selected several notable quotes to refresh your memory, some that you might have missed and a couple on one of my favorite topics, sports.

The Annunciation, by Henry Tanner

The Annunciation by Henry Tanner

Tanner clothes Mary in simple peasant fabric and places her in a room with rough-hewn stone flooring and ugly, cracked plaster. Even the vase in the background is of the common ceramic variety with no adornment. While other artists depict Gabriel coming to Mary while she is reading, thus showing her industry, intellect, and piety, Tanner's Mary seems to have been doing nothing--just sitting on her bed. Look closely and you will even see her bare toes. How shocking!

Ken Graves, Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel in Bangor, Maine.

Christian pastors take varying views on concealed-carry guns

Our duty to spread the gospel, however, does not mean that we have a Christian duty to allow them to come to our homes and take our daughters as slaves, or for them to enter our churches and prematurely dispatch to Heaven our brothers and sisters or their children. In that situation, I for one -- while not called to hate or to avenge -- am called to defend. And to defend violently, if necessary.

Military life detours when drug abuse joins PTSD

A detoured life. That is how military caregiver Allyson Bowers describes her life caring for her husband, Benjamin Bowers, a medically retired Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran. Along with caring for her husband, Allyson also holds a master's degree in human services with an emphasis on military resilience from Liberty University and is a Fellow Emeritus with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation.

In this Sunday, March 1, 2015 photo, Sanders, a 12-year-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel mix, walks with winter booties with owner Malia Ebel in Concord, N.H. A harsh winter across the country has pet owners buying boots to protect their pets paws. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

Prepare for the wrath of Ol' Man Winter

The Farmer's Almanac is predicting a "cold, shivery forecast" with snow blanketing the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States this winter season. Add to that the Monster El Nino forecasted to stir up our nation's winter weather patterns.