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Christie: GOP should ‘show up’ for minority votes

In Political News, Republicans on November 11, 2013 at 4:54 pm

PHILIP ELLIOTT, AP

 

Sun Nov 10, 3:45 PM UTC

 

English: Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie

English: Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Sunday offered his Republican Party a prescription to win: show up.

 

Christie, fresh off a 22-percentage point win for re-election, said the GOP must go into Hispanic and black communities, talk with seniors and campaign in traditionally Democratic-leaning areas. It’s what helped him become the first New Jersey Republican in a quarter century to capture more than 50 percent of the vote.

 

It also has done nothing to tamp down chatter about a 2016 presidential bid, something many have encouraged.

 

“I know everybody is going to be speculating about what may come in my future and lots of other people’s future in our party. But the fact is, I am focused on being the governor of New Jersey and being the chairman of the Republican Governors Association,” Christie said on “Fox News Sunday,” one of the four television news shows he appeared on Sunday. “And I think those two jobs will keep me pretty busy over the next year.”

 

It’s the year after that dominates conversations among Republican operatives, donors and rivals.

 

Asked directly whether he would serve all four years of his second term, which starts in 2014, Christie hedged: “Listen, who knows? I don’t know.”

 

Republicans are searching for a candidate who is true to the party’s beliefs, can appeal to voters in swing-voting states and can help the part win the presidency for the first time since 2004.

 

Christie’s win on Tuesday made him an appealing option.

 

“I got 61 percent of the vote in the state of New Jersey in a blue state that had just re-elected Barack Obama a year ago by 17 points,” Christie said. “That was nearly a 40-point turnaround between voting for a Democrat at the top of the ticket and voting for a Republican.”

 

Christie attributed his win to reaching out to traditionally Democratic demographic groups.

 

“Getting 51 percent of the Hispanic vote, I’m very proud of that,” he said. “Because I’ve worked hard with the Hispanic community to let them see how our policies can help their families. I’ve worked hard with the African American community. I’ve worked hard with seniors and students.”

 

Christie said the reason for his win was simple: better-than-average showing at the polls from minorities and Democrats.

 

“If you want to win a vote by that kind of margin, if you want to attract the majority of the Hispanic vote, if you want to nearly triple your African American vote, you need to show up, you need to go into those neighborhoods, you need to campaign in places,” Christie said.

 

Exit polls say Christie also carried one-third of Democrats and two-thirds of those who called themselves independents.

 

That’s not to say Christie is a natural fit for the GOP. He has favored an overhaul to the nation’s immigration laws that includes a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally. He is not opposed to some gun control measures. And he’s been critical of some of the tea party’s most popular figures in Washington.

 

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a 2012 presidential contender who is weighing another White House campaign, said voters would have to judge Christie’s record as he visits early nominating states such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

 

“Is a conservative in New Jersey a conservative in the rest of the country?” Perry said in an interview taped during a visit to Des Moines, Iowa. “We’ll have that discussion at the appropriate time.”

 

Christie spoke to “Fox News Sunday,” NBC’s “Meet the Press” and CBS’ “Face the Nation.” Christie and Perry appeared separately on ABC’s “This Week.”

 

Source: Associated Press

 

 

 

 

Ill. set to be 15th state to allow gay marriage

In Homosexual marriage, Homosexual rights on November 6, 2013 at 3:21 pm

KERRY LESTER, AP

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — With Illinois set to become the 15th state nationwide to legalize same-sex marriage, Chicago couple Theresa Volpe and Mercedes Santos finally began planning the wedding they’d started thinking about more than two decades ago.

“From the moment we met and fell in love, the language was, ‘If I could marry you I would,'” said Volpe, who is expecting the couple’s third child. “We waited a long time for that to happen, to hear … that we can have that. I think it’s really the final stamp on our relationship.”

After months of arduous lobbying in President Barack Obama’s home state, Illinois lawmakers passed a measure Tuesday that would legalize same-sex marriage. Under the legislation, which Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has vowed to sign, couples could start tying the knot in June.

Fourteen other states and Washington, D.C., allow same-sex marriage.

The road to the Illinois vote was long and included a stalled attempt earlier this year, frustrating activists in a state where Democrats lead the House, Senate and governor’s office. Chicago Democratic Rep. Greg Harris, who is the main sponsor, decided not to bring the bill for a vote in May, saying he didn’t have the support.

Then the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to strike down a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which Harris said resonated with lawmakers. Backers also launched a furious campaign, hiring a union lobbyist, the former head of the Illinois Republican Party and field organizers statewide.

“To treat all our citizens equally in the eyes of the law we must change this,” Harris said on the floor. “Families have been kept apart.”

Debate lasted more than two hours, and the final roll call was met with cheers. Supporters’ speeches echoed themes of equality and civil rights, with mentions of Obama and Martin Luther King Jr.

The measure had backing from both of Illinois’ U.S. senators and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. It also got a last-minute boost from longtime House Speaker Michael Madigan, who serves as chair of the state’s Democratic Party. The Chicago Democrat said he used the “art of persuasion” to bring on more than five votes in the last week.

Opponents, including some of the most powerful religious leaders in Illinois, have said marriage should remain between a man and a woman. A group of Chicago-area pastors vowed to line up primary challengers against some lawmakers who voted yes.

The bill first cleared the Senate on Valentine’s Day. Backers expressed confidence that the bill would be approved by the House in mid-March. But it took the supporters months to secure votes.

Although Illinois once appeared poised to become the first Midwestern state to approve gay marriage in the Legislature, Minnesota did it sooner and started holding its first same-sex weddings over the summer. Iowa allows gay marriages too, because of a court ruling, not a legislative vote.

For months, the leaders of several black mega-churches lobbied the districts of black House members with an aggressive robocall campaign against gay marriage, placing the Democratic members of the caucus in an uncomfortable spotlight. Many remained undecided until the vote neared.

But for couples such as Volpe and Santos, Tuesday marked the start of a new chapter.

The couple had a civil union ceremony in 2011, when Illinois approved them. But now they hope their wedding will include their new baby.

“Some people didn’t even know what that meant. Some of them didn’t come because they didn’t know — what does that mean?” Volpe said. “When you say ‘We’re going to have a wedding,’ for sure people will come now.”

Source: Associated Press

 

 

For Obama, a sudden struggle with personal appeal

In Barak Obama, General News, Political News on November 4, 2013 at 7:50 pm
Hundreds of FBI employees gathered to hear Pre...

Hundreds of FBI employees gathered to hear President Barack Obama’s speech and greet him afterward during his visit to FBI headquarters. White House photographer Pete Souza is to Obama’s left. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

JENNIFER AGIESTA, AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — For years, President Barack Obama’s personal favorability ratings served as a political firewall that sustained him through an economic recession, grueling fights with congressional Republicans, and the grind of a re-election campaign.

But after a rough start to Obama’s second term, Americans increasingly view the president unfavorably. And perhaps most concerning for the White House: an Associated Press analysis of public polling shows it has become more difficult over time for Obama to fully rebound from dents in his favorability ratings.

“It’s a slow cumulative effect,” Republican pollster David Winston said, adding that personal favorability “is a much harder number to move if it starts to go south.”

The public’s increasingly negative view of Obama may be less of a concern for his future given that he is barred from running for re-election. But the president still needs a strong connection with the public in order to rally Americans around his policy proposals and, in turn, to show Congress he remains politically relevant at a time when lame duck status is lurking.

The president’s advisers need only look at Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, to see the impact of a crumbling relationship with the public. Positive impressions of the Republican trailed off in the beginning of 2005 amid public frustration with the Iraq war and the government’s flawed response to Hurricane Katrina. Bush’s favorability rating never recovered and he struggled to fulfill significant policy goals throughout the rest of his presidency.

A series of recent polls show Obama’s personal favorability now leaning negative, including an NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll released last week that found positive views of Obama at the lowest point of his presidency and down 6 points from earlier in October. The drop follows the 16-day government shutdown, the cascade of problems during his health care law’s rollout, and another flood of revelations about U.S. government spying.

White House officials blame the shutdown in particular for Obama’s falling favorability, given that it resulted in shuttering many federal services and furloughs for hundreds of thousands of Americans, while again highlighting the troubled ties between the president and Capitol Hill. But Obama aides note that the impact of the shutdown on congressional Republicans has been even worse, with both their personal and job performance ratings at record lows.

Logo of the United States White House, especia...

Logo of the United States White House, especially in conjunction with offices like the Chief of Staff and Press Secretary. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Everybody gets hurt when there’s dysfunction in Washington,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

Throughout Obama’s presidency, his job approval and personal favorability ratings have generally risen and fallen in tandem. But his favorability numbers, which often reflect the public’s gut-level reaction to a politician, generally remained the more positive of the two measures.

That, the president’s supporters argue, made the public more likely to give him a chance even when they disagreed with his policies or the direction the country was headed. His strong likability was seen as a particular asset during his 2012 re-election campaign when most polls showed that voters saw him in a more favorable light than his Republican rival Mitt Romney.

“For the president, it’s meant that people have cared about what he had to say because they liked him,” said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster.

The question for the White House now is whether that dynamic will hold if the public’s personal opinions of the president continue to sour. An Associated Press-GfK poll from early October found that 52 percent of Americans didn’t think Obama was very honest and were split on whether he was even likable.

The president’s favorability has taken hits during other points in his presidency. Most polling found the public’s impression soured in late summer 2011 around the first round of debt ceiling negotiations and again last summer in the midst of his presidential campaign.

Although Obama’s favorability improved somewhat after each hit, he never fully recovered, with each rating rebound peaking below earlier average favorability ratings.

For example, Obama began 2011 with majority favorable ratings in most polling. When the debt ceiling fight pushed his favorability below 50 percent in late 2011, he came back to an average right around 50 rather than above it. This latest battle has led to average ratings in the mid-40s, worse than he’s seen at any point previously.

Past presidents have also struggled to recover from dips in their favorability ratings.

Bush left office with majorities saying they had both a negative impression of him personally and disapproved of his job performance. And former President Bill Clinton’s favorability numbers never recovered after a fall in 1998 as the Monica Lewinsky story unfolded, though his job approval remained strong through his last days at the White House.

Republican President Ronald Reagan evoked the warmest reaction from the American public, leaving office with high job approval numbers, 63 percent according to Gallup polling in December 1988, and a majority holding a favorable impression of him personally.

Source: Associated Press

 

Gay rights bill heads for first hurdle in Senate

In Homosexual rights on November 4, 2013 at 7:34 pm
English: US Senator Dean Heller

English: US Senator Dean Heller (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

DONNA CASSATA, AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate prepared to push major gay rights legislation past a first, big hurdle Monday as Democrats and a handful of Republicans united behind a bill to prohibit workplace discrimination against gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.

The legislation could win Senate passage by week’s end, but its prospects in the Republican-majority House are dimmer.

Hours before Monday’s vote, President Barack Obama issued a fresh plea for passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the first significant gay rights bill since Congress lifted the ban on gays serving openly in the military nearly three years ago.

“Americans ought to be judged by one thing only in their workplaces: their ability to get their jobs done,” the president said in a message written for Huffingtonpost.com. “Does it make a difference if the firefighter who rescues you is gay — or the accountant who does your taxes or the mechanic who fixes your car?”

All 55 members of the Democratic majority and at least five Republicans were expected to vote to proceed with the bill, giving Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., the 60 votes necessary. Reid’s Republican colleague in Nevada, Dean Heller, announced his support on Monday, saying that the measure “raises the federal standards to match what we have come to expect in Nevada, which is that discrimination must not be tolerated under any circumstance.”

Current federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, race and national origin. But it doesn’t stop an employer from firing or refusing to hire workers because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. The bill would bar employers with 15 or more workers from using a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity as the basis for making employment decisions, including hiring, firing, compensation or promotion.

Possible passage of the bill by week’s end would cap a 17-year quest to secure Senate support for the anti-bias measure that failed by one vote in 1996, the same year Congress passed and President Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act. That law required the federal government to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages.

Today Americans have shown increasing support for same-sex marriage, now legal in 14 states and the District of Columbia. The Supreme Court in June affirmed gay marriage and granted federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples.

Meanwhile, in Maine on Monday, six-term Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud, who is running for governor, said that he is gay.

“That may seem like a big announcement to some people. For me, it’s just a part of who I am, as much as being a third-generation mill worker or a lifelong Mainer. One thing I do know is that it has nothing to do with my ability to lead the state of Maine,” Michaud wrote in an op-ed article.

The anti-discrimination bill faces strong opposition from conservative groups — Heritage Action and the Faith and Freedom Coalition said the vote will be part of their legislative scorecard on lawmakers. More to its immediate prospects, the legislation is opposed by Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and it’s unclear whether the House will even vote on the measure.

Reiterating Boehner’s longstanding opposition, spokesman Michael Steel said Monday that Boehner “believes this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs.”

Besides Heller, four other Republican senators are backing the legislation — Susan Collins of Maine, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Orrin Hatch of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — and proponents expect a few others to support it.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest gay and lesbian advocacy group, contrasted Heller’s backing with Boehner’s opposition.

“The speaker, of all people, should certainly know what it’s like to go to work every day afraid of being fired,” Griffin said, a reference to the unsuccessful, tea party-backed challenge to Boehner earlier this year.

Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia have approved laws banning workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and 17 of those also prohibit employers from discriminating based on gender identity.

About 88 percent of Fortune 500 companies have adopted nondiscrimination policies that include sexual orientation, according to the Human Rights Campaign. About 57 percent of those companies include gender identity.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce remains neutral on the bill, a spokeswoman said Monday.

Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, said it was disappointing that Boehner may not bring the measure to a vote. “When the Senate passes this legislation, all options will be on the table in order to advance this critical legislation in the House,” Hammill said.

At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney sidestepped questions about whether Obama would consider issuing an executive order on workplace discrimination if Congress refused to act. Gay rights groups have criticized Obama for refusing to take that step, which would affect employees who work for federal contractors.

“We’re focused on getting ENDA through Congress,” Carney said, using the acronym for the workplace discrimination bill.

Source: Associated Press

 

Legislative prayer gets Supreme Court review

In General News, Prayer, Supreme Court on November 4, 2013 at 7:11 pm

MARK SHERMAN, AP

The Justices of the United States Supreme Cour...

The Justices of the United States Supreme Court with President George W. Bush, October 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court, which asks for God’s protection before every public session, will settle a dispute over prayer in the halls of government.

The case being argued at the court Wednesday involves prayers said at the start of town council meetings in Greece, N.Y., a Rochester suburb. It is the court’s first legislative prayer case since 1983, when the justices said that an opening prayer is part of the nation’s fabric and not a violation of the First Amendment.

But the federal appeals court in New York held that the town crossed a line and violated the Constitution by opening nearly every meeting over an 11-year span with prayers that stressed Christianity.

Under Chief Justice John Roberts, and with the replacement of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor with Justice Samuel Alito in 2006, the court has been more open to religion in public life. The case may serve as a test of the ongoing viability of the decision in the 1983 case, Marsh v. Chambers.

But it also could have an even broader impact, giving conservative justices the opportunity to jettison legal rules that have tended to rein in religious expression in the public square.

That is what some conservative Christian groups, Republican lawmakers and state officials are hoping for, and it’s what liberal interest groups fear. The issue extends well beyond prayer and could affect holiday displays, aid to religious schools, Ten Commandments markers and memorial crosses.

The Supreme Court “has issued a series of narrowly divided and splintered decisions that have confused the lower courts, baffled the public and incentivized government officials to suppress legitimate religious expression in order to avoid the costs and hazards of litigation,” said 85 members of Congress, almost all Republicans, in a court filing.

Among the examples of confusion cited are the court’s twin rulings on a single day in 2005 that upheld a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Texas state capitol in Austin, yet declared unconstitutional a display in the McCreary County courthouse in Kentucky.

Official 2007 portrait of U.S. Supreme Court A...

Official 2007 portrait of U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The lawmakers are among those calling on the justices to adopt a clear rule — requiring government to refrain from coercing participation in any religion or religious exercise, or from creating a state religion — to determine whether a practice runs afoul of the First Amendment’s clause barring laws “respecting an establishment of religion,” known as the Establishment Clause.

But doing so would drastically cut back on protections against instances in which governments abandon religious neutrality, including the dispute in the New York town of Greece, said Erwin Chemerinsky, a liberal legal scholar and dean of the University of California at Irvine law school. If the court adopts the test that the lawmakers and others are urging, “very little will be left of the Establishment Clause,” Chemerinsky said.

Chemerinsky said the prayers in Greece should be held unconstitutional under any standard.

The Obama administration is taking a middle ground, siding with the town because it said the appeals court made a mistake in departing from the Supreme Court’s 30-year-old precedent. “Courts should not parse or evaluate the content of prayer,” Solicitor General Donald Verrilli wrote in his brief, relying on the 1983 case. He said the administration has an interest in protecting the tradition of opening each day of Congress with a prayer that stretches back to the nation’s founding.

At the Supreme Court, the justices stand at their seats while Marshal Pam Talkin asks God to “save the United States and this honorable court.”

The facts of the situation in Greece, a town of roughly 100,000 people, are not in dispute.

From 1999 through 2007, and again from January 2009 through June 2010, every meeting was opened with a Christian-oriented invocation. In 2008, after residents Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens complained, four of 12 meetings were opened by non-Christians, including a Jewish layman, a Wiccan priestess and the chairman of the local Baha’i congregation.

A town employee each month selected clerics or lay people by using a local published guide of churches. The guide did not include non-Christian denominations, however. The appeals court found that religious institutions in the town of just under 100,000 people are primarily Christian, and even Galloway and Stephens testified they knew of no non-Christian places of worship there.

The two residents filed suit and a trial court ruled in the town’s favor, finding that the town did not intentionally exclude non-Christians. It also said that the content of the prayer was not an issue because there was no desire to proselytize or demean other faiths.

But a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that even with the high court’s 1983 ruling, the practice of having one Christian prayer after another amounted to the town’s endorsement of Christianity.

Richard Garnett, a University of Notre Dame law professor and former Supreme Court clerk, said it is likely that the court will reverse the appeals court and that a narrow ruling of the sort sought by the administration could cause some liberal justices to join their conservative colleagues.

But because the case can be resolved narrowly, Garnett said it probably is not one the justices will use to order judges to take a more hands-off approach to instances in which religion and government mix.

The case is Greece v. Galloway, 12-696.

Source: Associated Press

Retiring Pope Benedict XVI in uncharted territory

In Catholic News, Religious News, World News on February 12, 2013 at 6:03 pm
English: Pope Benedict XVI during general audition

English: Pope Benedict XVI during general audition (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

By NICOLE WINFIELD, AP

 
For months, construction crews have been renovating a four-story building attached to a monastery on the northern edge of the Vatican gardens where nuns would live for a few years at a time in cloister.

 

Only a handful of Vatican officials knew it would one day be Pope Benedict XVI’s retirement home.

 

On Tuesday, construction materials littered the front lawn of the house and plastic tubing snaked down from the top floor to a cargo container. The restoration has become even more critical following Benedict’s announcement that he will resign Feb. 28 and live his remaining days here in prayer.

 

From a new name to this new home to the awkward reality of having a reigning pope and a retired one, Benedict is facing uncharted territory as he becomes the first pontiff in six centuries to retire.

 

The Vatican on Tuesday tried to quash any notion that Benedict aimed to pull strings behind the scenes. The Rev. Federico Lombardi, a top spokesman, said Benedict will have no influence on the election of his successor.

 

“The pope will surely say absolutely nothing about the process of election,” he told reporters.

 

The 85-year-old Benedict said Monday he was stepping down simply because he simply no longer had the strength in mind or body to carry on. Lombardi on Tuesday also revealed for the first time that Benedict has had a pacemaker for years and had its battery replaced just a few months ago.

 

Although no date for a conclave to choose the next pope has been announced, it must begin within 20 days of his Feb. 28 retirement. That means a new pope will likely be elected by the College of Cardinals by Easter — March 31 this year.

 

The decision immediately raised questions about what Benedict would be called, where he would live — and how that might affect his successor.

 

The Vatican’s senior communications adviser, Greg Burke, said Tuesday the fact that Benedict had chosen to live in a monastery is significant.

 

“It is something that he has wanted to do for a while,” Burke said. “But I think it also suggests that his role is going to be a very quiet one, and that is important so you don’t have a situation of … two different popes at the same time, and one influencing the other.

 

“I think the obvious thing is when he says retirement, it really means retiring,” he said.

 

As for his name, Burke said Benedict would most likely be referred to “Bishop of Rome, emeritus” as opposed to “Pope Emeritus.” Lombardi also said Benedict would take some kind of “emeritus” title.

 

Other Vatican officials said it would probably be up to the next pope to decide Benedict’s new title, and wouldn’t exclude that he might still be called “Your Holiness” as a courtesy, much as retired presidents are often referred to as “President.” It was not clear whether the retired pope will retain the name Benedict – or revert to being called Joseph Ratzinger again.

 

Benedict had important unfinished business before his retirement: He has been widely expected to issue his fourth encyclical, concerning faith, before Easter. But Lombardi ruled out that the encyclical would be ready before his retirement.

 

Already, Benedict was changing his schedule to take into account his new circumstances. He had been scheduled to go to a church on Rome’s Aventine hill for the annual Ash Wednesday service this week starting the church’s Lenten season; the service will take place in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome instead. Lombardi said a larger space was needed to accommodate the throngs expected to greet the outgoing pope – but observers suspect the Vatican may have also wanted to spare Benedict from the crowds along the hill.

 

Immediately after his resignation, Benedict will spend some time at the papal summer retreat in Castel Gandolfo, overlooking Lake Albano in the hills south of Rome where he has spent his summer vacations reading and writing. By March, the weather may start to warm up and he should be able to enjoy the gardens and feed the goldfish in a pond near a statue of the Madonna where he often liked to visit.

 

If he’s interested, he can do some star gazing; The Vatican Observatory is located inside the palazzo, complete with a telescope and a world-class collection of meteorites.

 

Lombardi said Benedict would eventually return to the Vatican and live at a monastery inside the Vatican gardens. Asked if he might like to go somewhere else, Lombardi said the pope would feel “much safer” inside the Vatican walls.

 

The Mater Ecclesiae monastery was built in 1992, on the site of a former residence for the Vatican’s gardeners. Pope John Paul II had wanted a residence inside the Vatican walls to host contemplative religious orders, and over the years several different orders would come for spells of a few years, said Giovanni Maria Vian, the editor of the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

 

The last such order of nuns left the residence in October, and renovation work began immediately afterward, Vian told AP. He said Benedict had decided to retire last April after his taxing but exhilarating trip to Mexico and Cuba in March.

 

“Many people thought they were doing the renovations for new sisters, but it was for the pope,” Vian said. He said only a few people knew of the pope’s plans, yet the secret didn’t get out.

 

“That shows the seriousness and loyalty of the few senior Holy See officials who were aware,” he said — a reference to the 2012 scandal over leaked papal documents by the pope’s own butler.

 

Benedict has visited the monastery, with its own chapel on the grounds, a handful of times over the years.

 

There’s a garden right outside the front door, where the nuns living there would tend to the lemon and orange trees as well as the roses, which are used in liturgical ceremonies or sent as gifts to the pope. No chemical fertilizers are used, just organic fertilizer sent straight from the gardens at Castel Gandolfo.

 

Source: Associated Press.

 

 

 

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