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Pope Francis, the head of the Anglican Communion and the top Presbyterian minister are speaking on LGBTQ rights. They denounced the criminalization of homosexuality and said gay people should be welcomed by their churches. The three Christian leaders spoke Sunday during a joint news conference returning home from South Sudan. They were there to take part in a three-day ecumenical pilgrimage to try to nudge forward the young country’s peace process. In a recent Associated Press interview, Francis declared that laws that criminalize gay people were “unjust” and that “being homosexual is not a crime.” Dozens of countries criminalizes homosexuality, and LGBTQ advocates say even where such laws are not applied, they add to a climate of discrimination and violence.

PHILADELPHIA — Trey Burton threw a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl nine months earlier, seemingly making him the best option on the Chicago Bears to run a similar trick play midway through the 2018 season. The coaching staff introduced the formation — which closely resembled the “Philly Special” — and assigned Burton to handle the same role he did for the Eagles. A running back would take the ...

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The funeral of Tyre Nichols had all the hallmarks of what’s known as a homegoing service in Black American communities. But in addition to offering an outlet for the private mourning of Nichols’ family and friends, this ritual was also public and political.

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Here are the bestsellers for the week that ended Saturday, Jan. 28, compiled from data from independent and chain bookstores, book wholesalers and independent distributors nationwide, powered by NPD BookScan © 2023 NPD Group. (Reprinted from Publishers Weekly, published by PWxyz LLC. © 2023, PWxyz LLC.) HARDCOVER FICTION 1. Lessons in Chemistry. Bonnie Garmus. Doubleday 2. The House of Wolves. ...

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Growing numbers of people are flocking to U.S. churches that center their practice around a psychedelic tea known as ayahuasca. Organizers and their legal advisers argue a 2006 Supreme Court ruling protects them from prosecution and participants say they are taking part in a religious service. Some experts raise concerns that the benefits of ayahuasca haven’t been well studied. Many who attend the ceremonies, which can last for days, argue their experience on the illegal substance brings them closer to God than they ever felt at traditional religious services. Surveys have also found many come away feeling better afterwards, with some saying it helped with depression and problems with risky substance use.

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Growing numbers of people are flocking to U.S. churches that center their practice around a bitter psychedelic tea known as ayahuasca. Organizers and their legal advisers argue a 2006 Supreme Court ruling protects them from prosecution and participants say they are taking part in a religious service. Some experts raise concerns that the benefits of ayahuasca haven’t been well studied. Many who attend the ceremonies, which can last for days, argue their experience on the illegal substance brings them closer to God than they ever felt at traditional religious services. Surveys have also found many come away feeling better afterwards, with some saying it helped with depression and problems with risky substance use.

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Ayahuasca is a psychedelic tea whose roots go back hundreds of years to ceremonial use by Indigenous groups in the Amazon rainforest. Ayahuasca supporters found a foothold in the United States in the 1980s and interest has intensified more recently as celebrities like NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Hollywood star Will Smith talked about attending ceremonies. Many people who take the tea claim that ayahuasca brings them closer to God and thus have formed churches to celebrate it. Many believe it helps treat a range of mental health problems but others caution there haven’t been large-scale studies to support those claims.

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Pope Francis is urging Congo’s young people to work for a peaceful and honest future. Francis received a raucous welcome on his last full day in Congo as he joined tens of thousands of young people at the Martyrs’ Stadium in the capital, Kinshasa. The crowd that pulsed in the stands on Thursday repeatedly interrupted the pope, cheering especially loudly when Francis denounced the “cancer of corruption.” The audience broke into a chant in the Lingala language directed at the country’s president, thundering that his mandate was over. The stadium event was aimed at encouraging a generation that has been particularly hard hit by Congo's chronic poverty, corruption and conflict.

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On his trip to Congo, Pope Francis has heard firsthand accounts of atrocities some people have endured during years of fighting in the eastern part of the country. A young woman told him she was “raped like an animal” for months. A young man watched as his father was decapitated. A former sex slave told Francis her captors forced her into cannibalism. Francis sat in silence as victim after victim come forward to tell their stories, and he urged them to use their pain to sow peace and reconciliation. It was a message he delivered earlier in the day at a Mass to an estimated 1 million people at Kinshasa’s Ndolo airport.

A study has revealed new details about what the ancient Egyptians used to mummify their dead. In 2016, archaeologists found an embalming workshop with a collection of old pottery. Many of the jars still had written instructions for the embalming process, like “to put on his head.” By matching the words on the outside with the chemical traces inside, researchers figured out what substances were used on various parts of the mummies. Some materials came from far-off locations — showing that Egyptians traded with global networks to get what they needed.

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Devotees in Ireland are marking the feast day of St. Brigid of Kildare. She's a medieval saint who is making a 21st century comeback. Brigid shares a name and many attributes with an ancient Irish goddess. She is seen as embodying women’s empowerment, environmental care and peacemaking in an Ireland that is increasingly casting off traditional forms of Catholicism. Some call her Ireland's “matron saint.” St. Brigid is being honored for the first time with an official holiday. That puts her in the company of St. Patrick. Keepers of her legacy are preparing to mark the 1,500th anniversary of her death in 2024.

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FICTION: The winner of the 2022 International Booker Prize takes readers on an exhilarating journey back in time. "Tomb of Sand" by Geetanjali Shree, translated from the Hindi by Daisy Rockwell; HarperVia (624 pages, $29.99) ——— For the first 400 pages of Geetanjali Shree's epic novel "Tomb of Sand," winner of the 2022 International Booker Prize and translated by Daisy Rockwell from Hindi, our ...

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