Monday, October 12, 2015


Officials Move to Take Christian Bakers’ Home After Couple Refuses to Pay $135,000 to Lesbians

and research purposes:

PORTLAND, Ore. — Officials in Oregon have moved to take the home and/or other assets of a Christian couple as they are refusing to pay $135,000 in emotional damages to two lesbian women that filed a complaint after the couple declined to make a cake at their bakery for their “wedding” ceremony.
As previously reported, in February, a judge with the Oregon BOLI declared Aaron and Melissa Klein of Sweet Cakes by Melissa guilty of discrimination for declining to make the cake because of their Christian convictions, thus moving the matter into the sentencing phase.
The two lesbian women, Rachel Cryer and Laurel Bowman, submitted individual lists of just under 100 aspects of suffering in order to receive damages. They included “acute loss of confidence,” “doubt,” “distrust of men,” “distrust of former friends,” “excessive sleep,” “discomfort,” “high blood pressure,” “impaired digestion,” “loss of appetite,” “migraine headaches,” “loss of pride,” “mental rape,” “resumption of smoking habit,” “shock” “stunned,” “surprise,” “uncertainty,” “weight gain” and “worry.”
But the Kleins told the court that they too had suffered because of the attacks that they received over their desire to live out their Christian faith in the workplace. They stated that they endured “mafia tactics” as their car was vandalized and broken into on two occasions, their vendors were harassed by homosexual advocates resulting in some businesses breaking ties with them, and they received threatening emails wishing rape, death and Hell upon the family. As a result, they had to close their business and move it into their private home.
In April, Alan McCullough, an administrative judge with the bureau, recommended a payment of $135,000, with one of the women receiving $75,000 and the other $60,000. Prosecutors had sought damages of $75,000 each.
In June, BOLI officially accepted McCollough’s recommendation and ordered the Kleins to pay the women $135,000 in light of the damages Cryer and Bowman listed.
“This case is not about a wedding cake or a marriage,” the final order, written by Commissioner Brad Avakian, read. “It is about a business’s refusal to serve someone because of their sexual orientation. Under Oregon law, that is illegal.”
The Kleins then asked for a stay of the order, but were denied. As they are refusing to pay the damages, officials have moved to docket the judgment and seek permission to place a property lien against the Kleins or collect the money in other ways.
“It’s difficult to understand the Kleins’ unwillingness to pay the debt when they have, very publicly, raised nearly a half million dollars,” Charlie Burr, communications director for BOLI, told reporters. “They are entitled to a full and fair review of the case, but do not have the right to disregard a legally binding order.”
But the Kleins’ state that the amount that Burr suggests the couple has raised from supporters is inflated, and regardless, the money will not be used to pay the women.
“[T]here are so many variables to where that money has to go, what has to happen with that money, that we’re not touching that money for any purpose because I don’t know what the future holds,” Aaron Klein told the Daily Signal.
He also pointed to statements the women made to Williamette Week earlier this year contending that the complaint they filed against the Kleins was not about money.
“We didn’t have a choice in how this was prosecuted,” Cryer told the outlet. “We didn’t have a choice in the fine. If we had been given the option, we probably would have said: ‘Just apologize. Just say you’re sorry and go away.’”
“[W]e’re not asking for anything. We’ve never asked for a penny from anybody,” Bowman added.
“When you have these girls come out and say we never wanted the money, it wasn’t about the money and we don’t need the money,” Klein told the Daily Signal, “I say this isn’t right. I shouldn’t have to pay this money, and the only person saying the money should exchange hands seems to be [BOLI Commissioner] Brad Avakian.”
As previously reported, some outlets had claimed this past summer that the Kleins were not ordered to pay damages for refusing to bake a cake for a lesbian’s same-sex ceremony, but were rather punished for inadvertently “publishing” the women’s addresses on Facebook by uploading the filed consumer complaint on their new personal page that only had 17 friends at the time. As the assertions were inaccurate since the Kleins were solely ordered to pay emotional damages surrounding the denial of the cake, the outlets retracted their claims and apologized for disseminating the information.



    Wang Qun, Director-General of the Department of Arms Control of Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs ...

    Wang Qun, Director-General of the Department of Arms Control 
    of Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs 
    U.N. Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union 

    Communist China Demands Global 

    “Code of Conduct” for Internet

    republished below in full unedited for informational, educational, and research purposes:
    With one of its own agents leading the United Nations agency that globalists hope will regulate the Internet, the communist dictatorship ruling mainland China is now calling on the dictator-dominated global body to impose an online “code of conduct” for all of humanity. Speaking at the UN General Assembly last week, a top arms-control bureaucrat for the autocracy in Beijing — the world's leading threat to cybersecurity — said the time had come for a planetary Internet regime to regulate the World Wide Web under the guise of “peace” and “security.” The UN, of course, is totally committed to the anti-Internet freedom agenda, as are regimes ranging from Vladimir Putin's in Russia to the mullahs in Iran. Even more alarming to analysts, though, is that the Obama administration appears to be supporting the idea and even collaborating with Beijing and the UN on advancing it.
    In a broad speech focusing on what he called “new frontiers” — “outer space, cyberspace, deep sea and polar regions” — Beijing's Wang Qun claimed “international cooperation” would be crucial to everything from peace and security to development. Especially important, he suggested, was a global Internet regime. “The cybersecurity has now become such a prominent and sensitive issue which is increasingly higher on international security agenda with a closer link between the cyberspace and the real world we are living [in],” declared Wang, whose formal title is “director-general of the Arms Control Department” at the Communist Chinese regime's Foreign Ministry. “Against such a backdrop, it is highly necessary and pressing for the international community to jointly bring about an international code of conduct on cyberspace at an early date.”
    In other words, in Beijing's view, a global Internet regime is not optional, and it must be imposed at the global level, as quickly as possible — certainly before the Western world has time to understand the implications of handing control over the world's final bastion of unrestrained free expression to the “dictators club,” as UN critics often refer to the autocrat-dominated outfit. “The cyberspace is an anonymous and flat space with no borders,” Wang continued, echoing standard globalist rhetoric about “global problems” allegedly requiring “global solutions.” “But such a character has not changed the international law and basic norms governing international relations which have underpinned international peace and security for 70 years.”
    Wang then proceeded to outline the five planks that mainland China's brutal rulers hope to see in the emerging global Internet regime. He explained: “China [the regime enslaving China] believes that, for an international code of conduct on cyberspace acceptable to all, the following principles are very important: first, to comply with the UN Charter and other universally recognized basic norms governing international relations; second, to respect the cyberspace sovereignty of each state; third, to resolve the international disputes in this field by peaceful means; forth, [sic] to ensure the cyberspace only to be utilized for activities for the maintenance of international peace and security; fifth, cyberspace should not be used as a means to interfere in the internal affairs of other states or to the detriment of the latter’s national interests.”
    Reading between the lines, it is clear that the dictatorship's vision for the Internet is fundamentally at odds with traditional Western notions of freedom. Consider, for instance, the fifth plank declaring that cyberspace should not be used to the “detriment” of “national interests.” When the Communist regime refers to “national interests,” it refers, of course, to its own interests. And the fact is that truth and facts runs counter to its interests. For evidence, just look up the so-called “Great Firewall of China,” the world's most Orwellian censorship regime that employs legions of censors who fanatically seek to purge and conceal the truth from Beijing's victims. Everything from the Tiananmen Square massacre and Chairman Mao's unprecedented mass-murder spree to foreign uprisings against dictatorships and Western notions of individual liberty is strictly off limits to Chinese Internet users. “Spreading rumors” online, or facts, often results in swift and brutal punishment for the perpetrators.  
    Wang also praised a recent report released by the UN's self-styled “Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security” (UN GGE) that also, unsurprisingly, called for “international law” to govern the Internet. “China commands [sic] the work of the UN GGE on information security, and welcomes its latest report,” Wang said. “China expects that this cooperative mechanism will keep its momentum by focusing its work at the next stage on working out something in a nature of an international code of conduct on cyberspace. China, for its part, will continue to commit itself to establishing a peaceful, secure, open and cooperative cyberspace and pushing for an early international code of conduct acceptable to all.” Apparently he said all that with a straight face.
    The UN GGE “consensus” report celebrated by Wang, released in late August, also calls for a global “code of conduct” and claims cyberspace can “only” be made stable and secure through “international cooperation.” The “foundation of this cooperation must be international law and the principles of the Charter of the United Nations,” the report argued, echoing Wang's comments. The UN document also called for the UN to play a “leading role in promoting dialogue” on everything from “the application of international law” online to the “norms, rules and principles for responsible State behavior.” In a somewhat ironic twist for a report that received so much praise and input from the censorship-obsessed Chinese regime, the UN roadmap also called on nations to “comply with their obligations under international law to respect and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
    Of course, that becomes less surprising when one considers the UN's Orwellian vision of “human rights,” which includes, among other schemes, demands for criminalizing free speech worldwide and curtailing a broad range of actual rights guaranteed to Americans in the U.S. Constitution. Indeed, as the UN's so-called “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” states explicitly in Article 29, the supposed “rights” — really revocable, government-granted privileges — may “in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.” Those supposed “rights” can also be limited or abolished under virtually any pretext, as the declaration itself makes clear as well. The Communist Chinese and Kremlin proposal for the global online “code of conduct,” released earlier this year, specifically emphasizes that fact, too, claiming free expression is subject to “limitations.”     
    The Obama administration, perhaps hoping to appear hopelessly na├»ve about the prospects of Beijing actually obeying any global “Internet rules,” has been playing along with the Chinese Communists, according to news reports. An article last month in the New York Times, for instance, reported that the White House was working with Beijing to start regulating the Internet as a weapon similar to nuclear, chemical, or biological arms. Meanwhile, speaking in South Korea this summer as the UN GGE was preparing its report, Obama's Secretary of State John Kerry similarly demanded global Internet rules. “As I’ve mentioned, the basic rules of international law apply in cyberspace,” Kerry claimed. “We also support a set of additional principles that, if observed, can contribute substantially to conflict prevention and stability in time of peace.” He outlined five planks for the global Internet regime that were remarkably similar to those described by Beijing's Wang. And, like Wang, Kerry demanded that Internet governance be “based on international law” — in other words, “law” created by the UN and its largely despotic member regimes rather than the American people's elected representatives.           
    Ironically, perhaps, Beijing is the most flagrant abuser when it comes to many of its most important stated reasons for demanding a global Internet regime in the first place. Just this summer, the communist dictatorship was exposed hacking into U.S. government systems and gathering sensitive data on virtually every federal employee and the millions of people with security clearances. As The New American has documented extensively over the years, the Chinese dictatorship is also the world's leading threat when it comes to online espionage, routinely stealing trade secrets from Western companies and military secrets from Western governments, spying on dissidents worldwide, and much more. Anybody who believes Beijing will stop its criminal activities online because the Obama administration agrees to help impose a “code of conduct” on the Internet is in for major disappointment.
    Still, Obama seems to be fully onboard. Deputy Director Tang Lan with the Institute of Information and Social Development at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, an arm of Beijing's ruthless “Ministry of State Security” (MSS) that is overseen by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, praised the Obama administration's support for Beijing's agenda. In an article headlined “Crucial Step Taken for Sino-U.S. Cyber Cooperation” published by the Huffington Post, Tang said the Beijing-Obama cooperation on “cybersecurity” will be “very extensive.” Among other schemes, she touted “establishing high-level mechanisms and a hotline,” “information sharing and jointly meeting major online threats to strategic cooperation aimed at shaping the future of cyberspace,” as well as “making and promoting an international code of conduct in cyberspace.” Why the left-wing Huffington Post was publishing Communist Chinese propaganda was not immediately clear, but despite failing to mention Tang's affiliation with Beijing's ruthless “security” services, the piece was quite revealing.   
    Meanwhile, the very UN agency that hopes to play the lead role in global Internet regulation is currently under the control of a Chinese Communist agent. As The New American reported last year, the UN International Telecommunications Union (ITU) recently installed Houlin Zhao as secretary general. Among other controversies, even before he took his position, Zhao claimed to believe that censorship is in the eye of the beholder. “We [at the ITU] don’t have a common interpretation of what censorship means,” he was quoted by the Korean Yonhap news agency as saying. When asked about China's censorship regime, he responded: “Some kind of censorship may not be strange to other countries.” Zhao, of course, joins a growing roster of Chinese Communist operatives in charge of powerful UN agencies.
    Rather than cooperating in the development of global rules for the Internet to be enforced by the UN and dictatorial foreign regimes, Congress should completely sever the U.S. government's membership in and funding of the global outfit. It should also stop the Obama administration from lawlessly handing over control of the architecture of the Internet — an American creation — to the UN and other foreign entities. As the Russian and Chinese governments made clear in their proposed UN “code of conduct,” free expression is “subject to certain restrictions,” and “additional  norms” will “be developed over time.” The White House must not, under any circumstances, be permitted to sacrifice Internet freedom, U.S. national sovereignty, and Americans' individual rights on the globalist altar of the UN and its oppressive member regimes.


    California Bans Concealed Carry on Campuses
    full unedited for informational, educational, and research purposes:

    On Saturday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that, according to anti-gun Democrats who supported it, closed a loophole in the state’s current law making it illegal to possess a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school or a college campus without permission. Up until Saturday, that loophole allowed those carrying concealed to bring a firearm onto those properties.
    State Senator Lois Wolk introduced the bill in February. It was supported by Peggy McCrum, president of the California Chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, who stated:
    California’s college campuses and K-12 schools should be sanctuaries for learning, [free] from the fear of gun violence. [The new law] will make schools safer and decrease students’ risk of being injured or killed.
    There is no record of McCrum’s retraction as a result of the massacre in what was essentially a “gun-free” zone in Roseburg, Oregon, a week earlier.
    Nor is there any record of either her or Senator Wolk hearing what California's Firearms Policy Coalition President Brandon Combs had to say:
    This will put thousands of innocent lives at risk. Criminals will know that their intended victims are totally vulnerable when they're on California school grounds because [the new law] will ensure that they're defenseless against a violent attack.
    Nor did McCrum apparently take any advice from a letter she and Senator Wolk received from the National Rifle Association (NRA) that said that passage of the bill would raise “significant concerns under the Second Amendment by further infringing the rights of law-abiding — and properly licensed and trained individuals — to possess a firearm for self-defense.”
    All of which, in light of the Oregon massacre, raises the questions: Would an armed student in that attack have made any difference? Could that be proved? Would that have changed any minds in Sacramento?
    One unarmed student at Umpqua Community College did try to end the attack and was shot — seven times — for his trouble. Others were wounded, and nine of them shot to death. It wasn’t until armed police arrived on the scene that the shooter took his own life.
    In 2013 at least 19 states introduced legislation to allow concealed carry on campuses, while 14 more offered similar bills in 2014. Two of those bills passed in 2013  — one in Kansas and the other in Arkansas.
    On the other hand, five states considered bills further restricting existing firearm regulations in 2013, but none of them passed.
    Courts have entered the fray as well. In March of 2012 the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that the University of Colorado’s policy banning guns from its campus violated the state’s concealed-carry law, while in 2011 the Oregon Court of Appeals overturned the Oregon University System’s ban on guns on campuses which allowed those with permits to carry concealed on these public campuses.
    Unfortunately, the Umpqua Community College administration had banned guns on its campus, allowing the shooter a 20-minute window to wreak havoc before the killings ended.
    The Second Amendment is not an issue, apparently. Instead, it’s whether the presence or absence of firearms would reduce or increase the chances of future attacks by deranged criminals. Advocates argue that armed students could prevent, or at least limit, mass shootings, while those opposed say that those same students can’t be trusted in an atmosphere of drugs, alcohol, and excessive testosterone.
    At present 19 other states have banned campus carry, while it is legal in eight. Sixteen states have legislation pending that would allow concealed carry, with various exemptions, provisos, and exceptions.
    The question is, are there concrete, provable historical incidents where an armed citizen stopped or limited a massacre? Would anti-gun politicians care even if such proof would be conclusive?
    Here are just a few such incidents:
    On October 1, 1997, a shooting at Pearl High School in Pearl, Mississippi, was stopped by the school’s vice-principal, who retrieved a pistol from his truck and detained the shooter until police arrived.
    On January 16, 2002 a shooting at the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Virginia, was stopped by two students with handguns.
    A mass church shooting at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs was ended on Sunday, December 9, 2007 by a church member who had her concealed carry permit and her sidearm.
    In College Park, Georgia, on May 4, 2009, two gunmen entered a party on campus and started threatening the partygoers. One of the students who had access to a handgun shot one of the gunmen to death and drove off the other one.
    There’s the Parker Middle School dance shooting on April 24, 1998 in Edinboro, Pennsylvania, that was ended almost immediately when the shooter was confronted by a man with his shotgun.
    There’s the New Destiny Christian Center shooting in Aurora, Colorado, on April 24, 2012, when a gunman killed the mother of the pastor and attempted to shoot others.. A member of the church, an off-duty police officer, ended the attack by shooting the attacker.
    And there’s the Boiling Springs, South Carolina, Freewill Baptist Church incident on September 9, 2012 where a congregant who was carrying concealed stopped a would-be shooter in what observers said would likely have turned into a mass killing.
    How many more incidents such as these are needed to persuade anti-gunners that their attempts to infringe the rights of law-abiding citizens are misguided at best, and deliberately destructive, at worst? Politicians in California aren’t willing to let history, facts, or victims’ experiences change their ideology. To them the Second Amendment apparently is irrelevant, and the mere presence of guns somehow presents a threat to the community. Thanks to that ideology, the new California law reduces further any chance that a shooter could be neutralized before inflicting grievous damage during a future rampage.


    Christian Missionaries Crucified by ISIS 

    After Refusing to Deny Christ

    in full unedited for informational, educational, and research purposes:

    Ten Christian missionaries and a 12-year-old boy lost their lives in August after they were executed by the barbaric Islamic group ISIS because they refused to deny Christ.
    Christian Aid Mission (CAM) reports that on Aug. 7th, the indigenous missionaries were captured near Aleppo, Syria after rejecting advice by their ministry director to leave  the area due to violence. The men chose to stay to share the gospel with those suffering from the ISIS insurgency.
    “Every time we talked to them, they were always saying, ‘We want to stay here. This is what God has told us to do. This is what we want to do,'” the unidentified director told CAM. “They just wanted to stay and share the gospel.”
    The director later learned of the plight of missionaries from relatives who had been in hiding. He states that on Aug. 28, two of the men were pressured to renounce Christ and return to Islam. They refused.
    “In front of the team leader and relatives in the crowd, the Islamic extremists cut off the fingertips of the boy and severely beat him, telling his father they would stop the torture only if he, the father, returned to Islam,” the ministry reports. “When the team leader refused, relatives said, the ISIS militants also tortured and beat him and the two other ministry workers. The three men and the boy then met their deaths in crucifixion.”
    The men and boy were left hanging on the crosses for two days with signs hanging overhead that read “Infidels.”
    The same day, eight others were brought out before a crowd of witnesses and also asked if they would renounce Christianity. When they explained that they were there to share God’s love with the people, two women missionaries were raped publicly.
    All eight were then beheaded.
    “Villagers said some were praying in the name of Jesus, others said some were praying the Lord’s prayer, and others said some of them lifted their heads to commend their spirits to Jesus,” the ministry director relayed to CAM. “One of the women looked up and seemed to be almost smiling as she said, ‘Jesus!'”
    Their headless bodies were hung on crosses.
    As previously reported, ISIS has targeted those who profess Christ, executing 30 Ethiopian “followers of the cross” in April.
    “You will not have safety, even in your dreams, until you accept Islam,” the fighter, who resembles “Jihadi John,” threatened. “Our battle is a battle between faith and blasphemy, between truth and falsehood.”
    In February, 21 Egyptians were also marched to their death and beheaded.
    “All crusaders: safety for you will be only wishes, especially if you are fighting us all together,” the ISIS fighter declared. “The sea you have hidden Sheikh Osama Bin Laden’s body in, we swear to Allah we will mix it with your blood.”

    NATO To Send Troops To Protect ISIS
    From Russia in Turkey
    Published on Oct 9, 2015
    Deployment will effectively provide military support for ISIS and al-Nusra.


    Published on Oct 10, 2015
    Executive order would broaden definition of those considered a firearms dealer and increase background checks on customers purchasing firearms.

    Obama Considering Executive Order to Ramp Up Background Checks on Gun Customers

    republished below in full unedited for informational, educational, and research purposes:
    President Barack Obama is deliberating an executive order that would escalate background check requirements in a revived gun control push following the deadly shootings at Umpqua Community College last week.
    The proposed measure would enable the president to sidestep Congress to require anyone who surpasses a set number of gun sales to acquire a federal license and conduct background checks on customers purchasing firearms, according to The Washington Post.
    The change would broaden the definition of those considered a firearms dealer under federal law, encompassing a broad number of people who are currently exempt.
    Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, said the president does not have the legal authority to extend this definition because the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which established the system of requirements for background checks, explicitly defines who qualifies as a firearms dealer.
    “If the president tries to use executive action to expand the law beyond what it currently says he would be twisting the law in a way that he is not allowed to do,” von Spakovsky said.
    The law presently requires anyone who is “engaged in the business” of dealing firearms to obtain a federal license, which then mandates the dealer to perform background checks, but it further exempts anyone “who makes occasional sales, exchanges, or purchases of firearms for the enhancement of a personal collection or for a hobby, or who sells all or part of his personal collection of firearms.”
    The White House’s measure would redefine who is “engaged in the business” of selling guns to include anyone who sells 50 or 100 guns a year, though that number is not yet finalized, sources told NBC.
    If the executive order takes effect, anyone who then surpassed that threshold would be required to obtain a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and conduct background checks.
    Von Spakovsky said if the president attempts to expand the background check system to individuals or entities not currently encompassed under federal law those affected would have grounds to pursue a lawsuit.
    “This will not be one of those cases where it will be tough for anyone to establish standing or prove injury through this measure to sue the president,” von Spakovsky said. “This will be easy to do.”
    The administration’s consideration comes as Obama travels to Roseburg, Oregon, Friday to meet with the survivors and families of the victims killed in last week’s tragedy at Umpqua Community College.



    Clarke stated that the president “never misses an opportunity to politicize something.”


    Published on Oct 12, 2015
    Attorney General Loretta Lynch bypassed the American people to bring a vile congregation before the Islamic High Council, AKA the United Nations – entitled the Strong Cities Network.



    UN Special Rep: EU/U.S. Must Take More Refugees, End Sovereignty
    Published on Oct 12, 2015
    Peter Sutherland (shown), the United Nations special representative of the secretary-general for international migration, is hopping from one pulpit to the next, preaching the message that the refugee tsunami proves national sovereignty is an “illusion,” a mere shibboleth” that must be done away with. Moreover, says Sutherland, the United States and the European Union “have not merely a moral but a legal obligation to protect refugees.” And that means, he makes quite clear, that the United States and EU are obligated to take in an unspecified quota — but potentially millions — of refugees and migrants, most of whom are currently streaming out of the Muslim countries of the war-decimated Middle East and Africa.

    Peter Sutherland was appointed Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations on International Migration and Development on 23 January 2006. In his public career he has been Attorney General of Ireland, a European Commissioner and Director General of GATT and the WTO. He has been Chairman of the European Institute of Public Administration and chaired The Report on the functioning of the Internal Market (1992) for the European Union. He also chaired the Advisory Board on the Future of the WTO. He was a member of the Commission on Human Security. He is currently Chairman of Goldman Sachs International and was Chairman of BP p.l.c. (1997-2009). He has received numerous national decorations and honorary degrees for his work on regional and global interdependence.



    Comes amid concerns the Vatican favours the liberal wing, who want the Church to be more welcoming to homosexuals and remarried divorced people

    Published on Oct 10, 2015
    Comes amid concerns the Vatican favours the liberal wing, who want the Church to be more welcoming to homosexuals and remarried divorced people.

    Republished below in full unedited for informational, educational, and research purposes:
    Vatican City (AFP) - Pope Francis has warned bishops at a global Church meeting on the family not to be taken in by conspiracy theories, as conservatives and liberals reportedly engage in Machiavellian attempts to manipulate the synod.
    Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi on Thursday confirmed reports that the pontiff had warned Catholic bishops and cardinals behind closed doors on Tuesday not to get caught up in "the hermeneutic of conspiracy".
    The phrase, better translated as conspiracy theories or a conspiratorial mentality, comes amid concerns within the conservative camp that new methodology being used in the three-week synod -- approved by Francis -- favors the liberal wing who want the Church to be more welcoming to homosexuals and remarried divorced people.
    There were rumors in the run-up to the summit that a preliminary synod on the family last year was "rigged", with progressives publishing without warning an early report seen as revolutionary in its opening to lesbian and gay believers.
    The draft text was spiked by enraged conservatives, but reports that the agenda this year has been stitched up to make sure the most contentious issues will not be discussed until the last moment -- when no-one has the time or energy left to argue -- have fuelled fresh fears.
    "There seems to be a mounting tendency on all sides to suspect skullduggery and underhanded tactics," Vatican expert John Allen wrote in Crux now ahead of the start of the synod last week.
    Indeed, he warned, in the end "the synod may be defined not just by disagreements on substance, but also suspicions of Machiavellian maneuvres along the way".