Pennsylvania Lawmakers Considering Allowing Virtual Meeting Options for Local Governance

Pennsylvania lawmakers are considering how municipalities can continue using virtual meeting programs like Zoom when needed for public meetings.

In Pennsylvania, each type of municipality—boroughs, cities, and townships—have different codes or laws. Most codes require that, for a board to hold a meeting, it must have a quorum of board members physically present. Outside of emergency orders, fully virtual meetings are not allowed. The exception is the second class township code which is silent on whether members must be physically present.

A quorum is the minimum number of board members required to hold a meeting. For example, a board of seven may need at least four members present in order to meet or make decisions. If only three people show up in person, the meeting is canceled. As long as a quorum is physically present, other members could appear virtually.

Before COVID-19, county commissioners, township boards, and city and borough councils held public meetings with entire boards in one room. A few routinely broadcast their meetings on the internet or local television. Elected officials interacted with the public present at meetings but not with online or television viewers.

But with Microsoft Teams or Zoom meetings, board members each broadcast from their home computer and members of the public also use their own computers to interact with the board. Everyone is looking at the computer screen, elected officials and general public viewers are all seen, and the public can electronically raise their hands to participate in public comment time.

More members of the public have been participating in local government public meetings held virtually, according to testimony on Monday in Harrisburg during a joint hearing of the House and Senate Local Government Committees. But now that Governor Tom Wolf’s emergency COVID-19 orders are over, fully virtual municipal public meetings have ended and public participation has gone down.

When COVID-19 prevented meeting in person, municipalities were sent scrambling to find a way to continue conducting business, according to Amy Sturges who testified on behalf of the Pennsylvania Municipal League and the Pennsylvania Association of Township Commissioners. The result was Act 15 of 2020, passed by the General Assembly, which removed the in-person requirement for quorums for the duration of Wolf’s emergency order.

Once the emergency order ended, the municipal codes went back into effect.

“We are asking for the flexibilities at the local level to establish a quorum another way if necessary,” Sturges told The Epoch Times in a phone interview. “The public should be aware of when that would be. But [we] are not suggesting that governing bodies never meet in person again. Rather than leave the codes as they are, let’s get our codes updated so the next time they can’t be present in a room, they can meet virtually without a full physical quorum.”

Sometimes, the need for a virtual meeting may be regional. Recent flooding in Pennsylvania closed roads in some regions. With the flexibility to meet virtually, boards could have safely met without encountering the roads.

“There are certainly benefits to this virtual thing, but it’s always much more meaningful when you can sit across the table from someone,” Republican State Rep. Jerry Knowles told The Epoch Times. “People back home did not elect me to stay at home. We can’t let this remote stuff become the norm.”

Knowles is chairman of the local government committee and he sees benefits to both kinds of meetings under different circumstances.

“When people are elected to public office, they are expected to attend the meetings,” Knowles said. “I don’t want people hiding behind a virtual meeting. But if they are put in a position where they can only participate virtually, they can do it from home. Otherwise, they have a responsibility to sit there, eye to eye, and listen to constituents.”

Newly proposed legislation, Senate Bill 794 and House Bill 1318, call for removing the in-person requirement for borough quorums, but it does not address meeting requirements for cities or townships.

Beth Brelje is an investigative journalist covering Pennsylvania politics, courts, and the commonwealth’s most interesting and sometimes hidden news.

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Gates Foundation helped ‘raise China’s voice of governance’ in Africa, emails show

From Fox Business:

“Microsoft founder Bill Gates‘ international foundation has helped the Chinese Communist government in various ways, according to a newly-released batch of emails from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases under Dr. Anthony Fauci, obtained by Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Act request.

In a statement to Fox News, the Gates Foundation contested this interpretation of its work. A spokesperson said that the foundation does similar work in the United States.

According to the emails, the Gates Foundation worked closely with the Chinese government to grease the skids to enable the sale of Chinese-produced medications outside the Middle Kingdom. The foundation also helped “raise China’s voice of governance by placing representatives from China on important international counsels as high level commitment from China.”

Read more here

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UK accounting watchdog plans to bolster audit firm governance

FILE PHOTO: A sign for Bank Street and high rise offices are seen in the financial district in Canary Wharf in London, Britain, October 21, 2010. REUTERS/Luke Macgregor

August 26, 2021

LONDON (Reuters) -Britain’s accounting watchdog plans to strengthen “significantly” its audit firm governance code, it said on Thursday, after a number of issues around audits of UK firms in recent years.

The Financial Reporting Council’s code applies to the Big Four accounting firms – Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC – and to other firms auditing FTSE 350 companies, the FRC said in a statement.

In future it will also apply to firms which audit other types of public interest entities, the FRC said.

“Audit firms which have applied the Audit Firm Governance Code have used it as a catalyst for introducing both external challenge into their operations and for improved levels of oversight,” said FRC executive director of regulatory standards Mark Babington.

“These proposals will provide a springboard for further progress in improving audit quality and market resilience.”

Government-backed reviews proposed a shake-up of the industry after retailer BHS and builder Carillion collapsed following Big Four audits.

The FRC this week fined EY 3.5 million pounds ($4.81 million) for failing to challenge financial statements in its audit of transport group Stagecoach Group’s in 2017.

The watchdog is consulting on the proposals, which include clarifying the role played by partnership boards in holding management to account and separating the roles of board chair and senior partner or chief executive.

($1 = 0.7273 pounds)

(Reporting by Carolyn CohnEditing by Rachel Armstrong)

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Shareholders oust Toshiba board chairman in big win for Japan governance

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Toshiba Corp. is seen at the company’s facility in Kawasaki, Japan February 13, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato

June 25, 2021

By Makiko Yamazaki

TOKYO (Reuters) -Shareholders at crisis-ridden Toshiba Corp voted out its board chairman and one other director on Friday, a forceful rebuke of the company after it was found to have colluded with the government in suppressing foreign investor interests.

For many, the result at the annual general meeting marks a new watershed moment for corporate governance in Japan after activist Toshiba shareholders prevailed earlier this year in securing a probe into the allegations of pressure on overseas investors.

“This result is a sign of a paradigm shift in Japan and will only embolden activist investors whether foreign or domestic,” said Justin Tang, head of Asian research at United First Partners in Singapore.

But supporters of now former board chairman Osamu Nagayama say his failure to win re-election will only set Toshiba further back, depriving the industrial conglomerate, which has lurched from crisis to crisis since 2015, of experienced leadership.

A breakdown of the vote was not immediately disclosed. The newly elected board will meet later on Friday to discuss who will head the new board.

According to one Toshiba source, foreign investors had voted in greater numbers than in the company’s previous shareholder meetings as they saw it as an important test case of corporate governance in Japan. The source was not authorised to speak to media and declined to be identified.

Just how the government will respond to the results of the AGM remains to be seen.

Toshiba, makes defence equipment and nuclear reactors, is strategically important to the government and Trade Minister Hiroshi Kajiyama has been unapologetic about his ministry’s dealings with the company, saying the policies it implemented were natural ones for the ministry to take.

“In general the hope is that corporate governance can be improved through discussions with shareholders and at the same time we work to secure the stable development of businesses and technology that are important from a national security standpoint,” he told a regular news conference ahead of the AGM.

On Thursday, Akira Amari, a former economy minister and an influential lawmaker in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, accused activist investors of focusing only on short-term profits and called for better monitoring of such investors to protect economic security.


Shares in Toshiba recouped earlier losses to be be flat after the result. The stock has increased more than two-thirds in value this year, bolstered by a $20 billion bid for the company by private equity company CVC Capital. Although Toshiba has dimissed that bid, it has promised a strategic review.

Nagayama only joined Toshiba’s board in mid-2020 after the alleged pressuring of foreign shareholders to vote in line with management’s board nominees took place.

A former Chugai Pharmaceutical CEO and Sony Group Corp board director, he is well respected and both the electronics giant and former U.S. ambassador to Japan John Roos had expressed their support for him.

But his critics argued he should step down to take responsibility for the board’s resistance to address the allegations.

Shareholder advisory firms Institutional Shareholder Services Inc and Glass Lewis had recommended shareholders not reappoint him, while 3D Investment Partners, Toshiba’s Singapore-based No. 2 shareholder with a 7.2% stake, had called for his resignation.

3D Investment said in a statement after the result that it hoped the AGM marked the beginning of a new era at Toshiba and it looked forward to constructive, ongoing dialogue with Toshiba’s board and management team.

Toshiba nominated 11 directors at the AGM, including Nagayama. Nobuyuki Kobayashi, a member of the audit committee, was also voted out.

(Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; Additional reporting by Yuki Nitta and Tim Kelly in Tokyo and Anshuman Daga in Singapore; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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How Blue City Governance Is Destroying Blue Cities

This week, a video from a San Francisco Walgreens went viral on Twitter. The video depicted a man standing next to his bicycle, loading up a garbage bag with products. The man then rides his bicycle down the aisle, past a security guard, who limply throws out a hand to try to grab the bag; the shoplifter simply brushes past him, then rides out the door.

This sort of thing has become exceedingly common in San Francisco. In late May, Thomas Fuller wrote in The New York Times, “At a board of supervisors hearing last week, representatives from Walgreens said that thefts at its stores in San Francisco were four times the chain’s national average, and that it had closed 17 stores, largely because the scale of thefts had made business untenable.” Employees at Walgreens had been told to stand aside as shoplifting took place because security officers had been assaulted repeatedly.

All of this is the result of a 2014 California ballot measure that reclassified nonviolent theft as a misdemeanor, so long as the thief took less than $950 worth of material. Thieves quickly hit on a strategy: Hit up different stores for less than $950 worth of stuff. Then, amid the Black Lives Matter protests and riots of 2020, San Francisco decided to crack down on the police. Mayor London Breed announced that booking photos would no longer be released, lest the prevalence of Black and brown faces lead to stereotyping; she announced a $120 million cut to the police and sheriff’s department over the next two years, in the interest of “prioritizing investments in the African American community”; in the first six months of 2020, 23 officers resigned from the force.

Property crime has skyrocketed. It’s not just shoplifting: burglaries increased nearly 50% year-on-year in 2020, and car theft jumped 34%. Meanwhile, the streets are littered with garbage, and have been for years thanks to lax law enforcement. In 2018, a survey of 153 blocks in downtown San Francisco showed trash on every block, 41 blocks “dotted with needles” and 96 blocks with open human feces.

This form of governance has become all too common. Los Angeles, my former hometown, has steadily declined in terms of livability. Suburban areas have been inundated with homeless vagrants, often openly shooting up, while the police have been directed to do nothing; Venice Beach has become an enormous open-air homeless encampment. Seattle has morphed from the Emerald City into a refuge for those living on the street, regardless of the risks to other citizens.

There is a reason why Americans are fleeing America’s major cities. The problem predated COVID-19, and it will post-date it, too. Americans like having a Walgreens in their neighborhoods. They enjoy being able to walk down the sidewalk without severely mentally ill homeless people — who should be in institutions where they can receive actual care — urinating on curbs. They should not have to instruct their children to hop over used needles on street corners.

Yet the governance of “compassion” continues. So does the migration away from such foolhardy policy. The top outbound states in America, according to North American Moving Services, were all deep blue: Illinois, New York, California, New Jersey and Maryland. The top inbound states were all red or purple: Idaho, Arizona, South Carolina, Tennessee and North Carolina.

At some point, there will be no more Walgreens in San Francisco. Then we will undoubtedly hear about how this is the product of systemic racism and white privilege; we will hear tell of the brutality of American capitalism. The truth is far simpler: Where Leftist governance reigns, criminality thrives. And where criminality thrives, Americans flee.

Ben Shapiro, 37, is a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School, host of “The Ben Shapiro Show,” and editor-in-chief of He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers “How To Destroy America In Three Easy Steps,” “The Right Side Of History,” and “Bullies.” To find out more about Ben Shapiro and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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Harris Blames Migration on Climate Change, Poor Governance. Guatemalan President Blames Biden

AP Images

Vice President Kamala Harris claims the current crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border is largely the result of climate change and the economy. The president of Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei, says it’s the Biden administration’s immigration policy.

On Sunday, Harris kicked off her first overseas trip since taking office and headed to Guatemala and Mexico in a bid to address “root causes” of migration from those countries.

President Biden tasked Harris with leading the White House response to the unfolding humanitarian crisis at the southern border fueled by migrants predominantly from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.

Biden also charged his VP with addressing migration’s “root causes” via diplomatic engagements with Central America, which Harris and her team have repeatedly insisted was the cornerstone of her assignment.

Upon her arrival to Guatemala, Harris said that her visit was “a reflection of the priorities that the president and I have placed on this region of our world.”


“There are many reasons why this is one of our highest priorities, which I think the people of Guatemala know well and the people of the United States understand well,” Harris said during a news conference after a meeting with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei. “If we are to be effective, if we are to be true to our principles, we must root out corruption wherever it exists, and that is one of our highest priorities for that reason,” Harris stated.

Harris has apparently been trying to figure out the driving causes of the “migration” for quite some time.

In April, Harris insisted the harsh weather conditions were to blame: “We are looking at extensive storm damage because of extreme climate, we’re looking at drought in an area in a region where agriculture is one of the most traditionally important basis for their economy, we’re looking at what’s happening in terms of food scarcity as a result of that and in fact, incredible food insecurity, which we used to call hunger.”

The next month, Harris said there are other driving factors: “I’m thinking of corruption, violence, and poverty, the lack of economic opportunity, the lack of climate adaptation and climate resilience, the lack of good governance.”

According to Harris, it’s bad weather and bad governance that brings hundreds of thousands of migrants to the U.S. southern border.

Before her trip, Harris emphasized the need for increased employment opportunities and better living conditions in Central America. She announced $310 million in U.S. aid to support refugees and deal with food shortages as part of Biden’s pledged $4 billion of aid for Central America. Harris also called on U.S. companies and organizations to invest in Central American countries to promote economic opportunity and job training, as nearly 16 million Americans remain jobless in the United States.

The U.S. also said last week that it would send a combined 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine to Guatemala and Mexico — a controversial jab almost nobody in the “civilized world” wants due to safety concerns.

During her Monday meeting with Nicaraguan President Alejandro Giammattei, Harris said that both countries need to work to improve the situation in Guatemala — whose residents she said don’t want to leave, but feel forced to — and called for “tangible outcomes” to convince people to be hopeful about their futures.

But Giammattei, in an interview aired a day earlier, had pushed back against the “root causes” explanation, and said that he and Harris “are not on the same side of the coin” on the issue.

Instead, he blamed what he saw as a more welcoming message to migrants by the new administration for the surge.

Giammattei also pointed to the Biden administration’s pledges not to deport unaccompanied children, and the Biden’s efforts to end some of what many saw as “inhumane practices” carried out as part of the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement efforts, as factors contributing to the surge of northward-bound “migrants.”

“The message changed too: ‘We’re going to reunite families, we’re going to reunite children,’” he told CBS News. “The very next day, the coyotes were here organizing groups of children to take them to the United States.”

The Biden administration’s repeated statements urging families against migrating to the U.S., he added, were the result of his government and potentially others pushing back against what they saw as a muddled message that was continuing to drive some to leave their home countries.

While standing on Guatemalan soil, Harris said that anyone thinking of trying to make the dangerous journey should “not come:” “Do not come. Do not come. The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our border,” while adding she “believes” that all those who come will be turned back.

Giammattei’s request for “more clear messages” has evidently fallen on deaf ears.

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‘She’s Into Sound-Bite Governance’: Wall Street Giant Flames Elizabeth Warren, Calls Bernie Sanders ‘A Communist’

Billionaire investor Leon Cooperman went after Democratic Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren on Fox Business Wednesday and called Democratic Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders “a communist.”

“You have a running commentary with senator Elizabeth Warren who lately says you are afraid of her or she threatens you,” Fox Business host Larry Kudlow told Cooperman. “Are you frightened of Elizabeth Warren, is that really true or is she just making that up?”

Cooperman said that Warren’s comments are “not true in the slightest.” He told Kudlow that he was speaking at a conference two years ago and said that the markets would go down 20% if Warren was elected president. His comments began an ongoing battle between the two. (RELATED: Leon Cooperman Optimistic Despite Stock Losses)

“So she invites me to appear before her committee, but she showed me that she’s a politician in the worst sense of the word,” Cooperman continued. “She was not looking for truth.”

“I didn’t think there was anything to be gained by appearing before a committee where she controls the microphone and tries to embarrass me,” he added. “I have nothing to be embarrassed about. I’ve given away hundreds of millions of dollars to charity.”

Cooperman said that he’s “the last person” Warren should be attacking and that he’s willing to pay more in taxes.

“We’ve got to get away from this tax and spend and fair share baloney,” Cooperman continued. He criticized Bernie Sanders as a “communist” for his proposed wealth tax.

“I am willing to give 50% to the government, okay. If you talk to Bernie Sanders – I don’t think he’s a socialist, I think he’s a communist – he says 90%. Talk to Elizabeth Warren, 70% as a wealth tax.”

Cooperman said that there are different things they could do to raise tax revenue, but “they don’t have the courage.”

The rivalry between Cooperman and Warren began during the senator’s run for president when she proposed a wealth tax. In a letter to Warren sent after her proposal, Cooperman said that Warren’s “vilification of the rich” was “misguided,” according to a CNBC report. Cooperman said that he believes in a progressive income tax and agrees that wealthy people should pay more in taxes, but slammed Warren’s proposal as “sh*tting on” the American dream.

The two repeatedly clashed before Warren invited Cooperman to testify before a Senate Finance subcommittee hearing on taxes. Cooperman declined the invitation and called it “self-serving and disingenuous,” CNBC reported.

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Financial Giant Merrill Lynch Assigns “Environmental, Social and Governance” (ESG) Scores to Rate Customers Just Like the Chinese Communist Party (VIDEO)

It Begins: Financial Giant Merrill Lynch Assigns “Environmental, Social and Governance” (ESG) Scores to Rate Customers Just Like the Chinese Communist Party (VIDEO)

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Pope Francis calls for ‘global governance’ and ‘universal vaccines’ in letter to globalist financial summit | News

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VATICAN CITY, April 8, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis has addressed the World Bank and International Monetary Fund at their spring meeting, calling for “global governance” in light of COVID-19, strongly advocating for universal vaccines, and bemoaning the “ecological debt” which is owed to “nature itself.”

His letter is the latest in a series of recent acts in which Francis has aligned himself with global corporations committed to anti-Catholic agendas.

The letter was delivered via Peter Cardinal Turkson, Prefect of the Holy See’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, to the spring 2021 meeting between the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is currently being held online from April 5 – 11.

Dated April 4, the letter mentioned God just once, in the final line. 

Instead, Francis focussed on calling for a system of global government which would implement a new societal order upon the world, based upon climate change policies and universal vaccination. 

‘Global governance’

Referencing “the Covid-19 pandemic,” Francis declared that the world had been forced to “confront a series of grave and interrelated socio-economic, ecological, and political crises.”

Such inter-connected crises, he placed before the World Bank and IMF, hoping that their meetings would provide the basis for a re-ordering of world affairs: “It is my hope that your discussions will contribute to a model of ‘recovery’ capable of generating new, more inclusive and sustainable solutions to support the real economy, assisting individuals and communities to achieve their deepest aspirations and the universal common good.”

Francis repeated the claim that COVID has shown how “no one is saved alone,” and hence “new and creative forms of social, political and economic participation” must be drawn up.

Quoting from his recent encyclical Fratelli Tutti, which has been described as “blasphemous” by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, Francis mentioned “trust” as the “cornerstone of all relationships,” a point which he believed the World Bank and IMF would “know well” due to being “experts in finance and economics.”

He urged that the two financial giants foster such relationships, and engage in “building bridges, and envisioning long-term inclusive projects.”

Francis also renewed his frequent call for a paradigm shift in global politics, saying: “there remains an urgent need for a global plan that can create new or regenerate existing institutions, particularly those of global governance, and help to build a new network of international relations for advancing the integral human development of all peoples.” 

A principal effect of the desired global government, would be the reduction of debt in order to enable easy access primarily to “vaccines,” followed by “health, education and jobs.”

An ‘ecological debt’ to ‘nature itself’

However, Pope Francis did not miss the opportunity to instruct the IMF and World Bank on another of his regular areas of concern issues, namely “climate change.” He warned about overlooking “ecological debt,” a phenomena which he described as affecting the whole world, and pitting the “global north” against the “south.”

“We are, in fact, in debt to nature itself, as well as the people and countries affected by human-induced ecological degradation and biodiversity loss,” wrote Francis. 

“In this regard, I believe that the financial industry, which is distinguished by its great creativity, will prove capable of developing agile mechanisms for calculating this ecological debt, so that developed countries can pay it, not only by significantly limiting their consumption of non-renewable energy or by assisting poorer countries to enact policies and programmes of sustainable development, but also by covering the costs of the innovation required for that purpose.”

These lines seem to echo the sentiments expressed by key globalist and founder of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, whose proposed anti-CatholicGreat Reset,” is underpinned by a focus on a green financial agenda, as he mentions the “withdrawal of fossil-fuel subsidies,” and a new financial system based on “investments” which advance “equality and sustainability,” and the building of a “‘green’ urban infrastructure.”

Schwab, the IMF, and scores of the world’s most influential banks (including the World Bank), have in fact already committed themselves to enforcing the green agenda of the Great Reset, and look set to make adherence to such green policies a criteria for access to finance in the future.

Francis has already signalled his intimacy with Schwab, by sending an address to the WEF four times in his eight-year pontificate, and allowing an annual Vatican roundtable at Davos, the WEF’s annual conference site in Switzerland.

A secular society pointed to a new ‘common good’

Francis also made reference to the “common good,” several times in his letter, which he linked intimately to finance and a form of secular fraternity of the kind described in Fratelli Tutti

“It follows that public money may never be disjoined from the public good, and financial markets should be underpinned by laws and regulations aimed at ensuring that they truly work for the common good. A commitment to economic, financial and social solidarity thus entails much more than engaging in sporadic acts of generosity.”

Such goals, for Francis, include “a justly financed vaccine solidarity,” which he said was part of the “the law of love and the health of all.”

“Here, I reiterate my call to government leaders, businesses and international organizations to work together in providing vaccines for all, especially for the most vulnerable and needy.” 

Closing his letter, Francis repeated his wish for a world focussed on a new style of fraternity, underpinned by a focus on green policies, urging the World Bank and IMF to develop solutions for “a more inclusive and sustainable future.”

It would be a future “where finance is at the service of the common good, where the vulnerable and the marginalized are placed at the centre, and where the earth, our common home, is well cared for.”

There was no mention in the letter of Christ, the Catholic Church or the Catholic teaching on the common good.

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Subservience to globalist agenda

Pope Francis’s letter comes as no great surprise, since the 84-year-old Argentine has been significantly increasing his long-standing ties with globalist groups and organisations, such as the United Nations (UN) and the WEF.

Francis has recently called for a “new world order,” saying that the “drama of wasting” the COVID-19 “crisis” would be worse than the disruption caused by COVID measures across the globe. 

On that occasion too, he dealt with the topic of salvation, once again viewing it with a purely earthly understanding, and linking salvation to the new world order and a focus of green policies: “The path to humanity’s salvation passes through the creation of a new model of development, which unquestionably focuses on coexistence among peoples in harmony with Creation.”

To this end, Pope Francis has launched his own initiative with the U.N. and with globalist corporations, in order to promote a new “economic system” of capitalism, and ensure the achievement of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Amongst other aspects, the partnerships promote “sustainable lifestyles,” “gender equality,” and “global citizenship,” while the SDGs themselves promote “sexual and reproductive health services.”

LifeSiteNews has produced an extensive COVID-19 vaccines resources page. View it here. 


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