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On his way back from the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, Pope Francis responded to a journalist's question about the Roman Catholic Church's stance on banning women from the priesthood.

The writer asked him, “Is it realistic to think that there might be women priests in the next few decades?” and the pope responded by mentioning Pope John Paul II's letter in 1994 that outlawed women being ordained.

The pontiff said: “On the ordination of women in the Catholic church, the last word is clear. … It was given by St. John Paul II and this remains.”

The Roman Catholic Church doesn't allow women to be ordained as priests, arguing that none of the 12 disciples were women, so they also shouldn't be priests.

This is not a pivot for Francis. He's previously talked about not allowing the ordination, only this time he essentially said that the ban should last forever.

Earlier this year, Francis seemed to be considering allowing women to be ordained as deacons when he asked for an analysis of the role women deacons played. Discuss

A megachurch pastor in China's Shanghai region has been released after seven years in prison for protesting against the demolition of a house church.

On September 13, 2009, local government officials in Lenfi, broke into Christian churches and businesses in the area, beating approximately 100 believers. Days later, the government dispatched bulldozers to destroy multiple buildings and other church property.

Pastor Yang Rongli and her husband, Wang Xiaoguang were arrested shortly following these events for protesting the demolition of a house church. Two months later, they were convicted for organizing a prayer rally on September 14. They were presented in court under charges for “gathering a mob to disturb public order.”

A report from China Aid, a watchdog group that reports on Christian persecution in China, confirms that Pastor Rongli has been released and bears signs of brutality endured while held captive. She shows signs of malnutrition and has suffered from two kidney stones, diabetes, and a heart problem in jail.

Due to continued government restrictions against her, Yang is not able to provide interviews or speak to the media at this time. Discuss

A town in Australia wants to become the world's first porn-free city.

As part of a campaign to combat violence against women, city leaders and Christian ministries in Toowoomba, Australia, are working together to eliminate porn from their community entirely. A local church group, City Women Toowoomba, is leading the effort supported by the mayor Paul Antonio.

The campaign addresses porn as a public health disaster that promotes gender-specific stereotypes of dominance and aggression in men.

Up to 300 people, mostly men, attended a rally at a public park last week and pledged, "I won't view porn and I will help create a city free from porn."

A local ABC affiliate spoke with John Minz, chairman of Toowoomba Together, a local organization that raises awareness about domestic violence issues. Minz described porn as a "social cancer," adding, "politicians and police are doing what they can in relation to drugs and alcohol, but who is taking responsibility in relation to pornography? The answer is no one."

Studies show that consuming porn can hardwire pathologies in the human brain in the same way that drug use can, altering the reward center to compulsively desire the dopamine hit that viewing porn can bring.

City Women Chief Executive Letitia Shelton of Toowoomba said that an actual porn-free city "sounds very ambitious and unlikely," but she believes that curbing its negative influences, and shedding light on this issue, to be a worthy cause.

We support it. Discuss

As Hurricane Matthew moves up the coast of Florida, we’re getting a look at the damage it's caused in the Caribbean. It’s catastrophic.

According to the officials cited by Reuters, the death toll is at least 478. What’s worse, most officials anticipate that number to rise as first responders reach less populous, isolated parts of the island.

One of those remote areas (though it’s populous) is Chantel. The city’s deputy mayor expressed to reports that he doesn’t know how that community will move forward. He said:

We have nothing left to survive on, all the crops have gone, all fruit trees are down, I don't have a clue how this is going to be fixed.

The UN disaster response team estimates, too, that the storm directly affected around 1 million Haitians. Some 50,000 are in immediate need of food, water and medical care. And around 61,500 remain in shelters, according to reports.

You Can Help

Relief organizations are seeking support in their efforts to deliver aid and assistance to people affected.

WorldVision, Save the Children, Hope for Haiti and many other organizations (that you can view here) are collecting donations to help the victims in Haiti. Discuss

Since the Syrian army launched an offensive starting late last week (when the ceasefire ended), dozens of airstrikes have hit the rebel-held city of Aleppo city in Syria. Last night, airstrikes were particularly devastating.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said yesterday that a series of strikes killed 237 people—and that’s including 38 children. Experts suggest that 162 were east Aleppo and so far, around 400 people have died total in the past week.

Rescue efforts are being held up because all of the bombing has made the roads impassable and much of the rescue equipment has been destroyed in the same way. Discuss

2017 could see a significant increase in the number of refugees that are welcomed to the United States. Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress this week that the White House plans to bring 110,000 refugees from around the world into the country next year. That’s a 57% increase since 2015.

The refugees will be from various countries, and are some of the most vulnerable individuals in the world. Many have fled violence, poverty, instability and religious persecution, and have been selected by the U.S. because they are in dire need of safe places to live. Discuss