ROME — Pope Francis is giving his blessing to a new Vatican think tank that is seeking to prevent the Mafia and organized crime groups from exploiting the image of the Virgin Mary for their own illicit ends.

“Don’t take it so personally.” How many times have I heard that phrase uttered in my lifetime? Usually, it is followed by something that feels extremely personal, not to mention painful or offensive.

Q: For decades mankind has seemed self-sufficient, certain that we can conquer anything that comes against us, including God. It was astonishing to hear a prominent governor declare that diminishing COVID-19 was done by man and that “God had nothing to do with it!” Why does God put up with t…

Q: During the recent pandemic, faith was placed in models that changed from day to day, warning society of what to expect as a virus spread around the world. Companies re-tooled and instead of making cars they made ventilators, only to learn after a few days of production that the ventilator…

Q: Is it really true that God’s plan is for us to become spiritually mature, and if so, what does that really mean and how can a person accomplish such a thing? — S.M.

Q: Many people believe that what the country has gone through in recent months is the beginning of Armageddon. I find myself longing for Heaven because the Bible promises that those who follow Christ have this hope. People tell me I am just looking for an escape. How can I convince them that…

Q: I am a Christian but I think it is wrong for the government to set taxes so high. Why should I be so content to pay them? — T.D.

Q: People said after 9/11 that America would never be the same. It’s true. We go from one trouble to another; often hit with many things at once. In the midst of coronavirus, floods, fires, earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes seemed to escalate. The human race was quarantined by an unseen …

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Have you breathed today? I’m guessing that if you’re still reading, the answer is “Yes.” But, when was the last time that you went outside in the cool of the evening, inhaled deeply, and felt the cool night air hit the back of your throat and expand your chest?

Q: Governments shut down churches during the pandemic. Does it seem right for politicians to have this kind of authority over God’s people who need to be obedient to Scripture which says, “Do not forsake assembling together” and to take care of people? — C.C.

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Q: My mother lived a busy and productive life until my father died. We are missionaries abroad and she is left alone now with discouragement, feeling like she has no purpose in life. She has often been asked to teach a Sunday school class for widows and lead a Bible study for young mothers; …

Q: Many say that God sometimes brings catastrophes to life to get people’s attention. With the recent pandemic, is it an indication that our nation has turned its back on God and replaced Him with idols of entertainment and carefree living, the very things that were taken away from us during…

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Rock Springs Church Senior Pastor Benny Tate, right, recently delivered some snacks to the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office. Tate is pictured with Spalding County Sheriff Darrell Dix.

Milner Baptist Church dropped off a donation for Lamar County Dep. Justyn Weaver, who was recently shot in the line of duty. Church members are pictured with Lamar County Sheriff Brad White, second from left.

Q: I am working in a church right now but have been offered a job that pays much more than I make, and quite honestly I need a larger salary to make ends meet with my growing family. I have been offered a job as an accountant for a night club. My church tells me I should lead a separated lif…

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VATICAN CITY (AP) — Two authoritative religious bodies on Thursday called on Christians to band together to fight “sins” laid bare or aggravated by the pandemic, including racism and economic injustice.

Q: Our teenagers are obsessed with the internet. We don’t understand much of it so they say we shouldn’t forbid them to do something that we don’t understand. Every dime they’re given is spent on this type of entertainment. Are we wrong to be concerned about things that can be harmful? — R.C.

Q: It is painful to watch some people grow old and grouchy, especially people who once were strong and wise. What causes such a shift in personality? — O.P.

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CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand — A man who was shot and wounded in the New Zealand mosque attacks had a simple message for the mass-murderer responsible: “You are the loser, and we are the winners.”

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RICHMOND, Va. — Jerry Falwell Jr.’s future at evangelical Liberty University was unclear late Monday, with a senior school official saying he had resigned from his leadership post but Falwell telling several news outlets that he does not plan to leave permanently.

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ATLANTA — One of the unsuccessful candidates for the Democratic nomination in Georgia’s 7th Congressional District has been named president of a political action committee representing the state’s Muslim Americans.

Once again, that familiar voice on the other end of the line was there right when I needed him.

Q: I want desperately to please God with my life but I am not sure how to do that. There are people who tell me that by doing good deeds I can accomplish pleasing God, but I know many people who do good things, but are dishonest people. This is perplexing. What does it mean to do God’s will? — G.W.

Q: After watching the world experience the terror of COVID-19, it causes me to reconsider something I never really be- lieved. Could the world someday really come to an end? — C.O.

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PHOENIX  — An advocacy group released what they say is previously unseen body camera footage Thursday showing Phoenix police mocking the religion of a Black Muslim man who later died in their custody.

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The Episcopal bishop of Washington, D.C., who criticized President Donald Trump after he held a Bible aloft at a photo op at a historic church in her diocese, is among the diverse group of faith leaders selected by Democrats to speak at their presidential nominating convention.

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MESA, Ariz. — Yasser Sanchez has twice worked to defeat Joe Biden’s bids for the vice presidency by building support for Republican candidates among his fellow members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It wasn't hard.

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Q: Many people in the world brag on the knowledge that mankind has accumulated, and it seems that arrogance of what has been accomplished through education has been idolized. What is the difference between man’s wisdom and God’s wisdom? — T.W.

It’s been that time of year around the Norris house this week.