FaithWorld

Liberal U.S. Catholics say their Church is not listening

(St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, 4 March 2005/Tom Heneghan)

Members of a liberal group of U.S. Catholics called on Sunday on Church leaders to open talks with their members on controversies ranging from the ordination of women to allowing priests to marry. Members of the American Catholic Council, meeting in Detroit, said they had grown concerned that the Church hierarchy was not listening to its members on issues such as the role of women, married clergy and the treatment of homosexuals.

The meeting comes as the Roman Catholic Church in the United States is struggling with a sexual abuse crisis, loss of membership and a dwindling number of priests.

“When in God’s name are the conversations going to begin?” asked Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun who addressed the meeting of about 2,000 people — part of a liberal wing that represents a minority in the 1.2 billion-member Church. She likened the structure, with bishops and archbishops answering to the pope in Rome, to “a medieval system that has now been abandoned by humanity everywhere, except by us.”

Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron had warned before the meeting that any members of the clergy who attended the group’s mass would be at risk of being defrocked. “All of the invited keynote speakers have manifested dissent from Catholic teachings or support for dissenters,” the archdiocese said in a posting on its website.

Robert Wurm, a retired priest from Ferndale, Michigan, who officiated at the closing mass, said he was not worried the archbishop would take action against him. “He was careful about that. He said they could be defrocked, not that they would,” Wurm told reporters. Under Church law, an archbishop has authority over all masses held in his area.

U.S. atheists sue to run bus ads for a God-free lifestyle

(Bus ad created with Bus Slogan Generator/Photo: Jon Worth c/o atheistbus.org.uk)

A coalition of atheists is accusing a United States city bus line of violating their rights to free speech in a fight to place ads on public buses praising a God-free lifestyle. The Central Arkansas Coalition of Reason alleged in a lawsuit that the Central Arkansas Transit Authority in Little Rock and its advertising agency are discriminating against the group because they’re being required to pay tens of thousands of dollars to put $5,000 worth of ads on 18 buses.

The ads would read: “Are you good without God? Millions are.” Other groups, including churches, have not been required to pay the fee, which amounts to $36,000 in insurance in case of an attack on the buses by angry Christians, according to the lawsuit.

“Mormon question” may again dog Mitt Romney’s U.S. presidential bid

(U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney talks to supporters in Detroit, Michigan June 9, 2011/Rebecca Cook)

Republican Mitt Romney has remade himself in a second run for U.S. president, with a leaner campaign apparatus and a message focused with laser-like precision on the nation’s economic problems. But the “Mormon question” still remains for the former Massachusetts governor: are Americans ready to put a Mormon in the White House?

Surveys suggest American voters are more accepting of the idea now than when Romney staged his first presidential run in 2008. But at the margins, many remain suspicious of Mormons. A Quinnipiac University poll this week found voters less comfortable with the idea of a Mormon president than having a leader of any religion other than a Muslim, or an atheist.

Bin Laden deputy claims U.S. faces “jihadist renaissance” in Muslim world

(Ayman al-Zawahiri (R) and Osama bin Laden (L) during an interview with Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir (not pictured) in this file photo image supplied by the Dawn newspaper on November 10, 2001/Hamid Mir)

Osama bin Laden’s longtime lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahri, said the United States faces rebellion throughout the Muslim world after killing the al Qaeda leader, according to a YouTube recording posted on Wednesday. In what appeared to be his first public response to bin Laden’s death in a U.S. commando raid in Pakistan last month, the Egyptian-born Zawahri warned Americans not to gloat and vowed to press ahead with al Qaeda’s campaign against the United States and its allies.

“The Sheikh has departed, may God have mercy on him, to his God as a martyr, and we must continue on his path of jihad to expel the invaders from the land of Muslims and to purify it from injustice,” Zawahri said in the 28-minute clip. “Today, and thanks be to God, America is not facing an individual or a group … but a rebelling nation which has awoken from its sleep in a jihadist renaissance challenging it wherever it is.”

Assisted suicide advocate Jack Kevorkian, aka Dr. Death, dies

(Dr. Jack Kevorkian poses at the 62nd annual Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, California August 29, 2010/Mario Anzuoni)

Assisted suicide advocate Jack Kevorkian, known as “Dr. Death” for helping more than 100 people end their lives, died early on Friday at age 83, his lawyer said. Kevorkian died at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, where he had been hospitalized for about two weeks with kidney and heart problems, said Mayer Morganroth, Kevorkian’s attorney and friend.

Kevorkian, a pathologist, was focused on death and dying long before he became a defiant advocate, crossing Michigan in the rusty Volkswagen van that carried his machine to help sick people end their lives.  He launched his assisted-suicide campaign in 1990, allowing an Alzheimer’s patient to kill herself using a machine he had devised. He beat Michigan prosecutors four times before his conviction for second-degree murder in 1999.

Prayers and religious terms removed from Texas public school graduation

(High school graduates, 25 May 2007 /Chris Moncus)

A U.S. federal judge has ruled that a high school graduation in a suburb of San Antonio, Texas may not include an opening and closing prayer or the words “invocation” or “benediction.” District Judge Fred Biery ruled on Tuesday that using those words would make it sound like Castroville’s Medina Valley High School is “sponsoring a religion.”

“We think that the district has been flouting the law for decades,” said Ayesha Kahn, an attorney for Americans United for Church and State, which filed the lawsuit. “We’re glad that the court is going to put an end to it.”

No appeal of the ruling is planned, and the invocation and benediction will no longer take place, said Chris Martinez, assistant superintendent of the Medina Valley Independent School District. “Our entire school system is set up on following the rules, and we are going to do that,” Martinez told Reuters. “But this is one parent’s opinion of what we are doing. We don’t believe we have done anything wrong.”

Distraught family of DSK accuser looks to God

(Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn gestures during his bail hearing inside of the New York State Supreme Courthouse in New York May 19, 2011/Richard Drew)

In a living room bare but for a few family photos and Islamic texts, the African man who says he is the brother of Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s accuser says he has not slept or eaten properly for days.

“I heard the news on the radio and honestly I do not know what happened. I want to speak to my sister,” the man, called Mamoudou, told Reuters at a village in the Labe region of Guinea, a hard day’s drive north of the capital Conakry.

Judgment Day forecaster points to new doomsday date

(Harold Camping during an interview at Family Stations Inc. offices in Oakland, California May 16, 2011/Reuters Television )

The evangelical Christian broadcaster whose much-ballyhooed Judgment Day prophecy went conspicuously unfulfilled on Saturday has a simple explanation for what went wrong — he miscalculated. Instead of the world physically coming to an end on May 21 with a great, cataclysmic earthquake, as he had predicted, Harold Camping, 89, said he now believes his forecast is playing out “spiritually,” with the actual apocalypse set to occur five months later, on October 21.

Camping, who launched a doomsday countdown in which some followers spent their life’s savings in anticipation of being swept into heaven, issued his correction during an appearance on his “Open Forum” radio show from Oakland, California.

Camping’s Judgment Day a dud, believers baffled

(Harold Camping, 89, the California evangelical broadcaster who predicted that Judgment Day would come on May 21, 2011, in an interview at his Family Stations Inc. offices in Oakland, California May 16, 2011/Reuters Television)

With no sign of Judgment Day arriving on Saturday as forecast by an 89 year-old California evangelical broadcaster, followers were faced with trying to make sense of his failed pronouncement. Harold Camping, the former civil engineer who heads the Family Radio Network of Christian stations, had been unwavering in his message that believers would be swept to heaven on May 21.

His Oakland, California-based network broadcasts over 66 U.S. stations and through international affiliates. With the help of supporters it posted at least 2,000 billboards around the United States warning of the Judgment Day.

Islamist militants hold prayers for bin Laden in Pakistan

(A supporter of the banned Islamic organization Jamaat-ud-Dawa clears tears while taking part in a symbolic funeral prayer for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Karachi on May 3, 2011/Athar Hussain)

The founder one of Pakistan’s most violent Islamist militant groups has told Muslims to be heartened by the death of Osama bin Laden, as his “martyrdom” would not be in vain, a spokesman for the group said on Tuesday.

Lashkar-e-Taiba (Let), the militant group blamed for the 2008 terror attacks on Mumbai, has been holding special prayers for bin Laden in several cities and towns since he was killed in an operation by U.S. forces in Pakistan’s northwestern garrison town of Abbottabad on Monday.