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Religion Roundup


Archbishop resigns from youth board

OMAHA, Neb. — Roman Catholic Archbishop Elden Curtiss has resigned as chairman of the board of Girls and Boys Town in a dispute over leadership of the home for troubled children.

Curtiss resigned Sept. 5 after clashing with the home’s leaders on when its executive director, the Rev. Val Peter, 68, should retire and how his successor would be selected.

The Girls and Boys Town’s bylaws say priest candidates from the Omaha Archdiocese are to be considered for executive director before any national search, Curtiss said, but Peter and other board members ‘‘wanted to bypass this mandatory step.’’

After Curtiss resigned, the archdiocese announced it would no longer provide a priest to be executive director or to fill other ministry positions at the home, which was founded in 1917 by the Rev. Edward Flanagan.

University president and pastor ‘repent’

INDIANAPOLIS — The president and campus pastor at Valparaiso University have ‘‘repented’’ to members of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod for hosting an interfaith service where Muslim and Jewish leaders offered prayers.

The independent Lutheran university in northwestern Indiana hosted the service last year on the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Clergy in eight states filed a complaint because prayers were led by persons who do not agree with the Christian teaching that Jesus Christ is God.

David Strand, spokesman at denominational headquarters in St. Louis, said the case shows the church takes its doctrine and ‘‘clear public proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ very seriously.’’

The Missouri Synod has 2.6 million members nationwide.

Indonesia may ban cohabitation, black magic

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia will consider new laws to ban unmarried couples from having sex or living together, officials say.

The proposals, which would also forbid black magic, are expected to please religious leaders in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

Unwed couples guilty of living together would face a maximum two years in prison, said Abdul Ghani Abdullah, director general of legislation. Extramarital and non-marital sex, homosexuality under age 18 and forcing a woman to perform oral sex would also become crimes.

Witchcraft remains strong in Indonesia despite Muslim disapproval. Its practice would be regulated and witch doctors who offer to harm or kill another person would face up to five years in jail, Abdullah said.

School district ends Bible distribution

ELSBERRY, Mo. — The Elsberry School District decided the Gideons will no longer be allowed to distribute Bibles to fifth graders after a parent complained to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The complaining parent who did not want his name revealed said he was upset that his child brought a New Testament home, feeling this violated church-state separation.

Denise Lieberman of the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri said it’s wrong even to leave Bibles that children can take if they wish.

But the Rev. Conrad Cheatham, a local Presbyterian pastor, said the Constitution gives people the right to voluntary Bible distribution and ‘‘separation of church and state has been badly misconstrued.’’

Teacher sues school over annulment

CLEVELAND — A teacher has sued a Roman Catholic school, saying it fired her because she remarried without obtaining a church annulment.

Vicki Manno and her new husband, Michael Yasenchack, filed suit against St. Felicitas Elementary School in Euclid, its principal and the parish pastor. Manno, divorced from her first husband for five years, remarried in June. One month later, the pastor fired her after 11 years of teaching at the school.

She said she was fired because her previous 18-year marriage had not been annulled by the church.

Sheen sainthood bid to be reviewed

PEORIA, Ill. — A 20-member tribunal has been sworn in to begin the years-long process of researching the life of the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, a native of tiny El Paso who became a celebrity priest.

The panel will ultimately make a recommendation to the Vatican on whether Sheen should be elevated to sainthood.

Sheen, who died in 1979, was best known for his weekly TV program ‘‘Life is Worth Living,’’ which aired for five years in the 1950s.

Along with ensuring Sheen’s life and works did not violate church doctrine, the tribunal, sworn in Monday, needs to link prayers to Sheen with a miracle, as required under Vatican rules. The tribunal has already received many such reports.


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