Religion news in brief

Pope confirms ‘gay lobby’ at work at Vatican, in remarks reported by priests and nuns

VATICAN CITY (AP) — In private remarks to the leadership of a key Latin American church group, Pope Francis lamented that a “gay lobby” was at work at the Vatican.

It was an apparent reference to allegations in the Italian media that blackmail was taking place within the Vatican against high-ranking prelates who are gay.

The Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Religious — the regional organization for priests and nuns of religious orders — confirmed Tuesday that its leaders had written a synthesis of Francis’ remarks after their June 6 audience. The group, known by its Spanish acronym CLAR, said it was greatly distressed that the document had been published and apologized to the pope.

In the document, Francis is quoted as saying that while there were many holy people in the Vatican, there was also a current of corruption. “The ‘gay lobby’ is mentioned, and it is true, it is there … We need to see what we can do …” the synthesis reads.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Tuesday the audience was private and that as a result he had nothing to say.


Proposed fee on nonprofits, including churches, draws fire in SC city

BEAUFORT, S.C. (AP) — A proposal to place a fee on nonprofit groups, churches, hospitals and schools is drawing fire in Beaufort.

The Beaufort Gazette reports that the city council is considering a fee equal to 0.01 percent of a property’s appraised value for those who do not pay property taxes. The money would be used to pay for emergency services. The city faces a deficit of as much as $700,000.

Almost all of 100 people at Tuesday’s council meeting opposed the idea.

The groups included church members as well as the CEO of Beaufort Memorial Hospital.

The interim president of the Technical College of the Lowcountry, Gina Mounfield, said education funding is dropping and the school is relying more on tuition. She said the college does not need another expense.


Parents to hear evidence in sons’ faith-healing deaths in Philadelphia; have been in custody

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Philadelphia couple who believe in faith healing over medicine is set to hear evidence against them on Wednesday in the death of a second child.

Herbert and Catherine Schaible are in custody after their 8-month-old son, Brandon, died of pneumonia in April.

The Schaibles were still on probation in what prosecutors call the “eerily similar” pneumonia death of their 2-year-old son, Kent, in 2009.

Their seven surviving children are now in foster care.

Herbert Schaible teaches at a school affiliated with their Pentecostal church. He has told police he believes in “divine healing,” and says Jesus died “to break the devil’s power.”

A jury had convicted the couple of involuntary manslaughter in Kent’s death. Defense lawyers say the Schaibles are good parents who don’t intend their children any harm.


US Supreme Court declines to hear challenge to Colorado ruling over abortion images

DENVER (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal of a Colorado ruling that bars abortion protesters from displaying graphic images of aborted fetuses in places where they might upset children.

The Denver Post reports the court’s decision, announced Monday, means the lower court ruling stands.

The case stems from a 2005 protest near an outdoor Palm Sunday service at Denver’s Saint John’s Cathedral, an Episcopal church.

Protesters who disagreed with the Episcopal church’s stance in favor of abortion rights shouted while displaying large images of aborted fetuses. Church officials said some of the approximately 200 children at the service became upset.

The church sued Kenneth Scott, one of the protesters, and a judge issued an order barring him from displaying “gruesome images of mutilated fetuses or dead bodies in a manner reasonably likely to be viewed by children under 12.” The order is limited to the area near the Denver church.


Paris exhibit glorifies Palestinian suicide bombers, causes outrage among Jewish groups

PARIS (AP) — A state-funded museum in Paris is causing outrage among France’s Jewish community for staging a photo exhibition that calls Palestinian suicide bombers “martyrs.”

The exhibit of work by Palestinian photographer Ahlam Shibli, which started last week at the Jeu de Paume, features dozens of photographs with captions that glorify dead members of Palestinian groups.

It includes suicide bombers from the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, which is listed as a terrorist organization by European Union and the United States.

The captions, written by Shibli, say that the suicide bombers are martyrs since they died “as a result of the Israeli occupation.”

France’s leading Jewish group, CRIF, wrote a letter last week to France’s culture minister calling the exhibit “unacceptable.”

A protest was planned at the museum for Sunday.


Thousands visit grave 19 years after death of revered NYC rabbi, leader of Lubavitch movement

NEW YORK (AP) — Thousands of people arriving at the New York City grave of a revered New York City rabbi to mark the 19th anniversary of his death.

Rabbi Menachem Schneerson led the Chabad Lubavitch movement based in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, for more than 40 years.

Schneerson was 92 when he died on June 12, 1994. According to the Jewish calendar, the anniversary of his death is being observed for the 24 hours that started at sundown Monday.

Lubavitch Jews and other admirers of Schneerson are expected to visit his gravesite in Cambria Heights, Queens from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Schneerson was credited with reinvigorating a decimated community after the Holocaust and building a movement that promotes observant Judaism around the world.

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