Religion news in brief

US cardinal says Austrian priest who advocates female ordination can’t speak at local parish

BOSTON (AP) — Cardinal Sean O’Malley banned an Austrian priest from speaking at a parish because the priest advocates ordaining woman and making celibacy for priests optional.

The Rev. Helmut Schuller was scheduled to speak at Saint Susanna Parish in Dedham on July 17 as part of 15-city U.S. tour. His talk has been moved to a nearby Unitarian Universalist church, The Boston Globe reported.

Terry Donilon, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said in a statement that the archdiocese’s policy is “not to permit individuals to conduct speaking engagements in Catholic parishes or at church events when those individuals promote positions that are contrary to Catholic teachings.”

Schuller is founder of the Austrian Priests’ Initiative, which advocates allowing women and married people to become priests as a way to address a global priest shortage. The initiative organized a “Call to Disobedience,” which was signed two years by several hundred priests who pledged, among other things, to begin serving communion to non-Catholics, promote women’s ordination and let trained laity preach.


National Cathedral rings bells to celebrate Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage

WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Cathedral rang its church bells, along with some other Washington churches, to celebrate the Supreme Court’s decisions on gay marriage.

Cathedral spokesman Richard Weinberg said the bells rang at noon Wednesday. Bells were also set to ring at other Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Unitarian and other Christian churches.

The cathedral scheduled a prayer service for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender families Wednesday evening to celebrate the ruling.

In a statement, the cathedral’s dean, the Rev. Gary Hall, says the church is ringing its bells “to celebrate the extension of federal marriage equality to all the same-sex couples modeling God’s love in lifelong covenants.”

Hall says the ruling should serve as a call for Christians to embrace religious marriage equality.


Pope names commission of inquiry into Vatican bank amid new scandals and old questions

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis took a key step toward reforming the troubled Vatican bank, naming a commission of inquiry to look into its activities amid a new money-laundering probe and continued questions about the very nature of the secretive financial institution.

It was the second time in as many weeks that Francis has intervened to get information out of the Institute for Religious Works, or IOR. On June 15, he filled a key vacancy in the bank’s governing structure, tapping a trusted prelate to be his eyes inside the bank.

On Wednesday, he named a commission to investigate the bank’s legal structure and activities “to allow for a better harmonization with the universal mission of the Apostolic See,” according to the legal document that created it.

American cardinals were among the most vocal in demanding a wholesale reform of the Vatican bureaucracy — and the Vatican bank — in the meetings outlining the priorities for the new pope in the run-up to the March conclave that elected Francis. The demands were raised following revelations in leaked documents last year that told of dysfunction, petty turf wars and allegations of corruption in the Holy See’s governance.


Groups sues NJ over more than $11M in grants to 2 religious schools

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey’s plans to award more than $11 million to an all-male Jewish school and Princeton Theological Seminary violates state law and should be stopped, civil liberties groups said in a complaint filed in state court.

The ACLU and its New Jersey chapter, along with Americans United for Separation of Church and State, filed the lawsuit in Trenton.

They claim the grants violate the state constitution’s prohibitions against using taxpayer money for places of worship and giving preference to a religion, as well as violate its stipulation that public money be used for public purposes. In addition, the suit says, the grant awarded to the Beth Medrash Govoha, an all-male Talmudic studies center in Lakewood, violates state law against discrimination based on gender.

A spokesman for Gov. Chris Christie did not return multiple requests for comment.


FBI says it’s pulling ‘Faces of Global Terrorism’ bus ads in Seattle over community concerns

SEATTLE (AP) — The FBI says it’s pulling some advertisements off buses in the Seattle area, after some people complained that they stereotyped Muslims.

The ads, which began running this month in connection with a State Department program, features pictures of 16 men wanted around the globe for terrorist activities below the words: “Faces of Global Terrorism.”

Among those criticizing the ads was U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott of Seattle, who suggested they gave the impression that “terrorism only comes from one religion or one color of people,” and said the ads might increase the risk of hate crimes against Middle Eastern, South Asian and Muslim Americans.

Seattle FBI Special Agent Fred Gutt (GOOT’) says the agency agrees that the ads could be taken that way. The FBI is working swap out those ads with others promoting the State Department’s “Rewards for Justice” program.


After schism in eastern SC, bishops from national Episcopal Church to meet in Charleston

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Bishops from the national Episcopal Church planned to meet in Charleston in the wake of the Episcopal schism in eastern South Carolina.

Twenty-five bishops from Province of Sewanee are slated to hold their House of Bishops meeting at Grace Episcopal Church on Wednesday. The province, comprised of dioceses in nine Southeastern states, is the largest in the national church.

Organizers say the meeting is being held in Charleston to show solidarity with parishes in eastern South Carolina remaining with the national church.

The conservative Diocese of South Carolina last year separated from the more liberal national church over a variety of theological issues including the authority of Scripture and the ordination of gays. The schism has resulted in a lawsuit over the diocesan name and church property.

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