Update on the latest religion news


Cardinal Dolan says Cardinal Egan was ‘a gift’ to church

NEW YORK (AP) — Cardinal Timothy Dolan says the life of his predecessor, Cardinal Edward Egan, was “a gift” to the church.

Dolan addressed a packed St. Patrick’s Cathedral at the beginning of Egan’s funeral Mass. He said a Latin phrase summarized Cardinal Egan’s Life: “Delexit Ecclesiam — He loved the church.”

The ceremony got off to a noisy start with drummers and bagpipers from New York City’s police and fire departments accompanying a funeral procession along the streets of midtown Manhattan.

In the packed cathedral, amid construction scaffolding, solemn church music took over. Several hundred Catholic clergy walked slowly down the center aisle toward Egan’s draped casket at the foot of the altar. They joined nearly 2,500 mourners packing the venerable cathedral.

Egan led the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York for almost a decade. He died March 5 after a heart attack.


233-w-38-(Warren Levinson, AP correspondent, with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, and music)–New York turned out in force for one last goodbye to its late Roman Catholic cardinal. AP correspondent Warren Levinson reports. ((opens with music)) (10 Mar 2015)


226-w-27-(Steve Coleman, AP religion editor, with New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan)–New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan says the life of his predecessor, Cardinal Edward Egan, was a gift to the church. AP Religion Editor Steve Coleman reports. (10 Mar 2015)


206-a-05-(New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, in funeral homily for Cardinal Edward Egan)-“loved the church”-New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan says a Latin phrase summarizes Cardinal Edward Egan’s life. (10 Mar 2015)


207-a-13-(New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, in funeral homily for Cardinal Edward Egan)-“mercy of Jesus”-New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan says Cardinal Edward Egan was devoted to the church. (10 Mar 2015)


208-a-11-(New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, in funeral homily for Cardinal Edward Egan)-“rest in peace”-New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan says Cardinal Edward Egan was a man of God. (10 Mar 2015)


209-r-22-(Opera singer Renee Fleming, singing ‘Ave Maria,’ at funeral of Cardinal Edward Egan)–Sound of opera singer Renee Fleming singing ‘Ave Maria’ at funeral of Cardinal Edward Egan. (10 Mar 2015)


220-a-11-(Victor Ziminsky, parishioner, in AP interview)-“fellow he was”-Parishioner Victor Ziminsky says Cardinal Egan was always kind to him. (9 Mar 2015)


219-a-15-(Gerard Guarino (gwah-REE’-noh), parishioner, in AP interview)-“the people’s priest”-Parishioner Gerard Guarino says he experienced Cardinal Edward Egan as a humble priest. (9 Mar 2015)



Judge dismisses suit over Oklahoma Ten Commandments monument

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a privately funded Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of Oklahoma’s state Capitol.

The lawsuit filed by the group American Atheists and two of its members alleged that the monument violated the First Amendment’s prohibition of government sanctioning a specific religion, as well as other constitutional rights. U.S. District Judge Robin Cauthron ruled that the group lacked legal standing to file the lawsuit.

Cauthron’s decision was hailed by Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, whose office defended the monument. He said, “The historical relevance of the Ten Commandments and the role it played in the founding of our nation cannot be disputed.”

Since the monument’s placement on the Capitol grounds, other groups have asked to erect their own monuments, including a satanic group, a Hindu activist, an animal rights group and the satirical Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.


House panel considers bill allowing Christmas in classroom

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — School Christmas celebrations could be legally protected under a proposal that Indiana lawmakers are considering, but some question whether the measure would be enough to fend off legal threats.

The Legislature’s House Government and Regulatory Reform Committee discussed the measure that would legally allow schools to display Nativity scenes or other Yuletide decorations, as long as another religious or secular holiday is recognized.

It would also permit history lessons about winter holidays and traditional holiday greetings, including “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Hanukkah.”

The Indiana Senate voted 48-2 in February to advance the proposal, which also would allow religious displays on municipal properties, as long as other religions are recognized.


Judge rejects diocese’s bid to set aside in vitro verdict

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that a jury was correct in finding that a Roman Catholic diocese in Indiana discriminated against a former teacher by firing her for undergoing fertilization treatment.

The Journal Gazette reports that U.S. District Judge Robert Miller found that “the evidence supports” December’s verdict favoring former diocese teacher Emily Herx.

The jury found that the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend violated Herx’s civil rights when it declined to renew her contract in June 2011 because she underwent in vitro fertilization in hopes of having a second child.

Jurors awarded Herx $1.9 million, but Miller later reduced that to about $540,000.

According to the diocese, the Catholic Church says the medical procedure — which involves mixing eggs and sperm and transferring the resulting embryo into the womb — is an intrinsic evil that no circumstances can justify.


Missouri court rules worship act violates First Amendment

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A federal appeals court has ruled that Missouri’s House of Worship Protection Act, which bans anyone from intentionally disturbing the order or solemnity of a house of worship through profane discourse, rude or indecent behavior, is a violation of the First Amendment.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the St. Louis-based court ruled against the law challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union in a 2012 lawsuit.

The lawsuit was on behalf of various groups, including the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. The groups argued that the First Amendment protects their freedom to protest, pray and distribute literature outside places of worship.

Under the law, which took effect in 2012, anyone who violated the act is guilty of a misdemeanor and faces months of jail time. Third and subsequent charges are felonies.


Catholic archdiocese to tweak contract’s morality clauses

CINCINNATI (AP) — The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati plans to update language in its teachers contract following a committee’s suggestions on its morality clauses.

Archdiocese spokesman Dan Andriacco told the Cincinnati Enquirer that the tweaked language in the contract will clarify what is expected of employees. The clarifications come after last year’s contract sparked protests for its language prohibiting “homosexual lifestyles,” abortion, artificial insemination and public support for any of those causes.

The public battle, which included a protest march, online petitions and a dozen opposition billboards, divided some of the region’s Catholics. But a large majority of the schools’ 2,800 teachers still signed the contract.

Andriacco says the updates include changing the wording from “public support” of such causes to “advocacy.”

The contract for the 2014-15 school year was drafted after the archdiocese in 2010 fired an unmarried teacher who became pregnant by artificial insemination. A federal court in 2013 ruled in that teacher’s favor, ordering the archdiocese to pay her $171,000.


Cardinal indicates themes of pope’s climate change document

VATICAN CITY (AP) — A Vatican official who helped draft Pope Francis’ upcoming encyclical on climate change is signaling the direction the document will take.

The encyclical won’t be released until June or July. But Cardinal Peter Turkson gave a talk last week in Ireland that Vatican observers consider an outline of what Francis will say. Turkson is head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Turkson acknowledged disagreement over the causes of global warming, but said it’s not contested that the planet is getting warmer. The cardinal said the pope believes Christians have a duty rooted in “ancient biblical teaching” to curb climate change.

Turkson said Francis is not making an attempt at “greening the church.” Instead, he said the pope is emphasizing Roman Catholic teaching that links protecting life with preserving the environment.


Shortbread milkshake picked for pope visit fundraiser

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Vatican has given its blessing to a shortbread milkshake.

Part of the proceeds from sales of “#PopeinPhilly” milkshakes will benefit two events this fall in Philadelphia: a world gathering of Catholic families and a visit by the pope.

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia picked the winning flavor from three choices during a visit Monday to a Potbelly Sandwich Shop. The president of the Vatican department that organizes the world meetings, Paglia got help from a dozen Catholic school students.

The shake features a blend of vanilla ice cream and shortbread cookies.

Pope Francis will attend the closing event of the world meeting on Sept. 26. The next day he’ll celebrate an outdoor Mass.

Fifty cents from every shake sold at three locations in Philadelphia will benefit planning for the events.

The pope also will visit New York and Washington, D.C.


229-r-20-(Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, with Catholic school students and others, at milkshake tasting Monday at a Potbelly sandwich shop in Philadelphia)–Sound of Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, with Catholic school students and others, tasting a milkshake at a Potbelly sandwich shop in Philadelphia. (10 Mar 2015)


228-a-07-(Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, with Catholic school students and others, at milkshake tasting Monday at a Potbelly sandwich shop in Philadelphia)-“confection indeed. Temptation!”-Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia says the vanilla and shortcake milkshake he tried is a “beautiful temptation.” (10 Mar 2015)


227-a-14-(Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, with Catholic school students and others, at milkshake tasting Monday at a Potbelly sandwich shop in Philadelphia)–Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, with the help of Catholic school students, chooses a vanilla and shortcake milkshake as the favorite from among three flavors at a Potbelly sandwich shop. Part of the proceeds from sales of the “Hashtag PopeinPhilly” milkshakes will benefit preparations for the pope’s visit to Philadelphia this fall. Updated: 03/10/2015-04:30:40 PM ET (10 Mar 2015)



Indictment pursued against Chicago-area Islamic school head

CHICAGO (AP) — A prosecutor says grand jury indictments will be pursued against the head of a suburban Chicago Islamic school who is charged with sexual assault.

Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney David Shin tells the Chicago Tribune that he will present evidence to a grand jury this week in the case of 75-year-old Mohammad Abdullah Saleem of Gilberts, Ill.

Separately, Saleem appeared in court Tuesday on charges of sex abuse and battery of a female school employee. Afterward, defense attorney Raymond Wigell said Saleem was holding up well and cooperating with the grand jury proceedings.

Wigell says Saleem has reduced his presence at the school because of what he calls “the questionable allegations.”

Shin says Saleem has been ordered not to have contact with the victim or anyone under age 18 and to surrender his passport.