COMMENTARY: In memory of a friend, a mentor and a brother priest

c. 1996 Religion News Service (Andrew M. Greeley is a Roman Catholic priest, best-selling novelist and sociologist at the University of Chicago National Opinion Research Center. Check out his home page at or contact him via e-mail at agreel(at) CHICAGO _ He taught the whole country how to die. One hears that phrase over and over again as we mourn the death of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, surely the greatest American Catholic leader of our time. He died as he lived: with hope and faith and serenity, honest and yet undemonstrative.

A first: Muslim, evangelical leaders to address NCC

c. 1996 Religion News Service UNDATED _ The National Council of Churches, the ecumenical agency of 33 mainline Protestant and Orthodox denominations, extends its search for common ground among U.S. religions bodies with two symbolic firsts when it meets next week in Chicago. The council’s General Assembly, which convenes Nov. 13-15, will hear addresses by the Rev. Don Argue, president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) and by Warith Deen Mohammed, leader of Al-Islam, the largest orthodox African-American Muslim organization in the United States. The three-day meeting of 270 top leaders and delegates is the highest decision-making body of the council and brings together the top leadership from the council’s 33 denominations with some 40 million members.

A church divided is a church confused

c. 1996 Religion News Service (UNDATED) If a Christian book-buyer were driving out Stratford Road in my home town, she could turn right into Zondervan Family Bookstore or left into Carolina Christian Supply. They are both excellent book stores, but they are emblems of separate worlds. Although they address the same issues, needs and eternal verities, in the name of the same Lord, they have few books, tapes or art in common. The bookstores serve very different constituencies.

Don’t believe the demagogues: Immigrants are good for the nation

c. 1996 Religion News Service (Andrew M. Greeley is a Roman Catholic priest, best-selling novelist and sociologist at the University of Chicago National Opinion Research Center. Check out his home page at or contact him via e-mail at agreel(at) UNDATED _ In one final, hysterical burst of presidential campaigning in California, Bob Dole decided to run against the immigrants. There are four million illegal aliens in California, he ranted, and it’s all President Clinton’s fault. By implication, Dole would clean them out of the state if he were elected president. No one asked him what that would do to California’s fragile economy.

TOP STORY: AFTER THE FALL: On the road from sin to redemption, Bakker discovers a new reality

c. 1996 Religion News Service (UNDATED) A decade ago, when the PTL television ministry was at its peak, Jim Bakker was so busy raising money he hardly had time to read the Bible. Now, after five years in prison and two years of introspection on a rented North Carolina farm, he considers the holy book, marked and highlighted throughout his incarceration, to be “an old friend.” Such is the transformation of the 56-year-old Bakker, who has gone from the height of power at the modern Christian campground called Heritage USA to the depths of despair in a prison cell. In 1989, after getting caught in a sex and money scandal, Bakker was convicted of bilking supporters of his Praise the Lord (PTL) ministry out of $158 million. With that fall from grace, Bakker embarked on a spiritual journey that has led him to radically change his theology, his social consciousness and his attitudes about money.

NEWS SIDEBAR: Ballot initatives related to faith, ethics, moral issues

c. 1996 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Here is a rundown of the voting on ballot initiatives with moral dimensions or in which churches and religious groups played an activist role: PARENTS’ RIGHTS Colorado: Defeated a measure that would have amended the state constitution with a provision declaring that parents have ultimate rights in matters of educating and disciplining their children. GAMBLING Arizona: Approved a measure to permit more Indian casinos. Arkansas: Rejected a measure to legalize charitable bingo, authorize casinos in Hot Springs, Ark., and create a state lottery. Colorado: Rejected gambling in the city of Trinidad, Colo.

NEWS SIDEBAR: People of faith: How they voted

c. 1996 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Here’s a rundown of exit polls and other post-election surveys of how Americans voted by religion in the 1996 presidential election. RELIGIOUS CONSERVATIVES CLINTON: 26 percent DOLE: 65 percent PEROT: 8 percent Source: Voter News Service Sample: 16,338 voters, 16 percent of whom identified themselves as”religious conservatives.” Margin of error: Plus or minus 3 percent CATHOLICS CLINTON: 54 percent DOLE: 36 percent PEROT: 8 percent Source: Voter News Service Sample: 16,338 voters Margin of error: Plus or minus 3 percent. JEWS CLINTON: 83 percent DOLE: 13 percent PEROT: 4 percent Source: American Jewish Congress Sample: An unscientific survey of 2,112 voters in 90 key precincts in 10 states and the District of Columbia, with large Jewish populations Margin of error: N/A MUSLIMS CLINTON: 48 percent DOLE: 38 percent PEROT: 10 percent Source: Minaret Magazine and Muslim Public Affairs Council Sample: An unscientific survey of 400 individuals randomly selected from a database of 40,000 Muslims nationwide Margin of error: N/A KC END RNS

NEWS STORY: VATICAN DISAPPROVAL: Vatican accuses UNICEF of promoting abortion, withholds funds

c. 1996 Religion News Service VATICAN CITY _ Accusing the United Nations aid program for children of advocating abortion and distributing contraceptives to Third World women, the Vatican has decided to withhold its annual contribution for UNICEF activities. UNICEF officials denied the charges and said they had no evidence of support within their ranks for the objectionable work. The Vatican’s annual $2,000 contribution is largely symbolic, a token donation that constitutes a fraction of the $1 billion annual UNICEF budget. But the decision is a highly political rebuke of UNICEF’s global activities that could reignite tensions between the Roman Catholic Church and population control advocates.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1996 Religion News Service Archbishop sees lack of human rights threatening Bosnia peace (RNS) _ The fragile peace in Bosnia is being undermined by a lack of basic human rights, including religious rights, says Archbishop Theodore McCarrick of Newark, N.J.”The future of religious minorities in Bosnia-Herzegovina remains bleak,”McCarrick said.”A year after the Dayton Accords, the lack of basic human rights, the inability of refugees to return home, and the continuation of `ethnic cleansing’ are undermining any hopes of restoring a multi-ethnic, multi-religious Bosnia-Herzegovina and building a just and lasting peace.” The Dayton Accords, signed in Dayton, Ohio, last year, brought an end to the fierce civil war in the former Yugoslavia between ethnic Serbs, Croats and Muslims that was marked by”ethnic cleansing”_ the killing or forced removal of ethnic and religious minorities so as to”purify”regions controlled by one or the other of the three groups. McCarrick, chairman of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee to Aid the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, returned from a trip to the region on Oct. 22.


c. 1996 Religion News Service (UNDATED) The death of Michael Collins, the Irish revolutionary leader who is the subject of the current Neil Jordan film of the same name, is not only one of the great tragedies of the 20th century. It is also one of the great mysteries. Collins was a”master of mayhem”in the war of Irish Independence from Britain. At war’s end, he became a man of peace, and found himself caught between the rock of British imperialism and the hard place of revolutionary zealots who wanted total freedom for Ireland.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1996 Religion News Service Israeli law would invalidate non-Orthodox conversions to Judaism (RNS) Israel’s Orthodox Jewish political parties announced plans Thursday (Oct. 31) to introduce legislation to invalidate Reform and Conservative conversions to Judaism in Israel. The Orthodox parties say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government supports the measure, the Jerusalem Post reported. Netanyahu so far has not commented on the matter, but the Orthodox parties are a key element of his ruling coalition.

COMMENTARY: Reflections on a pope named Roncalli and a church that used to be

c. 1996 Religion News Service (Andrew M. Greeley is a Roman Catholic priest, best-selling novelist and sociologist at the University of Chicago National Opinion Research Center. Check out his home page at or contact him via e-mail at agreel(at) COLOGNE, Germany _ As tourists and pilgrims wander through this city’s great cathedral, I sit in the plaza and reflect on the Catholic Church and its contemporary problems. The plaza is called the Roncalliplatz, in honor of Angelo Roncalli, who became Pope John XXIII. He was one of the greatest popes in history, even if the present crowd in the Vatican regard him as an old fool who almost destroyed the church. I ponder the enthusiasm, the hope, the bright promise of the Second Vatican Council, which Pope John XXIII convened in 1962.

NEWS STORY: Episcopal Church rocked by Penthouse allegations of priestly orgies

c. 1996 Religion News Service (UNDATED) The Episcopal Church said Thursday (Oct. 31) it will thoroughly investigate allegations in the current issue of Penthouse magazine that priests in the denomination’s Long Island diocese performed and participated in same-sex marriage ceremonies and engaged in homosexual orgies involving young men from Brazil. At least two priests, the Rev. Lloyd Andries, rector of St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church in Brooklyn, N.Y., and the Rev. Howard Williams, a priest at the Episcopal Church Center, the denomination’s headquarters in New York City, have resigned as a result of the allegations.”If the recent allegations prove true, the clergy implicated have violated their ordination vows, desecrated holy space and betrayed a sacred trust,”Presiding Bishop Edmond L. Browning said in a statement.”These allegations must be dealt with in a fair and expeditious manner.”