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c. 1997 Religion News Service Catholic bishops criticize world response to Central Africa (RNS) A top official of the U.S. Catholic Conference, the social policy arm of the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops, has criticized the international community _ including the United States _ for failing to take steps to prevent on-going violence in Central Africa.”Despite many significant efforts, the international community has thus far failed in its obligation to help prevent the spread of deadly violence through the region,”said Archbishop Theodore McCarrick of Newark, N.J. McCarrick, chairman of the bishops’ international policy committee, made his comments in an Oct. 28 letter to Susan Rice, assistant U.S. secretary of state for African affairs. The letter was made public Thursday (Oct. 30).

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c. 1997 Religion News Service Gifts to Salvation Army topped $1 billion in 1996 (RNS) The Salvation Army raised a whopping $1 billion in 1996 up more than $250 million from 1995 putting it at the top of the list for the fifth straight year in The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s top 400 charities. Overall, Americans donated $25.9 billion in 1996 to the 400 largest charities in the nation, the Washington-based Chronicle reported. The American Red Cross placed second, raising $479.9 million, followed by The American Cancer Society, which took in $426.7 million, and Emory University in Atlanta, which jumped 50 places in the list to fourth place by raising $415.4 million. Rounding out the top 10 were Catholic Charities, Second Harvest, the YMCA of the USA, Habitat for Humanity International, Boys and Girls Clubs of America and Stanford University.

NEWS STORY: Orthodox patriarch decries Holocaust `icon’ of evil

c. 1997 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ More than 50 years after the end of the Holocaust, the first ecumenical patriarch of the Orthodox Church to directly address it called Nazi persecution”the singular icon of our century’s evils”and said Israel was the”guarantor of the Jewish people’s existence.” Patriarch Bartholomew, speaking Monday (Oct. 20) at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum also noted the failure of many Christians _ Orthodox and others _ to oppose the Nazis’ plan to exterminate European Jews.”The bitter truth for so many Christians of that terrible time was that they could not connect the message of their faith to their actions in the world,”he said. Bartholomew, 57, heads the Greek Orthodox Church worldwide and is considered the”first among equals”of the leaders of 15 autonomous, ethnic Orthodox churches.

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c. 1997 Religion News Service Liberty University has “new lease on life” following debt reduction (RNS) Liberty University has a “new lease on life” following a dramatic reduction in the school’s debts, according to a spokesman for Jerry Falwell, the school’s chancellor. Mark DeMoss, Falwell’s spokesman, said an anonymous donor he described as a “Christian businessman” prompted the turn of events for the school in Lynchburg, Va. “An anonymous donor purchased all of the outstanding bonds … that collectively comprised the lion’s share of Liberty’s debt and it totaled $27 million roughly of debt that was purchased outright and then the bonds were donated to the university,” DeMoss told Religion News Service Thursday (Oct.

NEWS SIDEBAR: Schedule for ecumenical patriarch’s U.S visit

c. 1997 Religion News Service UNDATED _ Here’s the city-by-city itinerary of the month-long visit of Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of the Orthodox Church: Washington, D.C. Oct. 19: Arrival at Andrews Air Force Base. Oct. 20: Visit to U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum; luncheon at Turkish Embassy; dinner at Library of Congress.

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c. 1997 Religion News Service Four Orthodox Jewish students sue Yale University over housing (RNS) Four Orthodox Jewish students sued Yale University Wednesday (Oct. 15), saying the school’s campus housing requirement forces them to be exposed to lax sexual attitudes in coed dormitories that violate their faith’s support of modesty and chastity.”Sexual activity involving an unmarried male or female under the age of 18 is common in Yale’s residential college,”their lawsuit states.”If the plaintiffs are required to live in the Yale dormitories, they are likely to witness such activity, or to have firsthand evidence of such activity.” About 60 Orthodox Jewish students attend the Ivy League school in New Haven, Conn. The university requires all freshmen and sophomores to live on campus and does not have single-sex dorms, although the buildings housing freshmen have separate floors for men and women.

NEWS FEATURE: American Orthodoxy: change and dissent on brink of the millennium

c. 1997 Religion News Service SANTA BARBARA, Calif. _ Assembled in a blue-domed edifice overlooking the Pacific, the sun-kissed congregation of St. Barbara’s Greek Orthodox Church seems the fulfillment of the immigrant dream. The sanctuary is filled with young, affluent families, drawn to the beauty and unchanging teachings of this most ancient expression of Christian faith: A sensual liturgy fragrant with incense, awash in music, bright with icons of angels and saints, their stylized gaze fixed on the richness of mystical life.

NEWS STORY: Bartholomew to face Orthodox unity issue during U.S. visit

c. 1997 Religion News Service UNDATED _ Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s U.S. visit will mark the 75th anniversary of the 1.5 million-member Greek Orthodox archdiocese in America, but in some respects, it will be an uneasy celebration. The largest, most affluent and most visible of American Orthodox Christians, Greeks are divided over the policies of Archbishop Spyridon, whom Bartholomew appointed last year and whose authoritative ways have chafed many church members. While they are devoted to the patriarchy in Constantinople, they also want to retain some measure of administrative control over their affairs. As Bartholomew’s visit nears, Greek Orthodox dissidents in many communities are organizing discussions about how they can reassert control over the church their immigrant forebears founded.

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c. 1997 Religion News Service Red Cross apologizes for Holocaust silence (RNS) The International Red Cross said Tuesday (Oct. 7) the organization committed a”moral failure”when it didn’t respond aggressively to the Holocaust. In a Jerusalem ceremony marking the release of 60,000 pages of Red Cross documents from World War II, Red Cross archivist George Willemin said the organization”kept silent with regard to the Holocaust. And I would say that this is the heart of the moral failure.”

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c. 1997 Religion News Service Lyons admits judgment error, asks for second chance (RNS) The Rev. Henry J. Lyons, president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, said in a live television interview Tuesday (Sept. 30) that he made an”error in judgment”by buying a luxury home with a female church official and hopes Americans will give him a second chance to prove himself as a denominational leader. Lyons appeared on”BET Tonight With Tavis Smiley”with his attorney, Grady Irvin, to discuss recent allegations that have surfaced about him since his wife was charged with setting fire to the $700,000 home July 6.”I did not come to this job to bring this kind of sense of shame and disgrace _ or scandal even _ to it,”Lyons said on the program aired on Black Entertainment Television.”I came to raise the standard.” Lyons described the controversial purchase of the house with Bernice Edwards, then a church official, as an”investment opportunity”and a”favor”for Edwards, who is a friend of his family.