c. 1999 Religion News Service UNDATED _ Long used to standing solidly with Pope John Paul II against birth control, abortion rights and assisted suicide, America’s Roman Catholic conservatives have been suddenly challenged by the pope’s forceful condemnation of a conservative touchstone _ the death penalty.”It’s going to be very difficult for many, sure,”said New Orleans Archbishop Francis Schulte.”They’ll have to take this into consideration. This is a whole new area for many Catholics.” John Paul told 104,000 people gathered at a papal Mass in St. Louis last week that the respect for life that undergirds the Catholic church’s opposition to abortion, doctor-assisted suicide and euthanasia applies”even in the case of one who has done great evil.”
c. 1999 Religion News Service NEW YORK _ The Presbytery of the Hudson River of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A), which represents 96 churches in seven counties north of New York City, has voted overwhelmingly to allow ministers to perform same-sex holy unions _ as long as the ceremonies are not called marriages. The Jan. 30 vote _ 107-to-35 _ surprised liberal ministers who had been quietly performing same-sex ceremonies and prompted conservative ministers to file a petition seeking to overturn the decision.”I thought my colleagues were brave to step out of the closet,”said the Rev. James Gilmore, senior pastor of the South Presbyterian Church in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.”Hospitality in churches must include gays and lesbians.” But those who opposed the decision say same-sex ceremonies violate the Bible.