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c. 1999 Religion News Service Eds: Check RNS StoryPix for a photo to accompany the 2nd item on Catholicos Karekin II. Carter working with Graham to help suffering Iraqis (RNS) Former President Jimmy Carter has sharply criticized the U.S. policy of sanctions against Iraq and said he is working with evangelist Billy Graham to help people who are suffering in that country.”In Iraq … our ill-advised, sustained sanctions on shipments of food and medicine and so forth have caused a quintupling of the infant mortality rate in the last seven years,”Carter said in an interview with Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, Public Broadcasting Service program. The interview was scheduled for broadcast beginning Friday (Oct.

COMMENTARY: Beautiful women in the Louvre

c. 1999 Religion News Service (Andrew M. Greeley is a Roman Catholic priest, best-selling novelist and a sociologist at the University of Chicago National Opinion Research Center. Check out his home page at http://www.agreeley.com or contact him via e-mail at agreelaol.com.) PARIS _ I suspect that most people go to the Louvre mainly out of interest in two beautiful women _ La Giocanda (Mona Lisa) and Aphrodite (Venus) de Milo. The gallery obviously knows this because it features them on its maps. Huge crowds from every nation swarm around these two lovely ladies.

COMMENTARY: Remarkable meeting in Lynchburg worthy of praise

c. 1999 Religion News Service (David P. Gushee is director of the Center for Christian Leadership and associate professor of Christian Studies at Union University in Jackson, Tenn.) UNDATED _ A most remarkable encounter occurred recently on the campus of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va. The Oct. 23 meeting was sponsored by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, Thomas Road pastor and founder of the now-defunct Moral Majority, and the Rev. Mel White, his former friend and ghostwriter who”came out of the closet”several years ago and is now a high-profile homosexual activist. Both Falwell and White invited 200 people.

NEWS STORY: Pope condemns those who `wage war in the name of religion’

c. 1999 Religion News Service VATICAN CITY _ Addressing representatives of the world’s faiths at a dramatic twilight ceremony Thursday (Oct. 28) in St. Peter’s Square, Pope John Paul II condemned those who”wage war in the name of religion.””Any use of religion to support violence is an abuse of religion,”the Roman Catholic pontiff said.”Religion is not and must not become a pretext for conflict, particularly when religious, cultural and ethnic identity coincide.””Religious leaders,”he said,”must clearly show that they are pledged to promote peace precisely because of their religious belief.” The pope spoke at the ceremony closing four days of prayer and deliberations by some 200 representatives of more than 20 religious traditions.

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c. 1999 Religion News Service House votes to ban doctors from prescriptions leading to suicide (RNS) The House, alarmed by an Oregon law permitting physician-assisted suicide, has passed a bill that would make it a federal crime for doctors to prescribe drugs to help terminally ill patients take their lives. The legislation was approved on Wednesday (Oct. 27) by a vote of 271-156. Cardinal William H. Keeler, chairman of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Activities, said the vote”should mark a turning point in our nation’s efforts to promote the comfort and dignity of seriously ill people.””Congress has recognized for the first time that drugs under federal control should never be used to take life, but only to heal and comfort,”he said.”By clarifying the law to encourage effective pain relief, without condoning assisted suicide or euthanasia, our nation will attest to the equal dignity of all human life and to the healing ethic that should define the medical profession.”

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c. 1999 Religion News Service Tax complaint filed against New Orleans church over political acts (RNS) A national public interest group has filed a tax complaint against a small New Orleans church, asking the Internal Revenue Service to determine whether the church went too far in backing a candidate for governor. Americans United for Separation of Church and State, based in Washington, D.C., directed the IRS to a published account in which the Rev. Zebadee Bridges acknowledged he endorsed Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., from the pulpit of Asia Baptist Church. In the same article, Bridges also said he told congregants they could contribute to the Jefferson campaign through envelopes the campaign had placed in the church.”Collecting money on behalf of a candidate in church seems like a clear violation of the Internal Revenue Code,”Americans United executive director Barry Lynn wrote in an Oct. 25 letter to the tax agency.

COMMENTARY: `Our’ flight and `our’ mystery

c. 1999 Religion News Service (Eugene Kennedy, a longtime observer of the Roman Catholic Church, is professor emeritus of psychology at Loyola University in Chicago and author most recently of”My Brother Joseph,”published by St. Martin’s Press.) UNDATED _ The National Transportation Safety Board is our national insurance policy against the terror of the unknown. In the same newscast telling the tale of a downed airplane, we see agency investigators, hastily dressed and combed as family members hurrying to a home of sudden death, rushing to the burned and jagged ring of earth of its crash site. They are bearers of our national determination and need to discover the cause of every air crash, of every unexpected mishap of trains or buses, too.

NEWS FEATURE: Christian conservatives reconsider Y2K disaster warnings

c. 1999 Religion News Service UNDATED _ As 1998 drew to a close and the nation suddenly became awash in predictions of possible Year 2000 computer meltdowns, nowhere was the doom and gloom more prevalent than among conservative Christians. Radio and television programs, Web sites and book publishers catering to evangelical and Pentecostal Christians warned the faithful to spend 1999 preparing for the widespread societal collapse predicted to follow the crash of millions of time-sensitive computers unable to differentiate between Jan. 1, 2000 and Jan. 1, 1900 _ the so-called Y2K millennium bug.

NEWS STORY: Renegade Orthodox group targets minority faiths in former Soviet republic

c. 1999 Religion News Service TBILISI, Georgia _ Lying in a hospital ward here with blurred vision and a bruised body, Fati Tabagari described in calm, level tones how she and her 13-year-old son were beaten Oct. 17 by a mob of renegade Orthodox Christians. Tabagari, a 40-year-old housewife, was among 20 Jehovah’s Witnesses hospitalized following a 30-minute melee inside a theater rented for Sunday services by the Witnesses. The group claims about 15,000 members in this mountainous country and is infamous here as elsewhere for its dogged proselytizing.

COMMENTARY: Gregorian chant

c. 1999 Religion News Service (Andrew M. Greeley is a Roman Catholic priest, best-selling novelist and a sociologist at the University of Chicago National Opinion Research Center. Check out his home page at http://www.agreeley.com or contact him via e-mail at agreel(at)aol.com.) PARIS _ Notre Dame de Paris pretty much fills up for the 10:00 a.m. Mass on Sundays. The congregation seems equal part native and foreign, the latter heavily American tourists. The liturgy is performed with precision and care.

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c. 1999 Religion News Service Update: Cardinal O’Connor released from hospital (RNS) Cardinal John O’Connor was released from the hospital Wednesday (Oct. 20) to continue his recovery from brain tumor surgery at home. The leader of more than 2 million Catholics in New York was hospitalized Monday with side effects from radiation treatment. He was found to have been slightly dehydrated and also had a small blood clot in his left leg.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1999 Religion News Service Falwell pledges to examine rhetoric for anti-gay hostility (RNS) On the eve of a meeting between the Rev. Jerry Falwell and other conservative Christian ministers and the Rev. Mel White and religious supporters of gay rights, Falwell has pledged to examine his writing and preaching to ensure it does not contain anti-gay sentiments that could lead to violence.”I do think, in our case … we have looked very carefully at and will more carefully in the future at any kind of rhetoric in our writing or preachments or whatever, that might lead someone to have hostility towards anybody, and that includes gays and lesbians,”Falwell said in an interview with the PBS television show”Religion and Ethics Newsweekly.” The show, which also includes comments from White, is scheduled to air over the weekend. White, co-founder of the religious gay rights group Soulforce, once worked with Falwell and other evangelical leaders including Pat Robertson and Billy Graham.

NEWS STORY: Falwell, gays to seek a truce, fight anti-gay violence

c. 1999 Religion News Service HUNTSVILLE, Ala. _ The Rev. Felicia Fontaine’s voice quivered and her eyes misted as she recalled an event that had both historical and spiritual significance in her life.”It was Feb. 14, 1987, and I was attending the March Against New Racism in Montgomery (Ala.),”said Fontaine, retired pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church in Huntsville.”I was the only white speaker there. You could just feel the spirit.

Monday News Digest

c. 1999 Religion News Service Eds: Note embargoed paragraphs at end of the following item Catholic magazine says beatifying Pope Pius XII would be”inopportune” (RNS) Beatifying Pope Pius XII, who headed the Roman Catholic Church during World War II, would be”inopportune”at this time, says America, a Catholic weekly magazine. Instead, the magazine called for establishment of an international commission of Catholic and Jewish historians to review Pius’ actions during World War II, the subject of a new book titled”Hitler’s Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII.” An editorial in the national magazine’s Oct. 23 issue declares that the book, in which author John Cornwell says that Pius could have done more to limit the killing of Jews during the Holocaust,”fails as a work of historical scholarship.”The magazine says the ongoing debate about Pius needs to be addressed in another manner.”Pius was not Hitler’s pope,”the magazine states.”He despised Hitler and Nazism.