RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service Reported suggestion that pope should resign stirs controversy (RNS) A reported suggestion by an influential German bishop that Pope John Paul II should resign if ill health prevents him from doing his job stirred controversy today among Roman Catholic leaders.”The church is neither Fiat nor General Motors,”Bishop Alessandro Maggiolini of Como said.”Its criterion cannot be efficiency. And (as) in a family, even an aged father can be the conscience of the church and continue to govern it.” Bishop Karl Lehmann of Mainz, who holds the important post of president of the German bishops conference, denied he had called for the 79-year-old pontiff to take the almost unprecedented step of retiring. A spokeswoman for the bishop said his comments in a German radio interview Sunday (Jan.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service Reported suggestion that pope should resign stirs controversy (RNS) A reported suggestion by an influential German bishop that Pope John Paul II should resign if ill health prevents him from doing his job stirred controversy today among Roman Catholic leaders.”The church is neither Fiat nor General Motors,”Bishop Alessandro Maggiolini of Como said.”Its criterion cannot be efficiency. And (as) in a family, even an aged father can be the conscience of the church and continue to govern it.” Bishop Karl Lehmann of Mainz, who holds the important post of president of the German bishops conference, denied he had called for the 79-year-old pontiff to take the almost unprecedented step of retiring. A spokeswoman for the bishop said his comments in a German radio interview Sunday (Jan.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service NCC Representative Cheers INS Decision to Return Cuban Boy (RNS) The former general secretary of the National Council of Churches has welcomed the decision by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service that 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez should be returned to Cuba. “The decision of the INS to give custody of Elian Gonzalez to his father is right and just,” said the Rev. Joan Brown Campbell in a statement issued Thursday (Jan. 6). “This decision is to be affirmed and must not be tied to protracted legal battles that would delay the boy’s actual, physical return to Cuba.” Campbell traveled to Cuba and met with Juan Miguel Gonzalez, Elian’s divorced father, and other relatives on Monday.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service NCC Representative Cheers INS Decision to Return Cuban Boy (RNS) The former general secretary of the National Council of Churches has welcomed the decision by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service that 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez should be returned to Cuba. “The decision of the INS to give custody of Elian Gonzalez to his father is right and just,” said the Rev. Joan Brown Campbell in a statement issued Thursday (Jan. 6). “This decision is to be affirmed and must not be tied to protracted legal battles that would delay the boy’s actual, physical return to Cuba.” Campbell traveled to Cuba and met with Juan Miguel Gonzalez, Elian’s divorced father, and other relatives on Monday.

COMMENTARY: The World Didn’t End _ Again

c. 2000 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 Press.) UNDATED The coming of 2000 was a great disappointment to those people who, as the great German writer Thomas Mann once described them, have “a sympathy for the abyss.” Instead of entering “Apocalypse Now,” Americans, and almost everybody else, enjoyed the slowly turning wheel of time as it gently swept the seas and land masses, heralded by fire works instead of terrorist bombs, to roll 2000 over our upturned faces as gently as a shadow. The spirit of the event was more like a family gathering, a wedding, say, at which everybody behaved well despite the dire possibilities of some people you know who being chronically peeved at their seating, Uncle Joe’s drinking too much, or somebody’s opening up a barely closed wound of family misunderstanding. It was, in fact, an evening of revelation in which we had an unhurried opportunity to see how much we are like, rather than unlike, each other.

COMMENTARY: The World Didn’t End _ Again

c. 2000 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 Press.) UNDATED The coming of 2000 was a great disappointment to those people who, as the great German writer Thomas Mann once described them, have “a sympathy for the abyss.” Instead of entering “Apocalypse Now,” Americans, and almost everybody else, enjoyed the slowly turning wheel of time as it gently swept the seas and land masses, heralded by fire works instead of terrorist bombs, to roll 2000 over our upturned faces as gently as a shadow. The spirit of the event was more like a family gathering, a wedding, say, at which everybody behaved well despite the dire possibilities of some people you know who being chronically peeved at their seating, Uncle Joe’s drinking too much, or somebody’s opening up a barely closed wound of family misunderstanding. It was, in fact, an evening of revelation in which we had an unhurried opportunity to see how much we are like, rather than unlike, each other.

NEWS STORY: Ignoring Chinese challenge, pope ordains bishops for the universal church

c. 2000 Religion News Service VATICAN CITY Ignoring a challenge from China’s government-controlled “patriotic” church, Pope John Paul II consecrated 12 new bishops Thursday (Jan. 6) that he said represented “the universality” of the Roman Catholic Church. The pope elevated the prelates, one of them an American, at a solemn Epiphany mass in St. Peter’s Basilica only hours after the Patriotic Association of Chinese Catholics installed five hand-picked new bishops loyal to Beijing rather than the Vatican.

COMMENTARY: Resolutions Time

c. 2000 Religion News Service (Rabbi Rudin is the national interreligious affairs director of the American Jewish Committee.) UNDATED It’s time for New Year’s resolutions, and although no one has asked me, here is an unsolicited pair intended for the presidential candidates of both parties. Hopefully, my resolutions will be adopted quickly by the politicians who want to be America’s first elected president of the 21st century, but I strongly doubt it will happen. 1. Presidential candidates should stop pandering to the narrow agenda of the religious right, a group that recent elections have consistently shown to constitute a minority of the general public.

NEWS FEATURE: Fewer Churches Opting for Cry Rooms

c. 2000 Religion News Service UNDATED _ While Jesus, according to the Gospel of Matthew, encouraged the little ones to come unto him, churchgoers in modern America do not easily suffer children’s outbursts. Providing space for loud, fidgety and sometimes crying children during services has long been a concern for those designing and using churches. “It’s something that the communicant wants, the member is looking for,” said Bruce Knodel, a Mobile, Ala., architect who has designed churches. “I think in younger families that’s probably a pretty serious consideration.” But not all child care facilities are created equal.

NEWS FEATURE: Fewer Churches Opting for Cry Rooms

c. 2000 Religion News Service UNDATED _ While Jesus, according to the Gospel of Matthew, encouraged the little ones to come unto him, churchgoers in modern America do not easily suffer children’s outbursts. Providing space for loud, fidgety and sometimes crying children during services has long been a concern for those designing and using churches. “It’s something that the communicant wants, the member is looking for,” said Bruce Knodel, a Mobile, Ala., architect who has designed churches. “I think in younger families that’s probably a pretty serious consideration.” But not all child care facilities are created equal.

NEWS STORY: While Many Partied, Some Prayed in the New Millennium

c. 2000 Religion News Service UNDATED _ While secular festivities welcomed 2000 from Sydney to Seattle, religious leaders and grass-roots worshippers paused to mark the celebrated calendar change in spiritual ways. From the pope’s first-ever New Year’s Eve midnight appearance to the clangings of bells in Buddhist temples in Asia to Sunday services across the United States, messages of peace and compassion filled the pulpits and airwaves in the first hours and days of the new year. Young and old, Christians and non-Christians alike were drawn to special celebrations. Southern Baptist, Presbyterian and Seventh-day Adventist youth gathered for late-night sessions that added prayer, music and introspection to the occasion.

NEWS STORY: While Many Partied, Some Prayed in the New Millennium

c. 2000 Religion News Service UNDATED _ While secular festivities welcomed 2000 from Sydney to Seattle, religious leaders and grass-roots worshippers paused to mark the celebrated calendar change in spiritual ways. From the pope’s first-ever New Year’s Eve midnight appearance to the clangings of bells in Buddhist temples in Asia to Sunday services across the United States, messages of peace and compassion filled the pulpits and airwaves in the first hours and days of the new year. Young and old, Christians and non-Christians alike were drawn to special celebrations. Southern Baptist, Presbyterian and Seventh-day Adventist youth gathered for late-night sessions that added prayer, music and introspection to the occasion.

NEWS STORY: Pope Begins Crowded Jubilee Year Schedule

c. 2000 Religion News Service VATICAN CITY _ Greeting the new millennium with an appeal for peace and a party for tens of thousands of children, Pope John Paul II has embarked on a crowded Jubilee schedule that will test his endurance to the limit. The Christmas and New Year’s festivities were only the start of a yearlong calendar of Holy Year events for the 79-year-old Roman Catholic pontiff, who wages a constant battle against the debilitating effects of a neurological ailment. John Paul plans at least one pilgrimage to the Holy Land this year plus scores of special meetings with Holy Year pilgrims expected to flock to Rome and the Vatican by the hundreds of thousands. The Vatican’s Central Committee for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 has scheduled mass pilgrimages by the sick, the elderly and the disabled, as well as artists, artisans and workers, scientists, immigrants, journalists, families, athletes, politicians, farmers, soldiers and university professors.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service NCC Leaders Meet With Father of Cuban Boy in Custody Battle (RNS) Representatives of the National Council of Churches have met with the Cuban father of a 6-year-old boy who was rescued at sea and hope to aid his son’s return from the United States.”We are puzzled why it has taken so long,”said the Rev. Joan Brown Campbell, former general secretary of the New York-based ecumenical group.”We thought the child would have been returned by now.” Campbell’s remarks were reported by the Associated Press after her arrival in Cuba on Sunday (Jan. 2). On Monday, she visited Juan Miguel Gonzalez, father of 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez, who has been demanding that his son be returned to him in Cuba.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service NCC Leaders Meet With Father of Cuban Boy in Custody Battle (RNS) Representatives of the National Council of Churches have met with the Cuban father of a 6-year-old boy who was rescued at sea and hope to aid his son’s return from the United States.”We are puzzled why it has taken so long,”said the Rev. Joan Brown Campbell, former general secretary of the New York-based ecumenical group.”We thought the child would have been returned by now.” Campbell’s remarks were reported by the Associated Press after her arrival in Cuba on Sunday (Jan. 2). On Monday, she visited Juan Miguel Gonzalez, father of 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez, who has been demanding that his son be returned to him in Cuba.