RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service Kentucky House Passes Ten Commandments Bill (RNS) The Kentucky House of Representatives passed a bill on Wednesday (March 29) that would allow schools to post the Ten Commandments in classrooms and calls for teachers to teach about the influence of Christianity on the country, the Associated Press reported. The bill, which has already cleared the state Senate, now heads to Democrat Gov. Paul Patton for his signature. A spokesman for the governor said it was premature to say if the governor would sign the bill. The bill passed the House by a vote of 33-2.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service Kentucky House Passes Ten Commandments Bill (RNS) The Kentucky House of Representatives passed a bill on Wednesday (March 29) that would allow schools to post the Ten Commandments in classrooms and calls for teachers to teach about the influence of Christianity on the country, the Associated Press reported. The bill, which has already cleared the state Senate, now heads to Democrat Gov. Paul Patton for his signature. A spokesman for the governor said it was premature to say if the governor would sign the bill. The bill passed the House by a vote of 33-2.

NEWS STORY: Sexuality Issue Confronts Four Major Denominations

c. 2000 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Sarah Kreutziger is swamped with reading these days, apart from the literature that goes with her job as an assistant professor in the Tulane University School of Social Work in New Orleans. A delegate to the United Methodist Church’s General Conference meeting in Cleveland in May, she is awash in a torrent of theology, commentary, pleadings and lobbying urging her to turn this way, then that _ to approve or disapprove of men pledging spousal fidelity to other men, to envision lesbian Methodist clergy leading the liturgy, to consider pronouncing a historic new acceptance, Christian and Methodist, of homosexuality itself. “I’ve been in prayer with all this material for weeks,” she said. And that’s only the half of it.

NEWS STORY: Sexuality Issue Confronts Four Major Denominations

c. 2000 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Sarah Kreutziger is swamped with reading these days, apart from the literature that goes with her job as an assistant professor in the Tulane University School of Social Work in New Orleans. A delegate to the United Methodist Church’s General Conference meeting in Cleveland in May, she is awash in a torrent of theology, commentary, pleadings and lobbying urging her to turn this way, then that _ to approve or disapprove of men pledging spousal fidelity to other men, to envision lesbian Methodist clergy leading the liturgy, to consider pronouncing a historic new acceptance, Christian and Methodist, of homosexuality itself. “I’ve been in prayer with all this material for weeks,” she said. And that’s only the half of it.

NEWS STORY: Pope, Ending Pilgrimage, Meets with Muslims, Prays at Western Wall

c. 2000 Religion News Service JERUSALEM _ In an unprecedented gesture of reconciliation between Catholics and Jews, Pope John Paul II prayed at the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest place, Sunday (March 26) and placed a plea for forgiveness and brotherhood between its ancient stones. The pope departed in an Israel El Al B-747 jetliner shortly after 7:30 p.m. (12:30 p.m. EST) for the three-hour and 45-minute flight to Rome’s Ciampino Airport. From there a helicopter will take him to the Vatican. At the top of the boarding stairs, he turned waved and shook his clasped hands in a victory gesture.

NEWS STORY: House Speaker Appoints Catholic Priest as Chaplain

c. 2000 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., appointed a Catholic priest from Chicago as the new House chaplain Thursday (March 23), simultaneously making House history and attempting to end a months-long controversy on Capitol Hill. The Rev. Daniel Coughlin, vicar for priests of the Chicago archdiocese, was sworn in on the House floor shortly after Hastert announced his decision. “Daniel Coughlin is a Catholic,” Hastert said on the House floor. “That does not make him more nor less qualified for the job.

NEWS STORY: House Speaker Appoints Catholic Priest as Chaplain

c. 2000 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., appointed a Catholic priest from Chicago as the new House chaplain Thursday (March 23), simultaneously making House history and attempting to end a months-long controversy on Capitol Hill. The Rev. Daniel Coughlin, vicar for priests of the Chicago archdiocese, was sworn in on the House floor shortly after Hastert announced his decision. “Daniel Coughlin is a Catholic,” Hastert said on the House floor. “That does not make him more nor less qualified for the job.

NEWS STORY: Pope Visits Monument to Holocaust Victims, Expresses Church’s Sorrow

c. 2000 Religion News Service JERUSALEM _ Pope John Paul II, paying a ceremonial but emotional visit to Israel’s monument to the victims of the Holocaust, said Thursday (March 23) the Roman Catholic Church is “deeply saddened” by any form of anti-Semitism. He urged Catholics and Jews to build a “new future” of mutual respect. “There are no words strong enough to deplore the terrible tragedy of the Shoah,” the Roman Catholic pontiff told a small group of dignitaries and six Holocaust survivors. “Only a godless theology could plan and carry out the extermination of a whole people.” But neither the pope nor Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who also spoke, made any mention of the bitter controversy over the wartime role of Pope Pius XII.

NEWS STORY: Pope Deplores the “Torment’’ of the Palestinians

c. 2000 Religion News Service BETHLEHEM, WesT Bank _ Pope John Paul II, carrying his Holy Land pilgrimage to the Autonomous Palestinian Territories on Wednesday (March 22), celebrated Mass in Bethlehem, the place where Christians believe Jesus was born 2,000 years ago, and deplored the present day “torment” of the Palestinian people. “Peace for the Palestinian people! Peace for all the peoples of the region!” the pope declared. “No one can ignore how much the Palestinian people have had to suffer in recent decades.

NEWS FEATURE: West Bank Monastery Dispute Centers on Russian Revolution Split

c. 2000 Religion News Service JERICHO, West Bank _ The road to Jericho taken by an Orthodox nun at the center of an international dispute over a Holy Land monastery leads to a two-room trailer surrounded by an orchard of grapefruit and lemon trees. Inside one room of the trailer is a table dominated by icons of Jesus and Mary and the infant Christ where Sister Maria Stephanopoulos, formerly of Cleveland, will spend six or seven hours each day in prayer during Great Lent. Outside are Palestinian Authority guards who make sure she does not stray too close to the church on the grounds of the Jericho Garden Monastery. The sister of former Clinton adviser George Stephanopoulos is now in her third month of self-imposed exile.

NEWS FEATURE: West Bank Monastery Dispute Centers on Russian Revolution Split

c. 2000 Religion News Service JERICHO, West Bank _ The road to Jericho taken by an Orthodox nun at the center of an international dispute over a Holy Land monastery leads to a two-room trailer surrounded by an orchard of grapefruit and lemon trees. Inside one room of the trailer is a table dominated by icons of Jesus and Mary and the infant Christ where Sister Maria Stephanopoulos, formerly of Cleveland, will spend six or seven hours each day in prayer during Great Lent. Outside are Palestinian Authority guards who make sure she does not stray too close to the church on the grounds of the Jericho Garden Monastery. The sister of former Clinton adviser George Stephanopoulos is now in her third month of self-imposed exile.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service Vermont House Approves `Civil Unions’ for Gays (RNS) The Vermont House, in a historic vote Thursday (March 16), agreed to permit gay couples to form “civil unions” giving them the same rights and benefits afforded married heterosexual couples. The bill, which passed by a vote of 76-69, is expected to receive approval from the state Senate by the end of April. The legislation also has been supported by Democratic Gov. Howard Dean. If it becomes law, Vermont will have gone further than any other state in recognizing couples of the same sex, the Associated Press reported.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service Vermont House Approves `Civil Unions’ for Gays (RNS) The Vermont House, in a historic vote Thursday (March 16), agreed to permit gay couples to form “civil unions” giving them the same rights and benefits afforded married heterosexual couples. The bill, which passed by a vote of 76-69, is expected to receive approval from the state Senate by the end of April. The legislation also has been supported by Democratic Gov. Howard Dean. If it becomes law, Vermont will have gone further than any other state in recognizing couples of the same sex, the Associated Press reported.

NEWS FEATURE: North Americans to Join Romero Remembrance

c. 2000 Religion News Service (UNDATED) When religious leaders and church activists gather next week in El Salvador to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero, they will be honoring a man many consider among the most prominent and courageous religious martyrs of the 20th century. “The Romero story is like a gospel story for our time,” said Margaret Swedish, who heads the Washington-based Religious Task Force on Central America and Mexico. “It is life-inspiring and addresses the world we live in.” For many Salvadorans, Romero, assassinated in 1980 for his outspoken condemnation of the Salvadoran military, remains someone who “believed in them and spoke their truth,” Swedish said. For non-Latin American Christians, Romero was a figure who called believers to a deeper religious faith, she added.

NEWS FEATURE: North Americans to Join Romero Remembrance

c. 2000 Religion News Service (UNDATED) When religious leaders and church activists gather next week in El Salvador to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero, they will be honoring a man many consider among the most prominent and courageous religious martyrs of the 20th century. “The Romero story is like a gospel story for our time,” said Margaret Swedish, who heads the Washington-based Religious Task Force on Central America and Mexico. “It is life-inspiring and addresses the world we live in.” For many Salvadorans, Romero, assassinated in 1980 for his outspoken condemnation of the Salvadoran military, remains someone who “believed in them and spoke their truth,” Swedish said. For non-Latin American Christians, Romero was a figure who called believers to a deeper religious faith, she added.