RNS Daily Digest

c. 2005 Religion News Service Falwell Upgraded to `Serious’ Condition, Gets Prayers From Jesse Jackson (RNS) The Rev. Jerry Falwell’s condition was upgraded to “serious” Wednesday (March 30) as President Bush extended his best wishes and the Rev. Jesse Jackson offered his prayers with a touch of humor. Jackson, Falwell’s frequent sparring opponent on television, and a political nemesis, called after the 71-year-old Falwell was sent to the hospital Monday, for the second time this year. “He said, `Tell Jerry that I know his prayers aren’t strong enough, that real prayers are coming from his buddy Jesse Jackson, and I know he’s going to get better,”’ said Ron Godwin, president of Jerry Falwell Ministries. “Dr. Falwell chuckled and got a big grin from that.” Godwin said doctors in Lynchburg, Va.

COMMENTARY: The Ultimate Lesson in the Schiavo Case

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Nobody’s perfect, and nobody knows what he’d do under certain circumstances until he’s actually in those circumstances. Which is why it’s hard to fault Terri Schiavo’s husband or her parents and siblings, all of whom have insisted that they wanted only what was best for her. True, Michael Schiavo didn’t keep the vow he took to remain faithful to his wife. A few years after her collapse 15 years ago, he began to see other women and now lives with a woman with whom he has two children.

NEWS STORY: Hymns Make a Comeback With Top Artists Seeking `Our Theology in Song’

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) One of the oldest Christian music expressions may again become one of the hottest _ if the term “hot” can be applied to hymns. In the coming months, several top Christian artists will release their own unique versions of classic hymns. Folk rockers Jars of Clay and Ashley Cleveland, MercyMe leader Bart Millard, and urban sister trio Out of Eden are rolling out their first recordings of hymns. Amy Grant is releasing her second such project.

NEWS STORY: Pope Put on Nasal Feeding Tube, Could Need Schiavo-like Tube Later

c. 2005 Religion News Service VATICAN CITY _ Pope John Paul II on Wednesday (March 30) had a plastic feeding tube inserted into his nose, down the back of his throat and through his esophagus to carry nourishment directly to his stomach. The Vatican announced the measure about two hours after the 84-year-old Roman Catholic pontiff appeared at his study window to bless pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square. As happened on Easter Sunday, he made only unintelligible sounds when he tried to speak into a microphone.

COMMENTARY: To Avoid Family Anguish Later, Prepare Advance Directive Now

c. 2005 Beliefnet (UNDATED) Dying, like old age, is not for sissies. Neither is it for the unprepared. Accidents, serious illness, or sudden injury can and do strike without warning, bringing people of all ages to the edge of death every day. As the controversial case of whether Terri Schiavo, the severely brain-damaged Florida woman, makes painfully clear, when a health crisis strikes, families and physicians are faced with agonizing choices about the treatment and ongoing care of an individual who can no longer share in the decision-making.

RNS Weekly Digest

c. 2005 Religion News Service Cardinal Says Ailing Pope Should Not Be `Counted Out’ Just Yet (RNS) A leading American cardinal says Pope John Paul II should not be “counted out” despite his visibly declining health that forced him to miss Easter services for the first time in his 26-year papacy. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C., said the pope has a strong will that will serve him well as he battles Parkinson’s disease and ongoing breathing problems that led doctors to insert a tube in his throat last month. “I think, you know, how many times we’ve crossed the Holy Father off, how many times we’ve counted him out and he’s come back,” McCarrick told ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” on Sunday (March 27). “He’s come back strong, he’s come back powerfully.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2005 Religion News Service Falwell Readmitted to Hospital With Pneumonia (RNS) The Rev. Jerry Falwell was readmitted to a Virginia hospital Tuesday (March 29) with a recurrence of pneumonia, but his staff spokesman said rumors of a heart attack were “totally false and unfounded.” Falwell, 71, had difficulty breathing Tuesday morning and checked himself into Lynchburg General Hospital in Lynchburg, Va., said Ron Godwin, president of Jerry Falwell Ministries. “It’s more an act of prudence and caution than anything else,” Godwin said. “But he is in the hospital and he is resting comfortably and communicating with his family.” Falwell is on a respirator and his condition is stable, Godwin said. Falwell, the founder of the Moral Majority and chancellor of Liberty University, was released March 5 after spending two weeks in the hospital with the same condition.

NEWS STORY: World Council of Churches Leader Waits and Works for Change

c. 2005 Religion News Service CLEVELAND _ Shortly after she arrived here 15 years ago, Bernice Powell Jackson went to a baseball game. But she did not go inside the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium; instead, she stood beside the American Indians who were protesting what they consider the racist logo of Chief Wahoo. On that first opening day and subsequent home openers, she listened as Cleveland Indians fans shouted all kinds of epithets at her and even mooned her. “Get a life.” “Give it up.” “He’s our hero.” She still hears people shouting at a group of American Indians, “Why don’t you go back where you came from?” Wahoo, the fire-engine red, buck-toothed, grinning idiot image of the Cleveland Indians, hasn’t gone away.

NEWS STORY: Nearly 30 Years After War, Persecution of Christian Group Persists in Vietnam

c. 2005 Religion News Service KON TUM, Vietnam _ Once a month, Vietnamese police bang on the door of Nay Thit’s small wooden village house and force him to sign a declaration of happiness. The declaration asserts that Nay Thit has no problems with the government and that he will not try to flee the country or encourage others to do so. If he does not comply, he could find himself in prison, for the fourth time. Nay Thit is a Montagnard _ an ethnic minority comprised of mostly Christian hill tribes in Vietnam’s Central Highlands region.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2005 Religion News Service Cardinal Says Ailing Pope Should Not Be `Counted Out’ Just Yet (RNS) A leading American cardinal says Pope John Paul II should not be “counted out” despite his visibly declining health that forced him to miss Easter services for the first time in his 26-year papacy. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C., said the pope has a strong will that will serve him well as he battles Parkinson’s disease and ongoing breathing problems that led doctors to insert a tube in his throat last month. “I think, you know, how many times we’ve crossed the Holy Father off, how many times we’ve counted him out and he’s come back,” McCarrick told ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” on Sunday (March 27). “He’s come back strong, he’s come back powerfully.

NEWS FEATURE: N.J. Woman to Blaze Trail as Rabbi of Large Synagogue, Controversy Expected

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) A New Jersey synagogue has secured a small place in modern Jewish history, becoming the largest Conservative temple anywhere to hire a female rabbi since the denomination began ordaining women in 1985, a rabbinical organization said. Francine Green Roston will become rabbi of Congregation Beth El in South Orange, N.J., which has 550 families, on July 1, when she leaves her current job at Congregation Beth Tikvah in New Milford, N.J., which has 150 families. She was hired March 7. “I’m mainly excited because (Congregation Beth El) is a great congregation in a great community, and it’s a great job,” said Roston, 36.