Amid Closures, Catholic Schools Struggle to Find Ways to Improve

c. 2005 Religion News Service CHICAGO _ Here, where Cardinal Francis George has likened closing Catholic elementary schools to “closing a child’s world,” the influential cardinal has had to do just that, this year shuttering nearly two dozen. The closings, and the reasons behind them _ demographic shifts, declining enrollment and financial problems _ are not unique to Chicago. The Brooklyn Archdiocese announced 22 school closures this year, and New Jersey dioceses have announced them this year in Newark, Elizabeth and Madison. For those concerned with Catholic education, every closure contributes to an alarming problem that began about four decades ago, stabilized in the late 1990s, and worsened again in 2000, especially in old urban bastions of Catholicism in the Northeast and Midwest.

As Sainthood Campaign Opens, Aide Wants John Paul Beatified by August

c. 2005 Religion News Service ROME _ A solemn ceremony in Rome’s cathedral, accompanied by applause, tears and chanting, set Pope John Paul II on the road to sainthood with unprecedented speed Tuesday (June 28), less than three months after his death. The late pope’s longtime secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, said he hopes John Paul is beatified by the end of the summer. “We ask the Lord with all our heart that the cause of beatification and canonization that opened this evening may arrive very quickly at its crowning,” Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the pope’s vicar general for Rome, declared. Leaders of church and state, Romans and pilgrims filled the Basilica of St.

COMMENTARY: A Primer on Patriotism, and its Potential Exploitation

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) I learned about patriotism as a child. One teacher was my father, a World War Two veteran, who took time off every Election Day to help citizens vote. Even when our political views diverged, I grew up knowing that free expression was our right and questioning the government our civic duty. The other was School No.

Supreme Court Rulings on Ten Commandments Leave Wake of Confusion

c. 2005 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ The U.S. Supreme Court’s ambiguous, split decisions on Ten Commandments displays has left everyone from community activists to lawyers grappling over what happens next. One religious leader sees a legal opening to erect scores of new Ten Commandments monuments across the country while an atheist group says the rulings give it license to push for a monument at the Texas Capitol with “an anti-Bible passage.” In a nation with hundreds, if not thousands, of Ten Commandments displays, many agree the rulings give little specific guidance to communities wondering whether they are lawful or unlawful. Since the justices did not establish an overarching principle, battles are likely to persist on a case-by-case, community-by-community basis. “It was never clear before (Monday) what you could and could not do with regard to the Ten Commandments and it’s still not clear,” said Francis Manion, senior counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative Christian law firm.

For Ambassador Tony Hall, Faith Is Key to Battling Hunger

c. 2005 Religion & Ethics Newsweekly ROME _ For more than 20 years, first as a member of Congress and now as a U.S. ambassador to United Nations humanitarian agencies in Rome, Tony Hall has made it his life mission to end hunger and poverty _ at home and abroad. It’s a mission fueled by his Christian faith. “I don’t know how people sustain this or do this, day after day, week after week, month after month, without faith,” he said on the PBS show “Religion & Ethics Newsweekly.” “I know some people do, but I could never do it,” he adds. “It’s what keeps me strong; it keeps me going.” Hall, a Democrat, was appointed by President Bush in 2002 to be the U.S. envoy to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization and other U.N. Rome-based agencies that deal with food and hunger.

A deeper understanding of the Bible

Suhaila Tawfik, a Veterinarian in Baghdad “I’m thirsty for this kind of church. I want to go deep in understanding the Bible.” -Suhaila Tawfik, who attends National Evangelical Baptist Church, one of at least seven new Christian churches that emerged in Iraq during the past two years. Tawfik was quoted by The Washington Post.

A deeper understanding of the Bible

Suhaila Tawfik, a Veterinarian in Baghdad “I’m thirsty for this kind of church. I want to go deep in understanding the Bible.” -Suhaila Tawfik, who attends National Evangelical Baptist Church, one of at least seven new Christian churches that emerged in Iraq during the past two years. Tawfik was quoted by The Washington Post.

Forty-eight Years After New York Debut, Frail Graham Returns to Preach Again

c. 2005 Religion News Service NEW YORK _ On Sept. 1, 1957, the baritone voice thundered to more than 120,000 people crammed shoulder to shoulder in Times Square: “There is enough spiritual power here tonight to touch the world!” That memory of a robust and youthful Billy Graham contrasted with the image Friday night (June 24) in Flushing Meadows of an 86-year-old man struggling to the podium with the help of a walker and the assistance of his son, the Rev. Franklin Graham, as a crowd of about 60,000 watched and waited. “As you probably heard, my sermons are shorter than they used to be,” said Graham. Fire can still flash from the famous blue eyes during those sermons, and the voice remains remarkably strong, but Graham clearly struggles with the challenges of his age and ailments, including hydrocephalus, or water on the brain.

SIDEBAR: Reactions to Supreme Court Ten Commandments Decision

c. 2005 Religion News Service Editors: Following are excerpts of reactions to the Supreme Court’s twin decisions on the Ten Commandments on Monday (June 27). The high court upheld Ten Commandments monuments on public land but not in courthouses. “These rulings are a victory for a sensible and moderate approach to the Constitution’s protection of religious liberty and defeat for the extremists of both political poles.” _ Nathan Diament, director of public policy for the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America “The decisions today solve nothing. Current Ten Commandments display cases …

Supreme Court Issues Split Decision on Ten Commandments Cases

c. 2005 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ In a split decision on a divisive church-state issue, the U.S. Supreme Court declared Monday (June 27) that displays of the Ten Commandments in Kentucky courthouses are unconstitutional, while a monument carved with the biblical laws outside the Texas Capitol passes constitutional muster. Justice David Souter, writing for a 5-4 majority in the Kentucky case, found “no legitimizing secular purpose” for the courthouse displays. At the same time, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, also writing for a 5-4 majority in the Texas case, said the capitol monument is “far more passive” than the commandments on schoolhouse walls that were struck down by the high court in 1980. Taken together, the decisions indicate the justices’ determination that there are instances _ taken on a case-by-base basis _ where the biblical laws may be placed in a government context.

COMMENTARY: Quran Desecration Is Nothing New

c. 2005 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Although many Americans have recently come to learn about it for the first time, the desecration of the Quran is nothing new. Islam’s sacred text has been desecrated for many years now, although not a single printed page of paper and ink was harmed in the process. The Sept. 11 hijackers desecrated the Quran by their act of mass murder in New York City and Washington, D.C. In fact, all those who attack and kill civilians in the name of Islam _ some of the insurgents in Iraq, suicide bombers attacking a Shiite mosque in Pakistan, the bombers in Bali, Indonesia _ all of them, by their actions, viciously desecrate the Quran.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2005 Religion News Service Rabbi Tapped to Oversee Religious Tolerance at Air Force Academy WASHINGTON (RNS) A Jewish rabbi and a veteran Navy chaplain has been tapped by the Air Force to help oversee religious tolerance in the “religious climate” at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Rabbi Arnold Resnicoff, the former U.S. director of interfaith relations for the American Jewish Committee, was named Monday (June 27) as Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force and Chief of Staff for Values and Vision. “It is imperative that we continue to emphasize and ingrain in all we do the importance of mutual respect among airmen,” Michael Dominguez, acting secretary of the Air Force, said in a news release. Resnicoff’s appointment follows a June 22 report by a 16-member military panel that found no “overt religious discrimination” at the elite academy, but rather an overall “perception of religious intolerance,” especially against non-Christian cadets.

Spunky Billy Graham, 86, Not Ready to Retire Quite Yet

c. 2005 Religion News Service NEW YORK _ New York was ready to say goodbye to Billy Graham. His three-day crusade was billed as his last in the city and Graham suggested in interviews it could be his last anywhere. On Sunday (June 26), the Rev. A.R. Bernard, the chair of the New York crusade committee, told a crowd of 90,000 on the event’s last day, “We are celebrating the end of 60 years of ministry with Dr. Graham.” But Graham, 86, surprised everyone with a statement that appeared to put his retirement indefinitely on hold. “This is not the end,” Graham said moments before launching into his Sunday sermon.

From the courthouse to the jailhouse

Ben Chaney, Brother of Civil Rights Slaying Victim “I want to thank God that today we saw Preacher Killen in a prison uniform taken from the courthouse to the jailhouse.” -Ben Chaney, younger brother of black Mississippian James Chaney, one of three civil rights workers who was slain in 1964. Chaney was reacting to the 60-year prison sentence given Thursday (June 23) to former Ku Klux Klansman and preacher Edgar Ray Killen for his role in the case. He was quoted by The Washington Post.

From the courthouse to the jailhouse

Ben Chaney, Brother of Civil Rights Slaying Victim “I want to thank God that today we saw Preacher Killen in a prison uniform taken from the courthouse to the jailhouse.” -Ben Chaney, younger brother of black Mississippian James Chaney, one of three civil rights workers who was slain in 1964. Chaney was reacting to the 60-year prison sentence given Thursday (June 23) to former Ku Klux Klansman and preacher Edgar Ray Killen for his role in the case. He was quoted by The Washington Post.