Welcome, Cardinal Foley

John Foley, always the American-in-waiting, finally gets a red hat RNS’ Francis X. Rocca profiles John Patrick Foley, who will be one of the 23 men elevated to cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI on November 24, in this week’s full-text article, linked above. Quote: Both the lateness of Foley’s elevation, and the widespread pleasure it has generated, might be attributed to the humility which admirers cite as his signature virtue.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2007 Religion News Service Surgeon general nominee opts out of transgender hearing WASHINGTON (RNS) President Bush’s nominee for surgeon general will recuse himself from his role as head of the United Methodist Church’s top court as it considers a case on transgender clergy. Dr. James W. Holsinger Jr., whose nomination has stalled over comments he made in 1991 that called gay sex abnormal and unhealthy, said he was concerned his nomination could be an “unnecessary and unproductive distraction” to the court’s business. “In order to maintain the integrity of the proceedings of the Judicial Council and in order for Council members to focus solely on the cases in front of them, I have chosen not to participate in the meeting,” he said. While Holsinger said he remains “dedicated to fulfilling” his role as president of the Judicial Council, he said “this is a time in which my service to the Council can best be demonstrated by my absence.” During its meeting this week (Oct.

Some Christians torn on what to make of Halloween

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Cindy Cathcart was angry with God and on the brink of divorce and suicide on Oct. 30, 1998, when her nephew dragged her to “Hell House.” Without it, she says now, she’s not sure where she would have ended up. Though raised Lutheran, she had repeatedly refused her sister’s invitations to come to church and had no desire for a relationship with God. All of that changed as she walked through Hell House.

10 Minutes with … Matt Riley

c. 2007 Religion News Service
(UNDATED) Matt Riley, a second-year student at Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Conn., helps lead “The Left Behind,” a club of atheists and agnostics at one of the nation’s premier training grounds for clergy. Along with co-leader Christy Groves, Riley has given nonbelievers a place of their own on a campus that explores belief. He chose divinity school, he says, to obtain an “inside view.” The club fosters dialogue between non-Christians and Christians on campus and staged “Div School Idol,” a takeoff on “American Idol” in the chapel last spring. Q: How did “The Left Behind” begin?

Tibetan Buddhists find home in heart of the Bible Belt

c. 2007 Religion News Service ATLANTA _ Snuggled between the 1950s bungalows and the towering custom homes of Atlanta’s Dresden Drive, the new structure with yellow turrets, a gilded roofline and tall tapering windows is a source of curiosity to neighbors. The Dalai Lama has just added another notch in the Bible Belt with the dedication of the new Drepung Loseling Monastery, Inc., the U.S. branch of a renowned Tibetan Buddhist monastery-in-exile in Dharamsala, India. Jerry Marcum, the monastery’s nearest neighbor, has watched the transformation of the building from a former church to a Buddhist monastery with a mixture of curiosity and wariness. “I don’t know much about this religion,” said Marcum, a 24-year resident of the Brookhaven neighborhood.

Pennsylvania judge nullifies weddings by online ministers

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Anna and Casey Pickett fell in love during a college class on Transcendental literature, reveling in the nature-loving rhapsodies of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. It was only natural, then, that when the couple married last July, they would stand beside a rustic lake in Pennsylvania, with the professor whose class brought them together officiating at the ceremony. Two months later, however, the couple got a call from a county clerk in Pennsylvania, who told them their marriage might not be valid. And years from now, the clerk said, when they bought a house, applied for government benefits or had children, they might have a problem.

Muslims chide pope for not moving faster on dialogue

c. 2007 Religion News ServiceVATICAN CITY _ Muslim leaders who attended an interfaith peace conference with Pope Benedict XVI chided the pope for not responding to a recent olive branch from Muslim scholars, and complained that the reaction of a high Vatican official “misses the very point of dialogue.”Their complaints stem from an open letter, signed by 138 Muslim scholars and clerics on Oct. 13, which invoked the common principles of “love of the One God, and love of the neighbor” as the ultimate basis for peace between Muslims and Christians.Several Protestant leaders welcomed that letter, among them the heads of the Anglican Communion, World Council of Churches, Lutheran World Federation and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches.But “Muslims are still awaiting a proper response from H.H. Pope Benedict XVI for this unprecedented initiative,” read a communique from “Muslim scholars” who attended the 21st International Meeting for Peace in Naples, Italy. Benedict attended the session’s opening day on Sunday (Oct. 21).The Naples conference brought together more than 300 international religious leaders, including the archbishop of Canterbury, the Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople, the chief rabbi of Israel, and several representatives of Islam, Buddhism, Shintoism and Zoroastrianism.The communique pointedly objected to comments by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, who told a French newspaper that Muslim’s belief that the Quran is the literal word of God makes theological dialogue with Christians “difficult.”“This attitude, it seems to Muslims, misses the very point of dialogue,” the communique stated.

COMMENTARY: Radio Free Pittsburgh

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Planned Parenthood is right up there with the Ku Klux Klan in trying to force its beliefs onto the airwaves of National Public Radio. About seven years ago, the Missouri chapter of the Ku Klux Klan sued KWMU-FM, the radio station of the University of Missouri (St. Louis). Like the other 859 National Public Radio affiliates, KWMU affords “donors” or “underwriters” 15-second sponsorship “messages.” The station refused to accept an on-air Klan sponsorship message.

RNS Weekly Digest

c. 2007 Religion News Service Pope names 23 new cardinals, including two Americans VATICAN CITY _ Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday (Oct. 17) said he will elevate 23 men, including two Americans, to the highest ranks of the Roman Catholic hierarchy when he makes them cardinals at a ceremony next month in Rome. Eighteen of the newest cardinals will be under the age of 80, and thus eligible to vote for the next pope. They include Archbishop Daniel N. DiNardo, 58, of Galveston-Houston and Archbishop John P. Foley, 71, a longtime Vatican official from Philadelphia who currently serves as Pro-Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2007 Religion News Service Israel claims artifacts dating to First Temple JERUSALEM (RNS) Israeli archaeologists who have been inspecting maintenance work done by Muslims on the Temple Mount have discovered what they believe are artifacts dating back to the time of the First Jewish Temple. Archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said workers from the Wakf Islamic Trust had uncovered “an apparently sealed archaeological level dated to the First Temple Period” near the Dome of the Rock, the third holiest site in Islam. Finds included fragments of ceramic tableware and animal bones. The finds are dated from the eighth to the sixth centuries BC.

Catholics push small movie with a big message

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Cardinal Justin Rigali wears a lot of hats: archbishop of Philadelphia, prince of the church, shepherd of souls, and lately, film promoter. For several months, Rigali has been urging his flock to see the new film, “Bella,” and has asked parishes to host special screenings. Rigali and others say “Bella” is a small film that needs the church’s help to spread its big message. “Bella,” set to open in 35 U.S. cities on Friday (Oct.

COMMENTARY: Thou shalt zip it

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Last week, on a noisy corner in a busy city, I led a retreat titled, “Pathways to a Deeper Faith.” At the risk of seeming absurd, I wanted this retreat to find its center in silence. We had no woodland trails, serene ponds or quiet corners in a lodge. Nothing about Midtown Manhattan is quiet. Street noise would find us.

The Ten Commandments, 1956 vs. 2007

c. 2007 Religion News Service (Eds: `A’ in each category represents the 1956 film by Cecil B. DeMille and `B’ the current version.) Moses A. Charlton Heston B. Voice of Christian Slater Voice of God A. No on-screen credit (Heston may have supplied the voice of God) B. Elliott Gould Pharaoh Rameses A. Yul Brynner B. Voice of Alfred Molina Running time A. 220 minutes B. 88 minutes Faithfulness to Bible A. It’s still show business. Showman Cecil B. DeMille added romantic back story of a love triangle among Rameses, Moses and Princess Nefertiri, but in many parts stuck close to older English translations of biblical texts. Film does not show all the plagues and does not include Moses’ return to Mount Sinai for second set of Ten Commandments. B. More Bible, less romance.

New Ten Commandments film features a new love story

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) The image _ Charlton Heston as Moses _ has been carved into the minds of generations. Few who have seen the Cecil B. DeMille blockbuster can forget Heston’s majestic, commanding presence as he comes down from Mount Sinai and thunders to a wayward people, “Those who will not live by the law shall die by the law.” Now there is a new Moses for a new generation. The new, animated version of “The Ten Commandments” features a more compassionate Moses (the voice of Christian Slater) urging people to be faithful because “God loves you.” The love story in this movie is not the romantic triangle of Rameses, Moses and Princess Nefertiri that DeMille added to widen the audience for his 1956 film. It is the love between God and God’s people, a side of the deity that often has been missing in biblical epics.

Ron Paul’s pastor brother keeps eye on race

c. 2007 Religion News Service GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. _ David Paul is the assistant pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church here and never was much for politics. This year, however, he feels as if he has a ringside seat. That would be thanks to his younger brother Ron, whose maverick campaign for president is upstaging many of his more staid GOP rivals.