Abortion reduction, Kansas style

We know how it goes. The murder of Dr. George Tiller, the late-term abortion provider, elicits condemnation from all but the fringe of the pro-life movement. Of course, at the near end of the fringe, there’s Randall Terry, who sticks to his guns, expressing no regret for the killing other than what would be said on behalf of any convicted murderer who suffers a sudden, fatal accident:George Tiller was a mass-murderer. We grieve for him that he did not
have time to properly prepare his soul to face God. I am more
concerned that the Obama Administration will use Tiller’s killing to
intimidate pro-lifers into surrendering our most effective rhetoric and
actions. Abortion is still murder. And we still must call abortion by
its proper name; murder.  But what of the likes of Bishop Robert Finn of the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, who in April spoke on the subject of “Warriors for the Victory of Life” at the 2009 Gospel of Life Convention in Overland Park, a couple of hundred miles up the road from where Dr. Tiller was shot to death?

Detente ahead at Liberty U?

Officials of Liberty University and the College Democrats club that meets on campus have not yet had a meeting of the minds, but they did have a meeting on Wednesday, the school announced. The school has removed the club from its official list of endorsed clubs, but a new agreement may be in the works. Club secretary Jan Dervish, a junior, discussed ways the club could operate within the school’s value system, which includes opposition to abortion and gay marriage. “These are values that we all take seriously,” said Dervish, a junior. “We’re currently working on changing our constitution to more succinctly address the school’s concerns, as well as solidify our respect for the school and what it stands for.”

Church of Sweden elects lesbian bishop

UPPSALA, Sweden (RNS/ENI) The newly elected Lutheran bishop of Stockholm says that being a lesbian means she wants to stand alongside people who feel powerless. “I know what it is to be called into question,” the Rev. Eva Brunne said in an article on the Web site of the Church of Sweden after her Tuesday (May 26) election. “I am in the lucky situation that I have power and I can use it for the benefit of those who have no power.” Brunne, who is currently the dean of the Stockholm diocese, is the first Church of Sweden bishop to live in a registered homosexual partnership, the Uppsala-headquartered church said, and she is believed to be the first openly lesbian bishop in the world. Brunne, 55, lives with priest Gunilla Linden in a partnership that has received a church blessing.

Hayford won’t seek second term as head of Foursquare Church

(RNS) The Rev. Jack Hayford, a longtime Pentecostal leader, announced Tuesday (May 26) that he will not seek a second five-year term as president of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. “I am not retiring, nor am I withdrawing my availability and commitment to serve our church family in any way I may be asked,” said Hayford at the start of his denomination’s annual convention in Anaheim, Calif. “My heart is with this movement in which I have served for 53 years.” Hayford, 74, will step down from the presidency when his term concludes on Aug. 31.

Church leaders disappointed as Obama skips Kenya

NAIROBI (RNS/ENI) Some Kenyan Christian and Muslim leaders see President Obama’s decision to skip his father’s home country during his debut visit to Africa as a statement against poor governance in Kenya. Other Kenyans, meanwhile, have simply expressed regret that their country is not on Obama’s itinerary. “People are angrier with the government than about Obama’s failure to come to his ancestral home,” Anglican Bishop Joseph Wasoga of Maseno West told Ecumenical News International, a few days after the State Department announced Obama would visit Egypt on June 4 to address the Muslim world. Later, Obama will visit Ghana July 10-11 in his first official stop in sub-Saharan Africa. Kenyans, who have a special affinity for Obama due to his father’s birth in the east African country, have since debated the presidential itinerary.

Celebrity priest’s conversion strains ecumenical ties

(UNDATED) In the nearly 500 years since the Church of England split with the Roman Catholic Church, a fair number of converts have crossed from one church to the other. Still, the path is fraught with stumbling blocks, as the Rev. Alberto Cutie — the most recent, and high-profile convert — discovered on Thursday (May 29) when he left Catholicism to join the Episcopal Church. Known as “Father Oprah” for his popularity and media savvy, Cutie was caught by a photographer embracing his girlfriend on a Florida beach earlier this month. The 40-year-old celebrity cleric later admitted to struggling with the Catholic priesthood’s mandatory celibacy and was suspended from ministry. Just weeks later, Cutie announced that he hopes “to continue priestly ministry and service in my new spiritual home” the Episcopal Church, which allows priests to marry.


Kavya Shivashankar won the Spelling Bee last night by spelling the proper adjective “Laodicean,” which means lukewarm or indifferent in religion or politics. The word derives from the proper noun Laodicean, which refers to early Christians living in an ancient city in Asia Minor called Laodicea, the motto of which, apparently, was “meh.” In the Bible’s Book of Revelation (3:14-16) the angel of the church of the Laodiceans writes: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm-neither hot nor cold-I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

Can you call it opposition if no one’s really opposed?

Jeff Strickler out at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that conservative opposition to Miguel Diaz, the Hispanic theologian nominated as the next U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, is pretty much deflated before it ever got started. Diaz is a relative unknown and has spent much of his career in academia, addressing the Catholic Church’s multicultural strengths and weaknesses. Most observers are calling him a safe choice, and I don’t detect much surprise (it’s probably more relief) that Obama passed over the oft-mentioned names of Caroline Kennedy, Doug Kmiec or Nick Cafardi. From Strickler’s story: Conservative Catholics were not initially enthralled with the nomination, but they quickly realized that there wasn’t much they could do about it. Diaz, 45, a Cuban-born theologian at St.

Changing times force innovation at Catholic schools

(UNDATED) Decades ago, when it was time for Catholic schools to enroll students for the new year, principals could fill classrooms without breaking a sweat. All they needed was for the parish priest to print a note in the church bulletin. Times have changed. These days, Catholic families have fewer children, on average. And public schools — the main competition for Catholic schools — have improved.

Who’s listening

Is it interesting that the senior director of Focus on the Family’s Sanctity of Human Life department thinks the Obama administration is “really listening” on the subject of foster care? Yes it is. And even more interesting that the thought is purveyed via a canned quote on Focus’ CitizenLink website.

`Father OprahâÂ?Â? leaves for Episcopal Church; plans to marry

(UNDATED) The celebrity Miami priest known as “Father Oprah” converted from Catholicism to the Episcopal Church on Thursday (May 28), weeks after pictures surfaced of the cleric canoodling with his girlfriend on a Florida beach. The Rev. Alberto Cutie and his girlfriend were received into the Episcopal Church at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Miami on Thursday, according to the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida. Unlike Catholic clerics, Episcopal priests are allowed to marry, and Cutie, 40, plans to wed his girlfriend and pursue ordination in the Episcopal Church, according to the diocese. The diocese said Thursday’s ceremony culminates a “two year discernment process” for Cutie, indicating that he had considered converting long before photos revealing his relationship with the woman were published by Spanish-language media earlier this month. “I thank God for the many people in our community who have shown me their love and support,” Cutie said in a statement Thursday.

Hockey as religion? Many Canadians think so.

TORONTO (RNS) May the puck be with you. And also with you. Hockey as religion? Many Canadians wouldn’t argue that their hard-core fandom borders on religious fervor. Even when they don’t bring home the holy grail of the Stanley Cup, storied teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens still attract the faithful.

Parishioners sue archbishop on fraud charges

NEW ORLEANS (RNS) Thirteen parishioners of a New Orleans Catholic church that closed after Hurricane Katrina have sued Archbishop Alfred Hughes and an aide, alleging fraud and broken promises. Parishioners from Our Lady of Good Counsel accused Hughes and the Rev. Michael Jacques of assuring them in August 2007 that their parish would remain open in a post-storm reorganization of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. In addition, Hughes and Jacques allegedly set before the parishioners further achievement goals — and to that end, the parishioners said, they increased their contributions and their work on behalf of the parish. However, in the spring of 2008, Hughes announced that Good Counsel was among about three dozen parishes that would close in the archdiocesan reorganization, thus allegedly defrauding the parishioners of their money and work. The parishioners are asking for a return of their donations to the church, with additional damages for emotional distress arising from the alleged fraud.

Ala. judge steps away from supporter’s comments

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (RNS) A supporter of former “Ten Commandments Judge” and Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore was not speaking on Moore’s behalf when she accused public schools of “indoctrinating” children in communism and Islam, a Moore spokesman said. The charge is made in a letter that Moore supporter Julie Sanders wrote to other supporters, a copy of which recently began appearing on several blogs. In her letter, Sanders writes: “We must clean up our education system which is indoctrinating our children through a multicultural mix of communism, Islam, New Age and anything that goes, except Christianity, which is now being portrayed as the enemy. Our forefathers founded America on God and his word.

Obama names Hispanic theologian as Vatican envoy

WASHINGTON — President Obama has nominated Hispanic theologian Miguel H. Diaz as the next U.S. ambassador to the Vatican. Diaz, a professor of theology at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University in Minnesota, was nominated as U.S. ambassador to the Holy See on Wednesday (May 27). If the nomination is approved by the Senate, Diaz, 45, would be the ninth ambassador and the first Hispanic in the post since Washington and the Vatican established full diplomatic relations in 1984. Diaz was Obama’s second high-profile Hispanic Catholic nominee in as many days, following the president’s choice of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the U.S. Supreme Court. Observers said Diaz is a subtle, if perhaps unintentional, acknowledgment of the growing ranks of Hispanics in the U.S. church.