RNS Daily Digest

c. 2005 Religion News Service Lutheran Funeral Rites for Rehnquist to Be Held at Catholic Cathedral WASHINGTON (RNS) A Lutheran funeral service for the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist will be held at Washington’s Roman Catholic cathedral under a provision that allows Catholic churches to be used for non-Catholic rites. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick said St. […]

c. 2005 Religion News Service

Lutheran Funeral Rites for Rehnquist to Be Held at Catholic Cathedral

WASHINGTON (RNS) A Lutheran funeral service for the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist will be held at Washington’s Roman Catholic cathedral under a provision that allows Catholic churches to be used for non-Catholic rites.

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick said St. Matthew’s Cathedral in downtown Washington could be used on Wednesday (Sept. 7) for the funeral of Rehnquist, a Lutheran. Rehnquist succumbed to thyroid cancer Saturday (Sept. 3).

Rehnquist’s pastor, the Rev. George Evans of Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in McLean, Va., will preside at the service and McCarrick will attend, said his spokeswoman, Susan Gibbs.

“Cardinal McCarrick was happy to be able to assist the family,” Gibbs said, after Rehnquist’s family asked to use the 1,200-seat cathedral to accommodate the large number of expected guests.

In 1963, St. Matthew’s hosted the funeral Mass for President John F. Kennedy, who was Catholic.

Catholic churches are generally reserved for Catholic worship, but a two-part Vatican document from 1967 and 1970 allows non-Catholics to use facilities if they “do not have a place or the liturgical objects necessary for celebrating worthily their religious ceremonies.”

Rehnquist regularly attended St. Matthew’s for the annual Red Mass, held the first Sunday in October for lawyers and judges. In his 33 years on the court, Rehnquist missed the Red Mass only twice, Gibbs said.

Evans said Rehnquist was an active member of his congregation and always made time for church. He also called him a “genuine Lutheran Christian.”

“Chief Justice Rehnquist’s interests, span of knowledge, quick wit and understandings were large,” Evans said in a news release from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

“I came to regard him as a genuine `Renaissance Man.’ His questions were honest, discerning and unassuming. He kept learning and growing. He was our brother in Christ.”

_ Kevin Eckstrom

Katrina Shifts Focus of Separate Islamic, Baptist Meetings

(RNS) Two religious organizations that were holding their annual meetings have quickly turned their attention to victims of Hurricane Katrina.

A coalition of U.S. Muslim groups meeting at the convention of the Islamic Society of North America in Chicago announced Sunday (Sept. 4) a pledge to raise $10 million in humanitarian relief. Meanwhile, the president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, whose meeting began Monday in Atlanta, has designated the first three Sundays of the month as “Katrina Disaster Relief Sundays” for his congregations.

The Islamic coalition announced the formation of a Muslim Hurricane Relief Task Force to coordinate its aid. Members include the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamic Circle of North America, the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim American Society and others.

“It is a national and Islamic obligation to assist one’s neighbors when they are in need,” said Sayyid Syeed, secretary general of the Islamic Society of North America, in a statement.

“The American Muslim community pledges to do its part in helping those Americans, of all faiths, who suffered such great losses in lives and property.”

The Rev. William J. Shaw, president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, said in a statement that his denominational meeting, which ends Friday, will include a report from the three states most affected by the hurricane.

“The convention prays fervently for all who suffer from this catastrophic disaster,” he said in his statement. “Its ripple fallout will impact not only the direct victims in the area but millions across the country in higher food, fuel, home and other related costs.”

In addition to the fund-raising effort, the denomination’s Web site features a “Katrina Connections” project that allows people who have been displaced by the hurricane to send e-mail messages to let others know how they are and where they are located.

_ Adelle M. Banks

Editors: Search the RNS photo Web site at https://religionnews.com for a photo of Katrina Swanson to accompany the following story.

Katrina Swanson, Pioneering Female Priest of Episcopal Church, Dies

(RNS) She was part of a group of women called the “Philadelphia 11,” who became the first female Episcopal priests 31 years ago in a controversial ceremony that received national attention.

Four years later, the Rev. Katrina Swanson became the first woman rector in the New York metropolitan area, serving at St. John’s Parish in Union City under the Right Rev. John Shelby Spong, then a liberal bishop from Newark, N.J.

Swanson died Aug. 27 of colon cancer at her home in Manset, Maine. She was 70.

Her relatives remembered her as a proud pioneer for the church who had a strong social conscience, an adventurous spirit, and a popular, take-no-guff attitude with church children.

“She was tough,” said the Rev. George Swanson, her husband, citing her experience running after-school basketball programs in the church gym. “If you swore in her gym, she had the whistle, and she’d say, `Jose, you’re out!’ She’d say, `Jose, I know you’re OK, but you’re out for today, you can come back tomorrow.’ … People she would rebuke loved her.”

Katrina Swanson had wanted to join the clergy since her teenage years, but she knew it was not permitted.

Still, in 1967, she consulted with her father, Bishop Edward Randolph Welles II. One of four Episcopal priests in her family, Welles gave her his support and ordained her in 1974 after her six years of private study.

After her ordination, her husband made her an assistant priest at his church in Kansas City, Mo., but the bishop there, the Right Rev. Arthur Vogel, made him fire her. The same bishop later disciplined her for three months, threatening a church trial over her ordination.

At St. John’s in Union City, she started an after-school program that eventually served 100 children and instituted bilingual services.

“She would speak in the service in a way that wasn’t biased in gender,” said William Swanson, one of her two sons. “Where it said `Lord,’ she would say `Leader’ … because traditionally a lord in a court or lord of the house is a masculine term.”

She retired to Maine with her husband in 1996, taking up beekeeping, watercolor and oil painting, organic gardening and dancing.

Swanson’s body was cremated. A three-day memorial and symposium on liberty and justice will be held in her honor next July at St. Saviour’s Church in Bar Harbor, Maine.

_ Jeff Diamant

In a First, Muslim Model Crowned Miss England

(RNS) A teenage model born in Uzbekistan has become the first Muslim to be crowned Miss England.

Hammasa Kohistani, 18, is a model and student of design who was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. But since she was a young child, she has been living in Uxbridge, one of London’s westernmost suburbs. She speaks six languages, including Russian, Persian and French.

Three others among the 40 contestants were also Muslims: 21-year-old Dilay Topuzoglu, a telemarketing operator; 23-year-old Sarah Mendly, a sales representative; and 22-year-old Sonia Hassanien, a beauty salon owner.

Kohistani, crowned Saturday (Sept. 3) in Liverpool, is now one of the contenders to become Miss World in a contest to be decided in China in December.

Historically, beauty pagents have been controversial for Muslims because some believe scantily clad contestants violate Islamic principles of modesty. Abdul Hamid, vice chairman of the Lancashire Board of Mosques, criticized Mendly for taking part.

“If she has chosen to take part in this context, she immediately goes out of the circle of Islam,” he said. “This competition is business-orientated and has no social significance whatsoever. It is not correct for her to take part.”

_ Robert Nowell

Quote of the Day: Evangelist Billy Graham

(RNS) “The disaster of Hurricane Katrina may be the worst tragedy America has known since the Civil War. … It may be the greatest opportunity to demonstrate God’s love in this generation.”

_ Evangelist Billy Graham, in a Friday (Sept. 2) statement.


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