Wednesday’s Religion News Roundup

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Everyone is trying to read the tea leaves from Archbishop Timothy Dolan’s surprise election as prez of the USCCB on Tuesday.

Does it mean that the American hierarchy is lurching right? That the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin’s Amazing Technicolor Seamless Garment is in tatters? Or, just that the bishops wanted a big personality to face off against the Obama administration and an increasingly secular culture? Hard to say, because I tried to buttonhole about a dozen bishops in Baltimore and basically got bupkis. Even the loudy ones weren’t talkin.

Gay Catholics are convinced the election was a referendum on them, and aren’t happy about it. A student newspaper at a Minnesota Catholic school deleted two student editorials critical of state bishops’ arguments against gay marriage.

Pope Benedict XVI told Brazilian bishops that national bishops conferences should never substitute for local episcopal authority or come between bishops and the pope. B16 also urged Pakistan to release a Christian woman facing the death penalty for blasphemy.

The vice-chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom criticized Russia’s “arbitrary” and “heavy-handed” suppression of faith groups.

A Massachusetts man already serving a nine-year sentence for burning down a black church hours after President Obama’s election was sentenced to six years on drug and arson charges. The small-time Florida pastor who threatened to burn Qurans on Sept. 11 led a few dozen protesters to the site of a proposed mosque near Ground Zero, according to the AP, which raises an interesting question: When is it proper to stop reporting on Terry Jones?

Iraq’s president said he won’t condemn Tariq Aziz, one of Saddam Hussein’s pals, to death, because he is a socialist and Aziz is a Christian. Take that, Glenn Beck. A shootout inside a mosque in Pakistan wounded 18 people in a dispute over who should lead prayers, according to the AP. Muslims set fire to at least 10 houses belonging to Coptic Christians in Egypt over rumors that a Christian had an affair with a Muslim girl.

Vatican Masses will now be broadcast in HD; and Poles invented a board game based on favorite son Pope John Paul II’s papal travels. The Transportation Security Administration says airline passengers won’t get out of body imaging screening or pat-downs based on their religious beliefs, the AP reports.

Gay and lesbian Lutheran ministers in the conservative German state of Bavaria (birthplace of B16, no less) may live with their partners in parish parsonages, but only if they enter into a state-sanctioned civil union. Hats are back in style at black churches.