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Faith, not spinning heads, takes center stage in 'Exorcist' play

LOS ANGELES (RNS) Mention the word “exorcism” to most people, and you get descriptions of levitating bodies, spinning heads, oozing green bile and hissing serpentine tongues.  But don’t expect to see these eye-popping visual effects in this summer’s stage version of “The Exorcist” at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. By Angela Aleiss.

Churches lost $1.2 billion in recession

WASHINGTON (RNS) The Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention remained the two largest U.S. churches in 2011, but both posted a decline of less than 1 percent, the fourth year in a row for Southern Baptists. By Annalisa Musarra.

Vatican ends probe of clergy abuse in Ireland

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Following a yearlong investigation into decades of rampant abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, the Vatican on Tuesday (March 20) called for more rigorous screening of would-be priests and compulsory child protection classes in seminaries. By Alessandro Speciale.

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Lutherans find common with Catholics on Obama mandate

ST. LOUIS (RNS) The conservative Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod has not had much in common with Roman Catholics, but President Obama's contraception mandate has led the St. Louis-based church to find "large consensus with the Roman Catholic Church on moral issues," its new president said. By Tim Townsend.