Religion news in brief

AP News
Posted: Nov 21, 2012 12:37 PM

Church of England's leader says failure to approve female bishops requires explanation

LONDON (AP) — The Church of England has much explaining to do following its failure to vote to allow women to serve as bishops, its leader said Wednesday — and politicians from the prime minister downward are already demanding action or answers.

One legislator even suggested there might be an issue under anti-discrimination laws.

The governing General Synod blocked the change as the vote among lay members on Tuesday fell short of the required two-thirds majority. Bishops and clergy, in separate votes, overwhelmingly backed the proposal.

Speaking to the synod a day after the vote, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said any church member who thought there was an easy solution to the impasse between traditionalists and proponents of female bishops was being unrealistic.

"Yesterday did nothing to make polarization in our church less likely," said Williams, who had long supported the proposed change.

"We have, to put it very bluntly, a lot of explaining to do," he added.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Prime Minister David Cameron urged the church to resolve the schism and swiftly approve female bishops.


'Blended' Roman Catholic, Episcopal parish in Virginia Beach told to separate services

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — A church that has offered blended Roman Catholic and Episcopal services for three decades has been told by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond to meet in separate rooms for Holy Communion.

Clergy at the Church of the Holy Apostles were told to devise a plan that allows parishioners to remain under the same roof but worship separately. The plan is subject to approval by Roman Catholic Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo and Bishop Herman Hollerith of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia.

Parishioners told the Virginian-Pilot the blended church has allowed families in mixed marriages to worship side by side and strengthen their community.

The Rev. Michael Ferguon, the parish's Episcopal leader, said representatives of the Catholic diocese were supportive of the ecumenical congregation at a meeting this week but were firm on some degree of separation of worship. For instance, the use of a combined liturgy in which the priests move to separate altars in the same room was deemed unacceptable, he said.

They instructed the parish to come up with a plan that provides for separate liturgies in separate rooms.


Catholic group objects to Knights of Columbus anti-gay marriage funding

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A Catholic advocacy group delivered a petition with about 7,500 signatures to the Knights of Columbus on Tuesday, asking the Catholic fraternal organization to stop using its money to oppose same-sex marriage.

Catholics United Education Fund submitted the petition to the Knights' New Haven headquarters.

The liberal advocacy group, which was founded in 2004 and claims 45,000 members, says the Knights spent more than $600,000 opposing same-sex marriage in the last election cycle. The group says the effort drives younger Catholics away from the faith and the Knights should focus on serving the poor and vulnerable.

The Knights, which provides life insurance and is the largest lay Catholic organization in the world, said it supports Catholic social teaching, including on moral issues. The group says its first concern has always been charity, and over the past decade has donated more than $1.4 billion and 664 million hours to charitable causes.


Michigan church defends decision to scratch Muslim prayer call from Veterans Day concert

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Leaders of a northern Michigan church are defending their decision to ban a Muslim call to worship that was part of the planned program for a Veterans Day concert by public high school and community college vocal groups.

The call to prayer was part of a performance of "The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace." A video runs during the singing, showing graphic war scenes followed by people from different faiths drawing together.

At a point in the video where Muslim worshippers are shown, there was silence rather than the call to prayer.

The Rev. David Walls, senior pastor of Traverse City's First Congregational Church, said leaders of his congregation feared causing offense to those at the concert.

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"We were concerned that there was potential that some of our active military personnel, military families with sons or daughters in Iraq, who have even lost their lives there, would find it much too hard to handle," Walls told the Traverse City Record-Eagle. "A prayer in Arabic, addressed to Allah, with references to Muhammad for an event that was intended to honor veterans."

Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of Council on American-Islamic Relations, told The Associated Press on Sunday that the church's action was ironic given the religious diversity that he experienced while serving in the U.S. Navy.


Catholic organization sues Danish company for Opus Dei card game, claiming trademark breach

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Opus Dei, the elite and powerful organization within the Roman Catholic Church, is suing a Danish publisher for alleged trademark violations involving a card game titled "Opus Dei. Existence After Religion."

Public hearings in the suit began Wednesday, and Opus Dei spokeswoman Joanna Engstedt told The Associated Press that Dema Games, the publisher of the philosophy-themed, strategy-based game, has no right to the use her organization's name, which means "work of God" in Latin.

Dema Games, a small company, obtained a copyright for the full name of the card game in 2009, and claims on its Facebook page that "no one entity can claim sole rights to religious concepts of any kind." The game is the brainchild of a philosophy student, Mark Rees-Andersen, 28, who launched it in January 2009.

Opus Dei was founded in Spain in 1928 by a Catholic priest and given official Vatican approval by Pope Pius XII in 1950. The group drew worldwide attention when Dan Brown published his best-selling "The Da Vinci Code" novel in 2003, and it portrayed the conservative network of Catholic priests and laity as a sinister and sadistic sect.