Religion news in brief

AP News
Posted: Aug 07, 2013 11:10 AM

Progressive Baptist says Detroit deserves more aid from state

DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit pastor who's hosting thousands of members of the Progressive National Baptist Convention this week says his bankrupt city deserves help from the state of Michigan's rainy day fund.

The Rev. James Perkins of Detroit's Greater Christ Baptist Church is first vice president of the African-American denomination.

He said the Progressive Baptists who are gathered in Detroit this week will pray for the city, but also will denounce what he considers the injustice of state officials who control a rainy day fund estimated to be worth $500 million.

Perkins said the denomination also is outraged at the Supreme Court for overturning part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. He called that "a slap in the face to the legacy and memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was a member of this denomination."

But he believes that God will use adversity to unite and energize believers.


Methodist scholar to head State Department faith-based office

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State John Kerry has chosen a United Methodist scholar to head a new State Department Office of Faith-Based Community Initiatives.

The department says Shaun Casey, a professor of Christian Ethics at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, will serve as special advisor to Kerry on religious issues.

Two weeks ago, Kerry told Muslims at a State Department Ramadan dinner that the new office will "try to increase our engagement with faith communities" around the world. The department says that outreach will seek to advance "development objectives" and supplement efforts to promote international religious freedom.

The seminary's website shows Casey's research interests include the ethics of war and peace and the role of the Church in fighting global poverty.


Sikh temple attack united victim's son, ex-racist

OAK CREEK, Wis. (AP) — Six weeks after a white supremacist gunned down Pardeep Kaleka's (kah-LEE'-kahz) father and five others at a Sikh temple last year, Kaleka was skeptical when a former skinhead reached out and invited him to dinner.

But Kaleka accepted, and he's glad he did. Since then, the grieving son and repentant racist have formed an unlikely alliance, teaming up to preach a message of peace throughout Milwaukee. In fact, they've grown so close that they got matching tattoos on their palms — the numbers 8-5-12, the date the gunman opened fire at a Milwaukee-area Sikh temple before killing himself minutes later.

It wasn't easy for Kaleka to meet Arno Michaelis, a 42-year-old who admits his involvement in white-power movement might have helped influence the shooter. But Kaleka also saw the good work Michaelis has done since he quit the racist movement in the mid-1990s.

Kaleka wanted his father's death to be a catalyst for peace, and he saw in Michaelis a partner whose story could reinforce the message that it's possible to turn hatred into love.


Plaintiff withdraws appeal in Vatican-abuse case

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A former Oregon man who said he was sexually abused by a pedophile priest nearly 50 years ago has withdrawn his appeal of a ruling that said the Vatican did not employ the priest and is not liable for damages.

Lawyer Jeff Anderson named the Vatican as a defendant in the 2002 lawsuit he filed on behalf of the man identified as John Doe. Anderson says his client still believes "all roads lead to Rome" but has grown weary of the long legal battle.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mosman determined last year that the Vatican was not involved in the priest's transfers from Ireland to Chicago to Portland.

The Vatican's lawyer, Jeffrey Lena, says the case was "way over the top" and should have never been filed.


Pope lavishes praise on Brazilians

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has praised Brazilians for their warm welcome during his weeklong visit for World Youth Day.

Francis expressed his gratitude during the traditional Angelus Sunday blessing. He commented that there were many young people in St. Peter's Square, saying: "It looks like Rio di Janeiro."

The pope called Brazilians "generous people" and "people with a huge heart," and added: "I won't forget the warm welcome."

Francis told the faithful that youth like those who gathered with him in Brazil "are especially sensitive to the void of meaning and values that often surround them. And unfortunately they pay the price."

The Argentine-born pontiff's trip to Brazil, his first abroad since becoming pope in March, drew millions to the church's youth festival.