Pope urges reform, wants church with modern spirit
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis says he doesn't want a "Vatican-centric" church concerned about itself but a missionary church that reaches out to the poor, the young, the elderly and even to non-believers.
That's the vision he laid out as he opened a landmark meeting Tuesday on reforming the 2,000-year-old institution.
Francis convened the inaugural meeting of his eight cardinal advisers for three days of brainstorming on revamping the antiquated Vatican bureaucracy and other reforms. The move fulfills a key mandate of the cardinals who elected him: They wanted a pope who would involve local church leaders in helping make decisions about the 1.2-billion strong church.
Secretive Vatican bank takes step toward transparency
VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican has taken another step in its efforts to be more financially transparent by publishing a first-ever annual report for the Vatican bank.
It comes as Italian prosecutors investigate alleged money-laundering there. A Vatican monsignor remains in detention and the pope himself probes the problems that have brought such scandal to the institution.
A report says net earnings at the bank, known as the Institute for Religious Works, rose more than four-fold to $116.95 million (86 million euros) in 2012. More than 50 million euros of that was given to the pope for his charitable works.
The improvement in earnings was driven by profits made on the value of securities that the bank held and sold — net trading income rose to 51.1 million euros from a loss of 38.2 million euros in 2011.
The picture may not be so rosy for 2013, with rising interest rates cutting into profits and millions of euros earmarked for the IOR's ongoing transparency process, which has involved hiring outside legal, financial and communications experts to revamp its procedures, review its client base and remake its image.
The Vatican has long insisted the IOR isn't a bank but a unique financial institution aimed at managing assets for religious or charitable works — a distinction that presumably helped it avoid typical banking regulations.
Clergy band together to fight East Boston casino
BOSTON (AP) — More than 30 religious leaders from a variety of faiths have joined a new group to fight a proposed casino at Suffolk Downs in East Boston.
The group called the Friends of East Boston is made up of clergy, businesspeople and members of other nonprofit groups who have been meeting to discuss strategies for defeating the proposed casino. It's to be constructed at the horse racing track that straddles the Boston-Revere line.
One opposition leader is Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church pastor Rev. Thomas Dormurat. He told The Boston Globe that a casino would be "one of the worst things" that could happen to the community. He predicts increased gambling addiction, personal bankruptcies and traffic.
The clergy are promising to pray, preach and canvass to defeat the project, which goes before East Boston voters on Nov. 5.
Sheriff: Rape report filed before slaying
LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) — A Louisiana sheriff says the wife of a man accused of killing a pastor in front of his congregation filed a rape complaint against the preacher two days before he was killed.
Calcasieu (kal-kah-SHOO') Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso said Monday that investigators are trying to determine whether the woman's relationship with the pastor was consensual.
Mancuso says the woman and preacher had exchanged text messages, and it's not yet clear whether a sexual assault took place.
Woodrow Karey is charged with fatally shooting Ronald Harris Sr. during a service Friday at the Tabernacle of Praise Worship Center in Lake Charles. The rape complaint was filed Wednesday.
Authorities say Karey called to surrender minutes later and directed deputies to a shotgun and a pistol he had left in nearby woods.
Israel museum awards Arab who saved Jews in WWII
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's Holocaust memorial says it is posthumously honoring an Egyptian doctor who risked his life to rescue Jews during World War II, the first Arab to receive the prestigious recognition of "Righteous Among the Nations."
Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev says a German researcher found German archival evidence last year that Mohamed Helmy, an Egyptian physician in Berlin, hid a young Jewish woman and provided medical care to her relatives.
The memorial awards the honor to non-Jews who risked great danger to save Jews during the Holocaust. Shalev says a few dozen Muslims have been recognized, but no Arabs because Nazi Germany occupied North Africa only briefly and locals helping Jews faced little physical threat.
Yad Vashem says it is searching for living relatives of Helmy to present the award..