Religion news in brief

AP News
Posted: Dec 18, 2013 11:47 AM
Religion news in brief

Doomsday minister Harold Camping dead at 92

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Harold Camping, the California preacher who used his radio ministry and thousands of billboards to predict the end of the world and then gave up public prophecy when his doomsdays came and went, has died at age 92.

Family Radio Network marketing manager Nina Romero said Camping died at his home on Sunday.

Camping's most widely spread prediction was that believers would be taken up to heaven on May 21, 2011. His ministry spent millions of dollars — some of it from donations made by followers who quit their jobs and sold all their possessions— to spread the word. When the Rapture failed to materialize, the preacher revised his prophecy, saying he had been off by five months.

But when the world didn't end in October 2011, Camping acknowledged he had been wrong and posted a letter on his ministry's site telling his followers he had no evidence the end would come anytime soon, and wasn't interested in considering future dates.


Archbishop denies inappropriately touching minor

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is stepping aside from public ministry after an allegation that he touched an underage male.

Archbishop John Nienstedt (NYN'-steht) denies the allegations, but is removing himself from ministry pending an investigation.

The archdiocese says the incident allegedly occurred in 2009 after a confirmation ceremony. Nienstedt is accused of inappropriately touching an underage male on the buttocks during a group photography session. The archdiocese learned of the allegation last week and instructed the person who brought it forward to go to police.

In a letter posted Tuesday on the archdiocese website, Nienstedt says the allegation is "absolutely and entirely false." He says he hopes the investigation will be thorough and quick so he can return to work.


Pa. pastor won't quit voluntarily over gay wedding

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A United Methodist minister is defying a church order to surrender his credentials for performing a same-sex wedding, saying church officials will have to defrock him if they want him out of the ministry.

The Rev. Frank Schaefer has been told to give up his pulpit in Pennsylvania by Thursday if he cannot support the denomination's Book of Discipline. But Schaefer, who describes the book as contradictory and biased against gay people, says he won't go quietly.

The Methodist church accepts gay and lesbian members, but rejects the practice of homosexuality as "incompatible with Christian teaching." Schaefer is serving a 30-day suspension for officiating at the 2007 wedding of his gay son in Massachusetts.

He's scheduled to meet with church officials Thursday about his future, following his conviction in a church trial last month.


Educators protest Koch gift to Catholic University

WASHINGTON (AP) — Some Catholic educators are protesting Catholic University of America's recent acceptance of a $1 million donation from the Charles Koch (KOHK) Foundation, which is affiliated with the libertarian Koch brothers.

The Washington Post reports that 50 educators signed the protest letter made public Monday. Signers include the Rev. Stephen Privett, president of the University of San Francisco; Susan Ross, chair of Loyola University Chicago's theology department; and Catholic University theology professor William Barbieri Jr.

The letter says the Koch gift could suggest that what it calls the Koch brothers' "anti-government, Tea Party ideology" has the blessing of Catholic University. The letter says the Koch brothers' advocacy contradicts the church's "traditional social justice teachings."

The university defended the gift Monday that will support the school of business and economics.


Pope shares his birthday breakfast with homeless

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Four homeless people have helped Pope Francis celebrate his 77th birthday at the Vatican.

They live in the street nearby and were invited to attend the morning Mass which Francis celebrates daily at the Vatican hotel where he lives.

One of the men held his dog as he was presented to Francis after Mass. The Vatican said Francis invited his household help to join him in a "family-like" atmosphere, and he spoke of them one by one during his homily. After Mass, they all ate breakfast with Francis at the hotel.

Francis had already blown out the candles on a birthday cake that was presented to him on Saturday by children at the Vatican.