Religion news in brief

AP News
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Posted: Mar 02, 2016 1:05 PM
Religion news in brief

Anglican scholar analyzes biblical guidance

WASHINGTON (AP) — Anglican scholar N.T. Wright says the Bible contains many overlooked truths, but it doesn't necessarily tell believers how to vote.

The retired bishop says some modern political and cultural issues don't present a clear biblical choice. But other matters are clear, such as Jesus' concern for the poor.

Wright took part in a discussion last week at the National Press Club in Washington on "The Good News and the Good Life." He said making religion a private and personal matter that's separate from the world's concerns isn't how Christians are called to live.

Instead, he said Christians should take seriously Jesus' claim to authority over all things, and join the risen Lord in building his kingdom "on Earth as it is in heaven."

Wright says the New Testament was written to Christians who were struggling with how to live faithfully in a hostile culture, a perspective that he believes is increasingly applicable today.

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Cardinal says should have done more to stop Aussie pedophile

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — One of Pope Francis' top advisers has told an Australian inquiry that he should have done more to ensure that a suspected pedophile cleric did not continue to abuse children.

Australian Cardinal George Pell told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse this week that as an assistant priest in the Australian city of Ballarat in the 1970s, he had heard rumors that a local Christians Brothers school teacher Edward Dowlan could be involved in "pedophilia activity."

Pell testified that he raised his concerns with the St. Patricks' College chaplain who told Pell that the Christian Brothers order was "dealing with" the allegations. Dowlan was later removed from the school.

Pell, now the pope's top financial adviser, told the inquiry on Wednesday that he should have "ensured that the matter was properly treated."

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New Jersey priest convicted of molestation dies in prison

WOODBRIDGE, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey priest who was serving a 33-year sentence for sexually assaulting an altar boy has died.

MyCentralJersey.com reports that 69-year-old John Banko died Monday morning at the state's Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center. A state Corrections Department spokesman says foul play isn't suspected in Banko's death.

The former pastor at St. Edward the Confessor in Milford was convicted of sexual abuse twice during his tenure.

He was convicted in December 2002 of molesting a former altar boy more than two decades ago. Banko maintained his innocence during the trial.

The victim in the second case was a 6-year-old altar boy in 1991 when the incidents began and continued for four years. The victim told his mother in 2005 and police were called shortly after.

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Chinese pastor fired from provincial office over court case

BEIJING (AP) — A leading pastor in a Chinese province where authorities have been cracking down on churches has been barred from the pulpit and removed as head of the provincial state-sanctioned Protestant church association.

Monday's action in Zhejiang (ZHUH'-zhee-ahng) province against Joseph Gu Yuese followed his arrest last month on charges of embezzlement and other economic crimes.

Supporters say the case against Gu was drummed up in retribution for his public opposition to a campaign by Zhejiang officials to forcibly remove hundreds of rooftop crosses from churches. Gu had been senior pastor at Chongyi Christian Church, one of China's largest.

In a related case, a husband and wife who led their congregation in opposing the cross removals were sentenced recently to 14 and 12 years in prison on charges of disturbing social order, illegally organizing people to petition the government and "tricking" congregants into donating money used toward personal expenses.

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North Korea puts tearful detained American before cameras

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — North Korea has presented a detained and sobbing American student before media in Pyongyang.

Otto Warmbier begged and prayed for forgiveness on Monday for stealing a political slogan from a staff-only section of the hotel where he had been staying. Pyongyang calls that an anti-state crime. Warmbier said he took it for a church that offered to pay him for it.

Warmbier said he was offered a used car worth $10,000 by a church member who told him the slogan would be hung on its wall as a trophy. He also said he was told that if he was detained and didn't return, $200,000 would be paid to his mother in the form of a charitable donation.

North Korea announced late last month that it had arrested the 21-year-old University of Virginia student.

Former detainees often recant such admissions after their release.

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Clergy victims doubt "Spotlight" Oscar win will bring change

BOSTON (AP) — Victims of clergy sexual abuse are reveling in the Oscar won by "Spotlight" — the story of The Boston Globe's investigation into the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.

But some say they don't hold out much hope that the elevated status from the film's Best Picture award will prompt changes at the highest levels of the church.

Alexa MacPherson was abused in a Boston parish for more than six years starting when she was 3. She said she thinks it's "wonderful" that "Spotlight" won the best picture award. But she says the Vatican has been "talking the talk," but "not walking the walk."

Some victims say they want church higher-ups who covered up the abuse prosecuted criminally and they want the church to be more transparent about abusers.

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