RAP Sheet

Church Should Not Fear Change, Pope Says at Synod Close

posted on October 20, 2014

At Reuters, Philip Pullella reports on Pope Francis’ closing remarks after the synod of Catholic bishops that revealed deep divisions on how to respond to homosexuality and divorce. “God is not afraid of new things. That is why he is continuously surprising us, opening our hearts and guiding us in unexpected ways,” Francis said. While the initial draft of the synod’s documents upset conservative bishops with its upbeat tone regarding gays, cohabitation, and re-marriage, Francis said that he would have been “worried and saddened” if there had not been such honest discussion during the gathering.

Read at Reuters

What Jefferson, Dickens And Tolstoy Can Teach Us About Exploring The Big Questions

posted on October 20, 2014

The Huffington Post‘s Jaweed Kaleem reviews “The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord,” which opened this week at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. The play imagines that the three historical figures, who all wrote their own renditions of the Christian Bible during their lives, join together in an attempt to write the perfect Gospel. Scott Carter, the play’s author and a former writer for Bill Maher, wants audiences to understand that “One does not have to accept all of a given doctrine. One can negotiate with his own conscience what one actually accepts.”

Read at The Huffington Post

Greek Orthodox Launch Rebuilding of St. Nicholas, the Only Church Destroyed on 9/11

posted on October 20, 2014

Religion News Service’s Sarah Pulliam Bailey reports, “Leaders of a Greek Orthodox church that was destroyed during the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center broke ground on a new St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church that will overlook the 9/11 Memorial.” Port Authority Director Patrick J. Foye spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony, saying, “Just as the Greek Orthodox Church celebrates the birth, mourns the death and praises the resurrection, today we celebrate the rebuilding and the blessing of the hollowed land on which it will stand.” The new St. Nicholas is scheduled to open in 2016, the same year as the church’s 100th anniversary.

Read at Religion News Service

Of Virtue and Vice, and a Vatican Priest

posted on October 20, 2014

In The New York Times, Davide Casati reports on Msgr. Nunzio Scarano, arrested in June 2013 and accused of money laundering through the Vatican Bank. Casati writes, “Expanding on efforts started by his predecessor, Pope Francis announced in the last few months a series of reforms to make the Vatican financial system more transparent and accountable.” Of his crimes, Scarano said: “Sometimes I took advantage of the rich to help the poor — I behaved somewhat like Robin Hood.” His trial began on September 29 in Salerno.

Read at The New York Times

Sikh Massacre in India is Issue in California Race

posted on October 20, 2014

The Associated Press reports, “Some Sikh political activists and the California Republican Party are campaigning against Democratic Rep. Ami Bera, saying he refuses to acknowledge the alleged involvement of the Indian government in the anti-Sikh rioting in 1984.” Other Sikh leaders embrace Bera, the only Indian-American in Congress, as a valuable advocate for all South Asians. In the past, Bera’s campaign has refused to answer questions about government assistance in the deaths and help to pursue justice for victims’ families. In a prepared statement to the Associated Press, Bera called the killings a tragedy and said he is “hopeful that the Indian government has learned from the past.”

Read at The Associated Press

The Beggars of Lakewood

posted on October 20, 2014

In The New York Times’ Magazine, Mark Oppenheimer profiles the town of Lakewood, New Jersey, which has a large Jewish population. “The spiritual ecology of the town revolves around the Torah, which obliges that all Jews, even those who are in need themselves, give to charity,” Oppenheimer writes. Because of the Jewish community’s charitable obligation, beggars like Elimelech Ehrlich from Israel can register and become licensed to beg in Lakewood. “There’s a certain warmth and trust to it,” Aaron Kotler, president of Beth Medrash Govoha, the country’s largest yeshiva, said. “In a big city, in Manhattan, you see indigent people collecting on the street. That doesn’t feel as dignified as this. Here, a person knocks on the door. And tells you their story.”

Read at The New York Times' Magazine

The Mission

posted on October 17, 2014

The New Yorker‘s Jon Lee Anderson reports on religious warfare in the Central African Republic. In 2012, the Seleka, a Muslim rebel group whose name means “Alliance,” began sweeping across the country. The antibalaka, a largely Christian group, rose up in retaliation, and the country slid into a murderous sectarian war. Lee follows Father Bernard Kinvi, who helps run the Catholic mission inside the isolated interior of the Central African Republic. “It’s not that we made a specific decision to help the Muslims,” Kinvi explained. “It’s that our mission is to protect the weakest and most vulnerable.”

Read at The New Yorker

Houston Subpoenas Pastors’ Sermons in Equal Rights Ordinance Case, Prompting Outcry

posted on October 16, 2014

Sarah Pulliam Bailey reports at Religion News Service, “Houston has subpoenaed sermons given by local pastors who oppose an equal rights ordinance.” The ordinance, supported by Houston’s openly lesbian mayor, bans discrimination in businesses that serve the public and private employers, among other groups. The subpoenas were issued after a petition in opposition to the ordinance after the city’s attorneys determined that not enough signatures had been gathered to qualify for a ballot. Five pastors filed a motion to stop the subpoenas that they view as “overbroad, unduly burdensome, harassing, and vexatious.”

Read at Religion News Service

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