NPR’s Lauren Frayer reports from India’s west coast on the Ganpati festival, a celebration of Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed Hindu god of wisdom and good luck. Frayer writes, “Families buy a Ganesh idol for the occasion, and pray over it at home, before processing toward the beach. Neighborhoods get together to erect temporary stages called pandals, on which they place giant Ganesh statues, and hold block parties around them.” The festival was started as a trick by a freedom fighter in 1893, when all public gatherings aside from religious ones were banned by the British.
Religion News Service’s Adelle M. Banks reports that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Friday that the United States will continue to fight for the release of American pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been detained in Turkey for nearly two years and is facing terrorism-related charges there. The announcement came at the Value Voters Summit, an event for Christian conservatives. Jacqueline Furnari, Brunson’s daughter, said, “It’s a sham trial and my dad is being used as a bargaining chip and suffering for Jesus Christ.”
America’s Gerrard O’Connell reports that the Vatican announced on Saturday that Pope Francis will “readmit to full ecclesial communion” the eight remaining bishops who were ordained in China without the official pontifical mandate. There are an estimated 12 million Catholics in mainland China, and around half of them are part of the unrecognized, “underground” church community. O’Connell writes, “Underground communities – bishops, priests, women religious and lay people – refuse to be part of the Patriotic Association that the Chinese authorities set up in 1957 to control the Catholic church in China.”
The Chicago Tribune’s Ese Olumhense reports, “Days after it was revealed that the Rev. Paul Kalchik of Avondale’s Resurrection Catholic Church burned a rainbow banner that once hung in the church, Cardinal Blase Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, has removed him from his role as head of the North Side church.” Cupich said, “I act out of concern for Fr. Kalchik’s welfare and that of the people of Resurrection Parish,” and a spokeswoman for the archdiocese said that Kalchik’s removal was not related to the banner burning. Olumhense adds, “The church, in its bulletin this week, said Kalchik has received many threats. On Friday, Kalchik said he has had to have police escort him from the church to his home, out of fear he may be attacked.”
The Washington Post’s Julie Zauzmer reports, “Minors or adults can now confidentially report abuse or harassment by a bishop through a third-party phone and online complaint line not run by the church, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops announced Wednesday.” The announcement comes one week after the pope met with church leaders to address the ongoing sexual abuse crisis. Zauzmer adds, “The bishops said they also will come up with policies on restricting bishops who were removed or resigned because of allegations of sexual abuse of children or misconduct or harassment involving adults, the announcement said.”
NPR’s Tom Gjelten reports that some Catholics are blaming gay priests for the church’s systematic sexual abuse problems, exacerbating the divide among church members’ views on sexuality. He writes, “Researchers who have studied patterns of clergy sex abuse say they have found no evidence of a link with sexual orientation. But the argument continues, with some Catholic leaders and prominent theologians even saying the abuse crisis justifies a purge of gay men from the priesthood.” Marianne Duddy-Burke, the executive director a Catholic LGBT advocacy group called DignityUSA, said, “Whenever the church is under stress, particularly around the issue of sexual abuse and minors and the cover up by the clergy, gay priests have been scapegoated.”
Religion News Service’s Yonat Shimron reports on the July arrest in Israel of Conservative Rabbi Dov Hayun, who was detained for three hours after being accused of performing an illegal marriage. Shimron writes, “Israel doesn’t recognize marriages performed by Conservative or Reform rabbis and in 2013, the Knesset passed a law prohibiting Jewish weddings not performed through the Chief Rabbinate, which hews strictly to Orthodox Jewish tradition.” She adds, “In the two months since his arrest, Hayun has become a kind of cause celebre for freedom of religion. Hundreds were expected to crowd his small synagogue, located behind a preschool on a major Mount Carmel thoroughfare, for Yom Kippur services.”
The New York Times’s Rod Nordland and Fatima Faizi write about a September 5 Islamic State suicide bombing at the Maiwand Wrestling Club in Kabul, Afghanistan. The bombing, which killed around 30 people and injured dozens more, targeted minority Hazaras. The community and country has national pride for their skilled wrestling community. Nordland and Faizi explain that wrestlers and other neighborhood members are fighting back: “More and more armed volunteers were seen in the neighborhood, stopping and searching strangers. Wrestlers arrived to help clean up and rebuild the gym.”
The Washington Post’s Julie Zauzmer reports, “Pennsylvania Catholics are suing all eight dioceses in the state, claiming that Catholic leaders there systematically covered up ongoing sexual abuse by priests.” Zauzmer adds, “The two people bringing the lawsuit are Ryan O’Connor, a resident of the Diocese of Pittsburgh who says he was abused by a priest from age 10 to 12, and Kristin Hancock, who reads at Mass in the Diocese of Pittsburgh on Sundays. Both have children in Catholic schools.” O’Connor and Hancock allege that the dioceses in Pennsylvania are still working to cover up sexual abuse by refusing to document names of victims and incidents of abuse in the grand jury report.
The Atlantic’s Emma Green profiles Beth Moore, a prominent female evangelical leader and author who has faced backlash after speaking out against men accused of sexual misconduct, including President Trump, and their Christian supporters. Green writes, “She got messages from women who had read her Bible studies for years but said they’d never read another. Event attendance dropped.” Although Green notes that Moore has not become “a liberal, or even a feminist,” she points out, “Her objective is not to evict Trump from the White House, but to clear the cultural rot in the house of God.”