Church Welcoming Ebola Victim's Girlfriend Back After Quarantine
DALLAS - Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan's girlfriend and her family are welcome to return to their Dallas church after the completion of their three-week quarantine Sunday at midnight.
Louise Troh's pastor, the Rev. George Mason, told worshippers at Dallas's Wilshire Baptist Church Sunday that while Troh and her family didn't contract Ebola, "she lost the love of her life, and they lost all their possessions."
Because of the Ebola infection risk, decontamination crews stripped Troh's apartment, saving only a few personal documents, photographs and a Bible.
Mason says the church is coordinating efforts to help the family recover.
Troh hopes to partially recover financially with a book about her life, but for now she's asking for privacy.
Houston Changes Approach to Sermon Subpoenas
HOUSTON - City attorneys have backed off a request to obtain sermons but have refused to withdraw subpoenas seeking other information from five Houston pastors who publicly opposed an ordinance banning discrimination against gay and transgender residents.
Mayor Annise Parker said Friday that the word "sermons" is being deleted from the subpoenas. But Parker said she believes the demand for other speeches or presentations related to a petition drive to repeal the city's equal rights ordinance is appropriate.
Christian activists sued after city officials ruled they didn't collect enough petition signatures to place a repeal referendum on the ballot.
Parker, who is gay, says the subpoenaed information is needed so the city can prepare for trial on the lawsuit.
The controversy has touched a nerve among religious conservatives around the country, already anxious about the rapid spread of gay rights and what it might mean for faith groups that object.
Pope Beatifies Paul VI at Remarkable Synod's End
VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis has beatified Pope Paul VI, concluding a meeting of bishops debating family issues that drew parallels to the tumultuous reforms of the Second Vatican Council which Paul oversaw and implemented.
Sunday's beatification Mass took place just hours after Catholic bishops approved a document charting a more pastoral approach to Catholic families. The bishops failed to reach consensus on welcoming gays and divorced and civilly remarried couples, but those issues remain up for discussion ahead of another meeting of bishops next year.
Paul VI is best known for his 1968 encyclical proclaiming the church's opposition to artificial contraception. Almost 50 years later, most Catholics ignore its teaching on birth control. The bishops restated doctrine in their final synod document, but they also said the church must respect couples in their moral evaluation of contraception methods.
Paul was beatified, a step toward possible sainthood, after the Vatican certified a miracle attributed to his intercession.
Bishops Scrap Welcome to Gays in Sign of Split
VATICAN CITY - Catholic bishops have scrapped their landmark welcome to gays, showing deep divisions at the end of a two-week meeting called by Pope Francis to chart a more merciful approach to ministering to Catholic families.
The bishops approved a final report covering a host of issues related to Catholic family life, acknowledging "positive elements" in civil heterosexual unions outside the church and even in cases when men and women live together outside marriage. They also said the church must respect Catholics in their moral evaluation of "methods used to regulate births," a seemingly significant deviation from church teaching barring any form of artificial contraception.
But the bishops failed to reach consensus on a watered-down section on ministering to homosexuals. The new section strips away the welcoming tone contained in a draft document last week. Rather than considering gays as individuals who have gifts to offer the church, the revised paragraph refers to homosexuality as one of the problems that Catholic families face.
Site for Greek Church Near WTC Gets Blessing
NEW YORK - Hundreds of members of New York's Greek Orthodox community have attended a blessing ceremony for a new church near ground zero in Lower Manhattan that will replace a house of worship that was destroyed in the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
In remarks Saturday at the construction site, the leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in America recalled his dismay when, on Sept. 12, 2001, he and other pastors visited the spot where St. Nicholas church had stood since the early 20th Century. The tiny structure was crushed in the collapse of the twin towers.
More than 13 years later, work has begun on a much larger, $38 million domed church intended to serve both as the new home for the Greek Orthodox parish and as a national non-denominational shrine for ground zero visitors.
Nebraska Man Collects Scrap Metal to Help Church
RAYMOND, Neb. - Collecting piles of scrap metal, including some that tornadoes left behind earlier this year, is helping a 72-year-old Nebraska man lead his small congregation's effort to raise money for a new building.
Since 2010, Lyle McKlem has raised about $40,000 for Raymond United Methodist Church by selling the scrap metal he collects.
McKlem told the Lincoln Journal-Star he got the idea of collecting large pieces of metal after the church held an aluminum can drive.
Through word of mouth the campaign has grown, and McKlem says he gets calls regularly now from farmers or landowners with scrap metal to donate.
Israel Raises the Dead with Skyward Cemetery
PETAH TIKVA, Israel - At first glance, the concrete towers off a major Israeli highway do not appear unusual, but they're groundbreaking when you consider that they'll be homes not for the living but for the dead.
With real estate at a premium, Israel is at the forefront of a global movement building vertical cemeteries in densely populated countries. From Brazil to Japan, elevated cemeteries, sometimes stretching high into the sky, will be the final resting place for thousands of people. They are now the default option for the recently departed in the Holy Land.
After some initial hesitations, and rabbinical rulings that made the practice kosher, Israel's ultra-Orthodox burial societies have embraced the concept as the most effective Jewish practice in an era when most of the cemeteries in major population centers are packed full.
Australia's Parliament House Lifts Face Veil Ban
CANBERRA, Australia - Australia's Parliament House has lifted a ban imposed earlier this month on facial coverings including the burqas and niqabs worn by some Muslim women.
The government department that runs Parliament House announced on Oct. 2 that "persons with facial coverings" would no longer be allowed in the open public galleries of the House of Representatives or the Senate. They would be directed to galleries usually reserved for noisy school children where visitors sit behind sound-proof glass.
The announcement was made a few hours before the end of the final sitting day of Parliament's last two-week session and has no practical effect.
Hours before Parliament was to resume on Monday, Australia's Department of Parliamentary Services said in a statement that people wearing face coverings would again be allowed in all public areas.
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