Religion Roundup

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Ferguson Clergy Pray for Peace and Recovery
FERGUSON, Mo. - Religious leaders in Ferguson, Missouri, say they're appalled at the violence that erupted after a grand jury decided not to indict a white police officer who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown.
     Some local clergy joined Ferguson Mayor James Knowles at a Tuesday afternoon news conference.
     Baptist Pastor Timothy Woods said they condemn the arson and looting that badly damaged more than a dozen businesses.
     Evangelist Vivian Dudley said more than 800 local ministers and people of faith were uniting in prayer for Ferguson's peace and recovery. She led a prayer from the podium, asking God to lead the community to repentance and "spiritual renewal."


Clergy Protest Grand Jury Decision Near Ferguson
CLAYTON, Mo. - Clergy and others who blocked morning traffic in the St. Louis suburb where the Ferguson grand jury decision was announced have ended their protest without any apparent arrests being made.
     About 100 demonstrators assembled in downtown Clayton, Missouri, shortly after sunrise Tuesday and spent several hours blocking intersections, singing spirituals and chanting, "This is what theology looks like." They also observed a 4½-minute moment of silence to mark the 4½ hours that Brown's body remained on the Ferguson street before it was removed.
     Many protesters wore orange reflective vests identifying themselves as clergy.
     The demonstrators blocked intersections for up to 10 minutes at a time before moving to another. Police monitored the demonstration, which was one of many planned for Tuesday in the St. Louis area.


Marion Barry's Turkey Giveaway Goes on Without Him
WASHINGTON - Marion Barry's annual turkey giveaway went on without the longtime District of Columbia politician.
     Hundreds of people gathered Tuesday outside Union Temple Baptist Church in Southeast Washington. For years, the former mayor and city councilman raised money to buy turkeys and give them to the poor. Many residents mourned Barry's death as they waited in line for one of the 3,500 turkeys that were given away.
     LaToya Foster, Barry's spokeswoman, said that's what Barry lived for - giving back to the poorest people and serving those who didn't have a voice.
     Barry died early Sunday at the age of 78.


Police: Idaho Boy on Joyride Crashes into Church
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - A 12-year-old boy's joyride in a stolen sport utility vehicle has ended inside a church.
     Police say the boy lost control of the vehicle and crashed through the outer wall of New Life Church in Idaho Falls at about 3 a.m. Tuesday. The vehicle came to rest on the edge of a large stage inside the church.
     Signs inside the church advertising a series of sermons titled "Signs of the Times" were knocked down in the crash.
     There were no injuries, and authorities didn't provide damage estimates.


Heirloom Ring Flushed; Sewer Workers Retrieve It
CENTRAL POINT, Ore. - It took sewer workers in Oregon a couple of days of looking, but they finally found a 1920 wedding ring a woman lost in a church toilet.
     Pat Hanson of Central Point told the Medford Mail Tribune that it was her mother's ring, and she's been wearing it for about 25 years.
     Lately, Hanson says, she's lost weight, and the ring slipped off when she used the church restroom earlier this month.
     The regional sewer agency, Rogue Valley Sewer Services, sent out four workers, with two trucks and portable closed-circuit television cameras to inspect the line. Eventually workers came back to plug the pipe and vacuum out the line. Finally, a worker spotted the ring.
     With the ring cleaned up, repaired and resized, Hanson is praising the sewer workers as well as the patron saint of lost items. Hanson said her prayer to St. Anthony was answered, so she thinks she "ought to write a letter to the pope and let him know we had a miracle here in Central Point."


GOP Leader Fired from Day Job Over Muslim Remarks
ORTONVILLE, Minn. - In Minnesota, the Big Stone County Republican Party chairman who posted inflammatory comments about Muslims on Facebook has been fired from his hardware store job.
     The owners of Hardware Hank in Ortonville say Jack Whitley brought shame to the community and their business and that bigotry won't be tolerated.
     Whitley issued a "call to arms" against Muslims, calling them "terrorists" and "parasites."
     Whitley says the comments were on his personal Facebook page and have nothing to do with the GOP. Whether he loses his party leadership position is still up in the air. The Star Tribune reports he would have to be removed by local party members.
     Minnesota Republican Party Chairman Keith Downey and the state party's executive committee strongly condemned Whitley's anti-Muslim posting.


Pope to Europe: Accept Immigrants, Create Jobs
STRASBOURG, France - Pope Francis has demanded that Europe craft a unified and fair immigration policy, saying that thousands of refugees coming ashore need acceptance and assistance, not self-interested policies that risk lives and fuel social conflict.
     Francis made the comments Tuesday to the European Parliament during a brief visit meant to highlight his vision for Europe a quarter-century after St. John Paul II travelled to Strasbourg to address a continent still divided by the Iron Curtain.
     Francis said he wanted to bring a message of hope to Europeans distrustful of their institutions, burdened by economic crisis and spiritually adrift in a culture that no longer values human dignity.
     He called for legislators to promote policies that create jobs and accept immigrants, saying "We cannot allow the Mediterranean to become a vast cemetery!"


Pope Confirms Calling Spanish Sex Abuse Victim
ROME - Pope Francis says he personally called a Spaniard who said he was sexually abused by a priest and urged him to report it to the diocese.
     Three priests and a layman were arrested Monday in connection with the case in the southern city of Granada.
     Francis, speaking to reporters while returning home from Strasbourg on Tuesday, said he received a letter from the alleged victim and then phoned him, telling him to go to the Granada diocese in person to report the abuse that took place about 10 years ago. Francis says he wrote to the bishop and urged him to launch an investigation.
     The pope says the case is causing him "great pain ... But the truth is the truth and we can't hide it."


Top US Jesuit Defends Vatican Sex Prosecutor
VATICAN CITY - The head of the Jesuit religious order in the United States is defending the Vatican's new sex crimes prosecutor, saying he had practically no role in the Jesuits' handling of a notorious pedophile now serving a 25-year prison sentence.
     The Rev. Timothy Kesicki, president of the U.S. Jesuit Conference, spoke to The Associated Press after The Boston Globe reported that the Rev. Robert Geisinger failed to report the abuser to police when he was the second highest-ranking official in the Jesuits' Chicago province in the 1990s.
     Kesicki said Geisinger only worked for the Chicago province for about 14 weeks, from late December 1994 through March 1995. He was a temporary executive assistant to the acting provincial, with no authority, while the provincial was in Rome for a big Jesuit meeting.

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