Update on the latest religion news


Associated Press

Posted on June 3, 2013 at 9:01 AM

Updated Monday, Jun 3 at 9:00 AM


Lutheran denomination elects first openly gay bishop

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has elected its first openly gay synod bishop.

In a press release, church officials say the Rev. R. Guy Erwin was selected at a church annual assembly Friday for a six-year term as bishop of the Southwest California Synod at a church annual assembly.

Church rules were changed in 2009 to allow gays and lesbians to be ordained in the nation's largest Lutheran denomination. More than 600 congregations have left the denomination since the change.

Erwin currently serves as a pastor at Faith Lutheran Church in Los Angeles and as a professor of Lutheran Confessional Theology at California Lutheran University.

Officials say the "partnered gay man" is also the first Native American to be elected. Erwin is part Osage Indian.


069-v-29-(Sandy Kozel, AP correspondent)--It's a first for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. AP correspondent Sandy Kozel reports. (2 Jun 2013)

<<CUT *069 (06/02/13)>> 00:29

070-c-17-(Sandy Kozel, AP correspondent)-"to be elected"-AP correspondent Sandy Kozel reports the nation's largest Lutheran denomination has elected its first openly gay bishop. (2 Jun 2013)

<<CUT *070 (06/02/13)>> 00:17 "to be elected"

213-a-16-(Emily Eastwood, executive director, Reconciling Works-Lutherans for Full Participation, in AP interview)-"from policy change"-Emily Eastwood, the executive director of Reconciling Works, says there's no reason for a qualified pastor like Reverend Guy Erwin to be banned from leading the synod. (2 Jun 2013)

<<CUT *213 (06/02/13)>> 00:16 "from policy change"

211-a-20-(Emily Eastwood, executive director, Reconciling Works-Lutherans for Full Participation, in AP interview)-"the natural course"-Emily Eastwood, the executive director of Reconciling Works, says new policy opened the door for the Reverend Guy Erwin to lead the Southwest California Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. (2 Jun 2013)

<<CUT *211 (06/02/13)>> 00:20 "the natural course"

212-a-15-(Emily Eastwood, executive director, Reconciling Works-Lutherans for Full Participation, in AP interview)-"of building relationships"-Emily Eastwood, the executive director of Reconciling Works, says she thinks anyone who opposes the election of a gay bishop needs to learn more about the Reverend Guy Erwin. (2 Jun 2013)

<<CUT *212 (06/02/13)>> 00:15 "of building relationships"

214-a-13-(Emily Eastwood, executive director, Reconciling Works-Lutherans for Full Participation, in AP interview)-"child of God"-Emily Eastwood, the executive director of Reconciling Works, says being gay doesn't diminish the Reverend Guy Erwin's ability to be a good bishop. (2 Jun 2013)

<<CUT *214 (06/02/13)>> 00:13 "child of God"

210-a-18-(Emily Eastwood, executive director, Reconciling Works-Lutherans for Full Participation, in AP interview)-"in the ELCA"-Emily Eastwood, the executive director of Reconciling Works, says there was a celebration after the Southwest California Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America elected Reverend Guy Erwin as its new bishop. (2 Jun 2013)

<<CUT *210 (06/02/13)>> 00:18 "in the ELCA"


Group of Mormons joins Utah Pride Parade again

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) —It's the second straight year that a large group of Mormons have taken in the Utah Pride Parade in a show of support for the gay community.

Some 400 people from the grassroots group Mormons Building Bridges marched Sunday under a banner reading "Family Reunion" in the annual parade in Salt Lake City.

Last year, their participation marked the first time such a large group of Mormons had joined the parade.

Mormons Building Bridges organizer Erika Munson told The Salt Lake Tribune that the group and others have helped change public attitudes toward gay people. She notes bishops no longer excommunicate members who come out.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints still teaches its members that marriage is between a man and a woman, and that same-sex relationships are sinful. But the church recently launched a campaign encouraging members to be more compassionate toward gay and lesbian members of the church.


Israel Day Parade includes governor, mayor and mayoral candidates

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City has celebrated the Jewish state of Israel, transforming Fifth Avenue into a sea of white and blue for the annual Israel Day Parade.

More than 30,000 marchers and 17 bands walked Sunday with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the city's mayoral candidates -- including City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and former congressman Anthony Weiner.

This year's theme was "Picture Israel," with marchers carrying paintings, collages, and tapestries to show the diversity of Israel and its people.

Security was tight along Fifth Avenue. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly watched over the lineup and helicopters hovered overhead.


155-a-12-(New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, I-N.Y., with reporters at Israeli Day Parade)-"that we need"-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says, in the wake of recent terror related violence, security at the Israeli parade is especially tight. (2 Jun 2013)

<<CUT *155 (06/02/13)>> 00:12 "that we need"

154-a-09-(Anton Gancz, who marched in the Israeli Day Parade, in AP interview)-"the concentration camps"-Anton Gancz, who survived the Holocaust, says he's proud to march for Israel. (2 Jun 2013)

<<CUT *154 (06/02/13)>> 00:09 "the concentration camps"

153-w-34-(Julie Walker, AP correspondent, with Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., New York mayoral candidate and Sandy Lebowitz, Weiner protester)--New York's mayoral candidates come out for the Israeli Day Parade, but it's one candidate that really stood out. AP correspondent Julie Walker reports. ((opens with sound)) (2 Jun 2013)

<<CUT *153 (06/02/13)>> 00:34

152-w-32-(Julie Walker, AP correspondent, with Ben Storch, Holocaust survivor who marched in the Israeli Day Parade)--The Israeli Day Parade drew thousands to New York's Fifth Avenue in a show of support for the Jewish state. AP correspondent Julie Walker reports. (2 Jun 2013)

<<CUT *152 (06/02/13)>> 00:32


Pope appeals to kidnappers to free hostages in Syria

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is appealing to the "humanity" of kidnappers in Syria to release hostages.

Francis urged prayers for "beloved Syria" as he spoke from his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square on Sunday to a crowd below. He lamented that the war there has stricken a defenseless people aspiring to peace.

Francis decried the "plague of kidnappings." Both rebels and pro-regime forces have abducted political foes, members of rival groups and others, including journalists, to settle scores or for ransom.

Among those snatched were two Orthodox bishops who were abducted in April.

The pope assured the families of hostages of his prayers.

Francis expressed strong concern that the conflict has dragged on for more than two years.


114-r-05-(Sound of Pope Francis blessing Catholic faithful, in Italian, in St. Peter's Square)--Sound of Pope Francis blessing Catholic faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square. (2 Jun 2013)

<<CUT *114 (06/02/13)>> 00:05

113-r-24-(Sound of Pope Francis, speaking in Italian, in St. Peter's Square)--Sound of Pope Francis, speaking in Italian, expressing strong concern that the conflict in Syria has dragged on for more than two years. (2 Jun 2013)

<<CUT *113 (06/02/13)>> 00:24


Statehouses buck Catholic Church on gay marriage

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island (AP) — For decades, the Roman Catholic church in the U.S. has employed aggressive lobbying efforts on a range of political issues, and Catholic leaders have used the power of the pulpit and substantial financial resources to maintain their clout.

At times they've gone so far as to tell leading Catholic lawmakers they were not welcome to receive Communion if they opposed church teachings on matter such as abortion and gay marriage.

These days, the church remains active in political battles over abortion, President Barack Obama's health care law, poverty and immigration. But the church had little success influencing the gay marriage debate in Rhode Island, Minnesota and other states.

A CBS News/New York Times poll in February found that 78 percent of Catholics said they were more likely to follow their own conscience than the church's teachings on difficult moral questions, and that 62 percent of American Catholics think same-sex marriages should be legal.


NY Catholics join global Eucharistic feast day

NEW YORK (AP) — Roman Catholics around the world have celebrated the Feast of Corpus Christi -- Latin for "body of Christ" -- which they believe is present in Holy Communion.

The adoration of the Eucharist was led by Pope Francis, with simultaneous observances at churches around the world.

At New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral, Monsignor Robert Ritchie told worshippers that the presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist is what makes first Communion so important for Catholic children.

The theme of this year's Eucharistic adoration was "One Lord, One Faith."


203-c-15-(Jamie Friar, AP correspondent)-"number-three this weekend"-There are more than summer sequels at your neighborhood theater. The AP's Jamie Friar takes a look at the weekend box office numbers. (2 Jun 2013)

<<CUT *203 (06/02/13)>> 00:15 "number-three this weekend"


Cardinal: Jewish mayor called Catholics NY 'glue'

NEW YORK (AP) — Cardinal Timothy Dolan has celebrated the late former Mayor Ed Koch as a Jewish New Yorker who considered Catholics a "glue" that held the city together.

The head of the city's Roman Catholic archdiocese remembered Koch at Sunday Mass. The former mayor died of congestive heart failure in February at age 88.

Dolan spoke at St. Patrick's Cathedral with Koch's family and friends present.

The former mayor visited the cathedral regularly. And one day, Dolan said Koch told him that the Catholic Church was "the glue that holds this New York community together" with its parishes, schools, charities and outreach services.

If Koch were present, Dolan joked that he'd have noticed scaffolding for renovations and warned people that the cardinal would ask for money.


Holy Land archaeological treasure hurt by politics

SEBASTIA, West Bank (AP) — The West Bank town of Sebastia is one of the major archaeological sites of the Holy Land. It served as the capital of the biblical Kingdom of Israel under the name of Samaria in the 8th and 9th centuries B.C.

But today the hilltop capital of biblical kings, later ruled by Roman conquerors, Crusaders and Ottomans, is marred with weeds, graffiti and garbage.

Caught between conflicting Israeli and Palestinian jurisdictions, the site has been largely neglected by both sides for the past two decades. Beyond the decay, unauthorized diggers and thieves have taken advantage of the lack of oversight to make off with priceless artifacts.

According to tradition, the town also is the burial place of John the Baptist.


Diocese announces more Philly-area parish mergers

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The archdiocese of Philadelphia has announced mergers that will affect more than two dozen Roman Catholic parishes in the Philadelphia region.

Officials said parishioners at all affected parishes learned of the final decisions through letters mailed to all registered parishioners as well as announcements made at weekend Masses.

As in other consolidations announced since last year, officials cited factors such as demographic shifts, declining attendance, a shortage of clergy and a review of facilities.

Church officials said they expected more parishes to be affected by the ongoing "Parish Pastoral Planning Area Initiative" in the fall of this year.


LA synagogue undergoes $150 million makeover

LOS ANGELES (AP) — From its very beginnings, Wilshire Boulevard Temple has been a major Hollywood production.

Now, in the tradition of long-running Hollywood franchises, L.A.'s oldest synagogue is getting a $150 million reboot -- just in time for summer release.

When it opened in 1929, the Warner Bros. film studio provided the stunning Hugo Ballin murals depicting the history of Judaism that line its sanctuary walls.

The imposing marble edifice on the edge of downtown Los Angeles was bankrolled by a handful of movie studio moguls, including Louis B. Mayer.

In a couple of weeks, its ornate front doors will reopen for a press preview showing off its refurbished murals, newly lit giant chandeliers and other accoutrements.

Religious services will resume in time for the High Holy Days in September.