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Issue Date:  November 16, 2007


Pittsburgh exits Episcopal fold

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh diocese has taken a big step out the door of the Episcopal church, declaring itself at odds with the denomination’s more liberal view of scripture and homosexuality and paving the way to join a more conservative Anglican branch.

By a tally of 227 to 82, lay and ordained delegates to Pittsburgh’s annual convention Nov. 2 voted to change their diocese’s constitution, removing language that requires “accession” to the national church.

Pittsburgh is the third U.S. diocese to take that step, following San Joaquin, Calif., and Quincy, Ill. Constitutional changes require the approval of two consecutive diocesan conventions. San Joaquin is scheduled to hold its second vote on the constitutional change in December.

Trafficking bill changes sought

WASHINGTON -- Conservative and progressive Christians joined with women’s rights groups Nov. 1 to push for changes in a human trafficking bill under consideration by the House Judiciary Committee.

The coalition is generally in support of the bill, but says it should be expanded to cover prostitution within the United States. In fact, it wants Congress to equate pimping in the United States to international human trafficking, making it easier to prosecute those who hire out prostitutes.

Supporters of the change range from Gloria Steinem on the left through progressive Christian leader Jim Wallis to evangelical and Southern Baptist leaders on the right.

However, equating pimping with trafficking rests on the notion that all prostitutes are victims, said Ann Jordan, director of the Initiative Against Trafficking in Persons for the human rights organization Global Rights, which is not part of the coalition.

Women warned off ordination

ST. LOUIS -- Rose Marie Hudson and Elsie Hainz McGrath, who were to be ordained Nov. 11 by the Roman Catholic Priests movement (NCR, Nov. 9), received letters of “canonical admonition” signed by St. Louis Archbishop Raymond L. Burke Nov. 5. The letters warned the women of impending excommunication and further disciplinary action.

The letters said Hudson and McGrath were placing “in danger the eternal salvation of your soul and the souls of others” and called the planned ordination a “grave spiritual deception.”

Meanwhile, Rabbi Susan Talve, whose Central Reform Congregation synagogue was to host the ordinations, has been removed as a participant in a semester-long course on Judaism at Fontbonne University, a Catholic University in St. Louis sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Rabbi James Goodman, Talve’s husband, subsequently withdrew from the university program.

-- CNS/Reuters/Faisal Mahmood

Justice demanded
Civil rights activists shout slogans against emergency rule during a protest in Islamabad, Pakistan, Nov. 6. The banner reads “Down with dictatorship.” The head of the Pakistani Catholic bishops’ conference expressed concern over the imposition of emergency rule that has led to widespread protests and a crackdown by the military regime of Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s president. “If the present situation lasts longer, it will lead to clamor, agitation and violence,” said Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore, conference president. Musharraf, who captured power in a bloodless coup in 1999, declared emergency rule and suspended the constitution Nov. 3. Irfan Barkat, legal aid coordinator for the bishops’ justice and peace commission, was among 56 civil rights activists arrested at the offices of the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Nov. 4. The 56 were charged with illegal assembly and interfering with public officers; they were taken into “preventative detention” and sent to jail.


Hajj parties subject to fatwa

CHENNAI, India -- A leading Islamic seminary in northern India has issued a fatwa, or religious edict, against pompous farewell parties for Muslims making the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.

The Darul Uloom seminary in Deoband said the practice of big community dinners and lunches on such occasions was against Islamic law. The Nov. 2 fatwa, issued by two senior clerics of the Sunni seminary, asked Muslims to keep their Hajj pilgrimage a simple and low-key affair.

Darul Uloom is among the influential seminaries held in esteem by India’s Sunni Muslims, who generally abide by its rulings.

Clean gold standard advocated

LONDON -- The Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, aid agency of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, has asked its supporters to write to prominent U.S. jeweler Matthew Runci of Canaan, Conn., about the practice of gold mining. Runci is spearheading efforts to establish international standards that he believes could reduce much of the harm caused by gold mining.

Runci is president and chief executive officer of Jewelers of America, the national trade association for retail jewelers, and is chairman of the Council of Responsible Jewelry Practices, an international body consisting of more than 70 gold industry representatives.

The Catholic aid agency has been campaigning for more than a year to highlight the harm caused by gold mining. Mining the gold for one ring can create as much as 18 tons of waste, which may leach toxic metals and acid.

Latin ‘rebellion’ denounced

VATICAN CITY -- The secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments criticized bishops and priests who have given a narrow interpretation to Pope Benedict XVI’s permission for the wider celebration of the Tridentine Mass.

Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don told an Italian Internet news site that he found it difficult to understand the action “and even rebellion” of churchmen who have tried to limit access to the older Mass.

National Catholic Reporter uses the following news services: AsiaNews, Catholic News Service, Latinamerica Press, New America Media, Religion News Service, and UCA News.

National Catholic Reporter, November 16, 2007

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