|BRIEFS: USA & WORLD|
Issue Date: January 25, 2008
Bishops spending questioned
BELLEVILLE, Ill. -- The diocesan finance and presbyteral councils here have confronted Belleville Bishop Edward Braxton about questionable spending, local media are reporting. The finance council has asked the Vatican to investigate the situation, according to a report posted to the Web site of the Belleville News-Democrat Jan. 13.
Braxton has been accused of spending $8,000 on new vestments and paying for them with money earmarked for the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, a Vatican institution that supports work in mission territories. Local churches collect money for the society.
Braxton also purchased a $10,000 wood conference table and chairs for a meeting room at the chancery using money from A Future Full of Hope, a foundation established by his predecessor to fund special ministry programs for children and adults. Citing minutes from a November teleconference of the foundation board, the News-Democrat reported that members expressed in writing their objections to this expenditure by Bishop Braxton.
Obamas church slammed
CHICAGO -- Since Sen. Barack Obama won the Iowa Democratic caucuses Jan. 3, his church in Chicago, Trinity United Church of Christ, has been the subject of scathing, but false e-mails widely circulated through the Internet, according to the denominations national general minister and president.
Efforts to portray the church as racist and anti-American are absurd, mean-spirited and politically motivated, said the Rev. John Thomas.
One e-mail circulating suggests that Trinity does not accept non-black members, a claim the church says is demonstrably false. The denominations chief state minister, the Rev. Jan Fisler Hoffman and her husband -- both white -- are members of Trinity, according to a statement the church released to buttress its assertion that Trinity [does] not exclude anyone from membership or attendance based on ethnicity.
Trinity and its pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright, have been criticized by conservatives who disparage their commitment to Africa and to black empowerment. The churchs motto is Unashamedly Black, Unapologetically Christian.
Evangelicals say polling skewed
WASHINGTON -- Influential evangelical leaders have called on pollsters to ask Democrats -- and not just Republicans -- if they are evangelicals when future primaries occur.
Pollsters have pigeonholed evangelicals, reinforcing the false stereotype that we are beholden to one political party, wrote nine leaders, including Sojourners founder Jim Wallis and Christianity Today editor David Neff. No party can own any faith, they wrote.
Their Jan. 10 letter was sent to polling and political directors of media outlets that are represented by the National Election Pool, which supplies poll data to ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX, NBC and The Associated Press.
An official from the National Election Pool was not immediately available for comment.
Writing as individuals rather than representatives of their organizations, they said, By omitting the question of evangelical/born-again identification from the Democratic polls, you prevented the public from seeing the full picture of how the bipartisan courtship of evangelical voters [has] affected voting this season.
Popes university visit canceled
VATICAN CITY -- Following a letter of protest signed by 67 professors and demonstrations by students, Pope Benedict XVI canceled a planned visit to Romes Sapienza University. He was to speak at the opening of the academic year Jan. 17.
Jan. 14, students began a planned four days of protests against the papal lecture. Fifty occupied the rectors office Jan. 15, the day the Vatican announced the popes visit would be canceled.
Andrea Frova, a professor of physics, told the Italian newspaper Il Giornale that he and his colleagues were offended that a pope hostile to science was invited to give a major lecture at a formal university event. Frova cited Benedicts latest encyclical Spe Salvi (On Christian Hope) as setting science and faith in opposition.
In Spe Salvi, Benedict wrote that the hope science offers humankind can be deceptive. He wrote that science can also destroy humankind unless it is steered by forces that lie outside it.
Vatican debates Harry Potter
VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican newspaper LOsservatore Romano dedicated a full page in its Jan. 14-15 issue to the debate about the novels by J.K. Rowling. The Italian translation of the last novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was released in early January.
Paolo Gulisano, a physician and the author of a biography of J.R.R. Tolkien, said that the Harry Potter books counter the individualism of the modern age by making a hero of a boy guided by moral values such as the choice of good, giving, sacrifice, friendship and love. The stories, he said, teach young people without moralizing.
But Edoardo Rialti, a professor of English literature at the University of Florence, said the books communicate a vision of the world and of the human person that is full of profound errors and dangerous suggestions.
He said the books teach that evil is good and that violence, lying, trickery and manipulation can be positive if used to obtain something good.
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, January 25, 2008
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