Pope beginning visit to World Youth Day in Spain
MADRID (AP) - Pope Benedict is beginning a four-day visit to
Madrid, joining a million or more young pilgrims from 193 countries
for the Catholic Church's World Youth Day.
It's Benedict's third papal visit to Spain, which has departed
sharply from its Catholic traditions and embraced hedonism and
World Youth Day's main events are a prayer vigil with the
84-year-old pope, an outdoor sleepover for pilgrims Saturday night
at a sprawling air base and a papal Mass there the next morning.
The Knights of Columbus are hosting an estimated 100,000
English-speaking pilgrims at a sports stadium in Madrid.
Catholic charity says it's exempt from civil unions law
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A Catholic adoption and foster care
charity that has worked as a state contractor for 40 years has told
an Illinois judge that it shouldn't be forced to place children in
homes of unmarried couples, as state officials say is required by a
new law recognizing civil unions.
But attorneys for the state said it's appropriate to cancel
contracts totaling $30.6 million to Catholic Charities because the
nonprofit is violating gay couples' rights by refusing to assist
them and referring them to other agencies. The contracts are
renewed each year.
Judge John Schmidt did not make a ruling in the case Wednesday.
The Department of Children and Family Services canceled this year's
contract after the fiscal year began July 1 but Schmidt issued a
temporary order that keeps the contracts in place until he decides.
NOAH'S ARK PARK
New Noah's Ark in Ky. aims to prove truth of Bible
HEBRON, Ky. (AP) - A full-size replica of Noah's Ark will soon
be built in Kentucky.
The wooden ship built to survive a worldwide flood was 500 feet
long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a
Christian ministry devoted to a literal reading of the Bible.
Construction on the new ark is expected to begin in the spring
with the help of Amish builders.
It will be the centerpiece of a proposed $155 million religious
theme park, called the Ark Encounter, which will include other
biblical icons like the Tower of Babel.
It's an expansion of the ministry's first major public
attraction, the Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and has
attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible
as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the
earth was created about 6,000 years ago.
Threat to Letterman on Muslim forum
NEW YORK (AP) - A frequent contributor to a jihadist website has
threatened David Letterman, urging Muslims to "cut the tongue" of
the late-night host because of a joke the comic made on his CBS
The Site Monitoring Service, a private intelligence organization
that watches online activity, said Wednesday that the threat was
posted a day earlier on a popular website for radical Muslims.
The contributor, who identified himself as Umar al-Basrawi, said
Letterman "put his hand on his neck and demonstrated the way of
slaughter" after the U.S. military announced on June 5 that a
drone strike in Pakistan had killed an al Qaida leader.
Vanderbilt includes pagan holidays in calendar
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Pagan and Wiccan holy days, which follow
the changing seasons, are now included among Vanderbilt
University's list of religious holy days alongside other religious
events like Ramadan and Passover.
University officials say the holy days are not part of the
academic calendar, but students may ask faculty for accommodations
due to their religious beliefs. The Tennessean reports that the
pagan days were included in a calendar sent to faculty by the
Office of Religious Life.
Elizabeth Latt, a university spokeswoman, said the pagan and
Wiccan holidays were added last year and the dates are based on an
international calendar of holy days, which also includes guidance
on which days restrict work or labor due to religious tradition.
Only Christmas and Christmas Eve are paid university holidays.
Barbershop closed amid animal sacrifice allegations
NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (AP) - A Massachusetts barbershop has been
closed after New Bedford city officials found evidence of
ritualistic animal sacrifice at the site.
The owner said the shutdown violates his religious rights.
Animal control officers removed two chickens and four roosters,
one dead, from the shop's basement Tuesday, after fire and building
inspectors found the birds during a routine safety inspection.
Emanuel Maciel, the animal control officer, said the chickens
and roosters were kept in two pens next to a religious altar of
candles, saint statues and hand-drawn religious symbols.
The barbershop's owner, William Camacho, faces animal cruelty
Camacho said he practices Palo Mayombe, an Afro-Caribbean
religion. He said he does not sacrifice animals at the barbershop
but only at religious ceremonies in rural settings.
School district won't sell land to religious groups
DRAPER, Utah (AP) - A Utah school district won't be selling land
next to a new high school to either the Mormon church or the
religious group Summum.
The Canyons School Board met behind closed doors Tuesday to
discuss offers from both groups.
A school district spokeswoman said the town of Draper is growing
quickly and the district wants to save the space for future
expansion. The school is set to open in fall 2013.
The school's site plan had labeled a one-acre plot next to the
campus for a seminary. District officials said the Mormon church
had planned to use it for released-time religious instruction.
Summum is a religious organization that practices meditation and
Vatican releases internal files on alleged abuser
VATICAN CITY (AP) - The Vatican has released internal files
about a priest who was removed from the priesthood in the 1960s
after allegedly molesting minors in the U.S. and Ireland.
The files are part of documentation the Holy See plans to turn
over to U.S. lawyers representing a man who says he was abused by
the late Rev. Andrew Ronan. The man, who has not been identified,
is seeking to hold the Vatican liable for the abuse.
Vatican attorney Jeffrey Lena says the Vatican's own files show
that the Holy See didn't know about the accusations against Ronan
until 1966, after the abuse occurred.
A federal judge in Portland, Ore., ordered the Vatican to
respond to requests for information in the case by Friday, the
first time the Holy See has been forced to turn over documents in a
sex abuse case.
CANADA IMAM-SEX ASSAULT
Iman charged with sexual assault
TORONTO (AP) - Canadian police have charged an imam at a Toronto
mosque with 13 counts of sexual assault and say there may be more
victims in other countries.
Detective Karen Armstrong says Mohammad Masroor abused his
position of authority when he taught the Quran to students at the
Baitul Mukarram Islamic Society and in private homes in Toronto.
She says the charges involve five victims, both male and female.
Armstrong says the 48-year-old Masroor arrived in Canada in
2008, but also worked and lived in France, Germany, Bangladesh,
Hungary, Singapore, Sri Lanka and most recently in Florida and
Armstrong says they're asking the public to assist in finding
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)