Sunday Worship at Public Schools; Too Much Pasta for Cardinal Designate; Hong Kong Cardinal


Democrats protest religious freedom hearing

WASHINGTON (AP) - Religious leaders and scholars have told a

House panel they'd rather go to jail than comply with President

Obama's mandate that employers provide free contraceptive coverage.

The Rev. Matthew Harrison, president of the Lutheran Church

Missouri Synod, said "We must obey God rather than men, and we


Bishop William Lori said Catholic institutions would

not violate their faith, and a Baptist college professor said he'd

share a jail cell with his colleagues if necessary.

Cong. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., scolded the panel for testimony he

condemned as shameful political exaggeration.

But Rabbi Meir Soloveichik (soh-loh-VY'-chihk) said he had to

"speak up" because conscience rights are being threatened.

Dr. Laura Champion of Calvin College, one of two women to

testify, said treating pregnancy as if it's a disease is something

she rejects "both religiously and medically,"





Judge permits Bronx church to meet at NYC school

NEW YORK (AP) - A federal judge has temporarily blocked New York

City from banishing worship from its public schools.

The city had told dozens of congregations that this past Sunday

would be the last time they could rent schools for worship

services, but federal Judge Loretta Preska has issued a temporary

restraining order covering the next two Sundays.

Preska found that the Bronx Household of Faith was likely to win

its challenge to the city regulation on the grounds that it

violates the First Amendment assurance that Congress shall make no

law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free

exercise thereof.

Bronx Household of Faith Pastor Jack Roberts said he was

"elated" with the judge's ruling.

But city attorney Jonathan Pines said he would appeal to the 2nd

U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan.





Cranston votes not to appeal prayer banner case

CRANSTON, R.I. (AP) - A Rhode Island public school district

committee has voted not to appeal a federal court decision ordering

the removal of a prayer banner displayed in a high school


The Cranston School Committee voted 5-2 Thursday night, after

more than two hours of public hearings.

A federal judge last month ruled the prayer banner at Cranston

High School West was unconstitutional and ordered it removed in a

lawsuit filed on behalf of 16-year-old atheist Jessica Ahlquist.

Ahlquist is a junior at the school.

The legal battle over the banner made Ahlquist the target of

online threats. She was also briefly shadowed by a police officer

at school.

The banner was put up in 1963. It has been covered since the

court ruling.

Lawyers for Ahlquist are asking the court to order Cranston to

pay $173,000 for legal fees.



NY archbishop jokes about red cardinal vestments

VATICAN CITY (AP) - New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, one of 22

men who will be elevated to the rank of cardinal Saturday, says the

Vatican's tailors may have to let out his new red cassock after all

the pasta he's been eating.

He also jokes that he's reluctant to wear the red socks that

complete his new wardrobe, lest he be considered a Red Sox fan.

Vatican analyst Father John Wauck says cardinals "wear red as a

symbol of their willingness to shed their blood" for the church.

He says the cardinals serve as advisors to the pope and will

someday vote on who should be the next pope.






AP Interview: Cardinal wants to be bridge to China

ROME (AP) - Hong Kong's cardinal-designate says he wants to

"keep the door open" between the Vatican and the Chinese

government, but acknowledges that there are "lots of battles"

ahead for the Catholic church.

Bishop John Tong, who will be elevated to cardinal this weekend,

says he wants to maintain dialogue and friendships without

renouncing principles, so that he can be "a bridge" for the

church in China.

Beijing severed ties with the Vatican in 1951 after the

Communist party took power and established a state-controlled

catholic church outside the pope's authority.



KC bishop seeks dismissal of criminal charges

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Attorneys for the Roman Catholic bishop

of Kansas City-St. Joseph have asked a court to dismiss charges

against him for allegedly failing to report suspected child abuse

by a priest, arguing that the church delegated such reporting

responsibilities to another diocese official and that the charge

therefore couldn't apply to the bishop.

Bishop Robert Finn and the diocese were charged in October with

failing to report suspected child abuse. Prosecutors contend that

he and other church officials knew about pornographic photos of

children allegedly found on the computer of the Rev. Shawn Ratigan

five months before they contacted police.

Ratigan has pleaded not guilty to dozens of state and federal

child pornography charges and remains behind bars.

Finn is the highest-ranking U.S. Catholic official to face

criminal charges related to how the church handles child sexual

abuse claims against priests.



Santorum to deliver church address in Georgia

ATLANTA (AP) - Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum

will speak at a Georgia church on Sunday in advance of the state's

March 6 primary.

Santorum will offer the keynote address at the "God and

Country" rally at First Redeemer Church in Cumming.

A recent Georgia poll found the former Pennsylvania senator

trailing Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney in the state.

But Santorum has surged nationally in recent weeks, pulling off

a trio of wins in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri. He also

narrowly won the leadoff caucus state of Iowa.

With 76 delegates, Georgia is the biggest prize on Super




Nigerian underwear bomber gets life in prison

DETROIT (AP) - A Nigerian Muslim who tried to blow up an

international flight near Detroit on behalf of al-Qaida has been

sentenced to life in prison without parole.

The mandatory punishment Thursday for Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab

(ahb-DOOL'-moo-TAH'-lahb) was never in doubt after he pleaded

guilty in October. The 25-year-old says the bomb in his underwear

was a "blessed weapon" to avenge poorly treated Muslims


The bomb didn't fully detonate aboard an Amsterdam-to-Detroit

flight but caused a brief fire that burned Abdulmutallab.

He admitted afterward that the attack was inspired by Anwar

al-Awlaki (ahn-WAHR' al-aw-LAH'-kee), a radical American-born

cleric and leading al-Qaida figure killed by a U.S. drone strike

last fall.

The sentence was announced in a crowded courtroom that included

some passengers from the targeted flight.



(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


AP-NY-02-17-12 0335EST


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