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New Archbishop Takes over Trouble Philadelphia Archdiocese; Religious Leaders Begin the Fight To Save Funding for Poor; New Bishop for Savannah; Pastor's Son Shot

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WASHINGTON (AP) - The White House is backing a bill that would
repeal a 15-year-old law that defines marriage as between a man and
a woman.
      The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold its first hearing on
the legislation Wednesday. The bill, which is sponsored by
California's Dianne Feinstein, would repeal the Defense of Marriage
Act, often referred to as DOMA. The law makes same-sex couples
ineligible for the many federal benefits that accrue to married,
heterosexual couples.
      White House Press Secretary Jay Carney repeated President Barack
Obama's support for repealing DOMA.
      Feinstein said she's under no illusion that Congress will act
this year on a repeal. Still, she views the committee hearing as an
important first step. She said more people are open to gay marriage
than in 1996.
      DOMA passed both chambers of Congress by overwhelming margins
and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. In February, the
Obama administration announced it would no longer defend the
constitutionality of the act in court cases.

 

DEBT SHOWDOWN-CHRISTIANS
      Christian leaders urge Calif. delegation to oppose cuts
affecting poor

      LOS ANGELES (AP) - The California delegation in Congress is
being urged by a group of Christian leaders not to go along with
cuts to programs benefiting the poor and hungry.
      At a Los Angeles news conference organized by Bread for the
World, religious leaders said cuts being considered in Washington
would have a severe impact on the most vulnerable Californians.
      A Bread for the World official says more than 3.2 million people
in California received food assistance last year.

 

VATICAN-PHILADELPHIA ARCHBISHOP
      Pope assigns archbishop to troubled Philadelphia diocese

      PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A conservative American Indian archbishop
has been named to lead the troubled Roman Catholic church in
Philadelphia.
      Archbishop Charles Chaput vowed to work to heal the
wounds of sex-abuse victims, clergy and lay members alike. Chaput,
from Denver, takes over an archdiocese of nearly 1.5 million
Catholics that's been rocked by two grand jury reports that accuse
the church of hiding sex-abuse complaints for decades.
      Outgoing Archbishop Justin Rigali, a longtime Vatican official
who was expected to land a job in Rome, will instead retire to
Tennessee after eight turbulent years leading the archdiocese. The
grand jury excoriated Rigali and his predecessor, Anthony
Bevilacqua, finding they protected church
interests over those of victims.
      A Philadelphia monsignor is fighting unprecedented
child-endangerment charges for allegedly transferring problem
priests to new parishes without warning, while three priest
co-defendants in the case are charged with rape.

SAVANNAH BISHOP
      Pope names new bishop for Savannah diocese

      SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) - Pope Benedict has chosen a suburban Atlanta
priest to be the new bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of
Savannah, which governs parishes in 90 south Georgia counties.
      The diocese announced that the Rev. Gregory John Hartmayer will
succeed Bishop J. Kevin Boland, who is retiring after 52 years in
the priesthood.
      Hartmayer is pastor of St. John Vianney Parish in Lithia
Springs. The 59-year-old priest is a native of Buffalo, N.Y. His
ordination as bishop is scheduled for Oct. 18 in Savannah.

GEORGIA MEGACHURCH-NEW CAMPUS
      Ga. megachurch to open another campus

      ATLANTA (AP) - Leaders of a Georgia megachurch say they will
open another campus in fast-growing Gwinnett County, in suburban
Atlanta.
      Officials with Alpharetta-based North Point Ministries hosted a
webcast to discuss plans for Gwinnett Church.
      They said they plan to launch Gwinnett Church on Oct. 2 and meet
on Sunday evenings in the Gwinnett Center until their new building
can be constructed. They said the new facility will be built in the
Sugar Hill area of northern Gwinnett County. North Point, one of
the nation's largest Christian organizations, has members who now
meet at several campuses.
      North Point Ministries is led by Andy Stanley, the son of
Charles F. Stanley, who is the senior pastor at First Baptist
Church Atlanta.

SMALL PLANE CRASH
      3 killed in Idaho plane crash were building church

      GRACE, Idaho (AP) - Authorities say three people killed in a
plane crash on Monday in southeastern Idaho were returning from a
small Wyoming town where they were helping build a church.
      Caribou County Sheriff Ric Anderson says the victims, near
Grace, Idaho, were 35-year-old Kacey Crane of Grace along with
46-year-old pilot Norman Gunderson and his 16-year-old son, Isaac,
both from Menan.
      The trio was returning from Star Valley, Wyo., near the Idaho
border.

EX-PASTOR DIES-SEX CHARGES
      Ex-NY pastor in prison on sex charges dies

      CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (AP) - The former pastor of a Long Island,
New York, church who claimed he was the Archangel Gabriel to lure
young victims into sex has died in prison.
      John Gargano was convicted in 1991 of sexual abuse and sodomy.
His wife, Lori, said he died Saturday at Mount Vernon Hospital. He
was 87.
      Gargano served eight years as pastor of the now-defunct Eternal
Tabernacle Church in Central Islip.

PASTOR'S SON SHOT
      Son of Baptist Convention president shot in SC

      CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Authorities say the son of the president
of the South Carolina Baptist Convention was found shot to death in
Charleston.
      Officials say Brian Eliot Holmes of North Charleston died of a
single gunshot wound. His body was found about 3 a.m. Monday in a
car in a low-income neighborhood.
      Holmes was the son of Sonny Holmes, pastor of Northwoods Baptist
Church, in North Charleston. The elder Holmes is serving a one-year
term as president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention. The
convention's Web site says about 1,800 churches statewide are
members.
      Police said they found the younger Holmes after receiving a call
about a traffic accident.

INDIANA CHURCH FIRE
      Lightning ruled cause of deadly Ind. church fire

      MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) - Investigators have determined that a
lightning strike caused the fire last month that destroyed much of
a central Indiana church and killed a firefighter who was battling
the blaze.
      Muncie Fire Chief Sean Burcham says the state fire marshal's
office reached that conclusion after investigating the June 15
blaze at the Tabernacle of Praise church. The Star Press reports
that investigators found that lightning struck the sanctuary.
      A thunderstorm with lightning crossed the Muncie area several
hours before the afternoon fire was reported. The fire roared
through the church and collapsed the sanctuary roof.

HINDU-MEAT LAWSUIT
      Hindus can sue NJ restaurant over meat

      EDISON, N.J. (AP) - A group of Hindus can sue a New Jersey
restaurant that served them meat even though they are vegetarians.
      An appeals court reinstated their lawsuit, saying they can seek
money from Moghul Express to travel to India to perform a
purification ritual in the Ganges River. A lower court had
dismissed the suit.
      The restaurant admitted it accidentally served the group a meat
dish during an India Day celebration in 2009. The appeals court
says the group can pursue a breach of express warranty suit.
      But a member of the Indo-American Cultural Society in Edison
told The Star-Ledger of Newark the suit should be dismissed. He
says the group can go to a local temple to seek forgiveness for
unknowingly doing something.

AUSTRALIA-MAN WHIPPED
      Prosecutor: Sydney man whipped in religious attack

      SYDNEY (AP) - An Australian prosecutor says four men broke into
a Sydney man's home, held him down on his bed and whipped him 40
times with a cable as a religious punishment. The attack happened
Sunday.
      One of the four appeared in court to face charges of committing
an indictable offense.
      A police prosecutor says the victim was targeted for doing
"something against Islam."

     
      (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)
     
AP-NY-07-20-11 0334EDT

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