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Santorum Questions President Obama's Christian Values; Weekend Churches and Public Schools; Pastor's Daughter Shot at Church Has Died; Megachurch Divorce Drama; Two Americans to Be Canonized by Pope

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SANTORUM-OBAMA

Santorum questions Obama's Christian values

STERLING, Va. (AP) - Rick Santorum says he questions President

Barack Obama's world view, but not whether he's a Christian.

Speaking to evangelical voters in Ohio Saturday, the Republican

presidential candidate said the president's agenda is based on what

he described as "some phony theology. Not a theology based on the

Bible."

Asked to explain those remarks on CBS "Face the Nation,"

Santorum said he was referring to a "radical" environmentalist

view that puts the needs of the Earth above the needs of people.

Santorum insisted that he "accepts the fact that the president's a

Christian."

Robert Gibbs, an adviser to Obama's re-election campaign, said

on ABC's "This Week" that candidates should be able to discuss

the issues without questioning each other's "faith and

character."

 

CHURCH SCHOOL SPACE

Uncertainty after ruling in NY school worship case

NEW YORK (AP) - The legal uncertainty continues for dozens of

New York City religious congregations that had long rented public

schools for Sunday worship.

Last Thursday, federal Judge Loretta Preska issued a ten-day

restraining order blocking the city from enforcing its new ban on

worship in schools. But on Friday, a federal appeals court said

Preska's order only applied to the Bronx Household of Faith - the

plaintiff in the case - and not to some 60 other congregations that

rented school space on Sundays.

City Councilman Fernando Cabrera's office says that left some

churches with no place to worship yesterday, including one

congregation that scheduled worship on the sidewalk outside the

Manhattan school where it used to meet.

While the churches await Preska's final ruling on the city

policy, Cabrera urged New York's state Assembly to approve a

Senate-passed bill that would give worshippers the same access to

public schools as other outside groups.

 

ACCIDENTAL SHOOTING-CHURCH

Woman, 20, dies after freak Fla. church shooting

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - Authorities say a Florida pastor's

daughter who was accidentally shot in the head in church has died.

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office says 20-year-old Hannah

Kelley was pronounced dead Saturday at Bayfront Medical Center.

Kelley had been hospitalized since Feb. 12, when she was struck

in the head by a bullet at Grace Connection Church in St.

Petersburg, where her father Tim Kelley is pastor.

Investigators have said Moises Zambrana was showing his gun in a

small closet to another church member interested in buying a

firearm. The St. Petersburg Times reports that the other church

member, Dustin Bueller, was Hannah Kelley's fiancDee.

Zambrana reportedly removed the magazine from the Ruger 9mm

weapon but did not know that a round was still in the chamber. The

gun went off, firing a bullet through a wall. Kelley was struck in

the head.

The sheriff's office said detectives were still investigating

the shooting. No charges have been filed.

 

GEORGIA MEGACHURCH-PASTOR

Wife of megachurch pastor calls off divorce

ATLANTA (AP) - A judge has dismissed the divorce petition filed

by the wife of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church Bishop Eddie

Long.

Vanessa Long filed for divorce in December after 21 years of

marriage.

Days later, Bishop Long told his Atlanta-area congregation that

he was taking time away from the pulpit to focus on his family.

He has since returned, and county records show the divorce

petition was dismissed last week.

News of the divorce came more than a year after allegations that

Long used his lavish lifestyle and position of spiritual authority

to lure four young men into sexual relationships.

Bishop Long settled the cases but has never admitted to any

wrongdoing, and details of the settlements were not disclosed.

 

VATICAN-NEW SAINTS

Pope sets Oct. 21 to make US saints

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI has set Oct. 21 as the

date to canonize two U.S. saints: Kateri Tekakwitha, a Mohawk

Indian who spent most of her life in what is now upstate New York,

and Mother Marianne Cope, who began religious life in the same area

but moved to Hawaii to care for leprosy patients.

Benedict had already approved miracles attributed to the two,

the final step toward sainthood.

At the end of a ceremony Saturday to make 22 new cardinals -

including New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan - Benedict announced

the date for canonization of the two women and five others.

Dolan marveled that his first official act as a cardinal was to

formally OK the New York-area saints. He quipped: "As grateful as

I am for being a cardinal, I really want to be a saint."

 

 

 

VATICAN-CARDINALS

Pope leads new cardinals in Mass

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Sounding hoarse and looking tired, Pope

Benedict XVI has led 22 new "princes" of the church at Mass in

St. Peter's Basilica a day after installing them as cardinals.

Many of the men who sat before the pope Sunday will likely vote

in secret conclave for Benedict's successor after his death.

Benedict, who turns 85 in April, read a long homily in a hoarse

voice and appeared weary on the third day of public rituals for the

new cardinals. Benedict told the 22 new members of the College of

Cardinals their main task is to "bear witness to the joy of

love."

The Vatican has seen months of intrigue involving alleged

corruption and apparent jockeying for power within the hierarchy.

 

IRELAND-CATHOLIC ABUSE

New Irish envoy: Pope consistent on stopping abuse

DUBLIN (AP) - The Vatican's new American envoy to Ireland says

Pope Benedict XVI has been "relentless and consistent" in seeking

to oust child abusers from the priesthood worldwide.

Archbishop Charles Brown spoke Sunday at his first public Mass

following his arrival in Ireland, a traditionally Catholic land

rattled by nearly two decades of pedophile-priest scandals.

The 52-year-old Brown, a Manhattan native, has never been a

Vatican diplomat before.

He spent a decade working alongside today's pope inside the

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. That powerful Vatican

body enforces church policies, including the removal of pedophiles

from the priesthood.

Ireland accuses the Vatican of undermining several state-ordered

probes into the church's cover-up of abuse crimes.

 

JEREMY LIN-PASTOR

Jeremy Lin's pastor discusses Knicks star's faith

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) - Jeremy Lin's pastor says the New

York Knicks basketball star's faith is genuine.

The Rev. Stephen Chen is pastor of the Chinese Church in Christ

of Mountain View, Calif.

He says Lin is humble, "loves the gospel," and loves sharing

it with others.

Lin is the NBA's first American-born player of Chinese or

Taiwanese descent. He has captivated fans by leading the Knicks to

victory in eight of their last nine games. On Sunday, he had 28

points and a career-high 14 assists in a 104-97 victory over the

Dallas Mavericks.

The Rev. Chen says Lin is a "fine young man" who understands

that "the most important thing is that he honors God."

He adds that Lin is considering working in ministry after his

playing days are over.

 

 

 

NYPD INTELLIGENCE

Muslim students across Northeast monitored by NYPD

NEW YORK (AP) - The Associated Press has learned that the New

York Police Department monitored Muslim college students at schools

far beyond city limits, including Yale and the University of

Pennsylvania.

Police talked with local authorities about professors 300 miles

away in Buffalo. The department even sent an undercover agent on a

whitewater rafting trip, where he recorded students' names and

noted in police intelligence files how many times they prayed.

Detectives trawled Muslim student websites every day and,

although professors and students hadn't been accused of wrongdoing,

their names were recorded in reports prepared for Police

Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

Asked about the monitoring, police spokesman Paul Browne

provided a list of 12 people arrested or convicted on terrorism

charges in the United States and abroad who had once been members

of Muslim student associations.

 

 

 

PRAYER BANNER-SCHOLARSHIP

Atheists raise $40K for student in RI prayer flap

CRANSTON, R.I. (AP) - A national association that says there's

no proof for the existence of God is managing a scholarship fund

set up for a teenage atheist at the center of a dispute over a

prayer banner at a Rhode Island school.

The American Humanist Association says 16-year-old Jessica

Ahlquist was targeted with online threats after she challenged the

constitutionality of the display at Cranston High School West. It

says she stood up against her critics "with class and style."

A federal judge last month ordered the banner removed. A school

committee on Thursday decided not to appeal.

Blogger Hemant Mehta started a campaign at the Friendly Atheist

website to raise money for Ahlquist.

The Friendly Atheist says it has brought in more than $40,000 so

far.

 

 

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

 

AP-NY-02-20-12 0333EST

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