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Priest on Trial; Franciscan Files; Church Closings; Lawsuit over Prayers

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PRIEST ABUSE-TRIAL

Monsignor: Cardinal wanted accusers kept in dark

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A Roman Catholic church official testifying

in his own defense says Philadelphia's late Cardinal Anthony

Bevilacqua ordered staff to keep alleged victims of priest sexual

abuse in the dark about other accusers.

Monsignor William Lynn also said Bevilacqua wouldn't let

parishes announce the real reason an accused priest was being

removed.

There's been testimony that parishioners were often told their

priest had health problems when he left for sex-offender treatment.

Lynn said that "mental health" can be a health condition.

That led Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington to ask

if Lynn remembers the religious teaching on sins of omission.

Lynn, the former secretary for clergy, endured a blistering

cross-examination Wednesday as he fights child-endangerment and

conspiracy charges over his handling of complaints that priests

were molesting children.

 

 

 

 

PRIEST-CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

Suspended priest pleads guilty in child porn case

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A suspended Roman Catholic priest has pleaded

guilty to possessing and receiving countless images of child

pornography on his computer and now faces at least five years in

federal prison.

63-year-old Bartley Sorensen was a priest at a suburban

Pittsburgh parish in December when a church employee saw him

viewing a picture of a half-naked boy in his rectory office.

When she contacted a church abuse hotline, Allegheny County

detectives and the FBI eventually investigated and found thousands

of child pornography images on CDs, DVDs and in books in Sorensen's

church residence.

A federal judge will sentence Sorensen on Sept. 13 but because

he faces a mandatory minimum five-year sentence, the judge revoked

his bond and turned him over to U.S. Marshals.

 

CALIFORNIA CHURCH ABUSE

Franciscan files tell abuse story

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Thousands of pages of confidential files for

nine Franciscan friars accused of molestation detail systemic abuse

within the Roman Catholic religious order dating back decades.

The files and sworn testimony paint a picture of abuse at St.

Anthony's, a Santa Barbara, Calif., boarding school that trained

future Franciscan priests and brothers. They reveal a pervasive

culture of abuse that affected generations of students.

St. Anthony's closed in 1987, just a few years before the first

of the former students began to come forward with their

allegations.

The files were to be released as part of a $28 million

settlement in 2006, but disclosure was delayed six years in a legal

battle over the priests' privacy rights. The Franciscans say the

files contain no new information about crimes first reported in the

1990s.

 

 

 

CHURCH CLOSINGS

Parishioners act to speed up Ohio church reopening

CLEVELAND (AP) - Parishioners of one of 12 northeast Ohio

churches spared by the Vatican have appealed to Rome to speed up

the reopening by the Cleveland bishop.

Members of St. Patrick Catholic Church in Cleveland said the

appeal was filed Wednesday with the church office that ordered

Bishop Richard Lennon in March to reopen the churches. The bishop

agreed to abide by the directive.

The churches were among 50 in the Cleveland Diocese closed or

merged because of a shortage of priests, parishioners and money.

The St. Patrick's group wants the Vatican to expedite the

reopening if it hasn't occurred within 15 days.

Spokesman Bob Tayek says the diocese is making progress on the

reopenings. He says the bishop has been meeting with affected

parishioners on issues including legally re-establishing parishes.

 

NAACP-GAY MARRIAGE-IOWA

Iowa-Nebraska NAACP leader can't back gay marriage

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The president of the Iowa and Nebraska

conference of NAACP branches says he's struggling with the group's

national board resolution to support same-sex marriage.

The Rev. Keith Ratliff Sr. told The Des Moines Register that

Saturday's endorsement has made him uncertain about his future

membership and leadership in the group. He said he's "praying over

the matter."

Ratliff is one of 64 members of the national board of directors

for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Ratliff, of Maple Street Missionary Baptist Church in Des

Moines, has long opposed same-sex marriage. He told the newspaper,

"Marriage equality, for me, is between a man and a woman, period.

There is no other definition for me."

 

ELDERLY CHURCH GUARD KILLED

Teens charged in slaying of Mich. church guard, 84

DETROIT (AP) - Two Detroit teenagers have been arraigned on

second-degree murder charges in the slaying of an 84-year-old

security guard, who was shot in the parking lot of a church while

Bible study was taking place inside.

Alandre Boone, who is 18, and 15-year-old Anthony Williams have

been charged as adults in Joseph Lewis' death earlier this month.

They also face felony firearm charges. Both were denied bond

Wednesday.

Lewis was sitting in a car the night of May 9 outside Victory

Way Assembly Church of God in Christ when he was attacked. During a

struggle, Lewis was shot to death. Police found Lewis' gun still in

its holster.

Lewis' killing outraged residents, whose tips helped lead

Detroit police to the suspects.

 

LAWSUIT-MEETING PRAYERS

ACLU sues Mo. county over prayers at meetings

WASHINGTON, Mo. (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union wants

Missouri's Franklin County commissioners to stop saying prayers at

meetings, stop letting audience members say prayers and stop asking

everyone to bow their heads.

A lawsuit filed Sunday against the commissioners on behalf of an

anonymous woman claims the prayers at the beginning of meetings

violate both the U.S. and Missouri constitutions.

The Washington Missourian reported the ACLU sent the county a

letter in March asking commissioners to stop the prayers after

someone filed an anonymous complaint with the organization.

After receiving the letter, the commission reverted back to

offering a moment of silence at the beginning of its meetings, but

some citizens have prayed in recent weeks during the public comment

portion of meetings.

 

COMMISSION-PRAYER

Secular group decries Hamilton Commission prayer

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) - A secular group has asked the Hamilton

County Commission in Chattanooga, Tenn., to stop opening its

meetings with prayer.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation's letter to commissioners

said a local person complained about the practice.

The group argues the prayers "flagrantly exceed" constraints

of a 1983 U.S. Supreme Court decision.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported Commission Chairman

Larry Henley asked the county attorney to review the issue.

 

BAPTIST ETHICS

Man leading ethics probe of Baptist leader resigns

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The head of a group investigating

Southern Baptist Convention ethics leader Richard Land has

resigned.

Arkansas pastor Richard Piles said he has taken over as Trustee

Board chairman for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission

after Steve Faith left in order to commit more time to his local

church in Indiana, which is currently without a pastor.

Faith's resignation comes just days before the group is supposed

to release the findings of an investigation into comments by Land,

the commission's president, concerning the case of Trayvon Martin,

an unarmed black teenager who was shot to death in Florida by a

neighborhood watch volunteer.

Land recently issued two separate apologies for the comments he

made March 31 on his weekly radio show. He also apologized for

reading commentary from the Washington Times without attributing it

to the newspaper.

 

AWOL SOLDIER

Jurors hear details of Fort Hood bomb plot search

WACO, Texas (AP) - Explosives experts found evidence of a bomb

in the making - a pressure cooker containing smokeless powder and

other material - in the Texas motel room of a soldier accused of

planning to blow up Fort Hood troops, according to testimony at his

trial.

Prosecutors have said Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo was stopped by

authorities just hours before assembling the bomb. Defense

attorneys have said that no bomb was built and that simply having

the items does not make him guilty of the charges against him.

Abdo, a Muslim soldier who was AWOL from Fort Campbell, Ky., is

accused of planning to detonate a bomb inside a restaurant

frequented by Fort Hood troops and then shoot any survivors.

An FBI agent testified that Abdo told him he planned the attack

to support another Muslim, Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, who is charged in

the 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage that killed 13 and wounded more

than two dozen.

 

OBIT-BROOKINS

AME Church Bishop Hartford Brookins dies at 86

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Hamel Hartford Brookins, a bishop of the

African Methodist Episcopal Church for 30 years and a longtime

civil rights activist, has died in Los Angeles. He was 86.

A church statement says Brookins died Tuesday at his home.

The son of Mississippi sharecroppers, Brookins was minister of a

country church in Arkansas where he became acquainted with future

President Bill Clinton.

Before becoming a bishop, he served 13 years as pastor of First

AME Church of Los Angeles and led the congregation through the

construction of a multimillion-dollar cathedral.

Brookins helped found Jesse Jackson's Operation PUSH and was

involved in the campaigns of Tom Bradley, the first black mayor of

Los Angeles.

 

AMISH ATTACKS

Ohio Amish hair attack suspect loses bond appeal

CLEVELAND (AP) - A suspect in beard- and hair-cutting attacks

against fellow Amish in eastern Ohio has lost his appeal for

pretrial release from jail.

A federal judge in Cleveland ruled Wednesday in the case of

Lester Mullet. A defense lawyer said last month that keeping Mullet

locked up pending trial was a hardship for Mullet's pregnant wife.

Mullet, his father and 14 other members of their family or

community near Steubenville are accused of orchestrating attacks

last fall on other Amish in a church feud. Cutting a man's beard or

a woman's hair is considered highly offensive to the Amish.

Prosecutors opposed Mullet's release on bond, saying he

"joyfully" participated in the attacks and said he would do it

again.

Mullet's father is accused of being the ringleader. All 16 have

pleaded not guilty.

 

VATICAN SCAM

Anne Hathaway's ex to be released from Pa. prison

LORETTO, Pa. (AP) - An Italian ex-boyfriend of actress Anne

Hathaway is about to be released from a Pennsylvania federal prison

following a real-estate scam.

Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesman Chris Burke says Raffaello

Follieri is scheduled to be released Friday.

Follieri pleaded guilty to cheating investors by falsely

claiming he had Vatican connections that enabled him to buy church

property at a discount. He was sentenced in 2008 to 4 1/2 years in

prison.

Follieri agrees he owes more than $3.6 million to those he

ripped off. He used the money to support a playboy lifestyle that

included a $37,000-a-month New York City apartment and lavish

vacations with Hathaway, who dated him for four years.

 

 

 

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

 

AP-NY-05-24-12 0639EDT

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