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Faith & Parish

Judge blocks New Orleans law that prevents preaching in French Quarter

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NEW ORLEANS -- A federal judge has temporarily blocked enforcement of a city law recently used to arrest Christian evangelists preaching on Bourbon Street during Southern Decadence, the annual celebration of gay culture in the French Quarter.

Part of the city's recently enacted "aggressive solicitation" ordinance orders people not to "loiter or congregate on Bourbon Street for the purpose of disseminating any social, political or religious message between the hours of sunset and sunrise."

"That's no longer in effect," American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Justin Harrison said.

U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon granted a temporary restraining order Friday and set a hearing for a preliminary injunction for Oct. 1.

Nine Christian preachers and activists were arrested in one well-publicized incident during the gay-themed celebration. One reportedly held a sign reading "God Hates Homos," and others shouted what witnesses characterized as slurs.

But Harrison said his client, Kelsey McCauley of Kenner, La., had nothing to do with that incident.

Pope names new bishop for Orange, Calif.; New York bishop retires

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WASHINGTON -- Pope Benedict XVI named Bishop Kevin W. Vann of Fort Worth, Texas, 61, to be bishop of Orange, Calif., and accepted the resignation of Bishop Tod D. Brown, 75, who has headed the diocese since 1998.

The pope also accepted the resignation of Bishop Matthew H. Clark of Rochester, N.Y., 75, and named Bishop Robert J. Cunningham of Syracuse, N.Y., 69, as apostolic administrator of the Rochester diocese until a successor to Clark is named and installed.

Survey: Americans overstate size of religious minorities

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The typical American underestimates how many Protestants there are in the U.S., and vastly overestimates the number of religious minorities such as Mormons, Muslims, and atheist/agnostics, according to a new study.

Grey Matter Research and Consulting asked 747 U.S. adults to guess what proportion of the American population belongs to each of eight major religious groups: Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, atheist/agnostic, believe in God or a higher power but have no particular religious preference, and any other religious group.

Chaput in Philly swims against 'nostalgia and red ink'

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Charles Chaput, whose blunt speech and strong leadership style made him both a celebrated and a controversial figure for almost fifteen years in Denver, was installed as the ninth Archbishop of Philadelphia on September 8, 2011. To say the very least, he’s had a tumultuous first year on the job.

The very day Chaput arrived, he was informed that the archdiocese’s chief financial officer, Anita Guzzardi, had been suspended. She would later plead guilty to embezzling almost $1 million over a decade, to support a gambling addiction. The experience hinted at two constants Chaput has faced -- scandal and red ink.

Questions hang over Cleveland parish's status

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The Cleveland diocese's website lists St. Margaret Mary Parish of South Euclid, Ohio, as having merged with St. Gregory the Great Parish to become Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish. As such, it is one of the many mergers that have been part of the downsizing of the diocese during the past five years.

But another page of the site lists St. Margaret Mary as one of the parish closings that is "under appeal to the Vatican." The description, on a page headed "Summary of Closed Parish Cash Receipts and Disbursements," continues: "No disposition or other activities will occur until the appeal has been completely addressed by the Vatican."

The discrepancy probably would have gone unnoticed, or chalked up to clerical error, except for the persistent questions that began to gnaw at Michael Gronick and his mother, Patricia, a lifelong member of the parish, questions that only became compounded with more questions as they approached local and Vatican church officials for answers.

Detroit church sponsors gun buyback to stem city's violence

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With the aim of stemming continued gun violence in Detroit, St. Cecilia Catholic Church sponsored a Detroit Police Department gun buyback Aug. 30.

Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Donald Hanchon and Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee volunteered at the event that saw 365 guns, including six assault weapons and a handful of sawed-off shotguns, turned in and $16,820 handed out.

Philadelphia breaks new ground on managing Catholic schools

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In a major break from traditional Catholic school models, the Philadelphia archdiocese has turned over management of its high schools and special-needs elementary schools to a lay-run private foundation for at least the next five years.

The move, which does not change the Catholic character of the schools, affects some 16,000 students in the archdiocese.

Washington churches told not to collect funds for gay marriage fight

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SPOKANE, Wash. -- Churches in Washington state are being reminded that collecting money for a political cause is not OK -- including a high-stakes ballot battle over gay marriage.

The state's Public Disclosure Commission recently learned that Roman Catholic Bishop Joseph Tyson of Yakima sent a letter to pastors in 41 parishes asking them to take up a special collection for Preserve Marriage Washington, the group that is trying to overturn the state's same-sex marriage law.

A formal complaint, however, was not filed. Lori Anderson, communication and training officer for the state commission, said the reminder was merely precautionary.

"There's been no formal action. There's no story here. Preserve Marriage Washington and our partners have done everything within full compliance of the law," said PMW Deputy Campaign Director Chris Plante.

Anderson explained that any organization -- religious or not -- cannot serve as an intermediary for a contribution, though it can freely promote a campaign.

Experts focus on lay boards' emerging role in Catholic education

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SAN FRANCISCO -- As religious communities in the U.S. and Canada hand over to lay boards the leadership of their Catholic schools, these boards are being called to exercise far more than traditional fiduciary responsibilities. They are now key planners for an educational future that remains faithful to a school's primary mission while adapting to the needs of 21st-century students.

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September 12-25, 2014

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