Update on the latest in religion news:


Associated Press

Posted on April 6, 2010 at 8:05 AM


Archbishop of Canterbury says churches must show honesty in face of sex-abuse scandals

LONDON (AP) — The leader of the world's Anglicans says Christian churches can only survive sex-abuse scandals with honesty and truthfulness.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said in an interview broadcast Monday that churches have to change their "default setting" of covering up anything that could harm the institution's credibility. He said honesty and truthfulness are the only way the church can survive.

The Catholic Church has been rocked by claims that church leaders in several countries protected child abusers for decades. Catholic leaders have criticized Williams' claim in the interview that the Catholic Church in Ireland has lost its credibility because of its mishandling of abuse by priests. Williams says he didn't mean to criticize the Catholic Church.


Vatican: Cooperated with extraditing Indian priest

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican says it has cooperated with U.S. law enforcement officials working to extradite an Indian priest charged with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in Minnesota.

In a statement to The Associated Press, Vatican attorney Jeffrey Lena says the Holy See had handed over the Rev. Joseph Jeyapaul's (JAY'-uh-pahlz) address in India. But Jeyapaul told the AP yesterday that he is innocent and has no plans to return to the U.S. to face charges filed in 2007. He had returned to India at the time.

Lena says the Vatican had recommended Jeyapaul be defrocked, because it believed the charges were serious enough, but that his local bishop in India refused.

Jeff Anderson, an attorney for the victim, says the Vatican was warned by a Minnesota bishop more than four years ago about the priest, who remains working at a diocese in India.


<<CUT …196 (04/05/10)>> 00:19 "horrific and criminal"

Jeff Anderson, lawyer for accuser of Reverence Joseph Jeyapaul (JAY'-uh-pawl)

Lawyer Jeff Anderson says the Vatican's silence is a crime.

<<CUT …195 (04/05/10)>> 00:10 "keep it secret"

Jeff Anderson, lawyer for accuser of the Reverend Joseph Jeyapaul (JAY'-uh-pawl)

Lawyer Jeff Anderson says the church has made clear it has no interest in investigating allegations of sexual abuse.

<<CUT …194 (04/05/10)>> 00:16 "there's no scandal"

Michael Finnegan, lawyer for accuser of the Reverend Joseph Jeyapaul (JAY'-uh-pawl)

Lawyer Michael Finnegan says a priest who allegedly sexually assaulted a 14-year old in Minnesota remains at work in India.


157-year-old Cleveland church closes

CLEVELAND (AP) — A 157-year-old Cleveland church has closed.

The final Mass at St. Peter Church, in downtown Cleveland, was celebrated on Easter Sunday by Rev. Robert Marrone. He predicts the shutdown will be remembered as one of the worst decisions by the Cleveland Diocese.

Amid rising anger by parishioners, Bishop Richard Lennon canceled plans for a ceremonial last Mass next Sunday. He has warned the congregation against setting up a renegade church.

The Cleveland diocese is closing or merging 50 parishes, blaming declining numbers of priests, parishioners and finances.


Survey finds church donations off again last year

COLORADO SPRINGS, Co. (AP)— An annual survey finds that about 40 percent of U.S. churches had a decline in donations last year.

The report, by Maximum Generosity and Christianity Today International, says the decline follows a 29 percent slide in 2008.

The research shows about 30 percent of churches reported their collection plates were light in the month of December, when some churches are trying to meet their budgets. Some of the sharpest declines hit megachurches. And about 55 percent of West Coast churches fell behind in donations.

Maximum Generosity founder Brian Kluth says churches are being affected by the recession and unemployment. But Kluth says churches are responding with increased benevolence. About 31 percent are offering more assistance to their members.


<<CUT …336 (04/05/10)>> 00:10 "in the community"

Bian Kluth

Maximum Generosity founder Brian Kluth says some churches are increasing their benevollence.

<<CUT …335 (04/05/10)>> 00:10 "with church giving"

Bian Kluth

Maximum Generosity founder Brian Kluth says the recession hsa been hitting church collections.

<<CUT …334 (04/05/10)>> 00:09 "2-year drop"

Bian Kluth

Maximum Generosity founder Brian Kluth says last year's decline in donations followed a 29 percent drop in 2008.


Clergy group calls for immigration reform

ATLANTA (AP) — A black clergy group is calling on lawmakers to pass comprehensive immigration reform as soon as possible.

Concerned Black Clergy of Atlanta held a rally and prayer vigil yesterday in front of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Atlanta office.

About two dozen people attended the rally to call for a moratorium on deportations and the passage of a comprehensive immigration reform law.


Muslim civil rights group urges lawmaker to denounce hateful comments

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization says Republican leaders should demand that North Carolina Congresswoman Sue Myrick withdraw her support of a group called ACT! for America.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) says an Orlando official of ACT! for America brags in an online video that he desecrates the Quran and urinates in Muslim ceremonial washing stations.

CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper says ACT! for America is sending a hate message and that any elected official who endorses the group also approves its messages.


<<CUT …333 (04/05/10)>> 00:11 "of hate mongering"

Ibrahim Hooper

CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper says public officials should distance themselves from such rhetoric.

<<CUT …332 (04/05/10)>> 00:20 "before prayer"

Ibrahim Hooper

CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper says elected officials should denounce hate-filled comments.


President to host Easter Prayer Breakfast

WASHINGTON (AP)— Christian leaders from across the country will join President Barack Obama for an Easter Prayer Breakfast at the White House.

According to the White House, Obama will highlight the role that Christian organizations play in helping the nation.

His remarks will be streamed on www.whitehouse.gov/live.


Ill Nigerian president meets Christian leaders

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria's ill and long unseen president has met with Christian religious leaders.

The brief meeting happened yesterday. A pastor who took part in the visit at the presidential palace in Abuja says President Umaru Yar'Adua was weak but was "able to grunt out an amen."

Pastor Emmanuel Kure of the Throneroom Trust Ministry said he and three other Christian leaders led a prayer to God on the behalf of Yar'Adua, a Muslim from the country's Islamic north.

Yar'Adua hasn't been seen publicly since late November, when he left Nigeria for treatment in a Saudi Arabian hospital. He has heart and kidney problems.

The split among Christians and Muslims in Nigeria, a nation of 150 million people, often erupts into periodic violence.


Ohio Christian convert fights to stay in US

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A teenage girl who converted to Christianity and ran away from home is being blocked by her Muslim parents from fighting the possibility of deportation.

The teen's lawyer has asked a judge in Columbus, Ohio, to sign an order stating that reunification with her parents is not possible by her 18th birthday in August. The order would allow Rifqa Bary, who is in foster care, to apply for special immigration status without her parents' consent.

An attorney for her parents objected saying the parents previously filed an immigration application for the whole family.

Bary, who is 17, fled home last year and stayed with a Florida minister whom she met on Facebook. She is an illegal immigrant and does not want to be returned to her native Sri Lanka because she fears being harmed or killed by Muslim extremists.


Judge dismisses wage claims in Scientology lawsuit

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A federal judge in Los Angeles has dismissed part of a lawsuit brought against the Church of Scientology.

It was filed by a woman who alleges she worked 100-hour weeks for almost no pay for years while a member of Scientology's elite inner corps.

Judge Dale Fischer issued a written order late Friday that dismissed the wage claims portion of Claire Headley's lawsuit. The judge did not address two other causes of action: allegations that the church coerces members of the inner corps to get abortions and engages in forced labor.

The church denies all the allegations and has called the plaintiffs liars motivated by greed.