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Seminar a response to "New Age' movement

Published Oct. 12, 2005

(ran RN, RS, RC, RT)

A seminar on the Christian response to the new age movement, led by the Rev. Canon Mark Pearson, will be Nov. 6-7 at St. John's Episcopal Church, 906 S Orleans Ave., Tampa. Canon Pearson, an ordained Episcopal priest, is director of the Institute for Christian Renewal in Erie, Pa. He is the author of two books on healing, Christian Healing and Why Can't I Be Me: Healing for Wounded Personalities. The impetus for the seminar came when the Rev. Richard Kautz of St. John's Episcopal Church heard a tape of Canon Pearson's on the new age movement. Rev. Kautz said the purpose of the seminar is to educate people. "People are looking for spirituality and if the church doesn't provide it, they'll find it somewhere else." Hours for "Renewal: The Christian Response to the New Age" are from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 7. The cost is $15 and includes a box lunch from Wright's Gourmet House. Canon Pearson also will speak at the 9:15 and 11:15 a.m. services at the church on Nov. 8. For information and registration, call the church at 259-1570.

World Community

Day Friday

World Community Day, sponsored by Church Women United, a national Christian ecumenical movement, will be celebrated Friday. This year's message, in response to the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the new world, was written by Native American Christian women. The theme, "Discovering the Sacred Circle," focuses on the connectedness of all things and the restoration of harmony between the earth and its people. Services will be at 10 a.m. at Bethel Community Baptist Chruch, 1045 16th St. S, St. Petersburg, and at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church, 1955 S Belcher Road, Clearwater. Registration at both churches will be at 9:30 a.m. A lunch will follow the service at St. Catherine's church. The speaker will be the Rev. Harry Long of Brighton Indian Reservation. Those attending the lunch are asked to bring a salad to share and table service.

Anti-abortion group

opposes Clinton

WASHINGTON _ With only a handful of days left before the election, Roman Catholic anti-abortion activists are markedly stepping up their efforts to defeat Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton. The effort comes as the volatile issue of abortion has virtually dropped from national attention in the presidential campaign. A recent poll by the Vision Interfaith Satellite Network (VISN), in cooperation with Religious News Service, found that 64 percent of Catholic voters said a candidate's position on abortion was unimportant in determining whom to vote for. But Protect the Children, which describes itself as a Catholic lay and religious movement, is trying to change that with a letter from Mother Teresa. The organization is circulating a letter to the nation's 56,000 Catholic clergy from the nun, renowned for her work with indigent people and a fervent opponent of abortion. Protect the Children is asking priests to read the letter from pulpits on Sunday, two days before the election.

Methodist bishop joins battle on side of ERA

DES MOINES _ United Methodist Bishop Charles Wesley Jordan has issued a pastoral letter to pastors in Iowa asking them to stand against religious conservatives and reaffirm women's rights. "The United Methodist Church is not lukewarm in its stand on this matter," Jordan said in a letter to pastors of the state's 900 United Methodist churches. "Our denominational position is solidly committed to the affirmation of women, with no qualifying statements, no compromise of principles, no hedging," the letter said. Jordan, Methodist leader in the state, issued the letter in the midst of a bitter battle between mainstream Christians and the Religious Right over a proposed state ballot initiative. If adopted, it would add to the state's constitution an Equal Rights Amendment banning discrimination against women. Television evangelist and political activist Pat Robertson is among those attacking the proposal, saying it is "about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."

Baptist homosexual caucus expresses outrage

An American Baptist homosexual caucus says it is outraged and saddened at the denomination's decision to declare homosexual practice "incompatible with Christian teaching." The caucus, American Baptists Concerned for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual People, charged in a prepared statement that the resolution approved Oct. 13 by the church's General Board conflicts with historic Baptist principles that allow room for individual expressions of conscience. The caucus said it plans a "full range of educational and consciousness-raising activities" during the church's biennial meeting scheduled to be held in San Jose, Calif., next June.

Irish bishop who fathered child to do mission work

Roman Catholic Bishop Eamonn Casey, the Irish prelate who last spring admitted to having fathered a son with an American woman, will begin working as a missionary in Ecuador in November, according to reports in Ireland. Casey admitted, after being confronted by the media, that he had had an affair in the 1970s with Annie Murphy of Ridgefield, Conn., and that he fathered a child, Peter, now 17. According to reports in the Irish Independent, Casey went into hiding in the United States shortly after the news broke last May. Since then he has been studying Spanish, according to the reports. Last month in Rome, according to the New York based Irish Voice, Cardinal Cahal Daly of Ireland pleaded with the media to allow Casey "space" to live out the rest of his life. He said the bishop's future would be decided by the pope and the Vatican Congregation for Bishops.

Priests can wear garb

in Massachusetts court

Challenged by a conservative Christian legal watchdog group, authorities in Massachusetts have backed off an attempt to bar Catholic priests from wearing religious garb in court when being tried on charges stemming from anti-abortion protests. Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger announced that his office had switched tactics to prevent the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue from creating "a sideshow" that would "obscure, or deflect attention from the real issue in this case." The attorney general's office had filed a motion asking the court to bar religious garb and to prohibit the Rev. Thomas Carleton and the Rev. Francis Hagerty from being addressed as "father," on grounds that their identification as priests would violate the court's neutrality. The critical issue in the case, Harshbarger said, is not religious freedom but a woman's right to choose to have an abortion and respect for court orders prohibiting the blocking of clinics.

Bush letter to Catholics riles Baptist lawyer

The greeting on the form letter from the Bush-Quayle campaign said, "Dear Fellow Catholic," but it was addressed to a lawyer for the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, a lobbying organization specializing in church-state separation. What might be election-year junk mail to others was an affront to Oliver Thomas, who described the letter as the latest in a string of "questionable" overtures made to churches for partisan political purposes by Republican candidates and the Religious Right. "Maybe I received the letter because I'm an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown," joked Thomas, referring to Georgetown University, a school operated by the Jesuit order of Roman Catholic priests. But Thomas, a Baptist lawyer and ordained minister who is general counsel to the Joint Committee, was anything but amused. He said the incidents he referred to _ including mailings to church leaders by Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition and a brochure by the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue that says "to vote for Bill Clinton is to sin against God" _ constitute a "misuse of religion" for political purposes. The most recent letter and earlier mailings, he said, raise anew the issues addressed by a group of national religious leaders in August. That group, which included Catholics, mainline Protestants and Jews, issued a statement in the form of an open letter to President George Bush, after Bush criticized the Democrats for omitting "three simple letters, G-O-D" from their platform. "No campaign should claim to have God

on its side supporting its candidate, platform or policy agenda; God is neither a Republican nor a Democrat," the letter said.

Morality in Media backs

Time Warner boycott

NEW YORK _ Morality in Media, a media watchdog group based at the Interchurch Center here, has added its name to a growing list of groups that are calling for a national boycott of communications giant Time Warner. Morality in Media said in a statement that it was joining the boycott to protest the publication of celebrity Madonna's new book Sex by Time Warner Books. Robert Peters, president of the organization, said, "A responsible corporation should not be acting to introduce sick, violent pornography into mainstream America at a time when sexual violence has become epidemic." Morality in Media, co-founded by three New York clergymen in 1962, includes in its leadership representatives from Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox and Jewish faith groups. In endorsing the boycott against Time Warner, Morality in Media joins the conservative American Family Association of Tupelo, Miss., which called for a boycott in the spring. In the summer a number of police organizations around the country endorsed a boycott after Time Warner defended its marketing of the singing group Ice-T's Body Count album, which includes the song Cop Killer. All Time Warner products should be boycotted, Morality in Media said, including magazines such as Fortune, People, Sports Illustrated, and Time.

90 percent of annulment

requests granted in 1991

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. _ Roman Catholic marriage tribunals, which administer the process for granting marriage annulments, decided 38,448 cases in 1991, approving more than 90 percent of them, according to the Canon Law Society of America. The number of cases decided was up 3.7 percent over 1990. More than 8,500 cases involved mixed marriages between Catholics and non-Catholics, and 7,919 cases concerned marriages in which neither spouse was Catholic. In those cases, annulments were sought by persons either intending to enter the Roman Catholic Church or to marry a Catholic.

Trade agreement opposed

STAMFORD, Conn. _ The annual meeting of the women's division of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries has voted to oppose the North American Free Trade Agreement because of its impact on the environment and workers' rights.

_ Compiled from staff reports and news services to the Times