Diocese: Record aid after scandal

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) – The Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson has received record donations less than a year after emerging from bankruptcy caused by child-abuse scandals.

The Annual Catholic Appeal, which funds 23 charities and ministries, raised $3.6 million in pledges, exceeding the goal of $3.1 million, the Arizona Daily Star reported.

Two other U.S. Catholic dioceses, in Portland, Ore., and Spokane, Wash., also declared bankruptcy and reported successful appeals this year. Spokane had a goal of $1.7 million and collected $2 million in pledges. Portland’s campaign runs through November but has already met the $3.1 million goal.

In Tucson, 35 percent of parishioners donated, a significant increase from prior years and exceeding the national average of 29 percent in an April Georgetown University report.

July 4 in Memphis: Liberty unveiled

MEMPHIS, Tennessee (AP) – A 72-foot replica of the Statue of Liberty, unveiled by a Memphis church for Independence Day, has the right arm extended upward in familiar pose but holds a cross instead of a torch.

Replacing the famous inscription – “Give me your tired, your poor …” – are Roman numerals symbolizing the Ten Commandments. And a tear runs down the statute’s face, reflecting concern for America.

This “Statue of Liberation” was erected at a cost of $260,000 by World Overcomers Outreach Ministries Church.

A.M.E. bishops discuss growth

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) – Foreign bishops within the U.S.-based African Methodist Episcopal Church say the future growth of their denomination lies in underdeveloped nations, where more attention is needed to poverty, hunger, war and AIDS.

“Most of the people we serve are poor people. That places a great challenge on our ministry,” said Bishop Paul Kawimbe, who represents Zambia, Rwanda, Burundi and Kenya. He was quoted in The Post and Courier of Charleston.

Those attending a bishops’ conference said the 3 million-member denomination, like others, has grown rapidly over recent years in the Caribbean and Africa.

The new president of the A.M.E. bishops’ council, South Carolina’s Preston Warren Williams II, said that while he was a bishop in Central Africa about 150,000 non-Christians joined the church.

Bishop Wilfred Messiah of Cape Town, South Africa, said “the real future of the A.M.E. Church is outside the United States” and it “needs to become more aware of that.”

African bishops said a key aspect of solutions is developing homegrown leaders to make the church more influential.

Some think Mormon church letter may have raised primary turnout, aiding House incumbent

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – Some political observers wonder whether a Mormon church statement urging members to vote in last week’s primary may have boosted turnout and helped five-term incumbent Republican Rep. Chris Cannon beat businessman John Jacob.

The race focused on immigration, with Jacob opposing President Bush’s proposals on guest workers and earned citizenship for illegal aliens.

Church leaders said they spoke at the request of Joe Cannon, chairman of Utah’s Republican Party (and Chris Cannon’s brother) and Democratic Chairman Wayne Holland, who was originally approached by Joe Cannon, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Church spokesman Dale Bills said that to his knowledge it was the first time church leaders have urged members to vote in a primary, though they regularly urge citizen participation.

The church wanted people to vote but “as a byproduct it assisted Cannon in his re-election,” said Ron Fox, who helped run President Bush’s Utah campaigns.

“Turnout usually favors an incumbent in these kinds of situations,” said Kelly Patterson, a political scientist at church-run Brigham Young University.

Florida city to pay synagogue $2 million to avoid court battle

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) – The city and an Orthodox Jewish synagogue reached a deal that allows continued worship services in two buildings in a residential area.

Hollywood Community Synagogue Chabad Lubavitch sued the city after officials ordered a shutdown in 2003. The Justice Department sided with the synagogue, noting the city violated the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000.

The city said the group violated zoning laws by operating without a permit in a residential neighborhood.

The Miami Herald reported that the city agreed to pay the synagogue $2 million, allow it to remain at the current location and require sensitivity training for municipal employees and city commission members. In return, the synagogue dropped its lawsuit.

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