ROME (AP) – The Rome seminary considered the West Point for U.S. priests has its largest incoming class in 40 years.

The Pontifical North American College is welcoming 61 seminarians in its fall classes beginning in mid-October, according to Catholic News Service.

Monsignor Robert Gruss, vice rector for student life, told CNS that the college, which opened in 1954 for 200 students and is sponsored by the U.S. bishops, will have a total of 208 seminarians this year.

Court declines inmate’s charge

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – West Virginia’s Supreme Court justices have declined to take up a case filed by an inmate who says he’s being denied the right to freely practice his Native American religion.

Among other things, Bobby Eugene Roddy wanted the court to order the Division of Corrections to provide him with a sweat lodge to use one day a week for a ceremony.

The Mount Olive Correctional Complex inmate also wanted two prayer pipe ceremonies per week and to be allowed to grow his hair long.

The 42-year-old Roddy goes by the spiritual name “Running Cougar.”

Justices voted against hearing the case last week.

Green Bay mayor preparing holiday display policy before federal case begins

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) – The city of Green Bay could have a policy in place for Christmas displays even before a federal judge rules on whether the city violated the Constitution.

Mayor Jim Schmitt has met with clergy to get their ideas on a city policy. They agreed that the city should stick with secular decorations and leave the religious displays to area churches and synagogues.

Schmitt said he hopes to present a policy to the city council in October.

That means new rules could be in place before U.S. Judge William Griesbach rules on a lawsuit filed against the city by the Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation over the city nativity scene installed last Christmas.

Oral arguments in the lawsuit are set to begin Sept. 15.

AP-ES-09-10-08 1033EDT

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