Update on the latest religion news

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Updated: Mon, 07 Jul 2014 07:20:35 EST


Border bishop: teens entering US are fleeing violence

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — A Catholic bishop whose Texas diocese is receiving many of the youths crossing the border into the U.S. illegally says many of them are fleeing violence in Central America.

El Paso Bishop Mark Seitz told ABC's "This Week" that on a fact-finding trip he made late last year to Mexico and Central America, two teenagers from Honduras told him that gangs had threatened to kill them if they didn't join. He said they were among many people who told him that their lives were directly threatened.

Seitz compared young Central American refugees to people jumping from a burning building and looking for a safe place to land. He said the U.S. should treat them as asylum seekers rather than people who have entered the country illegally.


137-a-12-(Bishop Mark Seitz (syts), the Roman Catholic bishop of El Paso, in interview)-"was to leave"-Bishop Mark Seitz, the Roman Catholic bishop of El Paso, says he met teens in southern Mexico who had fled their homes in Honduras. COURTESY: ABC's "This Week" ((mandatory on-air credit)) (6 Jul 2014)

<<CUT *137 (07/06/14)££ 00:12 "was to leave"

136-a-05-(Bishop Mark Seitz (syts), the Roman Catholic bishop of El Paso, in interview)-"was directly threatened"-Bishop Mark Seitz, the Roman Catholic bishop of El Paso, says many of the undocumented immigrants entering the U.S. are fleeing violence in Central America. COURTESY: ABC's "This Week" ((mandatory on-air credit)) (6 Jul 2014)

<<CUT *136 (07/06/14)££ 00:05 "was directly threatened"

139-a-08-(Bishop Mark Seitz (syts), the Roman Catholic bishop of El Paso, in interview)-"under those circumstances"-Bishop Mark Seitz, the Roman Catholic bishop of El Paso, says young people fleeing violence shouldn't be considered illegal aliens. COURTESY: ABC's "This Week" ((mandatory on-air credit)) (6 Jul 2014)

<<CUT *139 (07/06/14)££ 00:08 "under those circumstances"

138-a-16-(Bishop Mark Seitz (syts), the Roman Catholic bishop of El Paso, in interview)-"mean their death"-Bishop Mark Seitz, the Roman Catholic bishop of El Paso, says two teenagers he met in southern Mexico told him they fled Honduras to escape recruitment by gangs. COURTESY: ABC's "This Week" ((mandatory on-air credit)) (6 Jul 2014)

<<CUT *138 (07/06/14)££ 00:16 "mean their death"

135-w-28-(Steve Coleman, AP religion editor, with Bishop Mark Seitz, the Roman Catholic bishop of El Paso)--A Catholic bishop, whose Texas diocese is receiving many of the undocumented youths entering the U.S., says many of them are fleeing violence in Central America. AP Religion Editor Steve Coleman reports. (6 Jul 2014)

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106-a-09-(Governor Rick Perry, R-Texas, in interview)-"a huge price"-Governor Rick Perry says he has asked the Obama administration for national guard troops at the border for many years. COURTESY: ABC's 'This Week' ((mandatory on-air credit)) (6 Jul 2014)

<<CUT *106 (07/06/14)££ 00:09 "a huge price"

105-w-37-(David Melendy, AP correspondent, with Governor Rick Perry, R-Texas, and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson)--The massive influx of immigrants from Central America has become a political battle as well as a humanitarian concern. AP correspondent David Melendy reports. (6 Jul 2014)

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107-a-07-(Governor Rick Perry, R-Texas, in interview)-"in Washington D.C."-Governor Rick Perry says the Obama administration is to blame for the immigration issue. COURTESY: ABC's 'This Week' ((mandatory on-air credit)) (6 Jul 2014)

<<CUT *107 (07/06/14)££ 00:07 "in Washington D.C."

103-a-10-(Homeland Security Secretary (jay) Jeh Johnson, in interview)-"to four days"-Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says adults who enter the country illegally are being deported more rapidly to stem the tide. COURTESY: NBC's "Meet the Press" ((mandatory on-air credit)) (6 Jul 2014)

<<CUT *103 (07/06/14)££ 00:10 "to four days"


Swindled Indianapolis church fights for survival

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indianapolis church that has served the community since 1925 is fighting for its survival after being swindled out of $400,000.

Bell's Chapel Church is facing foreclosure at year's end, and many members have left after a man claiming to be a loan broker promised to secure a grant to rebuild the church after it was destroyed in a 2008 fire. Instead, The Indianapolis Star reports he spent the money.

Hrond Arman Gasparian of Fishers was convicted in June on 10 counts of wire fraud.

Bishop Adrienne Holmes says the church property is for sale but will go into foreclosure in December if no buyer is found.

The congregation has dropped from 175 members to 30 since the fraud.


Priest guilty of killing nun will get funeral Mass

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio diocesan official says a Catholic priest who was convicted of stabbing and strangling a nun 34 years ago in a hospital chapel will receive a funeral Mass.

The official with the Toledo diocese says the Rev. Gerald Robinson remains an ordained priest and his services will follow the usual protocol for diocesan priests' funerals.

Robinson died Friday. The 76-year-old had been serving a prison sentence of 15 years to life in what church historians have characterized as the only documented case of a Catholic priest killing a nun.

He had been in a hospice unit since the end of May after suffering a heart attack,

Robinson was found guilty in 2006 of killing Sister Margaret Ann Pahl in 1980 at a Toledo hospital where they both worked.


China court jails Christian pastor for 12 years

BEIJING (AP) — A lawyer says the pastor of a Christian church in central China has been sentenced to 12 years in prison following a dispute with local authorities.

Yang Xingquan said Friday that Zhang Shaojie of the Nanle County Christian Church in Henan province was convicted of fraud and of gathering crowds to disturb public order.

Zhang's church has the official sanction of the communist government, which allows worship only in state-monitored groups, but the church has been involved in a dispute with local authorities over land for a new building.

Yang denied accusations that Zhang instigated disputes. He says the pastor was targeted by authorities who are trying to control the rapid growth of churches.

By official estimates, China has 23 million Christians, but that doesn't count a large number of unsanctioned underground, or home, churches that have attracted millions of worshippers and have been targeted in repeated crackdowns.


Pope: No-work Sundays good, not just for faithful

CAMPOBASSO, Italy (AP) — Pope Francis says abandoning the traditional Christian practice of not working on Sundays isn't such a good change.

Francis on Saturday traveled to Molise, an agricultural region in southern Italy where unemployment is chronically high. While he said poor people need employment to have dignity, he disagreed with opening stores and other businesses on Sundays as a way to create jobs.

Francis said the priority should be "not economic but human," adding "maybe it's time to ask ourselves if working on Sundays is true freedom."

He also said that spending Sundays with family and friends is an "ethical choice" for faithful and non-faithful alike.


Church parade past Mafia home a challenge to pope

ROME (AP) — Italy's interior minister is denouncing a church procession that detoured from its route through a southern Italian town to honor a convicted mobster under house arrest, in apparent defiance of Pope Francis.

Interior Minister Angelino Alfano on Sunday denounced the tribute in Oppido Mamertina, a Calabrian town and mafia stronghold, as "deplorable and disgusting." He praised three policemen who abandoned last Wednesday's procession in disapproval.

On June 21, Francis, visiting Calabria, had denounced the crime syndicate for its "adoration of evil" and said its members were excommunicated.

The July 2 procession included clergy, the mayor, parents pushing baby strollers and dozens of local men carrying on their shoulders an ornate Madonna statue.


Head of Ukraine's Orthodox Church dies at 78

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — The head of Ukraine's Orthodox Church has died at age 78 after leading it for more than two decades during the tumultuous post-Soviet period.

Metropolitan Volodymyr, who had been credited with stabilizing the church, died Saturday "after a long illness," the church announced online Saturday.

In his more than 20 years as head of the country's largest church, Volodymyr weathered the breakaway of two groups that declared themselves independent of the Moscow Patriarchate, which incorporates the Ukrainian church. Observers say he succeeded in preventing even more splits.

Recently, Volodymyr often reflected pro-Russian opinions in Ukraine, where government troops are fighting a separatist insurgency in the east of the country.


Hasidic Jews in New York seek to expand enclave

KIRYAS JOEL, N.Y. (AP) — Kiryas Joel is a fast-growing community of ultra-Orthodox Satmar Hasidic Jews in a suburban stretch of New York's Hudson Valley.

Now a petition to expand the village by annexing 500 acres of leafy lots nearby has heightened tensions with some suburban neighbors. There are fears it would lead to unwanted increases in people, homes and traffic.

Kiryas Joel was founded within the town of Monroe in the mid-1970s by members of the Satmar sect seeking a more tranquil setting than Brooklyn.

Some of them live just outside the village, where there is more restrictive zoning. A number of these out-of-village Satmar signed a petition requesting that their land become part of the village. An environmental review must be conducted before the village and the town can consider the residents' petition.


100 UK imams urge Britons to stay away from Syria

LONDON (AP) — Some 100 imams are urging British Muslims to refrain from traveling to Syria amid concerns that fighters will become radicalized.

The open letter issued Friday offered a unified voice by various religious factions, appealing to British Muslims to support those affected by the war in Syria and recent fighting in Iraq, but to do so "from the U.K. in a safe and responsible way."

The letter comes as concerns grow about home-grown terrorism. Fears about returning radicals have been heightened by a video released online that showed three men identified as British exhorting compatriots to come join the militants in Iraq.

U.K. authorities estimate as many as 500 Britons have traveled to Syria to fight, and that some may have crossed into Iraq.

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