Thursday’s roundup

The Obama administration will unveil a new national security strategy that downplays the idea that the U.S. is at war with Islam, dropping phrases like “Islamic extremism” and “global war on terror.” Speaking of war, faith groups are lining up on both sides of the debate as Congress prepares to repeal Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell. The […]

COMMENTARY: It’s all about the branding

A. James Rudin |

(RNS) The advertising wizards of Madison Avenue gets paid millions to make sure we buy their products and feel good about doing it. That’s why everyone knows that Wheaties is the “Breakfast of Champions” and “With a name like Smuckers, it has to be good.” America’s faith communities generally don’t have the budgets for glitzy […]

Benedict to make first papal visit to Cyprus

Francis X. Rocca |

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Benedict XVI’s overseas travels typically involve vast crowds of adoring Catholics, often squeezed into sports stadiums or public venues for large-scale Masses. But when Benedict makes the first official papal visit to Cyprus next weekend (June 4-6), his total flock will number just 25,000, and his main speech will be held […]

Judge allows clergy housing tax case to proceed

Fernando Alfonso III |

(RNS) A federal judge has rejected a motion filed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to dismiss a California lawsuit that challenges tax breaks ministers can receive on housing. Section 107 of the Internal Revenue Code allows housing-related tax breaks for clergy. The tax write-offs have been permitted for ministers of all faiths since […]

Diocese dismisses call to keep tighter reins on accused bishop

Stephanie Barry / The Republican |

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (RNS) Catholic officials rebuffed calls from a victims group to control the movements of retired Bishop Thomas L. Dupre, who fled to a Maryland treatment center after being confronted with abuse allegations in 2004. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) on Tuesday (May 25) announced that Dupre was no longer […]

Obama sides with Vatican in abuse lawsuit

Daniel Burke |

WASHINGTON (RNS) The Obama administration has made a rare foray into the Catholic sexual abuse crisis, backing the Vatican’s claim it is immune to lawsuits in the U.S. because it is a sovereign nation. In a brief filed on Friday (May 21) before the Supreme Court, the acting solicitor general argued an appellate court erred […]

Churches race to support members impacted by oil spill

Fernando Alfonso III |

(RNS) As oil continues to spill into the Gulf of Mexico, churches and religious organizations along the Louisiana coast are providing food, money and support to parishioners whose livelihoods hang in the balance. More than 7 million gallons of oil have contaminated the Gulf since an oil rig explosion on April 20, pulling the region’s […]

Wednesday’s roundup

Jewish leaders are gathering in Washington to meet with Congress ahead of a rumored summit between President Obama and Israeli PM Netanyahu. Wonder if Bibi will make it to the White House Jewish American Heritage party on Thursday? Rahm Emanuel won’t be there, he’ll be in Israel to celebrate his son’s bar mitzvah and to […]

COMMENTARY: Tossing the women overboard

Phyllis Zagano |

(RNS) If you think the Catholic soap opera will go off the air soon, think again. We may be watching another Reformation at work — except this time, the Catholics who don’t walk away are getting excommunicated. Some date the Reformation to Martin Luther’s 1510 trip to Rome. The Catholic Church was raising funds to […]

Pastor with no tongue still has a lot to say

Tim Townsend |

SAINT CHARLES, Mo. (RNS) The Rev. Scott Schmieding sat in an examination room at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston 13 years ago as a surgeon examined a malignant tumor in the center of his tongue. The tumor was spreading rapidly, the doctor told him, and most or all of the preacher’s tongue would […]