Religion news in brief
Task force monitors "problem" dioceses
CHICAGO - The Episcopal task force on property disputes related to the church fight over the Bible and sexuality is monitoring dioceses it considers "problems" for the church.
Bishop Stacy Sauls of Lexington, Ky., head of the House of Bishops Task Force on Property Disputes, says his panel is maintaining contact with Episcopalians in those dioceses who wish to "remain loyal to The Episcopal Church."
Among the dioceses are Pittsburgh; Quincy, Ill.; Springfield, Ill.; Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas; San Joaquin, Calif.; and Rio Grande, which covers parts of New Mexico and Texas. They have each, to different degrees, distanced themselves from the national denomination.
Since the 2003 consecration of the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, some traditionalist parishes have split from the U.S. denomination. Church leaders are trying to prepare for any legal fights over the properties.
Sauls says that lawyers, including several diocesan chancellors and a judge on the 11th U.S. District Court of Appeals, are helping the bishops prepare.
The task force has developed a "brief bank" of court filings and legal research to help dioceses with litigation and has also identified potential expert witnesses
The panel is also working on a position paper "setting forth possible common grounds which could be sought so that the split in The Episcopal Church which is feared by the task force might be avoided."
Sauls gave the update on the task force's work during a Nov. 15-18 meeting of the Episcopal Executive Council in Chicago.
The Executive Council - comprised of clergy and lay people - oversees the work of The Episcopal Church between meetings of the denomination's top policy-making body, the Episcopal General Convention, once every three years.
The Executive Council also approved creating a working group to consider forming an "Anglican regional convocation of the Americas" that would include the Anglican Church of Canada, the Anglican Council of Latin America and the Province of the West Indies.
The Episcopal Church is the U.S. wing of the 77 million-member Anglican Communion. The only other Anglican regional convocation is called the Global South, which includes Anglican leaders from African nations and other developing countries. Global South members are mainly conservatives who have been very critical of the direction of the U.S. church.
ELCA multicultural ministry creates association for European-Americans
CHICAGO (AP) - The Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has approved the creation of a European American Association to join the church's five other ethnic associations in helping create a multicultural church.
The overwhelmingly white denomination has associations for African-Americans, American Indians/Alaska Natives, Hispanics, Asians/Pacific Islanders and Arab/Middle Eastern Heritage.
In proposing the new ethnic grouping, the Multicultural Ministries' office said a recent churchwide reorganization made clear that "those in this church's European American community have not had the structure to journey together with the five ethnic associations."
The Rev. Sherman Hicks, executive director of ELCA Multicultural Ministries, said the new European American Association is part of "a new vision" for the ministries' work.
"This church has looked at 'multicultural' as basically 'ethnic-specific,' and that is not multicultural," Hicks said.
The Church Council voted during its Nov. 11-13 meeting in Chicago. The council serves as the denomination's legislative authority between churchwide assemblies.
Wilmington Catholic diocese releases list of accused priests
DOVER, Del. (AP) - The Roman Catholic Diocese of Wilmington has released the names of 20 priests against whom it received substantiated allegations of child sexual abuse.
The list of names was printed in the Nov. 16 edition of the diocese's weekly newspaper, The Dialog. It includes eight living priests accused of abusing minors in the diocese, and two others who ministered in the diocese but were accused of abuse elsewhere.
Of the 20 priests listed, the names of 10 had previously been released publicly, either by the diocese or by the media, church officials said. The list includes only the names of priests employed by the diocese, not those employed by religious orders.
Only a small number of U.S. dioceses have released the names of accused priests. Advocates for victims have been demanding that more dioceses do so, to encourage other victims to come forward and to warn the public about any predators in their midst.
Bishop Michael Saltarelli said in a letter accompanying the list that he released the names after extensive consultation with the Diocesan Review Board, a mostly lay panel formed to comply with the 2002 U.S. bishops' Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
Saltarelli said the recent arrest of the Rev. Francis G. DeLuca in Syracuse, N.Y., was a factor in his decision. DeLuca, 77, was arrested last month and charged with sexually abusing a Syracuse boy for several years, beginning when he was about 12.
DeLuca was removed from the ministry in Delaware in 1993 and allowed to return to his hometown after church officials in Wilmington learned of credible sex abuse claims against him dating to the 1960s.
"I am deeply troubled, and profoundly regret, that a priest of this diocese, removed from ministry so many years ago, has once again sexually abused a minor," Saltarelli wrote.
Saltarelli said that by disclosing the names and locations of other living priests with substantiated allegations against them, "we perhaps in some way may help prevent or deter any further incidents."