November 20, 2008

1532 RNS News

The Adventist Review shares the following world news from Religion News Service as a service to readers. Opinions expressed in these reports do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Review or the Seventh-day Adventist Church. -- Editors

Focus on the Family Cuts 200 Jobs

BY ADELLE BANKS                                                                                     ©2008 Religion News Service
capThe Colorado-based Focus on the Family will reduce its staff by about 200 positions, citing economic conditions.
"There's still a great demand for the resources we offer," said Focus spokesman Gary Schneeberger on November 18. "It's simply a fact that the economy is affecting our donors and, therefore, affecting us."
The staff reductions, which will decrease the number of employees from about 1,150 to about 950, include 149 people whose positions will be eliminated, and 53 vacant positions that will be cut. The ministry founded by religious broadcaster James Dobson also will stop publishing four of its eight magazines.
The Colorado Springs, Colo.-based ministry encountered a $5 million shortfall on its $151 million budget in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, Schneeberger said. Donations provide 95 percent of the ministry's income.
The print edition of "Plugged In," an entertainment review guide for parents, will continue through its online version, Schneeberger said. Three other publications, Breakaway, Brio, and Brio and Beyond, which were aimed at teenagers, will be revamped into online content.
"The content that was found in those publications will still be available online, but it will be targeted not at teens but at parents," he said.
One of the four remaining magazines, Citizen, will be reduced from 12 issues to 10 issues a year. Earlier this fall, the ministry cut 46 other staff positions by outsourcing the department that filled orders and distributed books.
All of the current changes are related to Focus on the Family, Schneeberger said, and not its political arm, Focus on the Family Action.

Fort Worth is Fourth Diocese to Leave Episcopal Church

BY DANIEL BURKE                                                                                         ©2008 Religion News Service

The Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas, became the fourth to secede from the Episcopal Church Saturday November 15, when delegates voted to align with a more conservative branch of the Anglican Communion.
Nearly 80 percent of clergy and lay delegates from the North Texas diocese voted to join the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, which is based in Argentina. Since last December, the dioceses of San Joaquin, California; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Quincy, Illinois, have also left the Episcopal Church to join the Southern Cone.
The Episcopal Church, which has about 2 million members, is the U.S. branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
"This diocese stands for orthodox Christianity," said Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker on Saturday, "and we are increasingly at odds with the revisionist practices and teachings of the official leadership of the Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church we once knew no longer exists."
Fort Worth and Quincy are the only two of the Episcopal Church's 110 dioceses that do not allow women to be ordained. Fort Worth also disagreed with the national church on the blessing of same-sex unions, and the 2003 consecration of an openly gay man as bishop of New Hampshire.
Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said in a statement that her church "grieves the departure of a number of persons from the Diocese of Fort Worth" and that the "door is open" should they want to return.
She also said that the national church will work with local loyalists to rebuild the diocese.
"The gospel work to which Jesus calls us demands the best efforts of faithful people from many theological and social perspectives," Jefferts Schori said, "and the Episcopal Church will continue to welcome that diversity."
Five of the Fort Worth diocese's 56 congregations and an estimated 4,000 of its 19,000 members will remain with the church, according to Iker and other officials. A legal battle over ownership of church property is expected.

Slaughterhouse Problems Create Kosher Meat Shortage

BY NICOLE NEROULIAS                                                                                  ©2008 Religion News Service

Kosher meat is getting more expensive and harder to find, due to production stoppages at three of America's largest kosher slaughterhouses.
The Iowa and Nebraska slaughterhouses owned by Agriprocessors suspended production last month as the company struggles to survive foreclosure proceedings and charges of employing thousands of underage and illegal workers at its headquarters in Postville, Iowa.
Agriprocessors produces more than half the kosher meat sold in America, under the labels Aaron's Best, Rubashkin and Supreme Kosher.
Due to an unrelated fire, North Star Beef, a Minnesota-based company that sells meat under the Alle label, also suspended operations for several weeks.
The resulting shortage, combined with the overall economic downturn and rising price of food, has Jewish grocery shoppers and restaurant patrons justifiably worried, said Elie Rosenfeld, a spokesman for Empire Kosher, a poultry producer. His company and other North American meat and poultry producers are now trying to increase production, but it could take months to make a significant difference.
"There's been greater demand, but there's no way to make up for that entire void," he explained, adding that the impact will be felt most in the Midwest and other parts of the country that do not have as many kosher suppliers as the New York City region and other urban areas.

Priest Faces Excommunication for Role in Woman's Ordination

BY BRUCE NOLAN                                                                                      ©2008 Religion News Service

A missionary priest from Lutcher, Louisiana, appears to be on the brink of excommunication from the Catholic church for participating in a ceremony that purportedly ordained a woman to the priesthood.
The Rev. Roy Bourgeois, a member of the Maryknoll order, said the Vatican recently gave him 30 days to formally recant his position in favor of women's ordination, or face excommunication.
In a response posted on the Web site of the National Catholic Reporter, an independent newspaper, Bourgeois told the Vatican he could not in conscience do so. He said he believes a call to the priesthood comes from God and it is inappropriate for the church to interfere with it.

"Sexism, like racism, is a sin. And no matter how hard or how long we may try to justify discrimination, in the end, it is always immoral," he wrote.
The Catholic Church holds that Christ defined the priesthood as an all-male corps modeled on himself, and it is powerless to change that. On Tuesday ((Nov. 11), Bourgeois said he was sad but determined.
"I don't feel I've done anything wrong in conscience. I feel this is where God is leading me," said Bourgeois, 69.
In fact, he said in light of the approaching sacrifice, "I feel I've become a better priest, a more faithful priest."
In recent months, Catholic activists called Roman Catholic Womenpriests have sponsored a series of public ordinations of women in Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Boston -- and, on Aug. 9, in Lexington, Ky.
There, a group of worshippers pronounced ordination rites for Janice Sevre-Duszynska, a 58-year-old grandmother.
Bourgeois, who may have been the first active Catholic priest to attend such a service, preached the homily, saying in part: "Now I have been a Catholic priest for 36 years and I must say, more than ever before, I am convinced that women should be ordained in the Catholic church," according to an account of the event by the National Catholic Reporter.
The church holds that such ordinations are invalid, the women are not priests and that they are unable to perform sacramental rites. It also holds that the women automatically excommunicated themselves by their actions.