- The Washington Times - Friday, February 16, 2007

Catholic Church sees growth in Africa, Asia

VATICAN CITY — The Roman Catholic Church experienced its greatest growth in Africa and Asia between 2004 and 2005, according to new statistics released by the Vatican.

In Africa, the Catholic population increased 3.1 percent, while the number jumped 2.7 percent in Asia for the period, the Catholic News Service reported Monday. The rise in the number of Catholics in the Americas was 1.2 percent.

The trend was similar for priests.

Of the more than 400,000 priests worldwide, Asia saw the greatest increase, 3.8 percent, followed by Africa at 3.6 percent, while Europe and the Americas showed a decrease in the number of priests by about half a percentage point.

New Life to discuss Haggard scandal

COLORADO SPRINGS — Leaders of New Life Church will hold what they’re calling a “day of hope” tomorrow to discuss the claims of drug use and homosexual encounters that led to the downfall of founding pastor Ted Haggard.

“What we have in mind for that Sunday is to give some closure to our congregation from this difficult time and also some perspective on the road ahead for the Haggard family as they enter this season of restoration,” said Rob Brendle, an associate pastor.

Mr. Haggard was forced out as senior pastor at the 14,000-member New Life Church last year, and resigned as head of the National Association of Evangelicals, after a Denver man, Mike Jones, came forward saying the pastor had paid him for sex and sometimes used methamphetamine when they were together. Mr. Haggard, who is married, has publicly admitted to “sexual immorality” and has undergone intensive, Bible-based counseling.

Mr. Haggard told church members in a recent e-mail that his family planned to leave Colorado Springs and that he and his wife planned to pursue master’s degrees in psychology.

Famed yeshiva restored in Poland

LUBLIN, Poland — Hundreds of Polish Jews broke into joyful applause as the country’s chief rabbi unveiled the first restoration work at what was once a famed center of religious learning — an emotional moment in the revival of Poland’s small but growing Jewish community.

To the strains of a triumphant Hasidic march, Rabbi Michael Schudrich and two other Jewish leaders were lifted high into the air by a crane Feb. 11 to unveil the name of the school, Yeshiva Chachmei Lublin.

The inscription, in Polish and Hebrew letters, and the elegant columned yellow building stand as a testament to the Jewish life and learning that flourished in the eastern Polish city before it was destroyed by the Holocaust.

A 1997 law returning Jewish communal property to the country’s Orthodox community gave them ownership of the building in 2004.

Religious bias complaints rise

SEATTLE — Complaints of religious discrimination at jobs and schools in Washington state are at their highest in the past 15 years, with confrontations ranging from when and where people pray, how they dress or what hours they work.

According to filings with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, complaints in the state rose 60 percent between 2002 and 2006, compared to a nationwide 30 percent increase during the same period.

“We’re seeing an increase in religious charges involving all different faiths — across the board,” said Kathryn Olson, supervisory trial attorney with the EEOC in Seattle.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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