- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 22, 2008

Priests pushing bishop to resign

BELLEVILLE, Ill. — In an unusual show of defiance, 45 priests in Belleville’s Roman Catholic diocese are calling for Bishop Edward Braxton to step down amid a financial scandal and other conflicts.

The priests sent a letter calling for Bishop Braxton’s resignation to Cardinal Francis George in Chicago, the region’s top church authority, and Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Vatican’s U.S. ambassador. Cardinal George also is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The priests, including 36 of the diocese’s 59 resident parish pastors, wrote that they have become “increasingly frustrated by the lack of collaborative and consultative leadership.”

Bishop Braxton, 63, has come under scrutiny for accusations that he misspent about $18,000 dedicated to two special funds, including purchasing a new table and chairs for a conference room and ceremonial garments.

Pastor calls for church guards

COLORADO SPRINGS — The senior pastor at a megachurch where a gunman killed two teenage sisters before being shot by a church volunteer recommends that all churches have armed guards.

The Rev. Brady Boyd, pastor of New Life Church, made the comments before convening a free forum on church security that drew participants from about 120 Colorado churches.

Matthew Murray, 24, killed two persons at a suburban Denver missionary training center Dec. 9 and several hours later killed the two girls in the New Life parking lot. He committed suicide after he was shot and wounded by a volunteer security guard, who was credited with saving lives.

The forum, which was hosted by police and New Life security staff and closed to the news media, included discussions on emergency planning, assessing potential dangerous situations, the role of church greeters and ushers, and how to recruit security staff, said Colorado Springs police Officer Dave Husted.

Several U.S. churches have been adding armed guards in recent years, while others have avoided the practice because they either don’t have the money or don’t want to appear like a fortress.

Building board sues over holiday displays

NEW YORK — Holiday decorations have spurred a lawsuit in a Manhattan apartment building, where the co-op board is suing two residents for putting up seasonal decorations.

The building on genteel Gramercy Park bans holiday displays without the board’s consent. But Richard Belza and Andrew Meehan festoon their windows and front door at Christmastime, Easter and Halloween anyway. Mr. Belza, a floral designer, calls their trimmings “very tasteful” and the lawsuit ridiculous.

But a lawyer for the 32 Gramercy Park South co-op board said rules will be enforced. Attorney Michelle Quinn also argues that decorations — especially those reflecting religious holidays — can alienate neighbors.

The lawsuit aims to stop Mr. Belza and Mr. Meehan from putting up decorations.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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