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Higher Ground: ‘Christian’ Grey

- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 31, 2014

It's a safe bet Valentine's Day 2015 is going to be one of the most romantic in a long while. Days after the release of a trailer for the hotly anticipated movie adaptation of "50 Shades of Grey," Variety announced that a Christian-friendly alternative was in the works and due out the same holiday weekend as its naughtier counterpart.

The film "Old Fashioned," Variety reported, will center around the courtship of a "former frat boy and a free-spirited woman. The tagline is 'Chivalry makes a comeback.'"

The film's writer and lead actor, Rik Swartzwelder, acknowledged that his film would not have nearly the amount of money, hype and movie screens as "50 Shades," but his hope was to show that "we are not alone in our belief that there are others out there who desire more from love — and the movies — than objectification or domination."

Perhaps audiences will surprise everyone in Hollywood, however, and award the remake of "Poltergeist," which also is scheduled to open that weekend, as the box office winner.

No retreat

The founder of the effort for women's ordination in the Mormon church is appealing her excommunication.

Kate Kelly sent a letter to her former ecclesiastical leader in Virginia, Bishop Mark Harrison, and Scott Wheatley, president of the Oakton Virginia Stake, asking for them to "do the right thing and annul the excommunication decision."

"It is not too late to undo the damage you have both done to me and to the Church," Ms. Kelly said in her letter, which was posted on the Ordain Women website. "My only 'sin' elucidated by you has been speaking my mind and pushing for gender equality in the Church."

Ms. Kelly was excommunicated in late June on charges of apostasy.

Live free or die

Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese mother who became a global symbol of the issue of Christian persecution, is heading to the Granite State.

In an interview this week with La Repubblica, a daily publication in Rome, the 27-year-old said she and her family planned on moving to New Hampshire to stay with her brother-in-law.

"My husband, a chemist, lost his job because of my event," Ms. Ibrahim told the Italian paper, according to a report by the Religion News Service. "Now we will go to New Hampshire where my brother-in-law Gabriel lives. They will help us. We will be all together as a true family."

In May she was sentenced to death by a Sudanese court for refusing to renounce Christianity. She was eventually released after her lawyers appealed the sentence, though not before she gave birth to a daughter behind bars.

Last week she had an audience with Pope Francis. She told La Repubblica the meeting was the fulfillment of a "lifelong dream."

She arrived in the U.S. on Thursday, and was welcomed at Philadelphia airport by Mayor Michael Nutter, who called her a "world freedom fighter." Her flight was set to arrive in New Hampshire late Thursday night.

Vatican visit

A priest accused of sex abuse in the U.S. has been "relieved of his duties" as a vicar general in Paraguay, and the Paraguayan bishop who took him in also has been disciplined.

The Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, said the Rev. Carlos Urrutigoity was not merely suspended, but removed from the post for which Bishop Rogelio Ricardo Livieres Plano had hired him, the Religion News Service reported.

Vatican Radio reported the church passed down the ruling in mid-July, prior to a visit by Cardinal Santos Abril y Castello.

The cardinal visited Paraguay from July 21 to 26, Father Lombardi said, and during his time there, "cautioned Bishop Livieres against proceeding with further priestly ordinations."

Father Urrutigoity was accused of sex abuse 12 years ago in a lawsuit in the Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania, the news service reported. The diocese reportedly settled in 2006 to the tune of nearly a half-million dollars.

Father Urrutigoity was transferred to Canada before moving to Paraguay, RNS reported.

Meredith Somers covers religion and faith issues for The Washington Times.

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