- The Washington Times - Friday, October 13, 2006

Orthodox leaders form commission

CHICAGO — Leaders of America’s Orthodox Christian churches, meeting jointly for only the third time, agreed to form a pastoral practices commission on “bringing coherence and unity to our expression of Orthodoxy.”

But the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas also asserted that Orthodox churches, which began splintering along ethnic lines a century ago, “must respect and honor the legitimate differences that exist within our one Church.”

The announcement was made after a four-day meeting in Chicago that ended Oct. 6. About 30 Orthodox leaders attended to discuss their joint mission and humanitarian programs.

Priests raise cash to aid defrocked

MANCHESTER, N.H. — A group of Roman Catholic priests in the Diocese of Manchester have formed an aid fund for local clergy who were forced from ministry over claims they molested children.

The Organization of Concerned Priests, which has been registered as a nonprofit, is asking fellow clerics in the diocese to donate a minimum of $1,000 each to a “mercy fund.”

“We began to sympathize with the men involved in the scandal,” said the Rev. Michael Griffin, president of the new group. “We could not imagine how we could have coped if we were in their shoes.”

David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests, said “forgiveness is fine,” but “it would be truly Christian if these priests also would take tangible steps to help abuse victims, too,” by supporting legal reforms meant to keep children safe.

Rev. Graham builds churches in Sudan

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Rev. Franklin Graham plans to rebuild hundreds of burned churches and maintain a hospital in Sudan despite violence that’s occurred during his years of ministry there.

“There’s a war taking place against the church of Jesus Christ in Africa,” he said.

It’s a battle that pits Muslims against Christians in countries such as Sudan and Ethiopia, he said.

Mr. Graham, who heads Samaritan’s Purse, the international Christian relief organization based in Boone, said he wants to rebuild every church that the government or its militias have burned in Sudan. He has identified 226 destroyed churches and has completed or is now building 34.

Mr. Graham estimated the cost of the rebuilding at $5 million.

Anglican leader visits China

SHANGHAI — The archbishop of Canterbury is visiting China for two weeks, hoping to boost understanding between China’s state-sanctioned Protestant church and the world’s Anglicans.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who will remain in the country until Oct. 23, is expected to visit the cities of Nanjing, Wuhan and Xi’an before ending his trip in Beijing.

“I very much welcome this opportunity to come alongside the Church in China, as well as to gain a fuller appreciation of China’s remarkable development in recent years and its unique cultural heritage,” Archbishop Williams said.

The archbishop plans to deliver lectures and sermons, as well as meet with religious leaders, academics, government officials and business groups. He will spend at least 10 days in Beijing, said an official at the Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee of Protestant Churches of China.

Professors’ faith stronger than thought

BOSTON — Contrary to stereotype, most college professors are not atheists or agnostics, according to new research.

In fact, only about one-quarter of professors deny that God exists or claim it is impossible to know, according to survey results analyzed by sociologists Neil Gross of Harvard University and Solon Simmons of George Mason University. The rest say they believe in God at least part of the time or at least in some kind of higher power.

College professors are less religious than the general population, the authors report. For example, about 40 percent of professors frequently attend religious services, compared with 47 percent for the general population. But the authors say religious commitment levels are higher than indicated by previous surveys, which did not include professors at community colleges.

Community college professors are more religious than those at elite, doctoral universities. But even at the elite universities, a majority of professors are neither atheistic nor agnostic, and 20 percent say they have no doubt God exists.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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