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Mother Teresa is Now St. Teresa; Pope Says She Shamed World Leaders


VATICAN CITY (AP) — Mother Teresa is now St. Teresa.


St. Teresa


Pope Francis has praised Mother Teresa as the merciful saint who defended the lives of the unborn, sick and abandoned — and who shamed world leaders for the "crimes of poverty they themselves created."


In elevating the tiny nun to sainthood, Francis held St. Teresa up as a model for today's Christians during his homily for the nun who cared for the "poorest of the poor."


Speaking from the steps of St. Peter's Basilica, Francis said St. Teresa spent her life "bowing down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity."


He added: "She made her voice heard before the powers of the world, so that they might recognize their guilt for the crimes of poverty they themselves created." As if to emphasize the point, Francis repeated the "the crimes of poverty they themselves created."



Religious Leaders Among Platform Speakers Scheduled at Convention


WASHINGTON (AP) — Religious leaders will be among those who will speak at the Republican National Convention.



That's according to a list of speakers that has been released. They include Jerry Falwell Jr. and Rabbi Haskel Lookstein. Falwell is a Trump supporter and has had the presumptive-nominee speak at Liberty University. Lookstein converted Trump's daughter Ivanka to Judaism.


Pastor Darrell Scott told MSNBC that he has been asked to speak. Scott, a Trump supporter, heads a church in suburban Cleveland and has attempted to promote support among African-Americans.


One high profile Christian who won't be appearing is former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow (TEE'-boh). He said in a Thursday night Facebook post that his attendance was simply a rumor. He commented roughly 12 hours after Donald Trump's campaign announced his status as a convention speaker. Tebow says he's just back from the Philippines and will be focusing on his foundation.




Appeals Court Blocks State Grants to Religious Schools


TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey appeals court has ruled that New Jersey cannot give $11 million in grants to two religious schools, including one of the largest ultra-Orthodox yeshivas in the world.


The state appeals court ruled the $10.6 million grant to the all-male Beth Medrash Govoha yeshiva in Lakewood and $645,000 to the Princeton Theological Seminary are unconstitutional.


The American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State had challenged the grants, which New Jersey officials argued were OK because they were meant to pay for buildings and equipment, not religious activities.


The grants were made as part of $1.3 billion given to schools across the state in April 2013. The court said its ruling doesn't mean the state can't give money to religious-affiliated schools that have a broader sectarian mission.



Kentucky Noah's Ark Attraction Gets Tax Incentive Approval


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A religious theme park featuring a full-size replica of Noah's Ark has won its battle for a Kentucky tax incentive.


Ark Park


A state tourism board spokesman says the board this week approved a sales tax rebate incentive worth about $18 million for the 510-foot-long Ark Encounter attraction.


Kentucky officials in 2014 withdrew the project from the incentive program, which rebates a portion of sales tax collected by a tourist attraction. State officials at the time said the incentive would be funding "religious indoctrination."


Answers in Genesis, the Christian group behind the ark, won a federal court ruling in January that said it could get the tax incentive, despite the park's religious theme. Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, who took office in December, declined to appeal the ruling.



Bid to Override Veto of Bible as Tennessee Book Fails


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee has a state reptile, a state rock and a state song. For now, though, the Bible will not be its official state book.


Bill Bible State Book


Gov. Bill Haslam had vetoed a bill that would elevate the holy book's status, and lawmakers trying to override that veto fell seven votes short of the 50 they needed in the House on Wednesday April 20th. Only 43 members voted in favor of the bill after two hours of spirited — and spiritual — debate.


The Republican governor last week turned back the bill over constitutional concerns and because he felt that it "trivializes" what he considers a sacred text.


Supporters argued that the measure seeks to honor the economic and historical impact of the Bible in Tennessee history, rather than being a state endorsement of religion.


Eleven legislators who voted for the bill when it passed last year did not support the override on Wednesday. They included Democratic Rep. Johnny Shaw, a Baptist pastor.



Woman of Faith to Appear on $20 Bill


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Treasury Department decision to put Harriet Tubman's portrait on the $20 bill is being applauded by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.




The 19th Century abolitionist will be the first African American on U.S. paper money and the first woman depicted in 100 years.


Kristina Arriaga, executive director of the Becket Fund, says Tubman was a Christian whose faith inspired her to lead hundreds of slaves to freedom on what became known as the Underground Railroad. Fellow abolitionists in the pre-Civil War era called her the "American Moses."


Helping slaves escape was illegal, but Arriaga says Tubman believed in a higher law and chose to obey God at great personal risk.


The Becket Fund currently represents the Little Sisters of the Poor, who have said they can't obey the health care law's birth control mandate. The nuns' case has been argued before the Supreme Court, which is seeking ways to accommodate religious objections while ensuring that employees can get free contraceptives.



Sunday News Roundup for April 3rd 2016

Justices seem to seek compromise in birth control case


WASHINGTON (AP) - A seemingly divided Supreme Court is exploring a possible compromise ruling in the dispute between faith-based groups and the Obama administration over birth control.


The justices issued an unusual order Tuesday directing both sides in the case to file a new round of legal briefs by April 20. They're being asked to examine the minimum that groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor must do to register their religious objections to providing contraceptive coverage.


The court suggested that they could tell their insurance company at the time they arrange for health insurance that they don't want to include some or all contraceptive coverage. Armed with that knowledge, the insurer would notify people covered by the health plan that contraceptive coverage would come directly from the insurer, with no money from or involvement by the nonprofit's health plan.


Attorneys for the groups say that shows the court recognizes that "the government's current scheme forces them to violate their religion."




Conservative groups say governor betrayed faithful


ATLANTA (AP) -Conservative groups in Georgia say Gov. Nathan Deal's veto of a "religious freedom" bill shows he has turned his back on people of faith.


Representatives of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, the Faith and Freedom Coalition and others said Tuesday they won't give up on passing legislation in future years.


A portion of the bill vetoed Monday lets people claiming their religious freedoms have been burdened by state or local laws force governments to prove there's a "compelling" state interest overriding their beliefs. Supporters say more than 30 states have similar laws.


Republican state Sen. Marty Harbin of Tyrone also called on House and Senate leadership to demand a special session in response to Deal's veto, joining two other senators.


Legislative leaders have given no sign they will do that.




North Carolina AG applauds Georgia governor's veto


RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina's Democratic attorney general is commending Georgia's Republican governor for vetoing a bill that critics have called discriminatory.


Attorney General Roy Cooper said at a news conference Tuesday that Gov. Nathan Deal "stepped up" on Monday when he rejected a "religious freedom" bill. Cooper said Deal recognized the negative economic impact it would have Georgia if he signed the legislation.


Many corporations have spoken out against the bill in Georgia and a new law in North Carolina that prevents local governments from approving protections for LGBT people.


Cooper has said he won't defend the North Carolina law, prompting critics to call for the attorney general's resignation. Cooper has refused.


The Georgia bill was modeled on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. People claiming their religious freedoms are burdened could force state and local governments to prove a "compelling" interest in enforcing laws that conflict with their beliefs.




Authorities: Animal rights activist arrested at Easter Mass


NEW YORK (AP) - Authorities say a teacher from North Carolina has been arrested after he disrupted an Easter Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City.


A group of six animal rights activists interrupted the noon Mass on Sunday. Police say one of the protesters shouted into a bullhorn that "only the devil" could create "animals capable of love and joy just so humans can make them suffer and die."


Police say 23-year-old Jacob Martin was taken into custody and was charged with interrupting a religious service.


The animal rights group said Martin is a Christian school teacher.



Former Kentucky priest who viewed child porn going to prison


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A former Catholic priest accused of snapping hundreds of inappropriate pictures of students at his parish school is heading to federal prison for nearly three years.


Stephen Pohl wasn't charged with any crime for taking the photos, since the children in his pictures were clothed. But he was found guilty of a charge of looking at child pornography on his computer. The 57-year-old former pastor of St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Louisville to 33 months.


Police seized his computer during an investigation that started after a student told his parents he felt "weird" about some photos that Pohl had taken.


The U.S. Attorney's office says it is in the process of identifying the students in Pohl's photos, and their parents will be contacted.




EWTN chaplain recounts Mother Angelica's last days


IRONDALE, Ala. (AP) - The chaplain of the Eternal World Television Network has eulogized its founder, Mother Mary Angelica, during a memorial sermon at the station's Alabama headquarters, recalling the days leading up to the Easter Sunday death of the Roman Catholic nun.


Before her death, Mother Angelica, 92, told nuns to do whatever they could to keep her alive because she considered her suffering an act of devotion to God, Al.com quoted EWTN Chaplain Joseph Wolfe as saying.


Mother Angelica launched a religious talk show in 1981 in the garage of a monastery in rural Alabama that eventually grew into the Eternal World Television Network. The network has been blessed by the Vatican, and EWTN officials say it broadcasts 24 hours a day in 144 countries and territories.


Mother Angelica had been in declining health since a cerebral hemorrhage on Christmas Eve in 2001. Wolfe said Mother Angelica had a bone fracture that developed because she had been bedridden for months and began crying out in pain Friday. He said nuns and priests were at her side praying when she died Sunday afternoon.





JERUSALEM (AP) -- Christians in the Holy Land and across the world are celebrating Easter, commemorating the day followers believe Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago.


Church Sunday


The cavernous Holy Sepulcher church in Jerusalem was packed with worshippers on Sunday. The site is where Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected.


A Mass is expected later in Bethlehem's Nativity Church, built atop the site where Christians believe Jesus was born.


At the Vatican, Pope Francis presided over a solemn vigil service Saturday night. In his homily, Francis said darkness and fear must not prevail and "imprison" the world with pessimism. The call to hope on the eve of the most joyful celebration in the Christian calendar contrasted sharply with his condemnation of the attacks in Belgium and elsewhere by Islamic extremists.





VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Francis concluded a bleak week in Europe with a message of hope during an Easter Vigil service Saturday, saying darkness and fear must not prevail and "imprison" the world with pessimism.


Pope Easter


Francis' call to hope on the eve of the most joyful celebration in the Christian calendar contrasted sharply with his sharp condemnation in recent days of the attacks in Belgium and elsewhere by Islamic extremists.


Francis entered the silent and darkened basilica with just a single candle guiding him at the start of the vigil. As he reached the altar, the basilica's floodlights flipped on in a symbolic show of light after the darkness of Good Friday, which recalls Jesus' death.


In his homily, Francis said the hope that Easter brings is a lesson for the Christian faithful to cast aside the pessimism that can "imprison" people inside of themselves.


"We see and will continue to see problems both inside and out. They will always be there," he said. But he insisted: "Let us not allow darkness and fear to distract us and control our hearts."


"Today is the celebration of our hope," he said. "It is so necessary today." The Easter message recalling Christ's resurrection, "awakens and resurrects hope in hearts burdened by sadness," he said.


The lengthy vigil service included a papal baptism for 12 adults hailing from China, South Korea and other countries around the world. Early Sunday, Francis will preside over Easter Mass and offer his annual Easter blessing.


During remarks Friday at the Colosseum capping the "Way of the Cross" procession re-enacting Jesus' crucifixion, Francis denounced the "terrorist acts committed by followers of some religions which profane the name of God and which use the holy name to justify their unprecedented violence."


While the pope was at the Colosseum, his chief alms-giver was out on the streets of Rome giving out sleeping bags to the homeless Friday night in a show of papal support for the city's least fortunate.


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