Priest killed as he finishes preaching
Larry Penzes, the 50-year-old priest of Our Lady of Peace Church in Lynbrook, Long Island, New York, was shot to death at the altar yesterday while celebrating Mass. Eileen Tosner, a 72-year-old parishioner, was also killed. Their murderer reportedly just walked in, pulled a .22-caliber rifle out of his coat, and opened fire. Others in the congregation—there were about 40 at the time, most of them elderly—chased the shooter out of the church and took his gun. He reportedly ran home. Police arrested Peter Troy, a 34-year-old with no apparent connections to the church.
"National Catholic officials said they could recall no other killing of a priest in this country while he was celebrating Mass," reported The New York Times, though "the killing of Father Penzes prompted some to compare the circumstances of his death to the killing of the archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Arnulfo Romero, who was shot while saying Mass in 1980. In 1985, a deranged man killed a priest in Onalaska, Wis., inside his church."
"This appears to be a fatal mix of a grievance, mental illness and a firearm," says an editorial in Long Island's Newsday. "Penzes was known as a man with a large heart, who succeeded in drawing large numbers of people into active roles in the parish. At 50, he had many productive years ahead of him, but a spasm of violence, aided by the barrel of a rifle, has cut him down and broken the heart of his people."
The editorial has an implied call for gun control, but a column in the paper calls for spiritual reflection. This sad event, writes Matthew Carolan, "reminds us of why we must pray. Because there is evil in the world. And because we do not know the day or the hour, but only that we must someday die. … For a time, fear of what happened yesterday may frighten some people away from their houses of worship. Security may be re-evaluated. These would be understandable reactions. But, at some point, faith in one's community must be restored. Otherwise, worship will be impossible."
That sentiment was also made by some of the church's parishioners. "If we're not safe in a church, that's pretty bad," Karen Aker told The New York Times. "This is where people get peace. It's where they go to pray. This is awful." Indeed it is.
Other stories on religion and murder:
- Prayer ground deaths: Nwodo calls on government to investigate | Poisonous gas alleged in deaths of 14 (This Day, Lagos, Nigeria)
- 1998 baptism 'gave new life' to struggling prostitute | Sereena Abotsway is alleged murder victim of Robert (Willy) Pickton (Vancouver Sun)
- A child's death raises questions about faith | A couple who prayed instead of seeking medical care for their daughter face charges of involuntary manslaughter. (Los Angeles Times)
Eugene Rivers accused of discriminating against Muslim
Ex-con Gerald Jones has filed a discrimination complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination against one of America's best-known ministers, Eugene Rivers, reports The Boston Globe. Jones says he was kicked out of Rivers's Ella J. Baker House, which includes rehabilitation for convicts among its programs, because he was a Muslim. Andre Norman, a Baker House worker also named in the complaint, says Jones left because of a drinking problem. "The charges are groundless, but it's a free country and people can sue who they wish," Rivers told the Globe. The Baker House, a frequent example for supporters of Bush's faith-based initative, has posted its nondiscrimination policy on its Web site. The Globe doesn't note that Rivers's father was personally recruited to the Nation of Islam by Malcolm X.
Young Asian churches are booming in America
In the northwest, where Asian populations are growing quickly, The Seattle Times noticed that a lot of young Asian-Americans have formed their own churches. "Although experts don't have exact numbers, they say that in this region, and nationwide, more pan-Asian-American Christian churches are being established, mainly by those in their 20s to 40s," reports Janet I. Tiu. (Actually, Weblog would wager that someone out there has more exact numbers.) "Some are not just pan-Asian but intentionally multiracial. … The new congregations typically prefer casual worship styles. Denominational affiliations don't particularly matter to them, but an egalitarian sense of brotherhood and sisterhood does. They are community- and social-justice-oriented, although not necessarily political, and they are open to diversity while retaining a thread of common experience."
Sex & marriage:
- Openly gay rector first in Atlanta's Episcopal Diocese | St. Bartholomew's has had openly gay priests before, but not a rector (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
- Ruling dismays lesbian couple | Sheriff grants parental rights to the gay man who was sperm donor for their child (BBC)
- Government axes funds for pro-marriage groups | Funding for National Marriage Week has been cut off by the Government as part of a shift towards supporting non-marital relationships, including homosexual ones. (The Daily Telegraph)
- Church ousts Boy Scout troop | United Church of Christ at Dartmouth College upset because the national organization won't admit homosexuals (Associated Press)
- Ties to Scouts stains group's teachings | Learning for Life, part of Boy Scouts of America, shouldn't be allowed in schools (Rob Perez, The Honolulu Star-Bulletin)
Missions & ministry:
- TV station ministers to Arab Christians | SAT-7 seeks to "put an Arabic face on Christianity" (The Washington Times)
- Church using matchbooks to heat up attendance | From matchbooks to movie previews to urinal screens, churches are aggressively reaching out to tap into a specific demographic group: men ages 18 to 34 (Daily Press, Hampton Roads, Virginia)
- Following a famous father's footsteps | Billy Graham's daughter prepares for Sept. revival at Pepsi Center (The Denver Post)
- Hospital pastors facing the chop | Government does not regard chaplains' services as a public health priority (The New Zealand Herald)
- Vatican seeks to curb Mexico's Indian deacons | The special brand of evangelism of Mexico's Indian deacons has not escaped the notice of Rome. (The New York Times)
- 'Buying and selling' | Preacher calls adoption fees discriminatory against white babies (ABCNews.com)
- Orthodox Patriarch: Most Muslims want peace | Bartholomew says he sees signs of increased openness toward religious tolerance in the Muslim world. (The Boston Globe)
- Michiana mosque educating Christians | Many students attend, not so much to worship God, or Allah, but to understand the Islam religion (South Bend [Ind.] Tribune)
- Court overturns ban on giving wine to inmates at Communion | Prohibition may violate the inmates' constitutional rights, says U.S. Court of Appeals (The Washington Post)
- Fired bus driver who prayed with students sues Carroll school board | Officials maintain firing not related to prayer issue (Associated Press)
- Freedom of religion likened to garden | Constitutional scholar Stephen L. Carter says government's role is to protect the right to worship, not regulate it. (The Tucson Citizen)
- Fight over banned Chinese group moves to U.S. | Falun Gong activists irk Beijing by filing human rights lawsuits in American courts (The Washington Post)
- In Pennsylvania Dutch Country, Amish serving meals in homes run into legal troubles | "Amish restaurants" must be inspected and licensed like any other dining establishment. (Associated Press)
Colorado Senate prayer:
- 'I had to stand up and pray the word' | The Rev. David Meek did not plan to pray for legislators to make abortion illegal when he spoke to the state Senate on Tuesday (Greeley [Colo.] Tribune)
- Pastor's wife defends Statehouse prayer | What do folks expect Pentecostal minister to pray for? she asks (The Rocky Mountain News, Denver)
- Vouchers: Was a poll question 'cooked'? | A Stanford professor has accused the influential Phi Delta Kappa education association of "cooking the questions" in its closely watched annual survey of attitudes toward school vouchers so it could produce an anti-voucher result (The Washington Post)
- Schools iffy on wall art | While politicians push for posting the Ten Commandments and "In God We Trust" in classrooms, some educators question the value of simply tacking writings on walls (The Sun News, Myrtle Beach, S.C.)
- Britain's first multifaith school could open in 5 years | Controversy continued over the government's support for establishing more traditional church schools (The Times, London)
- Ohio board hears debate on an alternative to Darwinism (The New York Times)
- Also: Evolution challenged in US schools (BBC)
- Human origin debate hasn't evolved much | Is anything that lacks a scientific explanation a miracle - or the direct handiwork of some "intelligent designer"? (Tom Feran, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland)
- Is science calling God back to center stage? | For Christians, science may raise the questions but Jesus is the surer path to God. (David Wilkinson, The Canberra Times, Australia)
- Faiths share misdeeds by clergy | The Roman Catholic church's history of hushing up such scandals appears to be the norm, regardless of denomination. (Amy Pagnozzi, The Hartford Courant)
- Homosexuality is true plague on priesthood | Militant homosexuals and their timorous allies in the politically correct movement are hell-bent on perpetuating the disingenuous notion that the crisis engulfing the Catholic Church has its roots in pedophilia (Joe Fitzgerald, Boston Herald)
- Secrecy over abusive priests comes back to haunt church | The tough legal tactics that Roman Catholic dioceses employed for decades to keep incidents of sexual abuse by priests secret have now come back to haunt the church (The New York Times)
- Diocese, plaintiffs settle suit | 86 Geoghan cases to cost up to $30m (The Boston Globe)
- Also: Church OKs settlement | Geoghan victims get $20M in deal (Boston Herald)
- An overeager clergy watchdog | First, Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly wanted to run the Boston Red Sox. Now, he wants to run the Archdiocese of Boston (Joan Vennochi, The Boston Globe)
- Church seeks exemption in suit | Says its records are protected in molestation case (The Boston Globe)
- Church worker is sentenced | Given 2 1/2 years for seeking sex with Woburn teen (The Boston Globe)
- Catholics hear message on sex abuse | L.A. Cardinal Mahony's statement denounces 'scandalous evil.' Priests' deliveries-- and parishioners' responses--vary widely. (Los Angeles Times)
- Predator and victim struggling to heal | Today, some 16 years after he was sent to a treatment center for abusive priests, Neil Conway says he shares the private hell he created for others. (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland)
- Woman forgives priest, not church | "It's possible to recover from abuse and still love God" (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland)
- Teens' faith in fashion is their cross to wear | In recent months, sales of necklaces, earrings and other items bearing a cross or a crucifix have increased. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
- Miracle at the box office | Amateur moviemakers score blockbuster with drama about faith healing (The Courier News, Elgin, Illinois)
- Cockburn's musical passion lives in new CD | Anonymity doesn't stop 'Greatest Hits' collection (The Denver Post)
- W.W.J.E.? | To stay healthy, adopt the kind of diet Jesus would have followed—not the rich potluck fare of church socials, a doctor advises (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
- Drowning in the fountain of joy | A review of This Dark World (The Washington Post)
Other stories of interest:
- Bishop from Montreal drowns in Fla. | Sleiman Hajjar led Greek Melkite Catholics in Canada (Associated Press)
- The nuns' story | Social Security finally does the right thing (Editorial, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
- Materialism, indifference threaten Christianity, say Protestant clergymen (Wapakoneta [Ohio] Daily News)
- Secular science vs. faith | Connecting the TNIV and cloning (Paul Chesser, The Charlotte Observer)
- At 13 he had an exorcism | The Anglican Church doesn't call what it did to David Hicks an exorcism. But he certainly thought it was one. (Herald Sun, Melbourne, Australia)
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