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COMMENTARY: Lent isn’t just a second chance at New Year’s resolutions

(RNS) So here we go again. It's that time of year _ Lent, when many Christians give something up. Often it's food, although my mom told me when I was a kid that giving up vegetables doesn't count.     A few years ago, as we approached Lent, a few of my friends (who during the rest of the year rejected religion), announced they, too, were giving something up. W...
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Will the Catholic Church change its stand on marriage and divorce?

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis made headlines this week when he officiated at the weddings of 20 couples, including  some who had been living together and a woman who has a daughter from a previous relationship. It was the first time that the Argentine pontiff had presided over a...
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Book on pastoral succession: ‘All pastors are interim pastors’

(RNS) When megachurch pastor Max Lucado greeted his successor at his San Antonio church, the two stood onstage and tried to put on each other’s shoes. They couldn’t. The problem? Randy Frazee, Lucado’s successor, was six inches shorter. The point, say co-authors William Vanderbl...
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In McAllen, Texas, faith groups responded, while Washington dithered (COMMENTARY)

 (RNS) In the face of an imploding immigration system, an exploding political debate and a deadlock on reform in Washington, it was religious leaders who rallied to form a humanitarian response to the surge of unaccompanied children crossing the border to the United States this summ...
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Many church choirs are dying. Here’s why

(RNS) James Merritt spent years as senior pastor of an Atlanta-area megachurch that featured a mighty choir.     Then he changed his tune.     At 50, he left First Baptist Church Snellville to plant a new church _ 200 people in a rented space at a high school 12 miles away _ focus...
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Religious communities can do more to get out the vote (COMMENTARY)

(RNS) Much is at stake in this year's midterm elections.      * A low voter turnout would be disheartening. If people get the government they vote for, then not voting at all distorts the outcome. The stay-at-home party can't be read, can't be responded to or taken seriously. Afric...
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For Ismaili Muslims, a Toronto milestone

TORONTO (RNS) Two new Muslim attractions opening soon should help dispel negative stereotypes of Islam, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said.     The country's first museum of Islamic art is scheduled to open Thursday (Sept. 18) in the heart of Canada's largest city, Toronto...
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Mormons embrace social media to push back against official church teachings

BERKELEY, Calif. (RNS) It was a gathering that would have been unthinkable just five years ago.     On a cool summer evening, in a borrowed classroom overlooking San Francisco Bay, about 150 men and women gathered to screen a short documentary about a Mormon family whose 13-year-ol...
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New Jersey nun beatification set for next month in Newark

NEW YORK (RNS) New Jersey is often dismissed as a cultural wasteland of traffic jams and suburban sprawl, mobster graveyards and lost dreams — source material for native son rockers like Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi. But soon the state may also be known as home of the latest...
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Vatican: Pope Francis not under threat from Islamic State militants

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis faces no specific threat from Islamic State militants and will not be adding extra security measures on his one-day trip to Albania next week, the Vatican said Monday (Sept 15). The Vatican’s chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said despite...
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Catholic League drops out of St. Patrick’s Day parade over row about gays

NEW YORK (RNS) After organizers agreed to allow a gay and lesbian group to march, William Donohue of the Catholic League announced that his organization would not take part in next year’s popular celebration of Irish-American culture, New York’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. Donohue s...
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