The week in Pa. religion news: March 7, 2011

In a painful loss for Albert Snyder of York, Pa., the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that the First Amendment protects even hurtful speech about public matters, saying picketers from the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church had a right to protest at the 2006 military funeral of Snyder’s son.
Interestingly, the court did not address another First Amendment issue the case presented on Internet speech. Membership in the Patriot Guard Riders, who attend service-member funerals to drown out the vocal Westboro clan, shot up following the ruling.
United Methodist bishops and others across the state urged Gov. Tom Corbett to save Adult Basic, a health insurance plan that covered 41,000 low-income Pennsylvanians until last Monday. Most recipients are employed but make too much to qualify for Medicaid and not enough to purchase insurance on the private market.
Catholics in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia are unnerved by the possibility that three dozen predatory priests might still be serving in parishes, the NYT reported. The church has hired a former prosecutor to re-examine all cases involving priests in active ministry and review archdiocesean procedures.
On Tuesday, lawmakers from Philly introduced reform bills in the state legislature that would (a) eliminate Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations on both criminal and civil lawsuits for any future sex assaults on minors and (b) create a two-year legal “window” allowing victims to file civil lawsuits against their assailants no matter how long ago they were abused.
Allegheny County’s prosecutor said his office is reviewing all child sex abuse cases reported during the Pittsburgh tenure of the now-retired and infirm Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua of Philadelphia, whose involvement in the coverup of sex abuse cases came up in now two Philadelphia grand jury reports.
In Allentown’s diocese, Catholic parishioners at nine shuttered churches in persuaded a Vatican panel to overturn the bishop’s decision to close them down — a rare reversal that could signal a policy shift on U.S. church closures, reports the Morning Call.
Harrisburg’s Bishop Joseph P. McFadden hit up happy hour with young Catholics at Lancaster’s Annie Bailey pub (it’s Theology on Tap).
Ann Rodgers has a story about house blessings, which, in Eastern Orthodoxy, are traditionally clustered between Theophany — the Jan. 6 celebration of the baptism of Jesus — and Great Lent, which began at sundown Sunday. (Lent? Already?)

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3 Responses to The week in Pa. religion news: March 7, 2011

  1. The Supreme Court really made a huge mistake with this decision. The families have a right to peaceful funerals for their loved ones and when these idiots (Westboro) are there it disrupts the funeral and is so upsetting to the families. Westboro is so disgusting!!!!

  2. Blessing says:

    I found just what I was needed, and it was enettraining!

  3. Keisha says:

    HHIS I should have thgouht of that!

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