Religion Today Summaries - May 18, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - May 18, 2006

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:

  • America to Hear More from Billy Graham
  • Sudan Arrests Priest for ‘Kidnapping’ Missing Woman
  • Speakers at Vatican Meeting Discuss Correcting Confusion about Islam
  • Study Sees Roman Catholic Church Rebounding from Scandal

America to Hear More from Billy Graham

The world thought it heard the Rev. Billy Graham preach his last sermon and make his final altar call at the Greater New York Crusade last summer, and then again in the still-devastated New Orleans two months ago. But, the Christian Post reports, the 87-year-old evangelist is coming back to the stage alongside son Franklin Graham. The Metro Maryland Festival and 648 local churches are expected to welcome the two Grahams on July 7-9. According to his spokesman, Billy Graham is making future speaking engagements at the evangelistic festivals on a "case by case" basis, depending on his health. He had told the crowd in New Orleans that they would probably be his last audience, but his heart has proved stronger than his body. This is Franklin Graham's first festival in the Baltimore area; the elder Graham held a crusade there in 1981.

Sudan Arrests Priest for ‘Kidnapping’ Missing Woman

Missing for two months, a Muslim woman who reportedly wished to convert to Christianity surfaced yesterday in the Sudanese capital after her disappearance caused the arrest of an Episcopal priest, Christian clergymen said. Compass Direct reports that Shirakh Abdallah, 23, turned herself over to police after Arabic daily Al-Ashafa reported that the Rev. Elia Komondan had been arrested May 14 for kidnapping Abdallah. Abdallah went missing in March after visiting Rev. Komondan’s Episcopal church in Khartoum to request shelter. She had shown church staff at All Saints’ Cathedral her scars, saying that her father was abusing her because she had been spending time with Christians. Canon Sylvester Thomas of All Saints’ Cathedral said that he hoped Rev. Komondan would be released now that Abdallah had been found, “But we don’t know what is going to happen.”

Speakers at Vatican Meeting Discuss Correcting Confusion about Islam

More needs to be done to correct misunderstandings about Islam in Western nations and to promote religious freedom in predominantly Muslim nations, said some speakers at a Vatican conference on migration. Catholic News Service reports that the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers dedicated its May 15-17 discussions to problems and solutions surrounding migration to and from Muslim countries. The Vatican's foreign minister, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, told participants that reciprocity of fair religious treatment was lacking in "a large number of Muslim countries," adding that dialogue and cooperation between Christians and Muslims will become increasingly important over the years. Though government leaders may help facilitate dialogue, the archbishop said that spearheading and maintaining interreligious initiatives are the responsibility of religious leaders. Michael Galligan-Stierle of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said that after 20 years of dialogue, misunderstandings about Islam were still rampant among the West's general population, colleges, and universities. Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn said that's because the media fails to adequately explain the diversity of Islam and Muslims and the complex reality behind many of today's religious conflicts.

Study Sees Roman Catholic Church Rebounding from Scandal

A story in the New York Times reveals that a new study has found the scandal over sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church has not caused American Catholics to leave the church, or to stop attending Mass and donating to their parishes. Catholic participation and satisfaction with leadership dropped noticeably at the height of the scandal in 2002, but has now largely rebounded to prescandal levels. "There's been an expectation that there would be more Catholics exiting the faith, and clearly the polls show that there wasn't any evidence of that," said Mark M. Gray of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, which conducted the study. "It's a reflection of how resilient religious faith can be... Their faith was bigger than these events. Clearly there was a lot of dissatisfaction, but people remain Catholic." According to the study, the percentage of adult Americans who identify themselves as Catholic has remained steady at 23 percent, while the percentage of Catholics who say they attend Mass at least once a week also held steady from September 2000 to September 2005 at 33 percent.


In our Religion Today Summaries of May 18, our fourth summary, "Da Vinci Code Confirms Rather than Changes People's Religious Views," contained an error.

We had written: "Thirty percent of those polled [by The Barna Group] said they were likely to see The Da Vinci Code film in theaters."

We have corrected that to read: "The Barna study indicates that more than 30 million adults are likely to pay for a ticket to see the film – unless the early buzz regarding the film is negative."

Our sincere apologies to The Barna Group and our readers for the mistake.