Bahai News -- Toledo Blade - Catholics made headlines with scandals, successes
Religion | Article published Saturday, December 28, 2002
Catholics made headlines with scandals, successes
Pope’s Toronto visit was a bright spot in a dark year
By DAVID YONKE
BLADE RELIGION EDITOR
In 2002, religion news both locally and nationally was dominated by the Catholic Church - primarily coverage of the priest sex scandal. But
there were many other noteworthy events among religious communities in Toledo and the surrounding region.
Young Catholics at World Youth Day provided
light in an otherwise dark year.
Bishop James Hoffman, leader
of the 325,000-member Toledo Catholic Diocese, removed five priests from ministry this year for sexual misconduct involving minors and at least
13 lawsuits have been filed against the diocese and its former priests.
The local developments were part of a national crisis that
erupted in January in Boston, that led the embattled archbishop, Cardinal Bernard Law, to resign Dec. 13.
Toledo’s 70-year-old bishop,
who has been in office since 1981, announced in November that he is suffering from cancer of the esophagus and is undergoing radiation and
Not all Catholic news was negative, however.
One of the biggest events, for Toledo and around the globe,
was World Youth Day 2002, held in Toronto, Canada. More than 700 Catholics from the Toledo Diocese joined people from more than 190 nations at
the weeklong event. Pope John Paul II inspired hundreds of thousands with his passionate words. A highlight was the Pontiff’s celebration of
Mass for 800,000 faithful who had camped overnight at a former military base awaiting the Sunday morning service.
In April, the majestic
$4 million All Saints Catholic Church opened its doors in Rossford, rising from the ashes after a New Year’s Eve fire destroyed the parish
Among the famous visitors who came to Toledo this year were the Rev. Jerry Falwell, Bishop Gilbert E. Patterson, Rabbi Eric
Yoffie, Marianne Williamson, Deion Sanders, Bishop Mark S. Hanson, and His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, head of the 15 million-member Coptic
In April, Ms. Williamson, the New Age evangelist known as "the guru to the stars," spoke at Notre Dame Academy in
Toledo for the Interfaith Justice and Peace Center’s Peace Festival.
On Aug. 31, Pope Shenouda consecrated the new St. George Coptic
Orthodox Church of Toledo, located on Waterville-Monclova Road. The facility has a capacity of about 230 and was built at a cost of
Bishop Patterson, worldwide head of the 6 million-member Church of God in Christ, helped celebrate the opening of St. James
Holiness Church’s building on Nebraska Avenue. The church founded by the late Bishop William James is known as "The Armory," for equipping the
saints for spiritual battle, and seats more than 3,000 people.
Mr. Falwell, introduced as "God’s flak jacket for conservatism," honored
Toledo Baptist Temple’s 50th anniversary with a Sunday morning sermon on Nov. 17. It was only the sixth time in his 47 years as pastor that
Mr. Falwell missed a Sunday morning service at his home church in Lynchburg, Va.
Bishop Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America stopped briefly in Toledo in September on his way to a church conference in Lakeside-on-Lake-Erie, Ohio. In an interview, the bishop
spoke of the many challenges facing the 5.1 million-member ELCA.
Rabbi Yoffie, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations,
the central body of the Reform movement in North America, came to Toledo last month to speak at a regional conference.
Mr. Sanders, the
flashy football star known as "Prime Time," gave his personal testimony last month at Cornerstone Church.
Cornerstone’s pastor, the
Rev. Michael Pitts, marked his first nationally distributed book release in the summer when Help! I Think God Is Trying To Kill Me was
published by Whitaker House, one of the leading Christian publishing companies.
Rabbi Michael Ungar, leader of Temple B’nai Israel for
five years, left in July to take a position at a Columbus synagogue.
Interfaith efforts among Toledo’s diverse religious community
showed great gains with a stirring Sept. 11 memorial service at the University of Toledo’s Nitschke Hall. Jewish, Hindu, Catholic, Baha’i,
Buddhist, mainline Protestant, Muslim, Christian Orthodox, Unitarian, and Ojibway Nation leaders gathered on the one-year anniversary of the
attacks to honor the heroes and the ordinary people who were killed by the terrorists.
Leading religious peace activists who spoke in
Toledo in 2002 included the Rev. Roy Bourgeois, known for his efforts to close the U.S.-sponsored School of the Americas in Georgia, and the
Rev. Daniel Berrigan, who died earlier this month.
Close enough to have drawn many Toledoans was the four-day mission in Cincinnati put
on by the Rev. Billy Graham. The 83-year-old evangelist reported that he felt weak during his sermons, but his organization said more than
11,000 people stepped forward to receive Christ during the mission.
Some of the biggest names in contemporary gospel music came to
northwest Ohio in 2002, including Kirk Franklin, Steven Curtis Chapman, Alvin Slaughter, Third Day, Phil Keaggy, and Plus One. A homegrown
band, Sanctus Real, became the first Christian rock group from this area to sign with a major label, Sparrow Records.
A dozen Buddhist
monks from Gaden Shartse Monastic College in southern India visited Toledo in October and demonstrated chanting and butter sculpture and
created a sand mandala.
Toledo movie theaters had VeggieTales fans packed like sardines when Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie
opened in October. The $20 million film was the first Christian movie made with computer-animated graphics that held its own with the big
Hollywood and Disney studios.
©Copyright 2002, The Toledo Blade (OH, USA)
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