The Rev. Cho Yong-gi, founder and pastor emeritus of Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, South Korea, one of the largest Pentecostal churches in the world, has been sentenced to three years in prison for embezzling church funds.
Cho was found guilty of causing $12 million in losses to the church by having officials in 2002 buy stocks owned by his eldest son, Cho Hee-jun, at four times the market value, Yonhap reported on Thursday.
The 78-year-old pastor, who founded the church in 1958, will also have to pay about $4.6 million in fines. The junior Cho will also be serving a three-year prison term for colluding with his father, the Seoul Central District Court ruled. more >>
The Roman Catholic Church has responded to a highly critical U.N. report demanding that it stop protecting child abusing clergy, by claiming it is doing more than any other international organization to combat the highly-publicized problem.
"Sexual abuse of a minor is a sin and a crime and no organization can become complacent about addressing it. The Catholic Church has certainly done more than any other international organization to face the problem and it will continue to lead in doing so," said Sister Mary Ann Walsh, director of Media Relations for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a post following the publication of a report by the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child.
The report, a follow-up to a U.N. panel which in January directly questioned Holy See representatives at a conference in Geneva about the Vatican's record on child sex abuse handling, demands that the Catholic Church "immediately remove all known and suspected child sexual abusers from assignment and refer the matter to the relevant law enforcement authorities for investigation and prosecution purposes." more >>
The Vatican promised to make changes to the way it handles child abuse cases after a U.N. panel in Geneva on Thursday questioned why the Roman Catholic Church refuses to release more information about such incidents, and what it is doing to prevent future abuse.
"We will very gladly take this occasion as a constructive moment, an important occasion, to reaffirm the value and the procedures of the convention and to accept any good advice that is given for that can be helpful in the protection of children," said Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, permanent observer of the Holy See to the U.N. in Geneva.
The Roman Catholic Church was asked if it believes "that pedophilia is something that can be successfully overcome." The Convention on the Rights of the Child pointed to child sexual abuse cases concerning clergy who were moved instead of defrocked. more >>
The Church of England recently clarified its move to offer alternatives to phrases such as "repent" of one's sins and "reject the devil" in baptism services after it was accused of "dumbing down" the official text.
The church body said in a statement Saturday that a 2011 motion requesting for additional materials with "culturally appropriate and accessible language" "would not replace or revise the current Baptism service but would be available for use as alternatives to three parts of the service."
The motion had been proposed by a group of clergy from the Diocese of Liverpool who felt "they were losing touch with congregations at important moments," such as baptisms. They felt a "tension between understandability and historic theological reference in our rites" especially when unchurched persons, such as godparents, were involved. more >>
John C. Nienstedt, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, has voluntarily stepped down from all public ministry amid a police investigation into allegations that he touched a minor inappropriately in 2009, though he has denied the claims.
"The archdiocese is mindful of the due process concerns of those involved. There must be justice and due consideration of the rights and dignity of every human person, both the individual involved and the archbishop. This is not only the bedrock of our beliefs as Catholics, but also of the justice system of our country," the archdiocese said in an official statement Tuesday.
All within the archdiocese "will be subject to the internal policies we have established," the statement continued. "Our thoughts and prayers remain with the individual involved and the archbishop as justice is pursued and all may move forward on a path toward healing." more >>
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints posted an official statement on Friday denouncing its previous theories that black skin color is a sign of a divine curse, or that black people are descended from the biblical figure Cain, and said that its past ban on black priests stemmed from an announcement from former church president Brigham Young in 1852.
"The Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else," the 2,000 word statement on the official church website read. "Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form."
While the ban on black priests was lifted in 1978, The Associated Press and other sources have pointed out that there had never been much in the way of explanation from the church for its past stance. more >>