Religion news in brief

The Associated Press Published:

Ohio priest from breakaway group is excommunicated

CLEVELAND (AP) -- The Roman Catholic bishop in Cleveland says a priest who ministers to a breakaway congregation has been excommunicated.

A statement from Bishop Richard Lennon says the penalty is meant to encourage the Rev. Robert Marrone to reconcile with the church and doesn't mean he's no longer a member.

Marrone began celebrating Mass for former parishioners of St. Peter Catholic Church in a new space after the church closed in 2010 amid downsizing by the diocese. It reopened last year.

Lennon says Marrone is defying church authority by leading the breakaway group and has refused to reconcile.

Frank Titus of Lyndhurst is part of Marrone's group and tells The Plain Dealer newspaper the bishop's decision saddens him but isn't surprising.

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Judge rules Mo. library violated First Amendment by blocking minority religion content

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- A federal judge has ordered a small library in southern Missouri to stop blocking access to websites related to Wicca and other minority religions, calling it a violation of patrons' First Amendment rights.

U.S. District Judge E. Richard Webber issued the ruling Tuesday in St. Louis in a case involving the Salem Public Library.

"Even libraries that are required by federal law to install filtering software to block certain sexually explicit content should never use software to prevent patrons from learning about different cultures," Tony Rothert, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri, said in a statement Wednesday.

Library director Glenda Wofford declined comment. A message seeking comment from the library's attorney was not immediately returned.

The ACLU sued last year on behalf of Salem resident Anaka Hunter. Salem is a largely Christian community of 5,000 residents in the Missouri Ozarks.

Hunter was researching death and death rituals in minority religions in an effort to get more in touch with her Native American roots through spirituality, the ACLU said.

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Iraq's Chaldean Catholic Church enthrones new patriarch at ceremonial mass

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Iraq's Chaldean Catholic Church enthroned a new patriarch during a ceremonial mass held under tight security in Baghdad.

The Wednesday mass at St. Joseph's Chaldean church in downtown Baghdad marked the final step as Louis Sako, 64, replaced Emmanuel III Delly, who has retired.

Iraqi troops sealed off all roads leading to the church in the middle-class neighborhood of Karradah and worshippers were searched by security forces before going in.

Last month, bishops of the Eastern rite church chose Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk since 2003, as their patriarch and later, Pope Benedict XVI approved the election.

Sako was ordained in 1974, earned two doctorates in Rome and Paris in the 1980s and then returned to Iraq. He has written books on church fathers. He speaks Arabic, Chaldean, French, English and Italian.

Since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, Iraqi Christians have suffered repeated violence by Islamic militants and hundreds of thousands have fled the country.

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UN aid agency cancels Gaza marathon after Hamas bans women runners

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- The United Nations canceled a planned marathon in Gaza after the Palestinian territory's Hamas rulers banned women from participating, in a new attempt by the Islamic militant group to impose its ideology inside the crowded coastal strip.

The dispute threatened to further strain the already delicate relationship between Hamas and the United Nations. Gaza sportswomen met the news with resignation, saying their conservative society had made it difficult to train even before the ban.

Since seizing power in Gaza in 2007, Hamas has issued a number of edicts meant to constrain the freedoms of women. But a number of these initiatives fizzled in the face of public opposition, making the ban on female runners somewhat surprising. Hamas had also recently relaxed some of its earlier orders imposing its conservative interpretation of Islamic law.

The race was meant to run the entire length of the tiny territory -- which is slightly shorter than the official length of a 26.2 mile (42-kilometer) marathon. Some 800 people registered, including 266 Palestinian women and 119 women from abroad.

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Stuttgart museum returns painting to estate of Jewish collector forced to sell it under Nazis

BERLIN (AP) -- A Stuttgart museum has returned a 600-year-old painting to the estate of Jewish art dealer Max Stern, who was forced to sell his collection before fleeing Nazi Germany.

The oil painting "The Virgin with Child," attributed to the Master of Flemaile -- an unidentified Flemish artist from the early 1400s -- was turned over by Staatsgalerie Stuttgart at a ceremony Tuesday at the Canadian Embassy in Berlin.

Stern closed his gallery in 1937 under pressure from the Nazis and sold its paintings before fleeing Germany and resettling in Montreal.

He died in 1987 as a successful Canadian gallery owner, and bequeathed his collection to several institutions.

The Max Stern Restitution Project, headed by Montreal's Concordia University, is working to retrieve the missing pieces. Ten of some 400 have been returned.

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Man kicked out of Neb. law school sues, says he was victim of racial, religious discrimination

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- An Omaha man kicked out of the University of Nebraska's law school just months before he was set to graduate is suing the school and others, saying he was discriminated against because of his Arabic heritage and Muslim beliefs.

Mohammad Al-Turk filed the lawsuit on Tuesday in Nebraska's federal court, naming the University of Nebraska College of Law, several law school officials, the University of Nebraska and the university's Board of Regents.

Al-Turk's lawsuit says he was dismissed over allegations that he plagiarized a rough draft of a paper, then lied about it. Al-Turk denies those allegations.

He is seeking an unspecified amount and is asking for injunctions to prevent the university, law school and school officials from discriminating against others.

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