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Religion news in brief

Wednesday - 8/6/2014, 12:13pm  ET

FILE - In this Aug. 29, 2009, file photo, U.N. General Assembly President Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann speaks at the presidential palace in La Paz, Bolivia. It was announced this August 4, 2014, that Pope Francis has lifted the suspension of the Maryknoll Father D'Escoto Brockmann, who was ordered 29 years ago to stop exercising his priestly ministry because he refused to give up his political position in Nicaragua's Sandinista government. (AP Photo/Juan Karita, File)

The Associated Press

Aid group: American with Ebola weak but improving

ATLANTA (AP) -- A second American who came down with Ebola in Liberia is now hospitalized in Atlanta.

SIM missionary Nancy Writebol has joined Samaritan's Purse Dr. Kent Brantly at Emory University Hospital, where they're being given an experimental treatment that has never before been tested on humans.

SIM USA President Bruce Johnson says he looks forward to praying with her and "telling her some of the stories of how God has made a way for her to come here."

Johnson says he spoke with her husband, who's still in Liberia. David Writebol said his wife was able to stand and get on the plane in Liberia with assistance. When she arrived in Atlanta, she was wheeled into the hospital on a stretcher.

Johnson says SIM has spent nearly $1 million since Writebol and Brantly were diagnosed with Ebola, and Samaritan's Purse has spent more than $1 million. He says the missionaries' medical evacuation insurance may cover some of the cost.

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Pittsburgh Episcopals OKs same-sex certificates

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh says its clergy may sign marriage certificates for same-sex couples.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports the new rule is spelled out in a letter to the diocese from Bishop Dorsey McConnell.

The Episcopal Church approved a provisional rite for same-sex couples at its General Convention last year, subject to approval by local bishops.

In approving the rite for use in the Pittsburgh diocese last year, McConnell did not order diocesan priests to perform same-sex marriages, but simply gave them the option to perform them if their conscience dictated. That was before a federal judge in May struck down Pennsylvania's law defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, effectively making same-sex marriage legal in the state.

Diocesan spokesman Rich Creehan said the latest move gives clergy who choose to marry same-sex couples the power to issue legally binding marriage certificates.

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Judge: Pittsylvania prayer injunction will remain

DANVILLE, Va. (AP) -- A judge says he won't dissolve an injunction barring Virginia's Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors from opening meetings with sectarian prayers.

An opinion filed by U.S. District Judge Michael Urbanski says a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling doesn't support dissolving the injunction.

In May, the Supreme Court upheld the practice of reciting prayers at the start of the Greece Town Board's meetings in Greece, New York. The Pittsylvania County board cited the ruling in its motion to dissolve or modify Urbanski's injunction.

Urbanksi says the Pittsylvania County case is different. He says the board took an active role in leading the prayers and dictating their content.

He says he can't modify the injunction while the board's appeal of it is pending before the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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Pope reinstates suspended pro-Sandinista priest

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Francis has reinstated a Nicaraguan priest suspended by the Vatican in the 1980s for participating in Nicaragua's leftist Sandinista government.

The 81-year-old Rev. Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann, Nicaragua's foreign minister from 1979-1990, recently wrote to Francis asking to be allowed to celebrate Mass again before he died. The Vatican said Monday that Francis had agreed and asked D'Escoto's superior in the Maryknoll order to help reintroduce him into priestly ministry.

The Vatican suspended D'Escoto and three other dissident priests in 1985 for defying a church ban on clergy holding government jobs. The sanction was also a reflection of St. John Paul II's broader crackdown on liberation theology in Latin America.

The Sandinistas, who supported the "popular church" of liberation theology, overthrew the pro-American regime of Anastasio Somoza in 1979.

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Orlando drops church lawsuit, moving MLS stadium

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- The mayor of Orlando says the Florida city is dropping eminent domain proceedings against a church that was holding up construction of a new downtown Major League Soccer stadium.

Mayor Buddy Dyer announced the decision Monday. The city is instead purchasing an additional parcel of land that will allow it to move the location of the new stadium one block west of the original site, leaving Faith Deliverance Temple untouched.

Church officials said last month they didn't want to sell their property, which sat in the middle of the planned development for the $100 million stadium.

The city filed eminent domain proceedings in May. It had offered the church as much as $4 million for its land, but it was rejected.

Orlando City Soccer Club plans to open the stadium in 2016.


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