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  Home :: 2007 March :: Religion Briefs

Religion Briefs

National Council of Churches releases 2007 yearbook

NEWYORK (AP) - The Roman Catholic, Southern Baptist and Methodist churchesremain the largest three denominations in the country, with the Mormonchurch ranking fourth in size, according to the latest edition of theYearbook of American and Canadian Churches.

The 2007 edition ofthe book, which is published by the National Council of Churches, anecumenical group based in New York, tallied statistics collected bychurches in 2005.The number of Roman Catholics rose nearly 2 percentsince the 2006 yearbook to more than 69 million, while the SouthernBaptists reported 16.3 million members.

The United MethodistChurch came in third with just over 8 million members, but that figurerepresents a decrease of 1.36 percent. The Church of God in Christ, aPentecostal denomination, was fifth with 5.5 million members.

Onlythree mainline Protestant denominations were among the 10 largestchurches. The Methodists were the largest, followed by the EvangelicalLutheran Church in America, which ranked seventh with a membership of4.85 million, and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), which ranked ninthwith a membership of nearly 3.1 million. Still, all three reporteddeclines.

Pentecostal churches, however, reported significantgrowth. As one example, the Assemblies of God increased nearly 2percent to 2.83 million.

Annual Catholic Appeal in Boston archdiocese surpasses goal

BOSTON(AP) _ The Roman Catholic Boston Archdiocese raised $13.8 million inits latest annual fund drive, the most since 2002 at the height of theclergy sex abuse scandal.

Donations to this past year's appealrose 15 percent over the previous year _ a 57 percent increase over2002, when income dropped to $8.8 million, archdiocese officials said.

Thenumber of donors has also rebounded. In 2000, when $17.2 million wascollected, 90,000 people contributed. That figure dropped to 38,000 in2002, then rose this past year to 50,000.

``Clearly, if you lookover the last four campaigns, there is a strong demonstration offorward movement and a recognition by Catholics of the progress that'staking place across the archdiocese,'' said Damien DeVasto, director ofthe Catholic Appeal.

The fundraising drive was formerly calledthe Cardinal's Appeal, but was renamed after Cardinal Bernard Lawresigned in 2002 as archbishop of Boston. Unsealed court files showedLaw had moved accused priests among parishes without notifying civilauthorities or the public.

Cardinal Sean O'Malley was installedas archbishop in 2003 and quickly settled with hundreds people whoclaimed to be abuse victims.

He too drew protests for areconfiguration plan for the archdiocese that resulted in the closureof 62 parishes and some Catholic schools.

Money raised by theannual appeal is used to support archdiocese operations, religiouseducation, youth ministries, clergy and laity training, spiritualdevelopment programs, and needy parishes.


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Pedophilia and sexual abuse of children in Australia