New Orleans' Mardi Gras debauchery gives way to Lent
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Gaudy floats, beads and costumes gave way to street sweepers and repentance as Fat Tuesday ended and largely Catholic south Louisiana welcomed Ash Wednesday.
At midnight on Mardi Gras, a wedge of law enforcement – mounted horsemen – moved slowly down Bourbon Street to clear off remaining drinkers, declaring the all-day party over. Sweeper trucks began clearing tons of beer cans, broken beads and other trash from city streets dampened by intermittent rain showers throughout the day.
As Lydia Thumser, of Berlin, Germany, strolled through the city streets taking in the sights and sounds of her first Mardi Gras, she said she would like to attend her first Ash Wednesday service as well – even though she isn't Catholic.
Churches around the area scheduled Masses at which priests would dot or cross the foreheads of the faithful with ash to mark the start of the 40-day Lenten season of penitence and fasting.
As a parade of revelers strolled by in Mardi Gras masks, costumes and boas, New Orleans resident Diane Williams sipped wine on her front porch Tuesday and said she would worry about repenting Wednesday.
"Today is all about friends, family and vino," she said, adding that she is Catholic and planned to receive her ashes. "Getting ashes, it's a part of the tradition. I don't give anything up, I just try to be nicer to people because I feel that's more effective than giving something up."
Kentucky pastor wants return of snakes confiscated in Tenn.
MIDDLESBORO, Ky. (AP) – An eastern Kentucky pastor wants Tennessee wildlife officials to return five venomous snakes confiscated in Knoxville.
Gregory Coots, who's known as Jamie Coots, is pastor of at the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name Church in Middlesboro. Coots handles the snakes as part of worship services.
He told WYMT-TV in Hazard he bought three rattlesnakes and two copperheads in Alabama on Jan. 31. While he was driving through Knoxville, police stopped Coots for dark window tinting and saw the cages containing the snakes. A state wildlife officer confiscated them.
The district attorney general's office in Knoxville says Coots is charged with illegally possessing and transporting wildlife.
Coots was similarly charged in Kentucky in 2008. He said he now has a permit for snakes in Kentucky.
Lutheran synod leader sorry for Newtown pastor reprimand
ST. LOUIS (AP) – The president of a conservative Lutheran denomination has apologized for reprimanding a Newtown, Conn., pastor who participated in an interfaith prayer vigil in apparent violation of the church's constitution.
The Rev. Rob Morris of Christ the King Lutheran Church offered the benediction at the Dec. 16 vigil with other religious leaders – including Jewish, Muslim and Baha'i – for victims of the shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod President Matthew Harrison subsequently reprimanded Morris, saying the synod constitution bars joint worship for fear of giving the appearance that theological differences about salvation and other doctrines are not significant.
Media reports on the reprimand and Morris' apology incited outrage among some bloggers and posters on social media sites who expressed disapproval with the synod's decision.
On Monday, Harrison posted a video apology on the synod website saying his actions had only made things worse.
"I exacerbated the problem," a somber Harrison said. "I caused greater offense. I caused trouble for Pastor Morris and difficulty for the congregation and offense there in the midst of their suffering. Please forgive me."
Upstate NY group gets OK to bury Jewish holy items
MONROE, N.Y. (AP) – A Hudson Valley organization has been given authorization from New York state to properly dispose of Jewish books and other sacred objects damaged by Superstorm Sandy.
State Assemblyman Dov Hikind of Brooklyn says the Department of Environmental Conservation has granted burial rights to Beth Genizah Olam in the Orange County town of Monroe, 45 miles north of New York city.
The Jewish religion forbids certain holy objects from being discarded in the trash. Such objects, known as shaimos, must be disposed of in a respectful manner.
Hikind says between the Jewish holidays of Purim on Feb. 24 and Passover in late March and early April, six tractor-trailers will be available in Brooklyn and Monsey in Rockland County to collect damaged religious articles for burial in Monroe.
New bishop for Camden's Roman Catholic diocese
GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) – Hundreds gathered in a southern New Jersey church to witness the installation of Dennis Sullivan as the bishop of Camden's Roman Catholic Diocese.
Among those attending Tuesday's ceremony at St. Agnes Church in Gloucester Township were high-ranking church officials from all six of New Jersey's dioceses, including Newark Archbishop John Joseph Myers. Others on hand included New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput
The 67-year-old Sullivan previously served as vicar general of the New York archdiocese. He succeeds Joseph Galante as leader of the Camden diocese, which serves approximately 475,000 Catholics in Cape May, Atlantic, Cumberland, Salem, Gloucester and Camden counties.
The 74-year-old Galante announced his intent to resign in January 2012, citing ongoing dialysis treatments and several other health issues.
Phony Utah marriage counselor sentenced to jail
WEST JORDAN, Utah (AP) – A state judge has sentenced a man accused of posting as a Mormon marriage counselor to three years in jail and five years' probation for sexual misconduct.
In August, a jury convicted 59-year-old Arturo Tenorio of two counts of felony forcible sex abuse involving two female victims. On Tuesday, Tenorio was charged with two more counts of felony sex abuse involving two additional victims.
The Deseret News reports Tenorio immediately pleaded guilty to the two new counts as part of a plea agreement.
Police said Tenorio posed as a therapist, counseling couples referred to him through a Utah County bishop from a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints congregation.
The women testified during the trial that they were sexually abused during individual counseling sessions.