Around the Nation

Around the Nation

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Loyal Bishop Named In Breakaway Diocese

LODI, Calif. -- A bishop loyal to the Episcopal Church leadership was elected Saturday to take over a California diocese that was the first to break away over the church's support for gay and women's rights.

At a special convention, local delegates voted Bishop Jerry Lamb, 67, head of the divided 47-church San Joaquin diocese, which stretches from Stockton to Bakersfield in California's central valley.

Lamb immediately named three women priests, the region's first, and called for "dialogue" with church members about including gay men and lesbians in local congregations as part of what he said would be his policy of "opening the doors wide."

The diocese voted overwhelmingly in December to leave the 2.4 million-member Episcopal Church, which has been in turmoil since 2003, when the national body named its first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

Former San Joaquin bishop John-David Schofield led the move to align the 8,800-member diocese with the conservative Anglican Church of the Southern Cone in South America. Episcopal leaders have ruled Schofield is no longer part of the church.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, leader of the U.S. Episcopal Church, was present at Saturday's vote.

Richardson in Colombia Talks

SANTA FE, N.M. -- New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) said three American hostages being held by rebel forces in Colombia appear to be in deteriorating health. Three U.S. defense contractors -- Marc Gonsalves, Thomas Howes and Keith Stansell -- have been held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, for five years. They were captured when their plane went down in rebel-held jungles in February 2003. Richardson returned Friday from Bogota, where he met with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and others to evaluate the chances that the men would be released. The rebels want to exchange the U.S. hostages for members of their group who are jailed by the Colombian government.

Philadelphia Officers Punished

PHILADELPHIA -- Two narcotics officers were demoted from an elite strike force and suspended without pay because of racially offensive stickers found inside a Police Department locker. Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey transferred officers Scott Schweizer and Eric Dial out of the Narcotics Strike Force to routine patrol in districts where they started as rookies. The officers were also each suspended for 20 days without pay and prohibited from using vacation days toward the unpaid leave. One sticker read: "White Power." The other depicted a cartoon of a man, half as an officer in uniform and half as a Klansman, with the words "Blue by Day -- White by Night."

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