Cardinal Law

Headed to Md.

Cardinal Bernard Law, who resigned as archbishop of Boston while under fire in the clergy sexual abuse scandal, is moving to Maryland.

Law resigned his post as archbishop in mid-December after nearly a year of damaging revelations about his role in handling allegations that priests had sexually abused children.

Law issued a statement yesterday saying he plans to move to Clinton and to live at a house owned by the Sisters of Mercy of Alma, a conservative order of nuns based in Alma, Mich.

"I am very grateful to the Sisters of Mercy of Alma for their kind invitation to be their guest during this time of transition," Law said. "It is my hope to be of assistance to the sisters as a chaplain."

Law said no date has been set for his move. He is currently on retreat.

The house is on the grounds of a convent.

-- Associated Press

Focus on Family

Cutting Positions

Focus on the Family, an influential evangelical Christian group, has laid off 34 employees and eliminated an additional 66 positions as a result of a drop in donations, the ministry said this week.

The Colorado-based media and broadcast ministry says it will cut $5 million from its $130 million budget in response to a 3 percent decrease in giving that stretches back to fall 1999.

The layoffs are the first in the 26-year history of the organization, which child psychologist James Dobson founded in Arcadia, Calif., and moved to Colorado Springs 12 years ago. The layoffs affected 2.6 percent of the ministry's Colorado Springs work force, which had held steady at 1,300 for several years.

The employees who lost their jobs held low- to mid-level positions across the ministry, and some will be considered for open positions that have not been eliminated, said spokesman Paul Hetrick.

Focus on the Family relies entirely on donations for its budget, and the ministry says the average donation is $30. The organization avoids taking on debt and has no reserve fund. Dobson said, "If the money doesn't come, we simply do less."

Dobson issued fundraising pleas in his newsletter and on his radio show in recent years, allowing the ministry to make up ground but not recover completely.

In October, the Focus on the Family board of directors, of which Dobson is chairman, ordered the $5 million budget reduction, according to a Jan. 30 memo from Dobson to his staff. He called the layoffs heart-wrenching but necessary.

-- Religion News Service

Lesbian Minister

Wins Ruling

A ruling by an appeals committee of the United Methodist Church will allow a lesbian pastor to avoid a church trial and pave the way for her return to ministry.

The Western Jurisdiction Committee on Appeals in Seattle upheld a decision by a regional board to dismiss a complaint against the Rev. Karen Dammann, 46. She was accused of violating church law that bars gay people who are sexually active from being ordained.

"We're very happy with the decision," Dammann said. The ruling came in a 4 to 3 vote Jan. 30.

The Rev. Jeff Procter-Murphy of Phoenix, a member of the appeals committee, said church law on gays encouraged duplicity and was "morally and theologically untenable."

He said that Dammann was open with her superiors about her relationship and shouldn't be punished for that.

The Rev. Marv Vose, the panel's chairman, was among the three dissenters. They said the committee "made an egregious error of church law by dismissing the complaint."

Dammann was pastor of Woodland Park United Methodist Church in Seattle in February 2001 when she informed Bishop Elias Galvan, head of the Pacific Northwest Conference, that she was in a homosexual relationship.

The church's highest court, the Judicial Council, directed Galvan to file a complaint. The latest decision can be appealed to the Judicial Council, but there was no immediate announcement of such an action.

Dammann has been living with her partner in Amherst, Mass. She plans to return to the Northwest this summer and seek an appointment to a church in the region.

-- Associated Press