Breakaway Parishes Sued

The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles announced that it has filed lawsuits against three breakaway parishes that aligned themselves with an Anglican diocese in Uganda.

The Southern California churches abandoned the local diocese in mid-August, saying that it had strayed from biblical teachings. Congregants objected to a local blessing for a same-sex couple and the national denomination's consecration of an openly gay bishop.

Bishop J. Jon Bruno, head of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, recently assigned two assistant bishops to serve the congregations and said he would appoint new lay governing boards. He said the lawsuits were filed "to secure and protect the church properties, which are owned in trust by the Episcopal Church, the diocese and our faithful parishioners."

The three breakaway parishes issued a statement saying they were "deeply disappointed" by the lawsuits. "The local churches hold the deeds to these properties, and hundreds of church families have raised money to acquire and build them," the statement said.

-- Associated Press

Priests Worry About Morale

More than two years after the clergy sex abuse scandal erupted, Catholic priests continue to be satisfied with their ministries, but they worry about declining morale in the priesthood, according to a survey by the director of a treatment center for troubled clergy.

The survey of 834 priests in 11 dioceses was conducted by the Rev. Stephen Rossetti, president of the St. Luke Institute in Silver Spring.

Rossetti said 92 percent of priests are happy as priests, 6 percent are considering leaving the priesthood and 83 percent say they would make the same choices if they had to do it all over again.

The survey was conducted between September 2003 and March 2004.

"Despite all that has happened, these men are resilient and are proud to be priests today," Rossetti wrote in the Sept. 13 edition of America magazine, a Jesuit weekly.

However, only 40 percent of priests agreed with the statement that "morale in the priesthood is good," and just 26 percent thought priests accused of abuse were treated fairly.

-- Religion News Service

Pastor Admits Plagiarism

The Rev. E. Glenn Wagner, senior pastor of Calvary Church in Charlotte, N.C., and former minister-at-large with Promise Keepers, has resigned after admitting that parts of some sermons were stolen from other preachers.

Wagner, 51, who said "a losing battle with depression" led him to plagiarize sermons the past two years, asked for forgiveness in a letter read at Sunday services.

"On a number of occasions, when I felt literally empty and devoid of any creative ability, I used material from the sermons of some of my brother preachers," Wagner's letter said.

Gary Hubler, clerk of the church's lay board, said Wagner's plagiarism was detected two weeks ago when a church elder heard a radio sermon that sounded like something he had heard Wagner preach.

Calvary is an independent evangelical congregation with a $39 million complex and 6,000-seat sanctuary.

-- Associated Press