Deposition Postponed

A federal bankruptcy judge has agreed to postpone the deposition of Roman Catholic Archbishop William J. Levada in the Portland (Ore.) Archdiocese bankruptcy case.

Levada was the archbishop of Portland from 1986 to 1995. He then served as San Francisco's archbishop and in May was appointed head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which enforces Catholic teachings. The post was held by former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he became Pope Benedict XVI.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Elizabeth Perris signed an order July 29 agreeing to allow Levada to give the deposition in Portland on Jan. 12 instead of this month.

The judge said Levada must agree to acknowledge the jurisdiction of the court and waive any diplomatic immunity he might have because of his position at the Vatican, a sovereign state. The court filings state that Levada will let the scope of his testimony and the validity of any privilege he might claim be decided by the court.

Archdiocese spokesman Bud Bunce said he did not know whether Levada had signed the agreement.

Plaintiffs' attorneys want the archbishop to explain how he responded to abuse claims in Portland.

Last month, attorneys for the church offered to make Levada available if he could choose which questions he would answer, but plaintiffs' attorneys rejected the proposal.

In July 2004, the Portland Archdiocese became the first in the nation to file for bankruptcy protection amid millions of dollars in clergy sex abuse claims. Dioceses in Tucson and Spokane, Wash., also have filed. The Tucson Diocese settled its case last month.

-- Associated Press

Discord Over Barrier

Jewish organizations have condemned a demand by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) that Israel tear down the barrier it has built around and through the West Bank and pay reparations to Palestinians harmed by it.

The Jewish organizations said they were "gravely troubled" by the resolution calling for the wall's destruction, passed by delegates last week at the Disciples of Christ assembly in Portland, Ore.

"We wonder with amazement why your denomination proposes an action that would render innocent individuals even more vulnerable to terrorism," Jewish leaders wrote in a letter to the Rev. Sharon Watkins, president of the 770,000-member Protestant group.

The letter was endorsed by all three major branches of American Judaism and the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

Israel's West Bank barrier has disrupted the lives of thousands of Palestinians, who have been cut off from their land and restricted from reaching other villages and population centers. Israeli leaders say the barrier will slow suicide bombings, but the International Court of Justice has ruled that the wall is illegal.

Separately, several other Protestant denominations, frustrated by continued violence in the Mideast, have been researching whether to divest from companies that benefit from Israeli policy in occupied territories.

-- Associated Press

Considering Affiliation

The Cathedral of Hope, which calls itself the world's largest gay-friendly congregation, is considering affiliation with the United Church of Christ, officials announced.

On Wednesday, the Dallas-based Cathedral of Hope began a five-week series of meetings to explore the affiliation. If the 4,300-member congregation decides to affiliate, it would be the third-largest church in the 1.3 million-member Church of Christ.

Until 2002, the church was affiliated with Metropolitan Community Churches, which has a largely gay membership. Church officials said the congregation is considering joining the Church of Christ because of the mainline denomination's activism on gay equality issues.

The Church of Christ's General Synod voted July 4 to support gay civil marriage, drawing affiliations from at least 15 churches and causing a handful to leave.

Cathedral of Hope could vote on the affiliation proposal in October.

-- Religion News Service