Priest killed as he finishes preaching
Larry Penzes, the 50-year-old priest of Our Lady of Peace Church in Lynbrook, Long Island, New York, was shot to death at the altar yesterday while celebrating Mass. Eileen Tosner, a 72-year-old parishioner, was also killed. Their murderer reportedly just walked in, pulled a .22-caliber rifle out of his coat, and opened fire. Others in the congregation—there were about 40 at the time, most of them elderly—chased the shooter out of the church and took his gun. He reportedly ran home. Police arrested Peter Troy, a 34-year-old with no apparent connections to the church.

"National Catholic officials said they could recall no other killing of a priest in this country while he was celebrating Mass," reported The New York Times, though "the killing of Father Penzes prompted some to compare the circumstances of his death to the killing of the archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Arnulfo Romero, who was shot while saying Mass in 1980. In 1985, a deranged man killed a priest in Onalaska, Wis., inside his church."

"This appears to be a fatal mix of a grievance, mental illness and a firearm," says an editorial in Long Island's Newsday. "Penzes was known as a man with a large heart, who succeeded in drawing large numbers of people into active roles in the parish. At 50, he had many productive years ahead of him, but a spasm of violence, aided by the barrel of a rifle, has cut him down and broken the heart of his people."

The editorial has an implied call for gun control, but a column in the paper calls for spiritual reflection. This sad event, writes Matthew Carolan, "reminds us of why we must pray. Because there is evil in the world. And because we do not know the day or the hour, but only that we must someday die. … For a time, fear of what happened yesterday may frighten some people away from their houses of worship. Security may be re-evaluated. These would be understandable reactions. But, at some point, faith in one's community must be restored. Otherwise, worship will be impossible."

That sentiment was also made by some of the church's parishioners. "If we're not safe in a church, that's pretty bad," Karen Aker told The New York Times. "This is where people get peace. It's where they go to pray. This is awful." Indeed it is.

Other stories on religion and murder:

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Eugene Rivers accused of discriminating against Muslim
Ex-con Gerald Jones has filed a discrimination complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination against one of America's best-known ministers, Eugene Rivers, reports The Boston Globe. Jones says he was kicked out of Rivers's Ella J. Baker House, which includes rehabilitation for convicts among its programs, because he was a Muslim. Andre Norman, a Baker House worker also named in the complaint, says Jones left because of a drinking problem. "The charges are groundless, but it's a free country and people can sue who they wish," Rivers told the Globe. The Baker House, a frequent example for supporters of Bush's faith-based initative, has posted its nondiscrimination policy on its Web site. The Globe doesn't note that Rivers's father was personally recruited to the Nation of Islam by Malcolm X.

Young Asian churches are booming in America
In the northwest, where Asian populations are growing quickly, The Seattle Times noticed that a lot of young Asian-Americans have formed their own churches. "Although experts don't have exact numbers, they say that in this region, and nationwide, more pan-Asian-American Christian churches are being established, mainly by those in their 20s to 40s," reports Janet I. Tiu. (Actually, Weblog would wager that someone out there has more exact numbers.) "Some are not just pan-Asian but intentionally multiracial. … The new congregations typically prefer casual worship styles. Denominational affiliations don't particularly matter to them, but an egalitarian sense of brotherhood and sisterhood does. They are community- and social-justice-oriented, although not necessarily political, and they are open to diversity while retaining a thread of common experience."

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Sex & marriage:

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Interfaith relations:

Religious freedom:

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Colorado Senate prayer:


  • Vouchers: Was a poll question 'cooked'? | A Stanford professor has accused the influential Phi Delta Kappa education association of "cooking the questions" in its closely watched annual survey of attitudes toward school vouchers so it could produce an anti-voucher result (The Washington Post)

  • Schools iffy on wall art | While politicians push for posting the Ten Commandments and "In God We Trust" in classrooms, some educators question the value of simply tacking writings on walls (The Sun News, Myrtle Beach, S.C.)

  • Britain's first multifaith school could open in 5 years | Controversy continued over the government's support for establishing more traditional church schools (The Times, London)



  • Faiths share misdeeds by clergy | The Roman Catholic church's history of hushing up such scandals appears to be the norm, regardless of denomination. (Amy Pagnozzi, The Hartford Courant)

  • Homosexuality is true plague on priesthood | Militant homosexuals and their timorous allies in the politically correct movement are hell-bent on perpetuating the disingenuous notion that the crisis engulfing the Catholic Church has its roots in pedophilia (Joe Fitzgerald, Boston Herald)

  • Secrecy over abusive priests comes back to haunt church | The tough legal tactics that Roman Catholic dioceses employed for decades to keep incidents of sexual abuse by priests secret have now come back to haunt the church (The New York Times)

  • Diocese, plaintiffs settle suit | 86 Geoghan cases to cost up to $30m (The Boston Globe)

  • Also: Church OKs settlement | Geoghan victims get $20M in deal (Boston Herald)

  • An overeager clergy watchdog | First, Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly wanted to run the Boston Red Sox. Now, he wants to run the Archdiocese of Boston (Joan Vennochi, The Boston Globe)

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Pop culture:


  • W.W.J.E.? | To stay healthy, adopt the kind of diet Jesus would have followed—not the rich potluck fare of church socials, a doctor advises (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Drowning in the fountain of joy | A review of This Dark World (The Washington Post)

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