Santeria priest appeals animal slaughter decision
Becket Fund for Religious Liberty files the appeal
EULESS, Texas — A Santeria priest has filed an appeal in federal court after he lost his religious-freedom challenge to a city ban on animal slaughter.
The Washington- based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty filed an appeal Tuesday on behalf of Jose Merced to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
“The First Amendment was written to protect the ability of all faiths to worship in their own homes and in their own way,” Kevin “Seamus” Hasson, president of the Becket Fund said in a statement. “People of all faiths should be concerned when the government says someone cannot practice their religion in their own home.”
Merced — an Oba, or priest — said animal sacrifices are an essential devotion in Santeria, a religion that emerged in Cuba when Yoruba slaves fused elements of Roman Catholicism with their religious traditions from Africa.
Merced sought a permit from Euless officials but was denied permission to sacrifice goats as part of a religious ceremony. For the rite, a 4-inch blade is used to sever an animal’s carotid artery, letting blood fall on a shrine. The animal is then prepared and eaten.
Euless officials have insisted in court that local sanitation ordinances prohibit the slaughter of certain kinds of animals inside city limits. Officials could not discuss the case because the city does not comment on pending litigation, said Euless spokeswoman Betsy Deck.
U.S. District Judge John McBryde ruled in favor of the city of Euless last month, saying Merced could perform his animal sacrifices elsewhere, but not in the Fort Worth suburb.
In 1993, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye in Hialeah, Fla., and issued an opinion protecting the rights of Santeria practitioners to ritually slaughter animals.
Sisters give up monastery
INDIANAPOLIS — The shrinking number of women called to Roman Catholic religious vocations has caught up with the Carmelite Sisters of Indianapolis. They’re giving up their monastery and moving in with another order 60 miles away.
who’ve maintained a presence on Indianapolis’ northwest side for 75 years, are moving this summer to the southeastern Indiana town of Oldenburg to live alongside the Sisters of St. Francis.
The Carmelites’ numbers have fallen off to just nine sisters from 12 four years ago, and their average age has grown to the mid-70s. Meanwhile, efforts in recent years to recruit new members have produced few takers.
“We feel we will have quite a few more years to live our life the way it is supposed to be lived. Then we will die out. There is no question about that,” said Sister Jean Alice McGoff, prioress of the monastery and a resident for 59 years.
It’s a fate other religious orders for women also face, said Patricia Ann Wittberg, a sociologist and professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
The Sisters of Providence based at St. Mary-of-theWoods in western Indiana have declined from 1,000 sisters in the 1960s to about 450 today. The Sisters of St. Francis in Oldenburg, where the Carmelites are headed, have dropped from a peak of 850 to about 290.
Social forces have worked against religious communities, Wittberg said.
Catholic neighborhoods of the early 20th century were more “encapsulated” than they are now, she said. Nuns were highly visible in schools, and their service was revered. Life as a nun also offered women education and career opportunities unavailable elsewhere. Women today have broader opportunities. Diminished role
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Mis- souri Democrat who is also a Methodist minister, says he will be taking a smaller role at the church he has led for more than 35 years.
Cleaver said April 6 that the Rev. Emanuel Cleaver III, will become co-pastor at the St. James United Methodist Church on July 1. The younger Cleaver is expected to become senior pastor in two years.
Cleaver, a first-term congressman, has tried to balance serving as pastor and lawmaker, but said the congregation needs a full-time pastor.
“ You deserve somebody who is going to be here all the time,” he said.
The congregation says it has more than 2,000 members and holds services in a 1,000person sanctuary. Cleaver, 63, was a two-term Kansas City mayor and earned a master’s degree in 1974 from St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City.