NEW YORK -- A conservative Lutheran group has reprimanded a Newtown, Conn., pastor for participating in an interfaith vigil after the Sandy Hook massacre.
The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod said Rev. Rob Morris of Christ the King Lutheran Church inadvertently gave the impression he condoned joint worship by offering the benediction at a Dec. 16 event with other religious leaders for the elementary school shooting victims.
The church constitution bars clergy from praying with representatives from other religions, including some other Lutheran groups, for fear of giving the appearance that theological differences about salvation and other doctrines aren't significant.
The vigil included Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Baha'i leaders. President Barack Obama and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy attended.
In a statement posted Feb. 1 on a denominational blog, the Missouri Synod president, the Rev. Matthew Harrison, said Morris took "specific and commendable" steps to avoid violating the church's constitution: Morris requested an announcement before the event that participating clergy were not endorsing each other's views, and he read from Scripture.
However, Harrison concluded that the event was joint worship since other clergy wore their vestments and the vigil included prayers and religious readings.
Morris does not believe he engaged in joint worship, but has apologized, Harrison said.
Hagel nomination on track: Chuck Hagel's nomination to be the next defense secretary remains on track despite Republican demands for additional information about his paid speeches and business dealings, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Thursday. The GOP requests dealt a setback to President Barack Obama's pick, forcing the committee to announce late Wednesday it would postpone a vote on the nomination. A new date has not been set. Levin said the additional requests were extraordinary and that Hagel had complied with the panel.
Should reassess safety approval: The government should reassess its safety approval of the Boeing 787 lithium ion batteries, Deborah Hersman, the nation's top accident investigator said Thursday, casting doubt on whether the airliner's troubles can be quickly remedied. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating last month's battery fire in a Japan Airlines 787 "Dreamliner" while it was parked in Boston. The results so far contradict some of the assumptions that were made about the battery's safety at the time the system won government approval, said Hersman, NTSB chairman.
Test flights for Boeing 787 approved: Boeing won permission on Thursday for test flights of its 787 as it tries to fix battery problems that have kept the plane grounded. The Federal Aviation Administration said the test flights will have restrictions, including pre-flight testing and inspections, and in-flight monitoring. The tests are limited to airspace over unpopulated areas. Boeing said the tests will begin "soon" on one of the six airplanes it used for testing before the 787 was certified by the FAA in late 2011. It said the batteries will get a pre-flight inspection, and battery-related status messages will be monitored.
To attend Chicago girl's funeral: A White House official says Michelle Obama will attend Saturday's funeral for the 15-year-old Chicago girl who was killed after returning home from performing during inauguration festivities for President Barack Obama. Hadiya Pendleton was killed in a park close to the Obamas' home on Chicago's South Side. Police say a gunman hopped a fence and opened fire on a group of young people, killing the drum majorette. No arrests have been made. White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, both from Chicago, also will attend the funeral. Pendleton's death brought renewed attention to Chicago's homicide rate and the debate over gun violence in America.
Inch toward budget deal: A European Union summit to decide EU spending for the next seven years entered a second day after all-night negotiations left a standoff over spending unresolved. The leaders of the 27 nations inched toward a compromise today in Brussels that would leave their common budget with a real-term cut for the first time in the EU's history.
Contained 60 percent horsemeat: Some beef lasagna products recalled from British stores contained more than 60 percent horsemeat, U.K. food safety authorities said Thursday. It was the latest revelation in a growing scandal surrounding the use of horsemeat and the mislabeling of meat products in Europe. Frozen-food company Findus recalled the beef lasagna meals earlier this week after French supplier Comigel raised concerns that the products didn't "conform to specification." The U.K. Food Standards Agency said the lasagnas were tested as part of an ongoing investigation into mislabeled meat. Already this month, millions of burgers have been taken off shop shelves as it emerged that beef products from three companies in Ireland and Britain contained horse DNA.
China's auto sales surge 46 percent: China's auto sales rose 46 percent in January to a monthly record on strong demand for SUVs in pre-Lunar New Year shopping, an industry group reported today. Customers bought just over 2 million vehicles last month in China, the biggest auto market by number of vehicles sold, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. General Motors Co. said earlier its sales of GM-brand vehicles in China rose 26 percent in January to a monthly record of 310,765. Ford Motor Co. said sales of Ford-brand vehicles, including imports, rose 135 percent to 44,439 vehicles.
Tortured and burned alive: A mob stripped, tortured and bound a woman accused of witchcraft, then burned her alive in front of hundreds of horrified witnesses in a Papua New Guinea town, police said today. It was the latest sorcery-related killing in this South Pacific island nation.