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Oct 29, 12:22 PM EDT

Religion news in brief

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AP Photo/David Goldman

Multimedia
Mass. Catholics hold vigil in endangered churches
Convent shuts after helping generations 'overcome'
Inside a Voodoo Gede ceremony
Religion News
Germany's main Jewish leader steps down

Vatican admits Sistine Chapel frescoes 'whitened'

Pope maps out personal (and progressive) policy

Churchill plans suites for owners of Derby horses

Religion news in brief

Pope praises 'heroic' responders to Ebola

Pope delivers mini-encyclical on poor, environment

Museum of Jewish history opens in Poland

Austria to decide future of Saudi-funded center

Mexican claiming sanctuary in church seeks amnesty

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Ebola nurse on defensive gets call from Obama

ATLANTA (AP) - A nurse who fueled Ebola fears by flying to Cleveland after being infected by her dying patient is thanking God and her caregivers for her recovery.

Amber Vinson was released Tuesday from an isolation unit at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. She said, "With God, all things are possible."

Vinson's trip home to join her bridesmaids for wedding preparations was one of several moves by doctors and nurses that could have exposed others in the United States. In Ohio alone, 163 people were still being monitored Tuesday because of contact or potential contact with Vinson in a bridal shop and on the airplanes she used. Vinson arrived in Dallas on Tuesday evening, after tests showed she is now free of the virus.

Vinson didn't take any questions at Emory. Instead she read a statement thanking God, her doctors and people who prayed for her and her family. She also thanked missionaries Nancy Writebol and Kent Brantly for donating blood plasma to her and others after their recovery from Ebola.

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Southern Baptists tell pastors: hold line on gays

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - More than a thousand evangelicals who believe gay sex is sinful are attending a conference hosted by the Southern Baptist Convention.

At the three-day conference, called "The Gospel, Homosexuality and the Future of Marriage," Southern Baptist leaders have sought to express their views in a way that's humble and compassionate, but rooted in the belief that marriage is only between a man and a woman.

The Rev. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said gay marriage is a "rejection of God's law." But Mohler and the Rev. Russell Moore, who heads the denomination's public policy arm, also said they don't believe people can necessarily eliminate same-sex attraction.

Moore added that Southern Baptists do not support "reparative therapy" for gays based on psychological counseling. But he said the denomination believes biblical teaching can help people live chastely while being attracted to people of the same gender.

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Mexican claiming sanctuary in church seeks amnesty

DENVER (AP) - A Mexican man who has been living in a Denver church basement to avoid deportation says he is prepared to stay as long as it takes to gain the freedom to live in the U.S.

Arturo Hernandez, who is a contractor, has been granted sanctuary at the First Unitarian Society of Denver. Immigration officials say they do not pursue people wanted for immigration violations into sensitive areas like churches unless they have committed serious crimes.

Hernandez said the United States should welcome people willing to work hard, even if they are in this country illegally.

Hernandez acknowledges he got into a scrape with another contractor while laying floor tile. He was arrested and then acquitted when he went to trial. The deportation order came after his arrest, and he was ordered expelled from the country earlier this month.

Hernandez left his wife and two children and moved into the church basement Tuesday. His family comes to visit almost every day.

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Pope delivers mini-encyclical on poor, environment

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Francis has delivered an off-the-cuff, mini-encyclical on the poor, labor injustices and the environment, saying he's not preaching communism but the Gospel.

Francis' remarks to the World Meeting of Popular Movements, delivered Tuesday in his native Spanish, ran for more than six pages, single-spaced. It was one of his longest speeches yet and a clear sign that the issues are particularly close to his heart.

Francis said the poor need land, a roof over their head and work, and said he knew well that "some will think that if I talk about this, the pope is communist."

He said: "They don't understand that love for the poor is at the center of the Gospel. Demanding this isn't unusual, it's the social doctrine of the church."

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Cuba builds first new church in 55 years

HAVANA (AP) - Catholic church officials say Cuba has allowed construction of the country's first new Catholic church in 55 years. Experts say it's a sign of improving relations between the Vatican and Cuba's communist government.

The church is being funded by donations from Catholics in Tampa, Florida, and will be built in the town of Sandino in the western province of Pinar del Rio. The church publication "Christian Life" says it will have space for 200 people.

The Cuban Catholic Church had tense relations with the government for many years after the 1959 revolution, but relations have been slowly improving in recent years.

Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI visited Cuba, the government recognized a Christmas holiday and began allowing masses or homilies to be broadcast on official media.

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