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World religion news in brief

Published: Sunday, Nov. 27 2011 5:00 a.m. MST

POPE ACCEPTS RESIGNATION OF IRISH BISHOP; 7 OF IRELAND'S 26 DIOCESES

DUBLIN — Pope Benedict XVI says he has accepted the resignation of another Irish bishop, leaving seven of Ireland's 26 Roman Catholic dioceses without one.

Bishop Seamus Hegarty offered his resignation two weeks ago as bishop of Derry, a northwestern diocese that straddles Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The 71-year-old Hegarty cited an unspecified "irreversible" illness as the reason.

Hegarty also is expected to feature in an upcoming church-authorized investigation into the cover-up of clerical child abuse in Hegarty's previous diocese, Raphoe.

Earlier this year senior Catholic officials visited Ireland to investigate how church structures should be reformed following a series of such scandals. Merging dioceses and eliminating bishops' posts is one option.

— Associated Press

US DEPT. OF JUSTICE INVESTIGATES FOR POSSIBLE MUSLIM DISCRIMINATION

LOMITA, Calif. — A land-use decision by the city of Lomita to stop an Islamic center from expanding has become the subject of a federal investigation to determine whether the decision was guided by religious discrimination.

This week, federal investigators interviewed 13 people who were involved in the March 2010 decision to deny an application for expansion from the Islamic Center of South Bay. City officials say the unanimous land-use decision was made based on space constraints, not religion.

"It surprises me that the federal government would spend so many resources second-guessing this pretty basic land-use decision," Lomita City Attorney Christi Hogin told The Los Angeles Times.

But Islamic Center officials say they believe the city has violated laws that prohibit discrimination against religious institutions.

"There was a feeling that they just don't want us here" at the March meeting, said Iraj Ershaghi, a founding member of the center.

Ershaghi said City Council members bowed to pressure from residents to reject the proposal.

The Islamic Center property was purchased in 1985, and the Muslim community has bought adjacent structures to expand services into nine buildings. The expansion plan would combine the buildings.

— Associated Press

OAHU SCHOOL INSPIRED BY BLESSED MARIANNE UNVEILS STATUE OF THE NUN

HONOLULU — St. Francis School in Honolulu school has installed a statue of Blessed Marianne Cope on its campus.

Cope was a member of the Sisters of St. Francis, the Roman Catholic religious order that runs the Manoa school. The nun inspired the school's founding six years after her death in 1918.

Cope cared for patients with Hansen's disease, or leprosy, at Kalaupapa on Molokai. She died of natural causes and was buried there.

In 2004, Pope John Paul II declared Mother Marianne "venerable," the first step toward canonization after the Vatican recognized her intercession for the unexplained cure of a New York girl dying of multiple organ failure. The Vatican must authenticate another miracle for her to be declared a saint.

— Associated Press

RISING RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE IN MALDIVES RAISES CONCERN

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — The U.N. human rights chief expressed concerned over rising religious intolerance in the Maldives and discussed other rights issues with its leaders, a spokesman said Wednesday.

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