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Dobson, Religious Right Join Forces With Pope To Push `Family' Agenda.

A delegation of American Religious Right leaders, including Focus on the Family President James Dobson, traveled to the Vatican in late November to meet Pope John Paul II and attend a conference on families and the world economy.

The gathering was scheduled jointly by the Pontifical Council for the Family, an arm of the Vatican, and the Acton Institute, a Michigan-based conservative Catholic group that promotes free-market economic policies. The event took place Nov. 27-29 in Vatican City and featured a brief meeting between Dobson and the pope.

Dobson was accompanied by Charles Colson, the ex-Watergate felon turned Religious Right activist. Colson, who has been working with right-wing Catholic priest Richard John Neuhaus to bridge the divide between conservative Catholics and evangelicals, hailed the conference as a historic moment.

"There was a time not long ago when evangelical Protestant leaders like myself would not have been invited to the Vatican," said Colson, who serves as president of Prison Fellowship. "And if we had we would not have come. Thank God those days are behind us. May the day soon come when the world is no longer scandalized by our division but scandalized only by the cross of Christ."

At the conference Dobson lauded the Catholic Church, saying it "has done more to protect the family and traditional morality than any other institution, and I salute you for that." According to the National Catholic Register, Dobson specifically cited the Vatican's efforts in curbing population control efforts around the world and its opposition to gay rights.

Dobson acknowledged that he has theological differences with Catholics but added, "When it comes to the family, there is far more agreement than disagreement, and with regard to moral issues from abortion to premarital sex, safe-sex ideology and homosexuality, I find more in common with Catholics than with some of my own evangelical brothers and sisters."

The Rev. Robert Sirico, president of the Acton Institute, said the conference was a first step toward bringing Catholics and evangelicals together. "This kind of communion, this kind of dialogue, it's not an attempt to negotiate the truth but to approach it together in a bond of fraternal love," he said. "Part of the thing is to get over the hump of knowing each other. I think that's what's beginning to happen here."

In other news about Dobson and FOF:

* A former Focus employee who worked at the organization as a youth counselor has been convicted of sexually molesting a young boy. A jury in Colorado Springs convicted Steven Wilsey, 33, in late December of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust. He will be sentenced this month and faces 12 years to life in prison.

According to the Associated Press, Wilsey approached another FOF employee in 1992 who was a single mom and offered to act as a mentor to her three sons, who were then 8, 4 and less than 1 in age. During the trial, the woman testified that Wilsey made the offer after FOF aired a radio broadcast claiming that boys who grow up without fathers are more prone to become homosexuals.

The woman agreed and allowed Wilsey to take her sons on camping and hiking trips and other events. In February of 2000 the woman discovered that Wilsey had molested her youngest son, who was then 8. Prosecutors charged Wilsey with a pattern of molestation from October of 1998 to late February 2000, but the jury convicted him of only one count of fondling the boy.

* Dobson's Citizen magazine has attacked the Girl Scouts again. In last month's issue, the publication reprinted a hatchet job on the Girl Scouts that originally appeared in the National Review. The article claimed that the Girl Scouts are under the sway of radical feminists and lesbians.

"There are currently 2.7 million Girl Scouts in the U.S.," asserts the article. "That's a lot of liberal feminists to look forward to."

The article marks Dobson's second attack on the Girl Scouts. In February of 1994, Citizen assailed the organization for promoting "humanism and radical feminism."
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Pope John Paul II; James Dobson
Publication:Church & State
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2001
Previous Article:James C. Corman: Friend Of Freedom.
Next Article:Thou Shalt Not Meddle In Religious Matters, Court Tells Elkhart.

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