The Parliament of World Religions is coming to Toronto, and Rochester is hosting a pre-Parliament event today. The parliament goes back to 1893, when organizers sought to create an international dialogue about religions and interfaith issues. This year, the theme is about the promise of inclusion.

Our guests discuss it:

USA Today recently reported on the continuing support for President Trump among evangelical Christians. This comes a little more than a year after 81 percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump. Many leaders in the Christian conservative community sat that the administration’s list of wins – from judicial and personnel appointments to policy changes to pro-life agenda actions – has been lengthy. That has sparked conversations in the local Christian community, particularly among left-leaning faith-based organizations whose leaders say they are confused about that support.

Our panel discusses what it means to be a modern, American Christian. In studio:

On Friday, Reverend Denise Donato – the founding pastor at Mary Magdalene Parish in East Rochester – will become the first ordained female bishop of the Ecumenical Catholic Communion (ECC). The ECC broke off from the Roman Catholic Church over the issue of the pope’s infallibility in the late 19th century. In 1994, Pope John Paul II wrote, “I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful.” Both of his successors upheld that statement.

What do parishioners think? A new survey by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University shows 60 percent of American Catholic women support the possibility of women being ordained. Does this signal change?

This hour, we talk about the modern Catholic Church and the role of women in it. Our guests:

Deadly and destructive hurricanes. Shootings in churches, on college campuses and at music concerts. Acts of terrorism from the streets of New York City to a mosque in Minnesota. Anti-Semitic threats on Jewish community centers and hate marches at synagogues. And to think...these don’t even scratch the surface of the tragic incidents that continue to shake our nation. At a time when many in our community and our country feel helpless and hopeless - Rochester area religious leaders are coming together on this edition of Need to Know to discuss the challenges of our time and to offer a sense of hope at a moment when some say it's needed most. 

On this week's show, from mass shootings and terrorist attacks to ongoing issues of racism, sexism and much more….Rochester area religious leaders come together to address the challenges of our time.

Then, we ask why aren’t more women joining the political arena as candidates? We’ve got some answers that may surprise you.

One of the most prominent opponents of the political marriage between Republicans and Evangelical Christians is an ordained Christian minister. Barry Lynn is also the executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. He says he sees an ongoing threat in which houses are worship are treated like political bases. This is timely, as President Trump presses his case that Christianity is under attack, mobilizing a base of voters that helped elect him.

Lynn is in Rochester a guest of the local chapter, and he tells us how he views church-and-state issues over his 25 years leading the organization. 

Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church has a prominent place in Rochester's African American and civil rights history -- one that has been celebrated for 190 years.

Founded in 1827 by an escaped slave, it was a shelter on the Underground Railroad for hundreds of escaped slaves being led to freedom by Harriet Tubman. It was also the spiritual home of Frederick Douglass, who edited and printed the North Star in its basement. Susan B. Anthony also visited the church, giving her last ever public address to its members.

Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church is gearing up for a black tie soirée to celebrate it's 190th anniversary. We talk to organizers of the event about the church's history and why it still has an important role in civil rights advocacy today. In studio:

  • Carmen Allen, head of Memorial AME Zion Church's Community Outreach Ministry, and member of the church's 190th Anniversary Committee
  • Rashid Smith, preacher's steward at Memorial AME Zion Church, and member of the church's 190th Anniversary Committee
  • Delores Radney, chair of special events for the 190th Anniversary celebration, and member of the church's 190th Anniversary Committee

What is the future of Catholic education? We’ve seen some schools shift and close, but the evolution of Catholic education shows some resilience. Nazareth Elementary, for example, is moving to the old Sacred Heart School. Interestingly, 70 percent of the students at Nazareth are not Catholic.

Our guests discuss modern challenges and how they’re adapting. In studio:

  • Sr. Margaret Mancuso, principal of Nazareth Elementary
  • Deborah Hanmer, parent of two children in Catholic elementary school
  • Mary Martell, principal of Holy Cross School

Nazareth College is getting ready to host an international symposium on how religion intersects with women and gender relations. Sex, the role of women, equality… it’s all there. The symposium will offer discussions on a wide range of topics, and we explore them with our guests:

One of the most well connected priests in the world is a Rochester native who assisted the Vatican during the transition period between Popes Benedict and Francis. Father Thomas Rosica is the CEO of Salt and Light Catholic Media, and is a priest of the Congregation of St. Basil. He's back in his hometown to host a retreat, and he joins us on Connections to talk about the work and impact of Pope Francis.

Father Rosica has worked as a media attaché for Francis, providing English language translation. He sees this Pope as a hand reaching out to the truly needy around the world. We discuss the refugee crisis, the meaning of "pro-life," and what it means to be Christian.