LOMITA, Calif.

Denial of Islamic center’s expansion leads to probe

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.

But Islamic Center officials say they believe the city has violated laws that prohibit discrimination against religious institutions. Iraj Ershaghi, a founding member of the center, said City Council members bowed to pressure from residents to reject the proposal.

HONOLULU

New statue honors giver of care to leprosy patients

The St. Francis School in Honolulu 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.

SOUTH JORDAN, Utah

Mayor to leave office to take Mormon job in New Zealand

A Utah mayor is leaving his post two years early to take an assignment with the Mormon church in New Zealand.

Officials say South Jordan Mayor W. Kent Money is resigning effective Feb. 12 after 10 years in office. Money will be taking a job with his employer, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He’ll be developing LDS church properties in New Zealand.

— From news service reports