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 May 23, 2005 VOL. 43, NO. 11Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Berlin’s Holocaust memorial
Mourners walk between the concrete pillars of a new Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, honoring the murdered Jews of Europe. The memorial, designed by U.S. architect Peter Eisenmann and consisting of 2,711 pillars through which visitors can wander, opened May 10, culminating 17 years of charged debate and controversy over how Germany should remember the darkest chapter in its history.

RNS PHOTO/REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

New Swiss Guards
Three of the 30 new recruits of the Vatican’s elite Swiss Guard stand at attention during a swearing in ceremony at the Vatican. The Swiss Guard, founded in 1506, consists of 100 volunteers who must be Swiss, Catholic, single, at least 5 feet 8 inches tall, and beardless. New recruits are sworn in every year on May 6, commemorating the date on which 147 Swiss soldiers died defending the Pope during an attack on Rome on
May 6, 1527.

RNS PHOTO/REUTERS/Max Rossi

Magazine praises Pope’s support of charismatics
NEW YORK (RNS) – A U.S. Pentecostal magazine has credited the late Pope John Paul II with encouraging charismatic renewal across the globe. The pontiff will be featured on the cover of the June issue of Charisma magazine. The magazine details how the pontiff was supportive of Pentecostals during his time as priest, cardinal and pope.

Pentecostals and charismatics have emphasized what they call “gifts” or signs of the Holy Spirit, including speaking in unknown tongues, prophecy and healing. The magazine includes an article whose author says of his visits with the pontiff: “On some occasions he audibly ‘groaned’ in the Spirit while in deep intercession.” The author, Ralph Martin, said he didn’t know if the late pope had prayed in tongues.

Uzbekistan added to list of persecutors of religion
WASHINGTON (RNS) – An independent federal watchdog group announced May 11 that Uzbekistan has been added to and India dropped from its annual list of countries that have “engaged in or tolerated systematic and egregious violations” of religious freedom.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) also reaffirmed its 2004 recommendations that the State Department designate Burma, the People’s Republic of China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan and Vietnam as countries of particular concern.

Muslim discrimination up 49 percent in one year
WASHINGTON (RNS) – The largest U.S. Islamic civil rights organization reported May 11 that acts of anti-Muslim discrimination increased by 49 percent last year.

A study by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) found 1,522 incidents of harassment, violence and discriminatory treatment in 2004, compared with 1,019 cases in 2003. CAIR attributed the boost in complaints to a lingering atmosphere of fear among American Muslims, opinion leaders using anti-Muslim rhetoric and legislation that infringes on civil rights.

Methodists give OK to shared Communion
ARLINGTON, VA (RNS) – United Methodist bishops have approved an agreement to share the sacrament of Communion with Episcopalians and Lutherans, the first step in moving the three churches toward “full communion.” Church officials expect similar agreements to be approved by the Episcopal Church and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America within a year.

The Episcopal Church and the Lutherans already have a two-way full communion agreement that was formally launched in 2001. The Methodists hope to enter full communion with the Lutherans by 2008 and the Episcopalians by 2012.

Vatican Radio officials found guilty of pollution
ROME (RNS) – A Rome judge on May 9 found two Vatican Radio officials guilty of allowing transmitters to emit dangerously high levels of electromagnetic pollution and gave them suspended prison sentences.

Judge Luisa Martoni gave Cardinal Roberto Tucci, president of Vatican Radio, and Father Pasquale Borgomeo, general director, suspended 10-day sentences. The Jesuit-run Vatican Radio said in a statement that it considered the conviction “unjustified” and would appeal.

Residents in the suburban towns of Cesano and Santa Maria di Galeria north of Rome contend that the “electrosmog” emitted by the transmitters was seven times the level permitted by Italian law. The regional health authority said it found that children in the area were six times more likely than others to develop leukemia. Vatican Radio has agreed to cut back the emissions to levels permitted by Italian law, which is the toughest in the world.

Priest opts to stay in prison, ‘it’s safer’
ST. LOUIS (AP) – A priest has opted to stay imprisoned while authorities challenge a court’s tossing out of his convictions of sexual misconduct involving boys, convinced that living behind bars is safer than being a “sitting duck” open to possible vigilantism.

Father James Beine, 63, on May 6 was ordered freed on appeal bond by the Missouri Supreme Court, 10 days after it threw out convictions on charges that he exposed himself to boys in a restroom in a St. Louis grade school, where he worked as a counselor.

He could have walked from prison, but has no home and worries that being cooped up under home confinement ordered by the Supreme Court could make him a target.

Parishes battle to keep assets held for them
PORTLAND, Oregon (AP) – Catholic parishes and schools are competing with alleged victims of clerical sex abuse to claim assets held by the Archdiocese of Portland, the first in the country to file for bankruptcy because of abuse settlements.

Court records show that about 340 claims, totaling $198 million, were made on the archdiocese by the April 29 deadline set by U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Elizabeth Perris. The attorneys listed in the documents and the large sums sought suggest about 150 of those claims may be related to sex abuse. Because many of the claims are sealed and don’t have a specific amount listed, church officials believe they could surpass $530 million.

The archdiocese is responsible for 124 Catholic parishes and more than 50 schools in western Oregon. Investment funds and other money the archdiocese has held for them were frozen by the bankruptcy filing.

Canadian diocese to sell churches to pay for abuse
ST. JOHN’S, Newfoundland (AP) – The Catholic Diocese of St. George in eastern Canada plans to sell all its churches and missions to raise $10.5 million to pay the victims of sexual assault by a priest who was convicted more than a decade ago..

Forty properties, apparently cemeteries, weren’t part of the deal. The diocese is appealing to its 32,000 parishioners for donations to buy back core properties when they go on sale in the coming months.

Earlier this year, St. George’s became the first Catholic diocese in Canada to seek bankruptcy protection as a result of $40 million in sexual abuse claims. It has since negotiated a $10.5 million settlement proposal.

Pope’s sports trading card creates collectors’ buzz
STOCKTON (AP) – The sports trading card generating the most buzz among collectors right now doesn’t feature a baseball, basketball or football player. This captivating athlete was a soccer goalie who also liked skiing, swimming, hiking and kayaking. His name: Pope John Paul II.

A one-of-a-kind card featuring the pontiff’s autograph was released this year by Topps, the best known maker of baseball cards. When the pope died last month, collectors wondered whether anyone had found the card and what it might fetch in a marketplace suddenly sizzling for all things John Paul.

The card turned up in Stockton where a collector beat 1-in-135,475 odds and plucked it out of a $1.50 pack about two weeks before the pontiff died. The day before the pope’s funeral, he sold the card to Jeff Hoekstra, the manager of a collectibles store in nearby Modesto, who is offering to sell it on eBay.

Millions expected to be paid for late pope’s car
AUBURN, Ind. (AP) – The only car Pope John Paul II was believed to have owned is up for auction again, and this time Kruse International expects it will cost $1.5 million to $5 million. The light blue 1975 Ford Escort GL was bought at auction in Auburn in 1996 for $102,000 by Illinois businessman Jim Rich, who also has a 1990 Corvette once owned by basketball legend Michael Jordan and a 1987 bullet-proof Rolls Royce once used by Britain’s royal family. He said if it does not get a high enough bid, he will keep the vehicle. Some of the proceeds of a sale will go to an orphanage in Chicago, he said.

 

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