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 June 20, 2005 VOL. 43, NO. 12Oakland, CA
News in Brief

 


 

Holocaust trains
During a demonstration at the main station in Frankfurt, June 10, a woman holds a poster with the face of a Jewish girl who was deported by German Nazis during World War II. Protesters are demanding an exposition be held at German railway stations to remember some 11,000 Jewish children who were deported in trains.

RNS PHOTO/REUTERS/Alex Grimm

 

 

New papal stamps
The Vatican has issued three special series of stamps for the beginning of the papacy of Benedict XVI.

RNS PHOTO/REUTERS/Alessia Pierdomenico

SF reaches settlement on some abuse cases
SAN FRANCISCO — The Archdiocese of San Francisco and its insurance carriers have accepted a proposal by a court- appointed mediator, retired Judge Coleman Fannin, that will result in the payment of approximately $21,250,000 to 15 individuals who had filed lawsuits against the archdiocese stemming from clergy child abuse dating back several decades. The figure includes the payment of recent verdicts rendered in favor of three of the claimants.

This settlement resolves over one quarter of the pending cases in which the arc
hdiocese is named as the primary defendant. As part of the mediator’s proposal, the archdiocese will contribute approximately $6.6 million to the total settlement amount. The $6.6 million will be paid entirely from archdiocesan funds. No parish or school assets will be utilized to fund the settlement, archdiocesan officials said.

Secretary decides not to burn papal papers
VATICAN CITY (RNS) – Archbishop Stanislao Dziwisz, Pope John Paul II’s long-serving personal secretary, has disregarded a request by the late pontiff that his correspondence be burned, raising the prospect that the late pope’s personal writings may eventually become public.

Archbishop Dziwisz told Polish radio that the detailed papal correspondence should be left for posterity. The letters, he said, might be useful in the late pope’s beatification process. The archbishop explained that although Pope John Paul II left instructions in his will that his private correspondence be destroyed, it did not deserve to disappear, constituting “a major heritage, an enormous treasure, made up of brilliant texts of great variety.”

“Nothing has been burned,” said Archbishop Dziwisz, who was appointed archbishop of Krakow, Pope John Paul’s former archdiocese, June 3 by Pope Benedict XVI. “Nothing is fit for burning, everything should be preserved and kept for history, for the future generations, every single sentence.” He served as Pope John Paul’s secretary for some 40 years before the pontiff died April 2.

Pope says only chastity can prevent AIDS
VATICAN CITY (RNS)— Upholding the Catholic Church’s opposition to the use of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS, Pope Benedict XVI told African bishops, June 10, that the only “fail-safe” methods are fidelity and chastity.

He urged the bishops to continue their efforts to fight the HIV/AIDS virus, “which not only kills but seriously threatens the economic and social stability of the continent.”
“The traditional teaching of the Church has proven to be the only fail-safe way to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS,” he said.

Anti-Semitic writing stalls priest’s beatification
VATICAN CITY (RNS) — The Vatican has suspended plans to beatify the founder of the Dehonian order of priests to allow investigation of anti-Semitic views he expressed in newly published writing.
The Vatican acted at the request of French bishops, who feared that raising Father Leon Dehon to within one step of sainthood would strain Catholic-Jewish dialogue.

Dehon (1843-1925) had been scheduled to be declared blessed by Pope John Paul II during a Mass in St. Peter’s Square on April 24. The ceremony was not rescheduled after John Paul’s death on April 2.
The case is reportedly under review by a Vatican-appointed committee of theologians and historians, which will present its findings to the pope for his final decision.

Religious groups urge end to Zimbabwe evictions
GENEVA (RNS) – Religious and human rights groups, along with a top U.N. official, are calling on the Zimbabwe government to end its campaign of evicting the urban poor and destroying their shacks and market stalls.

An estimated 200,000 people have lost their homes and another 30,000 have been arrested or detained since the government began its “cleanup” May 19, according to Miloon Kothari, a U.N. expert on housing. “We have a very grave crisis on our hands,” he said. “It is quite clearly a gross violation” of human rights.

Zimbabwe’s churches have called on the government to end the crackdown, dubbed Operation Restore Order.

Detained Chinese priest released after two months
BEIJING (AP) – A Catholic priest from China’s unofficial church has been released by authorities after spending two months in detention, a U.S.-based religious monitoring group said June 6.

Father Zhao Kexun, an administrator of the diocese in Xuanhua, was taken away by government security agents March 30 as he returned from a service at a private home.

Father Zhao, 75, was released June 1. It was not immediately clear why he was taken, where he was held or what his condition was.

China forced Roman Catholics to cut ties with the Vatican in 1951, shortly after the officially atheistic Communist Party took power.

Worship is now allowed only in government-controlled churches, which recognize the pope as a spiritual leader but appoint their own priests and bishops. Millions, however, belong to unofficial congregations still loyal to Rome.

The government’s official Roman Catholic church claims 4 million believers, and foreign experts say the unofficial church has 12 million followers.

Lack of blacks causes group to postpone start
NEW YORK (RNS) – A new group that aims to bring U.S. Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Christians together for the first time has been postponed because the effort has received little interest from black churches.

The fledgling group, Christian Churches Together in the USA (CCT), has struggled to recruit historically black churches, who have been skeptical that their issues would be addressed in another ecumenical group. At a meeting June 1-3 in Los Altos, 67 leaders from some 31 church bodies decided to postpone a formal launch that was scheduled for September to allow more “productive and positive conversation” with churches that have not yet joined.

The effort to build a broader “ecumenical table” was launched four years ago as a loose-knit forum for U.S. churches to work together, including Catholics, evangelicals and Pentecostals who had been reluctant to join other ecumenical groups.

French priest on trial for alleged rapes
NANTERRE, France (AP) – A French Catholic priest went on trial June 6 in suburban Paris on charges of raping and sexually abusing six Senegalese children in the 1990s.

Father Francois Lefort des Ylouses, 59, could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted. He denies the charges and remains free under judicial watch during the trial.

A total of 95 witnesses, including five of the six alleged victims, are expected to appear during the trial.

Father Lefort said the alleged victims “are now interested in financial issues.” The case came to light in 1995 after a children’s advocacy group filed a complaint with Paris authorities. He is accused of sexual abuse against children both in Senegal and at his home west of Paris.

Pope condemns ‘anarchic’ same-sex unions
ROME (AP) – Pope Benedict XVI condemned same-sex unions as anarchic “pseudo-matrimony” June 6.

Pope Benedict said matrimony was not just a “casual sociological construction” that changed in certain times in history but rather an institution that had its roots “in the most profound essence of the human being.”

“The various forms of the dissolution of matrimony today, like free unions, trial marriages and going up to pseudo-matrimonies by people of the same sex, are rather expressions of an anarchic freedom that wrongly passes for true freedom of man,” he said.

Judge rejects landmark abuse settlement
BURLINGTON, Ky. (RNS) — A Kentucky judge rejected a record-setting, $120 million sexual abuse settlement between victims and the Diocese of Covington, Ky., saying it is nothing more than a “sound bite,” Circuit Judge John Potter ruled the actual money available to victims is only the $40 million offered by the diocese.

An additional $80 million would be made available for victims’ compensation only if a lawsuit filed by the diocese May 26 against three insurance carriers netted that amount of payment.
The insurers are American Insurance Co. of Novato, Calif.; Catholic Relief Insurance Co. of America and the Catholic Mutual Relief Society, both based in Omaha, Neb.

The Catholic Mutual Group, headed by Omaha Archbishop Elden F. Curtiss, criticized the deal, noting that it was “saddened that the diocese has chosen to sue the church’s self-insurance fund without prior notification or consultation.”

 

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