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 July 4, 2005 VOL. 43, NO. 13Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Curbing child labor
These child laborers, rescued from factories on June 1, sit huddled at a police station in Bombay. More than 600 child workers have been rescued from the grimy back alleys of the city since police began raiding workshops and factories in April. About 100 employers have been charged for mistreatment of children. There are more than 50,000 children working in Bombay's gold-polishing and leather-stitching industries, while thousands more are street hawkers or shoe cleaners, although the law prohibits anyone under the age of 14 from working.

Struggle in Chiapas
Mexico's Tzotzil indigenous people participate in a monthly Mass in Acteal in the state of Chiapas, June 22. Paramilitaries massacred 45 villagers in Acteal on Dec. 22, 1997, because they were seen as supporters of the Zapatista group fighting for Indian rights. Zapatista leader Subcomandante Marcos said June 21 that the group is ready to take "a new step in the struggle."

Pope Benedict XVI to join in World Youth Day events
VATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope Benedict XVI will visit Germany, Aug. 18-21, for the Church’s World Youth Day, the only foreign trip the new pope has scheduled so far.
The pope’s return to his German homeland will be centered in Cologne, the site of the youth event, but he will also travel by car to Bonn where the German president maintains a residence. The two are expected to meet there.

Vatican, Orthodox officials find common ground
VATICAN CITY (RNS) – High-ranking Vatican and Russian Orthodox officials agreed June 23 on the need for both churches to join in affirming “spiritual values” to combat growing secularism in the world.
Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vatican’s chief ecumenical officer, met in Moscow with Metropolitan Kyrill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, who is No. 2 in the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church. The prelates agreed on the need for cooperation in “the affirmation of spiritual values and Christian morals” at a time of moral crisis and secularization in Europe and the world.

Bill to make permanent faith-based initiatives
WASHINGTON (RNS) – Congress is considering a bill that would make President Bush’s faith-based office and initiative a permanent White House fixture. Proponents argue it’s a success worth continuing, but critics question whether it makes the wall between church and state too low.
“The Tools for Community Initiatives Act” (H.R. 1054) would make permanent the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and the Centers for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives in 10 federal agencies that Bush created to pursue equal treatment of faith-based groups.
The offices were created to promote government partnerships with faith-based and community organizations in providing publicly funded social services. Bush argued faith-based groups had been discriminated against by federal grant programs.

Diocese ordered to pay $8 million in land deal
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) – A judge has ordered the Catholic Diocese of Victoria, British Columbia, to pay a Seattle-area lawyer more than $8 million after a five-year legal battle over a land deal.
Before setting the amount, Thurston County Superior Court Judge Paula K. Casey rejected motions by lawyers for the diocese to reverse the verdict, reduce the award to Joseph C. Finley or order a new trial. After a three-week trial, a jury ruled May 27 that the diocese, which covers Vancouver Island and has 75,000 members, had breached its contract with Finley.

The jury awarded him nearly $8.2 million for breach of contract, plus $4.2 million for breach of fiduciary duty or trust. Casey ruled that Finley is entitled only to the larger sum.

Zimbabwe’s bishops deplore gov.t ‘cleanup’
HARARE (RNS) – Zimbabwe’s Catholic bishops have issued a pastoral letter condemning what they call the “gross injustice done to the poor” in the government’s demolition of shanty homes and flea markets.

An estimated 200,000 people have been left homeless by the cleanup campaign, and thousands of informal businesses and flea market stalls have been flattened and their goods confiscated.
The bishops said “countless numbers of men, women with babies, children of school age, the old and the sick, continue to sleep in the open air at winter temperatures near to freezing. ... We condemn the gross injustice done to the poor.”

U.S. missionaries attacked in India
NEW DELHI (RNS) – Christian groups in India are condemning attacks on four American missionaries in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, June 11.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India described the violence as an attack on a peaceful religious gathering.

The four American missionaries – Philip Allan, Clover Edward, Craig Allen and Richard Jenal – are from a Church of Christ congregation in North Carolina. They were attacked with clubs and swords in a suburb close to Bombay, for being involved in a Bible reading session. The police, instead of nabbing the attackers, bundled up the Americans and sent them back to the United States, saying they were violating visa regulations.

Pope, WCC leaders reaffirm quest for unity
VATICAN CITY (RNS) – Pope Benedict XVI met with leaders of the World Council of Churches June 16 and reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s “irreversible” commitment to the search for Christian unity.

Both the pope and the Rev. Samuel Kobia, secretary general of the WCC, indicated that they wanted to put behind the strains caused by a controversial Vatican document that asserted that only Catholics were assured of salvation. The document was issued in 2000 by Pope Benedict, who was then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Vatican’s top authority on church doctrine.

Since his election as pope on April 19, however, Pope Benedict has repeatedly stressed the need for ecumenical dialogue to “rebuild the full and visible unity of all Christ’s followers.” He told the WCC delegation that “the commitment of the Catholic Church to the search for Christian unity is irreversible.” The pontiff urged “concrete gestures” toward this goal.

Presbyterians approve new sex abuse policies
NEW YORK (RNS) – Presbyterians have officially approved 11 new policies on clergy sexual abuse, marking a shift, church leaders say, from focusing on the accused to protecting innocent victims.
The Presbyterian Church (USA) approved the 11 amendments to its constitution last summer, and at least 120 of its regional bodies ratified them. They became church law on July 3.

“Out of fear of possible damage to those accused, our system has, at times, not allowed justice to be pursued for victims and survivors of abuse,” said the Rev. Paul Masquelier, the chairman of a task force that drafted the amendments.

Protests pay off for Boston church
BOSTON (RNS) – Nearly 10 months after launching a defiant sit-in that sparked a trend among Boston area parishes slated for closure, St. Albert the Great Church in Weymouth, Mass., has received an official ruling: the church doors will re-open.

Archbishop Sean P. O’Malley issued a decree June 13 reinstating the parish and appointed a priest to serve as pastor. Parishioners, who had been taking turns sleeping in pews, greeted the news with cheers and hugs.

Last year, St. Albert’s was one of 83 parishes planned for closure in a cost-cutting measure launched by the archdiocese strained by priest shortages, slumping donations and emotional turmoil from the clergy sexual abuse crisis.

Acting on a recommendation from a committee appointed to review the closure process, Archbishop O’Malley reversed the initial decision earlier this year and completed the canonical process for reinstatement this week.

Owner wants to sell birthplace of new pope
MARKTL, Germany (RNS) — Fed up with pilgrims, the owner of the 18th century house in the Bavarian town of Marktl where Pope Benedict XVI was born is looking for a buyer.

Claudia Dandl, a physiotherapist, said she and her two children no longer answer the door to pilgrims demanding to enter the two-story, former police station, which she bought and renovated six years ago. Benedict, son of a police officer, was born Joseph Ratzinger in the family’s apartment above the police station on April 16, 1927.

Dandl told reporters she was willing to sell to the highest bidder and she expected the price “to correspond to the historic value of the building.”


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