Israeli activists who oppose their country’s
withdrawal from the occupied Gaza Strip cover their mouths with
an orange ribbon, a symbol of anti-disengagement protest in Israel,
in front of the defense minister’s office in Jerusalem July
25. Numerous protests in support of Jewish settlers in Gaza continue
to occur throughout the country.
RNS/REUTERS/Gil Cohen Magen
Palestinian security forces celebrate after
the visit by Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie at the Palestinian security
headquarters in Gaza, July 27. An independent report released the
previous day said Palestinian security forces may not be sufficiently
trained to take over when Israel withdraws from Gaza.
RNS PHOTO/REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
Polish holiday proposed honoring
WARSAW, Poland (AP) – Polish lawmakers have voted overwhelmingly
to support a measure that will establish a national day to honor Polish-born
Pope John Paul II every Oct. 16.
That date was chosen because he was elected pope on Oct. 16, 1978. Polish
President Aleksander Kwasniewski is expected to sign the measure into
law. The annual holiday will be dedicated to remembering and studying
the late pontiff’s teachings, but won’t be a government holiday.
Banks, schools and government offices will not be closed.
Emergency contraception bill
vetoed in Mass.
BOSTON (AP) – Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has vetoed a bill that
would have expanded access to emergency contraception.
The Republican governor said the medication prevents fertilization, but
can also halt a fertilized egg from developing – something anti-abortion
groups oppose. The bill would require hospital emergency room doctors
to offer the medication to rape victims, and would make it available without
prescription from pharmacies. A provision that exempted Catholic hospitals
was dropped from the legislation.
S.F. archbishop can skip abuse
PORTLAND, Ore. (RNS) — A federal bankruptcy judge has agreed to
let San Francisco Archbishop William Levada, a former archbishop of Portland,
Ore., (1986-1995) skip an August court date to answer questions under
oath about the Church’s handling of sexual abuse allegations.
In return, Archbishop Levada, the newly named prefect of the Vatican’s
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, must personally guarantee
that he’ll appear in January to undergo questioning by lawyers for
priest sex-abuse plaintiffs in Oregon.
As part of the agreement, Archbishop Levada must agree not to claim diplomatic
immunity as a high-ranking official of the Vatican.
If he does not respond by Aug. 2, his deposition in Hayward, Calif., is
expected to proceed as scheduled on Aug. 12, five days before he moves
L.A. Archdiocese must turn over
LOS ANGELES (AP) – A state appellate court has ordered Cardinal
Roger Mahony to turn over to a grand jury the internal church records
of two former priests accused of sexually abusing children.
The three-judge panel rejected arguments by the Los Angeles Archdiocese
that it was constitutionally protected from having to disclose documents
from priest personnel files. “While it is true the right to religious
freedom holds a special place in our history and culture, there also must
be an accommodation by religious believers and institutions to the rules
of civil society, particularly when the state’s compelling interest
in protecting children is in question,” wrote Presiding Justice
Joan Dempsey Klein in a 49-page opinion. Justices Walter Croskey and Patti
Catholic women unofficially ordained
TORONTO (AP) – Nine Catholic women were unofficially ordained July
25 as priests and deacons and now face possible excommunication from the
The women – seven Americans, a Canadian and a German living in Red
Wing, Minn. – were ordained by two women who were unofficially declared
bishops in 2003. The ordinations are not valid in the Catholic Church
and seven women who tried it in 2002 were excommunicated by the Vatican.
In last month’s ordinations, four of the nine women were ordained
as priests and five as deacons in a hymn-filled ceremony on a tour boat
near Ottawa, Canada.
Pope faces strong criticism from
VATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope Benedict XVI faced the first major conflict
of his three-month-old papacy when Israel summoned the Vatican envoy and
expressed outrage that the pope “deliberately failed” to condemn
terrorist attacks against Israelis.
The German-born Pope Benedict, who has consistently reached out to Jews
since assuming the papacy, was criticized by Israel on July 25 for not
mentioning terror attacks in Israel while praying for God to stop the
“murderous hand” of terrorists in “abhorrent terrorist
attacks” in Egypt, Britain, Turkey and Iraq.
A July 12 suicide bombing in the seaside city of Netanya had killed five
Israelis. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility. The Israeli statement
called on the pope to condemn attacks “against Jews in the same
way he condemns terror attacks against others.”
Later, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom appeared to soften the criticism,
saying he hoped that failure to mention the attack in Netanya “was
a mistake and not a deliberate omission.”
Bush seeks support of faith-based
WASHINGTON (RNS) – President Bush has announced plans to hold a
conference next March that aims to foster more corporate foundation support
for faith-based organizations. The president met July 25 with about 20
African-American religious and community leaders and unveiled his plans
at that time.
Jim Towey, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community
Initiatives, said many large corporations have policies that explicitly
rule out donations or grants to faith-based organizations “regardless
of their effectiveness” and prevent employee matching contribution
programs from including faith-based groups.
Islamic group proposes ways to
WASHINGTON (RNS) – An Islamic organization has launched a national
campaign that proposes an expansion of Muslim youth in scouting as one
way to combat terrorist ideology, violence and extremism within the American
The Washington-based Muslim American Society (MAS) has proposed seven
“action items” that include an increase in the number of Boy
and Girl Scout troops and youth centers available to Muslim youth “to
inculcate in our youth the proper understanding of Islam, help them fulfill
all their potential, and keep them out of range of extremism and moral
W. Oregon Catholics part of bankruptcy
PORTLAND (RNS) – A U.S. bankruptcy judge has agreed to expand the
Catholic Archdiocese of Portland’s bankruptcy case to include every
Catholic parishioner and contributor in western Oregon – more than
About 80,000 Catholic households will soon get the news in the mail that
they are defendants in the property dispute between more than 200 sex
abuse plaintiffs and the Archdiocese of Portland. None of the parishioners
or contributors will be personally liable for paying claims if they lose
the case. But they could see their parish assets sold or put up as collateral
for loans to pay settlements.
Religious progressives launch
BERKELEY (RNS) – More than 1,200 spiritual progressives from around
the country gathered July 20-23 to begin building an organization for
the spiritual and religious left.
Dubbed the Network of Spiritual Progressives (NSP), the new organization
seeks to challenge not only religious conservatives, but America’s
materialistic culture and the anti-religious bias among secular liberals,
conference architect Rabbi Michael Lerner said.
Democratss new website: ‘A
Word to the Faithful’
WASHINGTON (RNS) – Concerned that Democrats are seen as a party
that is hostile or ambivalent toward religion, Senate Minority Leader
Harry Reid has unveiled a new Web site with “A Word to the Faithful.”
The Web site – at http://democrats.senate.gov/faith.html–
features photos of Reid meeting with mainline Protestant and Catholic
leaders, as well as statements on the National Day of Prayer and Holocaust
Memorial Day, among others.
Same-sex marriage now legal in
OTTAWA (RNS) – Canada has become only the fourth country in the
world to legalize same-sex marriage.Bill C-38 received royal assent and
became the law of the land late July 20.
Ottawa has assured faith groups that religious officials would not be
forced to marry same-sex couples, and that religious teachings will be
protected by laws guaranteeing free speech. The federal government has
also stressed that its bill addresses civil marriage only in public institutions
like courthouses and city halls. It says religious institutions –
churches, mosques, synagogues and temples – and individuals can
continue defining marriage as they see fit.