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 September 5, 2005 VOL. 43, NO. 15Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Grieving in Taize
Brothers from the Taize community carry the coffin of Swiss-born founder Brother Roger, one of the 20th century’s leading ecumenical figures, during a ceremony in Taize, France, Aug. 23. Brother Roger, a Protestant pastor from Switzerland who founded the Taize monastic community in 1940, was stabbed to death by a woman during a prayer service. Thousands of Catholic and Protestant young people flock to the Taize community each year to meet and take part in communal prayer and song.

RNS PHOTO/REUTERS/Robert Pratta

Ending the occupation
Jewish settlers remove the menorah from the roof of the synagogue at Netzarim settlement, Aug. 22, during Israel’s evacuation of all the Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip after nearly four decades of occupation.

RNS PHOTO/REUTERS/Dan Balilty


Churches toll bells for military killed in Iraq

NEW YORK (RNS) – Churches across the country were asked to ring their bells Aug. 28 to extend the “profoundly spiritual tone” of anti-war protests outside President Bush’s Texas ranch and to mourn U.S. soldiers who have died in Iraq.

The request from Faithful America, a progressive online advocacy group started by the National Council of Churches, also asks churches to toll a bell each Sunday for every soldier who died the previous week. But the bells are also meant to show solidarity with Cindy Sheehan, Celeste Zappala and the mothers who founded Gold Star Families for Peace. Sheehan is camped outside Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, waiting for a meeting with the president.

Israel’s top court O.K.’s synagogue destruction
JERUSALEM (RNS) – Israel’s Supreme Court has ruled that all synagogues in 21 now-vacated Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and four in the northern West Bank should be destroyed, but that everything portable must be relocated to Israel.

The court was responding to a petition by Jewish settlers who objected to the government’s plan to destroy all Jewish religious institutions – 30 synagogues as well as eight yeshivas and seminaries – in Gaza.

Israel’s military is in the process of leveling all homes, schools and other buildings in the once-thriving settlements as part of its Disengagement Plan. The territory is expected to be handed over to the Palestinian Authority within weeks. The Palestinians plan to build several high-rise apartment buildings to ease some of the overcrowding in Gaza, which is home to 1.3 million Arabs. About 8,000 Jews lived nearby prior to the evacuation.

Religious leaders protest U.S. immigration policies
PHOENIX (RNS) – Religious leaders gathered at the border between Mexico and Arizona on Aug. 29 to call for U.S. immigration reform due to the hazardous conditions facing migrants.
This has been one of the deadliest years for migrants, with some 358 deaths, said the Rev. Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches. “The deaths are continuing as a result of a broken legal immigration system,” he said.

“Criminal immigrant-smuggling gangs, vigilante violence and the exploitation of undocumented migrants have made our borders dangerously unsafe,” said David Elcott, director of interrreligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee. “This country’s historic role as a safe haven for those coming to its shores is being seriously compromised.”

Colombian rebels accept blame for killing priests
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) – The smaller of Colombia’s two leftist rebel groups acknowledged that its fighters killed two Catholic priests last month but said it was a mistake and vowed to punish the perpetrators.

“We are aware of the irreparable damage that this act has caused,” the National Liberation Army said. “We regret it deeply and ask for forgiveness.”

Fathers Vicente Rosso Bayona and Jesus Emilio Mora were killed Aug. 15 along with two construction workers when gunmen ambushed their car on a remote country road in northeast Colombia. A third priest was killed in a separate incident on Aug. 18. In the statement, the ELN’s Central Command blamed the killings on an “operational error” and said those responsible would be “tried with full rigor.”

But Msgr. Hector Fabio Henao said the rebel apology was insufficient. “I think the ELN should pay for their mistake not just by asking for forgiveness, but by opening a peace dialogue,” he said.

Adventists apologize for Nazi links during WW II
BERLIN (RNS) – German and Austrian leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church have issued a statement of apology for any support of or role in Nazi activities during World War II.

In their declaration, the church bodies “honestly confess” to a failure “in following our Lord” by not protecting Jews and others during the Holocaust. They added their regret “that in some of our publications ... there were found articles glorifying Adolf Hitler and agreeing with the ideology of anti-Semitism in a way that is unbelievable from today’s (perspective).”

Tensions rise as Catholics move church to Kiev
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) – Ukraine’s Eastern Rite Catholics moved their church headquarters to Kiev last month, despite protests from nationalists and objections from Orthodox believers whose leaders warn the move will further stoke inter-church tension.

A white-and-gold clad Cardinal Lubomur Husar conducted a ceremony for more than 1,000 believers and priests of the Eastern Rite Catholics after he was declared Metropolitan of Kiev and a priest announced the church’s move from the western city of Lviv.
The country’s dominant Orthodox Church has accused Catholics and others of trying to proselytize Orthodox believers. About 10 percent of Ukraine’s 48 million people are Eastern Rite Catholics.

Pope’s birthplace draws 400 potential buyers
MUNICH, Germany (AP) – A woman selling the house where Pope Benedict XVI was born has received more than 400 offers, including at least one bid of 9 million euros (US$10.9 million).
However, only between 20 and 30 of the offers appeared “serious,” spokeswoman Viktoria Rauh said. Claudia Dandl announced in June that she would sell the house in the Bavarian village of Marktl an Inn because crowds of sightseers were making life unbearable for her family. She has said the house will not be sold automatically to the highest bidder, but to someone with a good plan to make it accessible to the public.

Ave Maria Law School gets quick accreditation
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (RNS) – Just five years after its founding, Ave Maria School of Law, a Catholic enterprise, has received full accreditation by the American Bar Association. Because the ABA requires law schools to be in operation for at least five years before they are eligible for full approval, Ave Maria’s accreditation, achieved Aug. 8, was attained in the shortest amount of time possible.
In many states, a person may not sit for the bar examination unless he or she holds a degree from an ABA-approved law school. The school has been criticized for inculcating a conservative dogma. Students are required to complete a course in “Moral Foundations of the Law,” in addition to the usual fare of torts and criminal procedure. But school officials maintain that “faith and reason enhance the study of law and lead to the full attainment of truth.”

S.F. Archbishop servedm with second subpoena
SAN FRANCISCO (RNS) – For the second time in two weeks, the Vatican’s top-ranking American was served a subpoena commanding him to testify in sexual-abuse cases involving the Archdiocese of Portland.

On Aug. 20, a process server attending a tribute dinner for Archbishop William J. Levada in San Francisco handed the archbishop legal papers calling for his deposition in January in a case alleging, among other things, intentional infliction of emotional distress by a Portland parish priest and a parish school principal.

Archbishop Levada, who was archbishop of Portland from 1986 to 1995, will leave soon for Rome where he will take over as prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a job that Pope Benedict XVI himself held before his election in April.

Tucson Diocese receives bankruptcy approval
TUCSON (RNS) – Dogged by sexual-abuse lawsuits since 1997, the Diocese of Tucson, Ariz., last year became the second U.S. diocese to plunge into bankruptcy, following Portland, Ore., but preceding Spokane, Wash. It soon will become the first to emerge.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge James Marlar on July 11 approved the diocese’s plan to make $22.2 million available for settlements. Seventy-seven claims asserting sex abuse by priests have been approved or are pending. Individual settlements will range from $100,000 to $600,000, depending on the circumstances of the case.

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