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 October 3, 2005 VOL. 43, NO. 17Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Tribute to hunter
of Nazi criminals

Israeli officials and relatives of Simon Wiesenthal mourn during his funeral in Israel, Sept. 23. Wiesenthal, a concentration camp survivor, helped catch some of World War II’s most notorious war criminals.

RNS PHOTO/REUTERS/Michael Leckel

Buddhist leader grieved
Bishop Kim Hee-jong attends the Sept. 15 funeral of Venerable Beopjang, the head of Korea’s largest Buddhist order, the Chogye Order, at Chogye temple in Seoul. Beopjang chose to donate his body and organs for medical research instead of a traditional cremation ceremony. There are 103,000 people waiting for organ transplants in Korea, yet only 1,600 receive them each year.

RNS PHOTO/REUTERS/
You Sung-Ho

Leaked diary reports details of pope’s election
VATICAN CITY (RNS) – A detailed report, based on the diary of an anonymous cardinal, reveals that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina received enough votes during the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI to have blocked the pontiff’s election.

In leaking his diary, the author appears to have compromised the oath of secrecy that all cardinals take upon entering a conclave.

According to the account, support for the Argentine peaked at the third ballot with 40 votes—the exact number of votes required to block the then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s candidacy. On the same ballot, Ratzinger received 72 votes—five votes shy of the quorum. A total of 115 Cardinals voted in the conclave.

Bergoglio, who emerged as a dark horse candidate weeks before the conclave, built momentum throughout the conclave, receiving 10 votes to Ratzinger’s 47 on the opening ballot, according to the report. The following day, he received 35 votes on the second ballot while Ratzinger garnered 65, the report said.

The diary is unclear as to why Bergoglio’s candidacy faltered in the fourth and final vote that elected Ratzinger. The report was published Sept. 23 in the Italian quarterly review Limes.

Grand jury criticizes Cardinal Bevilacqua
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – A grand jury report on sexually abusive priests in the Philadelphia Archdiocese has accused Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, archbishop from 1988 to 2003, of engaging in a well-planned cover-up.

Cardinal Bevilacqua and his predecessor, the late Cardinal John Krol, knew that priests were involved in “massive amounts of child molestations and sexual assaults” but chose to conceal the abuse rather than notifying police or removing offenders, the report said.

While Cardinal Krol was archbishop, concealment mainly involved persuading victims’ parents not to report the crimes to police and transferring priests to other parishes, the grand jury found.

Cardinal Bevilacqua continued many of Cardinal Krol’s policies, but went a step further, grand jurors said, introducing new polices designed to avoid both negative publicity and the newer threat of expensive lawsuits.

In a sharply worded rebuttal, the archdiocese has denied the allegations of a cover-up and said that Cardinal Bevilacqua, now 82, and other Church leaders had been unfairly attacked.

Groups seek sainthood for Boys Town founder
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – Groups across Nebraska are in the early stages of promoting sainthood for the founder of Girls and Boys Town, Father Edward Flanagan.

Supporters meet once a month at the priest’s tomb to pray for their canonization efforts. Father Flanagan, who died in 1948, founded what was then called Father Flanagan’s Boys Home in 1917, to help orphaned children.

The home grew into the national organization that it is today, with 19 sites nationwide committed to helping families and troubled children.

New Bible textbook aims to avoid disputes
FAIRFAX, VA (AP) – The nonprofit Bible Literacy Project is releasing a new textbook aimed at teaching public high school students about the Bible while avoiding legal and religious disputes.

The interfaith group spent five years and $2 million developing “The Bible and Its Influence.” The textbook has won initial endorsements from experts in literature, religion and church-state law.

Vatican denies harboring Balkan war criminal
VATICAN CITY (RNS) – The Vatican has denied that Catholic monasteries in Croatia are harboring a Croatian general indicted for war crimes in the Balkans.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls made the denial, Sept. 20, after Carla Del Ponte, the chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, said a Catholic monastery was providing refuge to Gen. Ante Gotovina, Croatia’s most wanted war criminal. Gotovina was allegedly behind the deaths of more than 150 Serbs and forced tens of thousands to flee the Balkans during the Croat-Serbian civil war, which ended in 1995.

Navarro-Valls said that Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, the papal foreign minister, met with Del Ponte and asked her to produce evidence that substantiated her suspicions, but received no reply

Religious groups urge U.S. to help stop genocide
WASHINGTON (RNS) – Religious groups have stepped up pressure on the Bush administration and Congress to help end the genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region, saying the United States has a “moral duty” to intervene.

The Save Darfur Coalition, an alliance of 134 religious and humanitarian groups, said Washington must provide increased aid to African Union troops who are on the ground in Darfur and impose economic sanctions on the Sudanese government in Khartoum.

In a separate statement, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops joined calls for action in Sudan. “We cannot stand idly by while human life is threatened,” said Bishop John Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Fla., chairman of the bishops’ international policy committee.

Government-backed Arab militias have killed some 400,000 black Africans in Sudan’s western Darfur region since 2003, according to the United Nations. There are an estimated 2.5 million refugees in Sudan and neighboring Chad, and 3.5 million are facing starvation.

U.S. says Pope immune from sex abuse lawsuit
ROME (AP) – The U.S. Justice Department has told a Texas court that a lawsuit accusing Pope Benedict XVI of conspiring to cover up the sexual molestation of three boys by a seminarian should be dismissed because the pontiff enjoys immunity as head of state of the Holy See.

Assistant U.S. Attorney General Peter Keisler said in the Sept. 19 filing that allowing the lawsuit to proceed would be “incompatible with the United States’ foreign policy interests.” A 1994 lawsuit against Pope John Paul II, also filed in Texas, was dismissed after the U.S. government filed a similar motion.

Pope meets with censured theologian
VATICAN CITY (RNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has met with censured theologian Hans Kung in a push to improve relations with an outspoken Vatican critic that many regard as the pope’s main theological adversary.

Kung, a professor at the University of Tubingen, Germany, was barred from teaching theology under the late Pope John Paul II in 1979 after challenging the Catholic doctrine of papal infallibility. As archbishop of Munich, Joseph Ratzinger—the future pope — was believed to have played an instrumental role in the censure.

U.S. attorney general to fight ruling on Pledge
WASHINGTON (RNS) – U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has promised the Justice Department’s vigorous opposition to a district court judge’s ruling that a reference to God in the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional.

Gonzales said the pledge remains one of many expressions of national and patriotic identity that reference God and said he will fight the Sept. 14 ruling by Judge Lawrence K. Karlton of the U.S. District Court in Sacramento, Calif.

“The Supreme Court has affirmed time and again that such official acknowledgments of our nation’s religious heritage, foundation and character are constitutional,” Gonzales said.

Diocese pays off most of $100 million settlement
ORANGE, Calif. (AP) – The Diocese of Orange has paid off most of the debt stemming from last year’s $100 million settlement with alleged victims of clergy abuse.

The diocese took out a $50 million loan from Bank of America to fund payouts to some 90 plaintiffs and relied on insurers to pay the balance. In August, it paid down about $35 million of the loan with proceeds from the sale of some of its investments. Plans are to pay off another $5 million to $10 million by February before retiring the loan next June. The diocese did not rely on money or investments earmarked for its parishes and schools.

Church leaders said the diocese still has enough assets to grow and develop new charitable and social programs.

 

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