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 December 12, 2005 VOL. 43, NO. 21Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Struggle to survive
A survivor of the Oct. 8 earthquake that killed more than 73,000 people in Pakistan and India opens a shop amidst the rubble of the devastated town of Balakot. Aid organizations warn that earthquake survivors could freeze to death in the bitter Himalayan winter unless more help comes quickly.


Ordinations in Vietnam
Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe poses for a photo with Vietnamese priests in front of St. Joseph Cathedral after an ordaining ceremony in Hanoi, Vietnam, Nov. 29. In a first for communist and officially atheist Vietnam, the Vatican prelate ordained 57 Vietnamese priests, urging them to convert more people in the southeast Asian nation to Catholicism.


Vatican decries attack on Catholics in China
VATICAN CITY (RNS) – The Vatican has expressed “grief and disapproval” over reports detailing an assault on Roman Catholic nuns and the arrest of priests in China.

The Vatican-affiliated news agency Asianews reported that 16 Franciscan nuns were severely beaten in Xian province by a band of 40 “thugs.” Five of the nuns were hospitalized with serious injuries from the Nov. 23 assault. The Vatican was seeking clarification on the assault and on the arrest of six priests in Zhengding province Nov. 18.

Phoenix Diocese bars Mass at events center
MESA, Ariz. (AP) – The Phoenix Diocese has barred a Mass at a private events center that was recently rented out for a Planned Parenthood event.

The Corona Ranch and Rodeo Grounds in south Phoenix will go forward with the annual Our Lady of Guadalupe vigil and celebration without the Mass.

Father David Sanfilippo called Planned Parenthood “one of the largest abortion providers in the nation,’’ and said it would be inappropriate for a Catholic Mass to take place at the same location it used.

General Manager Alex Corona said the events facility rents out its facilities to all comers.
``We do business with everybody,’’ he said.

Detention of Haitians without charge decried
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) – A U.N. human rights official criticized Haiti’s justice system for jailing hundreds of people without charge, including Father Gerard Jean-Juste, an activist priest he compared to a political prisoner.

Louis Joinet’s comments marked one of the strongest recent condemnations of Haiti’s inefficient and corruption-prone justice system from a member of the international community.

The exact size of Haiti’s prison population isn’t known, but the overcrowded National Penitentiary in the capital of Port-au-Prince holds more than 1,700 inmates, only a few dozen of who have been charged.

Rome complains about tax break for churches
ROME (AP) – The city of Rome complained Nov. 28 it would lose $29 million if a proposed tax break for the Catholic Church and other religious institutions is included in the nation’s 2006 budget.

Under a provision in Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s budget, which is awaiting final approval in parliament, all church premises leased for commercial purposes would be exempt from property tax. Churches and venues of worship already are exempt.

Chile authorizes sale of morning-after pill
SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) – Chile’s Supreme Court voted last month to authorize sale and use of the so-called morning-after pill that helps prevent pregnancy.

The 5-0 vote upheld a decision by the Santiago Court of Appeals, which had turned down a request to ban the pill which is considered by some to be a form of abortion. Abortion is illegal in Chile.

The Catholic Church has strongly opposed the use of the pill, but the government firmly has ordered its distribution free to women who had been the victims of rape. After the ruling, which cannot be appealed, the pill can be sold at drug stores, but a doctor’s prescription is required.

Possible miracle by late pope in France
ROME (AP) – Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, Krakow’s archbishop, said Nov. 29 that a Church tribunal will investigate a possible miracle attributed to the intercession of Pope John Paul II in France as it pursues the case for beatification.

Archbishop Dziwisz, who was personal secretary to Pope John Paul II, told reporters in Rome that ``there are no problems with miracles because there are many, but they have picked one because they don’t need more.’’ Pressed further, he added: ``Maybe this I can say: they have picked (one in) France.’’

The Vatican needs proof of a miracle before it can proclaim Pope John Paul II eligible for sainthood, and a Church tribunal from the archdiocese of Krakow, Poland, has been gathering evidence from witnesses.

Pope urges that Latin be taught to the young
VATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope Benedict XVI said Nov. 28 that Latin should be taught more and more to the young, saying the great Latin treasures of the Catholic Church shouldn’t be lost.

Pope Benedict made the call – in Latin – during an audience with members of the Latinitas Foundation, which Pope Paul VI established in 1976 to promote Latin through conferences, publications, competitions and language courses. ``Let the knowledge of the Latin language be reinvigorated in the Church and taught in Church rites and disciplines,’’ the pope said.

Target targeted for policy on ‘morning-after’ pill
NEW YORK (RNS) – The Planned Parenthood Federation of America is targeting Target Corp. over the retailer’s policy allowing pharmacists in its stores to refuse to fill prescriptions for the “morning-after pill” for religious reasons.

Target’s policy requires objecting pharmacists “to take responsibility” for getting a customer’s prescription filled “in a timely and respectful manner,” either by another Target pharmacist or at a different pharmacy, a company statement said.

The retailer expressed surprise and disappointment at Planned Parenthood’s reaction. “Our policy is similar to that of many other retailers and follows the recommendations of the American Pharmacists Association, so it is unclear why Target is being singled out.”

Anglican Church warned about women bishops
LONDON (RNS) – The Catholic bishops of England and Wales have warned the Church of England that going ahead with women bishops risks destabilizing both the Church of England and the whole Anglican Communion.

In a report, the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales referred to “tremendous and intolerable ecclesiogical risk” involved in ordaining women bishops without the assurance that it is right and irreversible.

The Church of England decided in 1992 to allow the ordination of women to the priesthood, and its first women priests were ordained in 1994. It is now considering whether to allow women to become bishops, with a debate expected at its general synod next February.


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