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 May 8, 2006 VOL. 44, NO. 9Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Ongoing violence in Iraq
Mourners grieve at the funeral of one of six Shiite men found slain in Baghdad, Iraq, April 23. Sectarian violence between Shiites and Sunnis continues to plague Iraq.


Remembering Chernobyl
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, left, and Prime Minister Yuri Yekhanurov attend an April 26 service in Kiev, Ukraine, in remembrance of those who died from effects of fighting the fire at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986 that spread radioactive fallout over the former Soviet Union and Europe.

CNS PHOTO/REUTERS/Ivan Chernichkin

Middleman convicted in murder of U.S.-born nun
SAO PAULO, Brazil (CNS) -- It took less than one day for five men and two women to convict Amair Feijoli da Cunha of hiring two gunmen to murder U.S.-born Sister Dorothy Stang on a deserted dirt road in Brazil’s Amazon region.

Da Cunha was sentenced to 27 years in prison for the Feb. 12, 2005, murder, but due to a plea bargain arrangement with prosecutors, the middleman will only spend 18 years in jail.

The verdict was celebrated by more than 200 peasants who had waited for hours outside the courthouse in Belem. Inside the courtroom, Sister Dorothy’s family members and human right activists also celebrated the ruling.

During the trial, da Cunha confirmed that two local farmers asked him to hire gunmen to kill the nun. The two killers were sentenced to 27 years and 18 years, respectively.

The two men accused of masterminding the assassination remain in jail and have not yet been tried.

Sister Dorothy was a native of Dayton, Ohio, but had lived in the Amazon region for nearly four decades and was a naturalized Brazilian. She worked closely with the Brazilian bishops’ Pastoral Land Commission in favor of land rights for the poor and for sustainable development in the region. Because of her work, she had been receiving death threats for nearly four years.

Collection yields 300 tons of discarded electronics
MARQUETTE, Mich. (CNS) -- Encouraged by their bishop, Catholics joined thousands of others in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula who turned in more than 300 tons of old and broken computers, televisions, cell phones and other electronic waste April 22 during an Earth Day campaign.
“I don’t think anybody dreamed there would be this kind of response,” said Bishop Alexander K. Sample of Marquette about the second annual Earth Keeper Clean Sweep. “It’s wonderful, it’s incredible -- if you provide people with an opportunity to do something good with the environment, they will respond.”

Bolivian president asks church to help poor nation
LA PAZ, Bolivia (CNS) -- Bolivia’s first indigenous president said the church plays a critical role in supporting the revolutionary changes he seeks for South America’s poorest country.

“The participation of the church is important in the transformations we’re fighting for. Be they Catholics or evangelicals, it’s important that they apply Christianity,” said

President Evo Morales, an Aymara indigenous leader who took office in January, has quickly shaken up Bolivian politics. He has vowed to end corruption and inefficiency. He has appointed Cabinet ministers from Bolivia’s indigenous and poor communities, angering many of the country’s traditional elites. He is working to preserve the right of Bolivian farmers to continue to cultivate coca, as well as to nationalize Bolivia’s reserves of gas and oil.

Americans don’t grasp extent of abortion law
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Thirty-three years after Roe v. Wade, most Americans still do not understand the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in nearly all circumstances, according to poll results released April 25.

Although 65 percent of respondents to a recent survey said they were very familiar or somewhat familiar with Roe v. Wade, only 29 percent were able to select the most accurate description of the decision from among four options.

Fifty percent chose an incorrect description, saying Roe made abortion legal only in the first trimester (18 percent), only in limited circumstances (17 percent) or only in the first and second trimester (15 percent).

Priests’ morale reported high despite abuse crisis
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The morale of U.S. priests is high despite the hurt and anger they feel over the crisis of clergy sexual abuse of minors, a prominent priest-psychotherapist said.

Father Stephen J. Rossetti, president of St. Luke Institute in Silver Spring, Md., and author of the recent book “The Joy of Priesthood,” said a survey of nearly 1,300 priests in 16 dioceses that he conducted on the effects of the abuse crisis on priestly morale showed that 80 percent of priests say their own morale is good, but only 38 percent think the morale of their fellow priests is good.

Venezuelan bishops seek probe into priest’s death
CARACAS, Venezuela (CNS) -- The Venezuelan bishops’ conference asked police to pursue an investigation into the apparent murder of a conference official. Father Jorge Pinango Mascareno, undersecretary of the bishops’ conference, was found dead in a Caracas hotel early April 24, about 48 hours after he was missing.

Vicente Alamo, deputy director of police forensics, confirmed that an autopsy showed Father Pinango died from forced suffocation.

Underground Chinese bishop closely watched
HONG KONG (CNS) -- An underground bishop in northern China was recently released from more than five months of detention but is being closely watched.

Local Catholic sources said Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo of Zhengding was returned to his church in Wuqiu village, in Hebei province, April 19. A local Catholic who met the 70-year-old prelate after his release said two officials are stationed at the church and Bishop Jia is under 24-hour surveillance.

Spokane ordered to redo its abuse settlement plan
SPOKANE, Wash. (CNS) -- The Spokane Diocese has to restructure its settlement offer to people claiming that they were abused as minors by clergymen, ruled U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Patricia Williams. She said the $45.7 million plan did not treat all claimants fairly because it favored one group over another. Another hearing on the matter has been set for May 15.

On Feb. 1, the diocese offered the settlement to 75 claimants. Since then the diocese has received more than 100 other claims, which it is reviewing to see if there is enough evidence to justify the claims.

Nun who worked with ex-cons found murdered
BUFFALO, N.Y. (CNS) -- Sister Karen Klimczak, a Sister of St. Joseph who was murdered April 14 at the Buffalo home where she ministered to ex-convicts, “gave her life in service to her God, her church and the community she loved,” said Bishop Edward U. Kmiec of Buffalo.

Police have charged Craig M. Lynch with the murder. Lynch, who was released from Wyoming Correctional Facility in January, lived at Bissonette House, a residence for former prison inmates founded and directed by Sister Karen. Police said Lynch, 36, attacked Sister Karen, 62, as she interrupted a burglary.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is patron of Maryland
BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Maryland has a new heavenly protector. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first U.S.-born saint and a founder of what would become the Catholic school system in the United States, has been named the official patroness of Maryland by the Vatican.

The idea for the special designation came from Paul and Janet Vater, parishioners of Mother Seton Church in Germantown, Md., located in the Archdiocese of Washington, who asked Cardinal Keeler to seek the title from Rome.

Mexican priest arrested for murder of mistress
MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- Police in a Mexico City suburb arrested a Catholic priest for allegedly murdering his pregnant mistress on Easter. Authorities said Father Cesar Torres Martinez, 42, confessed to strangling 22-year-old Veronica Andrade Salinas after she confronted him over the pregnancy and demanded money after a pre-dawn Easter Mass at a parish just east of Mexico City.
After a deadly struggle, the priest dismembered Andrade’s body with a kitchen knife and dumped the remains in a plastic bag outside a local cemetery.


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