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 June 5, 2006VOL. 44, NO. 11Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Visiting the ‘abyss of terror’


Pope Benedict XVI walks alone through the entrance of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland, May 28, to join three dozen Holocaust survivors before the wall where firing squads shot thousands. The pope said he came to the camp “to implore the grace of reconciliation” from God and from those who suffered at the camp and to pray for all those who are “suffering in new ways from the power of hatred and the violence which hatred spawns.”




Pope Benedict XVI speaks with a concentration camp survivor at Block 11 as he visits the former Auschwitz death camp, which he called an “abyss of terror.”


Pope Benedict XVI prays in the cell of St. Maximilian Kolbe at the Nazi’s Auschwitz death camp, May 28. Kolbe was put to death at the camp after volunteering to take the place of another man who had been sentenced to die.


Clergy who spied for communists, ‘Confess’
WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- Influential Polish Catholics have urged clergy who spied for the communist secret police to admit their guilt, following a recent report that named a priest as a former spy.

“It is with great pain that we receive the news about priests and others linked with the church who collaborated with the security services of the communist state -- they cast a shadow on the Catholic Church’s heroic history under communist rule,” said an open letter signed by more than 100 lay Catholics.

The letter was published by Poland’s wiara.pl news agency a day before Pope Benedict XVI’s arrival for his May 25-28 visit in Poland.

Addressing Polish clergy May 25 in Warsaw’s Cathedral of St. John, Pope Benedict said that communist rule had created “an unconscious tendency to hide under an external mask,” and that the Church should remember “there are sinners among her members.”

Sainthood explored for Navy chaplain
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- With the permission of the Vatican, the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services has begun an inquiry that could lead to the canonization of Maryknoll Father Vincent R. Capodanno, a U.S. Navy chaplain who died in 1967 while serving with the Marines in Vietnam.

Born Feb. 13, 1929, on Staten Island in New York, Capodanno studied at Maryknoll seminaries and was ordained to the priesthood June 7, 1957. He served for the first eight years of his priesthood as a Maryknoll missionary in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Commissioned as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy on Dec. 28, 1965, Father Capodanno asked to serve with the Marines in Vietnam and joined the 1st Marine Division in 1966 as battalion chaplain.

Fatally wounded by enemy sniper fire Sept. 4, 1967, he was posthumously awarded the nation’s highest military honor, the Medal of Honor, “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.”

Court urged to uphold partial-birth abortion ban
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The federal law prohibiting the procedure known as partial-birth abortion should be upheld, both because it protects babies that are “substantially outside” the mother’s womb and because it doesn’t prohibit abortions in general, said a coalition of church organizations that includes the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. In a friend-of-the-court brief filed May 19 with the Supreme Court, the USCCB and four other church groups asked the court to reverse the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that overturned the federal partial-birth abortion law.

The brief also urged the court to use the case, Gonzales v. Carhart, to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision legalizing abortion in the U.S. The case has been accepted for the court term that begins in October, but no date for oral arguments has been announced.

Call for substitutes for abortion-linked vaccines
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholics should pressure pharmaceutical companies and government authorities to quickly come up with alternatives to vaccines derived from cells taken from aborted fetuses, according to The Catholic Medical Association.

Vaccines derived from cell lines that used tissue taken from voluntarily aborted fetuses include those for rubella (German measles) and hepatitis A, marketed under the names Meruvax, Vaqta and Havrix. When alternative versions of the vaccines are available, “they must be used in place of those produced by immoral means,” the Catholic Medical Association said.

Qatar gives $17.5 million to Xavier University
NEW ORLEANS (CNS) -- Xavier University of Louisiana has received a $17.5 million grant from Qatar as part of the Middle Eastern country’s overall grants to organizations in New Orleans still recovering from Hurricane Katrina. Qatar’s ambassador to the United States, Nasser bin Hamad al-Khalifa, announced the grants totaling $60 million.

Retired bishop named in Iowa sex abuse claims
DAVENPORT, Iowa (CNS) -- The Davenport Diocese received notice May 22 of 14 claims against it for clerical sexual abuse of minors. They included seven more claims against retired Bishop Lawrence D. Soens of Sioux City, who was a Davenport priest before he was made a bishop.

The law firm of Betty, Neuman & McMahon, which served notice of the claims, said in a news release that the seven claims against Bishop Soens date from his days as principal of Regina High School in Iowa City, 1959-67. All of the new claims were by males.

Vatican too lenient say Maciel’s accusers
MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- Men who say the founder of the Legionaries of Christ sexually abused them when they were teenagers criticized the Vatican for what they see as its leniency toward their former mentor. The Vatican recently asked 86-year-old Father Marcial Maciel Degollado not to exercise his priestly ministry publicly after investigating the claims made by nine former Legionary seminarians.
At the same time, the Vatican said it would not begin a canonical process against Father Maciel because of his advanced age and poor health. The Vatican said it decided to “call the priest to a life reserved to prayer and penance,” but Father Maciel’s accusers were pressing for a formal acknowledgment of his guilt, a conclusion that could only have come through a canonical process.

Each Vermont parish put under a charitable trust
BURLINGTON, Vt. (CNS) -- To protect Vermont’s 128 parishes and missions from “unjust attack,” Burlington Bishop Salvatore R. Matano has placed each under a charitable trust. That means the titles to all parishes, once in the name of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington Inc., are now in the name of the parishes with the bishop as trustee. “We are doing this to preserve parish assets as parish assets,” said Father John McDermott, chancellor.

Plans to legalize abortion in Argentina criticized
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (CNS) -- Catholic Church officials are critical of an Argentine proposal to legalize abortion under certain circumstances as part of a wide-ranging legal reform. The proposal was drawn up by a team of legal experts working on draft outlines for a revised penal code. Abortion is illegal in Argentina except in the case of the rape of a mentally disabled woman or when the mother’s life is in danger, but human rights groups believe at least 500,000 illegal abortions are performed annually.

Court rejects Spokane Diocese’s settlement plan
SPOKANE, Wash. (CNS) -- U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Patricia Williams has thrown out the Spokane Diocese’s proposed $45.7 million settlement with 75 people who have sued the diocese for clergy sexual abuse. She said the proposal violated a rule of fair treatment because it did not include some 100 other claims still under review or provide for possible future claims.
The diocese had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December 2004, saying the sex abuse lawsuits it faced were seeking much more money than the diocese had in all its assets combined.


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