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 September 4, 2006VOL. 44, NO. 15Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Cathedral fire
Flames engulf the dome of Trinity Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia, Aug. 25. The dome of the Orthodox cathedral collapsed after scaffolding on the dome caught fire.

CNS PHOTO/Jason Lange

Election protest
Deacon Alvaro Sierra preaches in a tent in a protest camp set up in Mexico City’s central plaza, where supporters of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the defeated presidential candidate, have gathered to demand a recount in the July 2 presidential election. They are taking their claims of election fraud to the pews and the pulpit as part of a campaign to spread word of their political struggle as a court weighs legal challenges against candidate Felipe Calderon’s victory.
CNS PHOTO/Alexander Demianchuk, Reuters

Stem-cell announcement dismissed as a sham
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Highly touted research claiming that human embryonic stem-cell lines can be derived without harming the embryos is a sham, according to a pro-life official of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “They didn’t do anything like what the headlines are saying they did,” said Richard Doerflinger, deputy director of the bishops’ Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities. “All they showed was that you can kill an embryo at an earlier stage than they did before.”

Advanced Cell Technology Inc., based in Alameda, Calif., and Worcester, Mass., announced Aug. 23 that a team of its scientists had “successfully generated human embryonic stem cells using an approach that does not harm embryos.” The technique involves removal of a single cell from an early, eight-cell embryo called a blastomere.

Peace groups say protests not helping terrorists
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Leaders of Catholic peace groups bristle when asked if their opposition to the Iraq War and their criticisms of the Bush administration’s war on terrorism are harming efforts to keep the U.S. safe. Saying that protesters help terrorists is a “bogus assertion,” said Dave Robinson, executive director of Pax Christi USA. Accusing protesters of helping the enemy “is always used in wartime by the war-makers against those who call for government accountability,” he said.

Robinson said President George W. Bush’s approach to fighting terrorism is counterproductive because it overemphasizes a military response that fails to deal with the underlying causes that seduce people to become terrorists.

Lefebvrite bishop says no progress on reconciliation
ROME (CNS) -- A year after his meeting with Pope Benedict XVI, the head of the Society of St. Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay, said there had been no substantial progress on reconciliation with the Vatican. Bishop Fellay said that after the terms of a possible agreement were discussed by cardinals and Roman Curia officials in meetings last spring “there’s been no development” on the issue.

The society, which rejects many of the changes introduced by the Second Vatican Council, broke with the Vatican in 1988 when its late founder, French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, ordained four bishops against papal instructions. Bishop Fellay was one of those ordained.

Catholic colleges top lists in rankings of best schools
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholic colleges and universities across the country once again made the list of U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking of the nation’s best colleges. They only occupied a small number of slots in the national ranking, but they had their best standings among regional universities, and they filled the top spots in lists from the North and Midwest regions.

In the national ranking, three Catholic colleges -- the University of Notre Dame in Indiana (20th), Georgetown University in Washington (23rd) and Boston College (34th) made the top 50.

Seven of the top 15 ranked regional universities in the West are Catholic. They are: Santa Clara University in California (second), Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash. (third), Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles (fourth), University of Portland in Oregon (fifth), Seattle University (seventh) St. Mary’s College of California in Moraga (10th) and St. Mary’s University of San Antonio (15th.)

Cardinal says study Darwinism as science
RIMINI, Italy (CNS) -- Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna said he thought Darwin’s theories on evolution deserve to be studied in schools, along with the scientific question marks that remain. It is right to teach “the science of Darwin, not ideological Darwinism,” Cardinal Schonborn said.

In 2005, Cardinal Schonborn helped fuel the debate over evolution and intelligent design when he wrote in The New York Times that science offers “overwhelming evidence for design in biology.” He later said some scientists had turned Darwin’s teachings into an ideological “dogma” that admitted no possibility of a divine design in the created world.

Court allows abortion for mentally disabled
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (CNS) -- An Argentine court overturned an injunction granted to Catholic human rights groups and ruled that a mentally disabled woman who became pregnant after being raped could have an abortion. The Supreme Court in the western province of Mendoza ruled Aug. 22 that doctors should decide whether the 25-year-old woman, who is 12 weeks pregnant, could have an abortion and that the case should not be decided in the courts.

Pope says Revelation not an enigmatic warning
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Book of Revelation should not be read as a frightening or enigmatic warning, but as an essentially encouraging vision of Christ’s definitive victory over evil, Pope Benedict XVI said. The pope noted that Revelation, also called the Apocalypse, had come to be mistakenly identified with the idea of an “imminent catastrophe” about to befall the world. Instead, he said, the text offers a clear expression of how the Christian faith makes ultimate sense of history.

The Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament, is considered one of the most difficult to understand and interpret. The apocalyptic images recorded by the author, by tradition St. John the Apostle, have long inspired end-of-the-world scenarios, especially among Christian evangelicals.

China releases bishop after 10 years in prison
ROME (CNS) -- After 10 years in prison, an underground Chinese bishop has been released and has received government permission to carry out his pastoral duties without registering with the country’s state-sanctioned Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. Chinese authorities freed 57-year-old Auxiliary Bishop Francis An Shuxin of Baoding in Hebei province Aug. 24. The bishop had been arrested in 1996 following a government-ordered raid on the diocese’s underground seminary, which he headed.

AsiaNews reported that Bishop An was released because he accepted government recognition for being a Catholic bishop in China. He did not have to become a member of the government-approved patriotic association, which rejects papal authority and elects bishops without Vatican approval.

Sri Lankan priest disappears amid fighting
NEW DELHI (CNS) -- Amid battles between Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and government forces in northern Sri Lanka, a parish priest and a person traveling with him have disappeared. Father Thiruchelvam Nihal Jim Brown, 34, of St. Philip Neri Church in Allaipiddy off the Jaffna peninsula disappeared Aug. 20 after he and Wenceslaus Vincent Vimalan went to the church to check the premises. The church and the predominantly Catholic neighborhood -- about six miles from downtown Jaffna -- have been virtually abandoned since the church was shelled Aug. 13.

The Jaffna Diocese has lodged complaints with the Sri Lankan navy, army, police and the International Committee of the Red Cross about the missing priest and Vimalan.

Church uninsured for $120 million in damage
NEW ORLEANS (CNS) -- Hurricane Katrina caused $225 million in wind and flood damage to churches, schools and other property owned by the Archdiocese of New Orleans -- $145 million caused by flooding and $80 million by wind. Although the $80 million in wind damage is covered by insurance -- except for a $500,000 deductible -- the archdiocese will receive only $25 million in flood insurance proceeds, leaving an uninsured flood loss of $120 million.

The $120 million loss has been mitigated somewhat by $45.5 million in grants and donations from various sources and an estimated $27 million in anticipated reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, putting the actual loss at about $48 million.


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