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 November 20, 2006 • VOL. 44, NO. 20 • Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Renovation
completed

Restoration was completed on Baltimore's Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and preparations were made for its Nov. 4 reopening. Also known as America’s first cathedral, the basilica underwent a two-year, $32 million overhaul. Designed by U.S. Capitol architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe, the church is marking the bicentennial of its founding.

CNS PHOTO/NANCY WIECHEC

Unusual
papal
calendar

Pope Benedict XVI is pictured in a 2007 Italian calendar to raise money for Rwandan children. The calendar, to be released Nov. 23 by the Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana, features 14 photographs of Pope Benedict taken in August at the papal summer villa in Castel Gandolfo.

CNS PHOTO/COURTESY OF CATHOLIC PRESS PHOTO


British army, police collusion in Irish deaths

DUBLIN, Ireland (CNS) -- An international panel of human rights lawyers found evidence of British army and police collusion in the deaths of 74 Catholics in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland between 1972 and 1977. The panel was headed by Douglas Cassel, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. He said the families of the victims want to know “why were members of their family targeted, and by whom and at what level was it approved?” he said. The families also are asking the British government to publicly acknowledge the collusion and apologize.

Churches urge nations to remedy emissions debt
NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) -- A coalition of African Catholic and Protestant churches attending a U.N. conference on climate change urged industrialized nations to compensate poor nations for carbon emissions. Describing industrialized countries as “environmental debtors” to the poorer countries, the churches said that, to restore balance, urgent action is needed on the part of industrialized countries.

The churches said industrialized countries must stabilize global carbon emissions by significantly reducing those emissions to bring the climate budget under control. Individual companies and governments must share in this responsibility, they added.

Group wants eBay to prohibit sale of relics
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A California group is advocating a boycott of eBay unless the online auction house enforces its own rules against selling body parts to prohibit the sale of saints’ relics. “They’ve had opportunities to stop the sales, and they don’t even enforce their own regulations,” said Tom Serafin, founder and president of the International Crusade for Holy Relics. According to Serafin, even a “cursory search” of the popular site will turn up dozens of relics “often purporting to be the bones of saints” for sale.

Catherine England, an eBay spokeswoman, said Nov. 6 that the auction site is aware of the organized boycott and that officials from eBay have had conversations with representatives from the International Crusade for Holy Relics in the past, but not recently and so were surprised at the boycott call. England said eBay does enforce its policies against selling certain human body parts such as bones and organs, but that other items that are legal to buy and sell in the United States are allowed to be sold on the site.

Congress urged to act on bill to aid Haiti
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- U.S. religious leaders are urging members of Congress to pass a bill to aid Haitian trade access when they reconvene after the midterm elections. A coalition of churches wrote to members of Congress urging them to pass the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act of 2006, known as the HOPE Act, which would give Haiti preferential trade access. It is “a critical step that will attract investment in Haiti, create jobs and help tackle Haiti’s crippling poverty and instability,” said the letter.

Caritas Korea gets OK from North Korea
SEOUL, South Korea (CNS) -- With the agreement of the North Korean government, Caritas Korea is leading Caritas Internationalis’ aid program to the communist country. Caritas Korea has the responsibility to help approximately 5 million poor North Koreans. Caritas Korea staffers will meet with their North Korean counterparts on behalf of Caritas Internationalis, plan and implement aid programs, receive donations from local and overseas sources and cooperate with other Caritas Internationalis members and supporters.

Pope buys first bond for children’s immunizations
LONDON (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI was the official first buyer of a multi-government bond supporting a campaign to immunize 500 million children in the world’s poorest countries. Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, picked up the pope’s $1,000 bond during a Nov. 7 ceremony in London.

Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, U2 singer Bono, and leaders of Britain’s Muslim, Hindu and Sikh communities also participated in the ceremony and purchased bonds from the International Finance Facility for Immunization.

Patriarch says U.S. could guarantee Israel’s survival
JERUSALEM (CNS) -- As violence increased in the Holy Land, the top Catholic official in Jerusalem said the survival of Israel could be guaranteed if the U.S. government were to change its policy toward the region. “The main question for the U.S. administration and for Israel is survival,” said Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah of Jerusalem . “But if the U.S. wants Israel to survive, to be recognized, then it should take measures to surround Israel with friends. But current U.S. policy is surrounding Israel with enemies. That’s not the way to protect your friend.”

Israeli forces moved into the Gaza Strip Nov. 1 in an effort to halt rocket assaults on southern Israel. Five days of Israeli air raids and gunfire left nearly 50 people dead. Patriarch Sabbah said the United States and Israel were provoking conflict and that the Palestinians were reacting to Israeli oppression.

Vatican official against Hussein death penalty
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The head of the Vatican’s justice and peace office said it would be wrong to carry out the death penalty against Saddam Hussein. The former Iraqi president was sentenced to death by hanging Nov. 5 in a case involving the deaths of 148 Iraqis in 1982.

Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said, “For me, to punish a crime with another crime, such as killing out of vengeance, means that we are still at the stage of ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.’”

The cardinal said both Pope John Paul II’s 1995 encyclical, “Evangelium Vitae” (“The Gospel of Life”), and the Catechism of the Catholic Church teach that modern societies have the means to protect citizens from the threat of a murderer without resorting to execution.

Bishops’ president joins in condemning torture
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Declaring that “the soul of our nation” is at stake, the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and other religious leaders have called for an end to the use of torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners. Bishop William S. Skylstad of Spokane, Wash., was among leaders joining in a statement coordinated by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. Signers of the statement included Jewish, Muslim, Orthodox and other Christian leaders.

Carmelites settle abuse suits for $10 million
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Carmelites and the Los Angeles Archdiocese have reached a $10 million settlement with seven people who say that when they were minors they were sexually molested by members of the order in California. Two accused priests still living, Fathers Dominic Savino and John Knoernschild, have been removed from all public ministry and two other U.S. Carmelites accused in the cases are dead.

Nicaragua outlaws all abortions
MANAGUA, Nicaragua (CNS) -- The Nicaraguan legislature has amended the country’s penal code to prohibit abortion even in cases where the mother’s life is in danger. The measure, passed Oct. 26, makes Nicaraguan legislation on abortion among the strictest in Latin America. Before the new law, abortion was permitted in the case of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother.

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