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 May 7, 2007VOL. 45, NO. 9Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Marathon for Peace
Athletes hold up a torch in front of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, West Bank, at the start of the Pope John Paul II Marathon for Peace April 25. Italian, Israeli and Palestinian athletes participated in the annual 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) run from Bethlehem to Jerusalem.

Beijing bishop
given funeral
for state leader

Beijing Bishop Michael Fu Tieshan’s coffin is draped with China’s national flag during his funeral service at Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery in Beijing April 27. At the time of his death, Bishop Fu was a vice chairman of the National People’s Congress, China’s legislature, with the rank of a state leader. He also was chairman of the government-approved Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and acting president of the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China.

Orthodox rites for Yeltsin
An Orthodox priest stands next to the coffin of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin in Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow April 24. Yeltsin died April 23 at the age of 76. His funeral in the cathedral was the first time a Russian leader has been buried with Christian rites since Czar Alexander III in 1894.

Desperate Philippine priest runs for governor
BETIS, Philippines (CNS) -- A diocesan priest said his campaign to become governor of Pampanga province is an act of desperation. Corruption, illegal gambling and abuse of power have brought the government of his northern Philippine province to rock bottom, said Father Eddie
Panlilio, adding that the provincial government is in an “emergency state.”

He said the two major gubernatorial candidates are linked to all the problems and there was no alternative to them on the ballot. Father Panlilio, 53, the pastor of St. James the Apostle Church in Betis, is now on the campaign trail. He requested and received a suspension from priestly duties to run for office.

Archbishop Paciano Aniceto, who is not openly supporting the priest’s candidacy, said Father Panlilio “is a very, very exemplary priest who has served the social action ministry with great dedication and love for the poor.”

The priest acknowledged that some of his own confreres oppose his candidacy, mainly because they believe a priest should not run in political elections, as stated in canon law.

Mexican states unlikely to legalize abortion soon
GUADALAJARA, Mexico (CNS) -- Though Mexico City legalized abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, most states in Mexico are unlikely to follow suit in the near future, said several political observers.

Rodolfo Chavez, University of Guadalajara law professor, said abortion laws are the exclusive jurisdiction of state governments, and he predicted none of the nine states with governments run by the National Action Party would move toward decriminalizing abortion.

Dan Lund, a pollster with the research firm MUND Americas, said that up to a dozen of Mexico’s 31 states could propose decriminalizing abortion. But Lund said polling in other parts of Mexico suggests support for the decriminalization of abortion lags behind support in the capital, Mexico City.

Papal trip to U.N. unlikely this year
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has accepted an invitation to visit U.N. headquarters in New York City, but Vatican sources said the trip looks unlikely for this year. Attention had focused on a possible papal visit in September for the opening of the U.N. General Assembly. Vatican sources said that date now looks improbable, and that no steps are being taken for a U.N. visit this year.

$48 million sex abuse settlement in Spokane
SPOKANE, Wash. (CNS) -- U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Patricia Williams April 24 confirmed a reorganization plan under which the Spokane Diocese will pay childhood victims of clergy sexual abuse and their lawyers $48 million.

“Today’s decision by Judge Williams marks the end of a tragic chapter in our history,” Bishop William S. Skylstad of Spokane said at an afternoon press conference announcing the decision. He used the occasion to apologize again to the abuse victims.

All parties to the diocese’s bankruptcy proceedings had agreed to the reorganization plan before Williams confirmed it.

Portland Archdiocese exits from bankruptcy
PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) -- The first Catholic diocesan bankruptcy proceeding in the nation ended April 17 when a federal judge approved a $75 million settlement of clergy sexual abuse claims and a financial reorganization plan for the Portland Archdiocese. Since February, lawyers from both sides worked out the two dozen most difficult cases, bringing the total settled claims under the 33-month bankruptcy to 177. Checks will go out to victims at the start of May.

Insurance issues force end to foster care program
CHICAGO (CNS) -- Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago has begun dismantling its foster care program . The decision, which Catholic and state welfare officials called “tragic,” came after Catholic Charities was unable to get liability insurance for the program. When the closure was announced April 16, about 900 children were in the program. More than 150 staff positions are to be cut as well.

Catholic Charities’ current carrier agreed to continue providing coverage of all of Catholic Charities’ services except foster care. The agency approached 25 providers besides its current carrier; 24 turned it down, and one did not respond. The insurance company’s decision came after Catholic Charities settled a lawsuit over the alleged abuse of three children in a foster home in the 1990s for $12 million.

Tests reveal bones are not St. Joan’s
OXFORD, England (CNS) -- A forensic scientist’s findings that bone fragments are not those of St. Joan of Arc would not “change anything for the Church,” said a French church official. “These remains have never been regarded as relics by the Church -- although we knew of their existence, they were never the objects of cult or devotion,” said Bertrand Vincent, spokesman for France’s Tours Archdiocese.

Vincent said the Church always maintained that St. Joan’s “remains were burned and scattered -- though historians and researchers may probe the record, nothing has happened to change it.” A yearlong examination on pieces of bone and cloth allegedly retrieved from Rouen, where St. Joan was put to death, revealed the “sacred scraps” were remains of an Egyptian mummy dating from 600-300 B.C.

‘Terrorism is born of real grievances’
ROME (CNS) -- Heightened security and military preparedness alone cannot prevent acts of terrorism, because terrorism is born of real grievances twisted by hatred, said Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers.

Cardinal Martino spoke at a seminar the council was holding with Catholic airport chaplains to discuss ways to promote dialogue and respond to terrorist threats and fears of terrorism among airport workers and passengers. While there is no excuse for terrorism, the cardinal said, the threat cannot be eliminated until the causes are.






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