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 June 18, 2007 • VOL. 45, NO. 12 • Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Refugee camp in Baghdad
Refugees stand outside their tents in a refugee camp in Baghdad, Iraq, June 10. Dozens of Shiite villagers were evacuated by the Red Crescent from a village in Diyala province after their houses were torched by insurgents.

Seminarian recovers
Seminarian Edmund Luciano III, 23, walks in his Kendall Park, N.J., neighborhood with his sister Danielle, left, and cousin Lisa Scarano in late May. He is recovering from heart transplant surgery.
Priest murdered in Iraq
Chaldean Father Ragheed Aziz Ganni and three subdeacons from the Church of the Holy Spirit in Mosul, Iraq, were killed June 3 while leaving the church after Mass. Their car was blocked by a group of armed militants who shot the clergymen and then booby-trapped the car with explosives. The priest was ordained in Rome in 2001. His church has been bombed several times in the past months.

Sanctions discarded against Mexican cardinal
MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- Mexico’s Interior Ministry has discarded a complaint against Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City and another church official for campaigning against a city law that legalized abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Local lawmakers who approved the initiative April 24 had filed a complaint accusing Cardinal Rivera and Father Hugo Romero Asencion of violating a constitutional passage that prohibits religious figures from participating in politics.
In a June 9 statement, the Interior Ministry said that “it was not appropriate to apply any sanctions” in the case.

Iraqi refugees in Jordan in great need

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The thousands of impoverished Iraqis spilling into Jordan each year are in desperate need of humanitarian aid, said the head of Caritas Jordan. However, Jordanian government officials are reluctant to let international nongovernmental organizations offer assistance to Iraqis “because they don’t want to have a repeat of what happened with the Palestinians,” when the Palestinians, fleeing violence from the war of 1948, stayed, said Wael Suleiman, executive director of Caritas Jordan.
While the Jordanian government “accepts the Iraqis as guests,” it is hesitant to give them legal or refugee status, he said.

Chinese bishop has been detained by government
HONG KONG (CNS) -- Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo of Zhengding, China, has been detained by government authorities since June 5 when he was taken away, said various sources. A priest of the diocese in Hebei province said that surveillance at the cathedral in Wuqiu village, near the provincial capital of Shijiazhuang, has intensified since then.

Bishop Joseph Wei Jingyi of Qiqihar, who, like Bishop Jia, has not registered with the government, said he did not think there is a high possibility of a mass arrest of non-registered Church leaders due to Pope Benedict XVI’s highly anticipated letter to Chinese Catholics. However, Bishop Wei acknowledged that Bishop Jia’s arrest might be an exception because Bishop Jia frequently has been detained when important events are expected to happen. Bishop Jia was detained June 25-Sept. 25, 2006.

Caritas official warns about war in Congo
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Democratic Republic of Congo is on the brink of full-scale war unless the government and international community intervene, said a Caritas official. Bruno Miteyo, director of Caritas Congo, said that “all the elements are there to bring the country to war.” Weapons are being taken into the country over the borders and civilians are being killed, raped or kidnapped, stirring up lingering ethnic hatreds and fueling fresh clashes, Miteyo said.

Congo is still struggling to recover from years of ethnic violence and a 1998-2003 civil war that displaced 1.6 million people and left another 4 million people dead, making it one of the world’s bloodiest conflicts since World War II.

Spokane Diocese emerges from bankruptcy
SPOKANE, Wash. (CNS) -- The Diocese of Spokane emerged from bankruptcy May 31, two-and-a-half years after it entered Chapter 11 federal bankruptcy proceedings. The diocese and its parishes still have to raise millions of dollars for the $48 million fund that will be used to compensate childhood victims of clergy sexual abuse and to pay the professional fees of the bankruptcy proceeding and expenses incurred in determining the claims. The $20 million that diocesan insurers contributed to the settlement was wired to the fund May 31.

As part of the reorganization, 76 parishes were incorporated as separate entities within the diocese. Parish properties were handed over to the newly incorporated entities but are pledged as security for the $10 million that the parishes must raise to contribute to the fund. The diocese is raising about $5 million by selling diocesan properties, including a 1,000-acre farm it owned and the building used for its diocesan offices.

Other Catholic entities in the diocese, including cemeteries, Catholic Charities, a youth camp and a retreat center, will contribute $6.4 million. The bishop will have to borrow or raise about $7.5 million from other sources to complete the diocese’s contribution to the fund.

Conviction overturned for Vatican Radio officials
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- An Italian appeals court overturned the 2005 convictions of two former Vatican Radio officials accused of polluting the environment with electromagnetic waves from broadcasting towers. In a June 4 ruling, the Rome appellate court absolved Cardinal Roberto Tucci, former president of Vatican Radio’s management committee, and Jesuit Father Pasquale Borgomeo, formerly the general director.
Vatican Radio continually has defended itself against the charges, saying that even before Italy issued legal limits for electromagnetic emissions, the agency had been adhering to international norms.

Documents coming soon on China, Tridentine Mass
ROME (CNS) -- A leading Vatican official said two important documents from Pope Benedict XVI -- a letter to Chinese Catholics and a decree liberalizing use of the Tridentine Mass -- were coming soon.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, told an Italian newspaper that the pope had “definitively approved” the text of his letter to the Church in China.

As for the document granting wider latitude for celebration of the Tridentine rite, Cardinal Bertone said that “one shouldn’t have to wait long to see it published.” The cardinal said the pope was “personally interested in making this happen” and that the pontiff had prepared an accompanying letter explaining the move and expressing the hope for a serene reception by the Church.

Vatican documents show Pius XII helped Jews
ROME (CNS) -- Thousands of Vatican documents demonstrate that Pope Pius XII worked quietly but effectively to help Jews and others during World War II, a top Vatican official said.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, said June 5 that the documentation of papal charity is the most convincing response to the “black legend” that has depicted the late pope as indifferent toward the victims of Nazism. The cardinal said a fair reading of history must recognize “the enormous work of charity that the pope promoted, by opening the doors of seminaries and religious institutes, welcoming refugees and the persecuted, and helping all.”


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