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 October 8 , 2007   •   VOL. 45, NO. 17   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Prayers for Myanmar
A man prays at a Buddhist temple occupied by soldiers in Yangon, Myanmar, Oct. 1, after the government crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations led by hundreds of Buddhist monks. At his Sept. 30 blessing, Pope Benedict XVI called for a peaceful resolution to the unrest and urged the entire Church to pray for the country.


Stopping child pornography
Pirated pornographic CDs and DVDs are crushed by a bulldozer during an observance of National Day of Awareness and Unity against Child Pornography outside the cathedral in Manila, Philippines, Sept. 28.


Catholic Charities honored for accountability
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CNS) — The Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance has given its seal of approval to Catholic Charities USA, recognizing that it meets all standards for charity accountability.

The alliance, a national charity watchdog group formed in 2001 through the merger of the National Charities Information Bureau with the Council of Better Business Bureaus’ Foundation, reviews standards for governance and oversight, fiscal responsibility, truthfulness in representation and willingness to disclose information to the public before granting the seal.

Catholic Charities also was named earlier in 2007 as the eighth most fiscally responsible charity in the nation by Charity Navigator, which describes itself as “America’s premier independent charity evaluator.”

Tone of immigration debate: inflammatory
WASHINGTON (CNS) — The current tone in the immigration reform debate has “inflamed fears and misunderstanding among some portions of the American public, leading to a polarized and vitriolic atmosphere,” said Bishop Gerald R. Barnes of San Bernardino, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration.

He said migrant workers, including the undocumented, make important contributions to the nation’s economy through their work in agriculture, construction and service industries. He faulted the United Stated for refusing “to acknowledge these contributions” and relegating migrants to “a permanent underclass of workers, without full rights.”

Spokane Diocese makes $5 million abuse payment

SPOKANE, Wash. (CNS) — In what Bishop William S. Skylstad called “just one small step toward healing for the victims,” the Diocese of Spokane has wired $5 million to a trust account set up to pay the claims of those sexually abused by clergy in the diocese. The payment, as stipulated by the bankruptcy reorganization plan approved in April, brings the diocese “one step closer to fulfilling the requirements of the plan and concluding the Chapter 11 reorganization,” Bishop Skylstad said. A payment of $1 million remains and must be made by Oct. 1, 2009.

Under the terms of the settlement plan, the 176 childhood victims of abuse by priests or other Church personnel in the diocese will receive compensation ranging from $15,000 to $1.5 million, depending on several factors, including the severity of the abuse and whether or not the statute of limitations had run out before the claim was made.

Catholic hospitals to comply with Plan B law
HARTFORD, Conn. (CNS) — Connecticut’s four Catholic hospitals will provide emergency contraception to rape victims without requiring an ovulation test, in compliance with a new state law that takes effect Oct. 1. The state’s Catholic bishops and leaders of Catholic hospitals said that, although they continue to believe that the law is flawed and should be changed, they would revise current protocols at the hospitals that call for both a pregnancy test and an ovulation test before the “morning-after” pill marketed as Plan B is administered.

“To administer Plan B pills in Catholic hospitals to victims of rape, a pregnancy test to determine that the woman has not conceived is sufficient,” the statement said. Plan B, containing a high dose of birth control pills, usually prevents pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex.

Physician: John Paul had nutritional support
ROME (CNS) — Pope John Paul II’s personal physician has vehemently denied an Italian doctor’s claim that the late pope refused nutritional support that would have prolonged his life. Dr. Renato Buzzonetti said Pope John Paul had a feeding tube inserted when he needed it in his final days and received an intravenous drip “right up until the end, without any interruption.” He said the pope was never “without medical aid and assistance, as someone erroneously wants to insinuate.”

Nuns excommunicated for heretical group links
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (CNS) — Six nuns from the Monastery of Our Lady of Charity and Refuge in Hot Springs were excommunicated for their involvement in a schismatic association based in Quebec. The women have been longtime members of the Community of the Lady of All Nations, founded by Marie-Paul Giguere, who believes she is the reincarnation of Mary. The association is no longer considered a Catholic organization because of its false teachings on the Trinity and Mary, a Vatican official said.

Court to consider legality of lethal injection

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear oral arguments on whether lethal injection violates the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The case before the court directly involves only Kentucky death-row inmates Ralph Baze and Thomas Clyde Bowling Jr., but it could have far-reaching implications throughout the United States.

Opponents of lethal injection say the combination of an anesthetic, a muscle paralyzer and a drug to stop the heart can cause unbearable pain that the inmates are not able to signal because of their paralysis.

Episcopal bishop says he will become Catholic
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Saying that God is calling him to become a Catholic, the Episcopal bishop of the Diocese of the Rio Grande asked his fellow bishops to accept his resignation Sept. 25. The request, required by church law, came from Bishop Jeffrey Steenson during an executive session of the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans. He said he intended to seek release from his Episcopal ordination vows by the end of the year.

The consent of a majority of the House of Bishops is required for a bishop to resign before reaching the mandatory retirement age of 72 or being declared incapacitated. The bishops did not act on the request, however, because Episcopal Church law also requires prior notification of all diocesan standing committees.

“I hope my decision will encourage others who believe they can no longer remain in the Episcopal Church to respect its laws and withdraw as courteously as possible for the sake of the Christian witness,” said Bishop Steenson.

Xavier students join Jena rally against racism
NEW ORLEANS (CNS) — About 170 students from Xavier University of Louisiana were among thousands from across the country who converged on Jena, La., Sept. 20 for a rally protesting what they believe were excessive charges filed against six black Jena High School students for beating a white classmate last December. Local authorities estimated the crowd in the tens of thousands.

Copper theft occurs at Colo. Springs cathedral
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CNS) — When sections of copper drain pipes on the outside of St. Mary’s Cathedral in downtown Colorado Springs were stolen, the church became the victim of a crime that has become a nationwide trend. Around the country, thieves have been stealing copper to sell to scrap metal recyclers, sometimes fetching hundreds of dollars for each section they sell. Prices have soared on the commodities market recently, with copper going for more than $3 per pound.

The church’s loss, which was reported to police and the diocesan insurer, is estimated at $1,800, and the chances of tracing the stolen copper were slim.

Vietnamese diocese has record for new priests
THAI BINH, Vietnam (CNS) — The rural Diocese of Thai Binh in northern Vietnam has become the country’s latest diocese to boast record numbers of newly ordained priests and newly erected parishes.

Each of the 26 new parishes created since December 2006 has more than 1,000 Catholics. Currently, 36 of the diocese’s 90 parishes have no resident priest, and many individual priests serve more than 5,000 Catholics.


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