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 January 21, 2008   •   VOL. 46, NO. 2   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Demonstrating for
voting rights

Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong, center, joins a demonstration calling for voting rights in Hong Kong, Jan. 13. Thousands marched against a Chinese central government decision not to implement universal suffrage for Hong Kong’s 2012 elections. At left is the Rev. Ralph Lee Ting-sun, secretary general of the Hong Kong Christian Council and president of the Hong Kong Methodist Church..


Bush visits Capernaum
U.S. President George W. Bush listens to a Bible passage being read by one of two Franciscan friars accompanying him on a visit to the archaeological remains at Capernaum, Israel, Jan. 11. The president was on a visit to Israel and Palestine to elicit commitment to a Mid-East peace process. Five apostles (Peter, Andrew, James, John and Matthew) were from Capernaum and Jesus preached in the synagogue there.


Anti-Catholic attacks
Sister Sujata and Sister Anjali stand in the destroyed chapel of Mount Carmel convent in Balliguda, India, Jan. 5. Armed thugs ransacked and burned the convent in a string of sectarian attacks among Hindus and Christians in Orissa state. That same day in Pobingia, a mob set fire to St. Peter Church, rectory and a student hostel.


Bush hopes Palestinian state would end checkpoints
JERUSALEM (CNS) — U.S. President George W. Bush told residents of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Jan. 10, he hoped someday the creation of an independent Palestinian state would eliminate checkpoints and walls at the Israeli border. Bethlehem residents have said a 25-foot-tall wall surrounding the city has left them feeling imprisoned. Israel says the wall — part of a planned 400-mile cement and barbed-wire barrier through the West Bank — has proven its effectiveness against suicide bombers.

Pope’s straight talk causes political storm
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In an apparent rebuke to Rome government officials, Pope Benedict XVI criticized what he called “very serious degradation” in areas of the city and the surrounding region. The pope urged the officials to resolve a series of emergencies in education, housing, poverty, unemployment and public safety. The talk Jan. 10 ignited a storm of political controversy, and the next day the Vatican issued a statement expressing amazement at the reaction. It said it was not the pope’s intention to ignore the “appreciable commitment” of the city and the region to deal with the problems.

Warning about actions of Life Teen founder
WASHINGTON (CNS) — The priest who founded the Life Teen ministry program has established a nondenominational Praise and Worship Center that is drawing hundreds of participants a week, prompting a warning to Catholics from the bishop of Phoenix to stay away from the services and not to support the center.

The Praise and Worship Center has held a handful of worship services in Mesa, Ariz., since Thanksgiving, attracting as many as 700 people for services built around Scripture readings, Christian music, prayer and preaching by Msgr. Dale Fushek, a Phoenix diocesan priest on administrative leave from Catholic ministry, and another resigned priest.

Msgr. Fushek, who founded Life Teen, an international youth ministry program, has been on administrative leave since late 2004, when allegations were raised that he had engaged in improper sexual conduct with teens. A year later he was charged with several misdemeanor criminal counts of assault, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and indecent exposure. Some charges were dropped and the others have not come to trial. The Arizona Supreme Court is currently weighing Msgr. Fushek’s request for a trial by jury.

Michigan nuns earn Energy Star award
MONROE, Mich. (CNS) — The renovation of the motherhouse of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Monroe won a 2007 Energy Star award for small businesses and congregations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This is the eighth environmental award given to the religious community for the motherhouse project, which features a geothermal heating and cooling system, natural light throughout the building, reused doors and windows, and marble bathroom partitions reinstalled as countertops.

California mission moves to solar power

PALA, Calif. (CNS) — Much of the electricity at Mission San Antonio de Pala is now coming from solar power. Last year, 216 solar panels were installed in the picnic area behind the parish’s Juan Diego Center. The panels, which are connected to the electrical circuit that powers the center, are expected to provide a financial boon to the financially struggling mission.

Christians pray at services for Bhutto
LAHORE, Pakistan (CNS) — Christians and Muslims joined in memorial services for former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in churches around the country as they called for an independent inquiry into her assassination. More than 300 people — including nuns, human rights activists and political leaders from Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party — gathered at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Lahore for a special Mass Jan. 6. They placed garlands, bouquets and candles near large portraits of Bhutto in front of the altar and at the entrance of the cathedral.

The All Pakistan Minority Alliance, a Christian political party, had called for a National Prayer Day Jan. 6 to honor Bhutto, 54, who was killed in Rawalpindi, near Islamabad, Dec. 27.

More caution urged in sainthood causes
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican is preparing to issue a set of instructions to promote “greater caution and more accuracy” in the opening of new sainthood causes by local dioceses, a top Vatican official said. Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, head of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, said the instructions were needed to reflect the “new spirit introduced by Pope Benedict XVI in beatification procedures.”

Vatican official proposes reparation for abuse
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A leading Vatican official has proposed a worldwide program of Eucharistic adoration to seek spiritual reparation for the damage caused by the sexual abuse of children by priests. Cardinal Claudio Hummes, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, said the initiative would involve dioceses, parishes, monasteries, convents and seminaries in a prayer movement to support priestly holiness. In a particular way, the initiative will ask reparation “for the victims of grave situations of moral and sexual conduct of a very small percentage of clergy,” Cardinal Hummes said.


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