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 April 7, 2008   •   VOL. 46, NO. 7   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

The Jesus Trail
LEFT, David Landis of Philadelphia examines stones from an old road while walking the Mount of Beatitudes at the Sea of Galilee in Israel. The site, where Jesus gave his Sermon on the Mount, is the final destination on the 40-mile Jesus Trail, a new hiking tour that passes through places in the life of Jesus. RIGHT, Jarjoura Kanaza stands in his spice shop in the Israeli town of Nazareth, the trail’s starting point. Jesus lived in Nazareth as a child and young adult.

San Francisco residents and Veterans for Peace gather in front of City Hall, March 24, for a candlelight vigil to mark the 4,000 Americans killed in the five-year Iraq War.

Man convicted in fetal homicide case
BALTIMORE (CNS) — A Maryland Catholic Conference official said justice was served when 25-year-old David Miller was found guilty March 26 of murdering his unborn daughter in what was the first such conviction since the state enacted a fetal homicide law in 2005. Miller was also convicted of killing his pregnant girlfriend.

Maryland’s fetal homicide law allows charges to be brought for murder or manslaughter of a viable fetus — one that could live outside of the womb. Medical experts testified the fetus Walters was carrying could have survived if it had been delivered within a few minutes after the shooting.

No decision yet on moving JPII’s tomb
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A Vatican spokesman said no decision had yet been made on whether to move the tomb of Pope John Paul II to a more prominent place on the main level of St. Peter’s Basilica, near the chapel housing Michelangelo’s statue of the “Pieta.”

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi said the decision would be made after the late pope is beatified. The pope’s tomb, visited by millions of people every year, is located in a papal burial area in the grotto underneath the basilica.

Pope John Paul died April 2, 2005, and Pope Benedict XVI waived the normal five-year waiting process for the start of his sainthood cause.

World has more Muslims than Catholics

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A Vatican official said that, for the first time, the world’s Muslim population is greater than the number of Catholics. Msgr. Vittorio Formenti, who heads the Vatican’s statistics office, said the shift was the result of larger families among Muslims.

According to statistics at the end of 2006, Muslims now represent 19.2 percent of the world population, while Catholics represent 17.4 percent, he said. Msgr. Formenti noted that if other Christian denominations are taken into consideration, the global Christian population is about 33 percent of the total.

Protesters charged for disrupting Easter Mass

CHICAGO (CNS) — Six young people — all between the ages of 18 and 25 — were charged with felony criminal defacement of property and simple battery after spattering fake blood on themselves and nearby worshippers during the 11 a.m. Easter Mass in the auditorium at Holy Name Cathedral’s parish center in Chicago.

The three men and three women yelled slogans in support of ending the war in Iraq before they were removed by security guards and handcuffed by police.

Prayers in Philippines for ill ex-president

MANILA, Philippines (CNS) — Catholic leaders said they will pray for former Philippine President Corazon Aquino and will continue to celebrate Masses for truth, following her children’s announcement that she has colon cancer.

The children, who would not reveal the stage of the illness, said their mother was making her condition known to explain her absence from the movement for truth she was leading with religious men and women and whistleblower Rodolfo Lozada Jr., as well as the campaign for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s resignation amid allegations of corruption.

The former president, 75, took office after the 1986 “people power” uprising in Manila deposed Ferdinand Marcos. She served as president for six years.

Nun survives knife attack in Pakistan

LAHORE, Pakistan (CNS) — A member of the Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary has survived a knife attack at her convent in the southern outskirts of Lahore. Two young men broke into Sister Nuzrat Shafi’s convent and slashed her throat March 8. The convent is in Youhanabad, the largest Christian area in Pakistan, on the outskirts of Lahore. The 34-year-old nun received nine stitches and has badly damaged vocal cords.

Belleville priests call for bishop to resign

BELLEVILLE, Ill. (CNS) — More than half of the active priests of the Diocese of Belleville have signed a public statement calling for Bishop Edward K. Braxton to resign, citing frustration with his leadership and their conclusion that “he has lost his moral authority.”

In response the bishop issued a letter to Catholics in the diocese dated March 20, Holy Thursday, in which he stated he intends “to serve as bishop of the Diocese of Belleville for as long as the Holy Father wants me to do so.”

In their March 14 statement, the priests said that “because of the bishop’s lack of cooperation, consultation, accountability and transparency, it is the judgment of a great number of the presbyterate that he has lost his moral authority to lead and govern our diocese.”

Women excommunicated for ordination ceremony

ST. LOUIS (CNS) — Two Catholic women who participated in a ceremony to be ordained as “womenpriests” last November and a third woman who officiated were served a “declaration of excommunication” March 12 by St. Louis Archbishop Raymond L. Burke.

They are Rose Marie Dunn Hudson of Festus, Mo., Elsie Hainz McGrath of St. Louis and Patricia Fresen, who now lives in Berg, Germany. Hudson and McGrath were allegedly ordained; Fresen officiated. They are part of a group called Roman Catholic Womenpriests. Begun in 2002, it claims to have had “womenpriests” ordained every year since then.

The declaration said the three incurred excommunication “by reason of the crime of schism.”


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