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 February 9, 2009   •   VOL. 47, NO. 3   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

New patriarch elected
Russian Orthodox Patriarch-elect Kirill leads a service in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral after being chosen as head of the Moscow-based Russian Orthodox Church Jan. 27. For the past 20 years he was in charge of the church’s ecumenical relations.

March for Life
Nellie Gray, founder of the March for Life, addresses participants in the 36th annual march in Washington Jan. 22. Each year the event draws thousands of demonstrators in protest of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

L.A.cardinal ‘mystified’ at reported federal probe
LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles said he is “mystified and puzzled” at reports that a federal prosecutor is investigating whether he and the archdiocese violated a federal law against scheming “to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services.”

The Los Angeles Times and the New York-based Wall Street Journal reported Jan. 29 that U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien is personally involved in the investigation. The similar stories cited anonymous sources who said a grand jury convened by O’Brien is looking into whether Cardinal Mahony and other Church leaders committed fraud by inadequately handling cases of priests who sexually abused minors.

Tuition collection agency declares bankruptcy

LIVINGSTON, N.J. (CNS) — A New Jersey-based agency that collects tuition payments for Catholic schools in New Jersey, Texas and New York has declared bankruptcy leaving 14 schools with a $3.6 million shortfall. Tuition Program Inc., based in Livingston, was designed by Catholic parents in 1985 as a way to streamline tuition collections for parish schools. The company lost money in stock investments and also owes Wachovia Bank $867,000, according to court documents.

Tuition Program collected payments from parents and in turn paid the schools each month. The agency invested the funds prior to making payments to schools. The schools owed payments by the Tuition Program were relying on their dioceses to loan them the funds to cover their losses.

Christian refugees will likely not return to Iraq

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Despite signs of a new season of hope on the horizon in Iraq, the vast majority of Iraqi Christian refugees will probably not return to their homeland, said two U.S.-based Chaldean Catholic bishops. “No one in the United States will go back to Iraq or the Middle East because the future for children, (opportunities for) education and life are better here,” said Chaldean Bishop Ibrahim N. Ibrahim.

Also, experience has shown that once people have overcome the initial difficulties of adapting to a new culture, “no one will convince them to change it again” and rip up those freshly laid roots, said Chaldean Bishop Sarhad Y. Jammo.

Catalogue of Vatican’s Hebrew manuscripts

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Vatican-Israeli cooperation has resulted in improved access to a written — and often illustrated — history of Jewish faith and scholarship, Christian-Jewish cooperation and disputes, as well as Christian curiosity about Judaism. After almost 10 years of intense work, the Vatican Library and National Library of Israel’s Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts have published a detailed and descriptive catalogue of the more than 800 Hebrew manuscripts and books held in the Vatican Library.

Police file charges for rape of Orissa nun

BHUBANESWAR, India (CNS) — Local police have filed charges against 10 men for the rape of a Catholic nun during the anti-Christian riots in Orissa state in August, but Church people said they expect more charges.

Father Alphonse Baliarsingh, vicar general of the Cuttack-Bhubaneswar Archdiocese, said Jan. 30 that “at least some justice can be expected.” But he noted that the police have “not yet arrested the main culprit,” who actually raped the nun Aug. 25, a day after Hindu extremists unleashed a wave of terror against Orissa Christians that lasted seven weeks.

The violence claimed 60 lives and displaced 50,000 people, mostly Christians.

Sri Lankan bishop joins hunger strike

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (CNS) — Bishop Thomas Savundaranayagam of the war-torn Diocese of Jaffna in northern Sri Lanka has joined 300 Christian and Hindu hunger strikers urging action to protect civilians caught in the ethnic conflict. Bishop Savundaranayagam also appealed separately to the country’s president and Tamil rebels for the safety of people trapped in the combat zone.

A statement the diocese’s justice and peace commission released Jan. 29 said more than 400 civilians had been killed and more than 1,400 injured there since mid-January. A protest fast outside the diocese’s cathedral Jan. 28 drew Anglican bishops, Catholic and Church of South India priests, nuns and others, including members of Hindu organizations. They meditated, prayed and appealed for the international community to intervene.

African bishops buy food for people in Zimbabwe

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) — The Catholic bishops of Botswana, South Africa and Swaziland have used diocesan funds to buy food and medicine for Zimbabweans and urged Catholics in their countries to help provide immediate relief to their suffering neighbors. The contributions will be distributed through the Caritas Internationalis aid network.

A mid-January report from Physicians for Human Rights said Zimbabwe’s health care system, once a model for southern Africa, has collapsed because of the government’s egregious, systematic human rights violations.

S.F. Archdiocese tax assessment challenge

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Archdiocese of San Francisco is challenging a decision by the city’s tax assessor to collect millions of dollars in taxes for properties transferred from one church entity to another even though no money was involved. The decision in December by San Francisco Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting to collect between $3 million and $15 million is a step the archdiocese claimed is unprecedented in California history.

The exact amount, which still was being determined, would be the second largest transfer tax in city history. The archdiocese claims Ting is wrong in assessing the tax and has filed an appeal. The property transfers involved 232 properties within the city and county of San Francisco, according to Katie Muehlenkamp, a Ting aide.

Pope cautions against easy annulments

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Granting marriage annulments too easily and without real cause plays into a modern form of pessimism that basically says human beings are not able to make lifelong commitments to loving another person, Pope Benedict XVI told members of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota. The tribunal mainly deals with appeals filed in marriage annulment cases.

Pope Benedict said there is still a need to deal with a problem Pope John Paul II pointed out in a 1987 speech to the Roman Rota, that of saving the Church community from “the scandal of seeing the value of Christian marriage destroyed in practice by the exaggerated and almost automatic multiplication of declarations of nullity.”

Congress includes 52 grads of Jesuit colleges

WASHINGTON (CNS) — With a new president and members of the House and Senate sworn into office, officials of U.S. Jesuit colleges and universities have something to crow about, with a whopping 52 members of the 111th Congress who are alumni of their institutions. That’s close to 10 percent of the 535 members of the current Congress, with 11 Jesuit alumni in the Senate and 41 in the House of Representatives. These include House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer,(D-Md.), House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Assistant Majority Leader Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), and the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and special assistant to the speaker of the House, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)


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