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 January 25, 2010   •   VOL. 48, NO. 2   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Historic visit
Pope Benedict XVI waves as he arrives for his first visit to Rome’s main synagogue, Jan 17. He affirmed the Church’s commitment to improving Catholic-Jewish relations, its respect and appreciation for Jewish faith, its condemnation of anti-Semitism and his own hope that Catholics and Jews can work together to bring biblical values back to society.

U.S. grants protected status for Haitians
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Haitians currently living in the United States without legal status will be granted temporary protected status, allowing them to remain in the country and legally hold jobs, announced Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano Jan. 15.

Napolitano said temporary protected status will be extended to Haitians who were in the United States as of Jan. 12, the day a magnitude 7 earthquake flattened much of Haiti’s capital city, Port-au-Prince. The designation will continue for the next 18 months.

Pope meets, forgives Christmas Eve attacker

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — As a sign of his forgiveness, Pope Benedict XVI met with the woman responsible for knocking him down during a Christmas Eve Mass. The pope met with Susanna Maiolo after leading his weekly general audience Jan. 13 in the Vatican’s Paul VI hall.

In a private room of the audience hall, the pope held a brief meeting with Maiolo and members of her family in order to “demonstrate his forgiveness,” to see how she was doing and to “wish her good health,” a Vatican statement said. Maiolo told the pope she was sorry for what had happened during the Christmas Eve Mass.

Maiolo, 25, jumped a security barrier at the start of the Dec. 24 liturgy as Pope Benedict processed into St. Peter’s Basilica. As Vatican guards tackled her, she was able to grab the pope’s vestments, causing him to lose his balance and tumble to the floor. She was taken for mandatory psychiatric evaluation to a hospital in Subiaco outside of Rome and released Jan. 9.

Group fasts to close Guantanamo Bay prison

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Undertaking 11 days of fasting, prayer, meditation and public action, a group of Catholic and other activists has renewed its push for the immediate closing of the military-run prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Members of Witness Against Torture, established in 2005 with the goal of closing the prison housing suspected terrorists, began their fast Jan. 11 at the White House. The group marked the eighth anniversary of the prison’s opening with a demonstration and a procession through downtown Washington.

The group contends that the men cleared by the government of any wrongdoing should be released and that those suspected of terror-related activities should face trial rather than continue to be held indefinitely without charges.

During a demonstration at Lafayette Park near the White House, several group members expressed disappointment that President Barack Obama has not adhered to his pledge to close the prison within one year of taking office.

Philippine bishop urges Catholics not to fear

MANILA, Philippines (CNS) — Catholics must continue living their faith without fear, the bishop of Jolo said after a grenade blast outside his cathedral. “Whether in your office, in the marketplace, inside the city hall, wherever you are, you must live your Christian faith, as we cannot act as if we are afraid,” Bishop Angelito Lampon said in a Jan. 11 interview over church radio.

A grenade exploded outside Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral in Jolo about 20 minutes before the first Mass Jan. 10. Police reported no casualties. It was the first day of the gun ban being implemented nationwide before the May 10 general elections.

Funeral Mass said for slain CIA agent

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) — Harold Brown Jr., one of seven CIA agents killed in a bombing in Afghanistan Dec. 30, was a loving and involved husband and father, said a fellow parishioner at Brown’s Virginia Catholic parish. “He was a bright light in the community — always very pleasant, just an outstanding man,” said Peg Telesca, director of religious education at St. Mary of Sorrows Parish in Fairfax.

Brown, a native of Massachusetts, lived in Fairfax Station with his wife, Janet, and the couple’s three young children. A funeral Mass for Brown was celebrated Jan. 9 at St. John’s Church in Clinton, Mass.

Deported Bethlehem U. student completes degree

JERUSALEM (CNS) — Bethlehem University officials traveled to the Gaza Strip to celebrate with Berlanty Azzam the completion of her bachelor’s degree despite having been deported to Gaza three months earlier.

Azzam, a 21-year-old Christian business administration student originally from Gaza, was detained and deported Oct. 28 after being stopped at an Israeli checkpoint on Palestinian territory. The Israeli army claimed she was in breach of a travel permit given to her in 2005. She had only two months of studies when she was deported.

Despite numerous legal appeals to the Israeli High Court through lawyers from Gisha, an Israeli organization that works to protect freedom of movement, Azzam was not permitted to return to Bethlehem to complete her studies.

American Indian bishop dies at age 64

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Retired Bishop Donald E. Pelotte of Gallup, N.M., 64, the first American Indian bishop in the United States, died Jan. 7 at a Florida hospital. He had been head of the Gallup Diocese for 18 years before resigning because of health problems in 2008. Bishop Pelotte was named coadjutor of Gallup in 1986 at the age of 40 and became head of the diocese in 1990. He was born April 13, 1945, to an Abenaki father and a mother of French-Canadian descent.


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