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 August 9, 2010   •   VOL. 48, NO. 14   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Disaster in Pakistan
A man wades through receding flood waters in Nowshera, Pakistan, Aug. 2, after floods caused by a week of heavy rain in northwestern Pakistan left more than 1,200 people dead. Catholic Relief Services and other Church aid workers were trying to reach hundreds of thousands of people rendered homeless by the floods.
The pilgrims’ walk
Two pilgrims walk the Way of St. James in Villafranca Montes de Oca, near the town of Burgos, Spain, as thousands of pilgrims make their way to the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, where the remains of St. James the Greater are believed to be entombed. Pilgrims make this ancient trek especially around his July 25 feast.

Vatican upholds bishops’ right to close any parish

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Canon law — the legal rules that guide Church operations and decision-making — allows a local bishop to close any parish as long as his decision is made with the best interests of the entire diocese in mind. The responsibilities of a bishop regarding the opening or closing of a parish are covered in Canon 515, which was cited in a recent series of decrees issued by a panel of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature, the church’s highest court, in deciding the appeals of 10 closed parishes in the Archdiocese of Boston.

San Mateo pastor named S.F. auxiliary bishop

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has named Msgr. Robert W. McElroy (right), pastor of St. Gregory Parish in San Mateo, as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Bishop-designate McElroy, 56, formerly served as vicar for administration of the San Francisco Archdiocese and has been at St. Gregory’s since 1996. Archbishop Niederauer is scheduled to ordain him a bishop Sept. 7 in San Francisco’s Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption.

Vatican euro coins put into public circulation

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — For the first time since the Vatican adopted the euro currency in 2002, the Vatican has begun to put some of its coins into public circulation. However, the likelihood that Rome visitors will find coins depicting Pope Benedict XVI is still slim since storekeepers only within the walls of Vatican City are distributing them.

Two million 50-cent coins minted in 2010 were earmarked for public circulation after representatives of the Vatican and the European Union signed an agreement in Brussels in December. The accord allowed the Vatican to more than double the monetary value of the coins it issues, but also required the Vatican to put a large chunk of its coins into circulation. For years, the vast majority of Vatican euro coins were sold as sets to collectors for 30 euros ($38) each, although some Vatican employees had an opportunity to buy rolls of the coins at face value.

In mid-July, Vatican City stores and businesses — such as the gas station, post office, pharmacy and grocery store — began distributing 50-cent coins with their change, with a limit of two coins per customer. Only the 50-cent coin will be put into public circulation, said media reports.

Catholic professor back at University of Illinois

WASHINGTON (CNS) — A Catholic professor barred from teaching courses on Catholicism after he defended in class the Church’s teaching on homosexual behavior has been reinstated by the University of Illinois. Kenneth Howell, an adjunct professor in the university’s religious studies department, learned of the decision July 29.

Howell was dismissed in May following the spring term after a student described as “hate speech” his explanation of the Church’s teaching that homosexual acts are morally wrong.

Priest, 80, murdered in Oaxaca, Mexico

GUADALAJARA, Mexico (CNS) — An 80-year-old priest was murdered July 28 in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, where Church officials say attacks on prelates have become distressingly common. Father Carlos Salvador Wotto, pastor of the Our Lady of the Snows Parish in the central part of the state capital, Oaxaca, was found bound and gagged in his living quarters beside the church.

The Oaxaca state attorney general told reporters that Father Wotto died of asphyxiation and that robbery was the probable motive. The newspaper El Universal quoted parishioners saying that Father Wotto had been stabbed.

Officials were not certain if organized crime was to blame for Father Wotto’s death. Political observers say priests in the poor, but culturally rich state with a large indigenous population are often at odds with municipal governments, which are dominated by local strongmen known as caciques.

Argentina legalizes same-sex marriage

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (CNS) — Despite opposition from the Catholic Church and family groups, Argentina became the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage. By a 33-27 vote with three abstentions, the Senate passed a bill that had already been approved by the lower house. Although the bill was supported by the government of President Cristina Fernandez, voting did not follow party lines.

Outside the national congress, thousands of people demonstrated — for and against the bill. Catholics — from elderly nuns to schoolchildren — protested on the street in sub-zero temperatures and caused traffic chaos in downtown Buenos Aires.

Vatican budgets remain in the red

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Major renovations, infrastructure upgrades and a sluggish global economy left the Vatican City State budget in the red; however, donations to the pope were up from recent years. The 2009 fiscal period marked the third year in a row that Vatican expenses outpaced revenues.

The budget of Vatican City State, which includes the Vatican Museums and post office, ended 2009 with a deficit of $9.8 million, the Vatican said in notes on the budgets released July 10. The separate budget of the Holy See, which includes the offices of the Roman Curia, finished 2009 with a registered deficit of more than $5.15 million.

Chinese bishop released after 15 months detention

HONG KONG (CNS) — Chinese Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo of Zhengding was released July 7 after 15 months in detention. The bishop celebrated an evening Mass for his flock immediately on his return to Christ the King Cathedral in Wuqiu village, near Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei province.

He also made a point of stating that he had not accepted the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, nor the authority of the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China, which are government-approved church bodies. In a press release issued by the U.S.-based Cardinal Kung Foundation, Bishop Jia emphasized that “he was and always would be firmly adhered to the leadership of the Holy Father.”

Two other Hebei prelates — Bishops James Su Zhemin of Baoding and Cosmas Shi Enxiang of Yixian — have been held in detention since 1997 and 2001, respectively. Their whereabouts have been unknown for years.

Hawaii gov. vetoes bill for same-sex civil unions

HONOLULU (CNS) — Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle announced she would veto a bill that would have established civil unions in Hawaii, stating that she believed the legislation was “essentially (same-sex) marriage by another name.” Soon after the announcement, the Hawaii Catholic Conference and the Hawaii Family Forum issued a joint statement praising the governor’s decision. Earlier, Honolulu Bishop Larry Silva had urged Hawaii Catholics to pray for a veto.


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