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 November 21, 2011   •   VOL. 49, NO. 20   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Icon of St. Martin de Porres
Brother Robert Lentz, a Franciscan friar from Holy Name Province, works on an icon of St. Martin de Porres in his studio at Holy Name College in Silver Spring, Md., Nov. 6. Brother Lentz, a popular religious icon painter, incorporates contemporary social themes into his works.
CNS photo/Octavio Duran

Bil Keane dies
Bil Keane, the Catholic cartoonist who originated the comic strip “The Family Circus” more than 50 years ago, died Nov. 8 at age 89 in Paradise Valley, Ariz., near Phoenix, of congestive heart failure. He taught himself to draw while a student at Northeast Catholic High School in Philadelphia.

Seton Hall pilot program cuts tuition for achievers

SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. — Seton Hall University has initiated a pilot program for next year that profoundly restructures the school’s tuition, cutting costs by 60 percent for incoming students who are top academic achievers in high school. Some national education experts have expressed concerns that Seton Hall’s plan could speed up what they say is a national trend to shift the focus of financial aid from awarding scholarships based on need to awarding them on merit. Seton Hall says its goal is to reward more students who have earned high marks in high school and to help financially strapped families afford a private college by giving them education at a state-school price.

Catholic college sues over contraception rule

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Belmont Abbey College is suing the federal government over a new regulation that requires employer health insurance plans to provide free coverage of contraceptives and sterilization, even if it may be contrary to their religious beliefs. The civil lawsuit was filed Nov. 10 in U.S. District Court in Washington by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a Washington-based nonprofit, public-interest law firm that is representing the Catholic liberal arts college in Belmont.

Catholics: Vanderbilt policy to restrict freedom

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A proposal by Vanderbilt University to apply its nondiscrimination policy to the leadership of student religious organizations “will restrict freedom and diversity in student life by jeopardizing authentic religious expression,” Father John Sims Baker, the Catholic chaplain at Vanderbilt, wrote in a letter to the school’s chancellor. The dispute began after a Vanderbilt student complained to university officials that he was dismissed from a Christian fraternity because of his sexual orientation.

Denzel Washington endows theater chair at Fordham

NEW YORK — Actor Denzel Washington has endowed a chair in theater and established a scholarship for an undergraduate student who is studying theater at his alma mater, Fordham University in New York. Actress Phylicia Rashad has joined the Fordham faculty as the first to hold the Denzel Washington chair in theater. Washington, who graduated from the Jesuit-run university in 1977, said he wanted others to experience the positive influence of mentors like the late Bob Stone, a former actor and Fordham professor who mentored him.

CCHD rebuts new charges over funding of groups

WASHINGTON — Officials with the Catholic Campaign for Human Development rebutted a report that 55 agencies funded by the U.S. bishops’ anti-poverty program in 2010-11 were in conflict with church teaching. Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton and Ralph McCloud, CCHD executive director, said the charges leveled in an American Life League study against all but one of the agencies were unfounded. McCloud said funding was withdrawn from one organization cited in the report, which was found to be distributing condoms. The 212-page report — completed in March but not made public until October when it was posted on the American Life League’s website, according to its primary researcher — accused the grass-roots organizations of promoting abortion, homosexuality and Marxist ideology contrary to church doctrine.

Nairobi has food, but people lack money

NAIROBI, Kenya — When Comboni Father Paulino Mondo noticed parishioners at Sunday Mass at Holy Trinity Parish were starting to faint before Mass ended, he realized it wasn’t exuberance. It was hunger. Now, Sunday Masses last no longer than an hour and 15 minutes, and the usual socializing after Mass has all but evaporated, as people quickly head home to conserve their energy. The priest said the situation is not only little known outside Kenya, but is a hidden problem right in Nairobi, where food is available, but tens of thousands of people lack money to pay for it.

Bishops reject call for laypeople to say Mass

VIENNA — Austria’s Catholic bishops have rejected a call by dissident church members for laypeople to begin celebrating Mass in parishes with no priests. The bishops said that some demands connected to “this call for disobedience at the initiative of priests and laity are simply unsustainable” and breach “the central truth of our Catholic faith.”

British court: Church may be liable for crimes

MANCHESTER, England — A British court has ruled that the Catholic Church can be held legally liable for the crimes of abusive clergy, but an English bishop said his diocese does not believe the woman on whose testimony the case is based. The Nov. 8 ruling by the High Court in London for the first time defined in British law the relationship of a priest to his bishop as that of an employee to an employer, instead of seeing the priest as effectively self-employed. This means that a bishop and a diocese can be punished for the crimes of a priest.

Hanoi Redemptorists to Catholics: remain calm

HANOI, Vietnam — Redemptorists at a Hanoi parish have urged local Catholics to keep calm after a mob led by government officials attacked a convent and church in early November. The Asian church news agency UCA News reported tens of thousands of people attended 10 special Masses celebrated Nov. 5-6 at Thai Ha Church in the capital. Each Mass was attended by an estimated 3,000-5,000 people. During the Masses, priests told parishioners about the attacks and appealed to them to stay calm. On Nov. 3, around 100 people, accompanied by security officials and members of the press, attacked the convent.

— Catholic News Service


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