JANUARY 12, 2004
Official newspaper of the Roman Catholic
Diocese of Oakland, California encompassing all of
Alameda &
Contra Costa counties.






‘Punitive operations’ will not defeat terrorism
VATICAN CITY (RNS) – Pope John Paul II said, in his World Peace Day (Jan. 1) message that the war against terrorism is necessary but warned it cannot be won by “repressive and punitive operations” alone.

“If it is to be won,” he said, “the fight against terrorism cannot be limited solely to repressive and punitive operations. It is essential that the use of force, even when necessary, be accompanied by a courageous and lucid analysis of the reasons behind terrorist attacks.”

The pope called for political action to eliminate “the underlying causes of situations of injustice,” education “inspired by respect for human life in every situation” and new laws to contain criminality.

California mission closes after earthquake damage
SAN DIEGO (AP) – An early 19th-century Spanish mission near Paso Robles was in need of major repairs even before an earthquake hit central California Dec. 22. Now, some preservationists question whether it will ever reopen to the public.

The Catholic Diocese of Monterey, which supervises Mission San Miguel Arcangel, closed the adobe church indefinitely after the 6.5 quake. Richard Ameil, executive director of the California Missions Foundation, a nonprofit group that raises money to restore the state’s 21 Spanish missions, said the quake caused a one-inch crack on one wall from floor to ceiling and major cracks on five pillars. An American Indian mural crumbled.

San Miguel, located about seven miles north of Paso Robles, was the only mission in California that had all original interior paint, said Kristina Foss, museum director of Mission Santa Barbara. The church was built from 1816 to 1818.

Diocese says suits impinge on rights
PHILADELPHIA (RNS) – A Catholic diocese in Pennsylvania has asked a judge to dismiss 13 abuse-related lawsuits as an unconstitutional infringement on the Church’s right to discipline and manage its own employees.

Lawyers for the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown told Blair County Judge Hiram Carpenter that it should not be “hindered” by outside interference. “Religious communities ... have the right not to be hindered by legislation or administrative action on the part of the civil authority in the selection, training, appointment and transfer of their own ministers,” Father John D.
Byrnes wrote in a filing.

Lawyers for the victims are suing the diocese for failing to protect them from abusive priests. They allege the diocese allowed abusive priests to continue working until at least last year, when the U.S. church implemented new abuse policies.

2.6 million attended Vatican audiences in ’03

VATICAN CITY (RNS) – Despite age and infirmities, Pope John Paul II saw more than 2.6 million people in audiences and liturgical celebrations at the Vatican during 2003. The total did not include the large crowds that the pope encountered on trips to Spain, Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Slovakia and Pompeii, Italy, during the year.

Spanish cardinal sued by homosexual organization
MADRID (RNS) – A Spanish gay and lesbian organization is suing the country’s Catholic primate for suggesting that homosexual marriages would bring down the country’s social security system.

The Popular Gay Platform, an association of politically conservative homosexuals, filed the action a day after a sermon by Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela at Madrid’s Almudena Cathedral about the Holy Family. The association’s president, Carlos Biendicho, told the El Mundo newspaper that the primate’s words constitute “slander and an incitement to discrimination” on the basis of sexual orientation.

Cardinal cleared in money laundering inquiry
MEXICO CITY (AP) – A money laundering probe that focused on a Catholic cardinal and the origin of church construction funds has been dropped, a federal prosecutor announced Dec. 26.

The investigation was based on a complaint by a former attorney general alleging the Cardinal Juan Sandoval or his subordinates may have accepted donations from drug traffickers. Made public in September, the charges against Cardinal Sandoval outraged clerics and threatened to reopen a long-running rift between the Church and Mexico’s government.

Deputy Attorney General Jose Vasconcelos said that no evidence of wrongdoing was discovered on the part of Cardinal Sandoval. Attorney Jose Antonio Ortega and Jose Maria Guardia, a horse and dog track owner friendly with Sandoval, also were absolved.

Mayors’ survey: hunger, homelessness on the rise
WASHINGTON (RNS) – Requests for emergency food and shelter assistance increased over the past year in the 25 cities surveyed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The new 2003 survey found that requests for help with food increased by an average of 17 percent over 2002 and requests for shelter increased by an average of 13 percent.

Poll sees religion as key in next presidential vote
NEW YORK (RNS) – Registered voters who consider religion to be a significant factor in their vote seem inclined to vote for President Bush over prospective Democratic candidates, a Gallup Poll shows.

The poll found that Republicans and those leaning toward the GOP are also more likely to say religion will be an important factor in their votes in the 2004 presidential election. In hypothetical election match-ups, religious voters were more interested in Bush than in possible Democratic contenders by 2-to-1 margins.

Panel vote criticized on morning after pill
WASHINGTON (RNS) – Christian groups have criticized a Food and Drug Administration panel’s recommendation that the so-called “morning after pill” be made available over-the-counter.

The panel voted 23-4 on Dec. 16 that the drug should be made available without a prescription. Barr Laboratories, a New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company seeking the new status for the drug, said the pill can prevent 95 percent of expected pregnancies when it is taken within 24 hours of unprotected intercourse.

Cathy Cleaver Ruse, spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Pro-Life Office, said she was especially concerned about the potential influence on teenage sexuality and the drug’s abortive effects. “Parents deserve to know that if this proposal is approved, their teenage daughters will have free access to a powerful, abortion-inducing drug without their knowledge.”

Bush affirms ban on gay marriage
WASHINGTON (RNS) – President George W. Bush said Dec. 16 that he could support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, but also said “whatever legal arrangements people want to make” should be permitted if approved at the state level.

“If necessary, I will support a constitutional amendment which would honor marriage between a man and a woman, codify that,” Bush told Diane Sawyer in an interview aired on ABC News’ “Primetime.”

“The position of this administration is that whatever legal arrangements people want to make, they’re allowed to make, so long as it’s embraced by the state.”

Knights support keeping ‘under God’ in Pledge
NEW HAVEN, CT – The Knights of Columbus, which led the effort to persuade President Eisenhower and the U.S. Congress in the 1950s to add the words “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance, has filed a friend of the court brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of the United States of America v. Newdow.

In that case, a divided panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declared mandatory recitation of the pledge unconstitutional because of the words “under God.”