JANUARY 26, 2004




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


Former hostage lauds Church for its work
LONDON (RNS) — Mark Henderson, one of five hostages released by Colombian rebels just before Christmas following negotiations by Catholic mediators, has visited the London headquarters of the English and Welsh Catholic bishops’ aid and development agency, and given it a donation in recognition of its work toward peace and reconciliation in Colombia.
Henderson was one of eight foreign tourists captured by rebels in September. One managed to escape soon after they were kidnapped; two were released in November; and the remaining five were released last month.

The 32-year-old Henderson expressed gratitude for the agency’s efforts on his behalf and appreciation of their ongoing work for peace in Colombia.

Archdiocese tests priest applicants for HIV

MONTREAL (RNS) – The archdiocese of Montreal is the third in Canada to test applicants to the priesthood for HIV. Montreal Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte said it’s not an attack on homosexuals. “For me the criteria is not what is your sexual orientation but what is your capacity to maintain, with God’s help, interpersonal relationships within the celibate commitment,” he said. Montreal joins the dioceses in Vancouver and Edmonton, which began testing prospective priests for HIV last year.

Giving time is seen as better
than giving money

NEW YORK (RNS) – Fifty percent of Americans believe that giving one’s time to charity is more important than giving money, according to a poll by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

“This research suggests that there’s an emotional, visceral connection to volunteering that just cannot be duplicated by writing a check,” said Brad Hewitt, Thrivent Financial’s senior vice president of charitable programs and volunteering.

The survey also indicated that people who are committed to prayer and regular worship attendance are most likely to have volunteered with a church, school or nonprofit organization in the past 12 months.

Southern Baptists set up
sexual abuse hot line

RICHMOND, VA (RNS) – The foreign missions agency of the Southern Baptist Convention has set up a toll-free hot line number for missionaries and their families to report incidents of sexual abuse.
The International Mission Board has sent the phone number to thousands of current and former missionaries and their adult children, said Mark Kelly, a spokesman for the Richmond, Va.-based agency. The number – which is not being publicized – is partly the result of discussions with victims of abuse by a missionary who was fired in 1995 after a second round of accusations about pedophilia that dated to 1967.

Vatican employees get
nine percent pay hike

VATICAN CITY (RNS) – The Vatican’s 2,600 lay and religious employees – from cardinals to groundskeepers – have gotten their first pay raise in nine years. As of Jan. 1, their base pay rose by 9 percent.

The Association of Lay Employees of the Vatican, the association which acts as the lay employees’ union, thanked Pope John Paul II for ending the wage freeze that the Vatican instituted in 1995. The pope also approved a bonus of 500 euros ($635) to each employee last year to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his election on Oct. 16, 1978.

The Vatican’s financial officers reported July 10 that the Vatican ended 2002 more than $15 million in the red, mainly because of the continuing world economic crisis. They said contributions from the U.S. Church rose.

Church destroyed on 9/11
gets funds from Italy

NEW YORK (RNS) – A tiny Greek Orthodox church destroyed in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center received a donation of about $330,000 from an Italian city where the relics of St. Nicholas were enshrined.

Simeone di Cagno Abbrescia, mayor of Bari, Italy, presented the money to help rebuild St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Jan. 16. The relics of St. Nicholas, a fourth century Christian bishop in modern-day Turkey, were enshrined in Bari in 1087.

In 1972, some relics were given to the St. Nicholas Church and they were never found after the church was destroyed.

Poll: Americans fear falling into poverty
WASHINGTON (RNS) – More than half of American adults said they fear becoming poor at some time in their life, a 5 percent increase over last year’s results in a survey conducted by the nation’s Catholic bishops.
The survey also showed that 96 percent of Americans think it is important to address the problem of poverty, and more people than last year reported involvement with community programs that aid the poor.

The “Poverty Pulse” survey is sponsored annually by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development as part of Poverty in America Awareness Month.

Bishop bans politicians from Communion
LA CROSS, WI (RNS) – Bishop Raymond Burke has directed his priests not to give Communion to politicians who openly support abortion rights.
Bishop Burke, who will be installed as archbishop of St. Louis today (Jan. 26), issued the decree on Nov. 23 but did not publicize it until Jan. 8.
It is unclear whether he will issue a similar decree in St. Louis, or if Bishop
Burke’s successor in LaCrosse will be bound by the directive.

In a pastoral letter issued the same day, Bishop Burke said, “The responsibility to defend human life in all its stages falls upon all Catholic citizens. It falls, with particular weight, upon Catholic politicians.”

Citizens want ‘deeply religious’ president
WASHINGTON (RNS) – Almost 60 percent of likely voters surveyed say it’s important for a president to believe in God and be deeply religious while also having the backing of most Americans on how he is managing the economy and foreign policy.

A new O’Leary Report/Zogby International Values Poll that looked at the political and ideological divisions in the nation showed significant support for personal religious involvement by the country’s top leader.

K of C members eligible
for military death benefit

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Knights of Columbus will begin paying an accidental death benefit to the families of members of the Catholic fraternal order who are killed while in military service in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The benefit is based on the deceased’s years of membership in the Knights and ranges from $1,000 to $2,500.