MAY 10, 2004





Priest charged with murder suspended
TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) – Bishop Leonard Blair of Toledo has suspended a priest charged in the 1980 killing of a nun, whose body was found covered by an altar cloth and surrounded by burning candles in a hospital chapel on Easter weekend.

The priest, Father Gerald Robinson, 66, was arrested last month and charged with murder in the death of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl. Bishop Blair put the priest on a leave of absence and the diocese has decided against paying his legal bills.

Judge rejects bishop’s request
to go to Vatican

MESA, Ariz. (AP) – Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Stephen Gerst rejected a request by Bishop Thomas O’Brien to make a 13-day papal visit to the Vatican this month. The judge made the ruling April 27 on the recommendation of the county Probation Department.

Bishop O’Brien is serving a three-year sentence of probation and community service for leaving the scene of a fatal crash after a four-week trial. He wanted to join 14 other bishops from the western United States in their “ad limina” visit to Rome, required of bishops every five years.

Honolulu man paying for search
for Noah’s Ark

HONOLULU (AP) – A Honolulu businessman is financing an expedition that hopes to find the wreckage of Noah’s ark on a mountain top in Turkey.
A joint U.S.-Turkish team of 10 explorers plans to make the arduous trek up Turkey’s tallest mountain, July 15 - August 15, subject to the approval of the Turkish government. Daniel McGivern of Hawaii Kai said he expects the expedition to cost $900,000.

McGivern hopes the venture will prove that an object photographed from satellites on Turkey’s Mount Ararat is the wreckage of Noah’s ark, the vessel described in the Bible’s book of Genesis. He says the wreckage will be examined and photographed, but said there is no intent to excavate it or disturb anything.

Christian teens are among music pirates

NEW YORK (RNS) – The Gospel Music Association has embarked on a campaign to counter music piracy after commissioning a study that found purchasers of Christian music are as likely as other teens to engage in the practice.

Overall, the online survey of 1,449 teenagers found 80 percent had engaged in at least one kind of music piracy – such as making copies of CDs for other people, downloading unauthorized free music or uploading music files to the Internet to share with others – in the past six months. Only 8 percent said unauthorized downloading and copying CDs for others was morally wrong.

‘Faithful Catholics’ in first prayer breakfast
WASHINGTON (RNS) – About 1,000 “faithful” Catholics packed a hotel ballroom here for the first-ever National Catholic Prayer Breakfast on April 28. Deal Hudson of Crisis magazine, Father Richard John Neuhaus of the journal First Things, papal biographer George Weigel, and Father William Stetson, director of the Catholic Information Center run by the Opus Dei movement, where among the organizers of the sold-out event.

The breakfast raised $75,000 for the Sisters of Life order, founded by the late Cardinal John O’Connor, and Peter’s Pence, an international charity overseen by the pope. An additional $11,000 was raised on the spot to help the Sisters of Life replace their roof in New York.

Catholic leaders, who have been a minority at the annual National Prayer Breakfast organized by evangelicals, bemoaned “attacks on our church, from within and from without,” said Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, a United Nations watchdog group, who helped organize the breakfast. Ruse, a vice president for the breakfast, said the focus was on the church, not politics.

Allegiance to the church’s prohibition on abortion was paramount in determining who is a “faithful Catholic,” he said.

Cleveland bishop bans church reform group

CLEVELAND (AP) – Bishop Anthony M. Pilla has banned FutureChurch from church property because the organization backs positions inconsistent with church teaching.

FutureChurch, which claims more than 800 members in the eight-county Diocese of Cleveland, advocates allowing priests to marry and women to be ordained in order to ease clergy shortages.

Bishop Pilla He said the group’s activities are “not appropriate” at church facilities. Some members have urged the group’s executive director, Sister Christine Schenk, to appeal directly to the Vatican to overturn the decision. “We’re puzzled and saddened by the description of us as not being in line with Catholic teaching,” Sister Schenk said. “We have some of the best Catholics in the diocese as members.”

Two bishops join call against clean air policy
WASHINGTON (RNS) – One hundred Christian leaders, including two Catholic bishops, told President Bush in a pointed Earth Day rebuke that they have “grave moral concern” about his clean air policy.

The letter, coordinated by the National Council of Churches, accused Bush of weakening air quality standards and putting the elderly and young children at particular risk through his “Clear Skies” initiative.

It faulted Bush’s plan for not setting reduction standards for carbon emissions from power plants, which are believed to be the primary source of global warming.

In addition, the letter said “powerful corporate interests have had disproportionate influence” in shaping environmental policy. Archbishop John Vlazny of Portland, Ore. and Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit, signed their names to the letter which was also signed by officials from several Protestant denominations.

Polish parish in standoff with archdiocese
ST. LOUIS (AP) – An independent Polish parish at odds with St. Louis’ archbishop over its control protectively agreed last month to release its assets to a Catholic charitable group – not the archdiocese – if the parish or its corporation ever dissolves.

Though St. Stanislaus Kosta Church’s solvency may not appear in doubt, the overwhelming vote favoring a slate of administrative changes amounts to insurance protection in an archdiocesan feud with little hope for compromise, parishioner Roger Krasnicki said.

The church, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, has contacted religious orders of priests uncontrolled by the archdiocese to serve them if Archbishop Raymond Burke pulls their archdiocesan priest.

Supreme Court allows
military institute prayer

WASHINGTON (RNS) – The U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to consider an appeal of a lower court ruling that mealtime prayers at Virginia Military Institute are unconstitutional, drawing praise and criticism from opposing sides of the church-state debate.

Justice Antonin Scalia issued a strong dissent to the high court’s April 26 refusal, saying the case raised key questions about church and state.
“VMI has previously seen another of its traditions abolished by this court,” wrote Scalia, referring to the court’s 1996 decision mandating that VMI admit women. “This time, however, its cause has been ignored rather than rejected – though the consequences will be just the same.”

Pope names nun to high Vatican post
VATICAN CITY (RNS) – Pope John Paul has named an Italian nun, Sister Enrica Rosanna, to the No. 3 post in the congregation that oversees religious orders worldwide, making her the highest ranking woman religious in the Vatican. Sister Rosanna, 66, will become undersecretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

A Salesian sociologist and educator who has served as a consultant to the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education, Italian Ministry for Public Instruction and Bank of Italy, Sister Rosanna will be the first woman to hold a top position in a Vatican agency with jurisdictional powers.

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