JUNE 21, 2004





Pope announces Year of the Eucharist
ROME (RNS) – Pope John Paul II is calling a special Year of the Eucharist, opening in Mexico in October. It will start with the World Eucharistic Congress, planned for Oct. 10 to 17, 2004, in Guadalajara, and it will end with the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in the Vatican in October 2005.

Vatican to publish data on World War II prisoners
VATICAN CITY (RNS) – The Vatican will publish this month the complete archives of an office that handled requests for help in finding 2.1 million soldiers and civilians missing or held prisoner during World War II. The Vatican Secret Archives said it also would make the original documents contained in 2,349 archival units available to scholars as of Sept. 15.

Vatican sued over sexual abuse scandal
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) – Three men sued the Vatican June 4, claiming those in the highest levels of the Roman Catholic Church knew priests were molesting children in the United States and sought to cover it up.

James O’Bryan, Donald Poppe and Michael Turner, who said they were abused by Catholic priests, are seeking class action status for the claim, to allow them to represent all abuse victims in the United States. No one has ever successfully sued the Vatican over sex abuse.

NAACP protests CU’s refusal to allow chapter

WASHINGTON (AP) – The president of the NAACP is criticizing a decision by Catholic University of America not to recognize a chapter of the civil rights group on campus. He said it was the first time in decades that a university had not allowed a student chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The university rejected a student’s attempt to start a chapter in April because the campus already had two groups that represent black students: the Black Organization of Students at Catholic University of America and Minority Voices, an umbrella group for minority organizations.

Pro-life officials critical of partial birth ruling
WASHINGTON – Officials for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities and the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) criticized a June 1 ruling by U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton who issued a permanent injunction against enforcement of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.

The ruling applies to the nation’s approximately 900 Planned Parenthood Federation of America clinics and their doctors, who perform about half of the 1.3 million abortions done each year in the U.S. The federation brought the lawsuit on their behalf.

Vatican wants to meet task force on politicians

VATICAN CITY (RNS) – The Vatican office responsible for church doctrine is concerned that some U.S. bishops are being too harsh in their threats to deny Communion to dissenting politicians.
Bishop Donald Pelotte of Gallup, N.M., who met with Vatican officials during a series of regular meetings, said Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith wants to meet with a task force of American bishops who are studying the issue.

Bishop Pelotte told Catholic News Service that Cardinal Ratzinger said American bishops should be “cautious” about denying Communion and has requested a meeting with the task force, headed by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C.

ADL concerned about beatifying ‘Passion’ nun
NEW YORK (RNS) – The Anti-Defamation League has told the Vatican that plans to beatify the 19th century nun whose writings influenced Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” would further incite anti-Semitism.

Bishop Reinhard Lettmann of Muenster, Germany, said the Vatican would beatify Sister Anne Catherine Emmerich on Oct. 3, putting the mystic nun one step away from sainthood. Sister Emmerich, a German nun who lived from 1774 to 1824, wrote “The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ,” a blood-stained account of Jesus’ crucifixion that Gibson drew on for his blockbuster film.
The bedridden nun called the Jews in the Gospel accounts “cruel” and “wicked” and merciless tormentors of Jesus. Several scenes from Gibson’s film, such as the devil tempting Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, were taken from Sister Emmerich’s writings.

Bill proposed to cancel poor countries’ debt

WASHINGTON (RNS) – A bipartisan group of legislators introduced the “Jubilee” Act in the House on June 3. The bill would cancel the debts the world’s poorest countries owe the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and “bring the simple biblical concept of debt forgiveness into the complicated worlds of politics and finance,” one lawmaker said.

“Five years ago,” said Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., one of the bill’s co-sponsors, “the worldwide Jubilee movement reminded Congress that the Lord instructed the people of Israel to celebrate a Jubilee, or Year of the Lord, every 50 years.” According to Leviticus 25, God enjoined Moses to free slaves and forgive debts during a Jubilee year.

The bill was co-sponsored by Reps. Barney Frank, D-Mass.; Spencer Bacchus, R-Ala.; Jim Leach, R-Iowa; and Barbara Lee, D-Calif. The lawmakers said debt cancellation was a “moral issue,” and money saved by countries by eliminating their debt could be used for education and the eradication of disease and hunger.

Catholic school union sues archdiocese

BOSTON (AP) – A union representing Catholic school teachers sued the Boston Archdiocese in federal court June 4, accusing Church officials of union busting by refusing to negotiate with it.
The Boston Archdiocesan Teachers Association represents 225 lay teachers at the archdiocese’s eight central high schools. The Church declared the schools legally independent last October in a move the archdiocese said would keep the schools educationally and financially viable by putting the schools under local control.

But union attorney Terence Noonan said the change is a sham “set up for the exclusive purpose of getting rid of the union” while seeming to benefit the schools. The suit alleges that the schools are still being run by the same Church officials.

L.A. County removes cross from county seal

LOS ANGELES (RNS) – Los Angeles County supervisors, faced with a lawsuit to remove a tiny gold cross from the county seal, have voted to remove the cross, but the Roman goddess Pomona will stay.
County supervisors voted June 1 to remove the cross, which was incorporated into the seal’s original 1957 design to represent the Catholic missions. The American Civil Liberties Union had said the cross represented an “impermissible endorsement of Christianity” and was “unconstitutional” as a violation of the separation of church and state.

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