National Catholic Reporter
The Independent Newsweekly
Issue Date:  April 11, 2003


Kidnapped nun slain, another escapes; suspect arrested

After one kidnapped nun escaped and the decapitated body of another was found, Norfolk, Va., police and the FBI ended a manhunt with the arrest March 27 of the suspected kidnapper and killer, Adrian Robinson. Less than 24 hours earlier, police found the body of Sr. Philomena Fogarty, 67, in a parking lot in Virginia Beach, nearly 600 miles from her Georgia home. They said her head, hands and feet had been cut off.

Fogarty was a member of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary and pastoral coordinator of Christ the King Mission in Hamilton, Ga.

She and her housemate, Sr. Lucie Kristofik, 71, a member of the same order, had been kidnapped March 23. Kristofik escaped March 25 after the kidnapper left her, bound and gagged, in a motel room in Norfolk.

A police hunt for Robinson began in Georgia March 23 where, according to family members’ reports to police, he accused his father of sexually assaulting him and then killed him, shooting him 16 times. Police believe he then hiked to the nuns’ mobile home three miles away and broke in. When Kristofik escaped in Norfolk, she notified police. Robinson was arrested by police at a fast-food restaurant March 27.

Peacemaker says we must replace ‘old ways’ of war

Nobel laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire told a Syracuse, N.Y., audience that people around the world are stuck in the “old ways” of “militarism, war and violence.” People are stuck there, she said, because that is what they have been taught, but “it’s a new time and we need new ways. The old ways don’t work.” Maguire delivered the third annual Rev. Daniel Berrigan, SJ/International House Peacemaker Lecture at Le Moyne College in Syracuse March 19, the day the U.S. war in Iraq began.

“Armies with all their advanced weapons of mass destruction are facing the Iraqi people who have nothing. In anybody’s language, it’s not fair,” Maguire said. Maguire said conflict boils down to those with power refusing to recognize those without power and the powerful not sharing their power. She warned that because of the war on terrorism, U.S. citizens may see erosion of their civil rights.

Maguire won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 for leading a peace movement in Northern Ireland. She became a peace activist after two nephews and a niece were fatally injured by an out-of-control IRA getaway car whose driver had been shot dead by British soldiers.

Bush’s faith-based plan weakened by Senate sponsor

The chief Senate sponsor of President Bush’s “faith-based” initiative has re-moved its most controversial elements in hopes of gaining wider support. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., agreed March 27 to remove language from the CARE Act that would have allowed “equal treatment” for religious charities that receive government funding and would permit them to use religious criteria in personnel decisions.

The scaled-back bill now contains only tax incentives for charitable giving and increased federal aid for social service groups. This is the second time that Santorum has agreed to trim the original plan. “In the United States Senate this year, you’re lucky to get anything, and I’ll take anything,” Santorum said, according to the Associated Press.

The new bill is a dramatic step back from the plan originally presented by President Bush two years ago. That bill, which would have allowed religious groups to sidestep antidiscrimination laws and preserve their religious identity, passed the House but remained stalled in the Senate. Santorum said the new bill could face a vote in the full Senate as soon as next week; he said he has assurances from House Republicans that they will not try to revive the old bill.

Combating Hunger
Franciscan Sr. Kathlenn Keck displays a green pepper hydroponically grown at the Morning Star Fisherman hatchery in Dade City, Fla. The hatchery teaches hydroponics and aquaculture - raising fish and vegetables in water - in hopes of establishing similar hatcheries throughout the Third World to combat world hunger.
-- CNS/Paradis
Disease Protection
A Chinese woman wears a mask as she offers incense at a temple in Beijing April 2.  Residents of  Singapore and Hong Kong have taken to wearing protective coverings as severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, continues to spread.  Catholic churches in the cities were taking precautions as well.
-- CNS/Reuters


Muslims, steel plant reach million-dollar settlement

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has announced a $1.11 million settlement involving Muslim employees who claimed they were harassed for their religious beliefs while working at a steel plant. The settlement, announced March 19, involves an employment discrimination lawsuit against Stockton Steel, a subsidiary of Herrick Corp.

It resolves a January 2000 lawsuit by the commission charging that Pakistani-American employees were repeatedly harassed at Herrick’s steel plant in Stockton, Calif. The employees alleged they were ridiculed during their daily Muslim prayer obligations and subjected to derogatory name-calling such as “raghead” and “camel jockey.” Stockton Steel denied all charges but agreed to resolve the suit by paying $1.11 million to four former employees. The company also agreed to conduct training to prevent future discrimination and guarantee the right of employees to request that their religious needs be accommodated.

“The EEOC is particularly pleased with Stockton Steel’s willingness to review their existing policies and to make improvements as needed,” Susan McDuffie, director of the commission’s San Francisco District, said in a statement. “When employers institute training programs and maintain clear antidiscrimination policies, everyone wins.”

Fire disrupts restoration at 97-year-old Chicago church

For St. Gregory the Great Church on Chicago’s North Side, recovery from an early morning fire that broke out in the choir loft March 8 has meant more than just cleaning carpets and repainting. The 97-year-old Gothic church was nearing the end of a two-year project to clean and restore its ornate shrines and paintings, and now much of that work will have to be done over, said artist-in-residence Joe Malham.

The fire was discovered when a woman who had arrived early to pray before daily Mass smelled smoke and notified the pastor, Fr. Bartholomew Winters. Her presence, at 7 a.m. on a Saturday, and the quick arrival of the fire department, saved the church building, despite heavy smoke and water damage to the interior.

Overall, Winters said, experts have predicted that the church will be out of commission for at least seven months. He and Malham expect the cost for repairs to reach hundreds of thousands of dollars. Fire officials said it was an electrical fire, which apparently started near the organ. If firefighters had not gotten to it when they did, or if the stained-glass windows in the choir loft had not already been removed for repair, the church could have been lost.

Ohio law could triple cost of parish festivals, bingos

A new Ohio law governing games of chance could add more than $1 million to state coffers and could triple expenses to hold fundraisers for nonprofit entities, such as church-related organizations. It went into effect April 2. The regulation attaches new fees and requirements for nonprofit groups that sell instant bingo games. It was put into place “to eliminate fraud” associated with pull-tab games in the state, said Mark Gribben, communications director for the Ohio attorney general’s office.

“Basically, the revised law that goes into effect in April removes an exemption for [what are called] schemes of chance,” Gribben said. “Current law prohibits any person from running a game of chance for profit,” he said, but that law does not extend to nonprofit groups, such as parish-run bingos or festivals. But now the new law will mean nonprofits will have to pay additional fees to sell instant bingo games, Gribben said.

Currently, nonprofit organizations are charged an annual fee of $500 for operating bingo games. The fundraisers are often conducted weekly or monthly at churches. For years, nonprofit groups also have sold instant bingo cards at bingos or festivals to raise additional funds and now will face an added cost.

Bibles, other religious book sales high in January

Preparation for war may have boosted sales of Bibles and other religious books in America, the Financial Times reported. U.S. publishers collected almost $15 million in religious book revenues in January. “Is this a result of the war? ... A fear of the unknown? Could be,” said Mark Rice, a spokesman for Zondervan, a leading Bible publisher.

Revenues from the company’s Bible sales in January were 10 percent higher than the year before -- and the earlier sales had been influenced by the Sept. 11 attacks. In other religious book sales developments, Publishers Weekly’s Religion Bookline reported that religion titles continued to fare well in 2002, though they did not top the magazine’s annual fiction or nonfiction lists as they did in 2001.

The Remnant, the 10th book in the “Left Behind” series, ranked third among all fiction titles, with sales of more than 1.8 million. The top 15 nonfiction titles included five books released by evangelical Christian publishers, with each selling more than 600,000 copies.

Man murdered during Mass in Michigan church

St. Paul Albanian Catholic Church in the Detroit suburb of Rochester Hills was the scene of a fatal shooting March 30 when a man opened fire during Mass. Gjek Isufaj, 38, of suburban Madison Heights, was killed in a shooting apparently prompted by a decade-long feud. Arrested in the shooting was Gjon Pepaj, 38, of Rochester Hills, who was arraigned April 1 on a charge of first-degree murder. Bail was denied.

If convicted of the murder charge, Pepaj could be sentenced to life in prison. The murder unfolded during the offertory, when the gunman opened fire on a former friend from Albania. Fr. Anton Kcira, pastor, said, “It was terrible. I kept saying ‘Peace! Peace!’ to the crowd. But the people were so scared they were jumping out of windows.”

Pepaj allegedly fired multiple shots at Isufaj, striking him from behind, said Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard. Several men grabbed the gunman and held him down on the floor. More than 1,300 panic-stricken members of the congregation, including those who thought the shooting was part of a terrorist attack, began screaming and breaking through windows to escape the gunfire. Seven people were injured by the broken glass. Kcira said he was grateful no one else was wounded by the gun violence.


Bishops outline strategies to cope with globalization

AMERICAS: Bishops from the rich and poor countries of the Americas called globalization “a mixed blessing” and outlined pastoral strategies to deal with globalization’s “unacceptable inequalities.” Strategies include dialogue with stockholders, corporate leaders and policymakers “to instill in the globalization process much more inclusion and participation, and a greater concern for the common good,” said a final statement by bishops from the United States, Canada and Latin America.

The statement also proposed fostering a “pastoral sensitivity among the emerging lay leadership in the church today so that they, who are increasingly implicated in the process of globalization, may better humanize and evangelize that very process.” The two-page statement was released March 24 in Washington by the U.S. bishops’ conference. The meeting was held Feb. 16-19 in Quebec City and brought together the leadership of the U.S. bishops’ conference, the Canadian bishops’ conference and the Latin American bishops’ council.

“The acknowledged benefits that accrue to some segments of our society must be weighted against the inequalities that globalization creates in others,” it said. In examining the causes of poverty and marginalization, “care must be taken to distinguish those factors that stem directly from globalization and those that are the result of domestic, nonglobal factors,” it said.

Pope says confessors must present authentic teaching

VATICAN CITY: While confessors should treat penitents “without harshness or coldness,” they must uncompromisingly present authentic church teaching, especially on marital and bioethical issues, Pope John Paul II said. He said he was concerned that penitents “leave the confessional with somewhat confused ideas, especially if they find that confessors are not consistent in their judgments.”

The pope made his comments in a speech March 28 to participants in an annual course on matters of conscience sponsored by the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Vatican agency that deals with issues involving the sacrament of penance and indulgences. He said priests should be conscious of the “gift of grace placed in their hands” in the confessional and should offer penitents “the charity of a kind welcome, without being selfish with [their] time and without harshness or coldness.”

“At the same time he must use charity -- or rather justice -- in presenting the genuine teaching of the church without ideological variations and without arbitrary allowances,” the pope said. He said faithfulness to church teaching was particularly important in problems relating to complex contemporary bioethical issues and marital questions.

Cohabitation is a ‘new path’ to wedlock, Anglican report says

ENGLAND: A new report commissioned by the Southwark diocese in London urges the Church of England to change its teaching on sex before marriage, in favor of viewing cohabitation as a “new path” to eventual wedlock. The document, prepared by a working party of the diocese and titled “Cohabitation: A Christian Reflection,” says the church’s traditional view on premarital sex is a hangover from a different society in a different time and has become a “heavy load” in this modern era.

Peter Grinyer, a member of the group that prepared the report, said, “The great majority of people I talked to agreed that there is an urgent need for the church to come to terms with a changed society and to provide a new, and what some may consider a radical, even heretical, understanding of sexual relationships for the 21st century.” The diocese said the document will be sent to all parishes for study and consideration.

The document insists that a change is needed if worshipers, particularly younger ones, decide the church’s historic teaching is irrelevant or unrealistic, or both. It says that a shift should not be seen as a demeaning of marriage but as a “new path from the single state to the married one.”

Bishops criticize arrests of political dissidents

CUBA: The bishops here have criticized Cuba’s communist government for arresting people who “think and act differently from the official ideology.” Political dissidents should not be treated like common criminals, said a statement by the bishops’ justice and peace commission. The statement was posted on the bishops’ Web site March 25, less than two weeks after the government began rounding up dissidents. On the same day, the independent Cuban Human Rights Commission said that 75 political opponents, human rights activists and independent journalists had been arrested in the roundups.

The way to deal with political opposition is through public debate and a national dialogue, said the bishops’ commission. It expressed “deep sorrow” that “in our country inappropriate measures are being used to stain reputations and detain persons.”

Government officials have said that the roundups were part of a crackdown on drug dealers and others engaged in illegal activities. “Society and the state must work jointly and with perseverance to erase the phenomena of corruption, drug use and other social deviations,” said the commission, adding, “We must seek and solve the true causes and not just the effects of these phenomena.”

Anti-AIDS campaign seeks increased role for church

KENYA: An aggressive new campaign against AIDS announced by Kenya’s government is seeking to increase collaboration with church organizations to fight the spread of the disease. A main component of the campaign, announced March 23 by President Mwai Kibaki and launched a day later at the bishops’ headquarters in Nairobi, will be to “scale up” HIV/AIDS programs that various churches offer, a government official said. The campaign is being financed through a $50 million World Bank loan spread out over five years.

Government and church officials said they believe the collaboration of the church and government was essential to the success of the program because the church’s elaborate networks can reach a wide range of people.

While the Kenyan bishops voiced their disapproval over the use of condoms in AIDS prevention, church officials have said the church still welcomes the program. The Daily Nation, Kenya’s leading newspaper, quoted the director of medical services, Dr. Richard Muga, as saying that “those who are a danger to others should be counseled to use” condoms. But Bishop Cornelius Arap Korir of Eldoret said the church would not advocate such use.

Cardinal says economic interests fuel war in Iraq

HONDURAS: A leading Latin American cardinal said economic interests were behind the war in Iraq, where cities are being destroyed to justify a reconstruction venture. Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa made the comments to reporters in Rome March 27, eight days after U.S. and British forces began a massive ground and air attack against key Iraqi cities in an effort to overthrow the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

“The true motives for this conflict are already emerging, and there are frightening economic interests involved. For example, destruction is carried out in order to have a pretext for reconstruction,” Rodriguez said. He said democracy is not something that can be justified or imposed by war.

The cardinal said the Iraqi crisis showed the need for a “serious reflection and rethinking of international law.” He said, “The world cannot be placed at the mercy of a group of governing states.” Asked about the pressure exerted by the United States on some Latin American countries to support the war effort, the cardinal said these smaller states should be able to make decisions on their own and not be forced to negotiate “as the vassals of an empire.”

Pacifist paraglider arrested trying to land at St. Peter’s

VATICAN CITY: An Austrian peace activist in a motorized hang glider was arrested after attempting to make an early morning landing in St. Peter’s Square. Italian police arrested the man shortly after he crash-landed about 6:40 a.m. March 28 into a crowd barrier that separates the Vatican square from Italian national territory. They also arrested seven accomplices -- five Austrians and two Germans -- who were at the square’s edge filming the landing.

The group was to be charged with holding an unauthorized demonstration and “violating air space.” Italian press reports identified the pilot as Andreas Siebenhofer, 26, and said he had been sponsored by Takeoff Paragliding, a hang-gliding business based in Judenburg, Austria. Police said the group had a rolled-up banner that read “peace” in German and meant the gesture as a protest against the U.S.-led war on Iraq.

Italian police, in vehicles and on foot, patrol around St. Peter’s Square day and night. Security did not appear tightened after the incident except for a police car parked for several hours near where it took place. The Vatican press office said it would not comment because the incident took place in Italian territory.

Student killed in gun battle at Catholic school

WEST BANK: A student at St. Joseph School for Girls, a West Bank Catholic school, was killed and members of her family wounded March 25 during a gun battle between Israeli forces and suspected Palestinian militants. Christine Sa’ada, 10, died after being shot in the head. Her father, George Sa’ada, a principal of a Greek Orthodox high school in Beit Sahour, West Bank, was critically wounded by a shot in the neck. Christine’s mother and older sister also were wounded.

Muwafat Badran, a passerby and father of 10, also was killed in the incident. Palestinians said the shooting was part of an assassination attempt, while Israeli military sources said the special forces unit was arresting a suspect when they were fired upon by two men in the car behind the Sa’ada family car.

Israeli military sources said the incident was under investigation and noted that the special forces unit found guns, ammunition and explosive devices in the car belonging to the two wanted men. In a statement issued later, the military expressed sorrow over the loss of civilian life and said it “repudiates the phenomenon of terrorists using civilian areas to carry out attacks.”


-- CNS

Cardinal Hans Hermann Gröer
Resigned over sex abuse allegations

Austrian Cardinal Hans Hermann Gröer, asked by Pope John Paul II in 1998 to give up his public duties amid allegations of sexual abuse of minors, died March 23. He was 83. The cardinal, archbishop of Vienna from 1986 to 1995, died of pneumonia at a hospital outside Vienna where he was being treated for cancer, local church officials said. In a telegram of condolence, the pope said the cardinal served as Vienna’s archbishop “with great love for Christ and his church.”

Gröer stepped down as archbishop of Vienna in 1995 following allegations by former students that he had sexually abused them as youths in the 1970s. A church reform group, We Are Church, was born in Austria amid the scandal surrounding charges against Gröer (NCR, Oct. 30, 1998).

Gröer’s 1986 appointment to head the Vienna archdiocese was unexpected and controversial. The pope bypassed all three of Vienna’s auxiliary bishops to tap the cardinal, who was then a Benedictine monk living at Austria’s Maria Roggendorf Monastery. The pope made him a cardinal in 1988.

Sr. Mary Kathleen Clark
Established nation’s largest crisis nursery

A nun who took $17 and a year’s leave of absence to start what became the nation’s largest crisis nursery died Feb. 21 at age 83. Sr. Mary Kathleen Clark, a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet, was recognized as one of the nation’s unsung heroes by Newsweek magazine in 1988 for her work to establish Casa de Los Niños in Tucson, Ariz.

Clark was a pediatric emergency room nurse in Tucson when she decided to try to prevent the injuries to children she saw returning again and again to the Catholic hospitals where she worked. She began with a small house and created the prototype for crisis nurseries nationwide. Since it opened in 1973, Casa de Los Niños has provided shelter or services to 33,000 children.

Among the many honors given to Clark for her work was the National Jefferson Award for public service to local communities. She died in Los Angeles after a lengthy illness.

-- CNS

Bishop Harry Anselm Clinch
Headed Monterey, Calif., diocese

A funeral Mass was celebrated March 14 for retired Monterey Bishop Harry Anselm Clinch, the second-oldest U.S. Catholic bishop, who died March 8 at age 94 from complications of pneumonia. He was about four months younger than the nation’s oldest Catholic bishop, retired Bishop Aloysius Wycislo of Green Bay, Wis. Clinch was one of the last surviving bishops named by Pope Pius XII, who died in 1958.

Born in San Anselmo, Calif., Clinch had been a priest for 66 years and a bishop for 46 years. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Monterey-Fresno diocese in 1936, at St. John’s Cathedral in Fresno. Following ordination, Clinch spent 12 years in diocesan administrative positions. His pastoral ministry included hospital chaplaincy and pastorates at four parishes. When Monterey was restored as a separate diocese in 1967, Clinch was named its first bishop.

Clinch attended all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), which he ranked as the “most extraordinary movement of reform in the church since the Council of Trent.”

Briefs, gathered from news services, correspondents and staff, are compiled and edited by Gill Donovan.

National Catholic Reporter, April 11, 2003

This Week's Stories | Home Page | Top of Page
Copyright  © The National Catholic Reporter Publishing  Company, 115 E. Armour Blvd., Kansas City, MO   64111
All rights reserved.
TEL:  816-531-0538     FAX:  1-816-968-2280   Send comments about this Web site to: