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Issue Date:  November 9, 2007


Protests target war spending

NEW YORK -- As many as 100,000 people joined demonstrations across the United States Oct. 27 and 28 to protest the continued U.S. occupation of Iraq and the Bush administration’s reported plans to attack Iran.

Organized by a diverse array of antiwar groups, the nationwide protests were held in more than 10 major cities, including New York, Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle.

Organizers said they want Congress to take decisive measures against the Bush administration’s military policies.

“People everywhere want the war to end, but Washington has failed to take decisive action,” said Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK, a leading antiwar group that has organized several demonstrations since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. “We want this war to end. And want it to end now.”

The protests came as Congress began to consider Bush’s request for $196.4 billion in supplemental appropriations for war-related operations this budget year. The Congressional Budget Office said Oct. 25 that the country would need at least $2 trillion to continue its military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq for another decade.

Properties to be separated

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Portland archdiocese has begun work on restructuring itself under civil law. Parishes and archdiocesan high schools will be organized into separate legal entities, though they will clearly still be part of the archdiocesan family.

The restructuring is part of the financial reorganization plan church leaders submitted in U.S. bankruptcy court. In April a federal judge approved the plan and a $75 million settlement of clergy sexual abuse claims.

In a letter sent to parishioners in September, Archbishop John G. Vlazny said the step aims to organize parishes and schools under civil law in a way that “best mirrors the governance model of church law” and to clarify that assets of parishes are separate from those of the archdiocese.

The court-approved plan may include abandonment of the corporation-sole model, a legal entity consisting of a single incorporated office.

-- CNS/J.D. Long-Garcia, Catholic Sun

Retreat at the border
Fr. Ivan Bernal from Agua Prieta, Mexico, holds up the host as he concelebrates Mass with Fr. Bob Carney of Tucson, Ariz., along the border wall in Nogales, Mexico, Oct. 21. The Mass capped off a three-day weekend event Oct. 19-21, during which about 100 young Catholics from the dioceses of Tucson and Phoenix and the Hermosillo, Mexico, archdiocese learned about immigration from each other. The weekend experience, which grew out of a partnership between the three dioceses and Catholic Relief Services, was called “Diocese Without Borders” and helped Catholics from the United States and Mexico get to know each other. “You could feel the excitement. You could tell they wanted to be there,” said Jose Robles, director of Hispanic ministry for the Phoenix diocese. This is the second stage of an ongoing project that the Phoenix diocesan Office of Peace and Justice began in 2005. The first stage was a series of three immersion experiences with youths in each diocese.


Murderers, thieves unwelcome

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Murderers should not be buried from Catholic churches, and recipients of stolen property should be banned from receiving Communion, Archbishop Buti Tlhagale of Johannesburg said at the funeral of a priest murdered by carjackers.

“We have every reason to be outraged,” Tlhagale said at Johannesburg funeral of Oblate of Mary Immaculate Fr. Allard Mako, 42, last month.

After AIDS, violent crime “is the biggest and most sinister threat to the well-being and security of South Africa,” said Tlhagale, president of the national bishops’ conference.

South Africa, with a population of 48 million, saw 19,000 murders and almost 13,000 carjackings from March 2006 to March 2007.

“It is morally reprehensible to stand by and watch helplessly, as if in a state of paralysis,” he said, urging people to protest in the strongest terms to curb crime.

Reformer wins abuse suit

PENANG, Malaysia -- High Court Judge Hishamudin Mohd Yunus awarded Abdul Malek Hussin $740,000 in damages after he successfully sued the country’s then-top police officer, Abdul Rahim Noor, another police officer and the government for false imprisonment, assault and battery.

In his Oct. 18 judgment, Yunus concluded that that Hussin, a campaigner for political reform, was not only detained for 57 days in 1998 but also “subjected to a vile assault, unspeakable humiliation, and prolonged physical and mental ill-treatment.”

He noted the activist’s description of how he was stripped, blindfolded, verbally abused and physically assaulted. Among many physical ordeals, the judge noted, Hussin “was made to stand in front of an air conditioner and drenched with water -- this treatment was done for almost an hour.”

The court victory has galvanized activists campaigning for the repeal of Malaysia’s harsh Internal Security Act.

Warning on healing prayers

SEOUL, South Korea -- Catholics are misusing the church’s traditional teaching on prayers for healing when they offer prayers for the sins of ancestors in order to “heal family lines,” the Korean bishops have said.

“The “family-line healing” theory comes from the false notion that the sins of ancestors are inherited through the family line, and that without healing those sins, descendants will suffer various problems,” said Fr. Vincent Choe Won-o, an undersecretary for the bishop’s conference of Korea. The conference studied the issue during its annual autumn meeting last month and issued a warning about the practice.

Ancestors are revered in Korean culture. Many homes have memorial shrines to honor ancestors. At the shrines, offerings are made and prayers said.

Family-line healing spread in Korea along with the charismatic movement, said a bishops’ adviser. Some priests encouraged the practice, making money as families paid stipends for multiple Masses to heal ancestors’ sins, he said.

The bishops said the practice borders on shamanism.

Nuns at prayer attacked

JABALPUR, India -- Members of a Hindu radical group attacked five Franciscan Clarist nuns attending an evening prayer meeting in their driver’s house Oct. 25. Three days later, the police booked the nuns and two others for violating a law on conversion.

Sr. Sayujya, a victim of the attack, said about 100 people gathered outside the driver’s house during the prayer meeting and “shouted for us to come down” from the second floor. They threatened to set the house on fire if the nuns failed to obey, so the nuns exited the house.

“The moment we reached the ground floor, they pounced on us,” recounted the nun, whose left leg was fractured in the assault. The crowd beat the nuns with wooden sticks and dragged them for 20 minutes to the nearest police station, she said.

Schools in Indore diocese closed, and about 2,000 people from several religions gathered Oct. 22 in Indore to protest the attack.

Nazareth grotto to close

JERUSALEM -- The Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, which coordinates Christian pilgrimage sites, will close the grotto of the Basilica of the Annunciation for four months for conservation work on the grotto’s rock. The work will begin Nov. 10 at the grotto in the basilica’s lower church in Nazareth, Israel.

“There is a constant flow of people walking past the grotto ... and that creates a serious problem,” said Franciscan Br. Ricardo Bustos, superior of the convent of the Most Holy Annunciation at the basilica.

The rock of the grotto is very fragile, he said, and even the temperature change within the grotto caused by visitors’ body heat is damaging the rock, plus many people touch the rock, he said.

-- Catholic News Service

National Catholic Reporter uses the following news services: AsiaNews, Catholic News Service, Latinamerica Press, New America Media, Religion News Service, and UCA News.

National Catholic Reporter, November 9, 2007

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