|BRIEFS: USA & WORLD|
Issue Date: February 22, 2008
Bishops favor stiffer penalties
FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Kentuckys four Catholic bishops expressed support for a bill in the state Legislature that would stiffen penalties for people in a position of trust who sexually abuse minors and for people who fail to report such abuse.
The bill will effectively protect young people from sexual predators and will encourage public and private institutions to be vigilant in protecting children entrusted to their care, said a statement issued by the Catholic Conference of Kentucky.
Under the bill, anyone in a position of trust or authority -- such as a clergyman, teacher or coach -- who has sexual contact with a minor would be guilty of a felony. The bill would raise some types of sexual abuse involving young teens from a misdemeanor to a felony.
Penalties for failing to report suspected child abuse or neglect also would be increased.
Davenport files bankruptcy plan
DAVENPORT, Iowa -- Fifteen months after the Davenport diocese filed for bankruptcy, it submitted a reorganization plan with the committee that represents most of its creditors -- 156 survivors of clergy sexual abuse. The plan outlines the process for distributing a $37 million settlement among creditors and identifies 17 nonmonetary measures the diocese will take to foster healing and to prevent abuse in the future.
The proposal, filed Jan. 31, could be confirmed later this spring, said Dick Davidson, the dioceses bankruptcy attorney.
Travelers Insurance is contributing $19.5 million to the settlement, while the dioceses share is $17.5 million. The diocese will sign over to the settlement trustee the deed for the property of its headquarters, valued at $3.9 million. The diocese has $5.7 million cash on hand and will receive $3 million toward the settlement from St. Vincent Home Corp., the foundation established after the closing of what was an orphanage, and another $2.9 million from four parishes where significant abuse took place.
Postponing elections urged
HARARE, Zimbabwe -- Zimbabwes Catholic justice and peace commission has called for the postponement of March 29 presidential and parliamentary elections. The commission said it noted impediments to free and fair elections with grave concern.
The voter registration process and requirements are cumbersome, thereby limiting full participation of all citizens and in some areas voter registration was not adequately done, the commission said in a Feb. 9 statement.
There has been inadequate preparation and voter education on the electoral process, it said.
Millions of Zimbabweans who have fled to neighboring countries and overseas to escape their countrys economic meltdown should be allowed to vote because they still contribute significantly to Zimbabwe, the commission said. Also, laws that prohibit opposition campaigning and access to information continue to be an obstacle to the freedoms required for the preparation and conduct of a free and fair election, it said.
Seven weeks before the elections, citizens still did not know which candidates would be running and which parties would field candidates, the commission said.
Exploitation of women decried
VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI decried chauvinism and the serious and relentless exploitation, discrimination and violence being waged against the worlds women.
There are places and cultures where women are discriminated against or undervalued just for the fact that they are women, he said Feb. 9 in remarks to participants attending a Vatican-sponsored international congress, Woman and Man: The Humanum in Its Entirety.
The congress was organized by the Pontifical Council for the Laity to mark the 20th anniversary of Pope John Paul IIs apostolic letter, Mulieris Dignitatem (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women).
The pope recalled a speech he gave last year in Brazil, at a meeting of Latin American and Caribbean bishops, in which he criticized the persistent chauvinistic mentality that ignores the novelty of Christianity, which recognizes and proclaims the equal dignity and responsibility of women with respect to men.
The church teaches that men and women are equal in dignity; however, there exist real sexual differences that are not cultural constructions, but are written into human nature, he said.
Vietnam to return nunciature
HANOI, Vietnam -- After round-the-clock prayer vigils and protests on the grounds of the former apostolic nunciature in Hanoi (NCR, Feb. 8), Vietnamese authorities have decided to return the building to the Catholic church.
City officials said the government would return the former nunciature, which the communist government confiscated in 1959, after the Vietnamese lunar new year celebrations ended Feb. 9.
Government officials informed the Hanoi archdiocese of the buildings return at a Jan. 31 meeting, but Catholics continued occupying the property.
Church sources told the Rome-based missionary news service AsiaNews that civil authorities decided to let the church have the building to show goodwill and respect toward the pope.
Good Friday prayer rewritten
VATICAN CITY-- Pope Benedict XVI has reformulated a Good Friday prayer, removing language about the blindness of the Jews but preserving a call for their conversion. The new prayer replaces the one contained in the 1962 Roman Missal, sometimes called the Tridentine rite or Latin Mass. Benedict reauthorized use of this rite last year.
The new formulation was published Feb. 5 on the front page of the Vatican newspaper, LOsservatore Romano. The text, made available only in Latin, begins: Let us pray for the Jews. May the Lord Our God enlighten their hearts so that they may acknowledge Jesus Christ, the savior of all men.
The new wording removes language some Jewish leaders and groups found offensive, including appeals that Jews be delivered from their darkness.
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, February 22, 2008
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