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Issue Date:  March 21, 2008


Eliot Spitzer’s very bad day

ALBANY, N.Y. -- March 10 was meant to be a big day in the political life of New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer. It didn’t go as planned.

Spitzer was scheduled to address the annual state conference of Family Planning Advocates. Shortly after taking office last year, Spitzer introduced a bill known as the Reproductive Health and Privacy Protection Act that would declare abortion a fundamental right for women. Spitzer had made passage of the law a top priority for 2008.

After addressing the family planning advocates, Spitzer was to meet New York Cardinal Edward Egan. The church is opposing Spitzer’s reproductive health bill. The speech and the meeting were canceled abruptly after news broke that the governor was a client of a high-priced prostitution ring.

As NCR went to press, Spitzer had not been charged with a crime, but had resigned under intense pressure. The Albany Times Union was reporting March 12 that state assembly leaders feared no meaningful legislation would be passed this session.

Diocese OKs cancer fund

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Msgr. J. Gaston Hebert, administrator of the Little Rock diocese, has rescinded a February statement that discouraged parishes and schools in the diocese from supporting fundraising activities for Susan G. Komen for the Cure (NCR, March 7).

The international organization, which is based in Dallas, raises millions annually for the detection, treatment and research of breast cancer.

After meeting with Komen officials, Hebert said March 6 that the earlier position statement “was based upon what were believed to be ‘facts,’ which upon further study have turned out not to be true.”

He said one of the erroneous “facts” he was given was that the national Komen foundation provides grants to Planned Parenthood, a major provider of abortions.

-- Chris Oberholtz/Kansas City Star/MCT

Many choose meatless Fridays
Betty Spehar, from left, Barbara McNellis and Rita Stahl work together to serve plates of food at the Lenten fish fry for St. Patrick Catholic Church, Kansas City, Kan., Feb. 15. More than 30 million U.S. adults observe meatless Fridays during Lent, according to a new study of Lenten practices conducted last month by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, known as CARA. The survey found that six in 10 adult Catholics say they abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent and slightly less than half of adult Catholics, 45 percent, typically receive ashes on Ash Wednesday. A similar proportion say they try to do something positive -- as opposed to giving something up -- during Lent. The survey found relatively little variation across generations in the observance of Lent. CARA is a national, nonprofit research organization founded in 1964 and affiliated with Georgetown University.


Iraqi archbishop found dead

VATICAN CITY -- Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho of Mosul, Iraq, who had been kidnapped Feb. 29, was found dead March 13.

Chaldean Auxiliary Bishop Shlemon Warduni of Baghdad told the Italian Catholic agency SIR that the kidnappers had informed church leaders March 12 that Rahho, 65, “was very ill,” and a few hours later they phoned again to say he had died. They phoned the next morning to tell church leaders where they had buried the archbishop.

Rahho was kidnapped after leading a Way of the Cross service at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Mosul. His driver and two bodyguards were killed.

Blast damages cathedral

LAHORE, Pakistan -- The massive suicide bomb targeting a government building that killed 23 people March 11 badly damaged church-owned buildings in Lahore. The bomb exploded outside the Federal Investigation Agency office, causing serious damage to nearby Sacred Heart Cathedral, Sacred Heart Cathedral High School, St. Anthony’s College, St. Paul Communication Center, the Caritas Pakistan building, a Catholic press building, a convent and a catechists’ house.

Initial reports said the blast killed two students at the church schools and injured more than 100. Four members of the Caritas Pakistan staff were hospitalized for their injuries.

Refugee housing confiscated

ROME -- The Sri Lankan navy has confiscated permanent housing that a Jesuit aid agency had built for refugees affected by the country’s civil war.

Families who had been living in 50 houses on the country’s island of Mannar were forcibly removed recently “and the land has been taken over” by government forces, said Paul Newman, South Asia advocacy officer for Jesuit Refugee Service.

“All the houses have been completely vandalized by the [Sri Lankan] navy” and stripped of everything from the sheets on people’s beds to the electric wiring, he said March 5. Newman was in Rome for meetings.

Government forces took over the land, saying the houses were too close to the sea, making them vulnerable to attack by rebels and crossfire in the event of a battle between rebels and troops based on the island, he said.

World Youth Day costs increase

SYDNEY, Australia -- The estimated cost of staging World Youth Day in Sydney has increased by 50 percent to US$137.5 million, said a briefing paper circulated to local priests by the Sydney archdiocese in early March.

The briefing paper said almost half the costs would be covered by pilgrim fees. The rest would be made up by federal grants, the church, donors, business partners and sponsors.

However, the paper quoted a Sydney Chamber of Commerce report that World Youth Day will deliver long-term economic benefits in excess of US$210 million.

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, March 21, 2008

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