Nation and World News

Palestinian land plight concerns U.S. bishop

The encroachment of Israeli settlements on Palestinian water sources must be addressed, said the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops during a visit to local farms.

Baptism brings child into the family of God

In the Sistine Chapel Jan. 7, Pope Benedict XVI baptized 13 babies from various countries.

World and National News Briefs

Bishops support farmworkers

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) — Challenging Catholics and all people of good will to "see where love is needed and act accordingly," Florida’s bishops urged consideration of how everything from consumer decisions to government policies affect the state’s most vulnerable workers. The bishops’ new pastoral letter, titled "Honoring the Dignity of Work: A Call for Solidarity With Florida’s Farmworkers and Other Vulnerable Workers," calls for specific actions by individual Catholics and families, parishes, Catholic institutions, government agencies and others. "This is an appropriate time to call attention to the human dignity of people from many backgrounds and nations — particularly people from Mexico and Central America, but also Haitians, African-Americans, Puerto Ricans, Vietnamese and others — who have come to Florida to work in agriculture, our second-largest industry," said Bishop John H. Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee at a Dec. 11 press conference in Tallahassee. The document — a publication of the Florida Catholic Conference, the bishops’ lobbying arm — was written in response to situations affecting farmworkers identified at an October 2005 Farmworker Forum.

Cardinal blasts condom factory

LAGOS, Nigeria (CNS) — A Nigerian cardinal has condemned the government’s recent approval of a billion-dollar condom factory in Yenagoa. Cardinal Anthony Olubunmi Okogie of Lagos said the "condom is widely known not to be a safe protector against HIV/AIDS. It is widely acknowledged today that the safest measure against HIV/AIDS is abstinence." He expressed concern about the condom factory in his New Year’s Day message, made available to journalists in early January. The cardinal said he wondered why the Nigerian government, which claims to be championing the eradication of HIV/AIDS, is now encouraging the spread of the virus through the use of condoms. He urged the government to reconsider the plan "in order to ensure a healthy nation."

Spokane bankruptcy settled

RENO, Nev. (CNS) — Judge Gregg W. Zive said Jan. 4 that the Diocese of Spokane, Wash., and those with sexual-abuse claims against the diocese have reached a $48 million settlement. Zive, chief bankruptcy judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Nevada, had been mediating the case since last July under mandate from the federal bankruptcy court in Spokane. He said the agreement reached Jan. 4 must still be confirmed by the court in Spokane and by creditors in accord with provisions of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. "The economic portion of the global settlement totals at least $48 million and provides a mechanism for the payment of future claims," he said. He said parishes of the diocese will have to raise $10 million to contribute to the settlement. The Spokane Diocese has nearly 100,000 Catholics served by 82 parishes, so the cost to the parishes, who depend on contributions for their income, works out to an average of about $100 per Catholic.

Synagogue becomes a church

LINDENHURST, N.Y. (CNS) — Holy Family Ukrainian Catholic Church celebrated the feast of the Holy Family Dec. 31 by opening a new church and parish center in a former synagogue in Lindenhurst. Ukrainian Bishop Paul P. Chomnycky of Stamford, Conn., and his predecessor, retired Bishop Basil H. Losten, joined parish administrator Father Olvian Popovici and the parishioners in blessing the church and celebrating their first Divine Liturgy in their new home. The Ukrainian Catholic Church is one of several Eastern Catholic churches that maintain their own traditions, forms of worship and hierarchy while remaining in full union with the Roman Catholic Church. The Stamford Diocese is responsible for Ukrainian Catholics throughout New England and New York. Thirty-six of its 51 parishes are in New York state, including several on Long Island.

Church arson nets arrest

RICHMOND, Calif. (CNS) — A man was arrested after setting an altar ablaze Jan. 5 at St. Cornelius Church in Richmond in the Oakland Diocese and telling a choir rehearsing there at the time that he would burn down the church. Police arrested Robert Mills, 40, of San Pablo. He was being held on suspicion of arson, said Richmond police Sgt. Shawn Pickett. Police said Mills has a history of violent criminal activity. After the fire was set, parishioners followed Mills to a park, where he jumped a fence into an apartment yard and was apprehended by police. The church, across the street from Richmond’s City Hall, suffered minor fire damage and heavy smoke damage in what developed into a two-alarm blaze, a Richmond Fire Department spokesman said. Firefighters had the flames under control within 17 minutes of the second alarm.

Denver settles 15 abuse cases

DENVER (CNS) — The Judicial Arbiter Group said Jan. 4 that the Denver Archdiocese has reached a mediated settlement with 15 of 19 victims of childhood clergy sex abuse who participated in the mediation process. Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said he was "deeply grateful" to the mediators "and I sincerely hope that each of the 19 individuals who participated begin to truly heal." The settlements ranged from $30,000 to $150,000 and totaled $1,585,000, the Judicial Arbiter Group said. Archbishop Chaput said in addition that "we have settled claims of three other individuals who approached us directly and who did not file a lawsuit to have their claims considered." He did not reveal the amount of those settlements. He said that in the mediation process "I made myself available personally to listen to each person who desired my presence as they described the incidents that led to the filing of their lawsuits. Through this process I personally met with 18 plaintiffs."

Resignations in Poland vex Vatican

The resignation of Polish Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus of Warsaw has prompted embarrassment and disappointment in the Vatican, along with a sense of relief that Pope Benedict XVI did not allow the awkward drama to continue a single day longer.

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