- The Washington Times - Friday, January 19, 2007

Vatican: Pope to open key bishops’ meeting

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican has confirmed that Pope Benedict XVI will travel in May to Brazil to open the once-a-decade meeting of all Latin America’s Roman Catholic bishops.

The Fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean is set for May 13-31 in Aparecida, a pilgrimage center about 100 miles northeast of Sao Paolo.

Pope Benedict will celebrate an inaugural Mass with representatives of the Latin American Episcopal Council, known as CELAM, and give an address at the opening session, according to the director of the CELAM press office.

Bishops from Canada, the United States, Spain and Portugal will also attend, along with a small group of lay people and representatives of other denominations.

PBS program airs Mormon stereotypes

SALT LAKE CITY — The filmmaker behind a new four-hour documentary about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hopes her work will debunk some myths about the Mormons.

“I hope that most of the stereotypes ideally, all of them will be blown away,” Helen Whitney said in a phone interview. “Because so many of them are just based on ignorance. Ignorance about Mormon history, ignorance about Mormon theology. Ignorance.”

The two-part film called “The Mormons” is a joint presentation from the PBS TV shows “American Experience” and “Frontline.”

The “American Experience” segment is expected to air April 30 and cover the church’s history, including its founding, persecutions leading to exodus and polygamy.

The “Frontline” broadcast is planned for May 1. Its focus is the modern church, including missionary work, family life, temples and the elevation of the faith to a mainstream religion.

Covert bishop dies at 103

BEIJING — The Rev. Joseph Meng Ziwen, a Roman Catholic clergyman in China since the 1930s who secretly served as a bishop to underground congregations while working as a priest in the Communist Party-sanctioned church, has died at 103.

Father Meng died Jan. 7 in the southern city of Nanning, where he was a priest for the state-backed Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association. An official with the association, which oversees Catholic churches, confirmed the death but would not disclose a cause.

AsiaNews, a Vatican-affiliated news agency, said Father Meng died from liver cancer.

Father Meng secretly served from 1984 to 2003 as bishop to underground churches, which operate outside the state-sanctioned system, according to a biography released by the Holy Spirit Study Center, a Catholic research center in Hong Kong.

Born in 1903, Father Meng studied in Malaysia, was ordained a priest in 1935 and later served as a seminary teacher, the Holy Spirit Study Center’s biography said.

Court upholds ban on head scarves

MUNICH — A court has upheld a ban on Muslim teachers wearing head scarves in schools in the German state of Bavaria under a law requiring teacher attire be in line with Western Christian values.

An Islamic association based in Berlin had complained about the law, which authorities in the conservative-run state have used to ban head scarves while allowing Roman Catholic nuns to continue to wear their head-covering habits in schools.

The Bavarian Constitutional Court ruled last Monday that the application of the law in the state neither violated religious freedom nor was discriminatory.

From combined wire and dispatch reports

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