- - Sunday, June 10, 2012

IRELAND

DUBLIN — An international conference celebrating Roman Catholicism opened Sunday in Ireland against a backdrop of anger over child abuse cover-ups and evidence of declining faith in core church beliefs.

More than 20,000 Catholics, many from overseas, gathered for an open-air Mass in a Dublin stadium at the start of the Eucharistic Congress, a weeklong event organized by the Vatican every four years in a different part of the world.

The global gathering, begun in the 19th century and last held in Quebec in 2008, highlights the Catholic Church’s belief in transubstantiation, the idea that bread and wine transforms during Mass into the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ.

An opinion poll of Irish Catholics found that two-thirds of Irish Catholics don’t believe this, nor do they attend Mass weekly.

The survey, published last week in the Irish Times with an error margin of 3 percentage points, also found that just 38 percent believe Ireland today would be in worse shape without its dominant church. And just three-fifths even knew the Eucharistic Congress was coming to Ireland.

GERMANY

Ex-U.S. Army commander goes on trial

BERLIN — The former commander of the U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade is going on trial on suspicion of fraud, bigamy, conduct unbefitting an officer and other charges related to an alleged long-term extramarital affair he had with a woman he met in Iraq while they both lived in Europe.

Col. James Johnson III was to be court-martialed beginning Sunday in Kaiserslautern. He was relieved of his command of the Vicenza, Italy-based 173rd in March 2011, and could face decades in prison and a dishonorable discharge if convicted.

Col. Johnson has not yet entered a plea, and his attorney, Lt. Col. Charles Kuhfahl, would not comment on the case.

The court-martial of Col. Johnson, son of the former commander of the North Carolina-based 82nd Airborne Division, is scheduled through June 16.

GREECE

Powerful quake shakes Greece and Turkey

ATHENS — A powerful earthquake shook Greece’s island of Rhodes and southwestern Turkey on Sunday, but no deaths or damage were immediately reported.

The Athens Geodynamic Institute said the quake, with a preliminary magnitude of 5.8, struck at a depth of 23 miles in the Aegean Sea at 3:44 p.m. Sunday. That is between the Greek island of Rhodes and western Turkey.

Turkey’s Kandilli Observatory gave a stronger preliminary magnitude of 6.1, with aftershocks of 6 and 4.9.

Areas of Turkey shaken by the quake included the popular Aegean resort town of Oludeniz, the Aegean port of Izmir, and the Mediterranean city of Antalya.

Police in Rhodes said there are no reports of injuries or damage.

No serious casualties were reported in Turkey either, but state TV said some people hurt themselves while panicking in the reaction to the temblor. The TV report provided no details about their injuries or the number of victims.

UKRAINE

5 dead, 15 injured in small plane crash

KIEV — A small plane carrying skydivers crash-landed in stormy weather near the Ukrainian capital Sunday, killing five people and injuring 15, including an Austrian citizen, emergency officials said.

The L-410 plane belonging to a pilot school made a “hard” emergency landing during a heavy rainstorm with high winds near the Borodyanka airport some 20 miles west of Kiev, said Emergency Situations Ministry spokeswoman Yulia Yershova. No other details were immediately available.

The plane was carrying 17 skydivers and three crew members. The injured were taken to hospitals. An investigation has been opened.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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