- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 12, 2005

Bishop says Vatican stands by warning

LINCOLN, Neb. — The Vatican has let stand a 1996 order from Lincoln Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz that his parishioners must sever ties with 12 groups or face potential excommunication, the Lincoln Diocese said.

Among the groups are the lay reform organization Call to Action, abortion rights advocates Planned Parenthood and Catholics for a Free Choice, and several Masonic organizations. Bishop Bruskewitz said the groups contradict Roman Catholic teaching.

An appeal was filed with the Vatican, but the Holy See notified the bishop that the appeal was rejected, said the Rev. Mark Huber, a spokesman for the diocese.

Father Huber said last week that Catholics who affiliate themselves with the groups have two months to sever the ties. Bishop Bruskewitz has said that parishioners must search their consciences to decide whether the warning applies to them.

Excommunication is a severe penalty under which Catholics cannot receive Holy Communion, or be married or buried in the church. They can, however, restore their communion with the church through confession.

Officials address polygamy at meeting

ST. GEORGE, Utah — The attorneys general of Utah and Arizona told a two-state town hall meeting that they would not target polygamists solely for practicing plural marriage. Their remarks drew an angry reaction from polygamy opponents, who said the practice is criminal and the law should be enforced.

Still, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard said they would pursue criminal charges against those involved in forced or underage marriages, sexual abuse and welfare and tax fraud.

The March 3 meeting drew both polygamous families and those who oppose the practice. Some wore suits and ties, while others wore the pioneer-style dresses and elaborate braids common in the polygamous communities.

Polygamists contend they have a First Amendment right to practice plural marriage because it’s part of their religion. They also claim they’ve been unfairly targeted by prosecutors because they are different.

Mr. Shurtleff rejected the assertions. “It’s never been about religion, but we certainly won’t sit back and let people commit crimes,” he said.

Rabbi urges Putin to fight anti-Semitism

MOSCOW — Russia’s chief rabbi urged President Vladimir Putin to do more to combat rising anti-Semitism in this country.

In a televised meeting March 3 at Mr. Putin’s residence outside Moscow, Rabbi Berel Lazar thanked the Russian leader for acknowledging the problem when he attended ceremonies in January marking the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.

But the Jewish religious leader said that the government should take concrete steps to confront anti-Semitism and xenophobia.

Donations rise again in Boston Archdiocese

BOSTON — Roman Catholics in the Boston area are beginning to reach back into their wallets to support the church again after a drastic drop-off in donations following the clergy sexual-abuse crisis.

The Boston Archdiocese raised $10.85 million in 2004 through its annual fund-raising effort called the Catholic Appeal, an increase of more than $500,000 over the previous year and a “heartwarming sign” after three years of fallout from the clergy sexual-abuse crisis, Archbishop Sean O’Malley said March 3.

The fund-raising campaign exceeded its goal of raising $10.5 million — but still fell far short of the $17 million or so the archdiocese raised before the abuse scandal erupted in January 2002.

Judge orders school to recognize frat

RALEIGH, N.C. — The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill must recognize a three-member Christian fraternity as it challenges the school’s nondiscrimination policy, a judge has ruled.

The preliminary injunction issued March 2 by U.S. District Judge Frank W. Bullock Jr. will remain in place until the case is resolved, possibly by trial.

Alpha Iota Omega was stripped of its status as an official campus group because the fraternity wouldn’t accept nonbelievers or homosexual students or sign the school’s nondiscrimination policy. Recognition gives the fraternity access to student funds and university facilities.

The fraternity sued last year, saying the university had violated the members’ constitutional rights to free speech, free assembly and free exercise of religion.

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