- The Washington Times - Friday, July 21, 2006

Cardinal offers advice to U.S. on immigration

CINCINNATI — A Latin American cardinal says the United States could do more to ease the influx of illegal aliens if it focused on economic development rather than border crackdowns.

“Instead of trying to build walls or putting the National Guard on the border, we should see how development can be enhanced and labor services created,” said Roman Catholic Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras.

“Instead of looking only at the consequences, we should go to the roots because development has not grown in most of the Latin American countries,” he said in an interview last week with the Associated Press. He was in the United States to speak at conferences on Catholic evangelization and Hispanic youth.

Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, is a linguist, scientist and widely respected Latin American moderate. He is often mentioned as a potential candidate to become the first pope from Latin America.

Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga said the United States has been enriched by diversity, as has the church. Immigration, however, troubles Latin Americans as much as it does those in the United States who want to slow or stop it, he said.

“We are losing our people, especially the young,” he said.

Las Cruces logo case set for trial

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — This New Mexican city is being sued in an effort to force officials to remove three crosses from its logo.

Paul Weinbaum and Martin Boyd of Las Cruces filed a lawsuit against the city last year in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque. The lawsuit charges the emblem violates the constitutional separation of church and state by placing religious symbols on public property and spending public money to promote religion. Las Cruces is Spanish for “the crosses.”

The lawsuit also accuses the city of violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by requiring prospective employees to sign job applications that include a religious symbol.

The city has spent more than $16,000 defending itself against the lawsuit, said City Manager Terrence Moore.

Mr. Weinbaum, who initially represented himself in the case, has hired an attorney.

The trial is set to begin in November. New Mexico State University history professor Jon Hunner is expected to provide the court with an account of the historical significance of the crosses.

A separate lawsuit was filed in 2003 by Mr. Weinbaum and another Las Cruces resident, Jesse Chavez, against Las Cruces Public Schools for its use of the crosses on its vehicles and logos. No trial date has been set in that case.

Buddhist group plans East Coast monastery

YEAGERTOWN, Pa. — A Buddhist group founded by Vietnamese immigrants is planning to turn a central Pennsylvania school building into its first monastery on the East Coast.

The United Buddhist Church of America is set to buy the 1930s-era school building in Mifflin County this month. The group is a federation of temples, most of them in California and Virginia.

Thich Van Dam, a Buddhist monk, said he found the building while searching the online auction site EBay.

“This location is very natural,” Mr. Van Dam said. “Close to mountains. Just like my temple in Vietnam.”

The monastery, which Mr. Van Dam said will cost more than $300,000 and an additional $700,000 to renovate, will welcome Buddhists and non-Buddhists who want to study the religion.

As many as 45 monks, nuns and others will be able to live at the planned 25,000-square-foot complex. Mr. Van Dam expects to start with four students and grow to 15 within five years.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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