- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 31, 2008

L.A. parishes answer call for donations

LOS ANGELES - Parishes across the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles are answering an appeal from Cardinal Roger Mahony to help pay $720 million in settlements to victims of clergy sex abuse.

One parish donated almost all of its $1.5 million savings and another offered a $100,000 interest-free loan to cover the costs from hundreds of civil claims.

Cardinal Mahony made the fundraising request in meetings this winter around the archdiocese. Last year, the archdiocese settled more than 500 civil claims for $660 million, on top of a 2006 pledge of $60 million to settle 45 additional cases.

Several parishes have been debating whether to contribute. Some said they don’t have enough money because of building or restoration projects.

Monsignor David A. Sork of St. John Fisher Church in Rancho Palos Verdes said his parishioners have asked why they should pay for mistakes by other parishes decades ago.

“But not helping means the archdiocese’s services to all parishes, including this one, will be hampered,” Monsignor Sork said.

The archdiocese recently sold its 12-story office building that serves as its administrative headquarters for $31 million to help pay the settlements.

Police jihad training rings profiling alarm

SEATTLE - The Council on American-Islamic relations has expressed concern about religious profiling in a police training course held at the Port of Seattle.

The state council president, Arsalan Bukhari, says the program on the threat of Islamic jihadists appears to link an entire religion to terrorism.

The two-day program last week was conducted by Security Solutions International of Miami. The company’s chief executive officer, Solomon Bradman, said the course covers some of the history of Islam to provide an understanding of the mind-set for global jihad.

Mr. Bradman said his company has trained hundreds of law-enforcement agencies.

Port Police Chief Colleen Wilson has invited the Muslim civil rights group to provide additional training, and it said it would do so.

Vermont school bans statue of Jesus

BRISTOL, Vt. - Two students who put up a small statue of Jesus in their high school said their freedom of speech was violated when they were asked to take it down.

Mount Abraham Union High School Principal Paulette Bogan said the statue violated a policy requiring student displays to exhibit academic work or educate or inform the community.

The statue didn’t, she said.

On May 16, Torin Olivetti and Galen Helms placed the 2-foot-high statue in a second-floor balcony overlooking the main lobby in what they say was part of a project for their advanced-placement English class.

The students had read the play “The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail,” about author Henry David Thoreau’s refusal to pay taxes in a protest against the U.S. war in Mexico.

Galen Helms, 18, of Monkton, said the play inspired him to bring in the statue to protest the school’s interpretation of the separation of church and state.

He said the school allows students to say the words “under God” while reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, and a mural in the school displays Apollo, a Greek god.

“My thesis was that the government and the administration of our school is often hypocritical in what they allow and what they do not allow,” said Galen, who although not Christian, views Jesus as a teacher of love, forgiveness and compassion.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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