Signs of the Times

Settlement in Suit Against Bishop, Santa Rosa Diocese

The Diocese of Santa Rosa announced on April 24 that it had reached a $535,000 settlement in the civil lawsuit brought by a diocesan priest against former Santa Rosa Bishop G. Patrick Ziemann and the diocese. Officials said the diocese wanted to forego a potentially lengthy and expensive trial as well as make it easier for its newly appointed bishop to give undivided attention to his new duties. Paul Gaspari, who is the attorney for Santa Rosa Diocese, said the settlement document specifically states that the diocese and Ziemann admit no liability to the Rev. Jorge Hume Salas, but rather that the payment of funds is solely for the purpose of settlement.

The insurance carrier of the diocese will pay the entire settlement. Father Hume had sought $8 million in a suit in which he charged Bishop Ziemann with sexual coercion. The bishop admitted to a consensual sexual relationship. As part of the settlement, Father Hume, who remains a priest, will resign his ministry in the Santa Rosa Diocese. A native of Costa Rica, he reportedly does not intend to stay in the United States.


CIMI to Petition O.A.S. for Hearing on Crimes Against Indigenous

Brazil’s Indigenous Missionary Council said it will petition the Organization of American States’ Council of Human Rights for a hearing on crimes against indigenous peoples. The missionary council, known by its Portuguese acronym as CIMI, said on April 24 that it would ask the O.A.S. human rights council to denounce crimes committed against the indigenous population, not only during mid-April celebrations of Brazil’s 500th anniversary but during the six years President Fernando Henrique Cardoso has been in office.

During the commemorations of the anniversary on April 24, the military police were called in to prevent a group of nearly 2,000 indigenous people from marching into the city of Santa Cruz de Cabralia, in the coastal state of Bahia. According to leaders of the group, the indigenous people would peacefully protest what they call a celebration of 500 years of repression of indigenous people. The police closed off all roads leading to the city, and with clubs, tear gas and rubber bullets dispersed the crowd. Thirty Indians were injured and more than 140 people arrested, among them Catholic missionaries.

Cardinal Mahony Issues Pastoral on Ministry, Convokes Synod

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles has convoked an archdiocesan synod for the whole people of God, ordained and nonordained, to address our thinking about ministry. The cardinal convoked the synodthe first in 40 yearsat the conclusion of a pastoral letter on ministry he issued on Holy Thursday. A diocesan synod is a gathering of priests, religious and laity called by the diocesan bishop to advise him on updating diocesan legislation and policies.

It addresses what Cardinal Mahony called a deepening awareness that even as we are faced with a shortage of priestly and religious vocations, we are being invited to a deeper understanding of the nature of the Christian vocation, and a fuller appreciation of ministry both ordained and nonordained. There was and there remains a strong conviction that the Holy Spirit is leading us toward new horizons, he wrote. What is called for is a major reorientation in our thinking about ministry as well as in our ministerial practice. He said that even if the seminaries and convents were filled to overflowing, there would still remain the need for cultivating, developing and sustaining the full flourishing of ministries we have witnessed in the church since the Second Vatican Council.

There is a pressing need for greater collaboration and inclusivity in church ministry and a need for a clear understanding of the nature of lay ecclesial ministry, he wrote. Finally there is a need for a common foundational theology as the basis for the formation of seminarians, deacons, religious and lay persons for ministry.

Salvadoran Prelate Asks Pardon for U.S. Churchwomen’s Killers

Archbishop Fernando Saenz Lacalle of San Salvador supported the request for the pardon of two ex-soldiers in jail for the 1980 killing of three U.S. nuns and a lay worker. Let us show mercy and pity. They [the jailed soldiers] have shown repentance, and that is the correct conduct, Archbishop Saenz told reporters after Easter Mass on April 23 in the capital. The two men were originally sentenced together with three other soldiers to 30 years’ imprisonment for the rapes and murders of the two Maryknoll sisters, Ita Ford and Maura Clark, an Ursuline sister, Dorothy Kazel and a lay missionary, Jean Donovan. Their three colleagues were released from jail two years ago under judicial procedures that allowed early releases for good behavior, but the two remained in jail because the judge ruled they had been involved in prison riots and therefore were disqualified.

Veto of Minnesota Abortion Info Bill Denies Rights, Official Says

The women’s right-to-know bill vetoed by Minnesota’s Gov. Jesse Ventura was not about abortion but about human rights, women’s rights and patients’ rights, said a Catholic official. Women were dealt a low blow by Ventura’s veto, said the Rev. David McCauley, director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state’s Catholic bishops. The bill would have required that a woman seeking an abortion receive state-mandated information about abortions, fetal development and available aid, then wait 24 hours before having the abortion.

Tens of Thousands Join Church at Easter

At Easter Vigil services around the country, the Catholic Church welcomed tens of thousands of new members. In the 90 U.S. dioceses for which Catholic News Service obtained figures, approximately 63,000 people became Catholics on April 22 during the solemn Easter Vigil, which is the high point of the church’s liturgical year. This figure includes nearly 24,000 catechumens, who were baptized, confirmed and received first Eucharist, as well as some 39,000 candidates, or already baptized Christians, who completed their initiation as Catholics through the sacraments of confirmation and Eucharist.

Cardinal Arinze Says Jesus’ Way Only Criterion of Right, Wrong

The way of Jesus is the criterion of right and wrong, not television, opinion polls or what others are doing, Cardinal Francis Arinze told Catholics at a parish in the Diocese of Trenton. The cardinal is president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. Two days earlier as a keynote speaker for the Eucharistic Convocation convened by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the cardinal said Jesus Christ is our model. Everybody is to be like him: the rich, the poor, the powerless, the powerful.

The church’s preferential option for the poor must not be interpreted to mean a neglect of the leading sectors of society, he added, saying that leaders in the political and economic spheres and in union-related, military, social scientific and cultural areas of life must also be evangelized. The best compendium of our faith today, Cardinal Arinze said, is the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which was put together by the best brains of our church in our time and authenticated by our Holy Father himself. If you don’t have a copy, sell your shoes and get one, he joked.

Nigerian Archbishop Urges Reconciliation

Our government has the duty to mobilize the whole nation, said Archbishop Anthony Okogie of Lagos on Easter Sunday at Holy Cross Cathedral. There is no time for further polarization of the country. There is urgent need to reconcile spirits, to heal divisions and encourage the participation of all. Dialogue is necessary, and a faithful one can only take place in an atmosphere of freedom, mutual trust, respect for different opinions and views. He said the current situation, in which Nigerians live with suspicion and fear, tends to render ineffective any move and program aimed at installing a lasting and true democracy. Ethnic violence in recent months, prompted by attempts to institute Islamic law in some parts of the country, claimed several lives and left property destroyed.

In Kosovo, Catholics, Muslims, Orthodox Form Joint Council

Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim leaders formed a joint council to promote democracy and human rights in Kosovo. They said they would also help rebuild each other’s places of worship and take concrete steps to ensure a better future for local inhabitants. We support the building of strong local democratic institutions that will continue to ensure security, peace and well-being for alland we look to the international community to provide necessary support, they said in a declaration on April 13, signed by Auxiliary Bishop Marko Sopi of Skopje-Prizren, as well as Muslim Mufti Rexhep Boja and the province’s Serbian Orthodox Bishop Artemije Radosaljevi of Raska and Prizren. The leaders said they had decided to establish the Interreligious Council of Kosovo after hearing the experiences of a Bosnian interfaith delegation, headed by Cardinal Vinko Puljic of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, which visited Pristina, Prizren and other towns on April 11-13.

Armenians in Jerusalem Commemorate Massacre

Demanding recognition and an apology for the crime committed against their people, Jerusalem’s Catholic and Orthodox Armenians commemorated the 85th anniversary of the Turkish massacre of Armenians. This year, for the first time, an Israeli government official attended the ceremony, held on April 24. Education Minister Yossi Sarid told the several hundred Armenians at the Armenian Orthodox St. James Church in the Old City he was committed to having the story of the Armenian genocide become part of the Israeli educational curriculum.


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