Signs of the Times

Ex-Legionary Group Offers Court Computer Files

The head of a network of former members of the Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi has offered to hand over computer files to a Virginia circuit court after being sued by the religious order. Paul Lennon, president of the nonprofit organization Religious Groups Awareness International Network, appeared before the Circuit Court of Alexandria Aug. 22 during a seizure hearing. Glenn Favreau, a former member of the Legionaries and a member of ReGAIN, told Catholic News Service Aug. 28 that the court accepted Lennon’s offer. No further steps have been taken in the case against Lennon and ReGAIN, Favreau said.

The Legionaries are suing Lennon and ReGAIN to recover what the order claims is private property and to deter what it said is improper use of stolen materials. The complaint said ReGAIN, “along with other co-conspirators, have intentionally taken out of context excerpts from...stolen materials and posted them on the Internet as part of a concerted effort to wage a malicious disinformation campaign against the Legion.”


The complaint, dated Aug. 2, was posted on the Web site of ReGAIN, which offers information about alleged problems associated with the Legionaries and Regnum Christi, an apostolic Catholic movement associated with the Legionaries.

Zimbabwe’s Bishops Deplore Attacks

Zimbabwe’s bishops called attacks on Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo “outrageous and utterly deplorable” and an attempt to divert attention from the catastrophe that Zimbabwe has become. “The recent attacks by some politicians and the state media on the person” of Archbishop Ncube, who is being sued for adultery, “constitute an assault on the Catholic Church, to which we take strong exception,” the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference said in an Aug. 29 statement from the capital, Harare. “The Catholic Church has never been and is not an enemy of Zimbabwe,” the bishops said, noting that the church’s service to Zimbab-weans includes running 60 hospitals, 174 schools and many orphanages. “Our record during the years of the liberation struggle speaks for itself,” they said. Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain in 1980 after a guerrilla war. The bishops noted that the archbishop’s case was before the High Court of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo and should not be discussed in public until a verdict has been delivered. In July, Onesimus Sibanda claimed damages from the archbishop for an alleged affair with his wife, Rosemary Sibanda.

Doctor Fights Cancer With Umbilical Cord Cells

About 10 years ago, Holly Becker’s future appeared bright. At 24, she had just graduated from college, moved out of her parents’ home and taken a job in sales and marketing. But then something went terribly wrong. She started running temperatures of 105.4 degrees and she could not eat. Doctors diagnosed Becker with stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The cancer had already spread to her spleen, liver and bone marrow. She spent six months undergoing chemotherapy without success. She was in desperate need of a bone-marrow transplant, but no donor was available. “I was really as bad as somebody could get,” she told The Catholic Explorer, the newspaper of the Diocese of Joliet, in a telephone interview. Running out of options, she went to the Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood for an umbilical-cord-blood stem-cell transplant. “Cord blood has opened the door to curing patients who otherwise would die,” Patrick Stiff, M.D., director of Loyola’s Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, told The Catholic Explorer. “We actually have transplanted patients in whom the only other option was a hospice program.” Before receiving the cord blood, Becker received full-body radiation treatments twice daily and high-dose chemotherapy to wipe out her immune system.

School Checklists Reflect Modern Times

Long gone are the days when it was enough for school officials to take inventory of desks, school supplies and audiovisual equipment before the start of the school year. Today’s back-to-school checklists are far more complex in order to ensure that faculty and staff members are ready to face any kind of potential disaster from a weather-related event, a medical emergency or an act of violence. “The more prepared we are, the less chance we’ll be vulnerable,” said Michael Caruso, assistant superintendent for secondary schools and government relations in the Diocese of Washington, D.C., during an Aug. 24 emergency-preparedness seminar for principals. At the very least, school officials need to have such items on hand as: updated first-aid kits, emergency supplies, evacuation plans, emergency contact information, student and staff rosters, portable communication devices, like walkie-talkies or cellphones, and, if possible, an emergency weather radio. They also need to consider worst-case scenarios and be prepared for their response.

Modern Pilgrims: Jet-Setters or Trekkers?

The sky was no longer the limit when a Rome travel agency started offering specially chartered flights exclusively for globe-trotting pilgrims. Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, run by the Diocese of Rome, had long been offering special package tours for religious destinations worldwide. Each year some 300,000 pilgrims book their religious journey by plane, train and bus through the agency. Recently, Opera Romana signed a five-year contract with Mistral Air, a small Italian airline run by the Italian postal service, to run charter flights exclusively for pilgrims. The inaugural flight from Rome to Lourdes Aug. 27 went well; but because of security rules, the pilgrims were not allowed to bring their bottles of Lourdes water with them on the return flight.

Despite the conveniences of air travel, greater numbers of modern-day pilgrims are traveling the old-fashioned way with a backpack, plenty of water and a sturdy pair of shoes. One of the most ancient and most popular paths for the foot pilgrim is to the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela. More than 100,000 people walk, bike or ride atop donkeys or horses every year to visit the shrine of St. James there. A once little-known pilgrim path from Canterbury, England, to Rome—the Francigena Way—is also gaining in popularity.

Rabbi Knighted for Interfaith Work

Pope Benedict XVI has honored Rabbi Leon Klenicki, naming him a Knight of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great for his contribution to Jewish-Catholic relations. Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston led the ceremony Aug. 26 at the Holy See Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations in New York. Rabbi Klenicki was the longtime interfaith director of the Anti-Defamation League. In his acceptance remarks, he thanked his high school teacher who introduced him to the thinking of Jacques Maritain, Gabriel Marcel and Emmanuel Mounier, mid-20th century French Catholic philosophers. Maritain was a leader in the Neo-Thomist revival and Mounier was a founder of the school known as personalism.

Rabbi Klenicki described the Jewish-Catholic dialogue as “my I-Thou vocation,” alluding to the groundbreaking book I and Thou, by Martin Buber. “The recognition of the other,” he continued, “entails a sense of responsibility, an affirmation that the other is irreplaceable.... Dialogue is an attempt to know and accept the validity of the spirituality of the other, sharing his or her living experience of God.” He concluded, “Let us build on this sacred relationship of Catholic to Jew and Jew to Catholic, of subject of faith to equal subject of faith, that God may pass and light the world with understanding and blessing.”

Indian Archdiocese Temporarily Closes Schools

The Agra Archdiocese temporarily closed all its schools and colleges after violence erupted in the city that is home to the Taj Mahal, the famous marble mausoleum. Police imposed a curfew Aug. 29 after one person was killed and several were injured in demonstrations reacting to the deaths of four Muslim youths. Television footage showed a deserted city and smoke billowing from vehicles in some areas. “The Christian community is safe,” the Rev. Ignatius Miranda, archdiocesan chancellor, told the Asian church news agency UCA News Aug. 30. “The situation is calm now.”

The archdiocese closed its schools and colleges in the area as a precaution, Father Miranda said, and planned to reopen them Sept. 1. Violence broke out in the early morning of Aug. 29, after a speeding truck mowed down and killed four Muslim youths who were returning home after a religious procession.

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