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c. 2006 Religion News Service

More Newspapers Print Cartoons of Islamic Prophet; Muslims Offended

(RNS) Muslim anger over Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad is expected to rise after French and German newspapers reprinted the caricatures Wednesday (Feb. 1), saying they did so in support of free expression.

France-Soir, a French daily, splashed its own cartoon across its front page, depicting Jesus, Jehovah, Buddha and an upset Muhammad sitting on a cloud. “Don’t whine,” Jesus is telling Muhammad, “we’ve all been made fun of here.”

“Yes,” the French newspaper declared in its headline, “one has the right to make fun of God.”

That right has been questioned by many in recent weeks, as outrage over a dozen cartoons of the Muslim prophet published in Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten newspaper spread across the Middle East and other Muslim countries.

Saudi Arabia and Libya recalled their ambassadors from Denmark to protest the caricatures. A panoply of religious and political leaders denounced the cartoons _ some even calling for punishment.

The Danish newspaper has apologized for offending Muslims, but not for printing the cartoons. Now France-Soir and two German newspapers _ Die Welt and Berliner Zeitung _ have reprinted them in defiance of Muslim anger.

The French newspaper defended its decision to publish all 12 of the cartoons in its inside pages as a reaction to “religious intolerance that refuses to support any mockery, any satire, any gibes.”

Die Welt printed one of the cartoons Wednesday. Berliner Zeitung printed two.

Political, religious and human rights leaders offered divided reactions. In France, home to Western Europe’s largest Muslim population, French Muslim Council head Dalil Boubakeur called the reprints “a new provocation.”

On a visit to Beirut Wednesday, Norway’s deputy foreign affairs secretary, Raymond Johansen, described publication of the cartoons as “unfortunate and regrettable.” And Morocco’s Supreme Council of religious leaders attacked the cartoons Wednesday, saying their publication could not be condoned.

But the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders defended the newspapers, with Annabelle Arki, head of the group’s Europe desk, saying “press freedom means publishing all kinds of opinions.”

_ Elizabeth Bryant

Catholic Charities CEO Gets Seat in Presidential Box

WASHINGTON (RNS) President Bush took note of Catholic Charities’ hurricane relief efforts Tuesday night by inviting the CEO of the organization’s New Orleans chapter, Jim Kelly, to be his guest in the presidential box during the State of the Union address.

Unaccustomed to being on the front lines of natural disasters, New Orleans’ Catholic Charities quickly moved to help elderly storm victims evacuate, to minister to those trapped in the Superdome and to provide life-saving supplies. The group’s Second Harvest Food Bank has distributed about 40 million pounds of food and water to Katrina victims.

While other faith-based groups, including many evangelical teams, attracted widespread media attention with their lightning-quick response to the Hurricane Katrina, Kelly said Catholic Charities _ the community service arm of the Archdiocese of New Orleans _ was also hard at work in the disaster zone in the days after the Aug. 29 storm.

“I think the Catholic Church was much more present than people realize,” Kelly said. “Maybe we weren’t wearing the right color shirt. But we were there, on the ground.”

The group has remained on the job, despite having to lay off 100 workers shortly after the storm. Kelly said most have been hired back and Catholic Charities dramatically ramped up its efforts in the weeks following the storm.

Counselors were dispatched to 19 travel-trailer parks and more than 100 are going door-to-door in New Orleans, he said. Nine emergency service centers have been set up to provide advice and case management to victims and more than 3,000 volunteers have taken part in “Operation Helping Hands,” which guts and restores storm-damaged homes.

“That is our dream: to allow people to come home to this very special place,” Kelly said.

He is not nearly as skeptical as the state’s political leadership about the commitment of the federal government to help New Orleans come back.

“That I’m here is a sign that the president still wants to reach out to the victims of Katrina,” he said.

_ Bill Walsh

Mormon President, 95, Expected to Resume Duties After Cancerous Growth

(RNS) Gordon B. Hinckley, the 95-year-old president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has been released from a Salt Lake City hospital after being treated for a cancerous growth.

“Doctors are very pleased with President Hinckley’s progress,” Mormon Church spokesman Dale Bills said in a statement. “We expect he will be able to resume his normal schedule soon.”

Hinckley was released Tuesday (Jan. 31), one week after the growth was removed from his large intestine. Doctors discovered the growth during a routine medical screening, a church statement said.

“The diseased portion of the intestine was successfully removed through a laparoscopic procedure,” it continued.

Hinckley took part in festivities marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of Joseph Smith, the founder of the 12-million-member faith group, in December. In 2004, President Bush named Hinckley a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his efforts to “improve humanitarian aid, disaster relief and education funding across the globe.”

_ David Barnes

Molester’s Neighbors Say Catholic Officials Should Have Told Them

(RNS) For almost a decade after he was barred from serving as a Catholic priest for sexually abusing minors, James Hanley lived in a senior citizens housing complex on Day Street in Paterson, N.J.

But his December move to a bigger apartment across town has his new neighbors questioning whether the church should have alerted residents and police to his presence. The issue could have relevance nationally as Catholic dioceses decide whether residents should be notified when an abusive priest becomes their neighbor.

New Jersey church officials said they didn’t know until recently that Hanley had moved, but even if they had, they said, they would not have said anything.

“He’s a civil individual now. He’s not a priest,” Paterson Bishop Arthur Serratelli said. “He’s been laicized. That’s the furthest the church can go _ to basically disconnect someone from the priesthood.”

On McBride Avenue, where Hanley lives in the upstairs apartment of a two-story house, his new neighbors had strongly different views.

“Of course (the diocese) should’ve known to say something,” said Jaime Yocalca, who lives with four of his children across the street from Hanley’s apartment. “They give us so many church bulletins, they should find room to mention this.”

The Paterson Diocese settled last year with 21 of his accusers, agreeing to pay $5 million in damages. In court papers, Hanley admitted molesting about a dozen boys, mostly at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Mendham, where he served from 1972 to 1982.

After revelations in 2002 that many bishops had shielded abusive priests, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops adopted a set of guidelines known as the “Dallas Charter” to try to prevent future abuse and help victims heal.

The charter calls for the permanent removal from the priesthood of any priest who sexually abuses a minor. In promoting new abuse prevention programs, the document uses the phrase “safe environment” seven times.

It makes no specific mention of how a diocese should handle a situation like Hanley’s, in which a laicized priest who is not a registered sex offender _ the statute of limitations expired before he could be charged criminally _ moves into a residential neighborhood.

“If you read the charter as anyone with common sense and compassion would read the charter, the answer is yes, they would have an obligation (to notify),” said David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests, which has been critical of the bishops’ response to the sex scandal.

_ Jeff Diamant

Survey: Churchgoers Have Fewer Divorces

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (RNS) Husbands and wives who attend religious services together are less likely to divorce, whether they are black or white, new research from the University of Michigan shows.

The study, conducted by researchers connected to the Institute for Social Research, examined how religion affected the risk of divorce for both black and white couples in the first seven years of marriage. Data came from 373 couples initially interviewed in 1986, their first year of marriage, as part of the Early Years of Marriage project at the university.

“The findings suggest that the most effective intervention strategies for dealing with marital instability and divorce are those that consider gender and race,” said Edna Brown, the paper’s lead author, in a press release.

Black couples are at higher risk of divorce than whites, the study found. But it also found education a protective factor against divorce for wives, and income a protective factor for husbands. Regardless of race, however, couples who attended religious services together were less likely to divorce.

Other aspects of faith, such as frequency of attendance or importance of faith, didn’t influence the risk of divorce. “Faithfulness and integrity have been on the agenda of many faith communities, and that’s value added to marriage,” said the Rev. George Lambrides, an American Baptist chaplain at the University of Michigan Hospitals. Exposure to faith communities is a form of continuing education, Lambrides added.

_ Catherine O’Donnell

Quote of the Day: Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito

(RNS) “My religious beliefs are important in my private life, but my obligation as a judge is to interpret and apply the law.”

_ Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, testifying as a nominee before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Jan. 11. He was quoted by The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J.

MO/RB END RNS

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