Justice sought for late bishop
FIVE YEARS after the murder of Auxiliary Bishop Juan Gerardi Conedera of Guatemala City, Catholics are still seeking answers to the bishop's killing.
During a memorial Mass on April 26 , Archbishop Rodolfo Quezada Toruno of Guatemala City said he would "spare no effort to achieve justice for Bishop Gerardi".
In 2001, three military officers and a priest were convicted of involvement in the bishop's murder but Church leaders and activists believe those who ordered the killing have yet to be identified or brought to justice.
The archbishop said: "We are willing to grant pardon, but we have the right to know who we are pardoning and for what." He said the people were simply seeking the truth about this "horrendous crime".
More than 2,000 people crowded into the capital city's cathedral for the memorial Mass which was followed by a silent procession to San Sebastian parish, where Bishop Gerardi lived.
Bishop Gerardi was beaten to death in the parish garage, where many of the marchers stopped to light candles and pray before joining a candlelit vigil in front of the church.
At I Opm, the approximate time of the bishop's killing, participants filed into the church for a second Mass.
The bishop was murdered two days after publishing Guatemala: Never Again, a report that blamed the government for most of the killings, disappearances, and human rights violations during the country's 36-year civil war, which ended in 1996.
Haitians flock to conference
MORE THAN 90,000 Haitians have met in Port au Prince for the annual Catholic Charismatic Conference to pray for miracles to cure their nation of extreme poverty. Dozens of worshippers raised Haitian passports to heaven and prayed that they would he granted American visas to escape their poverty.
Organisers of the conference said the people believed in miracles. "The only solution to the problems of our nation is the best solution — faith in Jesus," said Gertha Lucie Louissaint, 36.
Haiti has endured 20 years of political instability and crippling poverty.
Millions in Haiti place faith in voodoo. The religion evolved from West African beliefs and developed further among slaves in the Caribbean who adopted elements of Catholicism.
In an executive decree earlier this month, President JeanBertrand Aristide invited voodoo adherents and organisations to register with the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Mr Aristide, a former Catholic priest, has said he recognises voodoo as a religion like any other. A voodoo priestess bestowed a presidential sash on him at his first inauguration in 1991.
Priest accused of corruption AN ECUADORIAN priest accused of leading a corruption ring has been suspended from ministry.
Fr Carlos Flores was appointed in 2000 to head Quito's customs office. The priest is now on the run after police tried to detain him in connection with an investigation into a corruption ring which is alleged to have cost the country £6.5 million.
Prosecutors said Flores is known to own expensive beachfront property and a luxury car. Police said they found slot machines when they raided one of his homes.
The bishops' conference has issued an apology.
Poster tactics condemned
THE CHURCH in Erie, Pennsylvania, has reacted angrily to the actions of local agitators who are urging people to come forward if they know of anyone abused by a priest.
The group posted 24 signs, marked with the message "Protect Children Now", on the front doors of Catholic schools and other centres in the area.
Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie denounced the signs, saying they were meant to scare children.
Judith Prenatt, the head of the northwestern Pennsylvania chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, a national group that posted the signs said she commended the action to speak out and protect children".
But a Sister at one of the targetted schools said: "I'm not opposed to helping anyone who is abused. But there is a way to go about this. Just don't go around putting signs on doors." PRESIDENT George W Bush is pushing through legislation that will recognise unborn children killed or injured during a criminal act as legal victims.
White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said: "The President does believe that when an unborn child is injured or killed during the commission of a crime of violence, the law should recognise what most people immediately recognise, and that is that such a crime has two victims."
President Bush has called on Congress to pass the federal bill — the Unborn Victims of Violence Act — this year. The bill will not protect children from abortion. Twenty-six states currently have laws that recognise unborn victims of violence.
`Miss Mary' may be saint
A DISABLED Washington woman who founded the Christ Child Society may progress to sainthood.
Last month the Vatican Congregation for Saints' Causes notified Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington that nothing stands in the way in opening the cause of possible beatification and canonisation of Mary Virginia Merrick.
Merrick was known simply as "Miss Mary" to her friends and to the thousands of children she helped in her lifetime. Confined to a bed or wheelchair by her painful disability, she founded the Christ Child Society to serve needy children in 1887.
Nuncio urges caution at UN
THE VATICAN spokesman to the United Nations has said governments need to monitor
business development programmes to ensure that the weakest members of society are not excluded.
Archbishop Celestino Migliore said partnerships of governments and international organisations with "business and civil society" could "play an important role" but should not be seen as replacing or substituting agreed international commitments.
Archbishop Migliore made his comments at a session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, a UN body established by the Economic and Social Council to follow up on the Conference for Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and the Johannesburg summit last year.
The nuncio said multilateralism was based on "responsibility, solidarity and dialogue".