National Catholic Reporter
The Independent Newsweekly
Issue Date:  January 9, 2004


Boston begins clergy abuse payouts

WASHINGTON -- A major chapter in the Catholic clergy sexual abuse scandal ended in late December as lawyers distributed settlement checks to 541 victims of Boston archdiocesan priests from the $85 million settlement pool the archdiocese set up to meet their claims.

Clergy sex abuse lawsuits in the Springfield, Mass., diocese were consolidated under one judge, and a new judge took over a class action lawsuit filed in Kentucky.

In California, new lawsuits were filed in several cities shortly before Christmas as the Dec. 31 deadline approached for bringing decades-old claims to court. A class action suit filed in San Diego Dec. 22 sought, in effect, to extend the deadline by allowing claimants who did not file individually to join in the class action after Jan. 1.

Mass attendance rebounds, poll finds

PRINCETON, N.J. -- Weekly church attendance among U.S. Catholics “appears to be on the rebound” from an all-time low of 35 percent last February, but the level of church attendance by Protestants remains slightly higher, according to poll data released by Gallup.

“Historical Gallup Poll data show that Protestants have now clearly overtaken Catholics in church attendance, for the first time in Gallup polling history,” said a commentary by George H. Gallup Jr., chairman of the George H. Gallup International Institute.

The November 2003 data show that 45 percent of Catholics and 48 percent of Protestants say they attend church services weekly. Nine months earlier, the figures were 35 percent for Catholics and 47 percent for Protestants.

Museum records brutality of civil war

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador --The Museum of the Word and the Image in San Salvador aims to bring to life the brutality of El Salvador’s 12-year civil war in which some 75,000 people were killed and 2 million displaced.

In one exhibit a rifle hanging from the ceiling points toward blood-stained campesino clothing. The items are displayed as if they were a group of people, reminiscent of a common scene during the war. Carlos Henriquez Consalvi, museum director, ran an underground radio station during the war. The museum includes a recreation of one such station run by rebels in the area they controlled.

According to Consalvi, these stations were constantly attacked by the army, and the government tried to interfere with the frequencies. Broadcasts typically were made four times a day, with 90-minute programs that included news, a daily editorial and political soap operas. At Consalvi’s station, 14 people were killed during the 11 years of broadcasts. The museum’s archives house 4,000 hours of tapes.

National Catholic Reporter, January 9, 2004

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