National Catholic Reporter
The Independent Newsweekly
Issue Date:  January 30, 2004


The Rev. Karen Dammann, a lesbian Methodist minister in Ellensburg, Wash., who outed herself to her bishop, will now stand trial for violating the church’s ban on “self-avowed practicing” gay clergy. She could lose her ministerial credentials if nine of the 13 pastors on the jury vote to convict her. Dammann told Bishop Elias Galvan in 2001 that she was living in a “partnered, covenanted homosexual relationship.” Galvan has said he supports Dammann but that he was required to pursue prosecution. He is to help select a pool of jurors and a bishop to oversee the trial. Two lower panels had dismissed the charges.

Maria Margaretha Hartiningsih, an Indonesian Catholic journalist, has won the Yap Thiam Hien Human Rights Award for 2003. Hartiningsih, 49, a senior journalist for Kompas daily newspaper, won the award for her “long standing dedication to human rights through her articles.” Hartiningsih has worked with Kompas since 1984 and developed a reputation for her coverage of local, regional and global developments concerning urban poor, women and the environment. She also has produced investigative reports on the trafficking of women in Cambodia and Thailand, poverty and street children in Brazil, and Indonesian women migrant workers in Hong Kong. The award, named for a late ethnic-Chinese human rights lawyer, aims at promoting awareness of human rights in Indonesia and is considered prestigious.

Creuza Maria Olivera was one of six women of the year named by Prêmio Claudia magazine in Brazil. Olivera was honored for her defense of the rights of domestic employees. Oliveira, president of the Brazilian National Federation of Domestic Workers, was taken at age 9 from the countryside to the city by a family that promised to enroll her in school in exchange for being a “playmate” for the family’s young boy. But Oliveira ended up cooking and cleaning house, and it was not until age 16, thanks to a government literacy program, that she finally attended school. For more information, visit

Salman Rushdie, the Indian-born British novelist who was visiting India for the first time in 16 years, was forced into hiding by the threats of Islamic groups led by the All India Sunni Jamiatul Ulema. The groups offered a reward of $2,201 to anyone who would blacken Rushdie’s face. Blackening somebody’s face with shoe polish or soot is considered a grave insult in India. Rushdie, a Muslim by birth, sparked fury among hard-line Muslims around the world 15 years ago with his novel The Satanic Verses, which they condemned as blasphemy.

National Catholic Reporter, January 30, 2004

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