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VOL. 37, NO. 25 • Friday, June 25,1993 FALL RIVER, MASS. Southeastern Massachusetts' Largest Weekly • $11 Per Year Action-packed parley for U .8. bishops NEW ORLEANS(CNS)- The National Conference of Catholi,~ Bishops announced a new effort June 17 to end the scandal of priests sexually abusing minors. The decision was the news highlight of their spring meeting. Other issues' occupying the bishops ranged from nationa I health care reform to the new Catholic catechism, from U.S. religious life to World Youth Day funding, from their national TV network to the age of confirmation in their dioceses. Archbishop William H. Keeler of Baltimore, NCCB presiden':, named Bishop John F. Kinney of Bismarck. N.D., to head an ad hoc committee on sexual abuse with a wide mandate to recommend NCCB actions and policies to stern sex abuse in the church and eventually to draw on the church's experience to help American society as a whole confront the issue. Bishop Kinney immediately invited representatives of abuse survivor groups to meet with him in Washington as soon as possible after the bishops' meeting. Committee members are Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony; St. Paul··M inneapolis Archbishop John R. Roach; and Bishops John C. Favalora. St. Petersburg. Fla .. David E. Fellhauer, Victoria, Tex., Harry J. Flynn, Lafayette, L.a .. and J. Terry Steib, Memphis, Tenn. One of the first tasks of the committee will be to study the recommendations for local and national church a<:tion produced by a think tank of experts that met in St. Louis last February to discuss all aspects of- child sexual abuse by priests. The bishops received additional impetus for decisive action on the sex abuse problem from Pope John Paul II. A papal letter to the bishops released June 21 expressed deep pain that priests could abuse children and quoted J<:sus' words condemning those who scandalize children. The pope noted of Vatican; NCCB efforts to deal appropriately with 'such priests under church law Turn to Page II High court ()Ks inter]preter for Catholic school student MEMBEU.S OF St. Julie Billiart parish, North Dartmouth, will celebrate completion of their parish building project and honor their pastor, Msgr. Patrick J. O'Neill, this weekend. Story, more pictures page 9. (Hickey photo) ONE FOR THE RECORD BOOKS: Coyle-Cassidy High School Warrior Howie Orloff steals the team's I I3th base. breaking the national stolen-base record for a 20-game high school baseball season. The Taunton team averaged six stolen bases per game, finishing with a total 120 for the season. See story page 15. (Breen photo) WAS H INGTON (CNS) -Public school districts may provide a sign-language interpreter for a deaf student attending a Catholic school without violating constitutional separation of church and state, the Supreme Court ruled June 18. In a 5-4 opinion, the court said the fact that James Zobrest enrolled in a sectarian school does not prevent the Catalina Foothills School District in Arizona from providing him benefits guaranteed under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The district had refused to p2'.y for his sign-language interpreter. arguing that it would constitute stat~ funding of a religious institution. . Zobrest's lawyer was Atty. W:Iliam Bentley Ball of Harrisburg, Pa., who has made a career ;)1' defending religious rights. Formerly Pennsylvania resident. youllg Zobrest and his family now live in Arizona. Writing for the court, Chief J ustice William Rehnquist said government funds do not benefit a sectarian school in such a case. "Handicapped children. not sectarian schools. are the primary beneficiaries of the Disabilities Education Act; to the extent sectarian schools benefit at all from [the act] they are only incidental beneficiaries," Rehnquist wr01 e. He was joined in the majority by justices Byron White. Antonin Scalia. Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas. Justices Harry Blackmun. John Paul Stevens. and David Souter dissented. Justice Sand fa Day O'Connor agreed with part oftheir dissent. In his dissent, Blackmun said the court should have simply sent the case back to the lower court with instruction to review the federal statutes and regulations governing the Disabilities Education Act. By instead using the case to apply the Establishment clause of the Constitution, the majority failed to resolve questions about the sta.tutes, he wrote. On a second point. which Mrs. O'Connor did not join in, Blackmun took issue with the fact that by working at a Catholic school, every gesture of the sign interpreter in the state's employ "would be infused with religious significance." In previous rulings the court has established fine distinctions between what the state mayor may not do to assist parochial schools, Blackmun noted. .. And our cases make clear that government crosses the boundary when it furnishes the medium for communication ofa religious message.... It is beyond question that a state-employed sign-language interpreter would serve as a conduit (or petitioner's religious education; thereby assisting Salpointe [CathTurn to Page 11


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