Catholic League Sued by California Artist

THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, Jan. 24 — A California artist has sued the Catholic League for remarks made about an art exhibit that included figures of the Pope and nuns defecating, the San Francisco daily reported.

Jon Howard, a Santa Rosa, Calif., artist who is part Cherokee, said that comments made by League president William Donohue as part of his criticism of the exhibit made American Indians seem “stupid.”

The exhibit was by another artist, Antoni Miralda, at the American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts. The museum's director had told the League that the defecations are symbolic of the cycle of eating and fertilization of the earth that keeps life going.

Donohue then asked, in a statement criticizing the artwork's display, whether depicting the Lone Ranger and Tonto would have been “a more earthy statement.”

Howard complained in his lawsuit that Donohue's comment exposes him to hatred, contempt, ridicule and obloquy because it impugns that American Indians are “Tonto” (the Spanish word for “stupid”) and that California artists are “bad.”

A League spokesman said the $100 million defamation lawsuit is “absurd on its face.”

Florida Town Declares Satan Not Welcome

THE ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, Jan. 28 — At a meeting of the Town Commission in Inglis, Fla., overwhelming public support was expressed for Carolyn Risher, the mayor who declared that Satan is not welcome in the Florida west coast town.

Risher's declaration, printed on town stationery and ritually placed inside wooden posts at four corners of town, led to the threat of legal action from the American Civil Liberties Union.

But the ACLU seemed appeased by a Town Commission vote that the proclamation was the work of an individual, not a town official, the St. Petersburg daily reported. Said Gary Edinger, an attorney with the ACLU chapter in Gainesville, “This takes care of it nicely.”

Priest Gave General Absolution After Towers Fell

THE NEW YORK TIMES, Jan. 30 — Father John Delendick, a chaplain for the New York City Fire Department, gave general absolution to people on the scene at the collapse of the World Trade Center towers.

Father Delendick, a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn, was one of 500 fire department personnel interviewed in an oral history project concerning the events in New York City on Sept. 11, said the New York daily.

The priest said that as he and uniformed personnel ran from the collapse of the second tower, a policeman asked him to hear his confession.

“I looked and said, ‘This is an act of war, isn't it?’” Father Delendick recounted. “He said, ‘Yeah, I believe so.’ I said, ‘Then I'm giving general absolution.’ I gave everyone general absolution and I kept running.”

Old Catholic Church Sues Hispanic TV Station

THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE, Jan. 18 — A pastor of an Old Catholic church has sued KXLN-TV in Houston and Univision for a broadcast describing how Mexican immigrants felt deceived into thinking their baptisms and weddings were sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church, the Houston daily reported.

A suit brought by Father John Kroll and St. Alban's Church said a Spanish broadcast described Father Kroll as one “who poses like a Catholic priest” in a chapel rented from a flower shop in northwest Houston. The story failed to state that he is an ordained priest of the Old Catholic Church, which split from the Catholic Church after the First Vatican Council.

An attorney for Father Kroll said the story focused on the misunderstanding of many “new immigrants” that they were participating in a Roman Catholic liturgy when they were getting married and baptizing their children at St. Alban's.