New Catholic Conference Center Opens

LANSING STATE JOURNADL, March 13 — In Lansing, Mich., the business district now boasts a bright new center built in service of the Church.

The four-story, 50,000-square-foot Michigan Catholic Conference building cost $13 million, according to the paper. It replaces a broken-down motel that formerly was haunted by drug dealers and prostitutes in the struggling downtown neighborhood.

On March 12, Detroit Cardinal Adam Maida blessed the building, which will serve some 2.25 million Catholics in seven Michigan dioceses.

Religious Sister of Mercy Monica Kostielney, president and chief executive officer of the conference, praised the facility, which boasts high-tech computer and communications technology, including teleconferencing capabilities.

The Michigan Catholic Conference acts as lobbyist for the Church on social and economic issues, and manages benefits for thousands of Church employees and retirees.

“It is often said that the anticipation is greater than the reality,” she said. “I don't think so.”

Pews and Coffers Are Less Full in Boston

THE BOSTON HERALD, March 10 — Fewer Catholics are going to Sunday Mass in Boston in the wake of the Church sex-abuse scandals, according to the conservative Boston Herald.

It reported some 50,000 fewer parishioners attending Mass every week in 2003 than in 2001.

An archdiocesan spokesman admitted that church attendance numbers have fallen, pointing out that the situation varies greatly from parish to parish, estimating the fall at approximately 14%.

The archdiocese also has announced budget cuts. In a letter sent to local pastors in March, apostolic administrator Bishop Richard Lennon said the archdiocesan central operating budget will be cut by $4 million in the coming fiscal year.

Iraqi-Americans Hate Saddam Yet Oppose War

REUTERS, March 16 — As they were anticipating war in Iraq, Catholics of Iraqi descent in the United States are afraid, according to Reuters news service.

Reporting from Detroit, home of approximately 300,000 Arabs — one of the largest concentrations outside the Middle East — the news service found many Iraqi Catholics and Shiites who harbor a deep hatred of embattled dictator Saddam Hussein for his cruel and repressive government.

But they are also afraid of war's effects on their relatives back home, and they overwhelmingly oppose the American attack on that country, questioning U.S. motives and intentions.

“Nobody buys that this is about freedom for the people of Iraq,” said Ismael Ahmed, leader of Access, a Middle-Eastern refugee organization. “Most people in the Arab community think this is about oil and political control.”

Others expressed fear that the attack on an Arab state would produce many civilian deaths, widespread destruction and more terrorist attacks against America. They worried hate crimes against Arab-Americans might increase, which the FBI has warned could happen if a war drags on.