Gunmen Open Fire on Catholic Church in Russia

ASSOCIATED PRESS, Sept. 9 — Catholics in Russia have been under fire, on and off, for centuries. But things got worse in Rostovon-Don last week, when gunmen opened fire on a parish church, according to Associated Press.

There was no one inside at the time, since the shots rang out early on a Saturday morning. Church staff opened the doors to find 10 bullets inside and holes in the windows. No one was hurt.

Parish officials suggested the incident was not a religious gesture but a random act of vandalism by hooligans.

Bishops Accuse U.N. of Anti-Family Coercion

CNN, Sept. 5 — In South America, where bishops tend to be a bit more blunt with the media, prelates at a regional Church conference accused worldwide organizations such as the United Nations and the European Union of lobbying governments to pass laws contrary to Catholic teachings, even in overwhelmingly Catholic countries, according to CNN.

Bishops from approximately 25 countries complained that their governments were feeling pressure from foreign aid donors and other organizations to pass laws promoting privileges for homosexuals, liberalizing divorce and weakening the traditional family.

“Latin American governments have been pressured to legislate against Christian family unity by strong groups like the United Nations and the European Union, who want to impose their experiences here,” said Msgr. Carlos Aguiar of Mexico, president of the Latin American Catholic Conference.

The group is drafting a declaration condemning such lobbying, which the Vatican is expected to release on their behalf.

Italy's Ex-Fascist Leader Apologizes to Jews

REUTERS, Sept. 13 — Across Eastern Europe former communists now take part in governments through respectably renamed “successors” to their former Communist Parties. But in only one country, Italy, has an heir to a post-fascist party formed part of the government.

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Gianfranco Fini, head of the once-fascist National Alliance, once referred to Benito Mussolini as “the most important statesman of the 20th century.” But now he's part of a respectable government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and he has moved to atone for his party's past.

Last week, Fini apologized to Jews around the world for the fascist-era government's mistreatment of Jews, particularly racial laws passed by Mussolini in 1938 and his later deportation of some 7,000 Jews to German camps, where almost 6,000 were murdered.

“Fascism quashed human rights, and racial laws created one of the greatest atrocities in the history of humanity,” Fini told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. “As an Italian, I have to accept the responsibility in the name of Italians ... the responsibility of making declarations and asking to be pardoned.”

Fini will soon make a state visit to Israel.