Media Watch

Former IRA Bomber Heads to Seminary

THE BELFAST TELEGRAPH, Sept. 8 — Shane Paul O'Doherty, who received 30 life sentences in the 1970s for his role in Irish Republican Army letter bombings in Northern Ireland and Great Britain, has begun studies at a seminary in Dublin, the Belfast daily reported.

Officials at St. Patrick's College confirmed that O'Doherty is taking theology at the seminary. If he completes his studies successfully, he could eventually become a candidate for the priesthood.

O'Doherty, who was identified during his trial as the IRA's chief bombmaker in the county of Derry, allegedly once targeted a Catholic bishop with a letter bomb hidden inside a Bible. The bomb failed to explode.

But after his release from prison in 1989, O'Doherty publicly renounced terrorism, The Belfast Telegraph reported. A spokesman for St. Patrick's College, Father Enda Cunningham, told the paper that school officials were aware of his terrorist background, but said they also took into account his subsequent repentance.

“The college's policy is to receive any student who has been recommended by his bishop,” Father Cunningham said. “This has taken place in Shane's case, and he arrived here two weeks ago with 20 other students to begin their training.”

Kenyan Catholics Seek Canonization of Cardinal

THE NATION (NAIROBE), Sept. 7 — Archbishop Ndingi Mwana a'Nzeki, the primate of the Catholic Church in Kenya, said Sept. 6 that the cause for the canonization of Cardinal Maurice Otunga will be opened this month.

Archbishop Mwana a'Nzeki made the announcement during an anniversary Mass for Cardinal Otunga, who died Sept. 6, 2003. The archbishop said the late cardinal had all the attributes of a saint, including simplicity, innocence, humility and detachment from material wealth, the Nairobi daily reported.

Cardinal Otunga died in a Nairobi city hospital at the age of 80 after spending the last six years of his life living at an old-age home with almost no material possessions.

Said Father Emmanuel Ngugi, rector of Nairobi's Holy Family Basilica, “He chose to live with the old, where his belongings at the home included the Bible, a chair, a table and a bed.”

British Nuns Fear Loss of Charitable Status

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH (LONDON), Sept. 7 — Catholic nuns in Britain could lose their charitable status under new legislation now being drafted by the United Kingdom Parliament.

Under the new charities bill, which is expected to be introduced into the British parliament in November, the automatic presumption that religious organizations act for the benefit of society has been dropped. Instead, they will have to meet a yet-to-be defined test of “public benefit” to retain their status.

Sister Anne Thompson of the Daughters of Jesus warned in August that government authorities may not be willing to grant “public benefit” status to many of the services that nuns offer to society, The Telegraph reported.

“Who can measure the comfort brought to a frightened old lady by a listening ear when a stone has been thrown through her window?” Sister Anne asked. “How is the alleviation of loneliness, the comfort of panic or distress, the restoration of hope and the injection of humor into lives made dull and even intolerable by bereavement or isolation to be estimated?”