News In Brief

Catechism Compendium Appears in Paperback March 31

WASHINGTON — The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a 200-page synthesis of the 1992 Catechism, will be available in paperback March 31 from USCCB Publishing, the publishing office of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. A hardcover edition will follow shortly after.

Both versions will be published in English and Spanish. The compendium, made up of 598 questions and answers, echoes to some degree the format of the Baltimore Catechism, which was standard in many U.S. Catholic parishes and schools from 1885 to the 1960s. It also includes two appendices — a list of Catholic prayers in English or Spanish, side by side with the Latin versions, and a list of “formulas of Catholic doctrine,” including the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, the theological and cardinal virtues, and the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.

The paperback version of the compendium will cost $14.95; the price for the hardcover book will be $24.95. The compendium may be ordered online at: www.usccbpublishing.org, or by phone at: (800) 235-8722.

 (CNS)

Bishops to Seek Exception on Adoption Rule

BOSTON — The four bishops of Massachusetts are discussing ways to seek an exception to a state requirement that same-sex couples be allowed to adopt children, according to the Boston Globe.

Two members of the 42-member board of Catholic Charities of Boston told the newspaper that the bishops have hired a Boston law firm to look at possible strategies to get around a state anti-discrimination rule. The board members spoke on condition of anonymity because, they said, the plan was confidential.

But the former chairman of the board, Peter Meade, blasted the plan, according to the Globe’s Feb. 16 article. “This is an unnecessary, unmitigated disaster for children, Catholic Charities and the Archdiocese of Boston,” said Meade, who remains a board member.

The bishops have been studying the situation since it came to light last fall. The Register and other media outlets reported that Catholic Charities had facilitated 13 adoptions to same-sex couples since 1987. The Charities board voted unanimously in December to support continuing to allow homosexual couples to adopt.

The bishops reportedly are considering several options in securing an exemption: asking Gov. Mitt Romney for an executive order; seeking court approval on First Amendment grounds, or a legislative measure.

The Globe quoted Edward Saunders Jr., executive director of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, as saying the bishops must deal with “substantial First Amendment issues that arise from any government regulations which force Catholic social service agencies to provide services that conflict with Church doctrine.”

Constantia Papanikolaou, general counsel for the Department of Early Education and Care, which licenses all adoption agencies, said she didn’t believe her department would allow the exemption, although she said some day-care centers have been exempted from a regulation that every child at a center must have been vaccinated — if a child’s family objects on religious grounds.

(Register staff)

Authorities Continue Search for Church Arsonists

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Federal authorities are continuing their plea for two arsonists to contact them so they can work together to stop the string of 10 Baptist church fires across west and central Alabama.

As of Feb. 14, commanders had assigned 420 leads for investigators to check out since the first fires were found in Bibb County less than two weeks ago. Some have been helpful; others haven’t panned out.

Widespread reports of an arrest Feb. 14 in Choctaw County were false, authorities said. A 21-year-old man was jailed on suspicion of setting fire to an abandoned church building in Calhoun County, but the incident isn’t connected to the other fires, authorities said.

What authorities want most in their search for the church arsonists is something to clue them in to a motive, said Jim Cavanaugh, regional director for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

(RNS)

Alta Fixsler

Alta Fixsler Dies in Hospice

Doctors had previously believed that Fixsler would only live for hours after her birth due to the severity of the injury.