Features

Breakfast with Bush

"Breakfast with Bush" Continued...

Issue: "Summer Books 2005," July 2, 2005

Sins of the fathers

Cases of sexual abuse by priests so far have cost U.S. Catholic dioceses more than $1 billion in settlement and legal costs since 1950, according to figures assembled by Catholic bishops and researchers and covering more than 11,500 abuse claims. At least $378 million was spent in the last three years alone. The meter is still running. Hundreds of cases remain unsettled, so the total soon could rise by tens of millions of dollars or more. This month, the Covington, Ky., diocese agreed to settle for a record-breaking $120 million. But the judge rejected the deal, saying the diocese had only $40 million to pay; it had sued its three insurance companies to pick up the rest of the tab. The insurance companies are contesting the diocese's claims.

Mission impossible

Most of the some 500 missionaries in Haiti have been ordered out for security reasons by their mission agencies and churches. The impoverished island country has been racked by worsening unrest, kidnappings, mob violence, rape, and murder since the military-led ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide more a year ago. Human-rights groups say 700 people have been killed in the past eight months, including seven United Nations peacekeepers. The New York Times reported that six to 12 kidnappings occur each day, with ransom demands ranging from $30 to $200,000; Haitians and foreign nationals alike are targeted.

Shifting stands

Support for stem-cell research involving destruction of human embryos is rising, even among church members who once opposed it, according to recent surveys. In a Gallup Poll taken last month, 60 percent of respondents said research from stem cells involving human embryos is "morally acceptable," up from 52 percent three years ago. Polling by Pew researchers found the largest increase for such research was among white Catholics and mainline Protestants. In 2002, 43 percent of white Catholics said it was more important to conduct embryonic stem-cell research than to protect embryos. Last December, the figure increased sharply to 63 percent. Among mainline Protestants, the percentage went up from 51 to 69 in the same period. The December Pew results showed opposition to embryonic research to be strongest among those who attend religious services weekly. But even in that group, 38 percent said research is more important than protecting embryos-up from 28 percent three years ago.

Man knows not his time

Kenneth N. Taylor, originator of The Living Bible, a popular paraphrase of Scripture, died at his home in Wheaton, Ill., on June 10. He was 88. Mr. Taylor's career in Christian literature spanned 65 years. He was editor of His magazine (InterVarsity Christian Fellowship), long-time head of Moody Press, founder of Tyndale House Publishers, and author of many children's books (The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes; My First Bible in Pictures). The Living Bible has sold more than 40 million copies and was the best-selling book in the United States for three years. Theodore Gill, prominent liberal Presbyterian theologian, former president of San Francisco Theological Seminary, and a former managing editor of Christian Century magazine, also died June 10 in Princeton, N.J., following a long illness. He was 85.

Edward E. Plowman
Edward E. Plowman

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