In Brief

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Archdiocese Adjusts In Wake of Katrina

The Archdiocese of New Orleans is indefinitely shuttering more than 30 badly damaged churches, consolidating dozens of parishes and elementary schools and permanently closing seven churches wrecked by Hurricane Katrina.

The archdiocese faces uninsured hurricane losses of $84 million and a sharply decreased population in the region.

Casualties include historic St. Augustine Parish in Treme, founded in 1841 as the mother parish of black Catholics. The church will remain open for a weekly Mass, but its parishioners will become part of a neighboring parish.

Church officials plan six centralized elementary schools to serve congregations whose schools were badly damaged. They also say they will open at least seven additional community centers to dispense storm relief, in addition to 10 already operating.

Before the hurricane in late August, the archdiocese had 142 parishes, but 35 parishes now have no worship activity, officials said. The storm affected nearly a third of the church's 1,200 buildings.

-- Associated Press

Islamic Group Promotes Mutual Understanding

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based Muslim advocacy group, has started a year-long campaign called "Explore the Life of Muhammad."

Visitors to CAIR's Web site will be able to order "Muhammad," a biography, or "Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet," a PBS documentary on DVD. Both are from 2002. CAIR will also help U.S. Muslim communities arrange events such as documentary screenings, panel discussions and mosque open houses.

The campaign was announced Tuesday as violence continued to flare in some Muslim countries over unflattering cartoons of Muhammad. CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said he hopes the campaign will send the message that Muhammad would condemn the violence. Muhammad epitomized forgiveness and compassion in the face of hostility, Hooper said.

Imam Mohamed Magid, executive director of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society in Sterling, which serves about 5,000 families, praised the initiative but said Muslims should look at anti-Semitism in Islamic media.

"Muslims should speak up on this also," Magid said. "If you don't like something for yourself, you should not like it for others. Bigotry is bigotry."

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