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IN BRIEF

Saturday, September 15, 2007

SEX-ABUSE SETTLEMENT

Convent Proceeds Go to Suit

The Roman Catholic archdiocese of Los Angeles is selling a convent that has housed an order of nuns for more than four decades to help pay for a record-breaking sex abuse settlement.

Three nuns from the Sisters of Bethany order have until Dec. 31 to move out, although an earlier departure "would be acceptable as well," the archdiocese's vicar general said in a letter to the nuns.

"We're just so hurt by this," said Sister Angela Escalera, the order's local superior. "And what hurts the most is what the money will be used for: to help pay for the pedophile priests. We have to sacrifice our home for that?"

In July, the archdiocese announced a $660 million settlement with victims of clergy abuse. Of that, as much as $373 million will be paid by the archdiocese, with the rest coming from insurers and various religious orders.

To help cover the bill, the archdiocese plans to sell up to 50 non-parish properties, including its administrative headquarters. The convent is the first property outside of those central offices to be identified as among those to be sold.

PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

Top Official to Retire

The Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick will retire when his term as the top official of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) expires next year.

Kirkpatrick has been elected three times since 1996 as stated clerk, the top church officer for the 2.3 million-member denomination.

He plans to spend more time with family and as president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, which includes more than 200 Protestant denominations.

EDUCATION

Center Named for Hastert

One of the country's training grounds for evangelical leaders, Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., is naming a new public policy center after former U.S. House speaker Dennis Hastert, an alumnus.

The J. Dennis Hastert Center for Economics, Government and Public Policy will open in December.

Hastert has played an active role in raising funds to establish the center, which college officials say will focus on market economies, representative democracies, limited government and "human action rooted in Christianity."

Wheaton officials say they've raised $5 million to renovate the building and plan a faculty chair for $2.5 million. They must also find $2.5 million to fully fund the center.

Hastert, who donated his congressional papers to the college for public viewing, will not teach. He lost the speaker's post last year after Democrats won control of the House. He announced recently that he would not seek another term.

Teaching in Hebrew Allowed

A Florida charter school may resume teaching in Hebrew, three weeks after lessons were halted because of concerns that the Jewish faith was seeping into public classrooms.

Broward County School Board members say close monitoring of the country's first Hebrew-language charter school is necessary, although its administrators have cleared up major concerns.

The Ben Gamla Charter School in Hollywood, Fla., can teach about the Jewish faith but cannot advocate it. Hebrew instruction is to resume Monday.

-- Associated Press reports

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