Charleston Diocese Drops

Cancer Fund Over Abortion

The Catholic Diocese of Charleston, S.C., and Bishop England High School have broken ties to Race for the Cure because the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, which benefits from the event, gives money to Planned Parenthood in other cities.

The Charleston race, expected to attract 6,000 participants today, will start in front of the school as in past years, but school computers that had been used to tabulate results will not be used. Race organizers said some Bishop England students will participate but will not receive community service credit for doing so, as they had previously.

Steve Gajdosik, a spokesman for the diocese, said officials chose to change the policy this year because they had just learned of the Komen Foundation's links to Planned Parenthood.

"Since the church always supports the dignity of the human person and that person's right to life, to support an organization from which moneys would be going eventually to a pro-abortion organization would be inconsistent," he said.

Proceeds from the race must be used toward breast cancer screenings for low-income women.

Emily Callahan, spokeswoman for the national Komen Foundation, said affiliate offices across the country have their own boards that review grant applications and award financing. That money is restricted to breast health services, Callahan said. In 2004, affiliates allocated just over $40 million in community grants, 1.2 percent of which went to Planned Parenthood offices throughout the country, she said. Planned Parenthood does not have a clinic in Charleston.

-- Associated Press

Catholic Bishops Launch

Program to Recruit Priests

America's Catholic priests will be asked to increase their dwindling ranks by personally reaching out to recruit new priests under a program launched by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The "Fishers of Men" program is based on the idea that the church's best hope for increasing the number of priests is for current clergy to "witness to the blessed life of being a priest" and invite men to consider serving the church.

There are about 42,000 priests in the United States, down from a high of nearly 59,000 in 1965. Since then, the number of new priests ordained each year has dropped by nearly half, to 454 in 2005.

In the United States, there is an average of one priest per 1,500 Catholics, down from one priest per 777 Catholics 30 years ago, according to figures compiled by a research institute of Georgetown University.

The $200,000 program was tested in six dioceses, and Bishop Blase Cupich of Rapid City, S.D., who chairs the bishops' vocations committee, said the results are encouraging. The four-part program involves interviewing priests about their jobs, sharing those stories with other priests in a diocese and then sharing those testimonies with men outside the priesthood.

-- Religion News Service

Krakow Gets First Rabbi

Since the Holocaust

The first rabbi to serve Krakow, Poland, full time since the Holocaust has taken up his post, helping a growing number of people rediscover their Jewish heritage forgotten over decades of communism.

Rabbi Avraham Flaks, 38 and a Russian-born Israeli, has been getting to know members of Krakow's small Jewish community over the past few weeks but officially started leading the community during the weeklong festival of Sukkot, which began Monday.

"This is a joyous festival coming just a few days after Yom Kippur, a solemn day of atonement, so it seemed like a fitting time for him to start," said Michael Freund, chairman of Shavei Israel, an organization sponsoring Flaks's work.

There are about 200 people registered with the community, but an estimated 1,000 Jews are believed to live in Krakow, most of them people who only recently discovered their Jewish roots following the fall of communism in 1989, Freund said.

"Now that Poland is a vibrant democracy, many of these people feel free about coming out of the closet and openly identifying as Jews," Freund said.

-- Associated Press

Avraham Flaks is the first rabbi to serve Krakow, Poland, full time since the Holocaust.