Boston Archbishop Who Quit

Is Given Official Post by Pope

VATICAN CITY -- Pope John Paul II on Thursday gave Cardinal Bernard Law, who was forced to resign as archbishop of Boston over a sexual abuse scandal, an official position in Rome.

A Vatican statement said Law, 72, was appointed to be archpriest of St. Mary Major Basilica, a largely ceremonial post often given to retired prelates. He resigned as archbishop of Boston on Dec. 13, 2002, to quell an outcry over his handling of sex abuse cases involving clergy.

Law moved from Boston and became resident chaplain at a convent in Clinton, Md., although he retained his membership on nine Vatican congregations and councils, traveling frequently to Rome.

The Middle East

* BEIRUT -- Demonstrators set fire to the Labor Ministry after Lebanese soldiers shot and killed five people and wounded 12 others during protests against the government's economic policies, security and hospital officials said.

A civil defense firefighter also died in the hospital after being hit by gunfire in what was Lebanon's worst violence involving civilians in a decade. The firefighter was trying to douse tires set ablaze by demonstrators, officials said. The Lebanese army said 20 soldiers were wounded in the clashes with stone-throwing protesters.

* JERUSALEM -- Israel's secret service released a British journalist after arresting him and searching his hotel room in connection with a documentary he is making about nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu.

Peter Hounam, 60, who had arranged an indirect interview with Vanunu, was released without charges or restrictions. Outside the Jerusalem lockup, he said he was detained on suspicion of espionage but that during the interrogation, the Shin Bet security agency admitted it made a mistake in its investigation.

The Americas

* CARACAS, Venezuela -- President Hugo Chavez accused an "imperialist" United States of trying to force a referendum against him, and his government demanded the withdrawal of a top international observer it said was biased.

A three-day process to verify signatures on a referendum petition is set to start Friday. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell called the process a "defining moment" for Venezuela's democracy and urged Chavez's government to allow a "fair and credible" verification of disputed signatures in an atmosphere free of fear and intimidation.

* KINGSTON, Jamaica -- Ousted Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide will leave Jamaica with his wife and two young daughters for temporary asylum in South Africa no later than Sunday, the Jamaican government said.

* GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- Cuba's foreign minister said both his nation and Mexico agreed to return their respective ambassadors nearly a month after withdrawing them, moving to ease the latest diplomatic dispute between the traditional allies.

-- From News Services