February 14, 2013

By Cora Jackson-Fossett

Contributing Writer


Totally surprising the world, Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation at the end of February after nearly eight years in office. 

In a statement released February 11, the 85-year-old Pope said, “Strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.”

Many observers de­bate the wisdom and timing of his notice, considering that the last resignation from the papacy occurred nearly 600 years ago.  Others expressed the opinion that the Pope should have delayed his pronouncement until the season of Lent passed.

However, South Los Angeles Catholics were accepting of Pope Benedict’s action with some even commending his acknowledgment of the heavy impact of declining health and advanced age.

“One thing I’ve noticed is that most Catholics applaud his decision and agree it was a wise choice. He acknowledged the limitations of his age and accepted ending his service after eight years,” noted Father Paul Spellman, pastor of Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church.

Holy Name, located at 1955 West Jefferson Boulevard, ministers to a congregation that is 80% of African descent comprising natives of the U.S., Africa, the Caribbean, and Central, South and Latin America.

The leaders of Transfiguration Catholic Church, an enduring institution in the Leimert Park neighborhood, shared similar reflections.

“The deacons at the Deacon Mission Center, Inc., included Pope Benedict XVI in our evening prayers.  We prayed for health of our Pope and that the Holy Spirit will lead our church in this time.  We are sure the Holy Spirit will continue to guide the church in the direction that God wants the church to go,” said Deacon Greg Patterson.

“Pope Benedict is a humble man. It took a lot of courage to step down, considering his health and not being able to do as much travel as he needs to do,” observed Margret Henschel, wife of Deacon Louis Henschel.

Deacon Emile Adams said, “I am proud to be a Catholic, and offer my prayers for the current Pope and his successor.”

Transfiguration member Ron Bowden added, “It’s time for all Catholics to come together with prayer for Pope Benedict and his successor.”

Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez described Pope Benedict’s resignation as “a beautiful, Christ-like act of humility and love for the Church. This is the act of a saint, who thinks not about himself but only about the will of God and the good of God’s people.

“Let us thank God today for the love and witness of Pope Benedict XVI. Let us entrust him to our Blessed Mother Mary and pray that he will continue to have joy and peace and many more years for prayer and reflection.”

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony issued a statement saying, “Pope Benedict XVI has been an extraordinary successor to St. Peter these past eight years, and I thank God for the graces and blessings which have come to the Church and to the world during his Pontificate.

“Surely one of his great legacies will be a continuing emphasis on the need for all Catholics to exercise their role as evangelizers in the world.  His focus upon the new evangelization will continue to enliven all disciples of Jesus.”

Vatican officials announced that a Papal Conclave, comprised of the College of Cardinals, will convene before Easter Sunday to select Pope Benedict’s successor.

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February 07, 2013

By The Associated Press


MOGADISHU, Somalia - A court official in Mogadishu says that a woman who has said she was raped by security forces has been sentenced to one year in prison. A reporter was also given the same sentence.

The official, Ahmed Farah, said the court based its decision on medical evidence the woman was not raped.

Human rights groups have decried the case as politically motivated because the woman had accused security forces of the sexual assault.

Farah said the woman’s prison term would be delayed by one year so she could care for her young child.

The alleged rape victim was charged with insulting a government body, inducing false evidence, simulating a criminal offence and making a false accusation.

Journalist Abdiaziz Abdinur was charged with insulting a government body and inducing the woman to give false evidence.

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February 07, 2013

By JOSH LEDERMAN | Associated Press 


WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is working to sell Senate Democrats on his strategy for tackling immigration, gun control and a host of fiscal dilemmas.

The president meets with senators Wednesday at a closed-door retreat in Annapolis, Md.

Obama's prospects for enacting his ambitious second-term agenda depend partly on Senate Democrats putting on a unified front. Almost everything on his to-do list faces opposition from Senate Republicans — and even heavier opposition in the Republican-controlled House.

The retreat is also Obama's first chance to press senators directly on his proposal for a quick fix to avert the sweeping spending cuts set to take effect on March 1. Obama says Congress should pass a short-term set of spending cuts and tax changes to give lawmakers more time to hash out a broader deal.

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February 07, 2013

By ED WHITE | Associated Press


DETROIT (AP) — Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick declined to testify Wednesday as the presentation of evidence in his corruption trial closed after nearly 70 days.

Kilpatrick told a judge he understood he had the right to speak in his own defense but would pass. His father, Bernard, and buddy Bobby Ferguson also declined to personally rebut the government's evidence of kickbacks, fraud and tax violations during the younger Kilpatrick's time at city hall.

Closing arguments are set for Monday.

Kilpatrick, 42, declined to comment outside court. The Kilpatricks and Ferguson are charged with a broad scheme to enrich themselves by fixing contracts and pressuring businesses to pay bribes to stay in favor.

An IRS agent recently testified that Kilpatrick's spending exceeded his W-2 tax statements by more than $800,000 from 2003 to 2008. His defense lawyer has suggested Kilpatrick saved money before becoming mayor and said he was showered with cash gifts from staff and supporters while in office.

The final witnesses Wednesday were two people who said Ferguson spent millions of dollars on equipment and insurance. It was an effort to show he had a legitimate construction business, which no one has disputed.

Bernard Kilpatrick, 71, told reporters he felt "a whole lot better than I did on day one" of trial. He didn't elaborate. Ferguson attorney Michael Rataj predicted victory.

Otherwise, Rataj said, "why would I get up in the morning and do this?"

U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds praised jurors before sending them home until next week.

"It's been going on a long time. You've been taking a lot of notes. ... There's a lot to go over," she said.

The trial began in September but was held only for half-days. Many weeks were lost to the holidays and the illness of Ferguson defense attorney Gerald Evelyn.

Kilpatrick, a Democrat, was elected Detroit mayor in 2001. He resigned in 2008 and pleaded guilty to obstructing justice by lying in a civil case about having sex with an aide. He subsequently served 14 months in prison for violating his probation in that case.

Voters booted his mother, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, from Congress in 2010, partly because of a negative perception of her due to her son's troubles.

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