Pope calls charity a 'duty of justice'
VATICAN CITY » Pope Benedict XVI said charity was a "duty of justice" for Roman Catholics and that they must assume greater responsibility to help the less fortunate.
Focusing on almsgiving in his traditional message for Lent -- the time the Church sets aside for fasting and prayer in preparation for Easter -- the pope warned Tuesday against do-gooders who are in it for personal aggrandizement, saying that true charity goes beyond philanthropy.
He said that helping the poor and abandoned is for Christians a "duty of justice, even prior to being an act of charity." Lent begins this week on Ash Wednesday.
During the presentation of the message, Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, head of the Vatican charity office, advised donors to check where their money was actually going.
Without giving names, he noted that the overhead of some organizations is close to 50 percent of the money received. Cordes said that figures from 2006 showed that the administrative costs of the Catholic charity Caritas in Italy were 9 percent of the donations.
Archbishop faults exhibit of cadavers
CINCINNATI » A popular exhibit of human cadavers is unseemly and inappropriate for Roman Catholic school field trips, Cincinnati's archbishop said Monday.
"Bodies ... The Exhibition," which opened yesterday at the Cincinnati Museum Center, features 20 human cadavers, preserved by a process called polymer preservation.
Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk first sent an e-mail to Catholic school administrators saying that the exhibit is inappropriate for school trips, and adding that it should be up to parents to determine whether they want their children to see it. The church maintains dead bodies must be treated "in a way that recognizes the dignity of the human person," he said.
Atlanta-based Premier Exhibitions said the company was disappointed with the archdiocese's statement. The goal of the exhibition is to show the inner workings of the human body, taking viewers through nine galleries representing different systems of the body, said Cheryl Mure, Premier Exhibitions' education director.
The exhibit is also on view in New York City, Pittsburgh, Las Vegas and San Diego.
Bahais can get ID but faith is denied
CAIRO, Egypt » An Egyptian court ruled Tuesday that members of the Bahai faith can get new ID cards that do not state their religious affiliation, ending four years of court controversies, including rulings that denied Bahaism exists as a religion.
The decision followed an appeal filed by two Bahai families who were refused ID cards by the Egyptian interior ministry because their religion is not recognized under the law here. Egypt recognizes only Judaism, Christianity and Islam and requires all identification papers and other documents, such as birth certificates, to state an individual's religion.
The court said the Bahais would be "allowed to put a hyphen" in the "religion" column in documents, instead of filling it out. The two Bahai families had asked the court allow them to leave the column blank.
But in its decision, the Supreme Administrative Court in Cairo also stated that Bahaism is not a recognized religion in this country. "The officially recognized religions are Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and there are no other recognized religions," it said.