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Group wants boycott of Vatican appeal

A group of Roman Catholics lobbying for openness and change in the church _ including women priests _ has called on church members to boycott the annual worldwide collection taken for the pope. The Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church, based in Delran, N.J., said Catholics should not contribute to Peter's Pence, which the world's bishops recently designated to help defray a projected $91.5-million Vatican deficit. The collection, scheduled to be taken June 23 in parishes, should not be used "to compensate for the managerial incompetence of the Vatican," said a statement issued by the group. Peter's Pence is normally used for the relief of Third World churches and charitable works. "Catholics should continue to boycott Peter's Pence until the Vatican practices financial accountability and until the voices calling for reform according to the Second Vatican Council are heard," they said. The group urged that money be given instead to other organizations such as the U.S. bishops' Campaign for Human Development and Mary's Pence, an alternative collection promoted by feminist Catholics.Jews, Christians said linked in survival

NEW YORK _ For Christianity to survive and thrive, Judaism must survive and thrive, says the Rev. Donald W. Shriver Jr., outgoing president of Union Theological Seminary. He said at commencement exercises of neighboring Jewish Theological Seminary of America that sustained Jewish faith in God is "on behalf of more folk in the world than yourselves." It is an "existential precondition of my faith," he said. Shriver, a Presbyterian, cited the long history of Christian-inspired anti-Semitism and said: "A world in which it stops being possible to be a Jew might be decisively the world in which it stops being possible to be a Christian."

Ecumenical effort fights anti-Semitism

An unusual interfaith collaboration has produced a booklet designed to help Christians combat anti-Semitism and has distributed it to more than 8,000 clergy and educators in Massachusetts. Greek Orthodox, Protestant and Roman Catholic leaders joined with officials of the New England chapter of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith to write the eight-page document, "United Against Anti-Semitism: The Christian Community Responds." The authors hope the document becomes a national resource or model for similar efforts.

NBA finals inspire friendly wager

LOS ANGELES _ Cardinal-elect Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles faxed a letter to Chicago Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, challenging him to bet on the outcome of the National Basketball Association finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Chicago Bulls. "Should the Bulls, through some incredible stroke of luck, happen to win the series, then I will ship to you in Chicago 25 lugs (small boxes) of fresh California fruit to be shared with any of your Chicago homeless centers," wrote Mahony a few hours before Sunday afternoon's Game 1. Although the Bulls lost the opener, Bernardin replied June 4, accepting "the friendly wager." He promised to ship "50 pounds of Chicago-style hot dogs" for homeless centers in the Los Angeles archdiocese if Chicago loses the best-of-seven-games. But Bernardin, referring to Bulls star Michael Jordan, assured Mahony that "Michael and company will have no difficulty in bringing this well-deserved victory to Chicago and all of its fans."

Grandfather becomes a Catholic priest

All seven of his children and 11 of his 12 grandchildren looked on as the Rev. Robert Boller was ordained a Catholic priest by Archbishop John R. Roach at the St. Paul Cathedral in St. Paul, Minn. The 67-year-old widower was a dentist for 42 years before studying for the priesthood at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity. Boller first thought about being a priest while he was a college student at St. John's University, but that changed when he met his future wife, Eileen. After she died in 1988, he started thinking about it again. Boller was one of three new priests ordained May 25. He will serve as associate pastor of St. Joseph Parish in West St. Paul.

Preaching emphasized

JACKSON, Miss. _ United Methodist bishops have asked the denomination's seminaries to give special attention to training students in the arts of preaching. While the sacraments and liturgical renewal are important, "effective preaching is central to the task of ministry and the work of the church," the bishops said.

_ Compiled from news service reports to the Times