The Sun – Naperville (IL)
July 13, 2001
ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS MERGE TWO GROUPS The National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the United States Catholic Conference have completed their merger and will now be known as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Monsignor William Fay, conference general secretary, said the renaming will not affect activities or programs, but will simply change how the conference is identified.
The groups were combined to streamline operations, spokesman William Ryan said.
The conference works on a range of Catholic issues, from prayer and priestly life to economic and social problems.
The bishops first came together 82 years ago to serve as a national voice for Catholic issues.
In 1966, the conference was reorganized into two groups, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the U.S. Catholic Conference, to split canonical from secular work.
The bishops began studying the need for restructuring in 1992 and made many changes over the years, culminating in the renaming of the groups on July 1.
ISLAMIC MEETING FOCUSES ON HUMAN RIGHTS, POLITICS The Islamic Circle of North America focused on the plight of Muslims in war-torn countries and political activism in the United States during its annual convention.
Hundreds gathered in Cleveland’s Public Square July 6 to demand return of Palestinian lands seized by Israel in the 1967 war.
The protesters also pushed for a self-determination vote for the largely Islamic population of the Himalayan Kashmir region, which straddles the India-Pakistan border.
The United Nations in 1948 said the Kashmiris should have a referendum on whether to become allies with India or Pakistan or seek independence, but the vote hasn’t taken place, said Naeem Baig, the Islamic Circle’s secretary general.
Organizers said they want to increase the role of women in their organization, who comprise about a third of the delegates to the Islamic Circle’s General Assembly.
“We’re going to get it up to 50 percent,” said Imam Na’eem Saroya, chairman of the convention that ended last Sunday.
As the U.S. Muslim population grows, members of the faith are flexing their political muscles.
In the last presidential election, Baig noted, Muslims voted for the first time as a bloc, supporting George W. Bush. They liked his stands on abortion, which is allowed in Islamic law only to save the mother’s life, and public school vouchers, which would help the growing number of Islamic schools.