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March 18, 2004 Edition   •   Volume 134, No. 11   •   Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.A.

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The Catholic Herald is the official newspaper of the Diocese of Madison. Its purpose is to inform and educate people of the Diocese through communications that proclaim Gospel values, report the news, and comment on issues as they pertain to the mission of the Catholic Church, which is to bring all in Jesus Christ to the Father.
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The Catholic Herald awards:

• Web edition: Catholic Press Association Best Web Site: Honorable Mention.

Award of Distinction, The Communicator Awards 2002 Print Media competition.

• Print edition: Award winner, Catholic Press Association 2003 awards competition.

Clergy misconduct bill
clears state Legislature

MADISON -- On the final two days of the regular legislative session, both houses of the state Legislature approved a bill addressing the issue of sexual misconduct by members of the clergy. The bill goes to Governor Jim Doyle, who has pledged to sign it.

The proposal, Senate Bill 207, was sponsored by State Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and State Representative Margaret Krusick (D-Milwaukee). They introduced the bill last summer.

Bill's major provisions

The bill: 1) requires clergy to report suspected sexual assault of a child; 2) extends the statute of limitations to give prosecutors more time to bring criminal charges against perpetrators and victims more time to sue those responsible for civil damages; and 3) clarifies the conditions under which children who are sexually abused may sue religious organizations, including churches and dioceses, for actions of offending clergy.

Senate Bill 207 had the backing of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference (WCC), Wisconsin Jewish Conference, Wisconsin Council of Churches, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and Prevent Child Abuse Wisconsin. The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) opposed the bill.

Reporting of sexual abuse

Wisconsin's law governing child abuse and neglect, like those in most states, requires certain professions who see children regularly in the course of their duties to report instances where they believe a child has been abused or neglected or when a child might be at risk of such injuries. Anyone in these professions is a "mandatory reporter."   Full story ...

Only in the print edition ...
News & Features:

Catholic Scouts: Learn about faith at diocesan celebration

Special section:
Building and renovation

Madrid bombings:
'Unjustifiable acts'

Same-sex marriage: Storm rages in U.S. courts, legislatures


• Looking Around
by Fr. William J. Byron --
Left behind:
Coping with problem of adult illiteracy in the United States

• Question Corner
by Fr. John Dietzen --
Feast of the Annunciation:
Observed on March 25

• The Pope Speaks
by Pope John Paul II --
Psalm 19: Reacting to evil with faith and forgiveness

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Wisconsin legislature approves proposed amendment defining marriage

MADISON -- Early on the morning of March 12, the Wisconsin Senate approved a proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between only one man and one woman. It also would prohibit any legal status "identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals."

The 20-13 vote followed over 10 hours of debate. The state Assembly had previously approved the measure on a 68-27 vote.

The approval by both houses of the legislature is the first rung in a three-step process. If lawmakers approve the legislation in the next session convening in January of 2005, the amendment would go before state voters for final approval in an April 2005 referendum.

State Senator Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), sponsor of the amendment, countered critics who said it was an attempt to write discrimination into the state constitution. "This amendment is about limiting and defining marriage," said Fitzgerald. "In Wisconsin this is what marriage means."

Wisconsin statutes already define marriage as a contract between a husband and a wife and do not recognize same-sex marriages. Those supporting the amendment had feared a judge could rule the statute unconstitutional and require the state to recognize gay marriages as has happened in Massachusetts.   Full story ...

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