Illinois Public Media News

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - January 06, 2012

Longtime UI Chaplain Edward Duncan Dies

A longtime associate of Monsignor Edward Duncan says he has heard from a lot of former University of Illinois athletes, who plan to attend Duncan's funeral mass last week.

Duncan, who died this week in California at age 96, was chaplain at the U of I Urbana campus for more than half a century, from 1943 to 1998.

Jack Hatfield worked at the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics for several years, and he is currently the Director of Advancement at St. John's Catholic Newman Center on the U of I Urbana campus. He said said Duncan's strong social skills made it easy for people to talk to him.

"I think he substantially impacted football players from the '50s, '60s and '70s, when he was in his prime," Hatfield said. "So you got thirty or forty years there of people who really relied upon him as a guide, as a counselor, as an adviser, whatever portion they chose to lean on his for their faith or spirituality."

Hatfield said Duncan rescued the center from near bankruptcy when he first arrived there in the 1940s.

Hatfield said the Newman Center benefited from Duncan's strong business sense, having come from a wealthy family with several business interests. He said the same social skills that helped make him an effective chaplain also made Duncan a popular the dinner guest in Champaign-Urbana society circles.

In addition, Hatfield said Duncan channeled his personal wealth into donations to the U of I, notably the Newman Center, the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics.

A wake and visitation for Monsignor Edward Duncan will be held in his home town of LaSalle, Tuesday, Jan. 10 from 4 PM to 7 PM at Hurst Funeral Home. Peoria Catholic Bishop Daniel Jenky will celebrate a funeral mass for Duncan at St. Patrick's Parish, also in LaSalle, on Wednesday, Jan. 11th at 11 AM. A memorial mass will be held at a later date on the U of I campus.

Categories: Biography, Education, Religion

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - November 11, 2011

Salvation Army Launches Bell-Ringing Campaign In Champaign County

Salvation Army units start up their Christmas fundraising campaigns every fall. In Champaign county, the campaign began on Veterans Day.

Bell-ringers, both paid and volunteer will attempt to raise $430,000 by manning the Salvation Army's red kettles at street corners or outside stores.

Salvation Army Envoy Michael Fuqua said the demand for their services increased dramatically with the economic downturn that began three years ago. He said the need has remained steady since then. Champaign County Salvation Army services include providing holiday meals and running a men's shelter in Champaign. But Fuqua said they also help families who may need emergency help with a rent payment or utility bill.

"If you think of whatever somebody's emergency need might be, they oftentimes come to the Salvation Army for assistance," Fuqua said. "You'd be surprised how often we're able to figure something out for them to help them financially, or maybe talk to whoever is after them for those problems."

Fuqua said all of the money raised in the Champaign County bell-ringing campaign goes to Salvation Army charitable work in Champaign County. The bell-ringing season will run until Jan. 1.

Categories: Community, Religion

AP - Illinois Public Media News - October 09, 2011

Catholic Charities Seeks Stay of Judge’s Ruling

Attorneys for Catholic Charities are asking an appellate court to stay a ruling that allows Illinois to stop working with the groups on adoptions and foster-care placements.

An emergency motion filed Friday asks for a stay of an August ruling by a Sangamon County judge.

That ruling sides with the state, which severed work with Catholic Charities after the agency refused to recognize Illinois' civil union law.

Catholic Charities says it developed a "property interest'' in the work after 40 years of state contracts. The agency says it should be able to object to state action. The judge ruled no one has a legal right to a state contract.

The Catholic Charities are affiliated with the Joliet, Springfield and Belleville dioceses.

A response from the state is due Wednesday.

Categories: Government, Politics, Religion

AP - Illinois Public Media News - September 09, 2011

Hearing on Hold in Dispute over Catholic Adoptions

Catholic Charities is delaying its plan to ask a judge to reconsider or stay his ruling that Illinois officials may cut off the nonprofit's state contracts for adoptions and foster care placements.

A hearing had been scheduled Friday in Springfield on Catholic Charities' quest to have a Sangamon County judge rethink or hold off enforcing his recent ruling that favored the state.

A spokesman for the law firm representing Catholic Charities says the hearing has been postponed to give the nonprofit more time to get court papers.

The state Department of Children and Family Services has ended $30 million in Catholic Charities contracts because the nonprofit won't work with unmarried couples in placing children in adoptive and foster homes. Illinois authorities say that violates the state's civil union law.

Categories: Government, Politics, Religion

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - September 02, 2011

Two C-U Area Residents on Governor’s Muslim American Panel

Gov. Pat Quinn this week used the Muslim holiday of Eid ul-Fit--closing the holy month of Ramadan--to announce the members of a new Muslim-American Advisory Council.

The 26-member panel will advise the governor on ways to advance the role of Muslim-Americans in the state. Two of its members are from the Champaign-Urbana area.

Dr. Irfan Ahmad is executive director of the Center for Nano Scale Science and Technology, at the University of Illinois. He said the panel could help raise awareness throughout Illinois that Muslims are part of the fabric of the community--and also raise awareness within the Muslim community.

"That's (the) awareness we try to create within the Muslim community itself, that they have a role to play, we have a role to play, and the rest of society, the rest of the general fabric of the U-S has a role to play," Ahmad said. "Illinois can really drive home this message, both within the Muslim community, but also reaching out into the Muslim world."

Strengthening ties with the Muslim world is an area where Ahmad believes the advisory council can also help. He said the panel's understanding of Muslim culture could help identify economic opportunities. For instance, Ahmad points to the demand for meat slaughtered in accordance with Muslim dietary law, or halal.

"New Zealand exports a lot of meat to Muslim countries, but they do it in a slaughtered fashion, which is according to the Islamic (tradition)," Ahmad said. "So if the state and other entities are attuned to some of those sensitivities, they could potentially leverage some of those markets, say, if we were to export meat, for example."

Also serving on the governor's Muslim American Advisory Council is Imad Rahman. He's a board member at the Central Illinois Mosque and Islamic Center in Urbana, and serves as financial officer for the mosque's community health clinic in Champaign.

The Governor's Muslim American Advisory Council will be co-chaired by Samreen Khan, Governor Quinn's senior policy adviser and liaison to Asians and Muslims, and Kareem M. Irfan, president of the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago.

The panel is already being criticized on anti-Muslim websites, for including officers with the Islamic Society of North America and the Council of American Islamic Relations, both of which have been accused of ties to Islamic extremist groups. The two organizations have denied the charges.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 18, 2011

Secretary of State Questions Exemptions for Amish on ID Law

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White says lawmakers may want to reconsider a new law that paves the way to exempt the Amish from having pictures on identification cards.

White tells the Lee Springfield Bureau he doesn't understand how the cards can be used as identification if there are no pictures. White's office issues state identification cards and drivers' licenses.

Gov. Pat Quinn signed the law this week. It gives the Illinois Secretary of State the option to make rules to implement no photographs on IDs.

State Rep. Adam Brown supported the legislation. The Decatur Republican says Amish leaders requested the exemption, citing religious beliefs about having their pictures taken. Brown has suggested other methods to verify identities, such as an internal state system or using fingerprints.

Categories: Government, Politics, Religion

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 18, 2011

Ill. Judge Rules Against Catholics on Foster Care

A central Illinois judge has ruled that Catholic Charities does not have a right to state contracts for adoptions and foster care placements and Illinois officials may cut them off.

The state Department of Children and Family Services ended $30 million in contracts with Catholic Charities in July because the not-for-profit won't work with unmarried couples in placing children in adoptive and foster homes. Illinois authorities say that violates the state's civil union law.

Catholic Charities sued. But Sangamon County Circuit Judge John Schmidt ruled Thursday that the not-for-profit is not entitled to the contracts because it doesn't have to accept them.

Schmidt did not address the question of whether the charity discriminates against gays and lesbians and other people in civil unions.

Categories: Community, Religion

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 10, 2011

Champaign Man Receives $6 Million Jury Award in Priest Abuse Case

A nine-year legal fight by a man sexually abused by a priest in the 1970s is over, now that a southern Illinois diocese and its insurer have handed over $6.3 million to resolve a jury award in the man's favor.

Attorneys for the Diocese of Belleville turned over the checks during a hearing Wednesday in St. Clair County, three years after James Wisniewski of Champaign won the $5 million jury award. The additional $1.33 million includes interest since that verdict.

Wisniewski sued in 2002, alleging that a former priest sexually abused him dozens of times for five years at St. Theresa's Parish in Salem. The lawsuit also claimed the diocese hid the one-time priest's suspected behavior and quietly shuffled him among parishes.

The diocese's attorneys declined comment.

Categories: Criminal Justice, Religion
Tags: crime, religion

AP - Illinois Public Media News - July 12, 2011

Judge Keeps Catholic Charities Foster-Care Contracts in Place

(With additional reporting from Illinois Public Media)

A Sangamon County judge has granted a preliminary injunction that keeps the foster-care and adoption contracts between the state and Catholic Charities in place.

In granting the injunction, Circuit Judge John Schmidt says the discontinuance of the contracts could cause irreparable harm to families the organization serves.

Diocese officials in Peoria, Joliet and Springfield sued to hold up enforcement of a law that would force them to place foster kids with gay couples. They oppose on religious grounds the Illinois civil union law allowing gays to adopt children or provide foster care.

"This is a great win for the 2,000 children under the care of Catholic Charities, protecting these kids from the grave disruption that the state's reckless decision to terminate would have caused," according to a statement by Peter Breen, executive director and legal counsel of the Thomas More Society. "We will continue this fight until all young people in need now and in the future are guaranteed their right to receive the high-quality foster and adoption care that the Catholic Church has provided for over a century to Illinois children."

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services says it won't renew foster-care and adoption contracts with the not-for-profit organization Catholic Charities.

The move involves about 2,000 children, but state officials say their foster care won't be affected.

The next hearing is scheduled for August 17, 2011 at 9 AM, where Judge Schmidt will assess the merits of the case.

Categories: Government, Politics, Religion

AP - Illinois Public Media News - July 12, 2011

Catholic Charities, Illinois Cut Ties Over Civil Unions

Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn is defending the state's civil union law in a dispute with a Catholic adoption agency.

State officials say they won't renew foster care or adoption contracts with Catholic Charities. The organization has received state money in the past, but Catholic Charities has said it would not comply with the new civil unions law signed by Quinn.

Quinn said the law granting gay couples many of the same rights as married couples is staying put.

"We're not going back," Quinn said. "Any organization that decides that because of the civil unions law that they won't participate voluntarily in a program, that's their choice."

Quinn said another agency is helping coordinate more adoption services. There are four Catholic Charities offices around Illinois.


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