Vatican officials tour Philly ahead of conference

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Vatican officials have conducted a tour in Phila-delphia ahead of a major Roman Catholic gathering that the city’s archbishop believes will include an appearance by the pope.

Archbishop Charles Chaput said he’s “personally convinced” the pontiff is coming to the World Meeting of Families in September 2015. But he stressed that nothing is certain until an official announcement from the Holy See, which won’t come for several months.

NYPD defends use of informants, disbanding unit

NEW YORK (AP) – The New York Police Department is taking a tough stance in a legal battle over its use of informants in the city’s Muslim community.

The department announced last month that it was disbanding a unit that tracked the everyday lives of Muslims. But it is fighting a lawsuit that challenges its ongoing practice of cultivating Muslim informants to detect terror threats. The practice incudes debriefing Muslims who are stopped by police.

The lawsuit was filed last year on behalf of two Brooklyn mosques, an imam and three other plaintiffs. It asks a federal judge to declare the surveillance unconstitutional and halt it. The city has struck back by demanding to see any communications by the plaintiffs that mention terrorism, jihad or the war in Afghanistan.

The plaintiffs say the city is unjustly seeking information that’s private.

Video of kidnapped girls authenticated by authorities

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) – Nigerian authorities have verified the authenticity of video of kidnapped girls shown wearing Islamic veils and singing Quranic verses under the guns of their captors.

Officials say 54 of the girls had been identified by relatives, teachers and classmates who watched the video late Tuesday.

The Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram captured nearly 300 school girls on April 15 from their school in remote northeast Nigeria.

There is a growing international movement to win the freedom of the girls before they are sold into slavery or married off to fighters, or worse.

Jews and Muslims considered apostates are also targeted.

Massachusetts ex-altar boys claim priest sex abuse

FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) – Two former altar boys at a Massachusetts Roman Catholic church have filed a lawsuit alleging they were sexually abused by a now-deceased priest, while the former bishop of Fall River did nothing to stop it.

The suit was filed in Hartford, Conn., in January but is just coming to light. The New Jersey advocacy group Road to Recovery announced to the media that the suit had been filed.

The complaint alleges that former Fall River Bishop Daniel Cronin did not properly supervise the late Monsignor Maurice Souza who is accused of sexually abusing the boys over a period of years, beginning when they were 9 and 10 in the 1970s and continuing until their teens.