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AROUND THE WORLD.

Catholic Church Heartened By Newly Elected Fox

Vicente Fox took over the presidency of Mexico on Dec. 1, ending nearly 70 years of power for the Institutional Revolutionary Party and the change is good news for the Roman Catholic Church.

After taking a back seat in Mexican affairs for decades, the church hierarchy believes Fox's leadership and the power of his National Action Party (PAN), representing the country's pro-Catholic faction, will mean positive results for the church's interests.

Fox, a former executive for Coca-Cola, said during the campaign that his personal faith will be "an integral part of my life, but never a bias." Nevertheless, that did not stop him from making 10 specific promises to Mexican Catholic bishops before his election, including "respect and support" for "parents rights on education," leading many to believe Fox may support public funding of Catholic schools.

To begin his Inauguration Day, Fox participated in a Catholic mass at the Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe, where he prayed "for the good of Mexico." This drew some criticism from political opponents.

"We're not saying he shouldn't be allowed to pray," said Eduardo Andrade, a PRI lawmaker from Veracruz state. "It's just that he shouldn't do it so openly, as his first official act."

Salvation Army Flunks Religion Test In Russia

An appeals court in Moscow has ruled against the Salvation Army, announcing Nov. 28 that the group is a foreign-based "military association" and therefore ineligible for registration as a full-fledged Russian religious organization.

The decision may force the religious group to relocate its headquarters, move five congregations into home churches and shut down operations that include providing about 6,000 meals in Moscow.

The Salvation Army ran into trouble because of a controversial 1997 law that requires religious groups to register with the Russian government in order to function as legal entities with the right to enter into contracts, open bank accounts and hire employees.

"In terms of the legal processes, it is the end of the road," said Colonel Ken Baillie, an American who commands the Salvation Army's operations in Russia and four other former Soviet republics. "We've had registration here for six years. Never a problem. With the new law, we had to re-register." Baillie added that an appeal to Russia's Supreme Court is unlikely.

In addition to the Salvation Army, local congregations of evangelical Protestants, Mormons, Roman Catholics and Jehovah's Witnesses across Russia have sought court orders forcing the Ministry of Justice to re-register them after initial denials.
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Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Mexican president, Salvation Army in Russia
Publication:Church & State
Geographic Code:1MEX
Date:Jan 1, 2001
Words:417
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