World Report

ROME (JTA) — The Vatican rejected what it described as ongoing attempts to depict all religions as equal and instructed Roman Catholics Tuesday to uphold the belief that their church is the only path to human spiritual salvation.

The idea that "one religion is as good as another" endangers the Roman Catholic Church's message, according to a declaration by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

In related news, Pope John Paul II beatified a 19th-century pope who ordered the kidnapping of a Jewish boy, amid a firestorm of controversy.

Sunday's beatification of Pius IX, the last step before sainthood, came despite worldwide Jewish protests.

Restitution plan draws criticism

BERLIN (JTA) — Germany's Roman Catholic Church recently agreed to pay $2.3 million to compensate Nazi-era forced laborers. But the German government's chief negotiator for a compensation fund for slave and forced laborers has criticized the move because the money will not go into that fund.

Instead, the church will give the money to laborers who had been employed by the church during the war. Germany's Protestant churches have agreed to pay $4.6 million to the general fund, which was created under a settlement reached by the German government, businesses and international Jewish groups.

However, any payments to Nazi-era slave laborers from Germany's new $4.6-billion restitution plan could be delayed until after Jan. 1 due to legal holdups in the United States, German firms backing the fund reported.

A spokesperson said U.S. judges who were considering three sets of claims were unlikely to finish their work until November, delaying payments to the some 900,000 elderly survivors.

Anti-Semitic scheme urges Latvians to flee

RIGA (JTA) — Pamphlets believed to be anti-Semitic were distributed in the Latvian capital last week, calling on Jews to immigrate to Israel to escape growing anti-Semitism, according to the Jewish Agency for Israel.

It is not known who distributed the pamphlets, which end with the words: "May God bless you on your way! Have a good journey!" The composers of the pamphlet also emphasized that immigration to Israel is funded by the Agency, and included the address of its offices and the Israeli Embassy here.

Meanwhile, immigration to Israel from the former Soviet Union has increased by 14 percent during 2000, according to the Agency. Some 27,371 new former-Soviet immigrants have arrived in Israel since Jan. 1.

Russian media mogul yields to government

MOSCOW (JTA) — A Russian media oligarch with Jewish roots announced he would transfer his stake in ORT, Russia's main national television channel, to ORT's management team after pressure from the government.

The move by Boris Berezovsky came after he said he was threatened with the same treatment given to Jewish tycoon Vladimir Goussinsky, who is now living abroad after being jailed for three days earlier this year.