Citing heresy, Catholic Church

kicks out 6 Arkansas nuns

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Six Catholic nuns have been excommunicated for heresy after refusing to give up membership in a Canadian sect whose founder claims to be possessed by the Virgin Mary.

The Rev. J. Gaston Hebert, Little Rock diocese administrator, said he notified the nuns of the decision Tuesday night after they refused to recant the teachings of the Community of the Lady of All Nations, also known as the Army of Mary.

The Vatican has declared all members of the Army of Mary excommunicated. Hebert said the excommunication was the first in the diocese's 165-year history.

"It is a painfully historic moment for this church," Hebert said.

The six nuns are associated with the Good Shepherd Monastery of Our Lady of Charity and Refuge in Hot Springs. Sister Mary Theresa Dionne, one of the nuns excommunicated, said the nuns will still live at the convent property, which they own.

"We are at peace and we know that for us we are doing the right thing," the 82-year-old nun said. "We pray that the church will open their eyes before it is too late. This is God's work through Mary, the blessed mother, and we're doing what we're asked to do."

Feds: Accused cop considered

paying gang to kill ex-colleague

CHICAGO - A suspended Chicago police officer accused in a corruption case considered hiring members of a street gang to kill a former colleague and potential witness against him, according to a federal complaint filed yesterday.

Jerome Finnigan, 44, is quoted in an FBI agent's affidavit as telling a co-defendant he was looking for someone less risky than gang members but warning that the cost would go up for "professional painters" - code for killers.

Finnigan is one of six members of an elite Chicago police unit already accused of using their badges to shake down and intimidate people. He has pleaded not guilty to state charges including armed robbery and aggravated kidnapping in that case.

Finnigan this past weekend discussed killing three other police officers he believed to be cooperating in the investigations, according to the affidavit and U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.

'Bomb' taped to bank worker was fake . . . did he know?

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. - A device strapped to a bank employee's chest during a robbery was not a bomb, police said yesterday as they worked to determine whether the man was a participant in the crime or a victim.

"The bomb squad made the determination that it was in fact a hoax bomb," said police Capt. Tony Rode.

Tuesday evening, the man was in the drive-through lane of the bank where he works. He seemed convinced it was a real bomb, Rode said.

It wasn't clear how the robbery occurred. Authorities said the employee passed a "significant amount" of money to two men and a woman he claimed had abducted him at gunpoint from his Dania Beach home and brought him to the Wachovia bank branch in downtown Hollywood.

The employee said the alleged kidnappers wore masks, the two men had guns and he could only provide a generic description to investigators.

The bank employee, whose identity was not released, was not injured. He and his girlfriend were questioned overnight by investigators and released, but it was still unclear whether they had been victims or participants, Rode said.

Mom pumping breast milk

wins extra time during test

BOSTON - A Harvard student must be allowed extra break time during her nine-hour medical licensing exam so she can pump breast milk to feed her 4-month-old daughter, a Massachusetts appeals court judge ruled yesterday.

Sophie Currier, 33, sued after the National Board of Medical Examiners turned down her request to take more than the standard 45 minutes in breaks during the exam.

Currier said she risks medical complications if she does not nurse or pump every two to three hours.

A Superior Court judge last week rejected Currier's request to order the board to give her an additional 60 minutes of break time. Appeals Court Judge Gary Katzmann overturned that ruling, finding that Currier needs the break time to put her on "equal footing" with men and non-lactating women who take the exam.

"I think it's a big step for women, all nursing and working moms," Currier said. *

- Associated Press