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Kevin Eckstrom, editor of Religion News Service, has been elected president of the Religion Newswriters Association, a professional group for journalists who cover religion for secular news outlets. Religion newswriters are “facing the same seismic shifts affecting the news industry,” said Eckstrom, “and all too often religion is incorrectly seen as an expendable specialty beat.” In its recent annual meeting, the RNA also named Sandi Dolbee of the San Diego Union-Tribune as the Templeton Religion Reporter of the Year 2006 and Eric Gorski, now with Associated Press, as the top religion writer for his previous work with the Denver Post.

Roman Catholic priest Christian Federico von Wernich, 69, accused of collaborating with the Argentine military dictatorship some two decades ago, was convicted October 9 in La Plata and sentenced to life imprisonment. The prosecution said von Wernich abused his clerical status by offering comfort to prisoners and then informing on them to police. Prosecutors accused him of complicity in seven murders, 42 kidnappings and 31 cases of torture.

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