Archive of March 26, 2004

“Passion of the Christ” moves man to confess murder

Houston, Texas, Mar 26, 2004 (CNA) - The Houston Chronicle reported on Thursday that a case of apparent suicide has been ruled a murder after a 21-year-old man decided to confess his “perfect crime” after watching “The Passion of the Christ.”

Detectives say the death of a 19-year-old woman originally ruled a suicide has turned into a murder case after the repentant man confessed to killing her because she was carrying his child.

Detective Mike Kubricht of Fort Bend revealed that investigators thought Ashley Nicole Wilson had hanged herself in January.   However, Dan R. Leach of Rosenberg turned himself in after watching Mel Gibson’s movie and deciding to “seek redemption.”

The young woman's body was found by her mother on January 19 in her Richmond-area apartment. The Harris County Medical Examiner ruled her death a suicide caused by asphyxia due to external compression with a ligature.  But on March 7, Leach, who had known the victim for many years, walked into the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Department headquarters and confessed to killing her.

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Bishops must be “fearless prophets,” Pope tells Australian episcopate

Vatican City, Mar 26, 2004 (CNA) - Speaking to a group of bishops from Australia who are in Rome for their “ad limina” visit, Pope John Paul II said that bishops must be “fearless prophets” of truth and hope.

The Pontiff warned that “the pernicious ideology of secularism has found fertile ground in Australia. At the root of this disturbing development is the attempt to promote a vision of humanity without God,” which has as a consequence “the undermining of family life and a drift away from the Church.”

 “In the face of such challenges,” he stated, “Bishops must stand out as fearless prophets, witnesses and servants of the hope of Christ” and proclaim hope “which springs from the Cross,” leading men and women “from the shadows of moral confusion and ambiguous thinking into the radiance of Christ’s truth and love.”

Turning to the Church’s witness through worship, the Holy Father emphasized that “Sunday is the ‘supreme day of faith’, ‘an indispensable day’, ‘the day of Christian hope!’ Any weakening in the Sunday observance of Holy Mass weakens Christian discipleship.”

“Intimately linked to the liturgy is the Church’s mission to evangelize,” he continued. “Sent by the Lord himself into the vineyard – the home, the workplace, schools, civic organizations – disciples of Christ find no room for ‘standing idle in the marketplace’, nor can they be so deeply immersed in the internal organization of parish life, that they are distracted from the command to evangelize others actively.”

The Pope said later that “incisive and faithful explanation of Christian doctrine regarding marriage and the family is of utmost importance in order to counter the secular, pragmatic and individualistic outlook which has gained ground in the area of legislation and even a certain acceptance in the realm of public opinion.”

“It is the Bishop’s particular task to ensure that within civil society – including the media and entertainment industry sectors – the values of marriage and family life are supported and defended,” he concluded.

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Unborn Victims of Violence Act passed by the Senate

Washington D.C., Mar 26, 2004 (CNA) - An important piece of pro-life legislation could be soon signed by President Bush after the Senate passed yesterday the Unborn Victims of Violence Act.

The legislation would ensure that criminals who attack pregnant women and kill or injure their unborn children during the commission of federal crimes, can be charged with two crimes.

The legislation will also affect the increasing number of fathers who attack their wives or girlfriends in an attempt to kill the baby to avoid paying for child support.   Senators voted 61-38 in favor of the bill after a day-long debate between pro-life lawmakers and pro-abortion senators, who claimed the unborn victims bill would overturn legal abortion.

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Cardinal Secretary of State celebrated Mass for victims of March 11

Vatican City, Mar 26, 2004 (CNA) - Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican’s Secretary of State, presided at a Mass on Friday at St. Mary Major Basilica for the victims of the attack on March 11 in Madrid.

In his homily Cardinal Sodano affirmed that “on March 11, once again Cain has killed Abel! Once again man’s hatred has brought death to innocent persons!”

After underscoring the general concern in the face of  “the inhuman and anti-Christian phenomenon of terrorism,” the cardinal exhorted those present to reflect on “the explosive mixture of hatred, which can close itself within the heart of man and can explode when one least thinks.”

“Our duty will be, therefore, to continue to remind the men and women of our times of those great moral values that alone can give a secure foundation to human society, it will be our duty to remind everyone of the primacy of God in our lives,” he added.

With the certainty that God is Almighty, “we will look serenely to the future, continuing to pray and to work for a better world. Certainly, there are in the world those who speak of violence and death. But with the Pope today we wish to cry out to the world: ‘ Love is stronger than death! Love will triumph!’,” he concluded.

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American Life League urges archbishop to ban Kerry

Washington D.C., Mar 26, 2004 (CNA) - The American Life League has requested that Archbishop Sean O’Malley of Boston “consider further action” against Senator John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) after the senator was reported to have attended mass last Sunday, while on a ski trip in Idaho, only as a media opportunity.

According to an article in American Spectator, the pro-abortion senator showed “blatant disregard” for the mass by “arriving very late, dressed in a ski suit and making a great deal of noise.”

Furthermore, one of Kerry’s staff, who remained unnamed, said Kerry’s attendance at mass "was just a media-op. ...We set it up with some reporters that we knew were going to be there."

The archbishop of Boston has made clear that those in his archdiocese who support abortion on demand should voluntarily stop receiving this sacrament.

But, in its statement issued Tuesday, the American Life League asked Archbishop O’Malley to go one step further and “to consider the example of Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis, who used Church law to officially bar certain pro-abortion Catholics from receiving Communion.”

“That Sen. John Kerry is willing to use the holy sacrifice of the Mass as a ‘media op’ shows his utter contempt for the faith he claims to embrace. This is disgusting,” said Joseph M. Starrs, director of American Life League's Crusade for the Defense of Our Catholic Church in the press release.

“The senator and his staff should publicly apologize to Our Lady of the Snows parish, its pastor and congregation, and to all faithful Catholics for this charade,” he said.

The league also said it would monitor Kerry’s daily schedule in order to mobilize its grassroots supporters to engage him at every turn and inform the local bishops of his arrival in the diocese.

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Supreme Court defers decision on Church liability in Canada

Ottawa, Canada, Mar 26, 2004 (CNA) - The Supreme Court of Canada ruled yesterday that three dozen former altar boys, who sexually abused by a Newfoundland priest, could sue the local Catholic diocese as well as the convicted priest. But the court stopped short in declaring whether the entire Catholic Church can be held liable for damages, reported the Canadian Press, reserving the decision for another day.

Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, writing for a unanimous nine-member bench, said the parties simply hadn't presented enough facts to resolve that issue, reported CP.

"The record before us is too weak to permit the court . . . to responsibly embark on the important and difficult question of whether the Roman Catholic Church can be held liable," wrote McLachlin.

At issue in this case was who could be sued for the sexual assaults committed by Newfoundland priest, Fr. Kevin Bennett, who admitted his guilt and was sentenced to four years in prison in the early 1990s.

His 36 victims launched a civil suit in 1991, claiming damages from him, some of his Church superiors, the Diocese of St. George's and the Catholic Church as a whole. But more than 10 years later, the issue hasn’t been entirely resolved.

In the initial case, the trial judge ruled that legal liability extended to Fr. Bennett, St. George’s Bishop Raymond Lahey, former St. John's archbishop Alphonsus Penney and the Diocese of St. George's, but not to the entire Church.

The Newfoundland Court of Appeal upheld the liability of Fr. Bennett and the diocese, but cleared Bishop Lahey, Bishop-emeritus Penney and the overall Church.

In its ruling Thursday, the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the Court of Appeal in large part, except for the question on the liability of the Church, on which it reserved its decision.

Unlike many other denominations, which are incorporated nationally, the Catholic Church in Canada is legally incorporated only at the diocesan level, reported CP, which makes it legally impossible to sue or to be held liable as a whole.

The Church’s legal immunity in Canada has also frustrated the Canadian government in its efforts to reach legal settlements with victims of sexual abuse, who attended church-run but government-owned aboriginal schools. If the Canadian Church were to have its immunity revoked, then it would be legally required to help the government foot the bill for the abuse claims.

For this reason, the federal government intervened in the case and argued against Church immunity.  The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops instead argued that the Church’s legal right to immunity must be upheld.

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Jesuit College hosts VOTF in New Jersey despite Archbishop's opposition

Jersey City, N.J., Mar 26, 2004 (CNA) - A Jesuit-run college in New Jersey will host a lay reform group to meet in one of its buildings next month, even though the archbishop has banned the group.

Voice of the Faithful recently got permission to meet at Saint Peter's College in Jersey City. The approval came even though Archbishop John Myers of Newark has banned the group. He will not allow the group on church property because of VOTF's challenge to Catholic doctrine.

The school is in the archdiocese's boundaries but operates independently. A college employee, who helped organize the meeting, said VOTF’s message deserves to be heard.

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3-11 is repeated on daily basis in Spain through abortion, pro-lifers say

Madrid, Spain, Mar 26, 2004 (CNA) - Spain “re-lives the effects of 3-11 every day because of abortion, which causes daily the deaths of 200 unborn human beings,” said Professor Jose Perez Adan, on the occasion of the world “Day of the Unborn Child.”

According to Perez, professor of Sociology at the University of Valencia, something similar occurs in the United States, where “the victims of abortion reached 4,000 per day, surpassing the number of victims killed on 9-11 in that country.”

“We should speak about these victims and remember them because if we forget then more violence against the unborn could occur,” he said in statements to the AVAN news agency.

Defending the embryo

On the occasion of the Day of the Unborn Child, Justo Aznar, head of the Biopathology Clinic of La Fe Hospital in Valencia and president of the group Provida Valencia, said, “The dignity of the embryo, as a human being, must be defended against those who would define it as a simple mass of cells to used and manipulated without any responsible ethics.”

“In the first living cell after conception, the zygote, the entire genetic material is present from the very first moment as well as all the necessary information for the human being to develop at each stage,” said Aznar, adding, “The embryo is a perfectly organized biological structure which is alive from the moment of conception.”

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President of Peruvian Bishops Conference says “Morning after pill is unconstitutional”

Lima, Peru, Mar 26, 2004 (CNA) - The president of the Peruvian Bishops Conference, Bishop Hugo Hugo Garaycoa Hawkins said the abortifacient contraceptive, known as the “morning after pill,” which is the focus of a legal debate in the country, should not be approved because it is unconstitutional.

During the celebration of the Day of the Unborn Child, Bishop Garaycoa said the government “would fall into a serious error if it promotes the spread of the contraceptive drug known as the ‘morning after pill,’ because since it causes the death of a fertilized ovum it is unconstitutional.”

Bishop Garaycoa said that the Peruvian Constitution defends life from the moment of conception and that the “morning after pill” attacks it by preventing the implantation of the embryo in the uterus.

Bishop Garaycoa made his statements during a press conference for the “Day of the Unborn Child,” which was instituted by the Bishops of Peru in 2001.

During the press conference, a new outreach called “Spiritual Adoption of a Child in Danger of Abortion” was unveiled as a confirmation of the Church’s position against abortion and in defense of the life of the unborn child.

The outreach program consists in recruiting individuals to commit to prayer during nine months for the life of an unborn child, and at the end of this period, perform an act of social service for children who are born into poverty or are abandoned.

After presenting the new outreach program, Bishop Garaycoa blessed a new center for the evangelization of families and society, which was created by a group of Catholic businessmen to provide spiritual and professional formation to young people and adults.

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