Elkton, Md., Jan 4, 2012 (CNA) - Two doctors running a secret abortion clinic in Maryland are being charged with murder under the state’s fetal homicide law for aborting babies that could have survived outside the womb.
“This is a ground-breaking case that could have implications across the nation,” said Troy Newman, president of the pro-life group Operation Rescue.
Newman explained that the outcome “could blaze a legal trail that could eventually lead to major reforms in abortion laws.”
Doctors Steven C. Brigham of New Jersey and Nicola I. Riley of Utah were arrested on Dec. 28.
Brigham has been charged with five counts of both first-degree and second-degree murder, while Riley faces one count of each. Both physicians have also been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit murder.
Brigham secretly ran a late-term abortion clinic in Elkton, Maryland, despite not having a license to practice in the state. He hired Riley to work with him.
After beginning late-term abortions in his New Jersey office, Brigham would then move the laboring women to Maryland – which has more permissive abortion clinic laws – to complete the procedures.
Police who searched the Elkton abortion clinic said they found the remains of 35 aborted babies in a freezer.
Although late-term abortions are not illegal in Maryland, a 2005 fetal homicide law allows the intentional killing of a viable fetus to be prosecuted as murder.
While the law has previously been used to prosecute those who beat or kill pregnant women, this appears to be the first time it has been used against an abortionist.
Operation Rescue filed a complaint against Brigham with the Elkton State Attorney after a teenage girl suffered a ruptured uterus in a botched abortion in August, 2010.
The organization then launched grassroots efforts to ensure that the case would move forward.
An investigation conducted by Operation Rescue revealed Riley’s criminal background and the fact that both Brigham and Riley had previously lost their licenses to practice medicine and had been banned from performing abortions in any state.
Brigham and Riley are both currently being held without bail as they await upcoming extradition hearings.
“We have worked for over a year to make sure Brigham and Riley were brought to justice,” said Newman. “This is a victory for the pro-life movement.”
St. Louis, Mo., Jan 4, 2012 (CNA) -
A group claiming to advocate for clergy sex abuse victims says it will not comply with a court order asking it to turn over documents, amid concerns that it had received information in violation of a judge’s gag order.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, has said that it will refuse to submit to a judge’s request for information involving allegations of sexual abuse against a Missouri priest.
SNAP director David Clohessy told CNA on Jan. 3 that his organization should be held to a “different standard” of transparency than Church leaders and dioceses, which he described as “organizations that enable and conceal thousands of pedophiles to rape tens of thousands of kids.”
The order was issued by Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Ann Mesle in an abuse lawsuit brought against Father Michael Tierney and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in Sept. 2010.
The plaintiff in the case has alleged that Fr. Tierney sexually abused him in the 1970s. Fr. Tierney, who denies any wrongdoing, has been barred from doing public Church work.
SNAP has been ordered to produce all documents and correspondence relating to the plaintiff, the accused priest and other priests in the diocese, as well as documents referring to repressed memory. The accuser in the lawsuit said he repressed memories of the abuse for many years.
The order came after defense lawyers raised concerns that the accuser’s attorney violated a gag order by revealing information about the case to SNAP. The lawyers say that SNAP printed the restricted information in a press release.
Clohessy said on Jan. 3 that SNAP “is refusing” to turn over the requested documents and will fight the order.
The group also vowed that it would “blast Catholic bishops” who allow the use of “hardball tactics” against them, at a media event scheduled for Jan. 3 in front of the chancery for the St. Louis archdiocese.
For years, SNAP has attacked Church officials for their “reckless secrecy” and demanded greater transparency within the Church.
But Clohessy said this same transparency within his own organization would violate speech, press and privacy rights.
Judge Mesle acknowledged the importance of protecting privacy interests in connection with the documents requested. She said that Clohessy could identify confidential documents to be viewed privately.
However, Clohessy insisted that he will not turn over the documents, saying that the lawyers who pushed for the order “should be ashamed of themselves.”
SNAP outreach director Barbara Dorris called the order a “bullying effort” designed to “invade the privacy of victims” and “protect predator priests.”
She criticized Bishop Robert W. Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph for not calling off the “expensive, cumbersome fishing expedition.”
In its mission statement, SNAP says that its goal is to heal those who are wounded and prevent further abuse.
However, the organization’s critics argue that it does little to actually help victims and instead concentrates its time and money on undermining the Church.
According to the U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference, dioceses across the country have paid about $3 billion in settling abuse claims over the past 60 years.
Los Angeles, Calif., Jan 4, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict publicly accepted the resignation of Los Angeles auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala on Jan. 4, after the bishop admitted to fathering two children.
Archbishop Jose H. Gomez called the news “sad and difficult” in a Jan. 4 letter to the faithful, explaining that Bishop Zavala informed him in early December that he is of the father of two teenage minor children who live in another state with their mother.
Since 60-year-old Bishop Zavala submitted his resignation to the Pope, he “has not been in ministry and will be living privately,” Archbishop Gomez said. Bishop Zavala oversaw the San Gabriel Pastoral Region, which is one of five in the archdiocese.
The archbishop noted that the Los Angeles archdiocese “has reached out to the mother and children to provide spiritual care as well as funding to assist the children with college costs.”
He emphasized that the family's identity is unknown to the public, and that he wishes “to respect their right to privacy.”
Archbishop Gomez also announced in a separate Jan. 4 statement that he is appointing Monsignor James Loughnane – who has served the archdiocese for several decades – as episcopal vicar of the San Gabriel region.
“I am very grateful that he has accepted this appointment in this very challenging moment for our archdiocese,” he said in a letter to Catholics in the region. “I know you will welcome and support him as he begins his new duties.”
Madrid, Spain, Jan 4, 2012 (CNA/Europa Press) - European bishops called on Catholics gathered Dec. 30 in Madrid’s Colombus Square for a public Mass to uphold family values in an increasingly hostile society.
During the event, Archbishop Jean Pierre Cattenoz of Avignon in France voiced gratitude for the Christian family “at a time in which the world is seeking to destroy the family and life.”
In statements to Europa Press, he defended what he called the traditional family which stems from the union of one man and one woman, against other concepts of the family that have become widespread in France and Europe. He also urged Europeans not to lose hope in their efforts to support Christian principles on the dignity of human life.
Bishop Zbignierw Kiernikowski of Siedlce in Poland urged Europeans to strengthen their faith in Christ and to help marriages become more stable by resisting “the present-day circumstances that are against the family.”
He called the family the “backbone” of society and “the place where new lives can grow” and where children find support. This kind of stability comes from “good preparation” and above all, from faith, because “without faith there is no guarantee for stability in marriage,” he said.
Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna also addressed the families gathered for the Mass and said the family is “a very powerful sign of hope” amidst today’s society, “which has lost its taste for the family and for life.”
By attending the Mass, he said, families were “courageously saying yes to the gift of life” despite “the daily difficulties” that they encounter.
Washington D.C., Jan 4, 2012 (CNA) - Professor Ignacio Uria of the University of Navarre in Spain released a new book which sheds light on the Church's involvement in the Cuban revolution during the last century.
“I encourage this researcher to continue with his contributions, which undoubtedly are much needed at this time of change,” Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami said in praise of the book.
Uria discussed his work, “Church and Revolution in Cuba: Enrique Perez Serantes (1883-1968), the Bishop who saved Fidel Castro,” during a Jan. 3 event at Washington D.C.'s Georgetown University.
“Professor Uria has recovered a key figure of the Church in Cuba in the 20th century, Enrique Perez Serantes, who seemed to have irremissibly disappeared from history,” Archbishop Wenski noted.
During the reception organized by Georgetown's Center for Latin American Studies, Professor Eusebio Mujal-Leon of the Department on Government lauded Uria's book for “combining historical rigor with a fast-paced style.”
The book was also presented during an event at the University of Miami organized by the Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies, which recently named Uria a senior research associate.
Uria belongs to the Cuba 21 Project at Georgetown University, where he carried out research from 2009-2010. He also spent three years gathering facts from the U.S. National Archives, the national archives in Madrid and the archives at the archdioceses of Havana and Santiago.
Vatican City, Jan 4, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The joy of the Christmas season is the unparalleled union of God and man, said Pope Benedict XVI at the first general audience for 2012.
“Humanity’s dream which began in the Garden of Eden - we want to be like God - is realized in an unexpected way, not through the greatness of man, who cannot make himself God, but through the humility of God who came down among us in his humility, raising us to the true greatness of his being,” the Pope said to the 7,000 people in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall on Jan. 4.
This is the reason why “our first reaction to the birth of Jesus should be one of joy,” he said, because we now know “that God has assumed our humanity in order to make us sharers in his own divine life.”
This, he explained, is what theologians refer to as the “admirabile commercium,” or “wondrous exchange,” that took place in Bethlehem.
Today we experience this exchange “most powerfully in the Eucharist,” which invites us “to recognize our lofty dignity as God’s adopted sons and daughters,” he said.
The incarnation of Christ also brings great joy as it “dissipates the shadows of the world and fills the holy night with a celestial splendor, spreading the radiance of God the Father over the faces of men, even today.”
This light was foreshadowed in God’s covenant with the Jewish people where he had “spoken and intervened in history through messengers and signs.”
But at his birth in Bethlehem, Jesus appeared and “came out of his inaccessible light in order to illuminate the world,” the Pope said. He added, Christ has given this joy and light to the Catholic Church “to be illuminated and thereby to spread it in all its splendor.”
Pope Benedict said that this challenges individual Catholics to “welcome the newborn savior” into their hearts so that their lives can be “transformed by his gifts of joy, newness and light,” and then shared with the world.
“Christmas,” concluded the Pope, “means pausing to contemplate the child, the mystery of God who became man in humility and poverty.”
It also means, above all, “making that child, who is Christ the Lord, part of ourselves” so that his feelings, thoughts and actions are “our feelings, thoughts and actions.”
Therefore to celebrate the Christmas season “is to express the joy, novelty and light which that birth brought into our lives, that we too may bring others joy, true newness and the light of God.”
Pope Benedict ended the audience by singing the Our Father in Latin and imparting his blessing on the crowd.
Rome, Italy, Jan 4, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Jerzy Kluger, the lifelong Jewish friend of Pope John Paul II, died at the age of 90 on Jan. 2 after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for several years.
Although born in the southern Polish city of Krakow, Kluger grew up in the nearby town of Wadowice, where his father was a lawyer and prominent leader of the local Jewish community.
Wadowice was also the hometown of the future Pope John Paul II, Karol Wojtyla.
The two boys lived across from each other on the town’s main square. They became great childhood friends and would always refer to each other by their nicknames. Jerzy was “Jurek” and Karol was “Lolek.”
The two also went to school together and would often help each other with homework. Outside of academic pursuits, the two boys loved to play soccer as well as go hiking and swimming in the surrounding countryside when the weather permitted.
Kluger lost his immediate family during the Nazi persecution of World War II. His grandmother died in the death camp at Belzec in Poland while his sister and mother died at Auschwitz.
After being imprisoned in a Soviet labor camp, he joined the free Polish army and fought for the Allies in Egypt and Italy. It was here he eventually settled, in Rome, after completing a degree in engineering at the University of Nottingham in England.
Although the two men lost touch during the war years, they were brought back together when the then Bishop Wojtyla of Krakow attended the Second Vatican Council in Rome in 1962.
They remained friends until the Pope John Paul’s death in 2005. In fact, his first private audience upon becoming Pope in 1978 was reserved for the Kluger family.
It has often been reported that Kluger was key informal adviser to the Pope on Jewish matters and helped smooth the path that led to the Vatican establishing formal diplomatic relations with Israel in 1993.
In his 1994 book, “Crossing the Threshold of Hope,” Pope John Paul explained how his upbringing in Wadowice had made him more aware as Pope of the need for improved Jewish-Catholic relations.
He recalled his elementary school where “at least a fourth of the pupils were Jewish. I should mention my friendship at school with one of them, Jerzy Kluger – a friendship that has lasted from my school days to the present.”
San Diego, Calif., Jan 4, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI appointed Bishop Cirilo B. Flores to help shepherd the Diocese of San Diego as a coadjutor bishop.
“I am delighted to know that my next home will be San Diego,” said Bishop Flores, who currently serves as the auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Orange, California.
The appointment was announced on Jan. 4 by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the apostolic nuncio to the United States.
As coadjutor, Bishop Flores will assist and then automatically succeed the current bishop of San Diego, Bishop Robert H. Brom, upon his retirement.
At age 73, Bishop Brom has two years before he reaches the normal retirement age for bishops.
Rodrigo Valdivia, chancellor of the diocese, told CNA that Bishop Brom had requested an auxiliary bishop after Bishop Salvatore Cordileone, the diocese’s previous auxiliary, was appointed as bishop of Oakland in 2009.
In a Jan. 4 statement, Bishop Flores said that he was surprised by the appointment but welcomed the “wonderful and challenging assignment” before him.
Born on June 20, 1948 in Corona, Ca., Bishop Flores graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Loyola Marymount University, as well as a doctorate from Stanford University Law School. He practiced law for ten years before entering St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, Ca., where he earned a masters of divinity.
After being ordained a priest for the Diocese of Orange on June 8, 1991, Bishop Flores served as pastor and parochial vicar of several parishes. He also held a position on the diocesan finance council and the editorial board of the diocesan newspaper.
He was appointed by Pope Benedict as auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Orange on Jan. 5, 2009 and was ordained at St. Columban Church in Garden Grove, Ca. on March, 19, 2009.
During his time as auxiliary bishop, he served on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee on Latin America.
Although he will miss the Diocese of Orange where he has spent his entire priesthood, Bishop Flores said that he looks forward to meeting the people of his new diocese.
He noted that he anticipates working with and assisting Bishop Brom during the period of transition before the bishop’s retirement and that he will use this time to “learn about the local church of San Diego.”
Des Moines, Iowa, Jan 4, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum thanked God and the people of Iowa for his success in the state’s caucuses on Jan. 3.
“I’ve survived the challenges so far by the daily grace that comes from God,” said Santorum, who is Catholic, in a speech shortly before the final caucus results were announced.
With slightly more than 25 percent of the vote, Santorum placed a close second, only eight votes behind former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
The Iowa caucuses kicked off the 2012 primary season, during which voters in each state will determine the GOP presidential nominee who will run against President Barack Obama next fall.
Santorum caught the attention of viewers across the country by winning 30,007 votes in the caucuses, coming in a fraction of a percentage point behind Romney in one of the closest races in the state’s history.
Both candidates surpassed the next closest contender, Texas Congressman Ron Paul, by more than 3,500 votes.
After previously lagging in the polls, Santorum surged ahead in recent days, beating the expectations of many political analysts.
The former Pennsylvania senator resorted to a more traditional face-to-face campaign, visiting all 99 Iowa counties in the months leading up to the caucuses and holding hundreds of campaign events throughout the state.
In his Jan. 3 speech, Santorum began by thanking God and his wife, Karen.
He then recalled how his grandfather came to America to escape fascism and made sacrifices to give his children the opportunity to have a better life.
As president, he said, he would work to boost the economy and restore America to a land of freedom and opportunity.
The GOP contender also spoke about the importance of family, saying that the American people understand “that when the family breaks down, the economy struggles.”
Freedom and safety require families that “instill values into their children,” he added.
Surrounded by his wife and six of his seven children, Santorum thanked his family for their continued love and support.
He also spoke of his youngest daughter, Isabella Maria, who was absent from the event.
Isabella, whom Santorum described as “our little angel,” has a genetic disorder known as Trisomy 18.
Santorum explained that although children with this disorder have only a one percent chance of survival after one year, Isabella is currently three-and-a-half years old.
He said when he is asked what motivates him, he replies, “The dignity of every human life.”
And Isabella, who is “deeply embedded” in his heart, energizes him to continue working to defend the sanctity of life.
The GOP contender also turned his attention to the New Hampshire primary that will take place on Jan. 10.
Although Romney is favored in polls across the state, Santorum remained optimistic, believing that his message will not remain confined to Iowa but “will resonate across this land.”
He expressed confidence about New Hampshire and other future primaries, telling his audience that he is capable of succeeding “with your help and God’s grace.”