Barcelona, Spain, Mar 6, 2012 (CNA) - A Peruvian doctor accused of leading an underground abortion ring in Barcelona will face 101 counts of criminal activity on Sept. 13, in a trial that analysts say could last three months.
Prosecutors are asking for a sentence of 309 years in prison for Dr. Carlos Morin who, together with 12 collaborators, performed dozens of illegal abortions in his clinics in Barcelona.
The indictment against the Peruvian doctor states that he performed abortions on some women who were more than seven and a half months pregnant.
Morin argued that abortions performed beyond the twenty-second week of pregnancy were allowed under Spanish law if they were for reasons of grave physical or psychological danger to the life of the mother.
However, in most of the cases, Morin and his staff performed the procedure without any consultation with a psychiatrist. He instead enlisted the help of two psychiatrist friends, Pascual Javier Ramon Mora and Javier Carrato, who signed off on his diagnosis without assessing the women.
Morin is also being charged with falsifying documents and illicit association. He additionally carried out abortions in cases of alleged physical or mental deformities, without any confirmation by outside doctors.
Morin admitted during an opening hearing in the case that abortions were performed on girls as young as 13. His activities were first uncovered by a Danish television report in 2007.
New York City, N.Y., Mar 6, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York is urging his fellow bishops to “prepare for tough times” after the Obama administration told the bishops’ conference that it is not willing to address religious liberty concerns raised by its contraception mandate.
In a March 2 letter to all U.S. bishops, Cardinal Dolan explained that White House officials told staffers from the bishops’ conference at a recent meeting that revisiting the mandate or broadening the exemption in order to address “the broader concerns of religious freedom” is “off the table.”
Instead, the administration encouraged the bishops to listen to those who accept the new policy.
“The White House seems to think we bishops simply do not know or understand Catholic teaching,” the newly-elevated cardinal said.
He stated in his letter that “religious freedom is under attack” and that “we will not cease our struggle to protect it.”
The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops also outlined ways in which the conference will continue its “strong efforts of advocacy and education.”
He said that the bishops’ conference is working to provide catechetical resources on the Church’s teaching about religious freedom, as well as liturgical aids to encourage prayer and inform Catholics about ongoing plans to resist the threats to religious liberty.
“We did not ask for this fight, but we will not run from it,” he said.
Cardinal Dolan then briefed the U.S. bishops on current efforts to fight the mandate, which was issued Jan. 20 by the Obama administration and will soon require employers to offer health care plans that cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs, even if doing so violates their consciences.
After an outcry from people across the political and religious spectrum, President Obama promised an “accommodation” for religious freedom on Feb. 10. Under the proposed change, religious employers would not purchase the controversial coverage directly, but would instead be required to buy health care plans from insurance companies.
But Cardinal Dolan insisted that the revised mandate does not address deeper concerns of religious freedom and the administration’s attempt “to define the how and who of our ministry.” Nor does it offer a solution for the many self-insured ministries or individual believers who wish to follow Church teaching, he said.
Although the bishops have accepted the president’s invitation to “work out the wrinkles,” the process “seems to be stalled,” Cardinal Dolan told his fellow bishops.
He stressed the importance of unity in finding other ways to fight the mandate and assured the bishops that “ample time” would be dedicated to the subject at the conference’s upcoming Administrative Committee meeting and the June Plenary Assembly.
In the meantime, he said, the bishops remain committed to “seeking legislative remedies” for the mandate. However, he voiced his concern about a recent Senate debate in which the issue of religious freedom was obscured under claims that the matter is solely about women’s health.
“We will not let this deception stand,” he said, adding that “the Church hardly needs to be lectured about health care for women” because, due largely to the work of religious sisters, the Church is “the largest private provider of health care for women” in the United States.
“Perhaps the courts offer the most light,” he suggested, noting that the Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of a church’s right to define its own ministry. He said that the bishops’ conference will release more information soon about currently-developing judicial efforts to fight the mandate.
Cardinal Dolan said the bishops will continue pursuing multiple avenues to repeal the mandate, or at least to institute a wider exemption, “so that churches can be free of the new, rigidly narrow definition of church, minister and ministry.”
He expressed a willingness to work with those of “any party” who are committed to defending “the timeless and enduring truth of religious freedom.”
Dublin, Ireland, Mar 6, 2012 (CNA) -
The recent theft of a 12th century Irish saint's heart from a Dublin church has left local Christians stunned and devastated.
“All I would ask is that whoever took it would return it with no questions asked. It's valueless to anyone but the Cathedral here and our community and the community of Dublin...we're grieving over it, really,” church dean Rev. Dermot Dunne told CNA on March 5.
The heart of St. Laurence O'Toole was stolen from Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin sometime between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on March 3 and has yet to be recovered.
Rev. Dunne said that the local Christian community is particularly devastated “that someone should deprive us of a special link” of their past and their Christian founder.
Although Christ Church Cathedral is part of the Anglican Church, Rev. Dermot said that both the Catholic and Anglican dioceses of Dublin venerate St. O'Toole as the patron of the city.
“The outpouring of emotion of horror at such a crime is quite notable” among both communities, Rev. Dunne said. “It's showing how much Laurence O'Toole is in the hearts of people.”
Prior to the Protestant Reformation, St. O'Toole established the Augustinian order in Ireland's capital and has “been venerated as the person who established the faith in Dublin.”
During a pilgrimage to Rome, St. O'Toole died in Normandy. His body was buried in France, but his heart was returned to Ireland “because that's where his heart was really, in the life and city of Dublin,” the Anglican priest said.
“It's just unthinkable that someone should steal something like that.”
The relic, which was kept in a heart-shaped wooden box behind an iron cage, has been housed in Christ Church Cathedral for over 800 years.
Rev. Dunne said that he thinks the theft was planned, most likely by someone who had been in the cathedral before.
It's “something that you couldn't do on a whim or just on the spot,” he explained. “It would need to be prepared with a proper wire cutters and so on, so it looks like it was planned.”
The Garda Siochana, Ireland's national police, have begun their investigation but have no update on the theft as of this time.
Rev. Dunne, however, said he is confident the police will recover the relic just as they did the relics of the True Cross, which were stolen from Holy Cross Abbey in Co. Tipperary last year.
Mexico City, Mexico, Mar 6, 2012 (CNA) - Officials at the San Jose Prison north of Mexico City have granted permission for the first marriage to take place in the prison chapel on March 18.
According to the Archdiocese of Mexico City, prison warden Nicolas Rosendo Garcia granted permission for a prisoner identified as Jose Miguel and his fiancé Luz Maria to celebrate their marriage dressed in wedding clothes and to hold a reception afterward.
The marriage will be celebrated by Father Francisco Guzman, the director of Prison Ministry for the Archdiocese of Mexico City, who was also responsible for opening chapels at various prisons in the Mexican capital.
The couple decided to get married in the Church after twelve years together and two children, despite being physically separated. They both received marriage preparation from prison ministry leaders, who said that even though the couple lives apart, their spiritual union is strong and “they love each other a lot, they love each other with freedom.”
“For both of them, the greatest love they have is their children. Love is commitment and sacrifice, and they understand that well,” prison ministry leaders said.
Rome, Italy, Mar 6, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Archbishop John C. Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis exhorted his brother bishops to stay close to Mary, and recalled that when they became bishops they received both the crosier and the cross.
“This mother, our mother, says to us, ‘Behold, I stand with you. I will never leave you. I will never run away from you. I have stood with my son and my savior even unto death and I will stand with you. I will never forget you,” he said March 5 in Rome.
Archbishop Nienstedt was the main celebrant at a Mass in the Borghese Chapel of the Basilica of St. Mary Major.
The liturgy marked the beginning of the “ad limina” visit for the bishops of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota to Rome. Between March 5-11 they will meet with the Pope and Vatican officials to discuss the health of the Church in their dioceses. As part of their visit to the “thresholds of the apostles,” the bishops will also make a pilgrimage to the tombs of Sts. Peter and Paul.
Archbishop Nienstedt began his homily by singing the opening verses of the Stabat Mater, the traditional hymn recounting Mary’s sorrow at the foot of the cross. He then said it was good to be in “this magnificent church dedicated to the mother of God” who is also “mother of us, who are unworthy bishops.”
He explained that Mary is the personification of how “communion with God” requires a willingness to “grow in communion with the cross.” For bishops, he said, this cross can come in the shape of “personnel issues,” “allegations of abuse,” “a schedule no longer our own” or a “sense of our own inadequacy and frailty.”
Through all of these experiences, bishops “come to know that it was not only the crosier that was handed to us on our ordination day but it was also the cross.”
This cross, however, should be born together with Mary who “will not run away from her duty of love.” Instead, she “continues to stand by the cross in solidarity with us,” the bishops, “in our own difficulties” as well as with “our people in their particular and unique trials” and with “our Holy Father as he experiences the great burdens of his office.”
Bishops should “never forget the presence of this loving mother” who has been given to them “out of the depths of Christ’s love.” She was his “final gift” before his death, such that “she is his final will and testament, a gift given to St. John, but a gift given to us as well.”
The bishops of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota are the eighth group of U.S. prelates to come to Rome for their “ad limina” visit since Nov. 2011.
They began March 6 with Mass at the Altar of Blessed John Paul II in St. Peter’s Basilica, before going onto meetings with the Congregation for Clergy, the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Pontifical Council for the Family, and the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
On Friday they will meet with the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, where the forthcoming Year of Faith is likely to top the agenda.
Archbishop Nienstedt described the year, which begins in October, as “a grace filled opportunity to refocus on the person of Jesus Christ who is always and everywhere the light of the nations” and “a sure source of hope in a darkened world.”
“So many in our world do not know this great gift, this invitation to radical communion with God,” he said to his fellow bishops. “But it is our privileged mission as bishops to proclaim this message of goodness and salvation to all.”
Vatican City, Mar 6, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Benedict XVI heard “with sorrow” the news of a deadly head-on train collision in Poland and has expressed his condolences to the victims in a telegram to the president of the Polish bishops’ conference.
“The Holy Father assures you of his prayers for the victims of this tragic incident, and joins in the mourning of their families and of all of Poland,” said the telegram Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone sent on the Pope’s behalf to Archbishop Józef Michalik of Przemysl.
The Pope’s telegram invoked St. Paul’s words in 1 Thess. 4:14: “We believe… that as Jesus died and rose again, so too God will raise those who have died through Jesus together with him.”
Sixteen died and more than 50 were injured in the train collision in southern Poland just north of Krakow. The front cars of the trains were mangled in the crash, which happened on the night of March 3.
Emergency workers are continuing to search the wreckage to ensure that no bodies were missed, the Associated Press reports. Two traffic controllers in charge of the route at the time of the crash have been detained for questioning, though they have not been charged with any crime.
Archbishop Michalik and other leaders of the country’s bishops issued their own statement offering prayers for the victims and their families.
Pope Benedict prayed for the gift of divine mercy and eternal life for the dead. He further prayed for a “speedy and complete recovery” for all the injured.
He also prayed for courage and peace for those who are grieving, said Cardinal Bertone, who offered his own condolences.
The crash is Poland’s deadliest train accident in over 20 years. Poland has declared two days of national mourning for the victims.
The national railway workers’ chaplain will celebrate a March 7 Mass at Warsaw’s St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in Zoliborz for the victims.
Clayton, Missouri, Mar 6, 2012 (CNA) - The leader of a group that works with clergy sex abuse victims admitted during a recent deposition that the organization has published false information and that he is unsure about whether the group employs licensed counselors.
David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, was deposed on Jan. 2 in Clayton, Mo. amid accusations that the group had printed restricted information in a press release.
The accusations centered around concerns that an attorney violated a court gag order by revealing information about an abuse lawsuit to the organization.
Clohessy was ordered by a judge to answer questions in an out-of-court testimony that may later be used for legal purposes in an ongoing attempt to determine whether the gag order had been violated.
In the text of the deposition – posted online by The Media Report on March 1 – Clohessy was asked by attorneys, “Has SNAP to your knowledge ever issued a press release that contained false information?”
“Sure,” he responded, without offering any defense or explanation.
Clohessy refused to answer numerous questions posed by attorneys after his own lawyers objected and claimed that the organization was not required to provide the information under the Missouri Rape Crisis Center Statute.
However, he acknowledged, “I don’t know under the Missouri statutes exactly what constitutes a rape crisis center.”
He added that he was unsure if SNAP had ever sent out literature identifying itself “as a rape crisis center” and explained, “we don’t hold ourselves out to be formal licensed counselors.”
The group director also admitted that he does not have “any formal education or training with regard to rape crisis counseling.” And while he stated that the “overwhelming majority of our staff time is spent counseling victims,” he also said that he was uncertain whether any SNAP employees are licensed counselors.
Clohessy did not know if SNAP had ever paid for a victim to receive counseling from a licensed professional and acknowledged that the organization spent less than 600 dollars on “survivor support” in 2007.
He also could not give definitions for “rape trauma syndrome,” a “safe exam” or “repressed memory.”
In the deposition text, Clohessy declined to answer whether SNAP had a list of attorneys that it refers people to and how much money it receives in donations from attorneys. He did, however, admit that they “talk to lawyers who file lawsuits.”
He additionally refused to respond to questions about how he has been able to publicly post lawsuit information on the group’s website before it was filed with the court, although he did admit that part of what SNAP does “is to publicize lawsuits against priests.”
The deposition, which took place only after Clohessy lost an attempt in court to avoid being forced to testify, was part of an effort to determine whether a court-imposed gag order had been violated in the case of a Missouri priest accused of abuse.
During the deposition, Clohessy criticized the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, a set of procedures adopted by the U.S. bishops to address allegations of sex abuse, as being a “belated, begrudging and small step forward.”
SNAP has repeatedly argued that Catholic dioceses need greater transparency.
However, one day after the deposition, Clohessy told CNA 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.”
SNAP maintains that its goal is to heal the wounded and prevent future abuse, but critics of the organization say that it does little to actually help victims and instead focuses its time and money on attacking the Catholic Church.
A ruling in coming months will determine whether Clohessy can be required to respond to questions that he refused to answer in the Jan. 2 deposition.