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June 21, 1996     The Message
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June 21, 1996
 

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L The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Church fires attract offers of help, spur anti-racism ca Texas, after their church was destroyed in a suspicious fire a week earlier. More than 200 agents from the FBI and the Bureau of Al- cohol, Tobacco and Firearms are working to solve the fires and have been asked by Clin- ton to recommend steps the government can take to stop the crimes or that congrega- tions can take to protect their churches. He also said he would support legislation to make it easier to prosecute in federal court those accused of attacking houses of worship. The House Judiciary Com- mittee on June 11 approved a bill that would strengthen fed- eral authority to prosecute in cases involving everything from defacing church property with derogatory symbols or words to fires. Committee chairman Rep. Henry Hyde, R- Ill., the bill's chief sponsor, said he would ask to have the Church Arson Prevention Act scheduled for a floor vote as soon as possible. The bill also reduces to zero the dollar value of damage re- quired before a church fire is considered a federal crime. Current law requires damage of $10,000 or more. It was ap- proved in a voice vote with bi- partisan support. Meanwhile, across the coun- try, religious leaders joined in the sense of outrage that churches would be attacked. Bishop Pilla in his June 10 statement also expressed "heartfelt sympathy and soli- darity" With victims of the fires, saying the bishops were "deeply disturbed" at the arson cases. From Chicago, Cardinal Bernardin said he could think of nothing more "un-American" than setting fire to a church. "One of America's greatest treasures is the freedom of worship that all Americans enjoy," he said. "This assault on one of our most important freedoms as Americans must stop." In Baltimore, Cardinal Keeler asked priests and parishioners to pray for an end to the church burnings, during Masses the week of June 16. "As Americans we are called to be 'one nation under God," Cardinal Keeler noted. "We must reverence and respect in one another that dignity which is God's gift to each, and op- pose as contrary to that dignity all hatred and division based on race." Members of the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus called the fires a "demonic con- spiracy" that "must not be tol- erated." In a statement released June 5, the caucus labeled the church burnings as "senseless acts of terrorism toward the black community" and urged the national local law enforcement to bring to justice tors of "these crimes humanity." we stand in solidarity sisters and brothers who have witnessed the of the sins of racism in their respective ties," The Glenmary who work in the rural South an( west, "feel deeply these places June 14 statement from ganization's president, Jerry Dorn, and its dents, Father Will and Brother Jack statement said the fires "external m underlying racl part of our Christian people we front this evil in our A day earlier in after a predawn fire gutted a church in Weisenburger, the Oklahc cese, said the fires ject of "grave concern ness" to the "We are no -e mindless violent state," he said, bat the burning, is "a , cial sadneos." WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Across the religious and politi- cal worlds, a recent rash of church fires was decried as evi- dence of racism in the United States. As two more churches in North Carolina and Georgia were burned in suspicious fires June 16-17, religious leaders joined politicians from the president to small-town may- ors in calling for healing and thorough investigation and prosecution of those responsi- ble. The U.S. Catholic bishops were among those who called on authorities "and all people of good Will everywhere, to do what must be done to bring these shameful episodes to a conclusion," said Cleveland Bishop Anthony M. Pilla, pres- ident of the National Confer- en'ce of Catholic Bishops. "The destruction by arson of a place of worship is traumatic to those who hold it to be an inviolable sanctuary," he said. Other Catholic leaders speaking out about the fires in- cluded Chicago Cardinal Joseph L. Bernardin; Baltimore Cardinal William H. Keeler; members of the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus; and spokesmen for the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the Glenmary Home Missioners and the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. Investigators are looking into racist motivations and possible connections among more than 30 fires in the past 18 months, most at predomi- nantly black Baptist churches in Southern states. At a press conference in Washington June 10, a delega- tion of ministers, many from churches damaged or de- stroyed in the fires, asserted racial animosity is behind the destruction. The ministers, gathered under the auspices of the Na- tional Council of Churches, met Attorney General Janet Reno, Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and members of Congress in a quest to put pub- lic and governmental pressure on solving the crimes and end- ing the wave of arson. In his weekly radio address June 8, President Clinton agreed with the contention that racial conflict is behind many of the suspicious fires in Southern states. "We do not now have evi- dence of a national conspir- acy," said Clinton. "But it is clear that racial hostility is the driving force behind a number of these incidents This must stop." On June 16, Texas Gov. George W Bush joined several white ministers in a service for the members of New Light House of Prayer in Greenville, , ? '-High court sends back laws on Utah abortions, Ohio gay By PATRICIA ZAPOR terest to Vietnamese refugees, to the appeals court for further gration--,.. ;au thritid Catholic News Service Kong dlscr,m, proceedings. In a nine-page order in which four justices dissented, the court said the appeals court was wrong in throwing out the whole law after finding uncon- stitutional its clause strictly limiting abortions after the 20th week of gestation. The Utah Legislature specifically provided that each provision of the statute should be consid- ered individually, the Supreme Court noted. "Because we regard the court of appeals' determination as to the Utah Legislature's intent to be irreconcilable with that body's own statement on the subject, we grant the petition.. and summarily reverse," said the Supreme Court. In their dissent, four justices said the Utah case was a poor choice for the court to consider what is "purely a question of Utah law." "The courts  of appeals are more familiar with and thus better qualified than we to in- terpret the laws of the states within their circuits," said the dissent. The decision of a fed- eral court on a question of state law is not binding on states and lacks the kind of national significance that typically is necessary for Supreme Court review, said the dissent by Jus- tices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen Breyer. With the Cincinnati case, the court, in a one-sentence order, told the 6th Circuit to recon- sider its 1995 ruling upholding a city ordinance meant to pre- vent the passage of laws to pro- tect homosexuals' rights Cincinnati voters in 1993 ap- proved a charter amendment prohibiting laws aimed at end- ing bias based on sexual orien- tation. With the Supreme Court's May 20 ruling striking down a Colorado voter-initiated constitutional amendment pro- hibiting laws that protect ho- mosexuals, the Cincinnati case should be reconsidered, the court said. The three justices who dis- sented from the May ruling in Romer vs. Evans also dissented from the remand order in the Cincinnati case. "The consequence of holding this provision unconstitutional would be that nowhere in the country may the people decide, in democratic fashion, not to accord special protection to ho- mosexuals," wrote Justice An- tonin Scalia in a dissent joined by Chief Justice William Rehn- quist and Justice Clarence Thomas Scalia noted that the Colorado case involved a re- verse situation, where the con- stitutional amendment prohib- ited laws that:specifically protect homosexuals' rights. "Unelected heads of city de- partments and agencies, who are in other respects (as demo- cratic theory requires) subject to the control of the people, must, where special protection for homosexuals are concerned, be permitted to do what they pleasd" Scalia wrote "This is such an absurd proposition that Romer, which did not in- volve the issue, cannot possibly be thought to have embraced it." Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk publicly opposed the charter amendment, saying it encouraged discrimination. In a case accepted for the 1996 term, the court agreed to consider whether U.S. immi- Vietnamese not want. to in order to the United volves a icy of refugees to rather than apply for U.S. Hong Kon which they now live. In old law zens to sue crimes court said were former Serbian leader risdiction the Two against filed in the human rights of thousands lira and Crc were peol ] the time with court the United AttorneYs said itwas case tbte s United sta o other court make their claimS' Estimates call 207 E. Sot WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Supreme Court cleared the way for the possible reinstate- ment of Utah abortion regula- tions that were overturned by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appea)s. In a June 17 order, the high court said the appeals court wrongly overturned the entire 1991 abortion law after finding a section of it unconstitutional: The court also: -- Sent back to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals a rul- . ing upholding a Cincinnati or- _ _ dinance that barred laws to " :protect homosexuals' civil . rights. Agreed to hear a case of in- -- Upheld the right of Bosnian women to sue Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic in the United States for crimes against humanity. The Utah law made abortion illegal except in cases involv- ing risk to the life of the mother, the expectation that the child would be born with "grave defects," or in pregnan- cies resulting from rape or in- cest. The Supreme Court's order did not address the constitu- tionality of the law itself, but dealt with "severability," or the degree to Which an entire law is affected by a successful con- stitutional challenge to a sec- tion of it. The order remanded the case .-:-",Daughter of Charity i:i::i.:Provincial Superior named : Daughter of Charity Sister .... Catherine Madigan has been appointed Provincial Superior. of the Daughters of Charity of the East Central Province. Provincial headquarters are at Mater Dei Provincialate in Evansville. When she assumes her new job in early August, she will be replacing Daughter of Charity Sister Dorothea Huber. Sister Catherine is a native Of Chicago. She served as a member of her Provincial Council from 1981 to 1990. For the past six years, she has served as a Director of Re- SR. CATHERINE ligious Education at St. Mary Church, Huntingburg. Sister Dorothea said, "Sister comes to this role of leadership with an excellent background to assume the direction of our province." i