DAILY CATHOLIC     WEDNESDAY     November 11, 1998     vol. 9, no. 221

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          CHICAGO (CWNews.com) - Two Catholic churches and a pro-life group received letters that threatened they contained anthrax bacteria on Monday, 10 days after abortion clinics in four Midwestern states received similar threats.

          St. Matthew's Church and School in Indianapolis, Queen of Martyrs' Church in Cheektowaga, New York, and the Chicago office of the Pro-Life Action League all received letters that said, "You have been exposed to anthrax." The note was identical to a threat sent 10 days ago to the abortion clinics. Those letters had a Cincinnati postmark while the most recent threats had Texas and Illinois postmarks.

          Six parish staff and 481 students and teachers were treated for possible exposure to anthrax at St. Michael's, although authorities did know if the threat was real. Nine people were decontaminated at Queen of Martyrs, which is located near Amherst, New York where abortionist Barnett Slepian was murdered last month. None of the seven workers at the Pro-Life Action League were evacuated or treated. That group lost a lawsuit earlier this year that had been brought by pro-abortion groups.

          The threats may have been reprisals for the earlier threats which turned out to be hoaxes. A coalition of national and local pro-life groups condemned all forms of violence, including threats of violence, whether they are targeted at pro-life or pro-abortion advocates. "The National Coalition for Life and Peace condemns this deadly threat. At this time, fortunately, it appears the threat was a hoax. Real or not, however, domestic terrorism has no place in our society," the group said. They also cautioned against assuming the acts are the work of pro-abortion extremists, just as they condemned the assumption that the earlier acts were the work of pro-lifers.

          Meanwhile, in Washington D.C. the US Justice Department on Monday reformed its national task force to investigate crimes against abortionists and abortion clinics, and announced a $500,000 reward for arrest of the killer of abortionist Barnett Slepian last month.

          Attorney General Janet Reno said the revival of the task force was in response to a "series of savage attacks against providers of reproductive health care." She said, "These attacks and others seek to undermine a woman's basic constitutional right -- the right to reproductive health care. And while some people may oppose that right, no one should ever use violence to impede it."

          In addition to the Slepian murder, Reno cited the shootings of four abortionists in Canada and upstate New York over the past four years, chemical attacks on 20 clinics in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas this past summer, arson attacks on two clinics in North Carolina, and anthrax threats made against 10 clinics in four states in the past 10 days.

          Reno did not say whether the task force would investigate violence against pro-life groups including anthrax threats made against two Catholic churches and a pro-life group on Monday. The new National Clinic Violence Task Force will be headed by Bill Lann Lee, acting assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department's civil rights division. Since 1994, the division has brought 27 criminal and 17 civil cases under the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.

Articles provided through Catholic World News Service.
CWN is not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

Nov 11, 1998       volume 9, no. 221


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