Joseph Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League called the verdict in the case brought in Portland, Oregon outrageous and an attack on the First Amendment. Planned Parenthood and a group of abortionists sued the pro-lifers under the 1994 Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act which made it a crime to incite violence against abortionists. The plaintiffs contended that a series of "Wanted Posters" and a Web site constituted that incitement.
Scheidler said the posters were simply requests for information on malpractice by the abortionists. "The pro-life activists in Portland, Oregon, were not accused of injuring anyone or any property, but only of issuing two pieces of paper seeking malpractice information on some abortionists and requesting prayers for their conversion. Yet the defendants are asked to pay $107 million in damages because the abortionists are paranoid!" said Scheidler.
He also accused the media of distorting the facts of the case, linking the controversial Nuremberg Files Web site -- which listed abortionists' name with the names of those who had been killed crossed out -- with the defendants. "Neal Horsley, originator of the Web site, is neither a defendant nor a member of the defendant organizations in the case," he said.
Scheidler said he hoped the defendants appeal the verdict
because of the potential damage to free speech in the US.
"Americans had better hold onto their copies of the
Constitution," he said. "It may be soon be unlawful even to
quote the First Amendment, at the rate we are going."
Bishop Carlos Belo of Dili said any vote on sovereignty should be delayed between 10 and 15 years to allow for reconciliation between rival pro- and anti-Indonesian groups. Indonesian officials said last month that the province might be allowed a referendum on independence in a turnabout from decades of rigid control of the Catholic region, which included accusations of human rights violations by government troops.
Indonesia, the most populous Muslim nation in the world, invaded East Timor in 1975 and annexed it the following year in a move not recognized by the United Nations. Following the announcement of a possible referendum, tension between rival groups ignited in open violence, causing hundreds to seek refuge. Bishop Belo accused pro-Indonesian paramilitary groups of initiating the attacks, and cited sources who told him that the Indonesian military was arming the groups. "Naturally, it is coming from the army," he said. "There are some civilians who have arms to threaten the people."
In a related story, an Ireland-based Internet company said computer hackers had succeeded in shutting down East Timor's top-level domain -- .tp -- which countries are granted as their basis for Internet addresses.
ISP Connect Ireland, which administers the domain for the mainly Catholic, former Portugese colony occupied by Indonesia since 1975 and hosts a Web site critical of Indonesia, said they had been subjected to nine months of computer attacks which eventually forced the domain off the Internet. East Timor was granted the right to a top-level domain by Internet operating agencies, asserting the country's sovereignty in the face of the Indonesian government's occupation. The United Nations does not recognize Indonesia's claims of sovereignty over East Timor and still views Portugal as the administering power.
"We noticed that the East Timor domain was available and assumed that the Indonesians would not wish to register it for political reasons," said Connect Project Director Martin Maguire. "We made a suggestion to the East Timor Campaign and they were interested," he said. "So we set up the first virtual country on the Web as a platform for the East Timorese."
"We can only guess at where the attacks are coming from, but it's not the Vatican or the UN," Maguire said. "The Indonesian government is known to be extremely antagonistic to this display of virtual sovereignty." The Indonesian Embassy in London denied any involvement in the attacks.
Discrimination over gender, race, or creed is already forbidden, and university officials have said they don't believe the policy needs to be expanded. "The primary spirit animating this is moral, because whereas in a secular environment this is seen as a simple matter of civil rights, that's not the way it's viewed through a Catholic prism," said spokesman Dennis Moore. However, about 100 students began a hunger strike on Wednesday to protest the current policy.
The proposed policy change was approved last year by the Faculty Senate and the Academic Council. University President Father Edward Malloy had urged the Academic Council to reject the proposal last November, and Moore said Father Malloy would argue against it again this week when the trustees meet in London.
He said that the slanders sustained against him were but "vain voices and innocuous writings" written by people "ignorant, anticlerical and extremely liberal but already out of date." The Bishop also pointed out that "on the other hand the reasonable people, free and even non believing welcomed the Pope's messages with approval, some even made purpose of taking them to practice and others even decided to change the direction of their lives." Later on he pointed out that the warm welcoming to the Holy Father and his message, can be in no way considered as "fanaticism nor fetishism, even less as idolatry, as some stubbornly said," it is rather a sample of the validity of the "social doctrine of the Church that doesn't have its origin in any political party or ideology, but rather in the Gospel."
In a related story, the Archdiocese of Mexico City has issued a statement of clarification explaining critical remarks by Pope John Paul II about "Indian theology" in Mexico.
During his plane trip to Mexico last week, the Holy Father told reporters that while liberation theology was no longer a crucial influence, the "Indian theology" promoted by some Mexican Catholic leaders-- particularly in the troubled region of Chiapas-- is also a matter for concern, because it involves "another version of Marxism."
Remarkably enough, the controversial Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia, who is generally identified as a proponent of "Indian theology," claimed to find support in the Pope's remarks. In support of that interpretation, he noted the Pontiff's strong statements of support for the Indian peoples of Mexico.
The Archdiocese of Mexico City, seeking to resolve the debate, has issued a statement explaining while Pope John Paul fully supports the rights of Indians, he rejects "Indian theology" insofar as it "tends toward Marxism and class confrontation."
"John Paul II energetically condemned the attempt to replace liberation theology with Indian theology, of Marxist inspiration, which is obviously not in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church," the archdiocesan statement concludes. "The route to solution of our nation's social and economic problems, the Pontiff says, lies in solidarity."