DAILY CATHOLIC     TUESDAY     June 16, 1998     vol. 9, no. 116

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- Pope John Paul II has greeted the opening of an international conference, held in Rome, dedicated to the creation of a permanent international court.

          The court is intended to judges the perpetrators of war crimes and other crimes against humanity. Speaking on Sunday, June 14, at the close of his weekly Angelus audience, the Holy Father voiced the hope that such a tribunal would mark "a historic moment in the mutual comprehension among peoples" of the world.

          The Pope also said that the Holy See would be an active participant in the conference setting the stage for an international court. Some critics have said that such a court could eventually become involved in the politics of individual nations, enforcing the declared policies of the United Nations-- including those UN statements which call for legalized abortion on demand. The Pope seemed to be taking such criticisms into account when he said that any international court must ensure that "all fundamental and inalienable human rights are adequately protected."

          Meanwhile, in Washington D.C. Senate Republicans announced on Saturday that they plan to oppose the planned United Nations International Criminal Court (ICC), saying it could undermine the US legal system.

          Sen. John Ashcroft, R-Missouri, said the ICC could effectively nullify the Bill of Rights protections, including freedom of speech and freedom from unwarranted search and seizure. "We cannot abandon those rights to an international criminal court," Ashcroft said at a news conference.

          Pro-life groups warned that in the current pro-abortion climate of the UN, vocal opposition to abortion could be declared a crime. "Within the proposed ICC criminal statutes there exists language that could make pro-life advocates war criminals simply for working on behalf of the unborn child," said Austin Ruse, director of the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute.

          A UN conference opened in Rome on Monday to discuss the creation of the court. The Clinton administration is in favor of the court, but wants it to focus on specific war crimes. Former Attorney General Edwin Meese said the ICC could initiate investigations and prosecutions of cases in the United States or involving US military operations overseas. The US and France support a plan to give the UN Security Council veto power over all International Criminal Court investigations.

          Pope John Paul said in his Sunday Angelus message that he will pray for the success of the conference in bringing justice to bear on serious crimes against humanity. "I hope that the work of this important conference will be inspired by the desire to appropriately safeguard basic and inalienable human rights," he said.

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.

June 16, 1998       volume 9, no. 116


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