TWO GERMAN lawyers have initiated charges against Pope Benedict XVI at the International Criminal Court, alleging crimes against humanity.
Christian Sailer and Gert-Joachim Hetzel, based at Marktheidenfeld in the Pope’s home state of Bavaria, last week submitted a 16,500-word document to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court at the Hague, Dr Luis Moreno Ocampo.
Their charges concern “three worldwide crimes which until now have not been denounced . . . (as) the traditional reverence toward ‘ecclesiastical authority’ has clouded the sense of right and wrong”.
They claim the Pope “is responsible for the preservation and leadership of a worldwide totalitarian regime of coercion which subjugates its members with terrifying and health-endangering threats”.
They allege he is also responsible for “the adherence to a fatal forbiddance of the use of condoms, even when the danger of HIV-Aids infection exists” and for “the establishment and maintenance of a worldwide system of cover-up of the sexual crimes committed by Catholic priests and their preferential treatment, which aids and abets ever new crimes”.
They claim the Catholic Church “acquires its members through a compulsory act, namely, through the baptism of infants that do not yet have a will of their own”. This act was “irrevocable” and is buttressed by threats of excommunication and the fires of hell.
It was “a grave impairment of the personal freedom of development and of a person’s emotional and mental integrity”. The Pope was “responsible for its preservation and enforcement and, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of his Church, he was jointly responsible” with Pope John Paul II.
Catholics “threatened by HIV-AIDS . . . are faced with a terrible alternative: If they protect themselves with condoms during sexual intercourse, they become grave sinners; if they do not protect themselves out of fear of the punishment of sin threatened by the church, they become candidates for death.”
There was also “strong suspicion that Dr Joseph Ratzinger, as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of his church and as Pope, has up to the present day systematically covered up the sexual abuse of children and youths and protected the perpetrators, thereby aiding and abetting further sexual violence toward young people”.
Now if only they’d do the same for Christianity and Islam..
A French court has convicted the Church of Scientology of fraud, but stopped short of banning the group from operating in France.
Two branches of the group’s operations and several of its leaders in France have been fined.
The case came after complaints from two women, one of whom said she was manipulated into paying more than 20,000 euros (£18,100) in the 1990s.
A Scientology spokesman told the BBC the verdict was “all bark and no bite”.
France regards Scientology as a sect, not a religion.
Prosecutors had asked for the group’s French operations to be dissolved and more heavily fined, but a legal loophole prevented any ban.
Instead, a Paris judge ordered the Church’s Celebrity Centre and a bookshop to pay a 600,000-euro fine.
Alain Rosenberg, the group’s head in France, was handed a two-year suspended jail sentence and fined 30,000 euros.
Three other leading members of the group were also fined.
Ban ‘still possible’
Unlike the US, France has always refused to recognise Scientology as a religion, arguing that it is a purely commercial operation designed to make as much money as it can at the expense of often vulnerable victims, the BBC’s Emma Jane Kirby reports from Paris.
Over the past 10 years, France has taken several individual members of the group to court on charges of fraud and misleading publicity, but this is the first time the organisation itself has been charged, she says.
Tommy Davis, spokesman for the Church of Scientology International, told BBC News that the court had acted “in total violation of the European Convention on Human Rights and French constitutional guarantees on freedom”.
The case “fell flat on its face”, he said.
“The fines will get thrown out on appeal. We’ve had similar cases before and in other countries. If it has to go to the court of human rights we’re confident we will win there.”
Speaking by phone from the US, he said it was a “political gesture” against the organisation, but “Scientology will continue to grow in France”.
The Church of Scientology was founded in 1954 by the late science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard, and includes Hollywood stars such as John Travolta and Tom Cruise.
In the case leading up to Tuesday’s ruling, a woman said she was sold expensive life-improvement courses, vitamins and other products after taking a personality test.
A second woman alleges she was fired by her Scientologist boss after refusing to undergo testing and sign up to courses.
The organisation denied that any mental manipulation took place.
The court was unable to impose a ban because of a legal amendment that was passed just before the trial began, preventing the banning of an organisation convicted of fraud.
However, that amendment has now been changed.
“It is very regrettable that the law quietly changed before the trial,” Georges Fenech, the head of the Inter-ministerial Unit to Monitor and Fight Cults, told French TV.
“The system has now been put in place by parliament and it is certain that in the future, if new offences are committed, a ban could eventually be pronounced,” he said.
A lawyer defending Scientology’s operations in France said there would be an appeal.
Eric Roux, a spokesman for the Celebrity Centre, urged France to recognise Scientology’s “legality”.
“Religious freedom is in danger in this country,” he said.
–noun; the method of treating disease by pseudo-scientific bullshit methods, that often causes a marginally sick person with curable illnesses or diseases to degrade and become critically or terminally ill; similar to religion (opposed to LOGIC, SCIENCE, MEDICINE, SANITY, NON-RETARDED-BULLSHIT ).
A couple who failed to seek medical treatment for their baby daughter, who was severely ill with eczema before an infection killed her, wept in the dock today as they were jailed for her manslaughter.
Thomas Sam, 42, and his wife Manju, 37, were convicted in the NSW Supreme Court over the death of nine-month-old Gloria, with a jury accepting they were guilty of criminal negligence.
Sentencing Thomas Sam to a minimum of six years in jail and Manju Sam to at least four, Justice Peter Johnson said Gloria was subjected to significant pain over an extended period and her parents’ failure to seek proper help for her amounted to cruelty.
“Gloria suffered helplessly and unnecessarily … from a condition that was treatable,” the judge said.
Gloria was happy and healthy for the first four months of her life, but then developed eczema.
The court heard that, despite medical advice to seek specialist treatment, her parents repeatedly failed to make or attend appointments.
Instead, her father – who taught and practised homeopathy – treated her himself.
By the time her weakened immune system succumbed to an infection in May 2002, her black hair had turned white and her body was covered with an oozing rash.
She died three days after being admitted to the Children’s Hospital at Randwick.
Medical experts told the trial that, had she been given medical attention a week earlier, she probably could have been saved.
Justice Johnson said Thomas Sam displayed “an arrogant approach to what he perceived to be the superior benefits of homeopathy compared with conventional medicine”.
The judge said that, while Sam’s wife deferred to her husband, she had “failed the child in her most important duty, with fatal results”.
It was overwhelmingly clear that homeopathy would not suffice in dealing with the severity of Gloria’s condition, Justice Johnson said, and there was a “wide chasm” between her parents’ approach and the action a reasonable parent would have taken in those circumstances.
“The omission of the offenders to seek proper assistance for her may be characterised accurately as cruelty,” he said.
He jailed Thomas Sam for a maximum eight years, and Manju Sam for a maximum five years and four months.
The weeping couple embraced in the dock before they were led into custody.
Marie Marot does not speak English, but the nun’s broad grin did not require translation from her native French.
“See that? That’s a million-dollar smile,” Marot’s attorney, Don Brewer, said Tuesday afternoon outside a Kane County courtroom where a jury found Marot not guilty of running a red light moments before a fatal crash in an Elgin intersection in 2007.
Marot, 24, who belongs to the Fraternite Notre Dame order, was driving a van to her Chicago convent about 12:15 a.m. on Oct. 7, 2007, when she slammed into a Honda Civic carrying four teens at the intersection of Illinois Highway 72 and Randall Road. One of the Honda passengers, Keith Forbes, 16, of Carpentersville, died in the collision.
Authorities accused Marot of running a red light as she drove south on Randall. But the nun, who had been working prior to the crash at the Algonquin pastry shop operated by her order, has contended her signal was green, Brewer said.
Jurors, who deliberated about 30 minutes before reaching their verdict in the two-day trial, left the courthouse without comment. Prosecutors also declined to comment.
Marot’s superior, Mother Marie Martha, lauded the decision. About 20 nuns from the Fraternite Notre Dame attended the trial Tuesday.
“We just thank God, and we are happy that the truth came to light,” Marie Martha said.
Jurors did not hear testimony about Forbes’ death because Judge Ron Matekaitis decided it could prejudice the trial. Marot was not charged in Forbes’ death.
Despite objections from prosecutors, Marot was allowed by Matekaitis to wear her habit during the trial. She did not testify and her attorneys did not call any witnesses, choosing to attack the credibility of the prosecution witnesses. In his closing argument, Brewer accused the driver of the Civic, Alexis Pena, 18, of East Dundee, of lying.
Pena testified Monday that she was certain she had the right of way as she drove west on Illinois 72 to drop off a friend. That friend, Jameson Sanchez, testified Tuesday that the signal was green.
But Brewer said the teens went through the red light and then later blamed Marot.
“She ran the red light,” Brewer said of Pena, who shook her head in disagreement as she sat in the courtroom with her mother.
Another motorist, Miguel Realzola of Crystal Lake, testified Tuesday that Marot’s van was ahead of him by about six car lengths as they approached the red light. The van did not slow down as it ran the light and plowed into the Civic, he said.
But Brewer attacked Realzola’s credibility, saying the witness had made a deal with prosecutors over pending traffic charges and a misdemeanor charge. Realzola and prosecutors denied there was any deal.
“I don’t think he can be believed,” Brewer said to the jury about Realzola.
Had Marot been found guilty of the traffic violation, she would have faced a fine. The verdict could have implications on civil lawsuits filed against Marot by Pena, another passenger, and the family of Forbes.
“It’s a major boost for the defense in the civil case,” Brewer said.
Marot’s order is a “traditional Catholic” group but is not affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church.
The father of a 13-year-old boy whose family has refused treatment for his cancer is urging his son and wife to come back, after neither of them showed up for a court appearance.
A Minnesota judge issued an arrest warrant Tuesday for the mother of Daniel Hauser after she and the boy did not attend a court hearing. A judge had scheduled the hearing to review an X-ray ordered by the court to assess whether the boy’s Hodgkin’s lymphoma was worsening.
The boy’s father, Anthony Hauser, testified at the hearing that he last saw his wife at the family’s farm on Monday night, when she told him she was going to leave “for a time.”
He later told a reporter that he would like his wife and son to return.
“I’d like to tell them, you know, ‘Come back and be safe and be a family again,’ ” he said. “That’s what I’d like to tell them.”
District Judge John R. Rodenberg of Brown County, Minnesota, said that the boy’s “best interests” require him to receive medical care. His family opposes the proposed course of treatment, which includes chemotherapy.
“It is imperative that Daniel receive the attention of an oncologist as soon as possible,” the judge wrote.
During the hearing, Dr. James Joyce testified that he saw the boy and his mother on Monday at his office. He said the boy had “an enlarged lymph node” near his right clavicle and that the X-ray showed “significant worsening” of a mass in his chest.
In addition, the boy complained of “extreme pain” at the site where a port had been inserted to deliver an initial round of chemotherapy. The pain was “most likely caused by the tumor or mass pressing on the port,” testified Joyce, who called the X-ray “fairly dramatic” evidence that the cancer was worsening.
Rodenberg ordered custody of the boy transferred to Brown County Family Services and issued a contempt order for the mother.
A call to the family’s home in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, was not immediately returned.
Philip Elbert, Daniel’s court-appointed attorney, said he considers his client to have a “diminished capacity” because of his age and the illness and believes Daniel should be treated by a cancer specialist.
Elbert added that he does not believe Daniel — who, according to court papers, cannot read — has enough information to make an informed decision regarding his treatment.
Daniel’s symptoms of persistent cough, fatigue and swollen lymph nodes were diagnosed in January as Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In February, the cancer responded well to an initial round of chemotherapy, but the treatment’s side effects concerned the boy’s parents, who then opted not to pursue further chemo and instead sought out other medical opinions.
Court documents show that the doctors estimated the boy’s chance of five-year remission with more chemotherapy and possibly radiation at 80 percent to 95 percent.
But the family opted for a holistic medical treatment based upon Native American healing practices called Nemenhah and rejected further treatment.
In a written statement issued last week, an attorney for the parents said they “believe that the injection of chemotherapy into Danny Hauser amounts to an assault upon his body, and torture when it occurs over a long period of time.”
Medical ethicists say parents generally have a legal right to make decisions for their children, but there is a limit.
“You have a right, but not an open-ended right,” Arthur Caplan, director of the center for bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, told CNN last week. “You can’t compromise the life of your child.”
LINCOLN, Neb. – A judge has thrown out a Nebraska legislator’s lawsuit against God, saying the Almighty wasn’t properly served due to his unlisted home address.filed the lawsuit last year seeking a permanent injunction against God.
He said God has made terroristic threats against the senator and his constituents in Omaha, inspired fear and caused “widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth’s inhabitants.”
Chambers has said he filed the lawsuit to make the point that everyone should have access to the courts regardless of whether they are rich or poor.
On Tuesday, however, Douglas County District Court Judge Marlon Polk ruled that under state law a plaintiff must have access to the defendant for a lawsuit to move forward.
“Given that this court finds that there can never be service effectuated on the named defendant this action will be dismissed with prejudice,” Polk wrote.
Chambers, who graduated from law school but never took the bar exam, thinks he’s found a hole in the judge’s ruling.
“The court itself acknowledges the existence of God,” Chambers said Wednesday. “A consequence of that acknowledgment is a recognition of God’s omniscience.”
Therefore, Chambers said, “Since God knows everything, God has notice of this lawsuit.”
Chambers has 30 days to decide whether to appeal. He said he hasn’t decided yet.
Chambers, who has served a record 38 years in the Nebraska Legislature, is not returning next year because of term limits. He skips morning prayers during the legislative session and often criticizes Christians.
Why is this man said to have “significant mental health issues” because he said that god asked him to kill evil people? If he claimed that god asked him to attend church and sing songs and praise and all that, would he be more sane?
SEATTLE – Authorities said the man accused of a shooting rampage that left six people dead in northwest Washington stole the guns used in the attacks as well as a pickup truck involved in a high-speed chase.
According to court documents unsealed Wednesday in Skagit County District Court, Isaac Zamora stole a rifle, a handgun and ammunition from a residence near his mother’s home in the small town of Alger, about 70 miles north of Seattle.
The Sept. 2 shootings that claimed the life of a Skagit County sheriff‘s deputy, two Alger area residents and two construction workers, continued as the shooter fled south on Interstate 5, firing at two cars and a Washington State Patrol trooper on the freeway, fatally injuring one driver.
After a high-speed police pursuit, Zamora, 28, surrendered at a sheriff’s office in Mount Vernon, about 20 miles south of Alger.
Zamora has been charged with six counts of murder and four counts of assault. He is being held on $5 million bail with his next court appearance set for Oct. 3.
According to court documents, in a police interview after his arrest Zamora refused to discuss his specific actions but said God told him what to do and told him to “kill evil.”
“God, why did I do it?” he blurted at one point in the interview.
Zamora’s only comment in court when he was charged last Friday was to twice declare: “I kill for God. I listen to God.”
Keith Tyne, a public defender appointed to represent Zamora, has said little about the case. After Zamora was charged, Tyne said, “Clearly there are significant mental health issues at play.”
According to the documents, the events on Sept. 2 began with a 911 call from Dennise Zamora, the mother of Isaac Zamora, who called police because she was afraid her son was breaking into neighbor’s houses, and might get shot doing so. Dennise Zamora has said her son has struggled for years with serious mental illness.
The lawyer for one of the plaintiffs behind the case told the BBC that if convicted the controversial Church could be banned.
The Church has faced stiff opposition in France as well as Germany, where it has been declared unconstitutional.
The French branch of the Church of Scientology said it had been cleared of “numerous” similar charges.
It said such charges should not be brought to court again.
This case stems from claims by a woman who said she was approached by Scientologists in a Paris street in 1998 and offered a free personality test.
She says she ended up handing over more than 20,000 euros (Â£16,000) for courses, books, illegally prescribed drugs and an “electrometer” supposed to measure fluctuations in her mental state.
Olivier Morice, a lawyer for the woman and for one other plaintiff in the case, says the case could be brought before the court by the end of the year or in early 2009.
Scientology was founded in the United States in the 1950s by science-fiction writer L Ron Hubbard.
It has attracted stars such as Tom Cruise, John Travolta and the late Isaac Hayes.
But it been accused in some countries of cult-like practices and exploiting its followers financially.
Scientologists reject this and say that they promote a religion based on the understanding of the human spirit.
France refuses to recognise Scientology as a religion, categorising it as a purely commercial operation and keeping it under surveillance.
In Germany last year, federal and state interior ministers declared the Church of Scientology unconstitutional, and in France in 2000 a government committee recommended dissolving the Church.
However, in October a Spanish court ruled that the Church of Scientology of Spain should be re-entered into the country’s register of officially recognised religions.
Â Nice to see some courts tearing apart religions for forcing their trash on others. Fuck Sharia Law.
France has denied citizenship to a Moroccan woman who wears a burqa on the grounds that her “radical” practice of Islam is incompatible with basic French values such as equality of the sexes.
The case yesterday reopened the debate about Islam in France, and how the secular republic reconciles itself with the freedom of religion guaranteed by the French constitution.
The woman, known as Faiza M, is 32, married to a French national and lives east of Paris. She has lived in France since 2000, speaks good French and has three children born in France. Social services reports said she lived in “total submission” to her husband. Her application for French nationality was rejected in 2005 on the grounds of “insufficient assimilation” into France. She appealed, invoking the French constitutional right to religious freedom and saying that she had never sought to challenge the fundamental values of France. But last month the Council of State, France’s highest administrative body, upheld the ruling.
“She has adopted a radical practice of her religion, incompatible with essential values of the French community, particularly the principle of equality of the sexes,” it said.
“Is the burqa incompatible with French citizenship?” asked Le Monde, which broke the story. The paper said it was the first time the level of a person’s personal religious practice had been used to rule on their capacity be to assimilated into France.
The legal expert who reported to the Council of State said the woman’s interviews with social services revealed that “she lives almost as a recluse, isolated from French society”.
The report said: “She has no idea about the secular state or the right to vote. She lives in total submission to her male relatives. She seems to find this normal and the idea of challenging it has never crossed her mind.”
The woman had said she was not veiled when she lived in Morocco and had worn the burqa since arriving in France at the request of her husband. She said she wore it more from habit than conviction.
Yes, it’s a cult. Who wants to take me to court?
A teenager is facing prosecution for using the word “cult” to describe the Church of Scientology.
The unnamed youth was served the summons by City of London police when he took part in a peaceful demonstration opposite the London headquarters of the controversial religion.
Officers confiscated a placard with the word “cult” on it from the youth, who is under 18, and a case file has been sent to the Crown Prosecution Service.
A date has not yet been set for him to appear in court.
The decision to issue the summons has angered human rights activists and support groups for the victims of cults.
The incident happened during a protest against the Church of Scientology on May 10. Demonstrators from the anti-Scientology group, Anonymous, who were outside the church’s Â£23m headquarters near St Paul’s cathedral, were banned by police from describing Scientology as a cult by police because it was “abusive and insulting”.
Writing on an anti-Scientology website, the teenager facing court said: “I brought a sign to the May 10th protest that said: ‘Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult.’
“‘Within five minutes of arriving I was told by a member of the police that I was not allowed to use that word, and that the final decision would be made by the inspector.”
A policewoman later read him section five of the Public Order Act and “strongly advised” him to remove the sign. The section prohibits signs which have representations or words which are threatening, abusive or insulting.
The teenager refused to back down, quoting a 1984 high court ruling from Mr Justice Latey, in which he described the Church of Scientology as a “cult” which was “corrupt, sinister and dangerous”.
After the exchange, a policewoman handed him a court summons and removed his sign.
On the website he asks for advice on how to fight the charge: “What’s the likelihood I’ll need a lawyer? If I do have to get one, it’ll have to come out of my pocket money.”
Writing on the same website, another anonymous demonstrator said: “We also protested outside another Scientology building in Tottenham Court Road which is policed by a separate force, the Metropolitan police, who have never tried to stop us using the word cult.
“We’re completely peaceful protesters expressing a perfectly valid opinion. This whole thing stinks.”