Black Collar CrimesClergy Crimes

July –
October 1999


  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Canada
  • China
  • France
  • Ireland
  • Russia
  • Rwanda
  • Spain
  • Vatican
  • Zimbabwe



    BUENOS AIRES — Argentine police have arrested a prominent priest and a former banker on fraud charges in connection with the collapse of a bank two years ago, police and court sources said.

    Msg. Roberto Toledo and former banker Juan Miguel Trusso were detained in Buenos Aires in connection with the failure in 1997 of Banco de Credito Provincial (BCP). A court issued the warrants for their arrest.

    Toledo, a priest in a blue-collar suburb, was arrested on fraud charges while Trusso was arrested on fraud and conspiracy charges, police and court sources said.

    Juan Miguel is brother of Francisco Javier Trusso, a former BCP director who was arrested earlier this year in Brazil on conspiracy and fraud charges. The Trusso brothers are sons of a former Argentine envoy to the Vatican. Toledo was accused of taking funds from the archbishopric's account at BCP. Juan Miguel Trusso, a lawyer and BCP shareholder, was suspected of providing legal advice to those taking part in the alleged conspiracy.

    Earlier this year the Archbishop of Buenos Aires Jorge Bergoglio took Argentina's Central Bank to court for failing to prevent the BCP bank fraud, which he said sullied the name of the Roman Catholic Church.

    In 1997, a judge called now-deceased Archbishop of Buenos Aires Antonio Quarracino to testify on why he had received but never repaid a $10 million loan listed in BCP's books. An investigation eventually concluded that Quarracino's signature had been faked, and the archbishop was never charged.

    But 7 months after Quarracino died, the Central Bank raided his office in Dec. 1998 searching for information on his financial transactions.
    Reuters 11/2/99

    BUENOS AIRES — A judge has told Argentina's best-known television preacher to chose between cleaning public bathrooms for two years or standing trial for alleged criminal fraud, a court source said.

    Evangelist preacher Hector Gimenez faces charges that he defrauded a worshiper at his "Good Waves" shrine in Buenos Aires and must now opt between cleaning bathrooms or going to trial, the source told Reuters.

    Gimenez is accused of illegally selling the worshiper a house using a bogus contract. Argentine judges in some cases can offer those accused of crimes the option of performing community work rather than standing trial. Gimenez's shrine also includes a shopping mall, beauty salon, car rental firm and game room.
    Reuters, 7/19



    MELBOURNE — A magistrate told a Catholic priest who admitted to indecently assaulting a young parishioner that he was saddened that a man of such high standing should fall so low. Raymond Deal, 51, former secretary to retired Melbourne Abp. Frank Little, pleaded guilty to 3 charges. Deal was charged with assaulting a 26-year-old man at his Corpus Christi parish, between Dec. 1998 and March 1999. The judge gave Deal a two-year good behavior bond for the first two offences and a 4-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, for the third offence.

    Defense counsel earlier told the court that Deal's sorrow and remorse for his crimes was evident in a taped telephone conversation with the victim on 30 March. He made a complete confession and revealed that his excessive alcohol intake — up to a bottle of whisky a day — had undermined his inhibitions and impaired his judgment. "it became clear during medical diagnosis that at the time of the offences Deal, although he did not acknowledge it, was clearly homosexual and alcoholic," he told the court.
    Age, 7/22/99



    VIENNA — An unidentified priest arrested during raids against a child pornography ring has admitted sexually abusing 12 boys, Austrian police said. The victims — aged between 10 and 12 — were pupils at an Upper Austrian boarding school where the 33-year-old priest taught religion until his arrest, police said.

    Police have arrested 5 men, including the priest, believed to have been running a child pornography ring over the Internet, Austrian newspapers said. Possession of child pornography in Austria carries a maximum prison sentence of 6 months, distribution of material 2 years and membership of a child pornography ring 3 years.
    Reuters, 8/9/99



    PRINCE GEORGE, British Columbia — A 5,000-member Anglican diocese may face bankruptcy if it is forced to pay major damages as a result of a series of court cases on sexual abuse.

    The Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled that the Diocese of Cariboo, the Anglican Church of Canada and the federal government were jointly liable for compensation in the case of Floyd Mowatt, who was sexually abused 30 years ago at a church residential school in British Columbia.

    The amount of damages has not yet been made public, but the Anglican Journal, the church's national publication, estimated the church's portion of the award at about C$200,000 (US$135,000). Although the Diocese of Cariboo has sufficient resources to pay its share of damages, there are 4 more actions pending related to the same offender. It is expected that the award will be the same in each of the cases, which are likely to be dealt with quickly in the courts because they are based on the evidence already presented in the Mowatt case.

    Derek Clarke, a residence supervisor at St George's residential school in Lytton, was convicted in 1993 and jailed for sexually abusing the plaintiff and several other boys. The issue before Justice Dillon was to determine who the employer was and who should pay the damages. She found the church, which ran the institution and had hired Clarke, 60% responsible and the government, under whose mandate the school operated, 40% responsible. She found they both breached their duty, but that the church, in a position of trust, had greater liability for failing to protect the children in their charge.

    The diocese might be faced with bankruptcy, Abp. David Crawley said. He said: "The Primate [Archbishop Michael Peers, head of the Canadian church] has publicly apologized for our involvement in the residential school business and what happened at them. The church will pay its obligations."

    This is the first decision involving residential schools and the Anglican Church. The church still faces more than 200 similar lawsuits involving hundreds of plaintiffs.
    ENI, 10/5/99

    CAP-DE-LA-MADELEINE, Quebec — The Roman Catholic Church will not apologize to Quebec orphans who say they were beaten and sexually abused in church-run psychiatric institutions decades ago.

    But Msg. Pierre Morissette, who heads the assembly of Quebec bishops that issued the decision, said the bishops support the government's offer of $3 million to orphans who claim they were abused.

    An apology, however, "would constitute a denial of the historic work accomplished under difficult conditions by the religious communities involved," Morissette said.

    The $3 million offer by Premier Lucien Bouchard's government has been rejected as inadequate. The church itself plans no compensation for the so-called Duplessis orphans, Morissette said.

    As children, most of them poor and born to single mothers, they were placed in church-run orphanages and psychiatric institutions during the period when Maurice Duplessis was premier of Quebec. Quebec is heavily Roman Catholic, and out-of-wedlock births at the time were a source of deep shame. Many of the 3,000 survivors claim they were beaten, molested or raped at the institutions. Some allege they were given electroshocks and confined to straitjackets even though there was nothing wrong with them.
    AP, 9/16/99

    KINGSTON — Two Roman Catholic priests performed an exorcism on a former altar boy after he confided he'd been sexually abused by another Kingston priest, the alleged victim claims. The man, now 36, alleges the exorcism, performed when he was a 16-year-old student at Regiopolis Notre Dame High School, was done by Fr. Jim MacGillivary, then the chaplain at the school, and Fr. Brian McNally, then chaplain at Hotel Dieu Hospital.

    The allegations are contained in a civil lawsuit launched by the man and two other people against the priests and a number of organizations. The priests and the Kingston archdiocese deny the exorcism took place. The court papers do not describe why the ritual was allegedly performed.

    "As a result of the exorcism, the [man] suffered a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized, causing him to miss a year of his schooling," the lawsuit says.

    The exorcism allegation is another bizarre element in the strange case of Fr. Paul Hughes, a fugitive priest wanted in Kingston on 7 sex charges. Hughes was arrested by Kingston Police in 1995 and charged with sex offences involving 3 boys in the early 1970s.

    The civil suit was filed by two of the 3 complainants in the criminal case. Hughes vanished after he was released from custody, on a promise that he'd appear in a Kingston courtroom Aug. 29, 1995. The Whig-Standard revealed Hughes is collecting taxpayer-subsidized federal pensions through a mailing address in South Africa. Police and federal agencies say they are powerless to stop the payments or to bring Hughes back to Canada to face the charges. The disappearance of the central figure in the case hasn't stopped the alleged victims from suing everyone else connected to the matter.

    The lawsuit also names: the Archdiocese of Kingston; Abp. Frances Spence; the estate of the deceased archbishop, Joseph Lawrence Wilhelm; St. Joseph's Church and the Religious Hospitallers of Saint Joseph of Hotel Dieu Hospital. The Catholic school board was dropped from the lawsuit in Dec. 1998, but court documents do not indicate why.

    MacGillivary acknowledged that a student confided to him in 1978, claiming Hughes had abused him. MacGillivary did not report the allegation to church superiors or to the police, he said. The priest said, in the 1995 interview, the student wouldn't let him report the accusation to others. "He just wasn't ready to go any further," MacGillivary said, in a 1995 interview. The priest said he and another priest met with the student for 3 or 4 counseling sessions.

    All of the defendants named in the suit have filed documents denying the allegations.
    Whig-Standard, 7/12/99



    HONG KONG – Along with the Falun Gong, another Chinese sect has come under attack by the government. A Chinese court has sentenced the leader of Christian sect to death for swindling fellow sect members, a Hong Kong-based human rights group said.

    Liu Jia-guo, 34, leader of the Jusen sect in Hunan province, is appealing against his death sentence, which was handed down on June 21, said the Information Center of Human Rights & Democratic Movement in China.

    An intermediate Chinese court said Liu had misappropriated up to 200,000 yuan ($24,200) collected from sect members over 5 years. The money was supposed to fund sect activities and help poor followers.

    Over the past year, China has convicted 21 other members of the sect, sentencing them to jail terms of between 2 and 20 years. At least 40 other sect members have been sent to labor camps without trial, the center said.

    Liu became a Protestant in 1988 and founded the Jusen sect in 1993 in Hunan. The sect now has 20,000 members in 20 provinces, it said. The sect called for building a "God's country" and doing away with a "people's country". It convened a "country-wide conference of representatives" in Hunan in July 1997. Liu and 70 other sect members were subsequently arrested in June 1998 for "subversion", the center said. Chinese police have separately arrested two members of the banned opposition Chinese Democratic Party in Liaoning province. Wang Zechen, 55 and Guo Chengming, 34, were taken from their homes on May 25 and June 4 this year, respectively, for reasons related to "subversion", the center said. Wang is known for his role in opposing the Gang of 4, for which he was sentenced to death. He escaped capital punishment after the arrest of the Gang of 4 weeks after the death of the late Chairman Mao Zedong. Mao's wife Jiang Qing, who committed suicide in 1991, led the reviled Gang of 4.
    Reuters, 7/14/99



    GUINGAMP — A fundamentalist priest accused of manslaughter in the drowning of 4 boys at his summer camp admitted to a French court that he was not competent to teach sailing to youngsters.

    Jean-Yves Cottard, who arrived at court with a smile on his face and Latin breviary in his hand, wilted under cross-examination and admitted he was wrong to send 7 teenagers in an overloaded boat out onto the rough English Channel last year. Four boys, aged between 12 and 16, were drowned along with a passing yachtsman who fell overboard while hauling the survivors into his boat. No adults were on board the boys' boat and none of the teenagers had sailing licenses.

    "I have realized I was incompetent," admitted Cottard, whom some followers have said they regard as "Jesus Christ on Earth." "I'm not a trained sailor. I was not up to the task."

    If convicted he faces up to 5 years in prison.

    After the tragedy, Cottard was probed on charges of manslaughter through disregard for safety regulations. The case caused a scandal in France, but the traditionalists in his congregation firmly backed the priest and his stern methods.

    The presiding judge said Cottard's camp, which stressed quasi-military discipline to toughen up the teenagers in his care, was in fact nothing like the camp to which parents thought they were sending their children.
    Until now, families of the dead boys have said they did not hold Cottard responsible and some even wanted him freed from custody last year to celebrate their sons' funeral mass.

    During the police inquiry, Cottard admitted the boys had failed twice to make the 12-mile trip along the Breton coast before he sent them out on their third, fatal attempt.

    France's traditionalist scout groups have between 3,000 and 6,000 members. They are distinct from France's mainline Boy and Girl Scouts movements with between 120,000 and 150,000 members.
    Reuters, 10/19/99



    DUBLIN – Gardaí (national police) are expected to recommend that charges relating to serious sexual and physical abuse of boys in a Dublin industrial school be brought against a lay teacher and member of a religious order.

    The moves in a two-year-long investigation come at least a decade after complaints were first known to have been made to the Department of Education and management at the school, St Laurence's, in Finglas.

    A civil servant raised the issue of the allegations of abuse with the Dept. of Education as long ago as February 1988. It is also understood there had been repeated complaints from a concerned staff member from the 1970s.

    St Laurence's was set up by the De LaSalle order in 1972 and run by the order, with State funding and under the control of the Department of Education, until 1994 when the order withdrew from the school and handed its management over to the Department.

    The gardaí have had a difficult task tracing ex-inmates, who were usually between the ages of 12 and 14 when they were at the school. Several are known to have drifted into lives of drug abuse and prostitution. One former pupil committed suicide in Birmingham two years ago.

    The matter of the allegations of abuse at the school was drawn to the attention of the Dáil Committee on Public Accounts 3 years ago and a Garda investigation began two years ago. A file is being prepared by investigating officers and is due to be sent to the prosecutor who will decide whether or not there is a basis for criminal charges.

    It is understood the gardaí have taken statements from several former pupils at St Laurence's who made serious allegations about both sexual abuse and violent beatings.

    The investigation is also understood to involve contact with officers in other police forces including the RUC who had carried out similar investigations. A two-year investigation was carried out by the RUC into allegations about another De LaSalle boys' home, at Kircubbin, Co. Down, about allegations of abuse dating from the mid-1970s.
    Irish Times, 7/29/99



    MOSCOW — The Russian Orthodox Church removed a bishop who was accused of sodomy and extortion, officials said. It was an attempt to end the worst scandal in the church since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the first one ever covered by a free Russian press.

    The Holy Synod, the church's supreme body, ruled earlier this week that Bp. Nikon of Yekaterinburg retire to a monastery far away from his diocese in central Russia. He is one of the highest-ranking church officials to be removed in recent years.

    The Synod said in a statement that the decision was prompted by Nikon's "mistakes," which "led to a division between clergy and lay people and caused confusion among believers and the public."

    It said Nikon himself asked to be relieved of his duties "for the sake of church peace."

    The Synod did not mention allegations made by other priests that Nikon engaged in sodomy and extortion. The church has also set up a special commission to investigate the charges against Nikon, and may consider punishing him further though they declined to defrock him at the time.

    Nikon was appointed to preside over Yekaterinburg diocese, one of the church's largest, in 1993 when he was just 33 - an unusually high position for such a young man.

    He gained notoriety last year when he confiscated writings by Orthodox theologians he did not agree with, and then publicly burned the texts. The Synod then sent an inspection team to check reports of Nikon's alleged misbehavior, including allegations that he and tried to seduce young men in his seminary. More than 50 priests complained that he demanded money to resolve administrative disputes, of his drunkenness and open homosexuality.

    The team said it did not find sufficient evidence, and the Synod in April ruled to keep Nikon on the job while removing some of his most vocal foes, including the two abbots who initiated the charges.

    But the protests continued and Nikon's critics leaked some of their allegations to the media, prompting the Synod this week to change its stance and send him to a remote monastery.
    NCR, AP, 7/22/99



    KIGALI — A Roman Catholic bishop went on trial on charges that he failed to offer sanctuary to victims of the 1994 genocide. Attorneys for Bp. Augustin Misago, 56, asked the judge to release the jailed clergyman on bail and requested more time to prepare their defense, Rwandan television said.

    The judge then adjourned the proceedings to consider the motions, it said.

    Misago, the bishop of the diocese of Gigonkoro in southwestern Rwanda, is the highest-ranking Rwandan cleric to face charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. He said he was forced to make difficult choices to protect his bishopric and is being made a scapegoat.

    At least 500,000 minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered in the 1994 bid by the then-extremist Hutu government to stay in power. More than 150,000 people are estimated to have been slaughtered in the Gigonkoro diocese alone. Misago, a Hutu, is alleged to have denied safe haven to Tutsi girls who disappeared and are thought to have been killed by extremist Hutu death squads.

    Several priests and nuns are among tens of thousands awaiting trial for actively participating in the killings. In 1998, two priests became the first members of the clergy to be sentenced to death for organizing the killing of 2,000 Tutsis by bulldozing the church in which they had sought shelter.

    62% of Rwanda's pre-genocide population of 7.8 million were practicing Catholics, making it the most Catholic country in Africa. The Roman Catholic hierarchy had close ties to the government before the genocide erupted.
    AP, 8/20/99

    For more on clergy involvement in the Rwandan genocide, see Hearts of Darkness.



    MADRID — Spanish priests, monks and nuns asked forgiveness for past cruelties, in line with similar apologies being made by Roman Catholic Church authorities ahead of 2000, a Holy Year.

    "There are shadows in our past and our present," said Jesus Maria Lecea, president of the Conference of Spanish Religious Workers that represents 72,000 male and female religious workers. Speaking after the group's annual meeting in Madrid, Lecea apologized for those who acted "as accomplices in oppressive and dictatorial systems."

    He drew particular attention to "those religious workers who worked closely with the Inquisition and the monks who were soldiers." He also asked forgiveness for "machismo against nuns." Lecea continued, "We hope these errors will never be repeated."

    The apology by Spanish religious workers follows recent requests for pardon from Pope John Paul II for historical wrongdoing. The pope has apologized for crimes committed by Catholics against Protestants during the counter Reformation, for involvement in the slave trade and for insufficient resistance to the Holocaust.

    A Vatican statement on the Inquisition is also expected in 2000, as part of an extensive mea culpa to mark the start of Christianity's third millennium. The Inquisition was established in the 13th century to suppress heresy and lasted hundreds of years. The Spanish version — dating from 1478 — was notoriously harsh, burning many alleged heretics at the stake.
    AP, 11/12/99



    VATICAN CITY — Beijing is looking ahead to establishing relations with the Vatican but it will be followed by a full-scale crackdown on underground Catholic churches, a policy paper by the Communist Party's Central Committee has been quoted as saying.

    The Vatican news agency, Fides, said it had obtained a 16-page paper issued by the Central Committee dated August 16.

    Fides said the paper upheld the primacy of the state-approved church after any establishment of relations and foresaw the forcible break-up of the underground church.

    The news agency quoted the policy paper as saying: "The Vatican will try to take advantage of the normalization of relations between China and the Vatican to deny the right of independence, sovereignty and autonomy in the [state-approved] church and work to regain the power of the Catholic Church in China."

    Those who fell short of full compliance to the state-approved church would be sentenced to re-education or labor camps, the paper was alleged to have said.

    It detailed wide-scale relocations to keep leaders of the underground church from gaining power within the state-approved church.

    That included dismantling convents and seminaries, Fides said, quoting the paper.

    Catholic sources said there had been persistent rumors in the past few months that mainland religious officials had visited bishops of underground Catholic churches urging them to register with the authorities and claiming that normal relations with the Vatican were imminent.

    The Vatican has said there is no accord to announce.

    When Pope John Paul visited India recently he expressed hope that Catholics on the mainland "would one day be able to exercise their religion in freedom".

    A Chinese government spokeswoman denied the report. The communist government insists that it should command the highest allegiance of Chinese Catholics rather than the Vatican. China set up a state-approved Catholic church in the 1950s and has imprisoned priests and worshippers who refuse to participate in it.
    Fides quoted the policy paper as saying Beijing would prevent leaders of the underground church from gaining power within the state-approved church once relations with the Vatican are established. However, it gave no timeframe for the establishment of ties.

    "The statement is completely groundless," Zhao Lei, a spokeswoman for the State Religious Affairs Commission, the government's highest-level body on religion, said when asked about the report.
    She added only the government's longtime assertion that "Chinese citizens enjoy full-scale freedom on religious beliefs." The spokeswoman said she was not authorized to say anything beyond those two sentences.

    The communist government insists that it should command the highest allegiance of Chinese Catholics rather than the Vatican. China set up a state-approved Catholic church in the 1950s and has imprisoned priests and worshippers who refuse to participate in it.
    ZENIT 11/11/99

    VATICAN CITY — Pope Pius XII's deep anti-Semitism contributed to his refusal to blatantly condemn Nazi atrocities during World War II, a new book says. Among newly discovered documents cited by writer John Cornwell is a letter the pope wrote in 1919, when he was a Vatican diplomat.

    The letter describes a group of revolutionary Jews in Munich, Germany, as "a gang of young women of dubious appearance, Jews like all the rest of them, hanging around in all the offices with provocative demeanor and suggestive smiles."

    The book, Hitler's Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII, is excerpted in the October issue of Vanity Fair.
    Vatican officials wouldn't comment, saying they had not read the magazine story.

    Pius XII has been criticized for failing to do more to help Jews during the war. The Vatican has consistently defended his conduct, claiming his behind-the-scenes work saved thousands of Jews. He has been praised for — among other things — ordering religious houses in Rome to hide Jews. Cornwell's sources include the pope's own files and depositions taken under oath 30 years ago to support his eventual canonization. Cornwell was given access to the secret Vatican archives because he initially set out to write a book vindicating the pope.

    Cornwell found that in 1942, envoys from Britain and the United States presented the pope with details about Nazi atrocities and asked him to condemn them.

    But the strongest public denunciation the pope made during the war — a Christmas Eve radio message in 1942 — simply mourned the plight of "hundreds of thousands who without any fault of their own, sometimes only by reason of their nationality or race, are marked down for death or gradual extinction."

    Cornwell wrote that Pius XII knew 1,000 Jews from Rome were to be deported to the death camps in October 1943 but he did nothing to warn or save them. Only 15 of them survived the war.

    Cornwell is the author of another controversial book about Vatican affairs, A Thief in the Night: The Death of Pope John Paul I. That book sought to dispel rumors that John Paul I was murdered by his own aides after serving for just 33 days in 1978.
    AP, 9/6/99

    ROME — Eager for juicy stories, the public has done what a court order from the Holy See failed to do: cleared store bookshelves of a gossipy, insider look at cardinals and other top Vatican officials.

    A decree, issued by a Holy See tribunal, orders one of the alleged authors, an Italian monsignor who retired two years ago after 45 years at the Vatican, to ensure that Gone with the Wind in the Vatican is taken off store shelves.

    The book appeared a few months ago to little fanfare, but after the retired cleric, Msg. Luigi Marinelli, said he had been told to appear with a lawyer at a Vatican court hearing, the book rushed off store shelves. He refused to attend a Holy See court hearing to determine if he should stand trial for the book filled with allegations about greed, corruption and arrogance at the Vatican.

    The Roman Rota, the Vatican tribunal more known for deciding marriage annulment cases, handled the closed-door hearing. The Vatican press office said the tribunal had requested that no members speak to reporters. In its only comment, the Vatican described the case as a defamation lawsuit.

    The 288-page volume paints some prelates as greedy for power and lacking in virtue, with vignettes ranging from a prelate being stopped at the border with Switzerland carrying a suitcase stuffed with cash to a bishop denounced in court by a youth for alleged sexual abuse. The identities are disguised - more or less.

    "Morality in the Vatican is infested by intrigue, corruption and favoritism," the book jacket says, alleging that promotions, including appointments to bishops' posts, are often the result of whom you know and not necessarily what you've accomplished.

    At Feltrinelli, a large chain bookstore, customers were told that the book had sold out in all 3 central Rome stores. The daily, largely secret, workings of the world behind the Vatican's fortified walls were intriguing even Milan, where stylists and financiers, not clergy and bureaucrats, usually make news.

    "They did a great service for the publisher," Marinelli, in an interview with Associated Press, said dryly of the Vatican court, the Roman Rota, which is more known for its decisions on marriage annulments. "The court made a nasty joke," Marinelli said. "The index of banned books doesn't exist any more."

    He was referring to the Vatican's Index of Forbidden Books, a now discontinued list of works Catholics were forbidden to read. The monsignor claimed that the work was a collaboration of many people interested in reforming the Roman Curia, the Vatican's bureaucratic machine.

    "We all don't even know each other," Marinelli said, adding, "I'm just the spokesman."

    A new manual, which was approved by Pope John Paul II this spring, warns Vatican employees that disclosing pontifical secrets is punishable by firing.

    Marinelli, 72, worked for many years at the Vatican's Congregation for Eastern Churches. Card. Achille Silvestrini, who is reputedly one of several top Vatican officials described by the book in thinly veiled detail, heads that congregation. Some observers have theorized Marinelli may have been bitter over his failure to become a bishop. He denies that was the motivation.
    AP 7/27/99


    VATICAN CITY — The Vatican has ordered an American priest and a nun to end their 22-year ministry to gays and lesbians because they refused to condemn homosexuality as intrinsically evil.

    Fr. Robert Nugent and Sr. Jeannine Gramick are barred for life from ministering to gays and lesbians, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said. It said Nugent and Gramick "have caused confusion among the Catholic people and have harmed the community of the church." It called their teachings both "erroneous and dangerous" and ordered them to refrain permanently from "any pastoral work involving homosexual persons."

    Pope John Paul II endorsed the congregation's decision in May, it said.

    Nugent and Gramick, who are based in Maryland, have been under investigation by the church for years. They repeatedly have defied Vatican demands to retract their teachings and to publicly condemn "the intrinsic evil of homosexual acts," the congregation said.

    In 1977, they founded the New Ways Ministry, a program that supports reconciliation for homosexuals with the Roman Catholic Church. The church ordered them in 1984 to break with their ministry, based in Washington, D.C. They were also told that any pastoral work with homosexuals must include "the church's teaching regarding the intrinsic evil of homosexual acts."

    Nugent and Gramick persisted with their message, publishing books. Their case was turned over to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1995.
    AP 7/13/99



    HARARE — In a verdict handed down recently, 3 Americans were convicted of possessing weapons of war and attempting to smuggle guns on board a commercial plane. The Americans, Joseph Pettijohn, 35, Gary Blanchard, 36, and John Dixon, 36, have sustained that they are missionaries of the Harvestfield Ministries Pentecostal church, located in Indiana.

    During the trial they testified that, after abandoning their mission in the war-stricken Congo, they hid 43 handguns, rifles and other weapons in their truck. They claim to have brought the weapons to Congo for self-defense and hunting, and wanted to take them back to the United States.

    The Americans face up to life imprisonment for possessing weapons and up to 7 years for trying to introduce them into commercial aircraft, where they were eventually detected and detained. Their defense attorney affirmed that the weapons were not intended for offensive use.

    The judge said he was surprised by Blanchard's testimony that the church group may have needed weapons to escape if war enveloped the mission. He told Associated Press that Blanchard's description "reminded me of what is normally seen in Westerns. It seems an unrealistic situation for people who say they are missionaries to fight their way out," he said.
    ZENIT 9/10/99



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