Print Edition: Feb. 22, 2015
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BY John Lilly
High Court Says Church Can Use Banned Drug
WASHINGTON — In a
unanimous decision Feb. 21, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the right of a
small religious sect to use a federally prohibited tea in its religious
The decision in Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal was one
of the first to be written by new Chief Justice John Roberts. All the other
justices joined in the opinion, except the court’s newest member, Associate
Justice Samuel Alito Jr., who did not take part in consideration of the case
because he was not on the court when the case was heard.
The Brazilian-based church, which has
about 130 members in New Mexico, California and Colorado, had received support
in the case from groups that included the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
and the American Civil Liberties Union because of its potential implications
for government decision-making about what constitutes a religious ritual. The
case involved the sect’s use of a tea containing the hallucinogenic drug
dimethyltryptamine, known as DMT, which is prohibited under the federal
Controlled Substances Act.
California Braces for Assisted Suicide Push
PORTLAND, Ore. —
Catholic leaders in California, facing an energized drive to legalize assisted
suicide, are reviewing lessons learned in Oregon.
In 1997, advocates of the Oregon Death
with Dignity Act used anti-Catholic rhetoric to combat a repeal bid. One group
paying for radio ads called itself the “Don’t Let ‘Em Shove Their Religion Down
Your Throat Committee.”
“We’re well aware of what happened in
Oregon and how the Church became a target and how that made a difference,” said
Carol Hogan, communications director of the California Catholic Conference,
which represents the state’s Catholic bishops on public policy issues.
California’s Senate Judiciary Committee
was expected to hold hearings soon on a bill to legalize assisted suicide.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has said he would rather see assisted
suicide addressed in a voter initiative than in the Legislature.
Former American Head of Vatican Bank Dies
SUN CITY, Ariz. —
Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, often regarded as the most powerful American in the
Vatican during his 18 years as president of the Vatican bank, died Feb. 20 at
his home in Sun City, apparently of natural causes. He was 84 years old.
His funeral Mass was to be celebrated
March 2 at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago, his home archdiocese, with Chicago’s
Cardinal Francis George as chief celebrant. Burial was to follow at St. Casimir
Cemetery in Chicago.
The U.S.-born archbishop, who spent 38
years in Vatican service before his retirement in 1990, headed the Vatican bank
from 1971 to 1989 and was head of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City
State from 1981 to 1990.
Under his watch the bank was involved —
unwittingly, he and the Vatican always maintained — in a major 1980s Italian
banking scandal. He also served as advance man for the global travels of Pope
Paul VI and Pope John Paul II from 1964 to 1982 and paid special attention to
security arrangements at all papal visit sites.
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