- The Washington Times - Monday, October 2, 2000

A Roman Catholic bishop from Arlington, Va., urged Supreme Court justices and lawmakers yesterday to stop spending so much time sending e-mail and sitting in meetings and spend more time focusing on the human side of the cases they are about to hear.

Calling it "new humanism," Bishop Paul S. Loverde, told his audience of more than 800 to step back and look at a case through the lens of simple fairness. He said this will help them "bring justice to a broken world" and "to vindicate the rights of the weak and vulnerable."

The bishop made the remarks during a half-hour homily at the annual Red Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Northwest D.C. The Mass is held each year on the Sunday before the Supreme Court begins its fall term.

"So much of your time is spent with time sheets, agenda books, e-mail, faxes and meetings," Bishop Loverde said to the justices. "Your inner spirit surely thirsts for something more, indeed, for time to be with … the Holy One. In those treasured moments, your minds will be enlightened and your inner spirits renewed, so that your advocacy for justice and peace will be all the more authentic and real."

While Bishop Loverde was speaking, dozens of protesters lined the sidewalk across from the cathedral on Rhode Island Avenue to demand that the justices and lawmakers eliminate abortion and the death penalty.

Shouting "No justice, no peace" and waving signs that read "Abolish the Death Penalty" and "Stop All Abortions," the protesters called the justices "cowards," "killers" and "racists" as they walked past. Others yelled insults at parishioners as they left church after the service ended.

"You were in Mass with people who are killing our citizens," one protester yelled at a group of young parishioners, who ignored the comment and walked past him.

The Mass was attended by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, and two of the three Catholics on the bench Justices Clarence Thomas and Anthony M. Kennedy. Maureen Scalia represented her husband, Justice Antonin Scalia, who was out of town yesterday.

Representing the Clinton administration were Attorney General Janet Reno and FBI Director Louis J. Freeh and his family. Also in attendance were D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams and D.C. Council member Harold Brazil.

Some onlookers outside the church were dismayed by the protesters' comments. "It's sad that you can't even have morning Mass in peace anymore," said Harold Bixler of Northwest. "I'm very disappointed in them."

Many of the protesters said they chose to stand outside the church to personally deliver their messages to lawmakers and justices.

"They're allowing murder to continue," said Agnes, a pro-life activist from Maryland who declined to give her last name. "I think that the bishops and the Catholics should let their parishioners know that if they vote for a pro-choice candidate, they should be excommunicated from the church."

Does she think her message will be heard? "Probably not," Agnes said. "It's going to take an act of God for this to stop."

Madeleine Fletcher of Southeast said she came out to circulate a petition to ask lawmakers to put a national moratorium on executions. In three hours, she collected 44 signatures.

"The death penalty is applied unfairly in this country," Ms. Fletcher said. "Death rows are filled with those who didn't have adequate defense because they couldn't afford it. This must stop."

Inside, Bishop Loverde challenged lawmakers to apply the "new humanism" theory to make health care and education affordable and accessible to all Americans.

"Our nation leads the world in technological advancement, economic growth and military strength," he said. "Yet, there still exists a sad inequality among us in our society… . Each cries out for our collective response."

Bishop Loverde also urged the justices and lawmakers to help people learn to trust again. "We must learn to speak the truth of love, to proclaim the sanctity of all human life, both of the innocent and of the guilty, from conception through every stage until natural death," he said.

The bishop also praised attorneys who participate in the Archdiocesan Legal Network of Catholic Charities, an organization founded in 1989 by Cardinal James A. Hickey, archbishop of Washington, that provides pro bono legal services to low-income individuals and families in the District and Maryland. Yesterday afternoon, the cardinal honored three lawyers, a retired judge and a local law firm for their work with the organization.

The honorees were: Stephen M. Benham, a former securities lawyer with Kirkpatrick & Lockhart LLP who now is vice president for Merrill Lynch Investment Managers; Bernard J. Casey, with Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay; Susan M. Hoffman, with Crowell & Moring LLP; and Henry J. Monahan, a retired Montgomery County District Court judge. The law firm of McKenna & Cuneo LLP, of the District, was named the outstanding Volunteer Major Law Firm.

Named for the red vestments used centuries ago in Europe, the Red Mass is sponsored each year by the John Carroll Society, a group of 900 Catholic professionals who belong to the Archdiocese of Washington.

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