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Published: Saturday, 5/19/2001

Declaration of Life gains more signees

BLADE STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS

Publicity surrounding Timothy McVeigh's scheduled execution is generating renewed interest in an anti-death penalty document already signed by thousands.

The so-called Declaration of Life has a simple message: If I'm murdered, don't execute my killer. Sister Camille D'Arienzo, a Roman Catholic nun from Brooklyn, N.Y., started the group in 1993 that is responsible for distributing the Declaration of Life.

Any time there's an increase in public discussion about the death penalty, she said, more people sign the declaration.

The latest catalyst is McVeigh, convicted in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people. He is scheduled to die by lethal injection June 11 at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind.

The Declaration of Life document declares that capital punishment is wrong at any time. If the signee is murdered, it requests that the judge not sentence the killer to death.

“People are sick to death of the killing,” said Sister Camille, who was not aware of any signer who was later murdered.

Those who sign the two-page declaration are asked to trim a portion of it off and send it - along with $1 - to Cherish Life Circle, Sister Camille's group. In return, they receive a wallet-size card stating that they have made the declaration.

Because not everyone mails in the trimmed part, it's difficult to gauge the number of signees, Sister Camille said. About 10,000 have sent the stub to Cherish Life Circle, but Sister Camille estimates 20 to 30 times more people have signed it.

The declaration has been signed by actors Susan Sarandon and Martin Sheen, former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, and U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, whose husband was killed by a gunman on a New York commuter train.

Focus on the Family, the family-based ministry led by James Dobson, is considering cutbacks due to a budget squeeze, according to published reports.

The organization, based in Colorado Springs, Colo., sent a newsletter to 2.4 million households saying that donations are down and the ministry is approximately $2- $3 million behind on its $129 million annual budget.

“If what we're seeing now continues, we will do less of what we planned to do,” Dr. Dobson told the Colorado Springs Gazette.

People searching for the Web site of Cleveland's Roman Catholic diocese are instead being linked to hard-core pornography.

To solve the problem, the diocese has informed the region's nearly 1 million Catholics that its Web address has changed, and has asked people to remove any link to the old address, now a pornography site.

When the diocese switched to a new Web address it let the old domain name expire, to save the $75 annual fee. The name was grabbed by a porn site operator.

The new site for the Cleveland diocese is http://www.dioceseofcleveland.org

The new head of the Anglican Church of Australia has said Christians should treat same-sex relationships as “committed friendships,” but stopped just short of openly condoning gay marriages.

Archbishop Peter Carnley wrote in the Bulletin magazine that same-sex relationships would be less likely to fail if the church accepted them. He said that, in the future, acceptance might include allowing homosexual couples to seek formal church approval through ceremonies similar to marriage.

In Archbishop Carnley's opinion, the Bible has no clear teachings about homosexual behavior and the few mentions appear to target promiscuity.



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