The superior general of the Maryknoll order warned Father Roy Bourgeois that he will proceed under canon law to seek the priest’s removal from the order and request that he be laicized unless he recants his belief that women should be ordained as Catholic priests.
Maryknoll Father Edward Dougherty, superior general of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, outlined the steps the order would follow under the direction of Vatican officials in a canonical warning sent to Father Bourgeois dated March 18.
The document gave Father Bourgeois 15 days after receiving the warning to respond. Father Bourgeois told Catholic News Service he received the correspondence March 29 and that he has until April 13 to respond.
A canonical warning informs a person of a violation of church law.
Church teaching holds that ordination to the diaconate and the priesthood is reserved for men and that the church has no authority to ordain women.
Mike Virgintino, manager of public relations and events for Maryknoll, told CNS March 30 Father Dougherty’s action was taken at the direction of Vatican officials. He said the order has tried repeatedly since 2008 to seek reconciliation between Father Bourgeois and the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which handles affairs related to church teaching, without success.
Father Bourgeois’ support for the ordination of women to the priesthood led to his excommunication “latae sententiae” — automatically — in November 2008.
Since providing the church’s doctrinal congregation with an explanation of his belief prior to the excommunication, Father Bourgeois said he has not received any further correspondence from church officials.
The Maryknoll order said in a statement reported by Catholic News Service that it issued the order in accordance with church law “with much sadness.”
“We are very saddened about this matter between our brother Roy and his relationship with the church,” Father Dougherty said in the statement. “Maryknoll has presented Roy with a number of opportunities to openly communicate with the Vatican and move out from under his excommunication from the church. We have stood by Roy during this difficult time for him and his church, and we remain hopeful that the issues separating them can be reconciled.”
In the canonical warning, Father Dougherty told Father Bourgeois that if he did not comply with the order to recant his belief, a second canonical warning would be issued. If Father Bourgeois continued to fail to comply with the order, Father Dougherty said he would “proceed with dismissal” from the Maryknoll congregation and include a request for laicization for the 72-year-old priest.
“Sufficient time has now passed for you to consider the gravity of the matter,” the canonical warning said. “You are hereby asked one final time by the superior general and his council to publicly recant and accept the teaching of the church on this serious matter concerning priestly ordination and the explicit teaching of the church.”
Father Bourgeois said he met with Father Dougherty, three members of the Maryknoll’s leadership council and a canon lawyer representing the order March 18. The discussion included reference to a recent letter from U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who wanted Father Bourgeois to recant his support for the ordination of women, Father Bourgeois told CNS.
Known for his 20-year campaign to close a U.S. Army school at Fort Benning, Ga., that trains Latin American soldiers, Father Bourgeois attracted the attention of his superiors and church officials in August 2008 when he participated in a reported ordination ceremony sponsored by Roman Catholic Womenpriests in Lexington, Ky. Despite a canonical warning from his order soon after the ceremony, the priest refused to recant and was automatically excommunicated three months later.
In various public venues since, Father Bourgeois has reiterated that he believed church teaching on ordination is wrong, that it failed to withstand scrutiny and that he would not recant.
Father Bourgeois said his support for the ordination of women to the priesthood is a matter of conscience.
He said he planned to seek a canon lawyer for assistance in preparing his response. He also said he hoped to meet with Cardinal Levada in Rome.
“I would love nothing more and see it as important to sit down with Cardinal William Levada, the prefect, even if it’s for 15 minutes, to look him in the eye and have a discussion on this,” he said. “I think it’s reasonable. As a priest for 38 years, I feel 15 minutes with someone who has the power to kick you out of Maryknoll, to laicize you, is important. I will ask that of the superior general to help that happen.”
In a detailed critique, the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Doctrine has concluded that a 2007 book written by Fordham University theology professor Sister Elizabeth A. Johnson “contains misrepresentations, ambiguities and errors” related to the Catholic faith.
The committee said in a March 30 statement that the book, Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God, failed to take the faith of the Catholic Church as its starting point and chose to use standards from outside the faith to “criticize and to revise in a radical fashion the conception of God revealed in Scripture and taught by the magisterium.”
The book was identified by the committee for review because it was written by a popular theologian, aimed at a broad audience of general readers and is used as a textbook in some theology classes, the statement said.
Chaired by Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, the committee said Sister Elizabeth, a Sister of St. Joseph, attempted to justify her revisions of traditional Catholic theology by arguing that this tradition has become contaminated by ideas from Enlightenment thinkers, who are responsible for the conception of God in what she calls “modern theism.”
“Against the contamination of Christian theology after the Enlightenment by modern theism, Sister Johnson claims to be retrieving fundamental insights from patristic and medieval theology,” the statement said, according to Catholic News Service. “As we have seen, however, this is misleading, since under the guise of criticizing modern theism she criticizes crucial aspects of patristic and medieval theology, aspects that have become central elements of the Catholic theological tradition confirmed by magisterial teaching.”
Cardinal Wuerl said in a statement that accompanied the committee’s critique that he would have preferred the Sister Elizabeth would have sought an imprimatur (“let it be printed”) that would have signified official permission to publish a book that touches on matters of Catholic faith or moral teaching.
“Although an imprimatur is not required for all books that treat sacred Scripture and theology, it is still a recommended practice,” he said. “By seeking an imprimatur, the author has the opportunity to engage in dialogue with the bishop concerning Catholic teaching expressed in the book. Thus, clarifications concerning the text can be made prior to its publication.
“It would have been helpful if Sister Elizabeth Johnson had taken advantage of this opportunity,” he said.
Cardinal Wuerl said the doctrine committee would welcome the opportunity to discuss the book with Sister Elizabeth.
Baby Joseph Maraachli, the 14-month-old Canadian boy who received a tracheotomy March 21 at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center in St Louis, is expected to soon be moved to Ranken Jordan, a St. Louis pediatric specialty hospital, before returning home.
Doctors at Cardinal Glennon also have diagnosed Joseph with Leigh’s disease, a progressive neurological disease. As of March 29, he remained in the pediatric intensive care unit at Cardinal Glennon. Hospital spokeswoman Mary Aita said a recovery time of seven to 10 days after a tracheotomy is normal.
After he is discharged from Cardinal Glennon, he will stay at Ranken Jordan before being transported to his family home in Windsor, Ontario.
Joseph was placed at the center of an end-of-life debate while he was receiving treatment at a hospital in London, Ontario. Born in January 2010, Joseph has had a history of health problems and finally was admitted last October to the London Health Sciences Centre. Hospital officials, who called the boy’s condition fatal, wanted to take the child off his feeding tube and ventilator, allowing him to die. The parents refused.
A statement from Cardinal Glennon said the tracheotomy was deemed “medically appropriate” after a thorough examination of the child and consultations with Joseph’s parents and the medical center’s ethics committee.
“It is our hope that this procedure will allow Joseph and his family the gift of a few more months together and that Joseph may be more comfortable with a permanent tracheotomy,” according to the statement reported by Catholic News Service. “We ask that you keep Baby Joseph and his family in your prayers.”
The Worcester Diocese has stopped accepting new men into its permanent diaconate program, at least temporarily, Deacon Anthony R. Surozenski, director of the Office of Diaconate, said in mid-March.
This will allow time to assess whether more deacons will be needed and whether assignments and funding will be available for them, he said.
It also allows time for studying how to better apply national church norms to deacons’ ministry and find ways deacons could help meet needs that they are not currently addressing, such as hospice and truck-stop ministries, he said.
Currently, 32 men are at different stages in the five-year preparation program; they are to continue formation and be ordained as scheduled this year and through 2015, Deacon Surozenski said.
“We don’t know what the diocese is going to look like and what the needs are going to be,” he said. “Parishes are merging, some parishes are closing, new parishes may be evolving. We have to take a look at the big picture for ministry service for deacons.
“If all goes well, there should be 135 active priests by the year 2015 and there should be 98 deacons,” he told The Catholic Free Press, the diocesan newspaper. There might be an additional 17 deacons officially retired but still serving.
A deacon and a priest working with the diaconate nationally put the Worcester Diocese’s situation in context.
The United States has 17,165 permanent deacons, more than 50 percent of all the permanent deacons in the world, said Deacon Gerald W. DuPont, president of the National Association of Diaconate Directors.
He said he did not know of any dioceses permanently stopping their diaconate program.
“On the whole, the diaconate in most dioceses continues to grow; it’s not being pulled back,” he said. But he said his impression is that roughly 10 percent of the dioceses in the United States are taking or have taken a “breather,” such as when the number of deacons approaches the number of priests or there are financial difficulties.
The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, where he is director of the Office of the Diaconate, did that about 15 years ago, he said. The diaconate was reinstated after two years, he said.
“In general, it is a common practice for bishops to ordain one class” of permanent deacons before beginning another class, said Father Shawn McKnight, executive director of the Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Assessment is needed with diaconal ministry, because it is new, he said. Although it began in the early church, it was absent for 1,500 years before being restored after the Second Vatican Council, he said.
Deacon DuPont said the 50th anniversary of the diaconate in the United States will be celebrated in 2018.
The Worcester Diocese’s first permanent diaconate class was ordained in 1978. Some years there were no ordinations; the longest stretch was between 1984 and 1990. But since 2001, there has been a class ordained each year except for 2006, when the traditional December ordination Mass was moved to the following April, Deacon Surozenski said.
He said eight men are to be ordained deacons this year, eight next year, four in 2013, five in 2014 and seven in 2015.
“Our question is, ‘Do we have enough at this time?’” he said.
Deacon Surozenski said most deacons have a liturgical ministry in a parish and it costs a parish nearly $3,000 a year for a deacon — for reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses, a retreat and a financial assessment for the diaconate program. He said there are at least 70 parishes with one deacon, a few with more, and all have been paying the assessment.
Sometimes another institution served by the deacon, such as a hospital, might pay these costs, he said. But deacons usually enter such ministries on their own initiative; the diaconate program does not arrange the training.
Deacon DuPont said that, in his archdiocese, deacons perform more than 40 ministries — such as at hospitals and prisons — in addition to parish ministry. They receive training for these through continuing education courses, and sometimes one of these is their primary ministry and the parish secondary.
In this new model, the deacon sees a need, asks permission to address it and involves laypeople, he said. When the laity can take over the project, the deacon moves on to address another need. If a parish is dying, a deacon trained in the new evangelization could start revitalization. The deacon brings the church to the marketplace, evangelizing the world, and the marketplace to the church, evangelizing the church, he said.
“I think that’s going to become the norm in the future, because that’s where the need is” and that’s the direction in which the National Directory for the Formation, Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States seems to be moving, he said.
The diaconate office will remain open. Deacon Surozenski said he and Deacon Peter and Gail Ryan will continue their part-time positions, assisted by volunteers.
Proposed changes in federal housing regulations to forbid discrimination based on “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” could violate existing federal law and force faith-based organizations to end their “long and successful track record in meeting housing needs,” according to comments filed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Anthony R. Picarello Jr. and Michael F. Moses, USCCB general counsel and associate general counsel, respectively, said the proposal by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to add to the list of protected categories for which discrimination in HUD programs is prohibited “appears at odds” with the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which says marriage is the union of one man and one woman.
“HUD should not create a new protected classification where there is no statutory policy undergirding it and where the new classification flies in the face of a policy expressly adopted by Congress,” they said.
The two attorneys filed the comments on behalf of the USCCB late March 25, the final day of a 60-day comment period on the proposed changes.
When HUD first proposed the addition of the two new protected categories Jan. 20, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan called it “a fundamental issue of fairness” and said the agency’s aim was to clarify that “a person’s eligibility for federal housing programs is, and should be, based on their need and not on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
The proposed rule would clarify that the term “family,” as used to describe eligible beneficiaries of public housing and Housing Choice Voucher programs, would apply to any combination of adults and children regardless of marital status, sexual orientation or gender. HUD rules already prohibit discrimination based on marital status.
Picarello and Moses noted in their comments that faith-based organizations “fulfill a vital role as partners in implementing HUD and other government housing programs.”
Last year, for example, Catholic Charities agencies assisted nearly half a million people with housing services, and in 2007 they sponsored or were affiliated with programs that provided housing or housing-related services to 662,954 clients, according to a study by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.
Catholic Charities housing programs were “especially likely to have served … persons with HIV/AIDS,” the CARA study said. That suggests “that not only does the church not decline services to, but actively serves, a client base that includes large numbers of homosexual clients,” the attorneys said.
Catholic dioceses and religious orders also are actively involved in housing programs, the USCCB comments noted.
“It is especially imperative, given their large role in meeting the housing needs of the poor, elderly, disabled and others, that such faith-based and other organizations not be required, as a condition of participating in such programs, to compromise or violate their religious beliefs,” Picarello and Moses said.
“To continue to participate in these programs, these organizations must retain the freedom they have always had, when meeting housing needs, to avoid placements for shared housing that would violate their religious beliefs,” they added in a Catholic News Service report.
The attorneys stressed that “we are not suggesting that any person should be denied housing.”
“But neither should a recipient or sub-recipient of HUD funds be required to facilitate cohabitation between unmarried persons, be in it an unmarried heterosexual couple or a homosexual couple, or facilitate shared sleeping areas or bathrooms, especially when the requirement is (a) divorced from any command of Congress, (b) reflects a policy that is opposite the one adopted by Congress, and (c) stands to affirmatively violate the recipient’s or sub-recipient’s religious beliefs,” they said.
In addition to the proposed rule change, HUD is conducting a national study about housing discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Americans. The agency conducts a study every 10 years about housing discrimination on the basis of race or color.
As the United States and other nations took military action to protect the people of Libya, a U.S. bishop urged the Obama administration to stay focused on this limited goal and on the well-being of the civilian population.
In a letter to National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon, Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, N.Y., chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, urged a careful use of force in Libya balanced with the aim of protecting the civilian population and consideration of whether the use of force is “proportionate to the goal of protecting civilians.”
The letter was dated March 24 and made public the following day.
The bishop said the use of military force must be continually evaluated in light of these questions: “Is it producing evils graver than the evil it hopes to address?” and “What are the implications of the use of force for the future welfare of the Libyan people and the stability of the region?”
“We know these are difficult questions to which there are few easy answers, but it is our moral responsibility as a nation to rigorously examine the use of military force in light of the need to protect human life and dignity,” said Bishop Hubbard in a Catholic News Service report.
The bishop said the purpose articulated in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 to demand “a cease-fire and a complete end to violence and all attacks against, and abuses of, civilians” appears to meet the traditional criterion of “just cause,” but said the U.S. bishops joined Pope Benedict XVI in following the military action in Libya with “great apprehension.”
“Based on long-standing church teaching and experience, we have offered moral guidance and asked key moral questions,” the bishop said. “As pastors and teachers, we have refrained from making definitive judgments because the situation on the ground remains complex and involves many prudential decisions beyond our expertise.”
The U.S. bishops’ procedures for addressing child sex abuse remain “strongly in place” and the bishops remain “especially firm” in their commitment “to remove permanently from public ministry any priest who committed such an intolerable offense,” said the president of the U.S. bishops’ conference.
“This painful issue continues to receive our careful attention,” said Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York.
“The protection of our children and young people is of highest priority,” the archbishop said in a statement released March 24. He added that the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” approved by the bishops in 2002 “remains strongly in place.”
He said the bishops who met in Washington for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Administrative Committee meeting March 22-23 asked him to offer reassurances about the church’s resolve to address sexual abuse and deal firmly with clergy who abuse children.
The Administrative Committee — composed of the executive officers, committee chairmen and regional representatives of the USCCB — is the highest decision-making body of the bishops apart from the entire body when it meets twice a year in general assembly.
“We bishops recommit ourselves to the rigorous mandates of the charter, and renew our confidence in its effectiveness,” Archbishop Dolan said in his statement and reported by Catholic News Service. “We repeat what we have said in the charter: ‘We make our own the words of His Holiness, Pope John Paul II: that the sexual abuse of young people is by every standard wrong and rightly considered a crime by society; it is also an appalling sin in the eyes of God.’”
Both the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” and norms the U.S. bishops approved for dioceses to adhere to the charter’s mandates have Vatican approval. The charter, which also established the bishops’ Office for Child and Youth Protection, was updated in 2005, the norms in 2006.
The charter mandates that safe environment programs be set up in dioceses and parishes. It also requires an annual audit on how dioceses and religious orders are complying with provisions in the charter.
In the nine years since the charter was first approved, “we have constantly reviewed the high promises and rigorous mandates of the charter, as we continually try to make it even more effective,” Archbishop Dolan said.
He said the bishops “keep refining” it based on input from the lay-led National Review Board and from Catholic parents, professionals, the victim-survivor community, law enforcement officials and diocesan victim-assistance coordinators.
“We want to learn from our mistakes and we welcome constructive criticism,” the archbishop added.
He said the bishops are to take up a “long-planned review” of the charter during their June meeting.
Archbishop Dolan said the audits will continue in order to check on how well the church is able “to protect our young people, promote healing of victims/survivors and restore trust.”
His statement referred to “recent disclosures about the church’s response to the sexual abuse of minors by priests” but did not mention the recent clergy sex abuse crisis in the Philadelphia Archdiocese.
South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed a law March 22 establishing a three-day waiting period for all abortions, a time frame that exceeds other state laws that require 24-hour waiting periods.
The law, effective July 1, also requires women to undergo pre-abortion counseling as a way to make certain that their decision to have an abortion was “voluntary, uncoerced and informed.”
Opponents of the new law immediately announced plans to challenge it.
“I think everyone agrees with the goal of reducing abortion by encouraging consideration of other alternatives,” the governor said in a statement and reported by Catholic News Service. “I hope that women who are considering an abortion will use this three-day period to make good choices.”
In a statement supporting the measure before the final vote and the governor’s signature, the Diocese of Sioux Falls said it would help ensure that “mothers are as fully aware as possible of the implications and ramifications of the grave decision to terminate the most sacred gift of life.”
In neighboring North Dakota, members of that state’s Catholic conference testified March 14 in favor of legislation that would strengthen and clarify the state’s laws on abortion.
The conference, based in the state capital of Bismarck, praised the Legislature for leading the nation in “enacting legislation to protect unborn life to the greatest extent possible and in protecting the well-being of women considering abortions.”
It noted that the most significant update in the legislation concerned the use of abortion-inducing drugs, requiring that a physician prescribe or provide the drug and be present when it is administered.
Across the nation in New Hampshire, House members passed a bill March 16 requiring abortion providers to notify a parent or guardian 48 hours before performing an abortion on anyone younger than 18. Young women could avoid going to a parent by asking a judge to determine her maturity and capability to make such a decision.
Bishop John B. McCormack and Auxiliary Bishop Francis J. Christian of Manchester, N.H., said in a March 17 statement they were pleased that the lawmakers passed parental notification. They praised the House for recognizing “the invaluable role of parents in caring for their children and in supporting them when facing life-changing decisions.”
The bishops also noted their disappointment in a House vote to expand use of the death penalty in the state. They said the measure “simply perpetuates the cycle of violence and undermines the intrinsic sacredness of each person.”
The bills were to be taken up next by the Senate, which the bishops hoped would recognize “the importance of establishing … a consistent ethic of life, where life is valued and respected from the time of conception until natural death.”
The new archbishop of Los Angeles, in his first written message to Catholics since taking over stewardship of the nation’s largest diocese, urged Catholics to go to confession during Lent.
“I encourage you to make a good confession before Easter, even if it has been a long time,” said Archbishop Jose H. Gomez in a Lenten message released March 8, the day before Ash Wednesday.
“In the early church, they called confession the ‘second conversion in tears.’ St. Peter wept in sorrow after denying Jesus, and in his mercy Christ spoke to him the tender words of his pardon and peace. In the sacrament, we too can hear these words of compassion for our sins,” Archbishop Gomez said.
The archbishop, who succeeded Cardinal Roger M. Mahony March 1, said the parable of the prodigal son was “one of my favorite Scriptures. … I love this story for its drama and emotion, and because it rings true.”
Archbishop Gomez added, “It is God who rejoices in the parable: ‘My son was dead and is alive again.’ When he gives his son a new robe, it signifies the white garment we are clothed with in baptism. When he orders a feast of thanksgiving, it signifies the Eucharist. My sisters and brothers, the pilgrimage of the prodigal son is the story of our lives!
“This Lent, let us seek to deepen our awareness of our baptismal identity.”
Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. bishops, urged Catholics to return to the confessional in a St. Patrick’s Day message.
“My fervent prayer for the Catholics of the Archdiocese of New York is that they will hear in the next weeks the beautiful, profound words of absolution pronounced in the confessional,” Archbishop Dolan said March 17, according to a Catholic News Service report.
“We have to be frank, though. Those words are not heard as often as they should be in the church in New York,” he added. “We can’t imagine Catholic life without the words of consecration — This is my body! This is my blood! Likewise Catholic life cannot be lived properly without the sacrament of penance. We need the forgiveness of our sins. We need the grace of this sacrament to grow in virtue.”
Archbishop Dolan related that one priest told him that “after six months in his new parish, he announced to the people that he was asking the bishop for a transfer. ‘You don’t need me. I’ve sat in the confessional for half a year, and nobody has come. You must all be saints. I want to serve sinners.’”
“I exhort the entire Archdiocese of New York: Experience the joy of forgiveness!” Archbishop Dolan said. “Experience liberation from sin! Keep those confessionals busy! Keep your priests busy about the great work of dispensing the Lord’s mercy! Keep the Sacrament of Penance at the heart of Catholic life.”
States have the right and duty to regulate people’s behavior, including some sexual behaviors, a Vatican official told the U.N. Human Rights Council.
“A state should never punish a person or deprive a person of the enjoyment of any human right based just on the person’s feelings and thoughts, including sexual thoughts and feelings. But states can and must regulate behaviors, including various sexual behaviors,” said Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s representative to U.N. agencies in Geneva.
The archbishop addressed the Human Rights Council March 22, telling it that there is consensus among societies that “certain kinds of sexual behaviors must be forbidden by law. Pedophilia and incest are two examples.”
The Vatican affirms “the inherent dignity and worth of all human beings” and condemns “all violence that is targeted against people because of their sexual feelings and thoughts or sexual behaviors,” he said.
However, there is “some unnecessary confusion” as to what is protected when talking about sexual orientation, he said. Sexual orientation “refers to feelings and thoughts, not behavior,” he said.
In December 2008, a proposed declaration presented to the U.N. General Assembly sought to condemn violence, harassment, discrimination and exclusion based on sexual orientation and gender identity and to endorse the universal decriminalization of homosexuality.
Sixty-eight member countries sponsored the proposed Declaration on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, and 57 U.N. member nations, including the Vatican, co-sponsored an opposing statement.
The U.N. office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has been advocating that nations combat discrimination based on sexual orientation; it said that in more than 70 countries, homosexuality activity is a crime which in some cases is punishable with imprisonment, torture or the death penalty.
The Vatican is against considering homosexuality a crime and supports ending violence against homosexuals, but does not support granting new rights, said a leading Vatican diplomat when the U.N. proposal was presented in 2008.
The Vatican’s opposition to the declaration stems from a concern that such a declaration might be used to put pressure on or discriminate against countries that do not recognize same-sex marriage, said Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican’s apostolic nuncio to the United Nations, in a Catholic News Service report.
The Vatican appreciates efforts in the declaration aimed at condemning all forms of violence against homosexuals and urging nations to put an end to all criminal penalties against them, the archbishop told the U.N. General Assembly Dec. 18, 2008.
However, the declaration’s wording and its introduction of new categories of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” for human rights’ protections go “well beyond the above-mentioned and shared intent” and “find no recognition or clear and agreed definition in international law.”