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Keeping an eye on the news around the world.
BY John Lilly
Italian President Sparks
REUTERS, Sept. 24 —
Italian President Giorgio Napolitano has sparked a debate over whether the
predominantly Catholic country should consider legalizing euthanasia, Reuters
Napolitano, in a
letter to a paralyzed, terminally ill man whose case has moved the country,
called for “unhurried reflection” on his request to be able to die with
dignity. Piergiorgio Welby,
who suffers from advanced muscular dystrophy, has been appearing on news
programs confined to a bed, attached to tubes and speaking via a computer that
interprets his eye movements.
teaches, “Whatever its motives or means, direct euthanasia consists in putting
an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally
unacceptable. Thus an act of omission which, of itself or by intention, causes
death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to
the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his
Creator. The error of judgment into which one can fall in good faith does
not change the nature of this murderous act, which must always be forbidden and
excluded (No. 2277).
“Even if death is
thought imminent, the ordinary care owed to a sick person cannot be
legitimately interrupted. The use of painkillers to alleviate the
sufferings of the dying, even at the risk of shortening their days, can be
morally in conformity with human dignity if death is not willed as either an
end or a means, but only foreseen and tolerated as inevitable. Palliative
care is a special form of disinterested charity. As
such it should be encouraged” (No. 2279).
Slight Progress Made in
AKI, Sept. 25 — After
a week-long meeting behind closed doors in Belgrade, Serbia, senior
representatives of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches reported slight progress
in efforts to bridge the gap between the two Churches after almost a
thousand-year schism, reported the wire service.
confidential meeting, which includes some 60 bishops, metropolitans and
cardinals from various countries, worked on the 1990 document entitled, “The
Ecclesiological and Canonical Consequences of the Sacramental Nature of the
Church: Conciliarity and Authority in the Church.”
It was co-chaired
by the Vatican chief ecumenist Cardinal Walter
Kasper and Metropolitan John of Pergamon. According
to documents obtained by AKI, the main obstacles continue to be the issue of
papal primacy, on which the Vatican
continues to insist, and that the Orthodox Church is organized on national
grounds and in fact represents a fellowship of 15 separate Churches with their
Spain and the Church Reach Financing
EITB, Sept. 22 — Under a new agreement, the socialist government of
predominantly Catholic Spain will no longer give money directly to the Church,
but taxpayers will be able to increase their donations to the Church from .52%
to .70 %, the Basque news service reported.
government had provided an annual contribution to the Church separate from
voluntary donations from individual taxpayers. Announcing the deal, Deputy
Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega said that from now on, the
Church in Spain
would have to pay value-added tax on any sale or purchase of goods and
property, a measure the European Union had required.
She added that the
Church would also have to present a yearly report to the government on how it
spends money it received from taxpayers.
The socialist government of Prime Minister
Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has clashed with the
Church since taking office in April 2004, principally by introducing
legislation facilitating divorce on demand and same-sex “marriages.” It also
scrapped plans to make religion an obligatory subject in schools.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Biblical Pool of Siloam Uncovered in Jerusalem
LOS ANGELES TIMES, Aug. 9 — Workers repairing a sewage pipe in the old city of Jerusalem have discovered the biblical Pool of Siloam, a freshwater reservoir where the Gospel of John says Jesus cured a man blind from birth, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The pool was fed by the now-famous Hezekiah's Tunnel and is “a much grander affair” than archaeologists previously believed, with three tiers of stone stairs allowing easy access to the water, according to Hershel Shanks, editor of Biblical Archaeology Review, which reported the find.
The pool of Jesus’ time was built early in the first century B.C. and was destroyed by the future Roman emperor Titus about A.D. 70. The pool was discovered last fall by a repair team, supervised by Eli Shukron of the Israel Antiques Authority, which was excavating a damaged sewer line.
New Testament scholar James Charlesworth of the Princeton Theological Seminary told the Times, “We have found the Pool of Siloam … exactly where John said it was.”
Chapel to Enshrine Bombed Statue of Virgin Mary
KYOTO NEWS, Aug. 8 — A small chapel has been completed to enshrine a part of a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary that was destroyed in the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, to stand as a symbol for peace on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing, according to a report on the Japan Today website.
The United States dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Aug 6 and 9, 1945, respectively.
The chapel within Urakami Cathedral opened to the public following an unveiling ceremony on Aug. 9, when the city held its annual memorial ceremony, following the one in Hiroshima Aug. 6.
‘Hotline of Hope’ Feeds Culture of Death
CHINA DAILY, Aug. 8 — An article in on the daily's website said a Harbin crisis pregnancy center said summer is “peak time” for teenagers to get an abortion.
Harbin Hope Psychology Consulting Center Director Zhang Dasheng said the center receives “about 20 calls a day for consultation.”
“The summer or winter vacation tends to be the peak time for the girls to have an abortion as they want to avoid being found out by their teachers and parents,” Zhang said. “These girls can go to the hospital for the abortion without registration as long as they have our referral letter. They get the green light all the way.”
The article's headline called the center a “Hotline of Hope for Pregnant Girls,” but the center officials made no mention of advising the young women to forgo an abortion in favor of having their babies, as if the option didn't exist.
Doctor Charged With Killing Unborn Baby
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, Aug. 9 — A Sydney doctor accused of inducing a late-term abortion has become the first medical practitioner in New South Wales to be charged over an abortion since 1971, according to the Australian daily's website.
Dr. Suman Sood is also believed to be the state's first doctor to be charged with the manslaughter of an unborn baby. She allegedly gave a 20-year-old woman a drug to induce abortion, and then asked her to come back the next day. The woman gave birth early the next morning to a baby boy that lived for about three hours.
Sood faces one charge of manslaughter and one of administering a drug with intent to procure a miscarriage, according to the report.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Documentary ‘Will Foster Inter-Christian Dialogue'
RIA NOVOSTI, Aug. 1 — Pilgrimage to the Eternal City, an Orthodox-Catholic film production about early Christians in ancient Rome, will help bring the two churches closer together, a spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church told the Russian news agency Novosti.
“Culture, education and the promotion of a religious worldview — these are spheres that will be of primary interest to different denominations and will stimulate their cooperation,” Moscow Patriarchy Press Officer Vladimir Vigilyansky said. “There aren't, and cannot be, any obstacles [to such cooperation].”
The documentary is being made at the suggestion of the Moscow Patriarchy's Orthodox Encyclopedia scholarly center. Its head, Sergei Kravets, quoted Patriarch Alexy II as saying that the film was intended as a joint creative response to the European Union authorities’ decision not to mention the Christian roots of European civilization in the European Union's Constitution.
The film is comprised of five parts, according to the report. The first three parts have already been filmed and are now being edited while the two concluding parts will be filmed in September and October, Kravets said. The release of the documentary is set for early 2006.
Church in Iraq Does Not Give in to Terrorism
ASIANEWS, Aug. 1 — Mosul's Chaldean community commemorated the one-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks that struck four churches in Baghdad and one in this northern Iraqi city, AsiaNews reported.
Chaldean Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho of Mosul celebrated Mass Aug.1 in the Church of St Paul — the church that was hit that day. A year ago to the day, the terrorists blew up a car full of explosive that killed two people at its entrance.
Archbishop Rahho proclaimed that every year on Aug. 1, the Parish of St Paul's Day, a memorial Mass will be celebrated to commemorate the attacks.
“The Church is much better today than before the attack,” the archbishop said in his homily. “That violence tested our faith, and in a year we have learned to put into practice values like forgiveness and love, even for those who persecute us.”
Minister Plans Rebate to Cut Abortion Rate
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, Aug. 3 — Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott has indicated he wants to introduce a Medicare rebate that provides counseling for pregnant women in a bid to cut Australia's abortion rate, the Australian daily reported.
The federal president of the Australian Medical Association, Mukesh Haikerwal, said the AMA did not object to a rebate, as long as it was voluntary. “We want nothing forced upon people, but we can see the benefits of general counseling.”
“A situation where women are culturally conditioned to do one thing or another is not a real choice,” Abbott, a Catholic, said Aug. 2. “The fact that we have near enough to 100,000 abortions a year is a tragedy. I don't think anyone, whether they are pro-choice or pro-life, is happy about the vast number of abortions that currently take place in Australia and I think, as a society, it ought be possible to do better.”