Media Watch

U.N. Coercive Contraception Criticized

AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, Nov. 26 — The Population Research Institute blasted the United Nations Population Fund, also known as UNFPA, for distributing morning-after pills to Afghan refugees.

The UNFPA said it was making availlable “lifesaving reproductive health care services” for the women of Afghanistan.

Steve Mosher, president of the institute, called the practice coercive and said it was being carried out “under the guise of safeguarding women's health.”

The French news agency reported Mosher had accused the U.N. agency of trying to “break down cultural resistance to abortion and contraception within the refugee camps.” He said some refugees in camps in Pakistan and Iran were resisting and had confiscated morning-after pills to protect their female population.

Korean Delegations, North and South, Join Hands

ASSOCIATED PRESS, Nov. 26 — Religious delegations from North and South Korea met for the first time in the communist North to celebrate Mass and hold other activities aimed at promoting unification, the news service reported.

The South Korean delegation, led by four priests, flew from Beijing to Pyongyang Nov. 27 for a weeklong visit in the North Korean capital with members of North Korea's Catholic Church association.

The first meeting between the two sides was held last year in Harbin, China. Inter-Korean exchanges flourished last year following a historic summit of leaders of both nations, the wire service said. But they stalled this year amid tension between North Korea and the United States, the South's key ally.

North Korea is known to have one Catholic and two Protestant churches, all in its capital. Last month, the U.S. State Department added North Korea for the first time to its annual report of nations that deny religious freedom to their people.

Northern Irish More Tolerant of Mixed Marriages

THE PRESS ASSOCIATION, Nov. 26 — A study at the University of Ulster found more tolerance for marriages between Catholics and Protestants, the British news agency reported.

The survey said that only 16% of those interviewed in 1998 believe people in Northern Ireland would “mind a lot” if a relative married someone from a different religion, compared with 33% of those questioned in 1989. Also, mixed marriages in the province have risen slowly over the past 10 years.

Catholics also remain more tolerant to mixed marriages within their families, the poll said, though the gap with Protestant feelings on the subject has narrowed.

Mexican Bishop Wants Bibles for Indians

ASSOCIATED PRESS, Nov. 26 — Bishop Felipe Arizmendi of San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico, promised to help finance distribution of the next 10,000 copies of a new Bible translation to Indians in southern Mexico.

A Protestant-led group distributed the first 10,000 Bibles to Indians in San Juan Chamula. Most of the Indians have abandoned a Maya Indian version of Catholicism in recent decades in favor of Protestantism, the wire service said. That resulted in their being driven out of their homes, a move the Catholic Church has repeatedly denounced.

Presbyterian Pastor Abner Lopez Perez, director of the Mexican Bible Society, said the Bible distribution was a “call to build peace in the region.”