Media Watch

South African Bishops Getting Support for Condom Stance

NEWS24, Sept. 18—The South African Catholic Bishops' Conference has received overwhelming support for its pastoral statement upholding the Church's ban on condoms, the South African news agency reported.

The statement, “Message of Hope,” was released at the end of July. The bishops said that the widespread promotion of condoms did not work to prevent AIDS.

The South African bishops based their statement partly on purely practical considerations: A study in the British Medical Journal had found condoms to have a failure rate of 31%. But the bishops also noted that condom promotion led to a breakdown of self-control and to use of another person for one's own pleasure.

The bishops have received many letters on the subject, and have spoken with teenagers about it. The response has been extremely positive.

Neapolitans Dedicate San Gennaro Miracle to U.S.

DEUTSCHE PRESSE-AGENTUR, Sept. 19—A dark red substance that many Neapolitans believe is the blood of the city's patron, San Gennaro (St. Januarius), liquefied on the saint's feast day as it does most years, the wire service reported.

Cardinal Michele Giordano of Naples dedicated the liquefaction, which he proclaimed was a miracle, to the victims of the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the United States. He told the U.S. consul to Naples, Clyde Bishop, that he would ask St. Januarius to protect “the USA, Italy, and the entire world.”

Leader of Northern Ireland's Moderate Catholics Quits

ASSOCIATED PRESS, Sept. 17—Citing poor health, Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume announced he was stepping down as leader of the Social Democratic and Labor Party, the wire service reported.

The party, which represents Northern Ireland's moderate Catholics, is the largest Catholic member of the troubled Protestant-Catholic government created by the Good Friday peace accords. Hume led the party since 1979, but drew criticism and suffered electoral losses for his decision to work with Sinn Fein, the political arm of the Irish Republican Army.

Hume said Sinn Fein's support was necessary to achieve cease-fires in 1994 and 1997. But his party lost voters to Sinn Fein, which in June out-polled the moderate Catholics for the first time.

Hume will remain as a lawmaker in both the European and British parliaments.

West African Bishops Warn Against Sharia Law

AFRICA NEWS, Sept. 5—Bishops from English-speaking countries in west Africa urged the Nigerian government to prevent the further imposition of strict Islamic theocracy in the northern regions of the country, the African news service reported.

The bishops warned that imposing Sharia, which demands harsh punishments for crimes like adultery and theft, could lead to widespread conflicts with Christians, who advocate mercy.

Since late 1999, 10 Nigerian states have enforced Sharia. In one state, 1,000 people have died in subsequent Muslim-Christian clashes.