World Media Watch

Minister at Ease With Faith in Politics

THE AUSTRALIAN, July 20 — Australia's Health Minister Tony Abbott said his Catholic faith is compatible with his role as politician, The Australian reported.

Delivering the keynote address at St. Thomas More's Forum in Canberra, Abbott said politicians should not shrink from their religious beliefs.

“We shouldn't be embarrassed or mealy-mouthed about our faith,” he said. “If it's okay to be up-front about ethnicity and, in the eyes of some, sexuality, why not be proud of religious affiliations?

The report said Abbott repeated his determination to reduce the number of abortions through education and counseling.

Archbishop Urges Cancellation of Debts

ALLAFRICA, July 19 — Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, implored world leaders to respect the dignity of every human being and cancel the total debt of the economically strapped African nations.

“There is misery all over Africa, and God did not want it to be so,” Archbishop Onaiyekan said, according to AllAfrica. “He created every man equal.”

He was addressing Catholic faithful from more than 15 African countries July 17 in Abuja. He welcomed the development that creditors had began addressing poverty and under-development in Third World countries, but said much more needed to be done beyond partial debt relief.

Nigeria recently received a debt relief package from its Paris Club creditors that waived about 60% of the $32 billion debt burden.

Church Clashes With Venezuela's President

REUTERS, July 18 — A Venezuelan archbishop told President Hugo Chavez he had failed to behave like a head of state by using a state television broadcast to berate a cardinal who called him a dictator, Reuters reported.

Chavez, who has clashed in the past with high-ranking Catholic critics of his self-styled “revolution,” called retired Cardinal Rosario Castillo a coup-mongering “bandit” after the cardinal referred to Chavez’ rule as a dictatorship.

Speaking out in defense of Castillo, Archbishop Roberto Luckert said Chavez had insulted the cardinal while failing to answer his criticisms of the president's six-year-old rule over the world's No. 5 oil exporter.

“He should give an example of respect if he wants to be respected,” Archbishop Luckert said. “If you disagree with the government, you are immediately dismissed … as a coup-monger, a terrorist.”