World Media Watch

Cardinal-Designate Zen: Beijing Must Change

ASSOCIATED PRESS, March 14 — Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun said that China’s communist government needs to overcome old prejudices toward the Church for the Vatican to make a breakthrough in forging relations with Beijing, Associated Press reported.

The main stumbling blocks have been the Vatican’s recognition of Taiwan and China’s demand to have a say in the appointment of bishops.

Cardinal Zen, a firm advocate of democracy and religious freedom, criticized the Beijing-backed Hong Kong government for chipping away at Church control of Catholic schools, which he said have made the Church in Hong Kong influential beyond its small numbers.

“If the Pope can [preach peace] to the whole world, I can do it for Hong Kong,” he said. Problems of religious freedom arise from old prejudices, the bishop said, calling it “possible” that China and the Vatican could resolve their differences in time for the Summer Olympics in Beijing in 2008.

Catholic Countries Help Block Embryo Research Policy

REUTERS, March 13 — Catholic countries such as Italy, Poland and Austria are doing their part to prevent the European Union from adopting an embryonic stem-cell research policy, Reuters reported.

The 25-nation block instead will adhere to its current program, which ends this year. Applications for funding for human embryonic stem-cell research are considered case-by-case by a committee rather than under a general policy. Each project has to show that the research could not be conducted using adult stem cells such as bone marrow.

The over-arching policy would prove impossible, as largely Roman Catholic members such as Italy and Poland could muster a blocking minority. Austria, which holds the rotating EU presidency, is among countries that ban the use of embryonic stem cells for research.

Elisabeth Gehrer, Austria’s minister for education, science and culture, told a news briefing, “We still think that adult stem-cell research is preferable to embryonic stem cells.” She added the simplest solution would be to continue with the current system.

Lesbian Bishop Would Jeopardize Anglican Communion

THE TELEGRAPH, March 12 — Rev. Nick Wynne-Jones, the secretary of the Church of England Evangelical Council, said that the election of lesbian Episcopal minister Bonnie Perry to bishop would jeopardize the future of the worldwide Anglican Communion, the London daily reported.

That Perry is on the short list of candidates for appointment to the California diocese was “provocative” and “in defiance” of the rest of the Anglican Church, Wynne-Jones said. The Anglican Communion believes that the ordination of actively homosexual clergy is incompatible with Scripture. The Church of England does not even recognize female bishops, although the subject is under discussion.

“The condition of the Episcopal Church in America is unraveling fairly fast and this would exacerbate this situation,” Wynne-Jones said. “I think that more and more individual parishes are likely to align with other dioceses. It is frustrating. Anyone who’s concerned for the future of the church would be concerned.”

Chris Sugden, the executive secretary of Anglican Mainstream International, a traditional organization within the church, said, “The Archbishop of Canterbury … is very clear that there is a group of people in power in the highest echelons of the Episcopalian Church in America for whom this is a determined crusade. They will brook no opposition; they will not listen to any calls for restraint. It has been done during the moratorium deliberately. It is a clear challenge to the rest of the Communion and the Church of England.”

The Earth is Not Our Mother

“The main point of Christianity was this: that Nature is not our mother: Nature is our sister. We can be proud of her beauty, since we have the same father; but she has no authority over us; we have to admire, but not to imitate.”—G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy