World Notes & Quotes
The Associated Press reported Jan. 23 that “Quietly, and with some behind-the-scenes American help, an antiabortion movement is building strength in Cuba, where the number of abortions recently matched the number of births.
“The maternity hospital physician who founded the organization Pro-Lifein Spanish, Pro-Vida-has a simple credo: ‘Abortion is an abomination.’ She might not get too strong an argument from Cuban President Fidel Castro,” who claimed, in his Vatican conversation with Pope John Paul II last year, that he believed abortion was “not healthy or desirable or advisable,” according to the article.
“With the United States and Canada, Cuba is one of three Western Hemisphere nations with legalized abortion on demand. And the demand here has been high over the years. The latest U.N. statistics, for 1989, showed Cuba with 56.5 abortions per 1,000 women ages 15-44, more than twice the U.S. level….
“Cubans acknowledge that in many cases abortion-carried out free of charge in state hospitals-has become an almost casual method of birth control….
“Pro-Vida” is affiliated with Cuba's Catholic Church, said the article, and must limit its activities—video and other educational presentations—to Church grounds.
German Clerics Forced to Join Unemployed
A century-old system in Germany used to function almost like an automatic tithe that funded the country's Churches. Now it is responsible for unemployed clerics and seminarians like Gert Holle.
Holle “began to prepare to become a Lutheran minister more than eight years ago,” according to an article by Edmund Andrews of The New York Times (Jan. 28).
“But now, five months before he is supposed to take his vows, the 33-year-old seminarian” is studying public relations so that he can find a job.
The Lutheran bishop has announced for the first time in memory that there are only a fraction of the needed openings for the 48 seminarians.
“At least in public relations you are working with people,” Holle is quoted saying.
The problem is that “religious institutions in Germany get almost all their revenue from a 9% Church surtax imposed on the income of every registered Catholic, Protestant, and Jew.” Taxpayers declare their religion as well as their income on their returns. Non-religious taxpayers don't pay the taxnor those who “revoke their registration.”
In 1996, the take for all religions was about $11 billion in Germany—which was less than the taxes taken from the sales of cigarettes in the country, according to the article. With unemployment in Germany climbing to 11%, fewer people are willing or able to pay the tax.
In 1997, though final numbers are unavailable, it seems that the revenue raised from the tax was even less.
- February 08-14, 1998