The Church Around the World

The Church Around the World

US religious leaders' opposition to Obama

Evangelical and Jewish leaders declared their solidarity with Catholics on 10 February as the Obama administration sought to quell controversy over its policy on contraception and religious ministries.

"Stories involving a Catholic, a Protestant and a Jew typically end with a punch line," wrote Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, DC, Prison Fellowship founder Charles Colson, and Manhattan-based Orthodox Rabbi Meir Soloveichik in a Wall Street Journal editorial.

"We wish that were the case here, but what brings us together is no laughing matter: the threat now posed by government policy to that basic human freedom, religious liberty."

The Jewish and Evangelical leaders joined Washington's archbishop in opposing the administration's attempt to require religious ministries, including schools, hospitals, charities, and media outlets, to subsidise contraception, sterilisation, and abortion-causing drugs in their health plans.

After three weeks of uproar, led by over 170 Catholic bishops, the administration announced a new policy on 10 February.

In place of the policy forcing many religious ministries to purchase plans covering contraception and sterilisation, the new rule shifts the burden to these institutions' insurance providers, requiring them to offer the "preventive services" without a co-pay.

But critics said the administration was only shifting the subsidy, by forcing religious employers to contract with insurance providers offering the controversial services.

Catholic League President Bill Donohue responded to the revised rule by predicting the President would soon see Catholics "team with Protestants, Jews, Mormons and others to recapture their First Amendment rights."

Two days earlier, Charles Colson co-authored a Christianity Today editorial with Beeson Divinity School Dean Timothy George, stressing Evangelicals' duty to unite with Catholics against the contraception mandate.

Catholic News Agency

Argentinian bishop cites value of Catechism

Archbishop Hector Aguer of La Plata, Argentina, said the Church makes the Catechism available so that Catholics can know the truths of the faith, which spring "from intelligence and the will" and not from "irrational emotion."

During his program Keys to a Better World on 4 February, the archbishop recalled that this year marks two decades since the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church at the request of Blessed John Paul II, "and this commemoration is an appropriate opportunity to recall the usefulness of this text."

"This is very important because the faith is not a mere sentiment or religious emotion, but is rather the personal adherence of the intellect and the will to God and to what God has revealed to us in Christ, which is that which the Church transmits to us for belief," he said.

Through the Catechism, the Church is addressing a problem in modern culture, which is the question of truth, "and here we are offered the foundation of the truth revealed by God, who illuminates the meaning of man's life."


No more prayers at UK council meetings

A landmark legal ruling in February banning the tradition of saying prayers at council meetings was denounced as an "assault on Britain's Christian heritage".

The High Court controversially backed an anti-religious campaign to abolish official acts of worship.

Christians and politicians reacted with dismay at the overturning of centuries of custom with the ban on the Bideford council in Devon from putting prayers on its formal agenda.

It prompted concern that this would pave the way for Parliament to abandon prayers before Commons and Lords business, mark the end of hospital and Forces chaplains, and could even lead to the abolition of the Coronation Oath, pledged by Kings and Queens taking the throne.

The ruling means prayers will not be allowed at the start of council meetings across England and Wales and comes as two Christian B&B owners who refused to let a gay couple share a room lost an appeal against a ruling that they must pay thousands in compensation to the men.

The Court of Appeal told Peter and Hazelmary Bull that they were entitled to express their beliefs, but not if they were incompatible with the rights of gay people.

Atheist former councillor Clive Bone started the case against Bideford town council in July 2010, claiming he had been "disadvantaged and embarrassed" when religious prayers were recited at formal meetings.

Simon Calvert, of the Christian Institute, said: "Prayers have been a part of council meetings for centuries, and many people, either for religious reasons or cultural reasons, see them as a positive part of our national life.

"It's a shame the courts have taken sides with those whose goal is to undermine our Christian heritage. It is high time Parliament put a stop to this assault upon our national heritage."

Daily Mail (London)

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