The Church Around the World

The Church Around the World


Archbishop Hart responds to push for euthanasia

On 7 October 2010, Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne released a statement in response to growing moves around Australia to reignite the euthanasia debate.

He described support for euthanasia as "misplaced compassion" and argued that if the debate were given sufficient time and attention, euthanasia would be unveiled for the reality that it is.

He noted the brief period of legalised euthanasia in the Northern Territory in 1996, repealed some months after it was enacted. Since then, he said, "advocates have introduced numerous bills into state parliaments around Australia, all of which have been rejected. Why? Because when parliamentarians take the time to debate the issue fully and to consider all the consequences properly they realise that to decriminalise euthanasia and assisted suicide would threaten the lives of other vulnerable people."

The experience in the Netherlands, he said, "confirms just how far ... the scope of the law" can be widened "so that it includes not just those with terminal illness and unrelievable suffering, but also people who suffer from depression, those who cannot make their own decisions, and even children."

Archbishop Hart urged Parliament "to put its energy and creative talents, into positive supports, rather than taking the negative path towards euthanasia or assisted suicide and "to increase their support for aged care and palliative care programs."


Catholic-Orthodox dialogue

Though emphasising that full unity is still in the distant future, leaders from Catholic and Orthodox churches recently indicated that progress is underway in the reunification efforts of the two faith communities.

Church leaders who met in Vienna in September concurred that the two traditions - which have been separated since the Great Schism of 1054 - could eventually become "sister churches" that recognise the Holy Father as head but maintain their individual liturgies, customs and church structures.

Leaders from the International Commission for Catholic-Orthodox Dialogue, a group comprised of around 30 theologians who meet annually, noted the positive advances both churches have made towards full communion.

Archbishop Kurt Koch, head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said the two churches "will be able to enrich each other," adding that the "basic principle of ecumenism is the exchange of gifts."

"The first step is to tell each other individually how we imagine unity would look like. For the Catholic Church, of course, unity without the Bishop of Rome is unimaginable. That's because the issue of the Bishop of Rome is not just an organisational question, but also a theological one. The dialogue about just how this unity should be shaped must be continued intensively. Unity means that we see each other fully as sister churches."

Archbishop Koch added that he believes Pope Benedict is "thinking in this direction."

"He's said to the Anglicans who want to come back that they would be able to keep their tradition and celebrate their liturgy. So he's said himself that there should be diversity. That will be the second step. It's far too early to ask each other how we can do this together."

"There are no clouds of mistrust between our two churches," Orthodox Metropolitan John Zizioulas of Pergamon stressed. "If we continue like that, God will find a way to overcome all the difficulties that remain."

Significant progress has been made in recent years towards reunification as was evidenced by 2007's meeting in Ravenna, Italy, where both churches recognised the Bishop of Rome as the most senior bishop.

Catholic News Agency


Tenth annual Indian Bible quiz

The Logos Quiz, held annually in the Indian state of Kerala, is sponsored by the Bible Commission of the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC).

The state of Kerala in the south of India has the largest Christian population in the nation, with nearly seven million Christians, more than four million of whom are Catholic.

Kerala enjoys 90% literacy, the highest level in India. The Catholic presence there is also 10 times what it is in other Indian states.

On 26 September, the first round - held at the diocesan level - involved the participation of nearly a half million competitors, divided into five age groups, from those younger than 10 to those older than 60.

The 483,170 participants registered beforehand, paying a fee of 23 cents. They had the syllabus to prepare for the questions for a year, since at each competition the next year's information is provided.

Father Joshy Mayyattil, secretary of the KCBC Bible Commission, explained that "our aim is to promote interest in Bible reading and the culture of systematic study of the Bible."

After the first round, which lasts 90 minutes, the three winners from each age group from the 31 dioceses then go on to the final contest, scheduled for November at the KCBC headquarters in Kochi.

Father Mayyattil called the final contest "gruelling," noting that participants compete with audio, video, written, oral and Bible verse recitation tests.

Zenit News Agency


Bishops of Costa Rica on same-sex unions

The Bishops' Conference of Costa Rica has sent a message to the country's lawmakers noting that it is an injustice to sacrifice the common good and the rights of the family in response to pressure from those who support making gay unions equal to marriage.

"Marriage is not just any union between two human beings," since it was "founded by the Creator, who gave it a particular nature ... and an undeniable purpose." For this reason, the bishops said, they oppose all measures aiming "to make same-sex unions equal to marriage."

The legalisation of such unions distorts the understanding of fundamental moral values and undermines the institution of marriage as such.

The bishops also pointed out that the vast majority of Costa Ricans are opposed to the legalisation of same-sex unions, and they rejected the argument that such a move is necessary to prevent such individuals from being deprived of their rights as citizens and persons.

"In reality, like all citizens, thanks to their private autonomy, they can always resort to common law in order to safeguard legal situations that are of mutual interest," the bishops said. "On the other hand, it would be a grave injustice to sacrifice the common good and the rights of families in order to allow them to obtain benefits that can and should be guaranteed by means that do not harm society at large," they added.

What these groups and their supporters are doing is nothing more than the "first step towards marriage and adoption, as in fact has occurred in other countries," the bishops said.

Catholic News Agency


Vatican on parental role in sex education

The Holy See is stressing the necessary role of parents in the lives of their children, especially in the area of education on sexuality. This was one of the points underlined by its delegation to the 2010 UN World Youth Conference in Leon, which took place from 23-26 August.

On 17 September 2010 the Vatican released a statement outlining its official position with regard to the Guanajuato Declaration, the final document of the youth conference, in which it pointed out various "serious procedural and substantive issues."

It noted that "the word 'parents' does not appear once in an outcome document devoted to youth, which means that the vital role parents must play in fulfilling their responsibilities for them has not been recognised."

It expressed concern that "the reference to 'comprehensive education on human sexuality' stands alone without reference to parents' 'prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children,' including the religious, moral and spiritual dimensions of authentic human love, and related matters concerning the nature of sexuality, marriage and the family."

In an intervention given to the participants during the conference, the Holy See delegation noted that "young people have a right to receive an education based upon a fundamental respect for the intrinsic dignity and worth of the human person, an education they first receive from their parents and by which they are gradually formed to become responsible adults."

Young people have the right to receive education that fully respects the moral and spiritual dimensions of human life and this includes the basic right of parents to educate their children in the nature of sexuality, marriage and the family.

With respect to the term "family in its plurality of forms," the Holy See stated its recognition of "one family form based on marriage, the equal partnership between one man and one woman, that is, husband and wife, and the duty of the state to strengthen the family."

Zenit News Agency


Colombian Archbishop: teach moral values

Archbishop Ruben Salazar of Bogota stressed last September that if the root causes of teen pregnancy are not addressed, the problem will never be solved.

"The truth is that if the root causes are not attacked, we will never prevent teen pregnancies from happening, no matter how many contraceptives are distributed."

The archbishop warned that sex-ed programs must not be focused on promoting contraception. "As long as there is no authentic education on the relationship between sex and love, on the meaning of marriage and the family, and while children are not taught values that encourage responsible sexuality, we will always have this problem."

For his part, the secretary of the Colombian bishops, Bishop Juan Vicente Cordoba, rejected proposals by one local official to provide teenage girls with contraceptive implantations in order to prevent pregnancies.

"We are creating one problem to solve another," he said. "Our teenage girls are not animals, like cows that we sterilise on a farm. They are human beings with dignity. We are turning them into objects by putting a device in them so they can't be mothers. I agree that a girl of that age should not become a mother but that is not the way to do it."

Catholic News Agency


Hans Kung criticised over "Spirit Of Vatican II"

An Irish bishop who, as a young priest, attended the entire Second Vatican Council has offered strong criticism of Hans Kung's credentials as an interpreter of the council.

"It is his claim to be the true interpreter of the documents of the Vatican Council that I find most difficult to accept, given the reality of his involvement with it," writes Bishop Michael Smith of Meath, who recalls that the dissident theologian chose to absent himself from the council's proceedings in order to spend "a great deal of time giving lectures on the council and interviews to media."

"A clear conclusion, for me at least, is that Dr Kung is less qualified than most of those present to interpret that ephemeral concept which he constantly evokes - 'the spirit of the Vatican Council'."

Catholic World News


Mexican feminists: decriminalise infanticide

Feminist groups and leaders have pressured officials in the Mexican state of Guanajuato to drastically reduce the punishment for infanticide.

For weeks, feminist organisations such as Las Libres confused the public by claiming that six women in Guanajuato, who were in prison for killing their babies, were in fact in prison for abortion.

After being dismissed by local officials and UN delegates, the feminists changed their strategy to seeking a reduction in punishment for women who kill their children during the first hours following birth. Such a crime, punishable in the past by 35 years in prison, will now be punishable by only three to 10 years due to a controversial reform of the state's civil code.

Pro-life representatives said the efforts by feminists to pressure officials into making infanticide effectively a right "will not resonate with other entities in the country." They expressed their deep concern that killing a newborn within the first 24 hours after birth would no longer be considered a serious crime. Infanticide should never be considered "normal," they said.

Catholic News Agency

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