Posts Tagged ‘Europe’

A ‘bullying’ move? UK midwife abortion ruling sparks outcry

London, England, Dec 18, 2014 / 05:14 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The U.K. Supreme Court has ruled that midwives in charge of delivery wards are not exempt from assisting in the procurement of abortions – prompting warnings that the decision will have significant consequences for medical personnel opposed to the procedure.

“Today’s decision sadly makes it likely that senior midwives who refuse to kill babies will be forced to leave the profession,” Paul Tully, general secretary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said Dec. 17.

“This will affect anyone who objects to abortion, of any religion or none. It will create a second-class status in midwifery for those who only deliver babies and don’t kill them,” he said.

Tully’s group helped fund the legal case of Catholic midwives Mary Doogan and Connie Wood, who were coordinators at a labor ward at a Glasgow, Scotland hospital. They challenged the National Health Service Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board’s requirement that they delegate, supervise and support staff who were performing abortions.

The two women said a right to opt-out of providing abortions was upheld by the U.K.’s 1967 Abortion Act and the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Court of Session in Edinburgh in February 2012 initially ruled against them. In April 2013, appeal court judges ruled in their favor, saying “right of conscientious objection extends not only to the actual medical or surgical termination but to the whole process of treatment given for that purpose.”

However, the Supreme Court in London sided against the two midwives, BBC News reports.

Lady Hale, Deputy President of the Supreme Court, said that Parliament, when it wrote its legal protections, did not have in mind hospital managers or administrators or “the caterers who provide the patients with food and the cleaners who provide them with a safe and hygienic environment.”

“Yet, all may be said in some way to be facilitating the carrying out of the treatment involved,” she said about Monday’s decision. In the judge’s view, “participation” in an abortion means “taking part in a ‘hands-on’ capacity.”

Doogan and Wood said they were “extremely disappointed” with the verdict, adding that they “can only imagine the subsequent detrimental consequences that will result from today’s decision on staff of conscience throughout the U.K.”

They said the ruling makes the conscience clause in practice “meaningless for senior midwives in a labor ward.”

The number of abortions at their hospital’s labor ward was “a tiny percentage of the workload” and their conscientious objections could have been accommodated “with minimal effort,” they added.

Tully warned that the ruling could particularly affect junior midwives.

“They could easily be placed in an impossible situation by pro-abortion superiors, and would be unable to receive promotion to a more senior role without fear of being required to violate their consciences,” he said.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) sided with the NHS board, saying they were “deeply concerned” about extensions of the right to conscientious objection.

Tully said that the ruling also declared that the Abortion Act’s conscience clause does not apply to general practitioners or hospital doctors who may be asked to prescribe abortion drugs.

“We anticipate that this will lead to renewed efforts by health officials to force doctors who have a conscientious objection to abortion either to compromise their respect for human life or to leave the profession,” he continued, adding that the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children will “support and encourage doctors to resist any such bullying approach.”

At Vienna conference, Holy See renews call for nuclear disarmament

Vienna, Dec 16, 2014 / 02:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- At a meeting on the impact of nuclear arms last week, the Holy See complained that institutions have not found the proper solution to address the nuclear arms issue, and praised the gathering as a new hope towards nuclear disarmament.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer at the UN office of Geneva, spoke Dec. 9 in Vienna at the Third Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons.

It was the first of these conferences to be attended by some of the five officially recognized nuclear powers, with both the United Kingdom and the United States taking part.

The meeting gathered 158 countries, and concluded with the request of an immediate ban on nuclear weapons.

Archbishop Tomasi underscored “the positive steps made” toward “the goal of a world without nuclear weapons,” but stressed that the Holy See “still thinks these steps are limited, insufficient, and frozen in space and time.”

“The institutions that are supposed to find solutions and new instruments are deadlocked. The actual international context, including the relationship between nuclear weapons states themselves, does not lead to optimism,” Archbishop Tomasi stressed.

The final statement adopted by the conference states that “as long as nuclear weapons exist, there remains the possibility of a nuclear explosion. Even if the probability is small, given the catastrophic consequences of a nuclear weapon detonating, the risk is unacceptable.”

According to Archbishop Tomasi, this “humanitarian initiative” is a new hope to make decisive steps towards a world without nuclear weapons.

“The partnership between states, civil society, the ICRC, international organizations, and the UN is an additional guarantee of inclusion, cooperation and solidarity. This is not an action of circumstance. This is a fundamental shift that meets a strong quest of a large number of the world’s populations which would be the first victims of a nuclear incident,” the Holy See permanent observer maintained.

The Holy See has watched closely the state of the discussions at the Conferences for the Humanitarian Impact of the Nuclear Weapons.

The Holy See’s final goal is that of an integral disarmament, but on the other hand the Holy See is working on a step by step approach to the issue.

Archbishop Tomasi recalled that “the term national security often comes up in discussions on nuclear weapons. It seems that this concept is used in a partial and biased manner. All states have the right to national security. Why is it that the security of some can only be met with a particular type of weapon whereas other states must ensure their security without it?”

The British delegation make it clear it does not consider a complete ban on nuclear weapons viable, saying it would endanger political stability.

Archbishop Tomasi indirectly responded to the British delegation by underscoring that “reducing the security of states, in practice, to its military dimension, is artificial and simplistic.”

‘Every five minutes, a Christian dies in the Middle East’

Madrid, Spain, Dec 12, 2014 / 04:47 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Fr. Gabriel Nadaf is a priest of the Greek Orthodox Church. He lives in Nazareth and faces death threats for publicizing the state of Christians in the Middle East.

Fr. Nadaf has a 24-hour sec…

The politics of Pope Francis: An anti-corruption, anti-ideology populism

London, England, Dec 9, 2014 / 10:02 pm (Aid to the Church in Need).- Most people “still don’t know how Pope Francis thinks,” says a longtime Catholic observer who believes the Pope’s approach to politics is an ordinary path that rejects both corruption and elite ideological obsessions isolated from real people.

“What he hoped for was a government rooted in the values and priorities of ordinary folk,” British author Austen Ivereigh said of the Pope’s time as Archbishop of Buenos Aires.

“Unchecked ambition, whether for power, money or popularity, expresses only a great interior emptiness,” then-Archbishop Jorge Maria Bergoglio said in 2000. “And those who are empty do not generate peace, joy, and hope, only suspicion. They do not create bonds.”

The Pope is “a gospel radical” calling the Church to “dependence on Christ and the Holy Spirit rather than power and status,” Ivereigh said in a Dec. 6 essay in the British newspaper The Spectator.

Ivereigh is the author of a new book “The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope.” He is a former press secretary for Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the now-retired Archbishop of Westminster. He is also the also founder of Catholic Voices, a U.K.-based organization which trains Catholic laypeople to present the Church’s teachings in media outlets.

He researched dozens of articles the future Pope wrote in spirituality journals from 1968 to 1992.

“The articles also show a consistent theme: the danger of detached elites in love with their own ideas, divorced from the people,” said Ivereigh, who presented his own interpretation of the Pope’s social and political thought.

In 1980, then-Father Jorge Mario Bergoglio was the provincial of the Society of Jesus in Argentina. He told the Jesuits that elites “do not see the real movement going on among God’s faithful people” and “fail to join in the march of history where God is saving us.”

Father Bergoglio warned against the temptation for Jesuits to have “fascination for abstract ideologies that do not match our reality.” Rather, the future Pope said, social change must be people driven, not driven by, in Bergoglio’s words, “the arrogance of the enlightened.”

According to Ivereigh, Father Bergoglio attracted “huge numbers of vocations” to the Jesuit order, but he also drew opposition from “a group of upper-class left-liberal Jesuit intellectuals” who lobbied the Jesuits’ Superior General to have Bergoglio and his allies removed.

A leader in the campaign against Bergoglio objected that he encouraged praying the rosary and touching saints’ statues in the chapel.

“This was something the poor did, the people of the pueblo, something that the worldwide Society of Jesus just doesn’t do,” the opponent of Bergoglio told Ivereigh.

Ivereigh commented:

“Given that he and his colleagues saw themselves as pro-poor progressives, it was a revealing remark. As Bergoglio used to put it, they were ‘for the people, but never with the people’.”

Ivereigh said it is “a big mistake” to assume that Pope Francis is “just another liberal in the western mold.”

He noted the Pope’s recent comments to the European Parliament and the Council of Europe, in which the Pope compared Europe to “a grandmother, no longer fertile and vibrant” and said that to achieve progress towards the future “we need the past, we need profound roots.”

Ivereigh saw the Pope’s opposition to “gay marriage” as an embrace of “core human realities” like conjugal marriage and a child’s need for a father and a mother. He cited the Pope’s description of “gay marriage” as “an anthropological step backward.”

The British writer categorized the Pope as “a conservative who has spent his life in opposition to the abstract ideologies of the Enlightenment.”

He placed Pope Francis “firmly within the nationalist Catholic culture of Argentina that looks back to the Hapsburgs rather than the French revolution.” This view peaked as Bergoglio came of age in the 1940s and 1950s under the government of President Juan Peron, whose support for “the ‘popular’ and Catholic values of the immigrant classes” inflicted “a humiliating defeat on Argentina’s liberal establishment.”

“For Francis, government has a deep and noble purpose: to serve the common good, to protect the vulnerable, to build up bonds of trust and reciprocity,” Ivereigh said. “What undermines it are abstract elites, disincarnate ideologies and politicians in it for themselves.”

As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio criticized both the “deification of the state” and the “neoliberal evisceration of the state,” said Ivereigh, using the British term for free-market capitalism that rejects government welfare programs.

Then-Archbishop Bergoglio believed that the only way out of Argentina’s crisis of widespread bankruptcy caused by debt-fueled consumption and public corruption was “to rebuild institutions from below, invigorating civil society so that it could hold both state and market to account.”

Protect us – One archbishop’s plea as Nigeria elections loom

Rome, Italy, Dec 4, 2014 / 05:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- As Nigeria’s general elections draw near, the archbishop of the central city of Jos warned candidates not to put political agendas over people’s safety and urged more rapid solutions to Boko Haram violence.

“This is a time in Nigeria that calls for genuine, authentic patriotism, because the attacks seem to be ongoing and destruction and displacement seem to be becoming a regular phenomenon,” Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama told CNA Nov. 22.

“We are hoping that Nigerians who care for the good and the profit of Nigeria and Nigerians will do everything possible by transcending narrow political interests in order to genuinely seek solutions to end the phenomenon of Boko Haram.”

The radical Islamist group Boko Haram began its deadly insurgency in 2009, killing over 4,000 people in 2014 alone, according to Human Rights Watch. The group has been threatening to cross into Cameroon, which shares a 300-mile border with Nigeria.

With violence continuing to grow rather than abate, the Nigerian government’s inability to contain the group has drawn heavy criticism.

Boko Haram captured the town of Chibok on Nov. 13, and the Nigerian army retook the area three days later. The group also overran the predominantly Christian community of Mubi Oct. 29, forcing over 50,000 people to flee.

“The attacks seem to be endless and without any sense,” Archbishop Kaigama said. He noted the many people who have been displaced due to the continued conflict, including Muslims that don’t share Boko Haram’s extremist ideologies.

Fear has become the everyday experience of the people, he said, explaining that the government’s efforts to control Boko Haram will only be believed “when we see that these attacks and territorial expansion stop.”

As violence continues to unfold in the country, Nigeria’s leaders are intensely campaigning for their general elections, which are set to take place in February.

According to the Independent National Electoral Commission, the country’s presidential and national elections will take place on Feb. 14, while elections for the Governorship and State House of Assembly is set for Feb. 28.

With many politicians busy with campaigns and strategizing for the elections, Archbishop Kaigama lamented that “they have not given sufficient attention to the safety of the people who are being attacked by Boko Haram.”

“There is more interest in who gets what position. That is all that matters. They spend a lot of resources on this…and when you compare that with the thousands of displaced people, you wonder what our politicians are struggling to have power for,” he said.

The archbishop voiced his hope that politicians, traditional leaders, tribal elders, and members of both the People’s Democratic Party and All People’s Congress of Nigeria would forget about political aspirations and put the safety and interests of their citizens first.

In a recent meeting held between Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan and the bishops of Nigeria, Archbishop Kaigama recalled how “we had to remind them that things are not good; that there is fire on the mountain.”

He said that if the ongoing violence – mostly limited to Nigeria’s northeast provinces – is not contained, it will spread and “de-civilize” the entire country.

“We are just waiting to see what can be done and what is being done,” the archbishop said, noting that despite the bleak situation, Nigerians are maintaining a spirit of optimism.

“We believe that with the pressure being mounted on the government and the security agents that something is being done,” he said, but called for the government to show the physical evidence that they have won back some of the towns that they have claimed to regain.

At this point it’s not enough simply to be told, he said, explaining that once the elections are over the hope is that government will put forth more decisive means of putting the threat of Boko Haram to an end.

“I don’t see this progressing beyond the Northeast. We are quite optimistic that this will not last too long,” he said. “We are not giving in and we don’t believe that Boko Haram will have the last laugh.”

Turkish Muslims ‘deeply appreciated’ Pope Francis’ visit to their land

Istanbul, Turkey, Dec 4, 2014 / 12:03 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis’ visit to Turkey was highly appreciated by Muslims because of the care and interest he demonstrated for them, and for his acknowledgement that not all Muslims are terrorists, a local scholar has said.

“The Turkish people deeply appreciated the Pope’s visit,” Zeynet Cebeci Suvari, a Ph.D. candidate at Bogazici University, told CNA. “The message is clear: ‘I care about you and that is why I am here’. Even only this gesture means a lot in itself, without any words uttered.”

Cebeci Suvari, a Muslim, is the first non-Christian to earn a licentiate in sacred theology from a pontifical university, having graduated from the Pontifical Gregorian University.

She commented that “in general, Muslims do not know much about how Holy Father is perceived in the Catholic world …. the differences among the various confessions of Christianity do not mean anything to an ordinary Muslim.”

In Turkey, Muslims are more familiar with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, the head of Eastern Orthodoxy. The patriarchate is located in Istanbul, and the patriarch, Bartholomew I, is himself Turkish.

“The more important a role the patriarchate can play in the Christian world, the more respected it will become by Muslims as well,” said Cebeci Suvari.

“Although Turkey’s relationship with its Christian minorities is still problematic today, hopefully the respect shown to Bartholomew I by the Pope can set a good example for the Turkish leaders.”

She then stressed that “leaders can be pioneers in spreading wisdom and kindness among their people, and this can only be achieved when leaders talk to each other.”

In Turkey, Cebeci Suvari explained, “the rise of the nationalist societies was hurtful for cosmopolitanism and multiculturalism. All of a sudden, each nation was closed in itself and tried to find a scapegoat among the neighbors who have been living together for centuries.”

Some of the appreciation for Pope Francis’ visit is because it “tells the world that not all Muslims are barbaric terrorists. There is too much disinformation about culture and religion. Pope Francis’ visit may have shattered some of misconceptions about religions.”

During his trip, and again during his flight back from Turkey, Pope Francis had underscored that Muslims should speak out against violence and terrorism.

“Every single Muslim that I know is disturbed by the Islamic State,” Cebeci Suvari said.

She explained that the “slowness of reaction” is an outcome of the fact “Muslims do not perceive Islamic State as Muslim. What Islamic State is doing in the name of Islam has no resemblance to the Islam these ordinary Muslims know.”

“They do not relate to it, and so they do not even think they should talk against it.”

“They are baffled how anyone cannot see that this is not the real Islam,” Cebeci Suvari said.

This 82-year-old cardinal says he’ll face jail for democracy

Rome, Italy, Dec 4, 2014 / 04:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- One of several leaders of Hong Kong’s Occupy Central movement to surrender to police after months of pro-democracy protests, Cardinal Joseph Zen has said he is ready to go to jail.

“I’m prepared to be jailed, which is the strongest and most sincere proof of the unfairness of the system in Hong Kong,” said Hong Kong’s emeritus bishop, according to a translation of a report by the Hong Kong Economic Journal.

Cardinal Zen, 82, turned himself into police on Dec. 3 along with founders of the movement, Benny Tai, Chan Kin-man and Reverend Chu Yiu-ming. All were allowed to leave without facing any charges.

The demonstrations have drawn tens of thousands of people, although to-date they have decreased to a few hundred protesters, most of whom are students.

In an Nov. 20 interview with CNA, Hong Kong’s former bishop urged student demonstrators to be patient as clashes resume during overnight pro-democracy protests in the city center.

Cardinal Zen, who supports the fight for democratic elections, expressed concern that young protestors were moving too quickly without sufficient planning,

“The students have taken the whole thing into their hands, and they are impatient,” he said. “Obviously they want to have an immediate success. That’s not possible.”

On the one hand, the cardinal acknowledged that the protesters “raise the awareness of the people, of the whole world” because of their youth. However, he warned it is “dangerous to waste the sympathy of the people, because now the things are dragging on too long. It’s affecting very much the daily life of the people in Hong Kong.”

Demonstrations began late September when students staged a week-long boycott of China’s decision to only allow pre-screened candidates to be elected as Hong Kong’s leader in 2017.

“We are fighting for a real democratic election, said Cardinal Zen, adding that Beijing’s decision to choose the candidates is not a “real election.”

Efforts to confront this motion began “very rationally,” he continued, “so we didn’t expect immediate success.”

On Sep. 29, Hong Kong bishop, Cardinal John Tong, appealed the government to ensure the safety of its citizens, and called all Christians to pray for reconciliation between the “conflicting parties” in the conflict.

Formerly under the sovereignty of Britain, Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997, with the latter’s government agreeing to permit the region greater freedoms and autonomy.

Papal mace points to education’s true purpose, Scottish bishop says

Edinburgh, Scotland, Dec 4, 2014 / 12:28 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The presentation of a special Papal mace marking the 600th anniversary of Scotland’s oldest university is a reminder of the ultimate purpose of education – to know, love and serv…

‘Year for Vocations’: English diocese stresses universal call to sainthood

Shrewsbury, England, Dec 2, 2014 / 04:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Alongside the Year for Consecrated Life called for by Pope Francis, the Diocese of Shrewsbury, England, is observing 2015 as a year for vocations, promoting among the faithful the universal call to sanctity.

“I want to speak about the calling which we all share,” Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury said in a pastoral letter read Nov. 30 at churches and chapels throughout the diocese. “It might startle you to be reminded that this is quite simply the vocation to become a saint!”

“The Apostles had no hesitation in addressing the first Christians as ‘saints’, and yet we can lose sight of this, our greatest calling. The Church’s teaching, her discipline and all the Sacraments are given us so that you and I may become saints.”

A statement from the diocese noted that Shrewsbury’s Year for Vocations “complements the ‘Year of Consecrated Life’ opened by Pope Francis but it is also aimed at encouraging lay Catholics to better understand their own vocations, especially the vocation to marriage.”

Bishop Davies’ letter opened by noting that the Shrewsbury diocese “stands in great need” of vocations to Christian marriage, the ministerial priesthood, and consecrated life.

Remarking on the Year for Consecrated Life, the bishop said that “the Holy Father has also placed the vocation of Marriage at the heart of his concerns, inviting us to reflect on the great vocation of the family in preparation for the Synod of Bishops next October.”

The Shrewsbury diocese is itself opening a center at its cathedral where men can stay for a year as they discern a vocation to priesthood or consecrated life.

In light of these things, Bishop Davies wrote, “it seems clear to me … the theme for 2015 must be a ‘Year for Vocations.’”

The vocation to holiness is for all Christians, he stated, emphasizing that holiness, not comfort or popularity, is “the goal of the Christian life.”

“This call to holiness lay at the heart of the Second Vatican Council’s call for renewal in the Church. Blessed Pope Paul VI described the call to holiness as the key to understanding the whole purpose of the Council.”

Bishop Davies assured his people that “in the Church, no one has a second-class vocation. Every one of us is, by Baptism, called to become nothing less than a saint.”

He quoted from Pope Francis’ Nov. 19 General Audience, in which the Pope said that holiness “is not the prerogative of some” but is rather “a gift offered to all.”

Bishop Davies wrote, “If you are ever tempted to think holiness means detaching yourselves from ordinary things, then Pope Francis asks you to think again!”

“The Pope wants to remind us that at home or in work or at church; in marriage or in the priesthood; in every moment and in every state of life, ‘a door is opened on the road to sainthood.’”

“Our path to holiness is to be found, then, amidst the apparently little things of every day,” the bishop said, adding that Pope Francis gives practical examples such as avoiding gossip and listening patiently to your children after a hard day’s work.

“Being ready for Mass on Sunday, and at times making a good Confession, which Pope Francis says, ‘cleans us up,’ are vital steps towards holiness.”

Meeting those in need, and making the time to help them, too, are “real steps towards becoming the saints we are called to be.”

“In other words, the call to holiness is not found up in the clouds or in our dreams,” Bishop Davies concluded. “The call to become a saint is right in front of us every day!”

“May Mary, who in Pope Francis’ words is ‘so good, so beautiful,’ help us recognise how, in these apparently small things of each day, lies our path to holiness, to our complete and everlasting happiness.”

Thousands of Tango dancers to perform for Pope’s birthday

Rome, Italy, Dec 2, 2014 / 02:43 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis enjoys the customs of his native Argentina. He drinks mate – an Argentinean tea – he follows soccer, and likes to listen to Tango music.

Consequently, some 7,000 Tango dances have decided to perform a flash mob for the pontiff to celebrate his 78th birthday this month.

Touted on social networks as “the largest milonga in the world,” nearly 9,000 dancers were invited to take part. The event is planned for Pope Francis’ birthday, Dec. 17, at 4 p.m. at Rome’s Risorgimento Square, just steps away from St. Peter’s.

Cristina Camaroni, who is organizing the flash mob, posted on Facebook that she is very happy with the event.

“We have gotten all of the permits and we will dance a milonga with the official permission of the city of Rome and the Vatican gendarmerie!” she said.

The flash mob dance is expected to last two hours, and the city will block traffic as the Tango dancers give their performance.

About 3,000 of the dancers are expected to take part that same morning in the Pope’s Wednesday General Audience in St. Peter’s Square. They will each be wearing a white handkerchief around their necks.

In the 2010 book-interview, “The Jesuit,” by Francesca Ambrogetti and Sergio Rubin, then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio – who is now Pope Francis – said, “I like Tango very much. It’s something that comes from inside of me. My favorite singers are Carlos Gardel, Julio Sosa and Ada Falcon, who later became a nun.”

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