weekly update 25 February 6 March 2006
6 March 2006
weekly update 25 February - 6 March 2006 Pro-life activists have criticised the decision by an American Catholic diocese to allow two pro-abortion politicians to sponsor a charity event on church premises. Richard Malone, the diocese's bishop, defended his decision, saying that the charity, which helps low-income families heat their homes, was supported by the diocese. Paul Madore, who organised the campaign against the bishop's decision, said: ''Pro-life Catholics have the responsibility to denounce evil and to hold the bishop accountable for failing to do the same. It's gotten to the point where ordinary Catholic faithful need to tell the clergy the difference between right and wrong." [MaineToday.com, 27 February ] Writing in a newspaper article, Catholic bishop Robert Vasa of Baker, Oregon, has expressed sympathy for the argument that support for a right to abortion is a heresy, saying: "The teaching of the Church in the area of life is clear and unequivocal. Human life must be respected and protected from conception to natural death." [Catholic Sentinel, Oregon, 17 February ] The Pope has told the general assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life that human life is good, "always and definitively." Benedict XVI said: "The love of God does not distinguish between the newly-conceived infant still in its mother's womb, the baby, the youth, the grown adult or the elderly, because in each of them He sees the sign of His own image and likeness." The church had always proclaimed the inviolability of human life from conception till its natural end. [Vatican Information Service, 27 February ] Bishop Elio Sgreccia, president of the academy, told a conference in Rome: "In [every] case, the embryo is a child: a boy or a girl, [who] has a special relationship with his parents and, for those who are believers, also has a special relationship with God." [Zenit, 24 February ] Professor Adriano Bompiani, director of the International Scientific Institute of the Sacred Heart Catholic University, Rome, spoke of the need to promote an ontological study of the human embryo, since "In order to attribute a 'juridical status' to the embryo ... it is necessary to 'understand' its nature". [Vatican Information Service, 24 February ] The conference, entitled "The human embryo prior to implantation: scientific aspects and bioethical considerations", was convened by the academy. The health authority in north Devon, England, has started a pilot scheme which will allow pupils as young as 14 free access to abortifacient morning-after pills. Added Power and Understanding Through Sexual Education will offer condoms, testing for sexually transmitted infections, and morning-after pills to pupils who have been through its sex education classes. Parents have expressed concern, especially because the scheme's confidentiality means they might not be told if their daughters are given morning-after pills. [BBC News, 27 February ] The Prison Service has allowed a prisoner to starve himself to death. Terry Rodgers, who was awaiting trial for murder, died after conducting a hunger strike in Lincoln jail. A Prison Service spokeswoman said: "The principle is that artificial nutrition and hydration - force-feeding, in other words - is a medical treatment so all the principles that apply to any medical treatment apply here. The judgment has to be: is the person in sound mind? If they are in sound mind and refusing treatment, we cannot force them to be artificially fed." [The Guardian, 27 February ] Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, commented: "It could be argued that the Prison Service's failure to feed Mr Rodgers amounts to material complicity in homicide, at least ethically, if not legally. Both the ethical and legal boundaries against euthanasia and suicide have been breached by years of corrupted thinking now enshrined in the Mental Capacity Act."