giovedì, aprile 08, 2021

Londra impone l’aborto a Stormont Il governo Conservatore viola accordi e devolution per instaurare un nuovo regime abortista

 


Il governo Conservatore viola accordi e devolution per instaurare un nuovo regime abortista

Il governo Conservatore britannico ha imposto l’aborto nell’Irlanda del Nord, sorpassando sia l’assemblea legislativa sia l’esecutivo locali. Lo ha fatto concedendo il potere al ministro per l’Irlanda del Nord, Brandon Lewis, di imporre alle autorità sanitarie nordirlandesi un regime abortivo estremamente permissivo.

Nel 2016 una chiara maggioranza nell’Assemblea dell’Irlanda del Nord aveva confermato la legge allora esistente, che consentiva l’aborto solo nel caso di pericolo per la salute fisica o mentale della madre. Poi, nel 2019, la Camera dei Comuni del parlamento britannico ha introdotto un nuovo regime che liberalizza l’aborto. Questa imposizione da parte di Londra venne giustificata con il fatto che in Irlanda del Nord in quel periodo non vi era esecutivo in funzione. Infatti uno stallo nelle negoziazioni fra i diversi partiti ha rinviato la formazione del governo locale fino a gennaio 2020.

Il nuovo regime imposto da Londra è entrato in vigore nel marzo 2020, ma senza il supporto del governo locale e dell’Assemblea di Stormont. Ora il governo di Londra, tramite il ministro per l’Irlanda del Nord, costringe di fatto il Servizio sanitario locale a seguire la legislazione imposta da Londra, anche se questa, secondo gli accordi di pace, è materia di competenza locale.

Con il nuovo regime l’aborto è consentito fino alla nascita per ogni genere di disabilità e fino a 24 settimane se la gravidanza comporta più rischi dell’aborto per la salute fisica e mentale della madre. In pratica si tratta di aborto a richiesta fino alla ventiquattresima settimana. L’aborto viene inoltre depenalizzato completamente, a differenza del resto del Regno Unito e della Repubblica d’Irlanda dove rimane un reato se effettuato al di fuori dei limiti di legge.

Alban Maginness, stimato politico locale ed ex sindaco di Belfast, ha commentato: «In questo modo Lewis dà priorità all’aborto rispetto ad altri servizi sanitari, come la cura del cancro, che in questo momento sono rinviati a causa della pandemia. Inoltre si fa beffa degli accordi sul decentramento. […] L’aborto è una questione divisiva, controversa, che richiede l’accordo del nostro esecutivo decentrato. E, come in altri casi, su una questione così delicata l’esecutivo non ha ancora raggiunto il consenso»

Contro la decisione del governo britannico si sono schierate tutte le Chiese. La Chiesa presbiteriana ha espresso «grave preoccupazione», definendo la scelta un indebolimento del processo di devolution e un’interferenza diretta del centro sul governo locale. I presbiteriani hanno persino chiesto che vengano ritirati i nuovi poteri al ministro Lewis.

Per la Chiesa metodista, la scelta usurpa il ruolo dell’esecutivo nordirlandese e il vescovo anglicano di Armagh, John McDowell, ha affermato che la proposta rivela mancanza di democrazia.

Dal canto proprio i vescovi cattolici giudicano la decisione del governo di Londra di sorpassare strutture decentralizzate che sono il frutto di accordi internazionali di pace come un’imposizione invisa alla popolazione, che mina smaccatamente il diritto alla vita dei bambini non ancora nati.

Ma non ci sono solo notizie cattive. L’Assemblea di Stormont ha infatti quasi contemporaneamente votato favorevolmente per la proibizione dell’aborto in caso di disabilità non letali e ora la proposta è passata al vaglio della Commissione competente. Sostenuta da diversi partiti, la proposta di legge ha buone possibilità di essere approvata. Pur dichiarandosi contrario, il Sinn Fein, il maggior partito repubblicano, si è astenuto al momento del voto. Ovvia e giustificata l’esultanza del mondo pro life. Certo, se la legge passasse sarebbe una piccola vittoria nella battaglia più ampia per contrastare l’imposizione del nuovo regime abortista, ma nessuno si sogna di denigrarla.

mercoledì, aprile 07, 2021

Dutch euthanasia law is deciding some lives are more worthy than others

 

The practice of euthanasia in the Netherlands bares a disturbing comparison with the Nazi era in Germany because it is recreating the category of life ‘deemed unworthy of life’. This is a opinion of a writer in a leading medical journal, especially as the Netherlands allows people who are not dying to avail of assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Writing for the JAMAL Internal Medicine journal in the US, geriatrician Dr Diane E. Meier, says that the extension of ‘Physician-Assisted-Death’ (PAD) to those who are sick, but are not terminally ill, carries definite echoes of the past because it ‘socially validates’ the idea that some lives are more worthy of the investment required to preserve them than others.

Dr Meier was commenting on a study about patients with multiple geriatric conditions in the Netherlands, published in December last year in the same Journal. The study found that their suffering wasn’t simply physical, but that these elderly patients feared further decline and didn’t want to become dependent or lose control over their situation. None of the patients suffered life-threatening conditions but they all requested, and obtained, death by assisted suicide or euthanasia.

In the Netherlands, there has been an increase in euthanasia performed on patients with dementia, psychiatric disorders or multiple geriatric conditions in recent years.

This should cause alarm, according to Dr Meier. She writes: “Once access to PAD becomes legal, when does a right becomes an obligation, especially when families are strained and society denies patients and families the resources needed to receive safe and reliable care?”

She warns that access to euthanasia comes close to “social validation, supported by policy, that some lives are no longer worth the investment required to preserve them – the implicit belief that both the individual and society would be better off if the patient were dead”

Predictably enough, her comparison with the Nazi era has been criticised as inappropriate by two letters to the journal signed by a number of Dutch doctors, but Dr Meier replied that history teaches us that acting on the belief that some lives are unworthy of life is not a one-time-only event. “Extreme caution is necessary when we empower physicians to take life”.

In addition, while we must be very slow to compare any situation with Nazi Germany, there cannot be a complete bar on comparisons except when the situation is exactly as bad as in the Nazi era.

The fact is that we are back to deciding that some lives are less worthy of life than others, even when that is a self-evaluation.

Dr Meier highlighted that in the Netherlands doctors must follow only vague criteria before administering euthanasia and only 75% of cases are reported, as non-reporting is rarely punished. Moreover, euthanasia in “children, people with mental illness, and dementia further illustrates the impossibility of limiting the practice and safeguarding vulnerable patients once it is permissible”

The Netherlands is often presented as a model for public policies but evidence proves instead that we should not repeat their mistakes.

This is the case not only for euthanasia but also for abortion.

Abortion rates there are still low by comparison with Sweden and the UK, but they continue to grow, according to a new report. The abortion rate (number of abortions per woman) and ratio (number per pregnancy) have never been so high.

 

The report also showed that 17 Irish women had an abortion in the Netherlands in 2019. There were 18 in 2018. This means that there was no significant difference in numbers after the referendum and the introduction of abortion in Ireland.

lunedì, aprile 05, 2021

Cancellare l'Antichità dalla nostra cultura significa rinnegare l'umanesimo

Appello, pubblicato sul Figaro, di professori universitari francesi e italiani, ellenisti, latinisti, storici e filosofi.


 Lo studio dell’Antichità è nocivo. E’ quanto affermano oggi alcuni professori di storia antica, di latino e di greco in varie università americane. Un movimento partito da Stanford sta mettendo in discussione l’esistenza di queste discipline (gli ‘studi classici’) nei campus universitari, sostenendo che imporrebbero nell’istruzione un “suprematismo bianco di ispirazione neocoloniale” (come ha scritto Raphaël Doan sul Figaro Vox lo scorso 11 marzo). A tutto ciò, in Francia, si è aggiunto un dibattito sull’abbandono da parte dei musei nazionali dei numeri romani in alcuni cartelli espositivi, perché il pubblico non saprebbe più leggerli. Invece di imparare i numeri romani, cancelliamoli! Gli autori greci e latini, schiavisti e ostili ai barbari, erano dunque razzisti, conservatori, guerrieri, imperialisti e misogini? Non è totalmente falso, ma sono lungi dall’essere gli unici nella storia, e ciò non giustifica assolutamente la loro cancellazione senza uno sforzo di contestualizzazione e di analisi delle loro posizioni nel quadro della epoca in cui vissero, e non nel nostro. In Omero, Achille è un sanguinario, ma il poeta gli mette in bocca una riflessione toccante sul senso della vita. Anche Ettore trucida allegramente i suoi nemici, ma sembra più umano perché è una vittima. Se l’imperatore Augusto è un autocrate, Cicerone è morto per avergli rimproverato, quando ancora si chiamava soltanto Ottavio, la sua complicità con Antonio. Sant’Agostino non ha messo sotto accusa la schiavitù, ma ha contribuito alla nostra concezione di umanesimo moderno, e lo ha fatto in un’epoca in cui la ricchissima cristiana Melania la giovane affrancava in massa i suoi schiavi.

 

Cancellare Atene e Roma dalla storia degli uomini, significa ostracizzare la Ragione (il logos greco) e mettere al bando la Legge (i Codici giuridici romani). Significa uccidere Platone e calpestare la nozione di equità, inventata da Roma. Per ora teniamo da parte la questione della fede (Gerusalemme), se è possibile farlo, cosa di cui dubitiamo. Ciò che ci sembra più importante è che la martellatura dell’Antichità, cancellata dalle memorie come l’effigie dei proscritti a Roma, sia un tragico embargo sulla memoria e un rifiuto della speranza, una negazione pura e semplice del futuro. L’adoperarsi con ogni mezzo per organizzare l’amnesia del passato elimina qualsiasi speranza per il domani. Virgilio racconta nell’“Eneide” il modo in cui Enea è fuggito da Troia in fiamme, portando il suo anziano padre sulle spalle. Disegnando questa immagine in alcuni versi magnifici, il poeta non parla solo di Enea, di Anchise, di Troia e di Roma, ma anche di noi, oggi. Ecco il verso più bello nel racconto dello stesso Enea, che riporta le condizioni della sua fuga: “Cessi, et sublato montes genitore petivi (Mi rassegnai e sollevato il padre mi diressi sui monti)”, (Eneide II, 804). C’è tutto in queste parole: il passato e la sconfitta (Troia abbandonata), il peso della tradizione (il genitore che la pietas filiale impone di salvare), il futuro che si intravede in lontananza, così difficile da descrivere (i monti all’orizzonte). André Gide, commentando questo verso straordinario, che chiude lo splendido canto II dell’“Eneide”, notava laconicamente, ma con giustezza: “Spettacolo dell’umanità”. Gli iconoclasti contemporanei dell’Antichità rifiutano di assistere allo spettacolo della nostra imperfetta umanità, sia per odio di sé, sia per volontà mortifera di autodistruzione o di convenienza politica, sia per paura. Si allontanano da loro stessi, si tradiscono e tradiscono l’umanesimo che – non ne sono nemmeno consapevoli – trascende la loro piccola persona così come l’umanità trascende il destino di Enea. Non lasciamoci andare al decadentismo ad ogni costo, mille ragioni ci trattengono dal farlo. Ma come si può non pensare a Cioran quando scriveva che una “civiltà marcescente scende a patti con il suo male?”. Una società malata, aggiungeva, “ama il virus che la consuma, non si rispetta più”. Essa non osa più affrontare la sua immagine autentica nello specchio della letteratura, bensì indietreggia dinanzi all’oscurità della sua anima come la storia la rivela. Dovrebbe invece farne il suo studio preferito, per capire meglio sé stessa ed esorcizzare i suoi peggiori demoni (…) Per lo storico, cancellare il passato equivale a un’epurazione; non serve a nulla cancellarlo, e conoscerlo meglio è un’ardente pratica di consapevolezza.

La traduzione è di Mauro Zanon



venerdì, aprile 02, 2021

An update on public worship restrictions around Europe

 

Public worship is currently banned in Ireland. For the second year, there will be no Easter celebrations due to the ban imposed by the Government. This is exceptional in Europe, where public worship is allowed in almost every country, albeit with various safety measures. (See details below)

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis last March, public worship in Ireland has been banned for 37 weeks (39 weeks in Dublin and Donegal).  No other country in Europe, and probably in the world, has kept this ban for such a long time.

All other European countries closed their churches for a much shorter period, mostly during the first lockdown last year: England 14 weeks, France 9, Germany and Belgium 6, Italy 5.

Slovakia has had a 31 week ban and Slovenia, 24 weeks. But Ireland beats even them.

Here is an updated list of what is happening in a range of European countries, based on the official EU website Re-open EU.

Public indoor worship restrictions 

Banned: Ireland, Slovakia and Slovenia. In Estonia, religious ceremonies are permitted only outdoor, with a limit of 10 participants.

No specific limits on numbers but worshippers must be socially distanced: Austria, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Switzerland.

Limits vary by region:  Greece, Spain and Portugal.

Max 500 participants depending on size of building: Denmark.

Max 50 participants: Cyprus, Iceland.

Max 15 participants: Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia.

Max 8 participants: Sweden.

giovedì, marzo 25, 2021

Axe is set to fall on the right to life in Northern Ireland

 

The UK Government is moving to impose abortion in Northern Ireland, bypassing the local Assembly and Executive. In the meanwhile, a Bill to ban abortion in cases of non-fatal disability is progressing in Stormont.

The UK Conservative Government has recently introduced regulations to Parliament to give Northern Ireland Secretary, Brandon Lewis, power to force the local Northern Ireland authorities to set up an extremely permissive abortion regime.

In 2016, a clear majority of the Northern Ireland Assembly upheld the law on abortion. In July 2019, the House of Commons voted to introduce abortion in Northern Ireland. The justification for this imposition was the absence of a functioning Executive in Northern Ireland and these new regulations theoretically came into force in March 2020, although not in practice because of local opposition.

Under the new regime now about to be imposed, abortions are available up to the point of birth for all disabilities, and practically on demand up to 24 weeks, if the pregnancy would involve greater risk than abortion for the physical and mental health of the mother. Abortion will also be completely decriminalised, unlike in the rest of the UK, or in the South.

The UK Government has now given Northern Ireland Secretary, Brandon Lewis power to compel the North’s Health Service to rollout the regime over the heads of the Executive or of the Assembly.

Alban Maginness, a former senior SDLP member of the Local Assembly, commented: ”By doing so, Lewis is prioritising the provision of abortion above other health services, such as outstanding cancer treatments, postponed because of the need to deal with the pandemic. Worse still he is making a mockery of the devolution settlement. … the provision of abortion is a cross-cutting, controversial issue that requires the agreement of our devolved Executive. As on other issues, the Executive has not reached agreement on this contentious matter.”

All the major Christian churches have also voiced their opposition to the Government’s decision.

In a statement on Friday last week, The Presbyterian Church in Ireland expressed ‘grave concern’, said the move would represent a serious undermining of devolved rule and called for the powers to be withdrawn.

“The regulations laid before Parliament today drive a coach and horses through Northern Ireland’s hard won and finely balanced devolved constitutional settlement. These powers not only devalue Northern Ireland’s purposely unique system of negotiated government, they also give the Secretary of State the freedom to interfere directly, and at will, with every single department of devolved government”, said the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Dr David Bruce.

The Methodist Church in Ireland voiced its concern, saying the move would ‘usurp’ the role of the Northern Ireland Executive.

The Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh, The Most Revd John McDowell, said the proposal would heighten the sense of a democratic deficit.

The Northern Catholic Bishops said the move is an effort to bypass internationally agreed devolved structures, to foist a law on an unwilling populace, that blatantly undermines the right to life of unborn children.

Meanwhile, a Bill to prohibit abortion in cases of non-fatal disability passed a vote of the Assembly last week and it has now gone to the Health committee for further discussion.

This progress has been welcomed by pro-life groups.

Tracey Harkin of our sister organisation in the North said the current controversy has been a wake-up call about the radical nature of the abortion measures.

Commenting on the move to ban abortion in cases of disability, she said: “It’s good that it received majority support because it’s not the type of culture the people want in Northern Ireland.”

Ms Harkin is hopeful that the move will be the first step on the road to removing the abortion law in its entirety.

“We would like obviously to extend protection to as many people as possible,” she said. “We think it’s important to support any row-back on abortion legislation, but you have to bring people along with you and make our politicians realise how important this issue is.”

Among political parties, the strongest support for the Severe Fetal Impairment Bill came from the DUP.

DUP MLA Paul Givan said he wants to change the abortion regulations to show people with disabilities are “equally valued”.

Sinead Bradley of the SDLP supported the proposal and said the issue is one of discrimination against those with disabilities.

Sinn Fein opposed the Severe Fetal Impairment Bill, but abstained from voting on it.

martedì, marzo 23, 2021

China is cracking down on all religious believers, including Christians

 

The Uyghur Muslim population of China is being savagely persecuted by the Chinese State, but an overall crackdown on religious believers, including Christians, is taking place, and has been intensifying.

In its report, ‘Persecuted and Forgotten’, Aid to the Church in Need describes how President Xi Jinping has called Christianity “a foreign infiltration”. It refers to “increased hostility to Church communities, accused of resisting government control, has resulted in the widespread removal of crosses from churches and the destruction of church buildings. Some regional authorities have banned Christmas trees and greetings cards.”

The report goes on to say: “There has been a renewed crackdown on Church leaders considered dissidents by the regime, notably Bishop Vincent Guo Xijin of Mindong and Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin”, who has been repeated harassed.

A report issued last year by the Pew Forum, listed China as placing the worst restrictions on religious freedom of any country it could measure. (It did not measure North Korea, which is undoubtedly worse, because it is a closed society).

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom found a similar picture in its latest report.

On the situation of Christians in China specifically, it points out: “Chinese authorities raided or closed down hundreds of Protestant house churches in 2019, including Rock Church in Henan Province and Shouwang Church in Beijing.”

It describes how, in December 2018, the government “a court charged Pastor Wang Yi with ‘subversion of state power’ and sentenced him to nine years imprisonment.”

It goes on: “Local authorities continued to harass and detain bishops, including Guo Xijin and Cui Tai, who refused to join the state-affiliated Catholic association.”

It says: “Several local governments, including Guangzho city, offered cash bounties for individuals who informed on underground churches. In addition, authorities across the country have removed crosses from churches, banned youth under the age of 18 from participating in religious services, and replaced images of Jesus Christ or the Virgin Mary with pictures of President Xi Jinping”.

These are the worst crackdowns since the time of Chairman Mao.

It seems hard to imagine for those of us who live in a free world that in China the Bible and other religious texts have been removed from online booksellers, including Amazon.  To circumvent internet censorship, Christian organisations have to drop the name of ‘Jesus’ from book titles and replace it with initials or with other expressions.

Christians have been arrested for selling audio Bibles. From a legal point of view, the book can only be distributed by the agencies approved by the government that supervise and control the activities of Christian churches.

As a result of censorship, many religious bookstores have closed their activities or operate clandestinely.

Bitter Winter’ is a magazine covering religious freedom and human rights in Asia, particularly in China.

They report that churches are constantly asked to remove religious symbols and paintings inside, and the cross outside, and to replace them with party symbols such as the five-pointed star or the communist party flag.

Those who refuse to join the state-approved Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association are subjected to all sorts of discrimination. Non-approved churches and meeting avenues are systematically shut down.

For instance, in the city of Wenzhou, with a population of 9 million, over 1,600 churches have had their crosses being burnt or destroyed, according to China Aid, a US group that helps the persecuted Christians.

Even for State-approved churches it is very hard to practice the faith. Local officials impose various sanctions or restrictions to limit religious activities.

According to the Christian Post, “To discourage churches from meeting for the holidays, government officials required a state-sanctioned Catholic church in Jiangsu province’s Wuxi city to obtain approval from at least eight offices before it was permitted to hold Christmas mass.”

Those of us who live in the West have little idea of the suffering of millions of people in the biggest country of the world. It is not an exaggeration to claim that never in history so many Christian believers have been oppressed by a despotic and atheistic regime.

Western countries tend to ignore or downsize the atrocities happening in China, for economic interests or for fear of a powerful state that has a strong influence internationally. But how can we deal with a regime that negates religious freedom and at the same claim we believe in human rights? The freedom to practice your faith is one of the most fundamental human rights. It is time for Ireland and other countries to denounce the brutalities experienced by religious believers in China, including Christians, and to act accordingly, even if it hurts trade.

giovedì, marzo 11, 2021

Law lecturer says it is not illegal for Catholics to receive Communion during lockdown

 

Gardaí have been stopping priests distributing Holy Communion. All public worship is currently banned. The Government is fighting businessman, Declan Ganley challenge to the constitutionality of the restrictions on religious gatherings tooth and nail. But one legal expert believes the lockdown law is being incorrectly interpreted, namely Oran Doyle of Trinity College Dublin.

Prof. Doyle is a professor in law at Trinity College Dublin and director of the COVID-19 Law and Human Rights Observatory.

In a new blog he rejects the widespread notion that organising or attending religious celebrations is a criminal offence.

First, he argues, religious events are not prohibited by the Regulation of the lockdown, which explicitly bans other kind of events. Secondly, some have claimed that even if organising a religious ceremony is legal, traveling to one is not permitted. But Prof. Doyle says that the Regulations take great care to not include religious ceremonies among the class of prohibited events. “This implies that it must be permissible to leave one’s home to organise and/or attend those events”, he says. Otherwise, why would religious events be permitted if travelling to attend them is not? It seems to be a contradiction.

Prof. Doyle also comments on a statement from the Archdiocese of Dublin advising priests not to give communion after celebrating an online Mass, on the basis that “no gatherings of people outdoors or indoor are permitted”.

“If this is intended to be a statement of the legal position—and it is difficult to read it any other way—it is categorically incorrect”, Prof. Doyle wrote.

He acknowledges that the Archdiocese’s advice appears to have followed pressure from the Gardaí but he believes that Gardaí around the country have formed the mistaken belief that it is even against the law to go into a church to receive Communion, when this is not true.

Gardaí have threatened priests with prosecution for leaving the church doors open during mass but this is also not against the law.

Prof. Doyle claims that a statement issued last November from the Department of Health on this regard is a “masterpiece of misdirection”. The statement confirms that no penalty attaches to religious celebrations, but its language appears to be calculated to create the impression that what is in reality public health advice only is mandatory and, so, it is a legal requirement.

He says: “ … at the core of the Government’s response lie not restrictions on activities but rather confusion over the extent to which activities are restricted. Rather than clearly distinguish between what citizens are required to do and what they are requested or advised to do, Government statements frequently encourage people to believe that their legal obligations are more restrictive than is in fact the case.”

He believes that this is a strategy. The Government and the media imply a higher level of restriction than it is the case, with the use of misleading pronouncements, and then “allow legally ungrounded threats of prosecution to bring people in line with that higher level of restriction.”

If this is so, then at a minimum, Bishops should allow Catholics to enter a church in order to receive Communion.

lunedì, marzo 08, 2021

Bringing hope to the persecuted Christians of Iraq

 

Pope Francis has just returned from an historic visit to Iraq where Christians have been savagely persecuted and driven from their homes. His trip was a very necessary act of solidarity. He will have also seen the work done by organisations like Aid to the Church in Need in helping Christians to rebuild their lives there.

Before the US invasion of 2003 and the fall of Saddam Hussein, there were about 1.4 million Christians in Iraq, corresponding to 6pc of the overall population. This is now estimated to be just 250,000. Among all Christians, Chaldean Catholics are the biggest denomination (67%). They have been there since almost the earliest days of Christianity. They are the descendants of the pre-Arab peoples of the area.

Under Saddam Hussein, a brutal dictator otherwise, Christians were tolerated so long as they didn’t get in his way. One of them, Tariq Aziz, was his deputy and Foreign Minister.

It is almost impossible to list all the attacks that Iraqi Christians have suffered in recent times.

In August 2004, six churches in Baghdad and Mosul were bombed simultaneously by Sunni militants. Thirty more churches were attacked later. Sayidat al-Nejat Syriac Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad, one of the churches bombed, was visited by Pope Francis on the day of his arrival in Iraq.

In 2007, Ragheed Aziz Ganni, a Chaldean Catholic priest who had studied at the Irish seminary in Rome, and three deacons, were killed in Mosul after the celebration of Mass.

In June 2014, Mosul, the second biggest city in Iraq, was taken by ISIS, which also announced a new Caliphate. Christians were forced to convert to Islam or to leave the city.

Mosul had previously been the city in Iraq with the largest number of Christians but currently only 70 Christian families are still there, down from 2,000 pre-ISIS, with the majority too scared to return. When Pope Francis visited the destroyed cityhe was welcomed by the last remaining priest in Mosul, Fr Raid Adel Kallo of the Syriac Catholic Church.

In August 2014, ISIS invaded the Nineveh Plains in northern Iraq and about 120,000 Christians fled to areas controlled by the Kurds. With the end of ISIS in 2017, some have returned to their original cities but, still nowadays, most of the remaining Iraqi Christians are in Kurdish-controlled areas, which are considered safer. An estimated 330,000 went to Syria.

Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is an organisation that has helped the local populations to go back to their homes. ACN had been working in Iraq since 1972 and between 2011-2020, ACN provided 49.5 million euro in aid to the Church there. 

ACN donated €48.23 million to reestablish the Christian presence in Iraq, helping particularly the three main Christian denominations (Chaldean, Syriac Catholic and Syriac Orthodox) to create the Nineveh Reconstruction Committee with the purpose of assisting them to return to their original communities.

The symbol of this reconstruction is the Syriac Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in the city of Qaraqosh, near Mosul, that Pope Francis visited on Sunday. The church had been severely damaged by members of ISIS. When they left in 2016, they burnt all the furniture, plus the ancient prayer books and manuscripts. They blasted the watch tower and damaged the ceiling of the cathedral.

ACN helped with the reconstruction not only of the church but also of the houses of the local Christians, to support them in recreating the local community.

ACN also decided to invest in the future of young Iraqi Christians, pledging 1.5 million euro in a new programme for the Catholic University of Erbil.

Erbil is the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq, where much of the remaining Iraqi Christian population now live.

ACN’s new programme is hoped to offer 150 scholarships to the Catholic University of Erbil over the next four years. The Catholic University of Erbil serves the whole community, not only Catholics. 72pc of the students are Christians, of different denominations, but 18pc are Yazidis, a religious minority from the North of Iraq that was particularly targeted by ISIS.

Head of Projects for ACN is Irish-born Regina Lynch who traveled with the Pope. She reported the scenes of celebration: “The joy of the people was catching. Thousands lined the streets to see the pope as he drove past. I saw religious sisters dancing. These were people who had come back after being forced to leave their homes because of ISIS. What the pope saw here were truly the living stones of the Church in Iraq.”

The visit of the Pope in these troubled areas has brought hope to those who are working to re-establish the Christian presence in Iraq after so much suffering.

mercoledì, marzo 03, 2021

CoViD-19, mappa del culto vietato



Irlanda e Slovenia sono gli unici due Paesi dell’Unione Europea dove i rispettivi governi hanno vietato ogni celebrazione religiosa pubblica. Negli altri Stati membri le restrizioni variano significativamente.

Uno dei regimi più stretti vige in Belgio, dove decine di cattolici si sono già radunati a Bruxelles per protestare nei confronti delle regole attuali che prevedono al massimo quindici persone per celebrazione. La protesta ha avuto luogo di fronte alla basilica di Koekelberg, la quinta chiesa più grande al mondo che potrebbe contenere 8mila fedeli, proprio per mostrare l’assurdità delle restrizioni correnti.

I partecipanti alla protesta, insieme a membri di altre fedi, chiedono al governo belga che il numero di fedeli ammesso alla celebrazione sia proporzionato alla grandezza dell’edificio religioso, come in altri Paesi. Nei vicini Paesi Bassi, del resto, non c’è limite. In Francia è invece di trenta, mentre in Italia è del 50% della capacità.

L’anno scorso il Belgio ha sofferto una delle restrizioni più severe di tutta Europa: le cerimonie religiose sono infatti state bandite fino a quando la comunità ebraica non ha fatto appello al Consiglio di Stato, il quale ha riconosciuto l’eccessiva rigidità delle regole. In dicembre il governo è stato poi obbligato ad allentare decisamente le restrizioni, permettendo 15 fedeli a celebrazione, esclusi il celebrante e i bambini al di sotto dei dodici anni. Nonostante questo, la decisione ha lasciato insoddisfatte le comunità religiose più numerose, che sperano in allentamenti ulteriori.

Quanto all’Irlanda, lo Stato ha vietato il culto pubblico del tutto. In altri Paesi europei vigono restrizioni del numero dei fedeli ammessi al culto, oppure divieti locali o temporanei, ma nessun altro Stato ha vietato celebrazioni religiose pubbliche per periodi così lunghi: diversi mesi nel 2020 e ancora da gennaio di quest’anno.

Una restrizione del medesimo tenore irlandese è al momento in vigore solo in Scozia, che non fa parte però dell’Unione Europea. In Irlanda del Nord le cerimonie religiose sono autorizzate sia dal governo britannico centrale sia da quello locale, ma le principali denominazione cristiane hanno deciso autonomamente di tenere le chiese chiuse almeno fino al 5 marzo.

In Scozia il divieto del culto pubblico è finito nel mirino di don Tom White, decano dell’East St Alphonsus Church di Glasgow, che ha inviato una lettera di diffida al governo locale: «Parlo a nome di tanti nella chiesa quando dico che è molto importante mantenere le persone al sicuro durante la pandemia», ha affermato il sacerdote. «Ma questo può e deve essere fatto mentre si consente alle persone di soddisfare il desiderio di avvicinarsi a Dio e di celebrare in chiesa dentro una comunità. Con le misure di sicurezza appropriate si possono ottenere entrambi gli obiettivi, come avviene in Inghilterra, in Irlanda del Nord e nel Galles».

Ecco una lista delle restrizioni al culto pubblico vigenti nei vari Paesi dell’Unione Europea, stilata sul sito di «Re-open EU».

Culto vietato: Irlanda e Slovenia

Nessun limite specifico (salvo le misure igieniche): Austria, Croazia, Finlandia, Francia, Paesi Bassi, Romania, Slovacchia

Limiti regionali: Germania, Grecia, Spagna e Portogallo

50% della capienza: Italia ed Estonia

20% della capienza: Lettonia

Massimo 500 partecipanti: Danimarca

Massimo 50 partecipanti: Islanda

Massimo 15 partecipanti: Belgio, Bulgaria

Massimo 8 partecipanti: Svezia

Una persona ogni 15 mq: Polonia

Una persona ogni 4 mq: Malta

Massimo del 10% dei posti a sedere: Repubblica Ceca

martedì, marzo 02, 2021

How Belgium’s euthanasia law has been consistently abused

 

Pro-euthanasia advocates in Ireland, as elsewhere, insist that properly drawn legislation permitting assisted suicide and euthanasia will ensure that such a law will never be abused.  Numerous safeguards, they assure us, can be put in place. A new academic study from Belgium very much indicates the opposite is the case.

The three authors, who are based at the University of Ghent, are not against euthanasia in principle but they admit that “several legal requirements that are intended to operate as safeguards and procedural guarantees in reality often fail to operate as such. We believe this is ethically and legally problematic and should be of concern to everyone, regardless of their stance on the ethical justifiability of euthanasia in general.” (p. 82)

Euthanasia was introduced in Belgium in 2002. Initially it was offered only to adult patients with a medical condition without prospect of improvement. Later, the law was amended to allow euthanasia for minors but, with time, its interpretation and application has become more and more liberal. And while the number of cases continuously rise, it now includes psychiatric conditions or simply being “tired of life”.

When the law was first introduced in 2002, 24 cases of euthanasia were performed. By 2019 this had risen to 2,655.

What has happened in Belgium is typical.

The authors of the Belgian study found shortcomings in the legislation, in its application and in the monitoring of the practice. With regard to the legislation, they claim that the scope of the law “has been stretched from being used for serious and incurable illnesses to being used to cover tiredness of life.”

For instance, it is required that the patient experiences “constant and unbearable physical or psychological suffering that cannot be alleviated”. But the interpretation of this requirement is problematic as it is not clear “whether the incurability criterion refers to the mere existence of possibly effective treatments or to the existence of possible effective treatments acceptable to the patient.” (p. 87). What happens if the suffering cannot alleviated precisely because the patient refuses a treatment that is otherwise available?

The standards are completely subjective as only the patient can determine what suffering is unbearable or not. This changes and alters the role of doctors, who are “reduced to merely meeting patients’ demands”. (p. 87)

The study refers to empirical evidence and reports that in Belgium “euthanasia is performed increasingly frequently in cases of psychological suffering” (p. 87) Also, the Monitoring Commission admitted that cases of “tiredness of life” have been reported.

The opinion of a second physician, beside the one who kills the patient, is required by the law but it is nonbinding. If legal criteria are not met, the physician has no legal means to report this or to prevent the euthanasia from occurring. This makes the second opinion totally irrelevant.

“The obligatory consultation of one or two independent physicians may fail to provide a real safeguard. Their tasks are quite limited, and, more importantly, their advice is not binding anyway. The final authority to perform euthanasia lies with the attending physician who can perform it even against the (negative) advice of the consulted physicians”, the study says (p. 102).

The Belgian law also established a Monitoring Commission with the task of checking reports on euthanasia cases and, if the legal criteria are not met, it must refer the case to the Public Prosecutor. This has happened only once since the law entered into force in 2002.

The study found that “the Commission is unable to check the fulfillment of various legal criteria, and it has substantial authority to (re)interpret the Euthanasia Law as it sees fit.” (p. 102)

Its functioning is undermined by the underreporting of the euthanasia cases. Recent research suggests that one third of cases are not reported. Moreover, the advice of the second consultant does not have to be included, making the report “overly concise”, according to the article.

“Several commentators have observed that the Commission does not seem to act as a filter between physicians who perform euthanasia and the Public Prosecutor, but instead as a shield that prevents potentially problematic cases from being referred”, the study claims.

For instance, a member of the Commission resigned in September 2017 after a case involving a patient suffering from advanced dementia and Parkinson disease was not reported to the Public Prosecution. Not a single criteria was met and euthanasia had not even been requested by the patient.

Other cases where the legal criteria were not met emerged through the years. (Here is an example)

The authors of the study note: “Our concern is that the Commission’s current level of discretion in assessing the legitimacy of euthanasia cases in practice leaves it with considerable powers that would normally be the prerogative of the legislature or the judiciary.” (p. 101)

This academic article confirms what the anti-euthanasia campaigners have always claimed: initial safeguards are removed with time, through a change in the legislation but also through more liberal interpretations of the law by courts, medical committees or monitoring commissions.

“Several of these shortcomings are structural and thus require more than simply increased oversight”, conclude the authors of the study.

The Belgian examples shows that once euthanasia is introduced, it becomes almost impossible to limit its scope or to avoid abuses.