Catalyst Digest Edition 26

Catalyst Digest Edition 26 – October 2010 – Edition 26

Euthanasia coming?

Melbourne Catholic archbishop Denis Hart warned in a statement early this month of a concerted drive to legalise euthanasia in Australia, pointing out that legislation to this effect was about to be introduced in the Victorian parliament, was proposed also by the New South Wales government and would be the subject of a private member’s bill to be brought down by the Greens in the Senate.  Conceding that it was never easy to face the end of the life of a loved one, the archbishop said that sometimes misplaced compassion led people to call for assisted suicide but “we cannot support the legalisation of euthanasia however it is described.”  This was the opposite of care and represented the abandonment of older and dying persons.  Hart said he called on the Catholic community and all people of goodwill to continue to care for the frail elderly, the sick and the dying at every stage of life.

Police raid “Pope’s bank

Italian police shocked the Vatican last month by raiding the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), known as the Pope’s bank, in a surprise money laundering investigation.  According to the respected London Financial Timesthe police seized 23 million euros and began inquiries into the activities of senior IOR executives, including its president Ettore Gotti Tedeschi and general director Paolo Cipriani.  The Vatican responded hastily with a statement in which it expressed its “perplexity and amazement” at the police action and staunchly defended the IOR and its management.  It did, however, confirm that certain (unspecified) IOR cash transactions were under investigation by the Procurator’s office in Rome.  This was the result of a misunderstanding, the statement said, and could have been “clarified with great simplicity”. Vatican spokesman Fr Frederico Lombardi SJ, said the purpose of the statement was to “clarify matters in order to avoid the spread of inaccurate information and to ensure that no damage is caused to the activities of the institute or the good name of the managers.” To what extent the statement achieved this objective is hard to gauge because it made no attempt to address the money laundering issue per se and concentrated almost entirely on arguing that the IOR was not a bank “in the normal definition of the term” but was an institution that “administers the assets of Catholic institutions whose goal is to further a religious and charitable apostolate at an international level.”  Lombardi went on to say that the IOR “was located within the territory of Vatican City State; in other words, beyond the jurisdiction and surveillance of the various international banks.”  The statement insisted that “from the day of his appointment and in accordance with the specific mandate he received from the highest Vatican authorities” Tedeshi had been working “with great commitment to ensure the absolute transparency of the IOR’s activities.”

Christians beware, patriarch warns

The Christian presence in the Arab world was threatened by the cycles of war afflicting the region, the cradle of Christianity, Gregoire III, Patriarch of the Greek Melkite Catholic Church, warned delegates at an historic synod of Middle East bishops which began in Rome on 10 October.  The synod was personally initiated by Benedict XV1 because of increasing anti-Christian violence in the Middle East.  The main reason for the threat, the patriarch said, was the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “The fundamentalist movements, Hamas and Hezbollah, are consequences of this conflict as well as internal dissension, slowness in development, the rise of hatred, the loss of hope in the young who constitute sixty percent of the population in Arab countries”. The Eastern rites church leader said emigration of Christians was among the most dangerous effects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  The emigration would “make Arab society a society of only one colour, Muslim, faced with a European society identified as Christian.  Should this happen, should the East be emptied of its Christians, this would mean that any occasion would be propitious for a new clash of cultures, of civilisations and even of religions, a destructive clash between the Muslim Arab East and the Christian West.”

Win for church lobby

An interfaith lobbying alliance succeeded last month in achieving exemption for church-related adoption agencies from legislation in New South Wales—described by Sydney archbishop George Pell as a pre-state election stunt—that allows gay couples to adopt children.  The churches had argued that, as it stood, agencies that refused to conform could be sued under anti-discrimination laws.  The measure was sponsored in a private member’s bill by Sydney lord mayor and independent MP Clover Moore.  It was supported by New South Wales premier Kristina Keneally and Opposition leader Barry O’Farrell both of whom, like Moore, are Catholics.