FR AIDAN NICHOLS ON CARITAS IN VERITATE PLUS : ECONOMISTPHILIPBOOTHONPOPEBENEDICT ’SNEWENCYCLICAL: PAGE8
Treat the suicidal with compassion, urge bishops
GODISMERCIFUL to people who commit suicide and the Church prays for those who kill themselves, the bishops of England and Wales have said ahead of this year’s Day for Life, which focuses on suicide.
Auxiliary Bishop Bernard Longley of Westminster said: “Suicide is a grave sin. But an individual must be mentally healthy to be fully aware that what they are doing is a sin. When a person commits suicide, they are generally so clouded by confusion and despair as to be no longer in full control of their mental faculties. God does not condemn anyone not fully aware of what they are doing; His mercy is without end.”
The Church has consistently taught that suicide is “contrary to love for the living God” and “seriously contrary to justice, hope and charity”. Bishop Longley said the bishops hoped this year’s Day for Life would clarify the Church’s views on suicide.
“We’re emphasising a more compassionate approach based on a greater understanding,” he said. “The Church’s teaching has not changed. The Church prays for those who have taken their own lives.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.”
Ninety per cent of suicides involve people with mental health issues while 60 per cent have a history of substance abuse.
Bishop Longley’s remarks came at the press launch of the Day for Life which falls on July 26. More than 350,000 leaflets were sent to parishes in England and Wales last weekend. The theme this year is “You are precious in my sight”, and the bishops’ conference aims to highlight why life is worth living and precious. The
Church has pledged £50,000 to the Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics and £25,000 for ethical stem-cell research.
Bishop Longley said that suicide was not a subject that was spoken about much in the Church, even though it affected so many.
“Apart from funeral Masses, suicide is something that is not very often dealt with in homilies or in preaching,” he said.
“Parishioners and clergy are very often the people who are first aware of others in their community and they can play an important part in creating a supportive and compassionate community. We wanted the material produced to have a positive focus on the way in which every individual human is held in God’s love.”
The Day for Life was initiated on the recommendation of Pope John Paul II to encourage the Church worldwide to celebrate the sanctity of life.
Bishop Longley said: “There are around 6,000 deaths by suicide in the UK and Ireland each year. This year’s Day for Life aims to highlight why life is worth living even when a person has lost all hope and is suicidal; it also aims to clarify the Church’s teaching on suicide and to help reduce the number of myths associated with mental illness and depression.”
Bishop Longley was joined by Sheila Hollins, Professor of Psychiatry of Learning Disability at the University of London and past president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, who said that “often in Church settings people think that praying is going to be enough; that people don’t need to seek professional help”.
She said the bishops hoped to point towards the “professional support available for individuals and families and hopefully to reduce some of the stigma for a long time associated with mental illness, depression and suicide. Community leaders and
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Editorial comment: Page 13
July 172009£1.20 (Republic of Ireland €1.70)
US President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, meet Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican
Pope and President enjoy frank discussion
POPEBENEDICTXVI has raised pro-life issues during a meeting with American President Barack Obama.
In addition to giving Mr Obama a copy of his latest encyclical, the Pope presented a copy of the recent Vatican document on biomedical ethics, Dignitas Personae. When presenting the gifts after their 35-minute closed-door meeting the Pope gave Mr Obama a signed, white leather-bound copy of the encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, then indicated the instruction on bioethics issued last December by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
“Oh, what we discussed earlier,” said Mr Obama, referring to their closed-door discussions. “I will have some reading to do on the plane.”
Mr Obama was given the instruction to help him better understand the Church’s position on bioethics, Mgr Georg Gänswein, the papal secretary, told journalists.
Mr Obama was saluted by a squad of Swiss Guards in the St Damasus Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace. American Archbishop James Harvey, prefect of the papal household, was the first to greet the President, and he accompanied Mr Obama to a meeting with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state.
Pope Benedict and Mr Obama sat at a desk in the papal library and discussed the G8 summit –the meeting of the world’s wealthy industrialised countries in L’Aquila, Italy. The summit focused on the economic crisis, climate change and global tensions.
Pope Benedict told the President: “You must be tired after all these discussions.” Mr Obama responded that the meetings were “very productive” and marked “great progress” and “something concrete”, although the precise topic they were discussing at that point was unclear.
The pair discussed issues that represent “a great challenge for the future of every nation and for the true progress of peoples, such as the defence and promotion of life and the right to abide by one’s conscience”, according to a Vatican statement released after the audience. They also discussed world issues addressed
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Stuart Reid: Page 20
Basque bishops honour priests killed by Franco during civil war
AGROUPOF Basque bishops has publicly apologised for the Church’s “unjustifiable” silence over religious victims of Franco’s troops.
The bishops celebrated a Mass last week in the new cathedral in Vitoria honouring 12 priests, a missionary and a discalced Carmelite who were Basque nationalists executed during the Spanish Civil War.
Bishop Miguel José Asurmendi Aramendia of Vitoria
said: “The silence in which the official media of the Church have wrapped the deaths of these priests is unjustifiable. This has been an undue omission, a fault against the truth and against justice.”
Among those present were relatives of the victims. Concelebrating with Bishop Asurmendi were Ricardo Blázquez Pérez of Bilbao and Bishop Juan María Uriarte Goiricelaya of San Sebastian.
“Today we pay a debt that we have carried,” Bishop
Asurmendi said, rejecting the idea that the Church was reopening wounds that had already healed, but was rather seeking to “help and alleviate them”.
The bishop then asked for pardon from “God and our brothers” on behalf of the Church .
Quoting from Pope John Paul II, Bishop Asurmendi said: “The purification of memory requires an act of valour and humility in order to recognise the faults committed by those who carry
and carried the name of Christians.” He added: “The memory of these priests has never fallen into oblivion, not on the part of his relatives nor of those people in the parishes nor in the diocesan presbyteries and religious orders where they belonged.”
He also prayed for “light and the necessary force to reject violence as a solution to differences and conflicts”.
Killed between 1936 and 1937, the 14 Basques were not given funerals or mentioned in parish books.
Vatican newspaper praises Potter film
Brazilian footballers asked to hide faith
THEVATICAN newspaper has broken new ground by publishing an approving review of the latest Harry Potter movie.
Some leading figures in the Catholic Church, including the present Pope, have in the past been suspicious of some of the messages conveyed by the Potter novels, but L’Osservatore Romano , the Vatican newspaper, said Harry Potter
and the Half-Blood Prince was a fine film, which “made the age-old debate over good versus evil crystal clear”.
The paper also applauded the film’s treatment of adolescent love, saying it achieved the “correct balance” and made the stars more credible to the general public.
The newspaper said the film was the best adaptation yet of the J K Rowling series because it makes clear that good should overcome evil “and that sometimes this requires costs and sacrifice”.
Review: Page 14
BRAZILIAN footballers have been told not to make any overt displays of Christianity by the sport’s governing body.
FIFA has told players such as Real Madrid striker Kaká, pictured right , and Bayern Munich defender Lucio, who appeared with Tshirts under their team shirts carrying the slogans “I Belong to Jesus” and “I Love
God” during the Confederations Cup final last month, that they will be disciplined
if they carry
overt symbols of religion, which are not permitted by FIFA rules. A warning letter was sent to the Brazilian Football Federation “to remind them of the relevant regulations, so that such incidents do not recur in the future”. Kaká and Lucio are among several Pentecostals in the Brazil team, and Kaká tithes.
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