Francesca Kay The novelist who dares to write about faith
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Edward Echlin Why the Pope keeps half a million bees FEATURE, PAGE 8
I will keep Assisi on right track, says Pope
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
POPE BENEDICT XVI has promised to ensure that an inter-religious event due to take place in Assisi this month will not encourage the view that the Catholic faith is only one among many.
In correspondence with a Lutheran minister the Pope tried to allay fears about the nature of the World Day of Prayer for Peace event, scheduled for Thursday October 27, in a letter dated March 4 2011.
He wrote: “I understand quite well your concern regarding the participation at the Assisi meeting. However, this commemoration would have to have been celebrated in some way and, all things considered, it seemed to me that the best thing would be for me to personally go there being thus able to determine the direction of it all.
“I will nevertheless do everything in order that a syncretistic or relativistic interpretation of the event will be impossible and so that what will remain is that I will always believe and confess that which I had called to the attention of the Church with Dominus Iesus.”
Dominus Iesus is a declaration by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (CDF) which asserts that the Catholic Church is the sole and true Church of Christ. The declaration was published in April 2000, with the CDF’s prefect at the time, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, as chief signatory.
More than 175 religious leaders will be joining the Pope to mark the 25th anniversary of the Assisi Day of Prayer.
Speaking on New Year’s Day, Pope Benedict said: “Next October I shall go as a pilgrim to the town of St Francis, inviting my Christian brethren of various denominations, the exponents of the world’s religious traditions, to join this pilgrimage and ideally all men and women of good will. It will aim to commemorate the action desired by my predecessor and to solemnly renew the commitment of believers of every religion to live their own religious faith as a service to the cause of peace.” Vatican Notebook: Page 4
Cardinal: ordinariate is the Pope’s project
THE VATICAN cardinal who signed the Personal Ordinariate into existence came to London last week to support its appeal for funds.
Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, called the ordinariate “the Pope’s project” and compared it to the Ambrosian Rite, a form of liturgy used by about five million Catholics. The event was hosted by Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster and sponsored by The Catholic Herald and the Friends of the Ordinariate. Full report: Page 10
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Judge upholds right to life of woman with brain damage
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
A HIGH COURT judge has made a significant ruling in favour of “the preservation of life” by refusing a mother’s plea to end the life of of her brain-damaged daughter.
The woman, known as “M”, was in a minimally conscious state following a brain injury in 2003. Her mother and sister argued that she would not want to be kept alive in such circumstances and appealed to the High Court for the withdrawal of M’s artificial nutrition and hydration.
But Mr Justice Baker rejected their request, saying: “The factor which does carry substantial weight, in my judgment, is the preservation of life. Although not an absolute rule, the law regards the preservation of life as a fundamental principle.”
The judge acknowledged that M had made clear before the injury that she would not want to be kept alive in such circumstances. But he said that M’s comments were not legally binding and it was not in M’s best interests to withdraw her food and water.
Caroline Harry Thomas QC, the Official Solicitor appointed by the court to represent M, told the judge that M showed a “range of behaviours and responses to external stimuli” and an “awareness of herself and her environment”, according to expert opinion.
She said: “In M’s case, a person is in a minimally conscious state and is otherwise clinically stable. It cannot, as a matter of law, be in that person’s best interests to withhold or withdraw lifesustaining treatment, including artificial nutrition and hydration.” She said that if such treatment were to be withdrawn
Although not an absolute rule, the law regards the preservation of life as a fundamental
For the latest news about end of life issues, visit CatholicHerald.co.uk from M it would amount to the “actus reus [guilty act] of murder”.
M was not receiving any other lifesustaining treatment apart from food and water through a feeding tube.
Jamie Bogle, barrister and chairman of the Catholic Union, welcomed the judgment as “commendable”. He said that if the application had succeeded “it would have been a major inroad into the law protecting human life in this country”.
A spokesman for the bishops’ conference described it as “an important and welcome judgment”. He said: “The ruling is important in upholding the full human rights and dignity of people who are minimally conscious.”
The ProLife Alliance said the decision was “groundbreaking”.
A spokeswoman said: “The sad precedent of Tony Bland established in 1993 that PVS [persistent vegetative state] patients can have artificial feeding and hydration withdrawn, and since then some 42 disabled patients have suffered a similar inhumane end to their lives.
“This current case was of seminal importance because a ruling in favour of withdrawal would have created a new precedent for killing patients with a significantly higher level of consciousness than Tony Bland. It was a frightening attempt to widen the goalposts, but justice and humanity have prevailed.”
But Anthony Ozimic, of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said the ruling posed “future threats to disabled people”. He said: “Although Ms M has been spared... the judgment has extended the scope for the courts to dictate that other patients in a similar condition can be killed.” Feature: Page 9
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Vatican unveils details of Pope’s gruelling three-day trip to Africa BY CINDY WOODEN
POPE BENEDICT XVI will make his second trip as Pope to Africa next month, visiting Benin on November 18-20 to sign and distribute a letter reflecting on the 2009 Synod of Bishops for Africa.
The synod focused on “the Church in Africa in service to reconciliation, justice and peace”. At the end of the synod the bishops gave the Pope 57 proposals for action on the part of Church leaders and the faithful, including a call for a new spirituality to counter bad government, ethnic tensions, disease, exploitation by multinational companies and the cultural agenda of foreign aid organisations.
Pope Benedict used the propositions as the basis for the post-synodal apostolic exhortation which he will sign on November 19 in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Ouidah, Benin, and will present formally to
African bishops the next day during Mass in Cotonou. With six-hour flights to and from Benin, the Pope is expected to spend less than 50 hours on the ground, but his schedule still includes separate meetings with government representatives, African bishops and children at a home run by the Missionaries of Charity.
He is also expected to pray at the tomb of the late Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, who died in 2008. The Beninese cardinal had retired as dean of the College of Cardinals in 2002 and was succeeded by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger after serving in a variety of Vatican posts for about 30 years.
Benin, a small West African country with a population of nine million, has been a democracy since the collapse of a Communist dictatorship in 1991. Just over a fifth of its people are Catholic, with almost the same proportion of Muslims.
Priest: blogs should be criminal offence BY MARK GREAVES
THE COMMUNICATIONS officer for the Diocese of Middlesbrough has said that blogging should be made a “serious criminal offence”.
Fr Derek Turnham was responding to a request for information from blogger Richard Collins, who wanted to know the number of exorcists in the diocese. Fr Turnham said he was unable to help, adding: “I believe that blogging, as currently manifested, should be made a serious criminal office because of the negative comments that are so often made about people who are trying to do their best.”
He later said his point was a serious one, suggesting that bloggers’ requests for information sometimes carried an implied threat.
Grandson says Duke was proud of his faith BY ED WEST
THE GRANDSON of John Wayne has spoken about the film star’s conversion to Catholicism.
Fr Matthew Muñoz told the Catholic News Agency that of all his grandfather’s achievements, including three Oscars and the Congressional Gold Medal, his conversion to Catholicism made him the most proud. Fr Muñoz, of the diocesan of Orange in California, said: “My grandmother, Josephine Wayne Saenz, had a wonderful influence on his life and introduced him to the Catholic world... he kind of got a sense that the common secular vision of what Catholics are and what his own experience actually was, were becoming two greatly different things.”
Bobby Schindler My struggle to save Terri Schiavo’s life PAGE 9
Siri Abrahamson The loss that led me to the Church’s heart PAGE 8
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