18 dicembre 2010

Holy See Blasts China for "Intransigent Intolerance"

Laments Forced Participation in National Church Meeting

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 17, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See today responded to China's decision to force participation in the 8th Assembly of Chinese Catholic Representatives, saying the convention manifested a "repressive attitude" and that China has a "persistent desire to control the most intimate area of citizens’ lives."

The Vatican communiqué expressed "profound sorrow" because of the Dec. 7-9 meeting, held in Beijing.

The assembly was convened to elect leaders for two organizations that direct China's national Catholic church, both without papal approval. One is the assembly of Chinese bishops; the other is the Patriotic Association, the group which approves all religious practice in the country. Catholics who do not abide by the Patriotic Association have formed the "underground" or "clandestine" Church, faithful to the Bishop of Rome.

Today's communiqué noted how participation in the Beijing assembly was "imposed on numerous bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful."

"The manner in which it was convoked and its unfolding manifest a repressive attitude with regard to the exercise of religious liberty, which it was hoped had been consigned to the past in present-day China," the Holy See statement said. "The persistent desire to control the most intimate area of citizens’ lives, namely their conscience, and to interfere in the internal life of the Catholic Church does no credit to China.

"On the contrary, it seems to be a sign of fear and weakness rather than of strength; of intransigent intolerance rather than of openness to freedom and to effective respect both of human dignity and of a correct distinction between the civil and religious spheres."

Responsible before God

The Holy See recalled how it had let it be known, primarily to the bishops, but also to the faithful, that they should not participate in the Beijing assembly.

"Each one of those who were present knows to what extent he or she is responsible before God and the Church," the communiqué stated. "The bishops in particular and the priests will also have to face the expectations of their respective communities, who look to their own pastor and have a right to receive from him sure guidance in the faith and in the moral life."

The Holy See affirmed its condemnation of the forced participation, calling it a "grave violation of [the participants'] human rights, particularly their freedom of religion and of conscience."

On the other hand, it expressed "deepest esteem for those who, in different ways, have borne witness to their faith with courage."

Steadfast and patient

The Church sent a word for the faithful "whose hearts are full of dismay and profound suffering, those who are wondering how it is possible that their own bishop or their own priests should have taken part in the assembly."

The Holy See encouraged them to "remain steadfast and patient in the faith; it invites them to take account of the pressures experienced by many of their pastors and to pray for them; it exhorts them to continue courageously supporting them in the face of the unjust impositions that they encounter in the exercise of their ministry."


The Holy See reiterated that neither the "so-called Episcopal Conference" nor the Patriotic Association have Church approval.

It explained: "In particular, the present College of Catholic Bishops of China cannot be recognized as an Episcopal Conference by the Apostolic See: the 'clandestine' bishops, those not recognized by the government but in communion with the Pope, are not part of it; it includes bishops who are still illegitimate, and it is governed by statutes that contain elements incompatible with Catholic doctrine. It is deeply deplorable that an illegitimate bishop has been appointed as its president."

"Furthermore, regarding the declared purpose to implement the principles of independence and autonomy, self-management and democratic administration of the Church, it should be remembered that this is incompatible with Catholic doctrine, which from the time of the ancient Creeds professes the Church to be 'one, holy, catholic and apostolic.' It is therefore lamentable also that a legitimate bishop has been appointed president of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association."

Not the path

The Holy See lamented that this month's assembly "rendered more difficult the path of reconciliation between Catholics of the 'clandestine communities' and those of the 'official communities.'"

It said a "deep wound" was inflicted, not only upon the Church in China but also upon the universal Church.

The Holy See called China a "great and noble nation" but said it is following the wrong path.

And it deplored that the assembly as well as a recent episcopal ordination without papal mandate "have unilaterally damaged the dialogue and the climate of trust that had been established in its relations with the Government of the People’s Republic of China."

"The Holy See, while reaffirming its own wish to dialogue honestly, feels bound to state that unacceptable and hostile acts such as those just mentioned provoke among the faithful, both in China and elsewhere, a grave loss of the trust that is necessary for overcoming the difficulties and building a correct relationship with the Church, for the sake of the common good," the communiqué stated.

The Holy See statement concluded by reiterating an appeal to prayer: "In the light of what has happened, the Holy Father’s invitation -- addressed on Dec. 1, 2010, to all the Catholics of the world to pray for the Church in China which is going through a particularly difficult time -- remains pressing."

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On ZENIT's Web page:

Full text: www.zenit.org/article-31268?l=english

17 dicembre 2010

European Court: No Right to Abort

Upholds Irish Constitution on Prohibiting Abortion

STRASBOURG, France, DEC. 16, 2010 (Zenit.org).- In a case regarding a challenge to the Irish constitution, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that there is "no human right to abortion."

The Grand Chamber of the European court decided today on the A, B and C v. Ireland case, noting that the Irish constitutional prohibition of abortion does not violate the European Convention on Human Rights.

The challenge against Irish law was brought to the court last December by three women who allegedly were "forced" to go abroad for abortions, which they claim put their health in danger.

The court decided that the country's laws do not violate the European Convention on Human Rights, which stresses the "right to respect for private and family life."

The European Centre for Law and Justice, a third party in this case, lauded the court's further recognition of the "right to life of the unborn."

Grégor Puppinck, director of the center, explained to ZENIT the concern that the court would "recognize a right to abortion" as a "new right stemming from the always broader interpretation of article 8."

However, he added, "the court did not recognize such a right;" rather, it "recognized the right to life of the unborn as a legitimate right."

Puppinck clarified that "the court doesn't recognize the right to life of the unborn as an absolute right, but as a right that has to be balanced with other competing interests, such as the health of the mother or other social interests."

Balance of interests

Nonetheless, he added, "the states hold a broad margin of appreciation in the balancing of those competing interests, even if there is a vast pro-abortion consensus in European legislation."

"This is important: The broad pro-abortion consensus in European legislation doesn't create any new obligation, like in other socially and morally discussed issues," the director asserted.

He continued: "So, a state is free to provide a very high degree of protection to the right to life to the unborn children.

"The right to life to the unborn children can legitimately overcome other competing guaranteed rights.

"As such, there is no autonomous right to get an abortion based on the convention."

Puppinck noted, "I do not remember a previous case recognizing clearly an autonomous right to life to the unborn children."

The European Centre for Law and Justice noted in a communiqué that "the natural purpose and duty of the state to protect the life of its people; the people, consequently, hold the right to have their lives protected by the state."

"The reciprocity between people's rights and the duty of the state in the field of life and security is traditionally seen as the foundation of public society; moreover, it is the foundation of state authority and legitimacy," it affirmed.

"Therefore," the statement continued, "the authority to prescribe the protection of the right to life belongs originally to the state and is exercised within the framework of its sovereignty."

Permalink: http://www.zenit.org/article-31255?l=english