THE CATHOLIC HERALD JULY 5 2013
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New marriage law will allow men to be called ‘wives’
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
THE WORDS “HUSBAND” will cease to mean a married man and “wife” will cease to mean a married woman if same-sex marriage is legalised in England and Wales.
Government legislation that passed successfully through the House of Commons and is now being scrutinised in the House of Lords changes the traditional definition of the terms “husband” and “wife” so that legally men can be “wives” and women “husbands”.
The explanatory notes to the
Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill says which previous legislation will be amended following the legalisation of same-sex marriage in order to protect the rights of people in same-sex marriages.
The Offices, Shops and Railway Premises Act 1963 states that health and safety rules need not apply if the only person employed to work there is the “husband, wife, civil partner ... of the person by whom they are so employed”.
The Government’s explanatory notes state: “This means that ‘husband’ here will include a man or a woman in a samesex marriage, as well as a man married to a woman.
“In a similar way, ‘wife’ will include a woman married to another woman or a man married to a man.
“The result is that this section is to be construed as including both male and female same-sex marriage.”
Lord Tebbit, who is opposed to the legalisation of same-sex marriage, described the change as “gobbledegook” and “the reversal of the natural and normal meaning of words”.
A spokesman for the Coali
Lord Tebbit called it ‘a reversal of the natural meaning of words’
tion for Marriage, which campaigns against the re-definition of marriage, told the Daily Telegraph: “We always knew the Government would tie itself in knots trying to re-define marriage, and this shows what a ridiculous mess they’ve created.
“This mangling of the English language shows what happens when politicians meddle with marriage. They’re in cloud cuckoo land.”
A majority of 242 peers voted in favour of the Government’s same-sex marriage Bill in June, despite speculation that it might be thrown out at its Second Reading. The Bill has now reached its Report Stage in the legislative process in the Lords, during which its detail will be scrutinised and amendments can be proposed and voted on by peers.
Last week a senior Tory peer said that it was not necessarily “important” if married couples were faithful to one another.
Defending the Government’s decision not to define adultery for same-sex couples and therefore making no provision for the grounds of divorce in cases of adultery, Baroness Stowell said: “In terms of the law, marriage does not require the fidelity of couples. It is open to each couple to decide for themselves on the importance of fidelity within their own relationship.”
The Scottish government published its Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill last week, which if ratified will legalise same-sex marriage in Scotland.
Dr Gordon MacDonald, from Scotland for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage, criticised the latest proposals in an interview on BBC Radio Scotland.
Dr MacDonald said: “It is not an issue of equality because of the legal rights of marriage now given to same-sex couples with civil partnerships – it is not a matter of equality at all.”
He added: “Even if ministers of religion themselves can opt out, it doesn’t mean that church buildings won’t be used for this purpose against the wishes of their congregation.”
NHS cuts chaplaincy services by 40 per cent BY ISABEL LOSSEFF
The NHS has cut chaplaincy services in 40 per cent of Hospital Trusts in England, with a total of 1,500 chaplain hours having been cut, a Freedom of Information request has disclosed.
Chaplains provide spiritual care for patients and have served in NHS hospitals since its foundation, although NHS trusts are not legally required to provide the service and some remain unconvinced that they are a necessary part of healthcare.
A Freedom of Information request made by the BBC found there had been a cut of 8.5 per cent – about 1,500 hours – in the total number of chaplaincy hours available in NHS hospitals, with half of all hospital trusts in England responding to the request.
The NHS currently needs to make savings of up to £20bn by 2015, and chaplains cost in the region of £26 million.
But many have voiced concerns about the change, arguing chaplains provide vital holistic care. Bishop Tom Williams, auxiliary bishop of Liverpool, who spent nine years as a hospital chaplain, said: “NHS trusts have a legal obligation to provide spiritual care. Increasingly scientific studies demonstrate that 70 per cent of people in the UK who have some faith rely on spiritual and faith care to cope with being in hospital.
“While we understand the difficult financial climate, the value of good spiritual care for patients and staff cannot be underestimated.”
A spokesman for the Hospital Chaplaincy Council said: “Chaplaincy is an important factor of treatment for many patients. The spiritual component of healthcare has long been acknowledged by medical practitioners. Whilst times are difficult for hospital budgets we hope there is no longterm effect on the 24/7 provision of chaplaincy in the NHS.”
And the Rev Mark Burleigh, president of the College of Healthcare Chaplains, said: “If that person’s illness is providing them with a religious crisis, or if the person is dying and the family is very anxious that someone should come and say prayers in line with that person’s faith, then it is part of the care offered by the hospital to ensure that that happens.
“One can’t rely on volunteers to come in in the middle of the night to provide those prayers. They need to be members of staff who are trained and equipped and who understand hospitals.”
Pro-lifers condemn embryo decision
Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, whose charity feeds three quarters of a million people, gives the Pope a blue mug Fotografiafelici.com
MAGNUS MacFarlane-Barrow, the founder of Mary’s Meals, met Pope Francis last week and presented him with one of the charity’s trademark blue mugs.
The Pope invited the Scottish charity’s founder to Rome after hearing about its work providing
Mary’s Meals founder meets Pope Francis BY MARY KATHERINE HALEY AND ISOBEL LOSSEFF
more than 755,777 children with a daily meal in some of the world’s poorest countries.
“It was a huge privilege and blessing to meet the Holy Father today and represent everyone involved in the mission of Mary’s Meals,” Mr MacFarlane-Barrow said afterwards.
He said: “I presented Pope Francis with the blue Mary’s
Meals mug and let him know we are now reaching over three quarters of a million children every school day many of them having escaped the rubbish dumps where they used to scavenge for their next meal or the fields where they worked, and he gave us a blessing, which we were very grateful for.
“He loved the Mary’s Meals mug and the copy of Child 31 [the group’s film] and while we talked he clasped both of our hands and his smile just grew bigger and more beautiful.
“I have never been smiled at like that – with such love – by anyone, and I will never forget it.” Editorial comment: Page 13
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
PRO-LIFE campaigners have condemned Government proposals to allow the creation of embryos using the DNA of three different people.
Last week ministers ratified plans to offer parents who are at risk of having children with severe genetic disabilities the controversial IVF treatment.
The treatment, which involves replacing a percentage of the mother’s damaged DNA with a healthy donor’s DNA, could mean that by 2015 Britain will have produced the world’s first three-parent baby.
But a spokesman for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) said the treatment would cost lives, not save them. He said: “The vast majority of embryonic children created in the laboratory are killed because they do not meet the ‘quality control’ requirements dictated by scientists involved in such increasingly macabre experiments.”
In a statement, the charity Life voiced concern that the technique would make “irreversible changes to the human germline”. It said: “Given our lack of knowledge about the long-term consequences of such changes, this is surely something that we should approach with some caution.”
Church leaders seek closer ties on social justice
BY MARY KATHERINE HALEY
CATHOLIC, ANGLICAN and Methodist leaders have given their support to an initiative towards ecumenical collaboration for social justice, called “Together for the Common Good”.
The project aims to offer practical guidelines to encourage collaboration between faith communities, churches and individuals to work together for social justice. The organisers will hold a conference in September and release a book sometime in the year 2014. The independent steering group behind Together for the Common Good dedicate their time to research and review Christian church collaborations.
The initiative concentrates much of its research on the Sheppard-Worlock collaboration years in Liverpool. During that time, Catholic Archbishop Derek Worlock and Anglican Bishop David Sheppard worked together to help a city that was suffering from unemployment, inequality, poverty, sectarian division, social unrest and political instability. They gave encouragement to their clergy, the laity and communities as they faced a challenging time together.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster said: “The notion of the
Archbishop Welby common good finds widespread acceptance today as many seek new ways of expressing and fashioning a commitment to the good of society… Together for the Common Good holds great promise not only for those who will take part in the enterprise but also for many who carry the burden of hardship today.”
The Most Rev Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury said: “I hope and I pray that Together for the Common Good will renew courage and commitment amongst Christians, working together with many others for the transformation of society and in the service of the common good.”
The Rev Ruth Gee, president of the Methodist Conference, said: “Now, more than ever, we have got to address the growing disadvantages and inequalities facing our communities today.”
Closure of adoption agencies criticised
BY ISABEL VICKERS
THE ARCHBISHOP of Westminster has said that the closure of Catholic adoption agencies has resulted in a “new form of discrimination”.
In a homily at a Mass to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the adoption agency Catholic Care, Archbishop Vincent Nichols said that the effect of Equality legislation, which forced Catholic adoption agencies to close or cut their ties with the Church, imposed “one form of discrimination in the name of removing another”.
He said: “Limitations on the exercise of religious freedom in the public sphere, such as this, penalise society as a whole by inhibiting or preventing the public contribution of religious organisations to the service of society.”
He said that he hoped a “more mature debate” would occur in future about the “true importance of the fundamental human right of religious freedom. Not just for individuals but also for religious organisations in the public sphere.”
Following legislation in 2007, other Catholic adoption agencies have closed or cut their ties with the local Catholic diocese. In November 2012, Catholic Care lost a legal battle to be allowed to continue its services in accordance with its Catholic ethos.
Church condemns donation change
BY DAVID V BARRETT
CATHOLIC bishops have joined with other religious leaders to protest against a proposal in the Welsh Assembly to change the law on donating organs after death from the present opt-in situation to one of “deemed consent”.
This would mean that everyone is presumed to be a willing prospective donor unless they have specifically opted out.
The letter opposing the abandonment of voluntary organ donation was signed by Archbishop George Stack of Cardiff, Bishop Thomas Burns of Menevia, Bishop Peter Brignall of Wrexham and Bishop Emeritus Edwin Regan of Wrexham, along with leaders from the Anglican Church, the Wales Orthodox Mission and others.
Describing “the concept of ‘deemed consent’ as a contradiction in terms and a misleading fiction”, they called for amendments if “the Welsh government is determined to press ahead with this unnecessary legislation”.
Their letter concludes: “The law must be amended in this way if it is not to be inhuman, unfeeling before the suffering of relatives, and a danger to the public trust and support which are necessary for the practice of organ donation to flourish.”
On Tuesday the Assembly voted 43-8 in favour of deemed consent.
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