John Duddington Let’s stand up for St Thomas More
Tim Stanley A Catholic guide to Tinseltown
Stuart Reid Am I turning into a liberal?
June 6 2014 £1.50 (Republic of Ireland €1.80)
Commission tells two million pro-lifers: we aren’t listening
Brussels rejects petition against embryo destruction
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
PRO-LIFE campaigners have expressed dismay after the European Commission rejected a two million-strong petition urging Brussels to stop funding research that destroys human embryos.
The One Of Us campaign submitted the petition to the Commission as a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI). Under the Treaty of Lisbon the Commission is obliged to consider petitions that gather at least a million signatures across the European Union.
The initiative proposed “new European legislation at the European level that would recognise the dignity of the human embryo and block any future European funding for any activity that damages or destroys the human embryo”.
But although the petition had gained 1,897,588 signatures as we went to press, the Commission – which is not democratically elected – vetoed the initiative.
In a joint statement on Tuesday, Archbishop Peter Smith and Bishop William Kenney expressed disappointment at the decision.
They said: “A great deal of effort has gone into collecting nearly two million signatures for the One of Us European Citizens’ Initiative to protect the human embryo.
“This number underlines the strength of feeling held by so many people across Europe on this vital issue of life. We are disappointed that it would seem the petition will not be resulting in further action at the European Commission level, but this should not discourage Christians and all civil society to continue to promote the principles underlying this initiative and its policy proposals, particularly with the appointment of a new Commission in the coming weeks and much discussion around its future priorities.”
Organisers of the One of Us campaign said the Commission’s decision was “illegitimate and antidemocratic”.
They said: “The One of Us committee expresses its deep disappointment towards a deaf Commission which today makes a decision contrary to ethical and democratic requirements. While each initiative draft is controlled upstream by the commission before being open to signature, the Barroso Commission claims to possess the right of veto downstream, against initiatives having yet successfully obtained the required popular support.
“Such veto power is illegitimate and anti-democratic since politically it is the European legislature that may give a verdict on the content of the initiative, and not the Commission, otherwise the ECI mechanism would be meaningless.”
The campaign’s organisers promised to challenge the decision at the EU’s highest court.
They said: “For the One Of Us citizens’ committee, the procedure is not over: on one hand, the Commission’s decision is likely to be appealed before the Court of Justice in Luxembourg – which acknowledges respect for human life from conception – and on the other hand, the new Parliament will audition the next Commission, allowing it to replace the respect of the citizens’ initiative in the heart of debates, and asks European insti
The European Commission, led by outgoing president José Manuel Barroso, rejected the petition even though it easily met the criteria for a European Citizens’ Initiative AP
tutions to be more ethical and democratic.”
The Commission defended its decision by arguing that scientific experiments on human embryos could produce life-saving breakthroughs.
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, the EU’s research commissioner, said: “We have engaged with this citizens’ initiative and given its request all due consideration, however, member states and the European
Parliament agreed to continue funding research in this area for a reason. Embryonic stem cells are unique and offer the potential for life-saving treatments.”
Peter D Williams, executive officer of Right to Life, described the ruling as “shameful”.
He said: “The decision by the EU Commission to ignore the 1,800,000 European citizens who wanted to see a ban on EU funding for embryo-destructive research can only widen the growing popular discernment of a democratic deficit at the heart of the European Union. That one of the first European Citizens’ Initiatives, despite its popular support in gaining almost twice the minimum number of signatures, should be so summarily dismissed by the commission makes a mockery of the idea of participatory democracy that the creation of such initiatives was meant to encourage and enable.
“It is equally appalling that the attempt to justify this decision should be on the grounds that embryonic stem-cell research offers ‘the potential for life-saving treatments’. The reality of such research is that it is a costly process that destroys the life of an embryonic human being, and has never yielded a single cure or medical treatment for disease. Embryonic stem-cell research is as unethical as it is inefficient and ineffectual, in stark contrast to the work with adult stem cells from which many life-saving treatments have been developed and continue to proceed. That the EU Commission should block a democratic initiative that would end funding for a practice that is not only immoral but also a scientific dead-end is politically shameful and entirely inexcusable.” Adams cartoon: Page 12 Editorial comment: Page 13
Pope laments ‘comfort culture’ that places pets above children BY CINDY WOODEN
POPE FRANCIS has blamed a “culture of well-being” and comfort for convincing married couples that a carefree life of world travel and summer homes is better than having children.
He said married couples should look at how Jesus loves his Church to learn how to be faithful, steadfast and fruitful in their vocation.
About 15 married couples celebrating their 25th, 50th or
60th anniversaries joined the Pope for his early morning Mass on Monday in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives.
In his homily Pope Francis said fidelity, perseverance and fruitfulness were the three characteristics of God’s love for his Church and should be the three pillars of a Christian marriage.
According to Vatican Radio, the Pope said that, just as the Church is fruitful by generating new children in Christ through baptism, marriage should be open to new life. Couples who deal with infertility or loss, though, can still look to Jesus and “draw the strength of fruitfulness that Jesus has with his Church”.
But “there are things that Jesus doesn’t like”, he said, such as married couples “who don’t want children, who want to be without fruitfulness”. The Pope blamed “this culture of well-being” for convincing married men and women to remain childless intentionally.
This culture of comfort, he said, “has convinced us that ‘it’s better to not have children! It’s better. That way you can see the world, be on vacation, you can have a fancy home in the country, you’ll be carefree.’”
People think it is better or easier “to have a puppy, two cats, and the love goes to the two cats and the puppy”, he said. “And in the end, this marriage will end in old age in solitude, with the bitterness of bad solitude.”
Pope: Christian life is not one big party
BY CAROL GLATZ
WHILE Jesus promises great joy, being a Christian does not mean that life becomes all sunshine and roses, Pope Francis has said.
The joy Jesus promises comes from knowing there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and receiving the strength and hope needed to get through the hard times, the Pope said.
“We have to tell the truth: not every part of Christian life is a party. Not all of it!” the Pope said at a morning Mass.
The Pope said there are two kinds of sadness: one that leads to despair and one that is at peace with joy in hope. There is “the sadness that happens to all of us when we head down a path that is no good”, such as when we try to “buy joy, worldly happiness”, he said, but “in the end, there is an emptiness in us, a sadness”.
“This is the sadness of bad happiness,” he said, while the happiness that comes from Christ “is a joy in hope that will come”.
Country star says priest is best opening act ever
BY DAVID V BARRETT
COUNTRY singer Dolly Parton has described a Catholic priest as “the best opening act I’ve ever had”.
She was performing for an event organised by St Mark’s Catholic church in Richmond, Kentucky.
Fr James Sichko, parish priest of St Mark’s, asked the packed audience of 2,000 to “take the roof off this building and give this icon the welcome she deserves”. When they roared their approval Fr Sichko told Ms Parton: “We’re here with love in our hearts.”
The singer replied: “Fr Jim is the best opening act I’ve ever had.”
Commenting on how her Pentecostal faith differed from that of her hosts, she said: “We’re all just trying to get to God and get to heaven.”
She said she prays every day, “to be a better person, to be loving, kind and giving”.
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