24 September 2007

When is an unborn baby not an unborn baby?

In 2006, an average of 530 unborn babies were killed in the UK, every day. I blogged it here.

Today, I read an article at the Daily Mail online, about how 1,000 unborn babies die unnecessarily each year due to a shortage of midwives. You can see the full story here.

Each story is an absolute tragedy. The preventable, needless loss of life in both situations is very upsetting.

The difference in the two articles is in one, the unborn baby will be called anything but, to allow society to accept the senseless slaughter of innocent life. Whilst in the other, all of a sudden it *is* an unborn baby, to allow the article to carry emotional weight and a political slant.

After all, what person wouldn't be upset at the needless loss of unborn babies?

22 September 2007

Pope to make climate action a moral obligation

The Pope is expected to use his first address to the United Nations to deliver a powerful warning over climate change in a move to adopt protection of the environment as a "moral" cause for the Catholic Church and its billion-strong following.

The New York speech is likely to contain an appeal for sustainable development, and it will follow an unprecedented Encyclical (a message to the wider church) on the subject, senior diplomatic sources have told The Independent.

It will act as the centrepiece of a US visit scheduled for next April – the first by Benedict XVI, and the first Papal visit since 1999 – and round off an environmental blitz at the Vatican, in which the Pope has personally led moves to emphasise green issues based on the belief that climate change is affecting the poorest people on the planet, and the principle that believers have a duty to "protect creation".

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, head of the Catholic Church in the UK, said last night: "This is a crucial issue both today and for all future generations. We are the stewards of creation and we need to take that responsibility seriously and co-operate to care for the created world."

A Papal tour of America will be particularly potent during election year in the US, where Catholics number around 73 million, and is being discussed in Rome after Pope Benedict accepted an invitation from the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon. For the Pope to take his climate-change message to the high-profile UN platform will be considered hugely influential to the fifth of the world's population who are Catholics, and will act as a rallying call for action in Africa and Asia, which have seen a rise in Catholics in recent years.

News of the speech comes as Vatican City has become the first fully carbon-neutral state in the world, after announcing it is offsetting its carbon footprint by planting a forest in Hungary and installing solar panels on the roof of St Peter's Basilica in Rome.

It also follows a series of interventions by the Pope on the environment. On 2 September he told a 300,000 youth audience: "Before it is too late, it is necessary to make courageous decisions that reflect knowing how to re-create a strong alliance between man and the earth." On 7 September, he said there was a "pressing need for science and religion to work together to safeguard the gifts of nature and to promote responsible stewardship".

UK diplomats have held a number of behind-the-scenes meetings with Vatican officials on the environment. A Whitehall source said last night: "Benedict is the spiritual head of 19 per cent of the world's population and a highly respected figure. If the Pope's words are taken on board by his community that is one big constituency for change and could well turn the tide on climate change and environmental degradation."


Pope in 'freedom' blast at Islam

The Pope has again risked provoking the wrath of the Islamic world, by criticising its treatment of Christians.

Benedict XVI attacked Muslim nations where Christians are either persecuted or given the status of second-class citizens under the Shariah Islamic law.

He also defended the rights of Muslims to convert to Christianity, an act which warrants the death penalty in many Islamic countries.

His comments came almost exactly a year after he provoked a wave of anger among Muslims by quoting a Byzantine emperor who linked Islam to violence.

Yesterday, near Rome, the 80-year-old pontiff made a speech in "defence of religious liberty", which, he said "is a fundamental, irrepressible, inalienable and inviolable right".

In a clear reference to Islam, he said: "The exercise of this freedom also includes the right to change religion, which should be guaranteed not only legally, but also in daily practice."

Addressing the problem of Islamic extremism, he added: "Terrorism is a serious problem whose perpetrators often claim to act in God's name and harbour an inexcusable contempt for human life."

Last September, radical British Muslims said Pope Benedict should be executed for "insulting" the Prophet Mohammed.

Throughout the Middle East and Africa, Christians were subjected to violence in retribution for his remarks.

His latest comments, however, come just days after one of the Church of England's-senior bishops warned that Muslim leaders here must speak out in defence of the right to change faith.

The Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, told Channel 4's Dispatches programme of his fears for the safety of the estimated 3,000 Muslims who have converted to other faiths in this country.

A poll earlier this year of more than 1,000 young adult British Muslims found that 36 per cent believe those who convert to another faith should be punished by death.

Pope Benedict is particularly concerned about the persecution of Christians in Iraq since the invasion of 2003.

Before then, there were about 1.2million Christians in the country. But the number has dropped to below 600,000.