FaithWorld

Belgium surprised at international backlash at euthanasia for minors

(World map showing the countries where euthanasia or assisted suicide is legal)

Belgian media expressed rank incomprehension over foreign criticism of the country’s extension of euthanasia to children, portraying legislation as humane and dismissing any notion of sick children being pressed to their deaths.

Thursday’s vote, the first to extend such provisions to children without any age limit, passed as easily as 2002 legislation allowing euthanasia for adults that had backing from 75 percent of Belgians. It created only minor ripples of dissent in the country, but a wave of interest and fury abroad.

“Belgium has allowed the killing on demand of terminally ill children and has headed for the ethical abyss. A state which allows something like this is a failing state,” the conservative German daily Die Welt said in a column.

The law covering euthanasia of minors is different to the broader euthanasia law. Adults can opt for death by injection if they find their condition intolerable and pain too great. Cases have included deaf twin brothers about to go blind.

Children must also be shown to be terminally ill. The child makes the decision, with parental consent.

from Photographers' Blog:

In a spiral of violence

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

Bangui, Central African Republic

By Siegfried Modola

I landed in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, for what was going to be the most intense four weeks of my career. I would be covering a sectarian conflict that has left thousands dead and around a million people displaced.

Nothing could have prepared me for the extent of this crisis. I witnessed the cold reality of people fleeing, losing their belongings and being killed because they belonged to a certain religion and found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.

As soon as we touched the runway at Bangui’s Mpoko International Airport, it was obvious that something was wrong. From the windows of the plane, we had a view of plastic sheets set up as shelters by the United Nations Refugee Agency – an image synonymous with conflict around the world.

North Caucasus Islamist group prays for earthquake at Sochi Olympics

(The Olympic flame is seen after the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, February 7, 2014. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard)

A militant Islamist group has urged followers to pray for an earthquake in Sochi during the Winter Olympics to avenge Muslims who died there fighting “Russian infidels”.

The appeal was made by a local branch of the Caucasus Emirate, a group which is waging an insurgency for an Islamist state in Russia’s North Caucasus and called on supporters last year to attack the Games.

Indian publisher withdraws book on Hindus after court case

(A Hindu devotee looks on, his face painted with blue powder, before a pilgrimage to the sacred Batu Caves Temple during Thaipusam festival outside Kuala Lumpur January 17, 2014. REUTERS/Samsul Said)

Penguin Books India has agreed to withdraw from sale all copies of a book that takes an unorthodox view of Hinduism, and will pulp them as part of a settlement after a case was filed against the publisher, the petitioners’ lawyer said.

“The Hindus: An Alternative History” by Wendy Doniger, a professor at the University of Chicago’s Divinity School, was published in India in 2011. Its depiction of the religion drew criticism from both conservative Hindus and some scholars.

from The Great Debate:

In the Netherlands, bankers turn to God — by law

 

Lloyd Blankfein, the chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs, once famously said he believed banks were doing “God’s work.” Now, the Netherlands is going one step further: starting later this year, all 90,000 Dutch bankers will have to swear an oath that they’ll do their “utmost to maintain and promote confidence in the financial-services industry. So help me God.”

It’s part of a major attempt by regulators and banks to clean up after the financial crash of 2008, and put behind them scandals that continue to blacken the financial service industry’s reputation. Just last October, the big Dutch cooperative bank Rabobank paid a $1 billion fine to settle charges in the Libor rate-fixing scandal.

Board members of the banks have already been required to swear the oath since last year, but now it’s being expanded to cover everyone who works in the sector. It consists of eight statements, including promises not to abuse knowledge and “to know my responsibility towards society.” There’s also a new banking code, a special declaration of moral and ethical conduct that all board members are required to sign, a “treat your customer fairly” initiative, and a “suitability” test for executive and non-executive directors of supervisory boards.

Mysterious Greek god Apollo held in Gaza Strip detention

(A bronze statue of the Greek God Apollo is pictured in Gaza in this September 19, 2013 picture provided by Gaza’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. Reuters/Gaza’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities/Handout)

Lost for centuries, a rare bronze statue of the Greek god Apollo has mysteriously resurfaced in the Gaza Strip, only to be seized by police and vanish almost immediately from view.

Word of the remarkable find has caught the imagination of the world of archaeology, but the police cannot say when the life-sized bronze might re-emerge or where it might be put on display.

Hungarian Jews threaten boycott of official Holocaust events they call one-sided

(Hungarian and German soldiers round up Jews in Budapest for deportation, 20./22. Oktober 1944/German Federal Archive)

Hungary’s main Jewish group voted on Sunday to boycott official Holocaust commemorations this year unless they more clearly show the role of local citizens in the Nazi deportation and killing of Hungarian Jews.

The Hungarian Jewish Congregations’ Association (Mazsihisz) decided to stay away from events marking the 70th anniversary of June 1944, when 437,000 Jews were sent to Nazi death camps within weeks, and set conditions for a change of position.

from Photographers' Blog:

Prayers during wartime

Midyat, Turkey

By Umit Bektas

Sunday mass has just begun in Mort Shmuni Syriac Orthodox Church. It is seven o’clock in the morning and the streets of Midyat, where the majority of the population is Muslim Kurdish, are empty.

But despite the calm outside, the historical church is overcrowded with a community of three hundred people, mostly children. Candles are lit, hymns are sung and prayers are made.

The reason that the mass is so crowded today is not because it is the festival of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. It is because for over two years now, Syriac Christian families escaping the bloody war in Syria just across the border have been joining the congregation, adding to the Turkish Christian citizens of Midyat.

Israel’s Sephardim abuzz at Spain’s expanded offer of citizenship

(Tourists visit Toledo’s XII century synagogue, Santa Maria La Blanca, in central Spain April 13, 2006. REUTERS/Victor Fraile)

The expansion of Spain’s offer of citizenship to descendants of Jews it expelled en masse in 1492 has sparked interest in Israel, where the so-called Sephardim make up around a quarter of the population.

While no one predicts an Israeli exodus to economically bruised Spain, a passport granting access to the wider European Union appeals to many in the war-wary Jewish state – especially its disproportionately large Sephardic underclass.

A year after resignation, ex-Pope Benedict has no regrets – Gänswein

(Pope Francis (L) embraces Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as he arrives at the Castel Gandolfo summer residence March 23, 2013. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano )

A year after his shock resignation, Pope Emeritus Benedict has no regrets and believes history will vindicate his tumultuous and much-criticised papacy, the man closest to him told Reuters in a rare interview.

Archbishop Georg Gänswein, who now works for the former pope as well as being the head of Pope Francis’s household, shed new light on how Benedict spends his days, his health, his feelings about his momentous decision and the relationship between the two popes.