No Picture
News Briefs

Half of countries have fertility rates below replacement level, study finds

November 10, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

London, England, Nov 10, 2018 / 06:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A newly published study has found that nearly half of countries have fertility rates which are below replacement level, meaning that population size will decrease without immigration.

Published in the November issue of The Lancet, the study examines population and fertility by age and sex in 195 countries and territories between 1950 and 2017.

Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and part of the Global Burden of Disease analysis, the study found that the total fertility rates have decreased by more than 49 percent. The study states women on average are having a fewer babies in their lifetime – 2.4 as of 2017, compared to 4.7 in 1950.

To maintain population, the total fertility reate needs to be about 2.1.

The world population has increased by nearly 200 percent since 1950, though researchers have expressed concern that fewer births will lead to more elderly people than children.

Professor Christopher Murray, the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, told the BBC that half of the countries have birth rates which are lower than the replacement level.

“On current trends there will be very few children and lots of people over the age of 65 and that’s very difficult to sustain global society,” he said.

“Think of all the profound social and economic consequences of a society structured like that with more grandparents than grandchildren.”

“We’ve reached this watershed where half of countries have fertility rates below the replacement level, so if nothing happens the populations will decline in those countries … the idea that it’s half the countries in the world will be a huge surprise to people.”

“We will soon be transitioning to a point where societies are grappling with a declining population.”

He said fertility rates are lower in more developed countries like the U.S., South Korea, Australia, and in much of Europe. However, due to higher life expectancies and immigration, the population in these countries have not decreased.

The study also found that three factors have contributed to the decline in fertility rates – more education and work for women, a decrease of deaths in babies under five, and increased availability of contraception.

When a trend in 2014 found a decrease in U.S. birth rates, experts identified the decrease as a shift in the cultural understanding about sex and childbearing, according to the National Catholic Register.

Mary Rice Hanson, who works at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, stated that “Our culture sees children through a warped lens, where children represent loss and burden – lost ‘freedom,’ lost privacy, lost wages, lost opportunities to travel, independence, even sex.”


No Picture
News Briefs

Irish physicians complain they’ve been ignored by health minister on abortion

November 8, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Dublin, Ireland, Nov 8, 2018 / 02:05 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Some 640 general practitioners in the Republic of Ireland have signed a petition saying their concerns have not been listened to regarding the government’s plan to have abortion services led by general practitioners.

“Instead of reaching out to the hundreds of GPs, Minister Harris has adopted an utterly dismissive tone from the get-go,” said Dr. Aisling Bastible, according to The Irish News.

The Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018 proposed by health minister Simon Harris will have a general-practitioner led abortion service. It would require pro-life healthcare professionals to provide abortion referrals, though not to perform them.

“No matter what your stance on abortion, you would surely expect the minister to consult with GPs on the ground before legislating,” said Dr. Andrew O’Regan.

“General practice is at maximum capacity, we have a big problem trying to recruit GPs and now the government are saying, ‘We want you to do this as well’, it’s just not on.”

O’Regan commented on the importance of conscientious objection, saying, “There’s plenty of doctors willing to do this, we don’t want to block those doctors but don’t force us to be part of it.”

The Irish bishops have lamented that the bill would require pro-life healthcare professionals to provide abortion referrals, calling the provision “an affront to conscience.”

They noted that the bill envisages that in the first twelve weeks, abortion will generally be chemically induced.

“This presumes that pharmacists, whether in hospitals or in private practice, will routinely stock and dispense drugs whose specific purpose is to end human life. No provision is made for pharmacists to opt out on the grounds of conscientious objection.”

“We ask the Government, and wider society, to respect the right of all healthcare professionals and pharmacists to exercise conscientious objection not only by refusing to participate actively in abortion but also by declining to refer their patients to others for abortion,” the bishops said.

They said, “Healthcare professionals, pharmacists and ancillary healthcare workers, should not face legal, professional or financial penalties or any form of discrimination for their commitment to respect life.”

The bishops noted that in New Zealand, healthcare professionals “opt in” to the provision of abortion, rather than opting out; nor are those who object to the procedure obliged to provide referrals for it.

Irish Health Minister Simon Harris criticized the opt-in stance, which is supported by the National Association of General Practitioners. In June, the group of 2,000 practitioners unanimously voted in favor of the “opt-in” method.

Ireland faces a potential shortage of doctors willing to participate in abortions; a March survey of Irish healthcare professionals found that that roughly seven out of 10 general practitioners in Ireland are unwilling to perform abortions.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar clarified to the Dáil in June that individual medical professionals will be able to opt out of performing abortions, but entire hospitals will not be able to do so. Many publicly-funded hospitals have historic ties to the Catholic Church and operate under Catholic ethics.


No Picture
News Briefs

Pope Francis advocates for global access to clean drinking water

November 8, 2018 CNA Daily News 3

Rome, Italy, Nov 8, 2018 / 01:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis spoke of the importance of increasing access to clean drinking water around the world Thursday, calling current statistics “a huge shame for the humanity.”

“Water is essential for life. In many parts of the world, our brothers and sisters cannot have a dignified life because of the lack of access to clean water,” Pope Francis told participants in an international conference in Rome Nov. 8.

Worldwide, 2.1 billion people do not have access to clean drinking water according to the World Health Organization’s 2015 statistics. This means that at least 2 billion people use a drinking water source contaminated with faeces, the WHO explains.

“The dramatic statistics of thirst, especially the situation of those people who get sick and often die because of unhealthy water, is a huge shame for the humanity of the 21st century,” Pope Francis said at the Pontifical Urban University.

Contaminated drinking water can lead to diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio. An estimated 842,000 people die from diarrhoea alone each year as a result of unsafe drinking-water, sanitation, and hand hygiene.

The Vatican conference, “Managing a Common Good: Access to Drinking Water for All” addressed solutions to this global issue through the creation of infrastructures, training, advocacy, and assistance to endangered populations whose water supply is compromised.

“The Holy See and the Church are committed to access to drinking water for all,” Pope Francis said.

The Dicastery for Integral Human Development organized the conference in partnership with the U.S., French, Italian, and Monegasque embassies to the Holy See.

Pope Francis said, “In every thirsty man we perceive the same image of God, as we read in Matthew’s Gospel: ‘I was thirsty and you gave me no drink.’”


No Picture
News Briefs

Manx legislature passes most liberal abortion law in British Isles

November 7, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Douglas, Isle of Man, Nov 7, 2018 / 11:17 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The upper house of the Isle of Man’s legislature passed Tuesday a bill that will liberalize abortion access in the territory. The Abortion Reform Bill 2018 now needs only receive royal assentand promulgation before it becomes law.

Members of the Legislative Council unanimously passed the bill with its amendments Nov. 6.

Abortion policy on the the Isle of Man, a crown dependency located between England and Northern Ireland, is currently governed by the Termination of Pregnancy Act 1995, which allows abortion only in cases where the mother’s life is endangered or if the baby has a low survival rate.

The Abortion Reform Bill 2018 decriminalizes abortion. It will allow elective abortion up to 14 weeks; up to 24 weeks if medical reasons or “serious social grounds” were presented; and, according to Isle of Man Today, “in certain emergency or serious situations after 24 weeks.”

Among amendments made to the bill were measures regarding counseling services and conscientious objection.

It will provide for buffer zones around medical centers to keep pro-life counselors and protesters at a distance from women procuring abortion, as well as measures to prevent sex-selective abortions.

The Anglican bishop of Sodor and Man, Peter Eagles, who is ex officio a member of the Legislative Council, had voted against the bill earlier in the year, but was in favor of it Tuesday.

“I see these amendments as being entirely within the spirit of the discussion held in this council earlier and as being instrumental in enhancing the bill’s effectiveness,” Eagles said, according to Isle of Man Today.

The bill has been opposed by the Catholic Church on the island and by Humanity and Equality in Abortion Reform.

Supporters of abortion rights have expressed hope that the bill’s passage will strengthen abortion reform across the United Kingdom.

The bill will go to Richard Gozney, Lieutenant Governor of the Isle of Man, to receive royal assent Nov. 20. It will be promulgated on Tynwald Day, July 5, 2019.


No Picture
News Briefs

Astronomers recommend renaming Hubble’s law to honor Belgian priest

November 3, 2018 CNA Daily News 1

Paris, France, Nov 3, 2018 / 12:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The International Astronomical Union has voted in favor of a recommendation to rename the Hubble law the Hubble-Lemaître law, to acknowledge the contributions of the Belgian priest and astronomer Georges Lemaître to the scientific theory of the expansion of the universe.

“To honour the intellectual integrity and the supremely significant discovery by Georges Lemaître, the IAU is pleased to recommend that the expansion of the Universe be referred to as the Hubble–Lemaître law,” the association stated Oct. 29.

Fr. Georges Lemaître, who died in 1966, was a physicist and mathematician who is widely credited with developing the big bang theory to explain the physical origin of the universe.

Hubble’s law describes how objects in the expanding universe move away from each other with a velocity proportional to their distance apart.

A resolution to suggest the renaming of the law was presented and discussed at the IAU’s 30th General Assembly, held in Vienna in August.

“This resolution was proposed in order to pay tribute to both Lemaître and Hubble for their fundamental contributions to the development of modern cosmology,” the IAU noted.

Among the resolution’s desires was “to honour the intellectual integrity of Georges Lemaître that made him value more the progress of science rather than his own visibility.”

The IAU is an international organization of professional astronomers, and is the internationally recognized authority for naming celestial bodies.

More than 11,000 members were able to vote on the resolution. 4,060 members voted, with 78 percent approving the resolution, 20 percent rejecting, and two percent abstaining.

All the members, which include more than 10,000 individuals, were invited to vote electronically by Oct. 26. The IAU reported that 4060 members cast their vote, with 78 percent in favor and 20 percent against the name change.

Lemaître published a paper in 1927 discussing the rate of the expansion of the universe, but “the limited popularity of the Journal in which Lemaître’s paper appeared and the language used made his remarkable discovery largely unperceived by the astronomical community,” according to the resolution.

The resolution also noted that Lemaître, an IAU member since 1925, exchanged views about redshift with Hubble at the 3rd IAU General Assembly at Leiden in 1928.

Among other honors, the priest received the Francqui Price in 1934 from King Leopold III of Belgium, according to the Francqui Foundation. Father Lemaître had also been a past president of the Pontifical Academy of the Sciences.


No Picture
News Briefs

For All Souls’ Day, Pope Francis prays in cemetery for unborn children

November 2, 2018 CNA Daily News 1

Rome, Italy, Nov 2, 2018 / 11:05 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In commemoration of All Souls’ Day, Pope Francis prayed Friday in a cemetery for unborn children called the “Garden of Angels” on the outskirts of Rome.

“Listen to the prayer we address to you for all our loved ones who have left this world: open the arms of your mercy and receive them in the glorious assembly of Holy Jerusalem,” the pope prayed in a Blessing of the Tombs Nov. 2.

Pope Francis celebrated Mass at the Laurentino Cemetery, which includes a special burial area for deceased children and unborn babies, where the pope offered a bouquet of flowers and spent a moment in prayer.

“Today is a day of memory, a day to remember those who walked before us, accompanied us, gave us life,” Pope Francis said in his homily.

It is also “a day of hope,” he continued, a hope of “what awaits us: a new heaven, a new earth, the holy city of the new Jerusalem.”

“Beauty awaits us … memory and hope, hope to encounter, hope to arrive where there is the Love which created us, where there is the Love which awaits us: the love of the Father.”

“Between memory and hope” is the road that we must take, Pope Francis said, emphasizing that it is the Beatitudes that lead us along this path.

“These beatitudes – meekness, poverty of spirit, justice, mercy, purity of heart – are the lights that accompany us so as not to make mistakes,” the pope said.

After the All Souls’ Day Mass, Pope Francis prayed in private in St. Peter’s Basilica at the grotto tombs of deceased popes.

In recent tradition, popes have celebrated an All Souls’ Day Mass at at Rome’s Campo Verano cemetery, founded in the 19th century.

In 2016, Pope Francis extended this tradition to the Prima Porta Cemetery, and last year the Mass took place in an Italian cemetery for American personnel killed in World War II.


No Picture
News Briefs

Flooding damages St Mark’s Basilica in Venice

October 31, 2018 CNA Daily News 1

Venice, Italy, Oct 31, 2018 / 01:29 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice flooded with nearly three feet of water this week, damaging part of the 1,000 year old marble mosaic floor inside.

The basilica “aged 20 years in one day,” St. Mark’s procurator Carlo Alberto Tesserin said.

Flood waters kept parts of the Madonna Nicopeia chapel’s intricately designed floor under three feet of water for 16 hours, Tesserin said. The chapel, located in the cathedral’s left transept, contains a 9th century Byzantine icon of Mary.

The baptistry and the Zen Chapel, named for Cardinal Giambattista Zen, who died in 1501, were completely flooded. The basilica’s bronze doors and columns also sustained damage.

In St. Mark’s Basilica’s 926 year history, there have been only five floods as severe. The high water mark in Venice reached over 5 feet on Monday with an “acqua alta,” or high tide, covering 75 percent of the city.

Storms in Italy this week left at least 11 people dead throughout the country as 110 mph winds caused trees to fall upon cars and pedestrians. The Liguria region in northwest Italy experienced dangerous landslides.

The Italian Civil Protection Agency said that the Liguria, Veneto, Trentino, and Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions were most affected by the heavy rainfall and high winds.

Museums in Venice reopened Wednesday as the flood waters subsided.