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Hungarian legislation to ban changing sex on official documents  

May 20, 2020 CNA Daily News 0

CNA Staff, May 20, 2020 / 06:36 pm (CNA).- A bill passed by the Hungarian Parliament this week stipulates that birth certificates and other identification documents must state individuals’ sex at birth and cannot be changed based on gender identity.

The legislation was proposed by the Fidesz party, led by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. It passed 133 votes to 57, and now awaits the signature of President János Áder.

Orbán said the bill would help prevent legal ambiguity. An individual’s sex would be repalced with the phrase “sex assigned at birth” on official documents and in the national registry.

Advocates of the bill argued that it is impossible to completely change a person’s biological sex, and that this reality should be reflected in the civil registry, Forbes reported.

The government’s communication office stressed that the change “does not affect men’s and women’s right to freely experience and exercise their identities as they wish,” according to the BBC.

Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjen presented the bill on March 31 as part of a wide-ranging packet of legislation. Opposition parties issued amendments, but these were thrown out on Tuesday.

LGBT advocates and opposing parties have decried the law, arguing that it could further discrimination against the transgender community. MP Bernadett Szél described the legislation as “evil.” Tina Korlos Orban, vice president of the Transvanilla Transgender Association, said the change in policy will create a sense of panic among the transgender community.

The Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education denounced gender ideology last year and affirmed the principles of human dignity, difference, and complementarity, while rejecting unjust discrimination.

“In all such [gender] theories, from the most moderate to the most radical, there is agreement that one’s gender ends up being viewed as more important than being of male or female sex,” the congregation wrote in a June 2019 document, entitled “Male and Female He Created Them.”

“The effect of this move is chiefly to create a cultural and ideological revolution driven by relativism, and secondarily a juridical revolution, since such beliefs claim specific rights for the individual and across society,” the document said.



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Seminarians need ‘solid formation’ in hospital ministry, chaplain says

May 19, 2020 CNA Daily News 2

CNA Staff, May 19, 2020 / 01:30 pm (CNA).- Future seminarians should receive an “absolutely solid formation” in hospital ministry, a priest working with coronavirus patients has said.

Fr. Joe McNerney, a full-time hospital chaplain in the Diocese of Portsmouth, England, said that before the COVID-19 crisis, healthcare chaplaincy was a sometimes marginalized ministry.

“I think now we are seeing the absolute importance of hospital chaplaincy and how essential a ministry it is — not just during this time, but even when this thing passes — and that people in their seminary training have an absolutely solid foundation as part of their formation,” the priest told CNA.

McNerney, who has worked in hospitals since 1997, said “the whole way of doing chaplaincy has changed enormously” since the pandemic.

Strict preventative measures amid the pandemic force chaplains to focus on being alongside patients “during this very, very distressing time for them,” he explained.

“You think of these patients, and especially the ones in the COVID wards, where all they’re seeing is eyes,” he said. “Everything else is covered up. You realize how much you communicate through your facial expressions who you are — the smile, the twinkle in your eyes. Anything to let them know you care about them as a person. You’re not a clinician just wanting to go in and do something. It’s the same also for the doctors and the nurses. They’re finding that a struggle because it is so hard to communicate.”

McNerney said he was struck by how important it was for patients on coronavirus wards to be able to hold a rosary or small cross throughout their ordeal. He had asked local Catholics to supply rosaries to hospital wards and they had responded “magnificently.”

“It’s a great comfort to have something in your hands that connects you with your Catholic faith, with your Catholic community. It’s very, very important,” he said.

“Unfortunately because of the situation we’re not able to give Communion. If a patient’s ventilated, you can’t. It’s just out of the question. The sacrament of the sick plays an important role. But that abiding presence of something tangible — a rosary or a holding cross — can offer quite a comfort.”

McNerney, who was born in Seattle, Washington, and moved to the U.K. in the early 1980s, noted that at the start of the pandemic it was sometimes difficult to ensure that Catholic chaplains had access to coronavirus patients in the larger hospitals. But he said he had not heard of any cases in which Catholics died from COVID-19 without the sacraments.

“I’m not saying it hasn’t happened. I don’t know. But sometimes you have to be inventive in the way that you minister. You have to be prepared for what I call ‘liturgy on the hoof.’ The Sacrament of the Sick, last rites, are all very important, but you have to adapt the way you do it. It requires a bit of inventiveness,” he said.

He emphasized that hospital trusts saw chaplains as “absolutely essential” and that most misunderstandings were caused by the pressure of responding to a national health emergency.

He said: “I don’t think it’s anything deliberate. My experience is that they are just so, so, so busy. They’re fighting, trying to do everything.”

“In our induction that we do with staff we say it’s good to do a ‘spiritual care assessment’. Well, that’s not high on their list, through no fault of their own. They’re struggling with the physical stuff.”

McNerney’s comments were echoed by Fr. Mark Elliott Smith, who volunteered to serve as a chaplain at NHS Nightingale, London’s coronavirus field hospital.

Asked if the Church was marginalized during the crisis, he said: “Here, at least, absolutely not. In fact, it seems to me that a hallmark of the Nightingale is that the contribution that a chaplain can make is valued, and that spiritual, pastoral, and above all sacramental care is made available.”

“I would add that the Church will clearly want to continue making a vigorous case for its active presence in times like these, but my feeling is that the Church will be knocking at an open door.”

Elliott Smith said that he agreed “to a certain extent” with McNerney’s call for all seminarians to be trained thoroughly in hospital chaplaincy.

“The recent pandemic tells us that you can never know what lies round the corner, but I would be wary of, say, making great adjustments to seminary formation until we have a longer perspective,” he commented.
He said the Church needs to assess the impact of the nationwide lockdown on Mass attendance and then draw conclusions about future priests and their formation.
“Priesthood is an intensely practical life in many ways, but what a priest actually does flows from who he is, and has been formed to be,” he said.
“Of course, it’s good to know what a hospital chaplain actually does, but if the priest has had a solid priestly formation, and has a modicum of common sense, becoming a chaplain should not hold too many terrors.”
Elliott Smith said that while serving coronavirus patients he had drawn comfort from praying the Prayer to St. Michael: “Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle.”

McNerney said he had felt sustained throughout the crisis by a prayer from the Divine Office: “Give us perfect peace, Lord, so that we may delight in serving you all the days of our life, and at the last, with Our Lady’s help, come safely to your presence.”

“It’s a wonderful, wonderful prayer,” he said.



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John Paul II’s mom chose life after her doctor advised an abortion

May 18, 2020 CNA Daily News 2

Rome Newsroom, May 18, 2020 / 03:47 pm (CNA).- One hundred years ago on May 18, Emilia Wojtyla gave birth to her second son, Karol, after a difficult and life-threatening pregnancy. The child would grow up to be St. John Paul II.

In a new book published in Poland, Milena Kindziuk describes how St. John Paul II’s mother was advised to get an abortion.

“She had to choose between her own life and that of the baby she was carrying, but her deep faith did not allow Emilia to choose abortion,” Kindziuk said in an interview with ACI Stampa.

“Deep in her heart she had to be ready to make this sacrifice for the baby she was carrying,” she said.

In her book, “Emilia and Karol Wojtyla. Parents of St. John Paul II,” Kindziuk cites the testimony of a midwife, Tatarowa, and the reports of her two friends, Helena Szczepańska and Maria Kaczorowa, as well as the memories of other Wadowice residents. She said that these showed that Emilia Wojtyla was depressed by the insistence of her first doctor, Dr. Jan Moskała, that she have an abortion.

She said that Emilia and Karol Wojtyla “made a bold decision that, regardless of everything, their conceived baby was to be born. And so they started looking for another doctor.”

They ultimately chose Dr. Samuel Taub, a Jewish doctor from Krakow, who had moved to Wadowice after the First World War.

“Emilia’s friends have kept memories of that visit. The doctor confirmed that there was a risk of complications during childbirth, including Emilia’s death. However, he did not suggest an abortion,” Kindziuk said.

“Emilia had a bad pregnancy: she spent most of her time lying down and still had less strength than usual,” she said. “In this situation, Dr. Taub recommended the woman to lie down, rest often and feed herself very well.”

On the day of the birth, May 18, 1920, “Emilia lay in her apartment in Kościelna street, in the living room … in the presence of a midwife,” Kindziuk explained.

At the same time Karol Sr. and their 13-year-old son Edmund had gone out around 5 p.m. to participate in the prayer of the Divine Office in the parish church across the street where they sang the Litany of Loreto, she added.

“We know from the messages that Emilia asked the midwife to open the window: she wanted the first sound her son could hear to be a song in honor of Mary. In short, Emilia Wojtyla gave birth to her son, listening to the song of the Litany of Loreto,” she said.

St. John Paul II also told his personal secretary Stanislaw Dziwisz that he was born to the litany in honor of the Mother of God, she said, adding that he was elected pope at the same time of day that he was born.

The sainthood causes of St. John Paul II’s parents were formally opened in Poland in May. Karol, a Polish Army lieutenant, and Emilia, a school teacher, were married in Krakow Feb. 10, 1906. The Catholic couple gave birth to three children: Edmund in 1906; Olga, who died shortly after her birth; and Karol in 1920.

Before she died of a heart attack and liver failure in 1929, Emilia was a staple of faith for the household. At the time of her death, the young Karol Wojtyla was a month away from his ninth birthday.