From Mgr Nicholas Rothon Sir, The report by your correspondent, Mr Joe Jenkins on the recent Conference in Israel was less than gracious. I also shared in the Conference and was struck by the determination of many, both Israeli and Arab, to make the peace process work. Rather than rehearsing past problems, both Israelis and Arabs deserve our prayers and support in trying to achieve peace in the Holy Land.
Everywhere, we were received with great courtesy and generosity. El Al security is thorough but I have some sympathy with this as some years ago, a member of my family, on his way to Israel, was blown up at Madrid airport.
The Holy Places, in Jerusalem and Bethlehem are steeped in tradition of centuries of pilgrimage. They are not modem purpose-built museums. The Franciscans who have care of the Holy Places deserve our generous support.
From Mr Nigel Benson Sir, Our organisation, EnCourage, a spiritual support From Mr John Smeaton, National Director of SPUC Sir, The fight against the legalisation of euthanasia is a witness in which all can help — through prayer, campaigning, caring and lobbying.
Whichever way we participate, it is important to be aware of how the proeuthanasia lobby is seeking to promote its agenda. Many people will be aware of the threat of giving statute force to "living wills", but there is another challenge to which we must be alert. This is the idea of extending the notion of a "power of attorney" to medical issues. Currently in law, a power of attorney covering financial affairs may be drawn up by someone in the early stages of, say, Alzheimer's disease, giving a relative or solicitor authority to administer their affairs when they can no longer do so themselves. This can be helpful and reassuring.
But extending this power to medical treatment offers no substantial benefits and could create serious dangers. Good practice already requires that doctors consult relatives of incapacitated patients, while ensuing that in all event the "best interests" of the patient himself or herself prevail.
Recently, the Public Trust Office, which overseas financial powers of attorney, has been criticised. In a few cases relatives have spent money on fast cars, business enterprises or other ventures for their own benefit, rather than for the disabled relative involved. These cases have been a few, but they highlight the potential for abuse. Extending powers of attorney to cover health matters would extend the potential for abuse of some of the most group for homosexual Catholics wishing to live according to the teachings of the Catholic Church, is listed in the 1999 Catholic Directory.
We share the five goals of the USA organisation Courage, founded by Father John Harvey in 1980. These goals state clearly that we unequivocally accept the teaching of the Church on homosexuality. They also reflect the daily struggle that we experience in striving to live according to that teaching.
1. To live chaste lives in accordance with the Roman Catholic Church's teaching on homosexuality. 2. To dedicate our entire lives to Christ through service to others, spiritual reading, prayer. meditation, individual spiritual direction, frequent attendance at Mass, and the frequent reception of the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist.
3. To foster a spirit of fellowship in which we may share with one another our thoughts and experiences and so ensure that none of us have to face the problems of homosexuality alone.
4. To be mindful of the truth that chaste friendships are not only possible but necessary in celibate Christian life and to encourage one another in forming and sustaining them.
5. To live lives that may serve as good examples to other homosexuals.
We have a growing network of members, men and women, dedicated to these goals throughout the UK, with support groups meeting in London, Birmingham and Manchester. People interested to know more are welcome to contact us at: PO Box 3745, London N2 8LW, Tel/Fax 01483 747 467.
Yours faithfully, NIGEL BENSON The EnCourage Trust