Page 4, 28th November 2003

28th November 2003
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Page 4, 28th November 2003 — Europe
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GM foods a `moral duty'

IF GENETICALLY modified organisms represent an opportunity for development, especially for poor countries, it might be a moral duty to disseminate them, says a bioethicist.

Fr Gonzalo Miranda, dean of the School of Bioethics of the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum, expressed the idea last week at the symposium held at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, on "Genetically Modified Organisms and the Social Doctrine of the Church."

"If GMOs represent a real opportunity to foster the development of all countries, especially the neediest, it would be a real moral and solidaristic duty to favor their dissemination," he said.

"To block them a priori in virtue of merely ideological postures or disgraceful economic interests would not only be a lack of solidarity but also a grave injustice," the priest noted.

Berlin Church in cash crisis

A SPOKESMAN for the Catholic Church in Berlin said he did not believe the Vatican would intervene in the archdiocese's £80 million debt crisis.

Cardinal Georg Stervinsky of Berlin has admitted responsibility for the crisis, which is expected to force the closure of half of the city's Catholic parishes, said Stefan Forner, archdioesan spokesman.

Forner added the cardinal "accepts he wasn't consistent and failed to act quickly enough after seeing what was happening. But I think Rome will agree it doesn't need to intervene in this way".

In early November, Berlin priests and lay pastoral workers petitioned the Vatican to send an apostolic visitor to help sort out the crisis.

The spokesman said the archdiocese's problems had been caused by changes in its financial situation, rather than personal errors and misjudgements. He explained: "After Germany's 1990 reunification, it was hoped Berlin's population would swell to 6 million, but this didn't happen. Instead people started leaving and federal funding was cut, leaving the region with severe difficulties.

As Church tax payments reduced. our debts accumulated."

City's deal with Church

THE HOLY See and the Hanseatic Free City of Bremen signed an agreement to regulate relations between the Church and the city.

In a statement the Vatican Press Office said that the agreement establishes, among other things, "norms on the State recognition of schools of ecclesiastical administration and the teaching of the Catholic religion in Catholic schools".

The agreement also regulates "the activity of the Catholic Church in the pastoral and social/health/and charitable areas; the ecclesi

astical contribution. and the care of ecclesiastical buildings" that are included in the preservation of monuments.

The "role of the Catholic Church is recognized in the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen, where 78,000 Catholics constitute 12 per cent of a total population of 660,000 inhabitants," it concludes.

`Welcome the stranger'

THE LEAD SPEAKER of the 5th World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees has invited Christians to be the "hands" of Christ which welcome migrants and refugees.

Cardinal Stephen Hamao said: "In a certain sense all of us represent the 175 million migrants and 40 million refugees and displaced people worldwide and we make ourselves the spokesmen of the concern the Church has for them."

The Japanese cardinal added: "These persons have the right to know Christ and to experience his love for the men and women of all nations and all ethnic groups."

Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, added that the phenomenon of migration "can constitute a propitious occasion for inter-religious dialogue which is one of the greatest challenges of our time".




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