Spain, Italy

Spain: abortion is not a right “It must be remembered that the law is objectively incompatible with just moral conscience, Catholic conscience in particular, since from the ethical viewpoint it represents a worsening of the current legislation in three major areas”. Thus begins the note, issued July 5th by the Spanish bishops on the “sexual and reproductive health regulation” (the law on the reform of abortion), on the occasion of its adoption. The law provides for the possibility to freely interrupt pregnancy until the 14th week, and in special circumstances, in case the mother’s health is at risk or when there is a possibility of fetus malformation, abortion is possible until the 22nd week of pregnancy. The bill enables minors to abort without parental consensus, although they are obliged to inform their parents provided there is not a family conflict marked by domestic violence. “First and foremost – write the Spanish prelates – the law considers the elimination of the life of the newborn as a right of the mother-to-be during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, thus leaving human life defenceless precisely in the period when most abortions are carried out”. Secondly, the new legislation “envisages an extremely ambiguous concept of health which is equal to the introduction of social and eugenetic indicators as legal justifications for abortion”. Finally, according to the bishops, the law “imposes abortion and gender-biased ideology within the compulsory education system”. Having listed the three points leading to an “ethical” worsening of current legislation, the Spanish bishops recalled the declaration released by the permanent Commission on June 17 2009, which the bishops’ plenary Assembly adopted in the final statement of November 27 2009. In the statement the Spanish bishops explained they wish to speak “in favour of those who have the right to be born and to be received with love by their parents, in favour of those mothers who have the rights to enjoy social and public benefits that will prevent them from becoming the victims of abortion, in favour of the parents’ freedom and of schools, in order to provide the youth with an affective and sexual formation that is in agreement with their moral beliefs, so they may be ready to become parents in their own right and welcome the gift of life and finally, in favour of a society which has the right to rely on fair legislation, which does not introduce unfair practices within legislation”. The enforcement of the regulation triggered polemics also on the part of Catholic associations, which took stands and promoted initiatives. Among them figure the Spanish Forum for the Family, the Juridical Centre Thomas Moore, the “Right To Live” association and the Spanish Confederation of teaching centres. Italy: the laity and pastoral units “Now it’s up to you fathers and mothers, grandparents, young and old, to keep your Church and your faith alive”. It’s a passage of the letter “to the parishioners who remained without a priest” issued at the end of the Week on Pastoral Planning held last week in Como (Italy) on the initiative of the Pastoral Guidance Centre (COP). The theme of the week was “the new forms of Christian community”, with special reference to the pastoral units. The research carried out by COP in one hundred Italian dioceses (on 224), which have implemented pastoral units or communities presents a developing situation. To recognize “the peculiarity of this ecclesial season”, to “take care of the growth and maturity of all those who share responsibilities within the Christian community”, to pay attention to “the sharing of the ecclesial journey on the part of the laity along with the ordained ministers” are the three reflections dictated during the meeting by the Secretary General of the Italian Bishops’ Conference Msgr. Mariano Crociata. The parish, said Msgr. Crociata, is “a significant and authoritative expression” of “the pastoral creativity of the Church”. “Contemporary difficulties could be triggered by the temptation to handle the passage from one model to the next in purely organizational terms”. However, underlined Msgr. Domenico Sigalini, bishop of Palestrina, COP President and president of the Bishops’ Conference for the Laity, “it’s not the quantity of priests that makes the Church, but the cooperation and communion of people”. As for the decline in the number of priests, the COP survey points out that “parishes without an in-home parish priests are considerably increasing and that they no longer regard only small parishes in the country, hills or mountain areas (65%). Indeed, the problem involves also small and large cities (35%)”. 83% of the parishes without a priest are served by a neighbouring priest and 37% by a group of priests. The permanent deacons are responsible for 15% of the parishes without an in-home priest. Finally 8% of the parishes are entrusted to the care of families and 5% to religious, men and women.

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