England, Spain, Hungary

England: NCSC Report on abuses in 2009 In 2009 there were 41 alleged abuses relating to 43 persons accused and 52 victims, a slight decrease over 2008. This is what emerges from the annual report for 2009-2010 of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission (NCSC), released by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales on 27 July. 18 of the 52 victims asserted they had suffered abuse in the current year, while 20 denunciations refer to facts that date back to the 1970s or even earlier. Of the 43 persons accused of committing abuses, 26 belong to the clergy or are members of religious congregations; 7 are volunteers; 7 parishioners; and 3 church employees. All the denunciations were reported to the competent authorities; 24 of them did not lead to any further action being taken against the accused, while investigations are still ongoing for 17 of the alleged abuses. In the child protection measures aimed at curbing abuses implemented by NCSC, the report says that in 2009 79 ‘agreements on care’ between the Church and persons considered at risk identified in concert activities and limitations such as to minimise the risk of them re-offending. In many cases these agreements were also drawn up with the Police and, given the nature of this field, the Report underlines that it will maintain strict surveillance to see that these agreements are respected. “It’s important to continue in this direction – said W. Kilgallon Obe, chairman of the NCSC -, we must not consider ourselves satisfied with the work so far performed. For the future we must focus our attention on what responses we should give to those who have suffered abuses”. One source of comfort, in this perspective, is the fact that 97% of English parishes appointed a representative for the protection of children from abuse in 2009. The dialogue of the Commission with associations and representatives of the victims of abuse is also being stepped up to find the best way of responding to cases of alleged abuse. Among the various priorities fixed for 2010-2011 the Commission points out its commitment to check that the religious orders not yet affiliated with it be involved in this work of surveillance.Spain: guide on conscientious objection to abortionThe first “Guide on medical conscientious objection to abortion” was presented in Madrid, in the headquarters of HazteOir.org”, on 29 July. The guide was written and published jointly by the Thomas More Legal Centre, the National Association for the Defence of Conscientious Objection (ANDOC), Right to Life (DAV) and HazteOir.org. “From the entry into force of the new law on abortion – explain the promoters of the initiative – both the professional medical institutions and the associations and platforms in defence of life have received many requests for information on how to exercise conscientious objection in compliance with the new law”. Moreover, some autonomous Communities are placing obstacles in the way of healthcare professionals that in conscience refuse to collaborate in the killing of tens of thousands of human beings and this “has increased the anxiety felt by physicians, nurses, social workers and administrators about their freedom of conscience”. Such conscientious objection is a right sanctioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in the European Convention of Human Rights, in the Spanish Constitution and in the ethical code of practice of the Order of Physicians, ratified by the Constitutional Court in its sentence 53/1985. The Guide is a practical response to the needs of conscientious objectors, after the approval of the new law.Hungary: two initiatives of the Church for rom”Let us pray that the Lord may disarm in our country the violent emotions, words and actions and teach us to live together in peace with the peoples of Europe and of the whole world. That’s how the St. Egidio Community in Budapest invites participation in the prayer that will be recited in the city on Sunday 1st August “for reconciliation between the Hungarian population and the rom [gipsy] population”. Two anniversaries will be commemorated on this occasion: the shooting in August 2009, in the village of Kisléta, of a gipsy woman, Maria Balog, sixth victim of fatal attacks against rom committed in Hungary over the last two years, and the 65th anniversary of the holocaust of the gipsies exterminated in the gas ovens of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Mgr. Janos Szekely, auxiliary bishop of Esztergom-Budapest and head of the office for the pastoral care of rom in the Hungarian Bishops’ Conference, will give the homily at the rite. On 4 August the bishop will also participate in another event dedicated to rom in the Hungarian capital: a concert of Eucharist, a group of popular liturgical music. For many years the Hungarian Catholic Church has been working for the integration of gipsies in the social fabric; in particular it has been campaigning to keep open schools in the countryside, in many cases attended only by gipsy children. Even if precise estimates are difficult to come by, it is thought that there are between 600,000 and 800,000 gipsies in Hungary’s total population of some 10 million; they are subdivided into four linguistic groups with 17 dialects.

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