Category : Europe

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Sergius

O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich: Deliver us, we pray thee, from an inordinate love of this world, that inspired by the devotion of thy servant Sergius of Moscow, we may serve thee with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Russia, Spirituality/Prayer

(CC) Philip Jenkins–To understand African Christianity, remember the Battle of Adwa

The new war culminated on March 1, 1896, at Adwa, when the Italian force of around 18,000 allowed itself to be drawn into battle against an Ethiopian army at least six times larger. The Italian force was utterly destroyed as a fighting unit, suffering at least 6,000 dead and losing all artillery and equipment. Only Menelik’s diplomatic sense and restraint prevented his forces from sweeping up all the now defenseless Italian territory that remained on the Red Sea. Why risk his gains when he already had achieved everything he needed? (The campaign is expertly described in Raymond Jonas’s 2011 study The Battle of Adwa.)

The sheer scale of the European catastrophe demands attention. This was a period when White empires might lose the occasional battle, as the British had to the Zulus some years before, but they certainly did not lose whole wars to despised Black Africans. Nor did the familiar stereotype allow for a situation where African commanders outmaneuvered imperial invaders and deployed modern weaponry against them. To put such a reversal of expectations in a US context, we would have to imagine an alternate world where Native forces both triumphed at Little Bighorn and then went on to secure the independence of the whole Black Hills region for a generation.

That context explains the very long shadow cast by Adwa, on Europeans and Africans alike. Italy recalled the battle as an epic humiliation, a horror made all the worse by propaganda tales of the atrocities inflicted on their prisoners of war….

Read it all.

Posted in Africa, Church History, Ethiopia, Italy, Military / Armed Forces

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Søren Kierkegaard

Heavenly Father, whose beloved Son Jesus Christ felt sorrow and dread in the Garden of Gethsemane: Help us to remember that though we walk through the valley of the shadow, thou art always with us, that with thy philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, we may believe what we have not seen and trust where we cannot test, and so come at length to the eternal joy which thou hast prepared for those who love thee; through the same Jesus Christ our Savior, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Denmark, Philosophy, Spirituality/Prayer

A Short description of Jan Hus from the Virtual Museum of Protestantism

He protested against the ecclesiastical system, he preached in favour of reform in the Church and advocated a return to the poverty recommended by the Scriptures. Indeed, the Scriptures were the only rule and every man had the right to study them. In Questio de indulgentis (1412) he denounced the indulgences.

He admired Wyclif’s writings and defended him when he was condemned as a heretic. He was excommunicated. An interdict was pronounced over Prague and he had to leave it and go to southern Bohemia, where he preached and wrote theological treatises, notably the Tractatus de ecclesia (1413), known as «The Church».

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Czech Republic

(EF) Membership of German free evangelical denominations remains stable while Protestant and Catholic churches suffer huge losses

The latest statistics on members of free evangelical churches in Germany show that independent evangelical groups are stable. This contrasts with the heavy losses of the Protestant and Roman Catholic churches.

The Union of Baptist Free Evangelical Churches (BEFG) of Germany reported 80,195 members at the end of the year 2019, 961 less than the year before.

This loss of 1% in its membership is attributed to the fall of baptisms (1,610, almost half than in 2017). Another reason for this slight fall of membership, the Baptist annual report says, has to do with the fact that members who move from one church to another, do not often ask for membership in the new congregation.

Meanwhile, the Union of Pentecostal Free Churches (BFP), reported 62,872 members in 2019, a growth of over 10% if compared to the year 2017.

Read it all.

Posted in Germany, Religion & Culture

(DW) Religion is still relevant in Germany even as churches lose members

Germany’s two major Christian churches both recorded a large drop in membership last year. This is a trend that has persisted for a long time, though in 2019, for a change, more Catholics left the church than Protestants. Overall,more than 540,000 Christians turned their back on organized religion. Not since the early 1990s have membership numbers fallen so drastically.

Just over half of all people living in Germany — 43.3 million people, to be exact — are still members of either the Protestant or Catholic church. But that’s a decline of about 5 million compared to 10 years ago. Church membership is also falling because the number of church members dying far surpasses the number of baptisms.

Read it all.

Posted in Germany, Religion & Culture

A Prayer to Begin the Day from A Swedish Liturgy

O Lord God, heavenly Father, Who didst give up Thine only-begotten Son into grief and sorrow, that we might have peace through Him: grant us so surely to found our faith upon Him alone that we may have peace in our souls. Quicken us with Thy Word; grant already here on earth the peace which is a foretaste of the rest that remaineth for Thy people. And while the cares and tumults of this life beset us round about, guide us in all our undertakings by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may abide in Thy peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer, Sweden

(AP) On sad anniversary, few to mourn the D-Day dead in Normandy

At least the dead will always be there.

All too many have been, for 76 years since that fateful June 6 on France’s Normandy beaches, when allied troops in 1944 turned the course of World War II and went on to defeat fascism in Europe in one of the most remarkable feats in military history.

Forgotten they will never be. Revered, yes. But Saturday’s anniversary will be one of the loneliest remembrances ever, as the coronavirus pandemic is keeping almost everyone away — from government leaders to frail veterans who might not get another chance for a final farewell to their unlucky comrades.

Rain and wind are also forecast, after weeks of warm, sunny weather.

“I miss the others,” said Charles Shay, who as a U.S. Army medic was in the first wave of soldiers to wade ashore at Omaha Beach under relentless fire on D-Day.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, France, History, Military / Armed Forces

(NYT) Visiting My Grandparents, Separated by Plexiglass

The coronavirus has killed about 14,000 residents of nursing homes in France — half the country’s death toll. We are lucky that, so far, none of those deaths occurred at my grandparents’ home, where the caregivers have been vigilant about social distancing.

As France began easing its lockdown last week, we were finally able to visit, or rather sit outside the home, as my grandparents sat inside, a few feet away. To allow us to hear each other, the staff opened the door, but placed a table with a plexiglass partition in the doorway.

We could see my grandparents only one at a time, since they are in different parts of the home that can no longer mix socially. My grandfather, a former stone mason, misses many things that we cannot yet deliver, like shorts, because of the home’s strict rules. But it is my grandmother’s company that he misses most.

Read it all.

Posted in France, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family

([London] Times) Hope rises that worst may be over: Britain, Europe and US show signs of recovery

Tentative signs that the worst of the economic damage has been done by the coronavirus pandemic emerged yesterday in closely-watched readings from Britain, the eurozone and the United States.

Private-sector output in all three continued to fall this month but bounced back more than expected from record lows in April, three reports showed. A further report showed that new claims for unemployment benefits in the US fell for the seventh consecutive week, although they remained at an extreme level.

Economists said that although the readings had improved, they continued to highlight the severe damage being wrought by the pandemic, from which recovery would be slow, especially in Britain. IHS Markit’s “flash” composite purchasing managers’ index, which measures changes in output, new orders and employment in the services and manufacturing sectors, climbed to 28.9 in Britain this month, from 13.8 in April. The same index for the eurozone rose to 30.5 from 13.6, and in the US it increased to 36.4 from 27.4.

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, England / UK, Europe, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General

Sunday Sunday Mental Health Break–An Ode an die Freude (Ode to Joy ) Beethoven Symphony No.9 classical music Flashmob from Barcelona, Spain

Posted in Music, Spain

(Moscow Times) Russia is now the fifth most-affected country in terms of Covid19 infections, surpassing Germany and France on Thursday

  1. Russia confirmed 10,699 new coronavirus infections Friday, bringing the country’s official number of cases to 187,859. Russia is now the fifth most-affected country in terms of infections, surpassing Germany and France on Thursday.
  2. Moscow’s coronavirus lockdown has been extended until May 31, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said. Starting May 12, Moscow residents will be required to wear face masks and gloves in all public places and transport, Sobyanin said.
  3. Hundreds of thousands of Moscow’s rapid antibody tests labeled as Dutch-made are unreliable at detecting the coronavirus in its early stages, meaning patients who receive false negatives could potentially infect others, a new investigation has said.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Russia

(NYT) A ‘Breakdown of Trust’: Pandemic Corrodes Church-State Ties in Russia

A physics student at Moscow State University, Dmitri Pelipenko turned away from science in 2018 to devote himself to God, enrolling as a novice monk at Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra, the spiritual center of the Russian Orthodox Church.

His spiritual journey, derailed by the coronavirus, came to an abrupt and gruesome end shortly after the Orthodox Easter.

Admitted to the hospital after testing positive for the illness, Mr. Pelipenko smashed a window on April 24, jumped outside, doused his body with fuel from a church lamp and set himself on fire. He died from his burns two days later.

His monastery swiftly blamed the suicide on “mental illness.” Others, however, asked whether the monk’s clearly fragile mental state had been broken by the apocalyptic mood gripping wide swaths of the Russian church, some of whose leaders have challenged the state’s stay-at-home orders as the work of the devil.

Read it all.

Posted in Orthodox Church, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Russia

(DW) Germans go back to worship–but no singing allowed

Many German churches reopened on Sunday morning after most remained closed for more than a month in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Worshippers will have to wear masks, respect social distancing, and no singing will be allowed amid fears that it spreads the virus more easily.

Cologne Cathedral, Europe’s largest church and Germany’s most visited landmark, has planned a special ceremony for friends of the church. Workers, choir members, lay readers and altar boys were invited to a ceremony of only 122 people in the enormous medieval cathedral which normally received 20,000 visitors a day.

Read it all..

Posted in Germany, Health & Medicine, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

More Music for Easter–Andrea Bocelli: Amazing Grace – Music For Hope (Live From Duomo di Milano)

Posted in Easter, Italy, Music

(WSJ) Europe Slowly Emerges From Coronavirus Lockdown

Europe’s atomized efforts are a test of how the U.S. will fare as states such as New York and California attempt to follow. President Trump’s administration has encouraged states to reopen in phases after cases begin to fall. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the governors of six nearby states have convened a task force to look at how they will reopen their economies.

Experiences in Europe suggest the reopenings will come in fits and starts, in a strange, postlockdown reality where commercial districts are at best half-open, closed to tour groups and crowds, and bracketed with temperature control checks.

“It’s a hard mental shift,” said Weston Stacey, the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic. “With U.S. government officials we’ve talked to, it’s very hard to get them around this thinking of, ‘OK, if we do this, in three weeks, everything will go back to normal.’ Things are not going back to normal.”

Lockdown restrictions helped reduce coronavirus cases and many Italian intensive-care units now have free beds. But the toll on shops, restaurants, bars and entertainment businesses has been extraordinary.

At least a sixth of all Italian restaurant and bars—some 50,000 mostly small businesses—will perish, the country’s bar and diner lobby Fipe projects. Movie theaters have seen almost no revenue in weeks, and anticipate prohibitive crowd restrictions when they reopen: Germany’s top 10 grossing films combined reported just $1,485 in total ticket sales over Easter weekend.

Read it all.

Posted in Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

(Sky News) Coronavirus: Italy’s hardest-hit city wants you to see how COVID-19 is affecting its hospitals

And for the record, it is NOT like flu, it is more often than not chronic pneumonia and it is killing hundreds here each day.

The head of emergency care, Dr Roberto Cosentini, says they have never seen anything like it, and he and his staff are warning other countries, especially the UK, that they will see it soon.

“It’s a very severe pneumonia, and so it’s a massive strain for every health system, because we see every day 50 to 60 patients who come to our emergency department with pneumonia, and most of them are so severe they need very high volumes of oxygen.

“And so we had to reorganise our emergency room and our hospital [to] three levels of intensive care.”

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Italy

(Reuters) ‘There are no funerals:’ Death in quarantine leaves nowhere to grieve

Struck down by coronavirus at the age of 83, the long life of Alfredo Visioli ended with a short ceremony at a graveyard near Cremona, his hometown in northern Italy.

“They buried him like that, without a funeral, without his loved ones, with just a blessing from the priest,” said his granddaughter Marta Manfredi who couldn’t attend. Like most of the old man’s family – like most of Italy – she was confined to her home.

“When all this is over,” she vows, “we will give him a real funeral.”

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Health & Medicine, Italy, Religion & Culture

(FT) Aggressive testing helps Italian town cut new coronavirus cases to zero

An infection control experiment that was rolled out in a small Italian community at the start of Europe’s coronavirus crisis has stopped all new infections in the town that was at the centre of the country’s outbreak.

Through testing and retesting of all 3,300 inhabitants of the town of Vò, near Venice, regardless of whether they were exhibiting symptoms, and rigorous quarantining of their contacts once infection was confirmed, health authorities have been able to completely stop the spread of the illness there.

Andrea Crisanti, an infections expert at Imperial College London who is taking part in the Vò project while on sabbatical at the University of Padua, urged countries that have been limiting virus testing, which includes the UK and US, to learn lessons and ramp up the numbers of people being screened.

“In the UK, there are a whole lot of infections that are completely ignored,” Prof Crisanti told the Financial Times. “We were able to contain the outbreak here because we identified and eliminated the ‘submerged’ infections and isolated them,” he said of the Vò approach. “That is what makes the difference.”

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Italy

(WSJ) Lessons from Italy’s Hospital Meltdown. ‘Every Day You Lose, the Contagion Gets Worse.’

The hospital had planned to send severe cases to Bergamo. “But we got indications that, if patients are over 65 or 70, they won’t get intubated,” said Davide Grataroli, one of the hospital doctors. “So, we’ve chosen to manage them here as best we can.”

That has been the situation for nearly three weeks. The patients know that the lack of intensive-care facilities dooms those not strong enough to survive the disease with limited help. “They accept it with resignation and no complaints,” said Ms. Busi, the nurse.

“The most devastating part is that they are dying alone,” she said. “Families see the patient for the last time at the emergency room. The next time is at the mortuary.”

Such a lonely death is hard to take, the nurse said: “It’s not our culture. We’re very connected here.”

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Italy

A very good interview that gives you an idea of the situation on the Coronavirus inside Italy, from a doctor helping to coordinate the response

Watch the whole thing–it is very much worth your time.

Posted in Globalization, Health & Medicine, Italy

(1st Things) Wesley Smith–Death On Demand Comes To Germany

…even I never expected full-bore death on demand to arrive in the West for another decade. I was too optimistic. A recent ruling from Germany’s highest court has cast right-to-die incrementalism aside and conjured a fundamental right both to commit suicide and to receive assistance in doing it. Moreover, the decision has explicitly rejected limiting the right to people diagnosed with illnesses or disabilities. As a matter of protecting “the right of personality,” the court decreed that “self-determined death” is a virtually unlimited fundamental liberty that the government must guarantee to protect “autonomy.” In other words, the German people now have the right to kill themselves at any time and for any reason. From the decision (published English version, my emphasis):

The right to a self-determined death is not limited to situations defined by external causes like serious or incurable illnesses, nor does it only apply in certain stages of life or illness. Rather, this right is guaranteed in all stages of a person’s existence. . . . The individual’s decision to end their own life, based on how they personally define quality of life and a meaningful existence, eludes any evaluation on the basis of general values, religious dogmas, societal norms for dealing with life and death, or consideration of objective rationality. It is thus not incumbent upon the individual to further explain or justify their decision; rather their decision must, in principle, be respected by state and society as an act of self-determination.

The court wasn’t done. The right to suicide also includes a right to assist suicide:

The right to take one’s own life also encompasses the freedom to seek and, if offered, utilize assistance provided by third parties for this purpose. . . . Therefore, the constitutional guarantee of the right to suicide corresponds to equally far-reaching constitutional protection extended to the acts carried out by persons rendering suicide assistance.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Germany, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(AJ) ‘Each day carries the fear of succumbing to the virus’: Anglicans in Italy experience coronavirus lockdown limbo

The Anglican church in Venice, like the other churches in the city, was not able to hold services on Ash Wednesday by order of the regional authorities, nor on the first Sunday of Lent. Nevertheless, the doors of the church were open during the times set for services so that people could use the building for private prayer. Bishop David Hamid, the lead bishop for Venice, has been in regular contact with the diocese and advice has come from it on how to administer Holy Communion, with no shaking of hands for the “peace.” Fortunately, as yet no information has emerged of a member of the church having contracted the virus, nor of anyone within the wider Anglophone community living in Venice, nor on the neighbouring mainland. At present we are in a “state of limbo” not knowing when we might be able to return to a more normal routine or what might be possible in the future. Each day carries the fear of succumbing to the virus. We are grateful for the emails of support and the offer of prayer that we have received.

What seems somewhat paradoxical is that the two churches which form part of the great panoramic view of Venice—Santa Maria della Salute, and Il Redentore—were built as acts of thanksgiving for the ending of successive plagues. On particular days each year for 400 years, and even today, Masses of thanksgiving are celebrated in these churches and popular traditions associated with those historical events observed. However, when a contemporary “plague” hits the city, a ban is issued preventing them from offering public worship. Hopefully, however, the day will quickly come when, within these same churches, a public thanksgiving will be offered for the speedy demise of the coronavirus and all who helped to combat it.

On March 2, Sims sent the following update:

The restrictive measures are in place through Sunday 8th March, with some slight variations from region to region. Religious services can be held provided people do not group together and a distance of at least a metre is kept between persons. This is a difficult criterion to meet. We have suspended all midweek activities and worship as have the Catholic and Protestant churches. We are evaluating if the criteria can be met on Sunday.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Latest News, Health & Medicine, Italy, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(WSJ) Alessandra Bocchi–Italian Churches Go Into Quarantine

Pope Francis appears not to have prioritized the virus. On Feb. 23, as news of the coronavirus in Italy began receiving major coverage, the pope held a “peace summit” in Bari, where he criticized the “populist” leaders gaining power throughout Europe. Whatever one’s opinion of insurgent politicians, the comments offered nothing to address the fears of panicking Italians, who were donning face masks and emptying supermarkets. By Wednesday, the pope prayed for the disease’s victims and the medical personnel treating them, and Ash Wednesday celebrations were suspended or restricted in Italy.

Compare the pope’s response to how Cardinal Federigo Borromeo of Milan handled the black plague when it struck his archdiocese in 1630. “Be prepared to abandon this mortal life,” he said in Alessandro Manzoni’s classic “The Betrothed” (1827). “Go towards the plague with love, like a prize, as if towards another life, if a soul can be saved for Jesus Christ.” (Although the cardinal’s words are from a work of historical fiction, they reflect the reality of the time.) He invited priests to continue to provide all the sacraments even at great risk. Many clergymen answered the call, remaining in their churches and celebrating the Holy Mass amid one of the most terrifying plagues in history. Many died as martyrs serving believers who found solace in the church.

No one is urging the clergy to commit suicide-by-coronavirus. But “during the most serious time of this outbreak the pope decided to comment on the dangers of populism,” the Italian Catholic conservative writer Francesco Giubilei told me. “People of faith around the world today need spiritual direction and guidance on how to confront this crisis.”

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Italy, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Dietrich Bonhoeffer for Ash Wednesday

“Confess your faults one to another” (Jas. 5:16). He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone. It may be that Christians, notwithstanding corporate worship, common prayer, and all their fellowship in service, may still be left to their loneliness. The final break-through to fellowship does not occur, because, though they have fellowship with one another as believers and devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners. This pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and the fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. so we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we are sinners!

But it is the grace of the Gospel, which is so hard for the pious to understand, that it confronts us with the truth and says: You are a sinner, a great, desperate sinner; now come as the sinner that you are, to God who loves you. He wants you as you are; He does not want anything from you, a sacrifice, a work; He wants you alone. “My son, give me thine heart” (Prov. 23:26). God has come to you to save the sinner. Be glad! This message is liberation through truth. You can hide nothing from God. The mask you wear before men will do you no good before Him. He wants to see you as you are, He wants to be gracious to you. You do not have to on lying to yourself and your brothers, as if you were without sin; you can dare to be a sinner. Thank God for that; He loves the sinner but He hates sin.

–Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

Posted in Church History, Germany, Theology

(CEN) Confusion grows over fresh divisions in Ukraine Orthodoxy

Orthodox Christians in Ukraine – and in Orthodoxy worldwide – are in confusion following Metropolitan Filaret (pictured on the left) of Kiev’s break from the new Ukraine Orthodox Church, established just a year ago by Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.

The Patriarch’s decision ended three centuries of Russian Orthodox canonical authority over all Ukraine Orthodox.

Ninety-year-old Filaret, the Soviet-era Russian Orthodox Church leader in Ukraine who formed the breakaway nationalist ‘Kiev Patriarchate’ when the USSR dissolved, was Patriarch Emeritus and joint leader of the new church, which comprised his patriarchate and an earlier breakaway, the small Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.

Led by Metropolitan Epiphany, the new church claims to control some 7,000 parishes, 77 monasteries and 47 dioceses, with some 500 parishes having switched allegiance from the continuing Russiaaligned Ukrainian Orthodox Church [Moscow Patriarchate] – voluntarily or under nationalist pressure.

Declaring the new church “too much under the control” of the Ecumenical Patriarch, and that in practice his own role counted for little in its decisionmaking rather than being ‘side by side’ with Metropolitan Epiphany, Filaret has proclaimed the re-establishment of his former Kiev Patriarchate. He is busily rebuilding its support following an extraordinary ‘restoration assembly’ of his followers in Kiev’s historic St Volodymyr’s Cathedral last June, defying both Epiphany and the Ecumenical Patriarch.

Read it all.

Posted in Orthodox Church, Ukraine

(EF) Pablo Martinez–“Turning the truth into a matter of personal opinions, inexorably leads to loss of hope”

Question. We went from ‘I think therefore I am’, to ‘I feel therefore I am’, and then to post-truth. What is the reference that will be an anchor to human beings in this new decade?

Answer. The two great anchors of human beings are truth and hope. Both come together, they are inseparable and make the backbone of human existence. These two do not vary with time, we need them today just like twenty centuries ago. What changes is the relationship, the attitude of Man towards these two anchors. That’s where the origin of the current deep crisis of values lies. The replacement of ‘the Truth’ by ‘my truth’ has broken one of the anchors, dragging the other one, hope, with its breakup. In his best known work From Dawn To Decay, the renowned French historian Jacques Barzun, already warned that ‘the postmodern assault on the idea of truth could lead us to the destruction of 500 years of civilisation’.

The root of the conflict is not cultural or ideological, it is a moral one. Ultimately, it is not a matter of a new philosophy, but a matter of who has the authority in my life and in the world. Does anyone rule up there or can I rule?

A strong earthquake has shaken the foundations of Western civilisation, because in the last 30 years the foundation and nature of the truth have amazingly changed. The change is summed up in one sentence: ‘Truth is dead, long live to my truth!’

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Philosophy, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Theology

(EF) Spanish parliament starts the final process to decriminalise euthanasia

The first official debate to finally pass the draft law to decriminalise euthanasia, proposed by the social democrat party PSOE, took place this week in the Spanish Parliament.

It has the support of the majority of the parties. The draft law, inspired by the Dutch and Belgian model, proposes that those who suffer a serious and incurable or disabling illness, with unbearable suffering could ask for euthanasia.

First, the patient and a doctor will have to agree, afterwards a second medical opinion is needed, then the patient will have to confirm his decision two weeks later, and 15 days later it can be made. The process will not last more than a month.

Furthermore, the law foresees the creation of a Commission for Control and Evaluation in each region, in addition to a registry of health professionals who decide to be conscientious objectors. Doctors who allege this cause must do so in writing.

The draft law must now go through the Health Commission, go back again to the Parliament and, finally, to the Senate. A process that could be resolved before summer.

Read it all.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Spain, Theology

(NYT Op-ed) Ross Douthat–The Age of Decadence

The farther you get from that iPhone glow, the clearer it becomes: Our civilization has entered into decadence.

The word “decadence” is used promiscuously but rarely precisely. In political debates, it’s associated with a lack of resolution in the face of threats — with Neville Chamberlain and W.B. Yeats’s line about the best lacking all conviction. In the popular imagination, it’s associated with sex and gluttony, with pornographic romances and chocolate strawberries. Aesthetically and intellectually it hints at exhaustion, finality — “the feeling, at once oppressive and exalting, of being the last in a series,” in the words of the Russian poet Vyacheslav Ivanov.

But it’s possible to distill a useful definition from all these associations. Following in the footsteps of the great cultural critic Jacques Barzun, we can say that decadence refers to economic stagnation, institutional decay and cultural and intellectual exhaustion at a high level of material prosperity and technological development. Under decadence, Barzun wrote, “The forms of art as of life seem exhausted, the stages of development have been run through. Institutions function painfully. Repetition and frustration are the intolerable result.” He added, “When people accept futility and the absurd as normal, the culture is decadent.” And crucially, the stagnation is often a consequence of previous development: The decadent society is, by definition, a victim of its own success.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Canada, Economy, England / UK, Europe, History, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Today in History

Posted in Germany, History