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US bishops to discuss Communion rules that may rebuke Biden for abortion views
14 June 2021, 2:19 PM

United States Roman Catholic bishops are due this week to discuss whether politicians, including President Joe Biden, should receive Communion while supporting abortion and LGBTQ rights, a debate that has divided the clergy and laid bare internal cultural rifts.

As the second Catholic to serve as US president, Biden – a Democrat – has alarmed some church leaders by supporting same-sex marriage and abortion rights, views they say go against church teachings.

Discussion on contraception and safe abortion in SA:

At their virtual annual meeting from Wednesday to Friday, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops will decide whether to ask the Committee on Doctrine to draft a teaching document on the topic of Communion, a sacrament central to the Roman Catholic faith.

If the conference decides to commission that document, it could be a strong symbolic rebuke of those who espouse views that are contrary to church teachings, including Biden and other Catholics who support same-sex marriage and abortion rights.

The bishops would then review an amendable draft of the document at their fall meeting.

A White House spokesperson declined to comment.

In 2004, the conference published a statement that said individual bishops could decide whether to deny Communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion rights.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a woman’s willful termination of her pregnancy is “gravely contrary to the moral law” and that marital love should be shared between men and women, not people of the same sex.

Biden, a former vice president and US senator, has become a staunch advocate for LGBTQ rights in the past decade. Since taking office in January, he has also rolled back federal restrictions on abortion pills to make them more accessible, and proposed axing a long-standing ban on federal funding for abortion in his 2022 budget.

Although Biden proudly discusses his faith and attends weekly Mass, his views and actions on some issues have become “a matter of scandal” for the Catholic Church, said Bill Dempsey, chairman of Sycamore Trust, an alumni group from the University of Notre Dame that seeks to preserve the school’s Catholic traditions.

Sycamore Trust wrote to the university’s president in February urging him not to invite Biden to speak at the university’s commencement, despite the school’s tradition of inviting presidents, because of Biden’s abortion and same-sex marriage views. Biden declined the school’s invitation due to a scheduling conflict, the Catholic News Agency reported.

Dempsey said he believes the bishops’ conference should take a stand against Biden and other politicians who support abortion rights or risk losing credibility among Catholics.

A Pew Research poll, however, conducted in March, showed 67% of US Catholics believe Biden’s views should not disqualify him from Communion.

Divisions coming to a head 

Bishops are divided over whether the church should call out what some Catholics see as a contradiction in Biden’s faith and his actions. The new bishop of Biden’s home diocese in Delaware told reporters in April that he was open to a conversation with the president, but did not weigh in on whether Biden should receive Communion.

A Vatican official, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, wrote to the conference in May urging caution on the debate over politicians’ abortion views and Communion, saying it could become a “source of discord,” Catholic News Service reported.

Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of Dignity USA, a group that supports LGBTQ Catholics, wrote in an essay published by Religious News Service last week that the bishops were behaving “in a brazenly partisan manner” by voting on the issue and possibly denying Communion to Biden and others.

“Withholding Communion from any Catholic to punish them for their identity, actions or beliefs is coercion,” she wrote. “It violates the duty of care that is the central ministry of the ordained.”

2019 discussion on issues affecting the LGBTI community:

But Archbishop Salvatore Joseph Cordileone of San Francisco has advocated for harsher action, arguing in a May letter that Catholics who do not “espouse publicly the faith and moral teachings of the Catholic church” – including politicians like Biden – should not receive Communion.

US Catholic Church membership has dropped nearly 20% in the past two decades, according to a Gallup poll published in March, as the church has been rocked by sexual abuse scandals involving predatory priests and increasing division on social issues.

According to a Pew Research poll from 2019, about 56% of Catholics said they thought abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and about 61% said they favored allowing gay marriage.

Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego published an essay days after Cordileone’s letter, warning that withholding Communion from Biden would sow further partisan division among Catholics. Exit polls from the 2020 presidential election showed the Catholic vote nearly split between Biden and Republican former President Donald Trump.

“The Eucharist is being weaponised and deployed as a tool in political warfare,” McElroy wrote.

Lions vs Stormers match cancelled
11 June 2021, 11:06 AM

Saturday’s PRO14 Rainbow Cup SA match between the Lions and the Stormers, at the Cape Town Stadium, has been cancelled in line with COVID-19 protocols.

The move comes after some members of the Lions squad tested positive for the virus.

The decision was taken as part of prescribed precautions advised by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) to limit the risk of further infection in the rugby community.

As determined by the competition rules, the Stormers will be awarded four log points because of the cancellation.

The developments come as South Africa grapples with a surge in COVID-19 infections.

On Thursday, the NICD confirmed that the country has technically entered the third wave of the pandemic.

Almost 5 000 of those treated in high care and ICU wards are in private hospitals.

NICD monitoring increase in COVID-19 cases:

 

The country recorded 100 new COVID-19 related fatalities on Thursday, which brings the total number of deaths to 57 410.

The latest statistics are below:

UAE not cooperating with SA government to extradite Guptas: Lamola
11 June 2021, 9:23 AM

Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola says the United Arab Emirates is not co-operating with South Africa, in accordance to the extradition treaty ratified by the two countries.

Lamola briefed the media on Friday morning after the National Prosecuting Authority’s Investigating Directorate asked Interpol for assistance to get the Guptas deported to South Africa to face charges of corruption, fraud and money laundering.

The agreement between South Africa and the UAE on extradition and legal assistance in criminal matters was signed in 2018.

Lamola says South Africa will continue to pursue this matter until justice is served.

“Irrespective of the fact that both South Africa and the UAE ratified this convention, regrettably we have to date not experienced a level of appreciation and cooperation which is required in terms of the convention in the fight against corruption from the UAE. However, we will continue to pursue our counterparts through diplomatic channels in order to reach the desired levels of cooperation to enable our law enforcement agencies to bring to justice persons of interest of any investigations they are pursuing.”

In the video below, Minister Ronald Lamola updates the media on the extradition treaties between SA and UAE

 

Yemen Children
350 000 people face food ‘catastrophe’ in Ethiopia’s Tigray region
11 June 2021, 9:11 AM

More than 350 000 people in Ethiopia’s Tigray are suffering famine conditions, with millions more at risk, according to an analysis by United Nations agencies and aid groups that blamed conflict for the worst catastrophic food crisis in a decade.

“There is famine now in Tigray,” UN aid chief Mark Lowcock said on Thursday after the release of the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis, which the IPC noted has not been endorsed by the Ethiopian government.

“The number of people in famine conditions … is higher than anywhere in the world, at any moment since a quarter million Somalis lost their lives in 2011,” Lowcock said.

Most of the 5.5 million people in Tigray need food aid. Fighting broke out in the region in November between government troops and the region’s former ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Troops from neighboring Eritrea also entered the conflict to support the Ethiopian government.

The violence has killed thousands of civilians and forced more than 2 million from their homes in the mountainous region.

The most extreme warning by the IPC – a scale used by UN agencies, regional bodies and aid groups to determine food insecurity – is Phase 5, which starts with a catastrophe warning and rises to a declaration of famine in a region.

The IPC said more than 350 000 people in Tigray are in Phase 5 catastrophe. That means households are experiencing famine conditions, but less than 20% of the population is affected and deaths and malnutrition have not reached famine thresholds.

“This severe crisis results from the cascading effects of conflict, including population displacements, movement restrictions, limited humanitarian access, loss of harvest and livelihood assets, and dysfunctional or non-existent markets,” the IPC analysis found.

The Ethiopian government disputed the IPC analysis, saying food shortages are not severe and aid is being delivered.

Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman Dina Mufti told a news conference on Thursday that the government was providing food aid and help to farmers in Tigray.

“They (diplomats) are comparing it with the 1984, 1985 famine in Ethiopia,” he said. “That is not going to happen.”

The United States and the European Union, in a joint statement, called for an immediate ceasefire, the withdrawal of Eritrean troops, and humanitarian access to Tigray. It warned that the crisis threatened to destabilize the broader Horn of Africa region.

‘HAVE TO ACT NOW’

For famine to be declared, at least 20% of the population must be suffering extreme food shortages, with one in three children acutely malnourished and two people out of every 10 000 dying daily from starvation or from malnutrition and disease.

Famine has been declared twice in the past decade: in Somalia in 2011 and in parts of South Sudan in 2017.

“If the conflict further escalates or, for any other reason, humanitarian assistance is hampered, most areas of Tigray will be at risk of famine,” according to the IPC, which added that even if aid deliveries are stepped up, the situation is expected to worsen through September.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said a humanitarian nightmare was unfolding.

“This is not the kind of disaster that can be reversed,” she told a US and EU event on Tigray on Thursday. Referring to a previous famine in Ethiopia that killed more than 1 million people, she said: “We cannot make the same mistake twice. We cannot let Ethiopia starve. We have to act now.”

World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley said that to stop hunger from killing millions of people in Tigray, there needed to be a ceasefire, unimpeded aid access and more money to expand aid operations.

According to notes of a meeting of U.N. agencies on Monday, seen by Reuters, the IPC analysis could be worse as “they did not include those in Amhara-controlled areas” in western Tigray.

Mitiku Kassa, head of Ethiopia’s National Disaster Risk Management Commission, said on Wednesday: “We don’t have any food shortage.”

 

Mantashe refutes allegations of denying private energy producers to make electricity
11 June 2021, 8:16 AM

Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe has strongly denied dragging his feet on allowing private producers to generate more energy and by so doing, take the pressure off Eskom.

The power utility is expect to continue with Stage 3 load shedding for the rest of the week.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a partial liberalisation of the energy sector on Thursday, lifting the government’s limit on self-generation of power from 1 megawatt to 100 megawatts.

Mantashe has been accused of trying to protect Eskom’s virtual monopoly on power generation, at the expense of the South African economy.

Mantashe says the achievement of energy security is one of the key economic interventions in the recovery and reconstruction plan but concedes that it’s long overdue.

“I’m interested in Eskom recovering, developing its capacity and doing well. Now when you run entities you must have rules and there will be chaos if you break these rules. That is why we took long engagement(s).”

“When the President was twisting my arm l had to concede because you are a Minister, people who have ideas must put their ideas before you and your team reaches a particular determination,” says Mantashe.

Mantashe was speaking on the SABC’s The Watchdog programme hosted by Vuyo Mvoko:

 

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