This page contains news for
the period Monday, September 13, 1999 through Sunday, September 19, 1999.
<< September 1999 >>
Sunday, September 19, 1999
Church of England report addresses divorce
According to a story published today in the London Times, the
Church of England will publish a document on September 20 attempting to clarify its
position on marriage.
Marriage, in the timeless words of the Book of Common Prayer,
is "for better or worse, till death us do part". The problem for church leaders
is that with every passing year, fewer people seem to believe that to be true.
In 1998 there were only 279,000 weddings in England, less
than ever before. And of those only 75,000 got married in church. In the same year 165,000
couples decided to divorce.
If the present trend continues, four married couples out of
10 are likely to part long before death can intervene.
The new booklet on marriage is intended to form a basis for
teaching in parishes. Advance publicity says the booklet is an attempt "to reaffirm
the Church of England's teaching on marriage by restating that lifelong marriage should be
one of the bedrocks of a rapidly changing society".
However, many people whose marriages end in divorce marry
again. And many of them want their second marriage to take place in a church, with holy
But not many are able to do so because relatively few clergy
will agree to marry divorced people. If marriage really is lifelong, they argue, there can
be no remarriage.
This traditionalist line is the Church's official position.
The new booklet speaks gently on the topic of remarriage in church by simply restating the
current discouragement of it.
"Should the church as a whole decide upon an
alternative, it will be on exactly the same principles that have guided it up to this
point - that marriage is an unconditional commitment for life. "A further marriage
after a divorce is an exceptional act, not a routine one."
A more liberal report was given to church officials almost a
year ago but it has not been debated. That report is believed to say that remarriage in
church should be allowed, so long as the new partner did not cause the break-up of the
first marriage. Church officials say that report is unlikely to be published "this
side of Christmas".
At the moment, therefore, it looks as if church
traditionalists will continue to call the shots. But there are a few small signs of
One leading liberal is the bishop of Edinburgh. He is the
head of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Church of England's equivalent north of the
border. In his book "Godless Morality", published earlier this year, the bishop
wrote: "Sexual love and its discipline of faithfulness, while the relationship
endures, is a contemporary version of the traditional ethic of marriage".
"Traditional supporters of marriage may see this ethic
as a severely attenuated version of the old one.
"But it does bear witness to the continuity of the moral
principle that informed the sexual aspect of marriage."
Richard Holloway is not by any means a typical Anglican
bishop. But his understanding of morality speaks for many Anglicans in the pews.
Friday, September 17, 1999
to Enact Partner Measure
A story published today in the Melbourne Star
Observer reports that the parties of Belgium's Federal Coalition Government have agreed on
provisions of a Statutory Cohabitation Contract that is expected to take effect 1 January
The mostly symbolic domestic-partnership law will allow any two
unmarried adults to sign an agreement and record their relationship in the city's Register
of Population. The couple then will be jointly responsible for expenses and debts and will
jointly own property acquired during the relationship.
The contract will not extend to areas such as income tax, adoption,
medically assisted procreation, social security, pensions, inheritance or immigration.
Irish births outside marriage hit
A story by Reuters wire service published today in
the Irish Times reports that the number of births outside marriage in Ireland hit 4,275 in
January-March this year, its highest level since detailed records began in 1976. The data
was provided by the nation's Central Statistics Office.
Of 13,388 births registered in the first quarter of 1999, 32 percent
were to unmarried parents, CSO figures showed.
The number has risen sharply since 1976, when there were 640 births
outside of marriage in the first quarter out of 17,000 live births. It has more than
doubled in the past decade, from 1,670 in January-March 1989.
The total number of births in the Republic of Ireland has fallen
from around 70,000 in 1976, representing a rate of 21 births per 1,000 people, to around
52,000 or 14 per 1,000 last year, the CSO said.
Wednesday, September 15, 1999
Church won't apologize to abused Quebec orphans
According to a Reuters wire story published today by CNN, the
Catholic Church In Quebec refused to give an apology or compensation to the aging orphans
who claim to have suffered years of abuse decades ago while under the care of the church.
In a period from the 1930s to the 1950s, the church declared the
children mentally ill as a way to get additional funding from the Canadian government,
which paid more for the care of mentally handicapped children than for orphans. Many of
the children were born to unmarried parents who abandoned them on the steps of Church-run
orphanages out of fear of being ostracized by the highly religious society of Quebec of
The orphans, numbering more than 3,000, have said many of them were
abused, sodomized and forced to provide sexual favours as children.
Pierre Morissette, president of the Quebec Assembly of Archbishops,
said the matter was delicate because of legal considerations. But he acknowledged that
some orphans went through "difficult situations." He said that a full apology
would not be forthcoming.
"Such excuses would betray the works of those who dedicated all
their lives to the service of the most destitute," Morissette said at a news
The orphans were outraged by the announcement. "This is total
hypocrisy. This is a campaign of disinformation. It is horrible and contemptuous,"
said Bruno Roy, spokesman for the orphans.
Judges in Ontario, Canada
get domestic partner benefits
According to a story published today in the Toronto Sun, provincial
court judges in Ontario will now receive benefits for their unmarried partners just as
such benefits are given to spouses of judges. The plan was approved Aug. 18 by Management
Board chairman Chris Hodgson.
The new benefit and salary schedules for Ontario's 260 provincial
court judges, which boost their pay to $170,000 a year from about $130,000, guarantee
spousal benefit coverage for judges who live with an unmarried partner.
"In this part, spouse means: Either of two persons of the
opposite sex, or the same sex, who live in a conjugal relationship outside marriage,"
states the cabinet order, bearing Hodgson's signature.
Tuesday, September 14, 1999
Debate Over Equal Rights for Single Fathers
According to a wire story by
Reuters News Service published on September 14, 1999 by Fox News, Swedes came out in
droves in support of single fathers the day after a child expert said young children were
better off living with their mothers.
The statement came from chief physician Torgny Gustavsson who is the
government-appointed child expert on a committee investigating whether unmarried parents
should automatically have joint custody of children, just like married parents.
Under current law, single mothers in Sweden automatically receive
full custody of the child and it is only with the woman's permission or a court
order that the father can also take on some of the care.
Gustavsson's view that children under the age of five should live
with their mothers has caused uproar in Sweden where more than half of all children are
born to unmarried parents.
"As long as there is no research that shows children are worse
off by joint custody, men should be regarded as suitable parents as women,'' said an
editorial in one newspaper.
Gustavsson, who is based at a child psychiatry clinic in Vaxjo,
southern Sweden, came under fire from a variety of quarters for saying it was harmful for
the child to keep swapping homes.
Sociology professor Lars Tornstam disagreed, saying that research
proves the opposite. "Studies show unequivocally that it is better for children to
have rotating homes,'' said Tornstam, 55, whose five-year-old son spends two days with him
then two days with his mother. "Children who lived alternately with their mother then
father developed better than those living with just one parent.''
The wire story said that Sweden's welfare system aims to give both
mothers and fathers the chance to care for their children with one of the world's most
generous parental leave benefits. Parents can collect 80 percent of their salary up to a
maximum limit of 23,000 Swedish crowns ($2,772) a month for maternity or paternity pay for