Thursday, April 27,
Italian priest snubs cohabiting
A story published today in the London Guardian reports that a feud
between an Italian priest and a widowed parishioner ended in a showdown at the altar and
trouble for the Roman Catholic church when he refused her communion because she was
cohabiting with a man.
Father Claudio Menichetti, 84, shocked his congregation by
denouncing the 68-year-old widow as an adulterer just as she opened her mouth to receive
the Eucharist. The repercussions of his act are rippling beyond the hamlet of Benano, near
Orvieto in central Italy.
Cardinal Ersilio Tonini has thrown his support behind the priest
amid condemnation of what is seen as the Roman Catholic church's inconsistent policing of
The widow, moved to Rome and fell in love with another man after her
husband died 26 years ago. They live together but never married. She returned to Benano to
attend mass with friends on Easter Sunday and stepped forward to receive communion. When
it was her turn, Fr Menichetti withheld the host and explained his motive.
"It is true," he said later, "I denied her communion
for religious reasons. That woman is living with a man without having tied the bond of
Apparently the two had clashed 41 years ago, when she turned up for
her wedding wearing a sleeveless dress and he sent her home for a jacket.
AIDS test becomes mandatory for
Chinese planning to marry
A story published by XINHUA news service reports that AIDS tests for
people getting married will become mandatory in Beijing by July, according to the Beijing
Birth Control Research Institute.
Doctors at 28 pre-marriage check-up centers have started training to
conduct HIV tests, reported today's "Beijing Morning Post".
At a health care center for women and children in Xicheng District,
AIDS tests on people planning to get married was introduced two years ago.
The "Beijing Morning Post" carried a story Tuesday which
said that an unidentified young woman in Beijing became the first person to test positive
for the HIV virus during a routine pre- marriage medical check-up.
Since 1994, the incidence rate of HIV/AIDS in China has been on the
rise. But people's awareness of the disease is slow to catch on.
By the end of last year, China registered 17,316 AIDS patients, 677
of which were women.
Wednesday, April 26, 2000
English clergyman tells couples to marry or he won't baptize their child
A story published today by Reuters reports that
Church of England vicar Donald Allister has warned unmarried couples that he will not
baptize their children because they are "living in sin."
"The Church has not changed its view that children should be
born and brought up in marriage and not outside it," Allister was quoted as saying by
the Daily Mail.
"We are not going to stand up and say it's right to have
children outside marriage because we don't think it is."
The Daily Telegraph said some parents were boycotting services at St
Mary's Parish Church in Cheadle, northern England, because they were annoyed about the
A leaflet issued by St Mary's says: "When the parents are
living together as man and wife but unmarried we cannot baptize the baby (the Bible says
that such a relationship is sinful and baptism involves turning away from sin).
"When the parents are together but unmarried we will suggest a
wedding then a baptism."
The story says that Allister is still prepared however to let single
parents to have their children baptized.
"A lot of single parents aren't single by choice. You can't
penalize a mother because the father has run off," he said.
A Church of England spokesman, Dr William Beaver, said it was
unusual for a priest to refuse to baptize a child. "The vicar has the final say, but
the Church finds it much better to be welcoming and inclusive rather than exclusive,"
Friday, April 21, 2000
Action promised on "honor
killings" in Pakistan
A story published today by the Australian
Broadcasting Corporation reports that Pakistani military ruler General Pervez Musharraf
has vowed tough action to curb the problem of "honor killings" of women accused
of bringing shame to their husbands' families.
Speaking at a conference on human rights, General Musharraf said
such actions are not authorized in Pakistani religion or law.
The independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has reported
that hundreds of women were victims of "honor killings" last year.
In most of the cases a woman accused of having sex outside of
marriage or who had asked for a divorce, was murdered by her husband, brother or father in
order to preserve family honor.
The story says that the general promised that an independent
commission with wide-ranging powers to protect women's rights will be set up next month.