JULY 31, 2011, Vol 61, No 15

This is the first of two articles on the debate over homosexuality, in the ongoing series on Values by the Catholic Medical Guild and Caritas Singapore. Today, we examine social dogmas underlying the current perceptions.

There has been a noticeable shift in public opinion on the much-discussed issue of homosexuality. Where once homosexuality was considered a perversion and simply wrong, there is today considerably more sympathy for homosexuals, a perception that they are victims of discrimination, and there is an ongoing campaign to ensure full human rights for homosexuals, including the right to marriage.

This current social perspective on homosexuality is put forward by several new social dogmas which seek to challenge our understanding of ethics, human nature and behaviour. Two of these are:

-         the right to freedom of choice; and
-         the rejection of the concept of a fixed human design.

Archbishop Quevedo answers Philippine senators’ questions during the July 13 hearing. CNS photo

MANILA – Senators have exonerated seven Catholic bishops who accepted donations of money and vehicles from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The senators said there was nothing irregular in the bishops’ actions, because the vehicles were used to help people, not promote religion, reported the Asian Church news agency UCA News.

However, the bishops had already admitted that the issue had brought shame on the Church, and they returned the vehicles, despite the Senate’s decision.

In a statement read by Archbishop Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato during the July 13 hearing, the bishops said the vehicles were used for social programmes in their respective dioceses but they would return them. Three prelates from Luzon brought their vehicles to the Senate and returned them to Charity Sweepstakes officials.
THE sight of rows of youths pedaling away on stationary bicycles – recharging MP4s, laptops, mobile phones and other devices – will be a common sight at World Youth Day in Madrid and could become a hallmark of the event for years to come.

The installation of energy-generating bicycles is just one of a number of measures that organisers have instituted to reduce any negative impact on the environment by this year’s gathering that is expected to draw over a million youths from around the world.

The measures are a clear nod to a young generation that finds environmental stewardship increasingly inseparable from Christian culture.

A “100% Natural” campaign is in place to make World Youth Day very eco-friendly. The campaign’s stated goal is to achieve a zero-emission and pollution-free event that will be “the most environment-friendly World Youth Day ever”.

Ms Eva Latonda, director of the 100% Natural campaign, said, “Leaving a planet Earth in good condition for future generations is a concern for every Christian, and therefore, for World Youth Day as well.”

What brings youths all over the world to this Church celebration?
H. Richard McCord tries to uncover the special power of WYD.

IN 1985, Blessed Pope John Paul II began a pilgrimage of young people to Rome. This gave birth to World Youth Day (WYD), which has increased in size and popularity year by year.

Now celebrated every two or three years in a different country, this weeklong event will draw more than a million youths to Madrid this summer from Aug 16-21.

Temperatures soar in Spain at that time of year. Airline fares have already risen sharply. Travel is frequently troublesome, especially with heightened security.

Many young people have been working for two years to raise money for travel, and some are still doing so. Yet, in spite of obstacles even more severe than these, participants will converge on WYD from every corner of the world.

A good number have done it before and have pledged to keep on coming. Why? Is there a special brand of WYD magic, a spirit that captivates even the most reluctant?

Harry Potter and his friends ‘mature from the lightheartedness of infancy to the complex reality of adulthood’ in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. CNS photo

VATICAN CITY – The last battle of the almost-grownup Harry Potter may be too scary for young viewers, but it champions the values of friendship and sacrifice, the Vatican newspaper said.

“The atmosphere of the last few episodes, which had become increasingly dark and ominous, reaches its pinnacle,” said one of two reviews of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 published on July 12 in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.

The darkness “may disturb younger audiences”, said reviewer Gaetano Vallini.

“Death, which was a rare occurrence [in the previous Harry Potter films] is the protagonist here,” which is another reason the film may not be appropriate for everyone, he said.

“As for the content, evil is never presented as fascinating or attractive in the saga, but the values of friendship and of sacrifice are highlighted. In a unique and long story of formation, through painful passages of dealing with death and loss, the hero and his companions mature from the lightheartedness of infancy to the complex reality of adulthood.”