AUGUST 17, 2008, Vol 58, No 17

THE CHURCH HAS stubbornly maintained that "the human person" should be at the centre of all ethical decisions. Doesn’t this imply that the morality of organ trade depends on how many human persons may benefit with it?

Some think that legalizing organ trade will solve the problem of shortage of kidneys and save the lives of kidney patients waiting for a transplant. An ethical and controlled kidney market will also wipe out the unethical black market that already exists, they say.

Others disagree. They think the poor (who are more likely to be the sellers) will be exploited by the rich (who are more likely to be the buyers). The organ trade will also increase the demand for kidneys, since those who sell their kidney will be more likely to need a kidney themselves, when, in their old age, their only kidney may start to fail. Furthermore, organ trade will discourage possible donors to donate when they see that others are getting paid for what they would have given freely.

These two opposite conclusions are however based on the same kind of reasoning: The consequences of legalizing organ trade decide its morality; if legalizing organ trade brings about more benefits than harm, then it should be pursued.

SINGAPORE – Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life) has received little attention in the Singapore archdiocese. However, a significant step to increase awareness of Humanae Vitae and the existence of NFP was made recently when lay people from the Catholic Medical Guild of Singapore,

NFP instructors, and Marriage Preparation Course spiritual director Father Anthony Hutjes presented a half-day refresher course on Humanae Vitae and NFP to the priests of the Singapore archdiocese on Jun 18 at the St. Francis Xavier Major Seminary.

The next step in the increase-awareness plan involves NFP instructors working closer with parish priests to set up more NFP training centres and to recruit and train more NFP instructors. There are now only 15 active NFP instructors looking after 15 NFP centres.

It is hard to get NFP instructors because the one-to-one instruction involves very private matters of a woman, which is why women have more success in teaching NFP than men, with the exception of doctors.

NFP instructors must first be NFP practitioners. NFP is taught by married or engaged couples and can be taught by a married woman alone, but not a married man alone unless the man is a doctor.

A single woman is not allowed to teach NFP as she does not know the related issues of married life, family and couple relationships, pregnancy, reproductive health, etc. Those who attend NFP classes also use this opportunity to ask questions about such issues.

Couples who show interest in becoming NFP instructors have to undergo training sessions held over two weekends, after which they will be attached to an NFP centre for on-job-training for a year. In order to graduate to become instructors, they need to sit for an examination.

NFP instructors need to commit to counsel weekly. They must have the love to want to tell people about this programme, as well as the love to patiently teach and explain the method. They also need to be ‘thick-skinned’ in order to talk with complete strangers about their private parts and reproductive health.

Under the auspices of Family Life Society, a public congress titled "Love, Sex and Babies: What’s the church doing in my bedroom?" will be held to discuss issues of whether Humanae Vitae is passé or if it is even more urgent today.

It will be held on Oct 27, 9am to 5pm at Blessed Sacrament Church. Details can be found on www.prolife.sg/lovesexbabies

JULY 17 WAS supposed to be the best day of my World Youth Day pilgrimage. I was supposed to get to see with my own eyes two people that I’ve been wanting to see for a long time.

The first person was Pope Benedict XVI, who was due to arrive in Sydney that afternoon at Darling Harbour. Indeed it was the dream of many from Australia and many parts of Asia to get to see the pope with our own eyes, a dream that brought hundreds of thousands of us to Sydney for this World Youth Day.

The second person I was dying to meet was Christopher West, author of two books ("Theology of the Body for Beginners" and "Good News about Sex & Marriage") that saved my faith at a time when I fell away from the Catholic Church.

West was giving a talk that evening on Pope Benedict’s teaching on erotic and divine love, and I had planned to attend it, shake his hand, take a photo with him and even give him a signed copy of my own book.

However, things didn’t turn out so well for me that day. To start with, the morning’s catechesis with a bishop was a pale comparison to the one we received the previous day. It was informative but nowhere as interesting as the first.

Then, being the naturally introverted person that I am, I felt that I needed a break from the crowds. Since I was going to see the pope again that weekend, I decided to take a long train ride to have some time to reflect on the trip so far, instead of rushing with the crowds to see the pope arrive.

That was the first bad decision, and because of it, I lost a brand new scarf I was wearing for the first time, and I lost my World Youth Day pilgrim’s guide and liturgy guide.

Later in the evening, I headed back to the city to find a cafe that had been recommended to me. After walking for 20 minutes in a hilly estate, I found the cafe, but it was closed. How disappointing! "But it’s okay, there’s still Christopher West to look forward to," I comforted myself. Knowing his popularity, I had taken the trouble to register for his talk before I left Singapore to ensure I got a seat.

After another long walk to State Theatre, where the talk was to be held, I arrived half an hour early to find that the talk had been moved to the Darling Harbour Convention Centre, about a 30-minute walk away. So I rushed all the way to the new venue, covering the distance in 20 minutes, only to discover the hall was already fully packed.

"But I registered!" I protested in vain to the security guard, who remained as cold as the Sydney winter. As I looked at the crowd of people squeezing their way in, all trying to obtain a seat at the talk marked as a "Not To Miss event" in the Youth Festival Guide, I felt my hopes of meeting Christopher West melt away.

How could a day which began with such promise end up with one disappointment after another? And what else could go wrong? I wandered through the convention centre but found nothing else of interest, save for a few security guards amused at the crowd of pilgrims trying to bargain their way into the auditorium.

Without realizing it, I found myself standing outside three double doors behind which adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation were taking place.

"Since I’m here, I might as well go in for a few minutes," I said to myself as I pushed open the doors and entered the large hall.

I quietly made my way to a relatively empty spot in the otherwise surprisingly full hall and knelt before the Blessed Sacrament, pouring out all the disappointment and frustration that had been building up inside me the whole day.

Within two minutes, I felt warm tears streaming down my face as an overwhelming sense of comfort washed over me. With it came the sudden realization that amid the hustle and bustle of rushing from one talk to another, from one train to another, and away from the crowds to have some personal space, I had forgotten my reason for coming to World Youth Day.

As I had scrawled on a pilgrims’ wall just a few days previously: "We have come from Singapore to meet Jesus!" And there, in the Blessed Sacrament, I met Jesus. And I understood that had I not had such a terribly disappointing day, I would not have been able to experience the God of comfort in such a wonderful way.

I also came to understand one reason why there must be suffering in the world – because without suffering, we would never be able to experience the joy and relief that come at the end of suffering.

I also came to realize that God, in his goodness, comforts us in our suffering, and when we comfort others in their suffering, we become a presence of God for them.

As it turned out, Jul 17 was indeed the best day of my World Youth Day pilgrimage – not because I met Christopher West or the pope, but because I met Jesus.  - By Daniel Tay

 

SINGAPORE – You cannot claim to be Catholic and not be involved in social mission, said Laurence Lien to an audience of over 400 at the Social Mission Conference organized by the Catholic Social and Community Council (CSCC).

The full-day conference was held on Saturday Jul 26 at the Regional English Language Centre.

Mr Lien, Director of Lien Foundation Centre for Social Innovation, was one of 18 speakers invited to speak on different aspects of social mission at this conference.

CSCC has been promoting awareness of social mission among Catholics in the Singapore Archdiocese since its formation as the umbrella body of Catholic charity and social organizations in November 2006. It has actively encouraged and facilitated the recruitment of volunteers for its member organizations, and maintains a website and a social mission page in every issue of CatholicNews.

At the conference, three speakers – President of National Council of Social Services RADM (Ret) Kwek Siew Jin; CEO of National Volunteer
and Philanthropy Centre
Tan Chee Koon; and
Laurence Lien – mapped out the sociological trends affecting families and youth, the elderly and disabled. They elaborated on where help is unavailable or inadequate, and how Catholics can respond.

Panel discussions were held on how to deal with social realities and on how to serve the community. Faith and theological reflections also featured.

One panelist, Braema Mathi, current coordinator of a human rights group MARUAH and founder and former President of Transient Workers Count Too, shared with the audience what moving amongst Catholics has done for her, a Hindu educated in a Catholic mission girls’ school.

One thing she has never forgotten about Catholics, Ms Mathi told the audience, was that
"Catholics made all these perilous journeys to new lands to found what’s important to that particular community". "Now the religious Brothers and Sisters communities are getting smaller… the layperson’s good work has to increase." The religious who put in so much good work need us to come in now, she added.

Ms Mathi added that Catholicism "has articulated a lot of the thoughts already in [my] head, [such as] ‘fair treatment’ and ‘impartial share of benefits’ and what these mean. Catholics understand the fundamental principles of what motivates them.
I have never found any other group as consistent in hymns, prayers, classroom teachings."

 

Father Patrick Goh, Chancellor of the Singapore Archdiocese and Parish Priest of Church of the Holy Family and a member of the Senate of Priests and Board of Consultors, urged the audience to search for new ways to organize and to ask "what are the organizations and structures around us that keep us poor?"

Unlike before 1987, "we don’t ask the ‘why’ question anymore," he remarked. History has shown us that to ask ‘why’ is dangerous, he explained.

"If I give food to the poor, they
call me a saint. When I ask why
the poor are hungry, they call me
a… communist," he said, alluding
to the 1987 "Marxist conspiracy" allegations levelled at some members and organizations of the Catholic Church in Singapore.

"If we are serious about our social mission, there’s no way we can not ask the ‘why’ question – why this social injustice (exists or continues). We must penetrate through the sense of fear," he said.

"If we’re working, we should not hide our light under the bushel," he said in response to a question. "At the same time, we shouldn’t be doing [our social work] for our own glory. [We do our work] not to advance the stand of the church but out of love for our brothers and sisters."

CSCC Executive Director Joyce Koh was pleased that the conference attracted a diverse audience and hopes more Catholics will get to know that social mission is part of their duty.

"Creating awareness is a start" to actually getting them to be involved, she said. - By Joyce Gan

Pilgrims & Attendance

70,000 international pilgrims took part in Days of the Diocese throughout Australia during the week before WYD08

150,000 attended the Opening Mass at Barangaroo and CBD sites

In excess of 400,000 people attended the Final Mass at Southern Cross Precinct

500,000 people came out to welcome Pope Benedict on Thursday Jul 17 on the Boat-a-cade, Official Arrival at Barangaroo and Motorcade

223,000 people registered for pilgrim services during WYD08 (110,000 international pilgrims + 113,000 local pilgrims)

Over 170 nations were represented at World Youth Day Sydney 2008

168 international flags took part in the Procession of Flags at the WYD08 Opening Mass

Audience

WYD08 events were watched
live by an estimated international TV audience of 500 million, with TV and Internet audiences combined reaching one billion

XT3.com, the WYD08 official online social networking site, is expected to attract 225,000
pilgrims as a result of the event

The World Youth Day website received over 500,000 unique users from Jul 12 - 20.

WYD08 online streaming received over 250,000 visits during the event period, watching events live all around the world

There were 2,000 accredited media for WYD08

Pilgrim Services

100,000 pilgrims slept in 400 schools and parishes

Over 12,000 pilgrims stayed in Sydney Olympic Park throughout the week

40,000 were billeted as part of the WYD08 HomeStay programme

Activities

450 Youth Festival events took place in over 100 venues

In Terrey Hills, more than 350 cardinals and bishops from overseas enjoyed a lunch hosted by the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell.

An average of 2,500 pilgrims walked through the Vocations Expo every hour

Catechesis was delivered at 235 locations across Sydney in 29 different languages

The WYD08 Choir consisted of 300 members, the WYD08 Orchestra was an 80 piece orchestra

1,000 priests heard confession during the WYD08 week.