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| | News Releases, Christianity
26 October
Oct 26
26th October 1999

The Vatican today publishes a letter from Pope John Paul II to the elderly. The 7,000-word letter is a personal reflection on age in the light of the new millennium and the UN Year of Older People 1999.  The Pope looks back over the 20th century, so much of which is remembered by older people. Recent history, he says, has been marked by war and violence, as well as by peace and freedom. He highlights "many positive signs" of hope for the next millennium: the growing appreciation of human rights and the dignity of women; inter-religious dialogue; the expansion of communications; ecological awareness; medical and scientific progress.  In the present day, the Pope says that older people ought to be esteemed and valued. He mentions the "horror" of euthanasia, which, he says, "is always an intrinsically evil act, a violation of God's law and an offence against the dignity of the human person".  The Pope emphasises the many ways that older people contribute to the Christian community and wider society by their experience and wisdom. He says that, in the ill health and loneliness that can come with old age, he shares their suffering. Reflecting on passages from the Bible, he then discusses death as the threshold to eternal life.  Towards the end of his letter, the Pope describes his own feelings after more than 20 years in office, and encourages older people to live life to the full:  "Despite the limitations brought on by age, I continue to enjoy life.  For this I thank the Lord. It is wonderful to be able to able to give  oneself to the very end for the sake of the kingdom of God!"  ENDS  A copy of the Pope's Letter can be viewed at www.catholic-ew.org.uk  ...

| | News Releases, Christianity
11 August
Aug 11
11th August 1999

Scotland s Roman Catholic Bishops this morning met with International development minister, George Foulkes, during a visit by the Minister to the new headquarters of SCIAF, the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund.During the Visit, the Bishops took the opportunity to thank the Government for its commitment to ending the scandal of Third World Debt and urged further pressure for a full cancellation of debt during the year 2000.Bishop John Mone, the President of SCIAF, said: "This government has done a very great deal to promote the cancellation of unpayable debts in the run up to the Jubilee Year 2000. In recent months that call has been taken up by President Clinton and there is now very real hope that concrete steps will be taken to lift this intolerable burden on developing countries."We would like the Government to step up the pressure on its international partners so that the new millennium can start debt free for some of the world s poorest peoples."Cardinal Thomas Winning, Archbishop Keith O Brien and Bishop Maurice Taylor met with the minister and his advisers for two hours and both sides expressed satisfaction with the outcome.The Bishops expressed their concern over Government support for contraception programmes in the Third World.Cardinal Winning said: "The Church s position on contraception and abortion is well known. What we ask is that the Government give at least parity of esteem in promoting the natural methods of regulating births. These are effective, safe and cheap and they respect the culture and traditions of people on developing countries."We also look forward to the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland participating more fully in policy discussions on international development and to further meetings on a regular basis."PR 081199 TC  ...

| | News Releases, Christianity
26 May
May 26
26th May 1999

The Bishops' Conference is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr John Deighan (32) as Parliamentary Officer.He will take up his appointment on 14th June.Married with three children, John is presently a Lecturer in Systems Analysis and Design at Motherwell College.A graduate of Paisley College (B.Sc. Hons Physics) with Post-Graduate Studies at the University of Strathclyde (M.Sc. Information Technology Systems).  John has gained wide experience in the political arena through his involvement in the Trade Union Movement, Pro-Life work, the Movement for Christian Democracy and election campaigning.A former pupil of St Brendan's High School, Linwood, John has extensive knowledge of Catholic Social Teaching and is an active member of St Bride's Parish in East Kilbride.Commenting on the appointment of' the Parliamentary Officer, Cardinal Winning, President of the Bishops' Conference, said"His appointment expresses the Church 's solidarity with the people of Scotland. At the sonic time it also indicates the Church 's desire to continue to make a positive contribution to the development of our society through the new Parliament".ENDSYou may contact John Deighan at Home: (01355) 261197 / Mobile: 0793 0405313...