Savita update: three Galway docs dropped from probe; family demands independent inquiry

DUBLIN – The inquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar is running into difficulties out of the gate. Savita’s widower, Praveen Halappanavar, has said that he and the family will not cooperate with the government’s probe because it is being run by the same government agency that he alleges caused his wife’s death. The Health Services Executive has been refused access to the young woman’s medical records, a decision that will cripple the investigation.

In addition, three senior medical consultants from Galway have been dropped from the group of seven physicians conducing the inquest. Mrs. Halappanavar’s family had objected to them on the grounds that no doctor from the Galway University Hospital where Savita died should be included. Despite the removal of the doctors, Mr. Halappanavar said, “I will not be co-operating with the inquiry in any way.”

Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny told Parliament that Health Minister Dr. James Reilly had removed the doctors from the panel to ensure the investigation would be completely independent.

Ireland’s Minister of Public Spending, Brendan Howlin, told the state broadcaster RTE that the government wanted the investigation to provide answers “speedily, thoroughly and comprehensively” and opposed the family’s demands for an investigation independent of the HSE. “We don’t want a tribunal that goes on for ever more,” he said on RTE’s Morning Ireland.


Don’t use marriage as ‘political football’ : Westminster Archbishop

LONDON – The Catholic archbishop of Westminster has warned politicians not to use the institution of marriage as a “political football”. Vincent Nichols warned Chancellor George Osborne that “same-sex marriage” might not be the vote winner the Conservative Party is looking for. Nichols says he detects “deep unease” over the issue.

“This is not simply a redefining of marriage to accommodate a few, it is a redefining of marriage for everyone and therefore all marriages, if this bill is introduced, will be different.

“It is a different reality for everybody and that is a very serious matter and one to which we are very strongly opposed and will remain strongly opposed,” Nichols told reporters this week.

Nichols called marriage “a very important building block in society” and said it is “very foolish” to propose to alter its definition when, “as far as we can see there is not a specific identified problem that that change is supposed to be addressing”.

“My own sense is that many people feel deeply uneasy about this move, it was not in any election manifesto, it has not in that sense been put to the country.”

Referring to the majority of negative submissions to the government’s consultation on the matter, Nichols added, “That is why the strength of opinion expressed in the consultation ought not to be hidden and that’s why we want the full disclosure of the results of that consultation.”


Church of England votes both for and against female bishops

LONDON – At yesterday’s meeting of the General Synod, the decision-making body of the Church of England made up of separate houses for bishops, clergy and laity, voted down a proposal to start ordaining women as bishops. The proposal was accepted by a wide majority of votes in both the houses of the bishops and clergy, but was rejected by the laity.

The bishops voted 44 for, three against with two abstentions. The clergy voted 148 for, 45 against, with no abstentions. The laity voted 132 for, 74 against and no abstentions. The proposal could only pass by gaining a two-thirds majority in each house.

The issue will now rest for the time being. The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, said, “The motion having been lost ... we do not proceed any further.” Others feel that it is only a matter of time before the change passes. Christina Rees, a Synod member and former chairman of the advocacy group Women and the Church, told Reuters, “Women bishops will come, but this is an unnecessary and an unholy delay.”

Women are already ordained as bishops in the Anglican churches of Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.


List grows of EU member states rebelling over EU’s iron budget grip

BRUSSELS – With the virtual buy-out of Greece, Ireland and Spain by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, Euro-scepticism is growing among Europe ministers from member states. The European Union has imposed a series of harsh “austerity measures” on Greece that have created widespread unemployment and reduction of public services that has resulted in riots. Several EU states are starting to balk at EU attempts to impose centralized control over national budgets.

Thus far, Latvia, Italy, Portugal, the UK, Denmark, France, Sweden, Austria, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain and Poland have all objected in various ways to attempts by Brussels to impose limitations on national budgets. Some countries, including economic powerhouses Italy and the UK, have said they are prepared to veto the European Union’s seven-year budget plan if better deals are not hammered out. Leaders of the 27 EU states are due to meet in Brussels later this week to debate the budget for 2014-2020.

Today Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis said that his government is prepared to veto the budget unless it gets a better deal on agricultural subsidies. “If our interests are completely ignored, we don’t exclude that possibility (of a veto),” Dombrovskis told the Latvian television.

Italian Europe Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi has said Italy is “ready to use its veto” if it considers that the next long-term EU budget is “harmful for the country and burdensome for the Italian taxpayer.” Italy’s previous government was removed by pressure from EU chiefs and replaced by a hand-picked, unelected government, made up of EU loyalists, in November last year.

Fatwa issued against Welsh opt-out organ donation plan

CARDIFF – The Association of Muslim Scholars UK) has issued a fatwa, or Islamic ruling, on the proposal by the government of Wales to start a presumed-consent organ donation plan that would assume everyone in the province is an organ donor unless specifically stated otherwise. The plan is being called “deemed consent” and would automatically declare as organ donors everyone living in Wales more than six months old, including prisoners tourists and students.

The ruling calls on Muslims to oppose strongly “this unjust, unislamic, inhumane bill by all legal and peaceful means”.

The ruling said, “Our organs and our bodies belong to our Creator: ALLAH. We are ordered in Islam to protect all our organs from any harm like alcohol and smoking, and to allow them to be satisfied physiologically with all their needs and as ALLAH wanted. We do not own any of our organs and no one has the right (Muslim or non Muslim) to take any of our organs especially at time of death.”

The fatwa says that Muslims who wish to donate are free to do so, but this should be voluntary and include written consent. This consent must be obtained only after the person is made aware of details of the surgical procedure, including the possibility of organs being taken while the patient is still alive and the heart is still beating or pain is still felt, and any possible harm to the donor when he/she is still alive.

There must be no “interference with the natural moment of death as fixed by ALLAH Almighty and not by doctors,” the ruling continued. “There should not be any interference with the natural moment of death.” This is defined in the ruling as the moment when both the “heart and respiration (and all brain activity) stop naturally and normally the soul leaves the body after natural death”.


Slovakia removes haloes from saints’ images on Euro coins

BRATISLAVA – In a move that is being criticized as kow-towing to secularists, the government of Slovakia has removed the haloes from the images of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, pivotal figures in the country’s history.

The images are on the design for the €2 coin issued to commemorate the 1,150th anniversary of the arrival of the missionary saints in Moravia. The Euroskeptic website Euractiv notes that EU member states are allowed to mint commemorative coins once a year but the design on the back must be “accepted by the remaining eurozone members and the European Commission”.

The Greek Cyril and Methodius were brothers of the 9th century, who became missionaries to the pagan Slavic countries to the north and are regarded as the founding fathers of Slavonic Christianity. They created the Cyrillic alphabet, based on Greek letters, in order to have the Bible and other texts translated into Slavic languages.

One Byzantine Catholic priest commented, calling the decision to remove the haloes an example of “anti-historical and ideological manipulation.”


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