Pope Francis - the challenges. Europe risks secularization

Marriage, euthanisia & abortion: hot potatoes for the Church

14 March, 14:01

(ANSAmed) - BRUSSELS, MARCH 14 - As he knuckles down to his first day in business Pope Francis is expected to find solutions to a growing 'secularization' in Europe brought about by a combination of crippling economic crisis and what Pope Benedict XVI dubbed "fatigue and tedium of belief".

Top of the hot potatoes on Pope Francis's to-do list are a tumbling demographic and a crisis of family, as well as the threat of fundamentalism and a lack of solidarity towards poverty and unemployment, particularly in the Mediterranean south. On all fronts the Church will be appealing to the hearts and minds of the young and disenchanted who for months have taken to the streets across Europe to protest at what they see as a bleak and uncertain future. Scandals simmer in the background. Vatileaks might have exited stage left but a storm involving pedaophile priests has boiled over in Belgium, Ireland and most recently Great Britain where Cardinal Keith O'Brian resigned three weeks ago for "inappropriate behavior", giving up his right to a place in the conclave in the process. These are thorny issues for the church. On the one hand its position on marriage between men and women is unshakeable; on the other it is watching as laws on gay marriage sweep Europe, from Madrid to Paris, Lisbon to Amsterdam, Brussels to London. Despite appeals from the Bishops, Rome's position is looking increasingly shaky. Legislation on gay couples adopting children has gone ahead in the last few years regardless of some cardinals branding it "commercial". Almost two weeks ago the European Court of Human Rights recognized the right of gays to adopt their partners' children, something that is already legal in Slovenia, Iceland and Spain. And in Belgium a debate is well underway on extending euthanasia laws to cover children and adults suffering from degenerative diseases and dementia such as Alzheimer's.

The conference of Bishops has dug its heels on the issue, pointing to advancements in palliative care as a possible alternative, but the legislation is likely to pass. Abortion, too, is rearing its head. Two class actions against law 194 are pending at the European Committee of Social Rights in Strasbourg as the number of conscientious objectors among physicians continues to rise, in clear violation of women's rights.(ANSAmed).


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