RNS Daily Digest

c. 1998 Religion News Service Catholic prelate: Cloning is disrespect for life (RNS) Cardinal William Keeler, archbishop of Baltimore, told Congress on Thursday (Feb. 12) that the cloning of human beings shows disrespect rather than respect for human life.”Cloning is not wrong because cloned human beings lack human dignity _ it is wrong because they have human dignity, and deserve to come into the world in ways that respect this dignity,”he said. Keeler made his comments in testimony to the House Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health and the Environment on behalf of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Activities.”Cloning completely divorces human reproduction from the context of a loving union between man and woman, producing children with no `parents’ in the ordinary sense,”Keeler said.”Here human life does not arise from an act of love, but is manufactured to predetermined specifications.” The committee is holding hearings on proposed legislation to ban human cloning.

NEWS SIDEBAR: Groups aiding in Hurricane Mitch relief

c. 20013 Telephone: 1-800-HELP-NOW Spanish: 1-800-257-7575 Baptist World Aid 6733 Curran Street McClean, VA 22101-3804 Telephone: (703) 790-8980 CARE 151 Ellis Street NE Atlanta, GA 30303-2426 Telephone: 1-800-521-2273 Catholic Relief Services P.O. Box 17090 Baltimore, MD 21203-7090 Telephone: 1-800-235-2772 Childreach 155 Plan Way Warwich, RI 02886-1099 Telephone: 1-800-556-7918 Christian Children’s Fund 2821 Emerywood Parkway P.O. Box 26484 Richmond, VA 23261-6484 Telephone: 1-800-776-6767 Church World Services 28606 Phillips Street P.O. Box 968 Elkhart, IN 46515 Telephone: 1-800-297-1516, ext. 222 Doctors Without Borders 6 East 39th Street, 8th Floor New York, NY 10016 Telephone: 1-888-392-0392 Episcopal Church/Presiding Bishop’s Fund 815 Second Avenue New York, NY 10017 Telephone: (212) 867-8400 International Aid, Inc. 17011 West Hickory Spring Lake, MI 49456 Telephone: 1-800-968-7490 Lutheran World Relief Church Street Station P.O. Box 6186 New York, NY 10277-1738 Telephone: 1-800-597-5972 Map International 2200 Glynco Parkway P.O. Box 215000 Brunswick, GA 31521-5000 Telephone: 1-800-225-8550 Mercy Corps International 3030 SW First Ave. Portland, OR 97201 Telephone: (503) 796-6827 Operation USA 8320 Melrose Ave., Suite 200 Los Angeles, CA 90096 Telephone: 1-800-678-7255 Oxfam America Central America Relief Fund 26 West Street Boston, MA 02111 Telephone: 1-800-77OXFAM Salvation Army World Service Office 615 Slaters Lane Alexandria, VA 22313 Telephone: (703) 684-5528 Save the Children Hurricane Mitch Emergency Appeal P.O. Box 975-M 54 Wilton Road Westport, CT 06880 Telephone: 1-800-243-5075 Share Foundation PO Box 192825 San Francisco, CA 94119 Telephone: (415) 882-1530 United Methodist Committee on Relief 475 Riverside Drive, Room 330 New York, NY 10115 Telephone: 1-800-554-8583 World Relief P.O. Box WRC Dept. 3 Wheaton, IL 60189 Telephone: 1-800-535-5433 World Vision P.O. Box 9716 Federal Way, WA 98063-9716 Telephone: 1-888-511-6565 DEA END RNS

RNS DAILY Digest

c. 1998 Religion News Service Church of England set to debate Britain’s drug policies (RNS) For the first time, the general synod of the Church of England is set to publicly debate Britain’s drug problem and the government policies used to tackle it, including the volatile issue of easing laws prohibiting drug use. The synod, the Anglican body’s key decision-making group, will meet July 4-7 in York, England, and high on its agenda will be discussion of a paper prepared by the Rev. Kenneth Leech, a church expert in the field of drug policy. Leech’s paper argues the Labor government of Prime Minister Tony Blair needs to recognize _ as its predecessors did not _ that drug treatment costs less and works better than does prohibition.”The most disappointing aspect of the present government’s strategy,”Leech said in his report,”is the failure to see how drug policy has helped to produce the present appalling situation”of drug abuse. He said both”criminal syndicates”and the widespread availability of powdered heroin only came on the British illicit drug scene with the passage of the 1967 Dangerous Drug Act.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1998 Religion News Service Church World Service plans more aid for North Korea (RNS) Church World Service, the relief and humanitarian arm of the National Council of Churches, has announced it plans to send $500,000 in new aid to North Korea to help people survive the next crucial”crunch”in March or April, when basic food supplies will again begin to run out.”Aid provided last year has made the current winter months more endurable, but the country’s people remain in peril,”said Victor Hsu, directors of CWS’ East Asia and Pacific Program. Hsu visited North Korea last month. North Korea has been suffering since two years of floods and drought severely crippled the nation’s agricultural capacity creating famine conditions throughout much of the country. Since 1995, Church World Service has sent more than $2.2 million in rice, corn, barley, beef, antibiotics, blankets and clothing to help alleviate the suffering.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1998 Religion News Service Canadian police close Sikh temple fearing factional feud (RNS) Police in Vancouver, British Columbia, closed one of Canada’s largest Sikh temples Sunday (Aug. 2), fearing a clash between moderate and conservative factions. Vancouver Police Chief Bruce Chambers said the officers acted after failing to mediate a long-running religious dispute at the temple, the Associated Press reported. The streets around the temple were reopened Sunday afternoon after a crowd of about 1,000 people dispersed, a police spokesman said.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1998 Religion News Service Calif. congregation to leave United Methodist Church (RNS) Some 200 members of the Kingsburg (Calif.) United Methodist Church _ virtually the entire membership _ have declared that”in Christian conscience”they can no longer remain in the mainline Protestant denomination. Methodist officials said it is the largest single withdrawal of members since the recent flare-up earlier this year over the issue of same-sex marriage. The congregation’s trustees maintained their membership in the denomination in order to manage the church property until its disposition is determined and settled.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1998 Religion News Service Churches denounce Northern Ireland bombing (RNS) Church leaders in Europe have denounced last weekend’s bombing in Omagh, Northern Ireland, which took the lives of 28 people, including seven children and 14 women.”That such an unspeakable crime should have been committed, in which so many innocent people have suffered death, injury and bereavement, has appalled people throughout Europe and other parts of the world who have the cause of peace in Northern Ireland in their hearts and in their prayers,”the World Council of Churches and the Conference of European Churches said in a joint statement Monday (Aug. 17). The statement said the massacre”is a challenge to the democratically elected leaders in both islands to root out the sectarianism that has taken a heavy toll during the last three decades.” The statement, signed by the Rev. Konrad Raiser, general secretary of the WCC, and the Rev. Keith Clements, general secretary of the CEC, said the bombing may make the road to peace”now seem more still more difficult and perilous.”

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1998 Religion News Service Canadian Catholic editor:”positive side effects”to abortion killings (RNS) The editor of the the British Columbia Catholic, the newspaper of the archdiocese of Vancouver, has written that killing doctors who perform abortions”might have some positive side effects.” The editor, Paul Schratz, made his comments in an editorial on the slaying of Dr. Barnett Slepian on Oct. 23, in Amherst, N.Y. Schratz cited such”positive”effects as the fact that”fewer doctors are willing to face the stigma, and now the threat of personal harm associated with performing abortions.”It just goes to show that our all-powerful and all-God can bring good from any evil situation,”he added. While noting the”positive”effects, the editorial also suggested the killing was wrong because”sin produces more sin.”

RNS News Digest

c. 1998 Religion News Service Christian retailers voice concerns about book company merger (RNS) Christian retailers have voiced concerns about how the plans of Barnes & Noble to purchase Ingram Book Group will affect their business. Ingram Book Group, a subsidiary of Nashville, Tenn.-based Ingram Industries, owns Spring Arbor Distributors, a major wholesale distributor to Christian book stores. In early November, Barnes & Noble, which is based in New York, announced its plans to purchase Ingram for $600 million. Bill Anderson, president of CBA, the trade group formerly known as the Christian Booksellers Association, said retailers affiliated with his organization have expressed a number of concerns.”It raises questions about service levels,”said Anderson, whose office is in Colorado Springs, Colo.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1998 Religion News Service Catholic priest doesn’t regret giving Clinton communion (RNS) A Roman Catholic priest in South Africa who broke church rules by giving Holy Communion to President Clinton, a Southern Baptist, said Thursday (April 2) he believes he acted correctly.”I’m ready to put my head on the block for that,”said the Rev. Mohlomi Makobane, whose church in the black township of Soweto was visited by Clinton and his entourage during the president’s 12-day visit to Africa, which concluded Thursday (April 2). Makobane said he didn’t have much choice when Clinton got in line Sunday (March 29) at Regina Mundi Roman Catholic Church to receive communion, the Associated Press reported.”If the president stands up to come receive Holy Communion, how much embarrassment would it have caused him by my saying `Please sit down,'”the priest said in an interview.”Let’s be practical. He’s a child of God and came willingly to share the Eucharist with us and pray with us,”Makobane said.”And he’s the most powerful man in the world. …

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1998 Religion News Service Church women call for canceling poor nations’ debts (RNS) The 125-member U.S. delegation who attended the festival marking the end of the Ecumenical Decade of the Churches in Solidarity with Women has written President Clinton calling for”the complete cancellation of debts for the most heavily indebted countries as a first step in changing the unjust economic policies which govern our world.” The global debt issue was a primary concern during the four-day festival in Harare, Zimbabwe, marking the end of the World Council of Churches-sponsored ecumenical decade which highlighted progress and setbacks for women in church and society. The campaign to reduce or cancel the debts of some 41 heavily indebted nations _ many of them in Africa _ as a means of marking the turn of the Christian millennium in the year 2000, has become a major drive by religious leaders and groups, including Pope John Paul II. The U.S. women’s letter to Clinton, his wife Hillary, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and the presidents of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund said the debt burden of the poorest countries falls heaviest on women and their children.”We as Christians need to help our government and the IMF to reflect on how they are asking these countries to pay their debts,”said Thelma Adair, the prominent U.S. ecumenist and member of the Presbyterian Church (USA).”And we need a Marshall Plan of Christian sympathy that goes in to these areas (suffering from poverty) to get them where they can participate.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1998 Religion News Service Christian Reformed Church: abortion is `North American atrocity’ (RNS) After first deciding to make no further statement on abortion, the Christian Reformed Church, in the closing hours of its annual Synod meeting, adopted a statement Friday (June 19) labeling it”a North American atrocity.” In an unexpected move in the closing hours of their weeklong conference, delegates revived an earlier proposal on which they had decided to take no action. But they stripped from it the word “holocaust” as offensive to Jews and distracting to their intent to strongly condemn abortion. Inserting the word “atrocity” instead still makes the point, said a principal backer of the resolution.”Because of the enormity, I still think `holocaust’ is a better word,” said the Rev. Bernard Tol, a Zeeland, Mich., pastor.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1998 Religion News Service British bioethicist: U.S. `libertarian’ view might lead to human cloning (RNS) A leading British bioethicist has warned that the”libertarian”views of some scientists in the United States could lead to the first attempts at cloning humans.”The position in Europe (against attempts at cloning humans) is reasonably assured, but the concern is the more liberal view that some take in the United States,”Dr. Donald Bruce told Ecumenical News International, the Geneva-based religious news agency. Richard Seed, a Chicago physicist, provoked international outrage in January when he announced plans to begin cloning humans. And in early March, a South African newspaper reported that a doctor there is also preparing to clone humans, ENI reported. Most European nations, however, have already banned human cloning.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 1998 Religion News Service Ideological conflicts, social issues dominate Baptist meetings (RNS) Conflicts between conservatives and moderates and debates over social issues such as homosexuality highlighted this fall’s annual meetings of Southern Baptist state conventions. In Texas, moderates tightened their control of the nation’s largest state Baptist group, the Baptist General Convention of Texas. They re-elected a slate of officers by acclamation and gave final approval to constitutional changes that allow the convention to operate independently of the Southern Baptist Convention. Conservatives in Texas, feeling they were losing their influence on the 2.5 million-member BGCT, severed ties and started their own state convention on Nov.