19 December 2018, The Tablet

News Briefing: the Church in the World

Care Not Killing (CNK) has urged the British Medical Association to review its new guidance on the withdrawal of clinically assisted nutrition and hydration (CANH) from brain-damaged patients. 

The UK-based alliance, which brings together around 50 organisations, expressed “disappointment” and “concern” with the guidance that spells out the circumstances where clinical staff can withdraw CANH without having to go to the Court of Protection if deemed to be in the patient’s “best interests”. 

CNK said: “People with PVS (awake but not aware) and MCS (awake but only intermittently or partially aware) can breathe without ventilators but need to have food and fluids by tube (clinically assisted nutrition and hydration or CANH). These patients are not imminently dying and with good care can live for many years. Some may regain awareness. But if CANH is withdrawn, they will die from dehydration and starvation within two or three weeks.”

Ireland’s Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Bill has gone to President Michael D. Higgins to be signed into law after it passed all stages in the Seanad and Dáil, following two months of deliberation by politicians. Provided the president signs off on the bill, abortion will be introduced from January 2019 for up to 12 weeks’ gestation. It will be legal after 12 weeks if there is a risk to the life or of serious harm to the health of the mother, or in cases of a fatal foetal abnormality. The bill follows a majority Yes vote in last May’s referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution.

Cardinal George Pell has been removed as an honorary fellow of St Edmund’s College, Cambridge. He was visiting scholar at Campion Hall, Oxford, in 1979 and in 1983 at St Edmund’s. He was elected an honorary fellow of St Edmund's in 2003. “Cardinal Pell is not an honorary fellow of St Edmund’s College nor does he retain any affiliation with the college or university,” a St Edmund’s spokesman told The Tablet.

Vocational voices
A new musical initiative aimed at encouraging men to apply for the diaconate in Scotland has been hailed as a success. A two-day course at the Conforti centre in Coatbridge has offered singing classes and support for novice singers and those who have not sung since childhood. It was organised by David Meiklejohn, national director of liturgical music for the diaconate in Scotland, who said that the course might help bridge the current shortfall in men coming forward to be deacons or priests.

Ireland’s new €300 million National Maternity Hospital will not operate to a religious ethos, the outgoing master of Holles Street Hospital in Dublin has said. Dr Rhona Mahony (pictured) was speaking to RTE Radio about the proposed new maternity hospital, which will be a joint venture between the current National Maternity Hospital at Holles Street and St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin, established by the Religious Sisters of Charity. She stressed that the new joint venture would be owned and run by the state, though built on a site at Elm Park in Dublin currently occupied by St Vincent’s Hospital. The agreement between the two hospitals provides for the establishment of a new company: the National Maternity Hospital at Elm Park DAC. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, who is chairman of Holles Street but has not attended any board meeting of the hospital since becoming archbishop in 2004, has said he has no role under canon law where the disposal of property by the Religious Sisters of Charity at St Vincent’s hospital campus is concerned. He said the responsibility of addressing the religious and canonical aspects are fundamentally those of the Religious Sisters of Charity.

Troll trouble
A Catholic MSP has been trolled on Twitter. Elaine Smith (above), who represents Central Scotland for Labour, has identified an increase in anti-Catholic feeling in Scotland, saying she had received “hateful” messages about Catholic education in the country. Ms Smith read out to the Scottish Parliament a tweet that described Catholic education as “indoctrination of children” and “child abuse”.

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