Century Marks

Century Marks

Point, counterpoint

George Carey, archbishop of Canterbury from 1991 to 2002, says he is ready to back legislation that would legalize assisted dying for the terminally ill in England and Wales. Admitting it’s an about-face for him, Carey now argues that by “strictly observing the sanctity of life, the Church could now actually be promoting anguish and pain, the very opposite of a Christian message of hope.” Justin Welby, the current archbishop, is strongly opposed to assisted dying. “What sort of society would we be creating if we were to allow this sword of Damocles to hang over the head of every vulnerable, terminally ill person in the country?” Welby said (Ecumenical News).

World diplomats

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Pope Francis have both made international reconciliation and interfaith understanding a priority of their ministries. The pope engaged in two highly symbolic acts: visiting Israel and the West Bank and subsequently inviting Israel president Shimon Peres and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to Rome in June where together the three of them planted olive trees, a symbol of peace. Welby’s visits to Lahore and Pakistan and to Nigeria after the kidnapping of school girls by the militant group Boko Haram were efforts to support and encourage embattled Christians, but the archbishop also has encouraged Christians living among Muslims to build bridges with them (Diplomat, July/August).

First aid

Nora Sandigo, 48, is the legal guardian for 812 children whose parents have been deported due to their undocumented immigration status. The children range from nine months to 17 years, but only a few live with her in Florida. She has found homes for the others in 14 different states. “How can we not help?” she asked her husband in 2009 when a Peruvian couple asked her to look after their children. Calling her work a Band-Aid, she says that all she can do is “hold back some of the bleeding.” About 100,000 children in the United States have one or both parents deported each year (Washington Post, July 5).

End of history

In June the Iraqi city of Mosul fell to ISIS, the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams. An underreported implication of this turn of events is how devastating this is to the story of Christianity, says church historian Philip Jenkins. “No later than the second century AD, the city had a Christian presence,” says Jenkins. “This was a vital base for the Church of the East, the so-called Nestorian Church, which made it a metropolitan see.” Also present were the so-called Monophysites, today’s Syrian Orthodox Church. Mosul was also the center of a network of monasteries, some of them the earliest and most active in the monastic movement. “For anyone who cares about Christian history, it’s like the end of the world,” says Jenkins (aleteia.org, June 24).

Not making the cut

Some Jewish parents are deciding to forgo circumcision for their baby boys. Instead, they’re creating new rituals to welcome their babies into their families and to acknowledge the covenant between God and the Jews. These alternative rituals variously include communal candle lighting, anointing the baby, washing the baby’s feet, putting out a chair for Elijah, or cutting open a pomegranate, a symbol of fertility. These parents, called intactivists, believe they have no right to subject their infants to a procedure with dubious outcomes without their consent. Some studies indicate a lower risk for HIV and other genital diseases for males who have been circumcised (Tablet, July 9).