Century Marks

Century Marks

Elder brew

To support its aging population, the monks of St. Joseph’s Abbey in central Massachusetts have built a brewery producing a light ale. The average age of the monks in the monastery is 70; the oldest is 90. A third of their community’s expenses goes to health care, and its 12-room infirmary is almost always full. The ale is based on a brew made by Trappist monks in Europe. The brewery is highly automated, since the aging monks aren’t able to do much manual labor (Reuters).

Unwanted message

President Obama continued the tradition of inviting Muslims to the White House for an iftar dinner, the meal with which Muslims break the Ramadan fast. Unlike in previous years, when the president made comments in solidarity with America Muslims, this year he turned to the conflict in the Middle East and underscored U.S. support of Israel’s right to defend itself—offending some in the room mindful of Palestinians, including many civilians, being killed in the war in Gaza (Al Jazeera, July 26).

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).