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By Donovan, Gill | National Catholic Reporter, February 9, 2001 | Go to article overview

World


Donovan, Gill, National Catholic Reporter


India church rushes supplies to quake victims

Church agencies and some 25 other non-governmental organizations have formed a disaster management team to help survivors of an earthquake that reports say killed up to 50,000 people.

Another 25,000 are estimated missing following the Jan. 26 quake that shook western India. The epicenter was in Gujarat state's Bhuj town.

Jesuit Fr. Cedric Prakash, coordinator of the newly formed Earthquake Affected Relief and Rehabilitation Service, said his team will coordinate national and international help for those affected by the worst natural disaster in the history of independent India. Team members are already in remote villages trying to meet needs for food, shelter and clothing, the priest said.

Thousands of people are still buried under rubble in villages of Kuch district, whose headquarters is Bhuj. The tremor leveled the area within a 20-kilometer radius of the epicenter.

According to Prakash, international rescue teams arrived in the state but waited some 12 hours without guidance and permission "before someone contacted us to guide them."

Millions in the state now live in open spaces fearing that damaged buildings might collapse due to aftershocks. They subsist on food provided by the state, sleep without shelter and have minimal clothing.

Seismologists recorded more than 50 aftershocks, at least one measuring more than 6 on the Richter scale, in the 36 hours following the first quake. Many people living in the open are angry that help from the administration reached only a few places, and only 48 hours after the disaster.

British Parliament legalizes embryo cloning

British antiabortion and church leaders expressed concern after new regulations to permit research on cloned human embryos cleared their final hurdle in the United Kingdom.

Members of the House of Lords, the second chamber, voted Jan. 22 to extend the types of research permitted on human embryos. The vote will permit scientists to clone human embryos and to use embryo experimentation in their quest for cures for diseases.

The lords rejected a plea from religious leaders of several faiths not to proceed with the measure.

Government ministers have agreed not to issue any licenses to allow scientists to carry out such work for nine months. The House of Lords rejected a proposal from a Catholic peer, Lord Alton of Liverpool, to delay the introduction of the changes until a special committee had examined the issue.

Lord Alton said all legislators wanted to see progress in combating degenerative diseases, but he warned that Britain would isolate itself from the rest of the world by permitting cloning.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham called the House of Lords vote "distressing."

Bioethicists said that while the United States has pioneered advances in stem cell research, Britain has held a more liberal approach to the research, which opened the way to legalizing human cloning and permitting human embryo destruction for that purpose.

Glen McGee, a bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania and editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Bioethics, told The Associated Press: "The British are less worried about the fate of the embryo than about scientists abusing the technology. In Washington, it is the day of the fetus."

He said that, in the United States, "political fear of the religious right" stops U.S. congressional approval of public funding for research involving destruction of human embryos.

Vatican, Anglicans form new working group

The Vatican and the Anglican Communion announced the formation of an international working group to prepare a joint affirmation of faith and promote cooperative projects.

The Anglican-Roman Catholic Working Group will be led by Anglican Bishop David Beetle of Highvale, South Africa, and by Catholic Archbishop John Bathersby of Brisbane, Australia, the Vatican said in an announcement Jan. …

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