Watching the World
◆ The first head count of the population in Russia since 1959 took place this year. It shows that the total Soviet population numbers 241,700,000, an increase of 16 percent in eleven years. Interestingly, the census revealed that the Soviet Union has become a predominantly urban nation, with 56 percent of the population in cities and towns, while the remaining 44 percent lives in rural regions.
New Supreme Court Judge
◆ Sixty-one-year-old Harry Andrew Blackmun was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate on May 12 as the 99th Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Blackmun filled the vacancy left almost a year ago by the resignation of Abe Fortas. The Senate vote was 94 to 0. The first two choices to the judicial bench, Clement F. Haynsworth, Jr., and G. Harrold Carswell, did not meet with Senate approval.
Want No Tax, No Church
◆ West Germans are leaving the churches in greater numbers than ever before. This has a meaning in Germany beyond giving up attending church services. Most Germans have done that a long time ago. But what Germans are doing now is having their names legally removed from church membership rolls so that they do not have to pay the church tax. At present the tax rate is between 8 and 10 percent of one’s income tax.
◆ When Pope Paul VI went to the Italian island of Sardinia in the latter part of April, some people chanted “Fascists, Fascists,” and threw stones toward the papal motorcade. The police moved in to subdue the group. At least 24 were hurt, 14 of them policemen, and 26 persons were taken into custody. The rioters branded the pope “one of the treasurers.” But the pope protested, telling the slum-dwellers: “The pope is not rich as so many people claim. We have difficulties in meeting the expenses of the Holy See.” However, in the book The Churches: Their Riches, Revenues and Immunities the Roman Catholic Church is shown to have assets and revenues exceeding $66,850,000,000.
◆ It is no secret that the Roman Catholic Church in America generates great wealth. In stocks alone, one market expert suggested that when you touch figures like $20,000,000,000 “maybe you’ll be close.” The land assets alone of the archdiocese of New York are conservatively estimated at $55,000,000. Said author Kenneth G. Gross: “Catholics, organizationally and clerically, reportedly realize major profits from Grace Lines, Moran Towing, dozens of food producers and packagers, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, and various utilities. Jesuits own large blocks of shares in defense industries (National Steel, Boeing, Lockheed, Douglas, Curtiss-Wright), as well as DiGiorgio Corp. and other firms. The Knights of Columbus, a tax-exempt lay Catholic group, includes the land under Yankee Stadium in a portfolio of half a billion dollars.” A New York priest said: “The Catholic Church must either get back to helping its poorest members rather than cultivating its most influential parishioners, or else risk devastation.”
Ulcers Among Children
◆ A recent survey of medical records indicated that ulcers may be becoming an increasingly common ailment among children. As in adults, ulcers in children may have emotional stress as an underlying cause. Dr. Harry A. Sultz, an associate professor of preventive medicine at the State University of New York at Buffalo, said that the sharpest increase in incidence was found among 15-year-old boys, particularly those boys from the highest socio-economic class. It has been found that marital instability and parental religious differences were far more common in the homes of ulcer patients than in the homes of children with other chronic diseases.
Flight from Religion
◆ A social philosopher and theologian, Will Herberg, said the man of today, even in America, has become virtually religion-blind and religion-deaf. What keeps modern man from being religious? “With the deep and thoroughgoing secularization of Western society, the hopes and expectations of the masses of people have steadily been turning from Church to State, from religion to politics,” he said. Herberg believes religion has lost sight of the individual, consequently the individual has lost sight of religion. Therefore, the flight.
“Heresy” from a Patriarch
◆ In an interview Greek Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras recently spoke out for marriage of the clergy and against clerical garb. Said the patriarch of Constantinople: “Wearing a clerical frock is no longer of any meaning, neither in appearance nor in an objective. . . . I am openly declared for marriage of clergymen even after ordination. . . . We would have as clergymen . . . many graduates of theological seminaries, had they been able to marry on finding their life companions and not hurriedly as the form imposes it.” These comments provoked a sharp response from Metropolitan Amyrossios, who sent a telegram to the Holy Synod saying that the patriarch adheres to “an heresy without reservation.” As a result, declared the metropolitan, the outspoken patriarch would no longer be commemorated in the churches of his metropolis.
◆ It is against the law now to produce preparations of DDT for use on food and fodder crops in the Soviet Union. The United States government announced last November that it planned to do away with most domestic uses of DDT over a two-year period. It began by ordering the halt of the use of DDT in residential areas by the end of 1969.
Four Men Climb Everest
◆ Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norkay, his Sherpa guide, were the first to climb to the top of Mount Everest. That was on May 29, 1953. Since then Swiss, American and Indian expeditions have made their way to the top of the world’s highest mountain. The latest triumph was made by a Japanese expedition that reached the summit on two consecutive days, placing four men atop the 29,028-foot mountain on May 11 and 12. The total now is 24 persons who have made the climb successfully.
Why Priests Leave
◆ Some 28,000 out of 550,000 priests have left the Roman Catholic Church in the last five years. The Vatican now expects the number to increase sharply. Quite naturally people are asking, Why are the priests leaving the church? A number of people point to clerical celibacy as the place where the trouble rests, especially so with young priests. But Jesuit sociologist Eugene J. Schallert states that priests tend to be driven out primarily by insensitive authorities rather than lured out by the other sex.
◆ The secretary-general of the United Nations cites annual figures on waste products in the United States as follows: 142,000,000 tons of smoke and noxious fumes, 7,000,000 automobiles, 20,000,000 tons of paper, 48,000,000,000 cans, 26,000,000,000 bottles and jars, 3,000,000,000 tons of waste rock and mill-tailings, 50,000,000,000,000 gallons of hot water. Comparatively speaking, little attention is being given to the conservation and recycling of materials.
◆ One of Europe’s most influential Roman Catholic bishops criticized Pope Paul for refusing discussion of the controversial question of priestly celibacy. The controversy has added to the crisis between the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands. The Dutch Catholics, pressing for acceptance of married priests, urge that the question be brought before the entire church for a decision. The pope says No. The pope’s refusal to permit discussion was criticized by Leo Cardinal Suenens, bishop of Brussels. In an interview Cardinal Suenens said that the question of celibacy itself is not the most important point at stake, but what is at stake is the manner “of conceiving the governing of the Church and the application of certain principles at the heart of Vatican II,” the Ecumenical Council that ended in 1966. The cardinal admitted that the pope had the legal right to block discussion of the Dutch request, but, he said, “this is not at all the way the normal life of the church should be nor a normal condition of its government.”
Killer Tornado Strikes
◆ Lubbock, Texas, a city of 170,000 was turned into a disaster area on the night of May 12. A tornado so powerful that it blew a freight train off its track and ripped great chunks of concrete from buildings, left over twenty persons dead and more than three hundred injured. Property damage was unofficially calculated in the millions of dollars. The storm left a path of destruction eight miles long. Hurricane-force winds pelted the area with golf-ball-sized hail and several inches of rain. A 21-story downtown office building was evacuated and declared to be too dangerous for occupation. A policeman said that “looting started before the wind died down.”
A Revision of Priorities
◆ Walter J. Hickel, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, the man who in a personal letter took President Nixon gently but unmistakably to task for cutting himself off from the nation’s youth, appealed on May 13 that the nation radically revise its priorities in the years ahead. “We must take stock of what the priorities are for man,” Hickel said. “Our earth is endangered by man’s environmental abuses. We must have the courage to set those priorities not only in America but in the world so that most of our time, energy and money is spent on the living of life rather than on the destruction and the defense of life.”
Vandalism in Schools
◆ Vandalism in schools is costly. Last year New York city’s public schools paid a bill of $3,266,025 for broken glass, unlawful entries and fires. The cost this year was a 20-percent increase over the 1968 loss. The listed cost of vandalism no doubt would be much higher if there were figures available on all stolen equipment and defaced and broken furniture and walls. The cost in lost education adds still more. When a room full of typewriters is looted, the children taking typing lessons get no instruction, sometimes for two months or more, until the typewriters are replaced.
◆ Anyone taking a blood transfusion today runs the serious risk of contracting hepatitis, a dangerous type of blood disease. More than five thousand cases of infectious hepatitis are caused each year in California alone by blood transfusions. Also a Florida team of doctors found that oxygen transport is impaired up to 33 percent by the smoking habit. This raised in cardiologist Robert W. Eliot’s mind the question of whether smokers’ blood should be transfused into critically ill patients. “We don’t advise against it as yet,” he said. But “as for myself, I know that if I needed a transfusion, I wouldn’t want to have blood from a donor who smoked.”
Spanish Witness Freed
◆ After more than eleven years in Spanish prisons due to his conscientious refusal to participate in military service as a minister of Jehovah’s witnesses, Alberto Contijoch Berenguer was released on April 23, by a special pardon from Spain’s Chief of State. Alberto Contijoch, now 33 years old, was first ordered to report for military service on March 12, 1959, and due to his continued conscientious objection was sentenced to four terms totaling nineteen years and two days. About 160 ministers of Jehovah’s witnesses are presently serving terms in Spanish prisons for this same reason, 73 of whom have been held for from three to as long as ten years.