Watching the World
◆ An American national Catholic paper, The Voice, recently criticized in a front-page article: “Anyone who still doubts that Paul VI is a supporter of Marxist Socialism has got to have blinders on. Communists of all ranks and brands troop into the Vatican for Papal audiences with boring regularity.” And continued criticism from priests continues to stir Vatican responses. In his latest annual address to Rome Lenten preachers, Pope Paul again asked priests to refrain from “acrid” criticism of their own Church.
Church Money Methods
◆ Ailing parochial schools are driven to ever more desperate methods to get money. One in the Denver, Colorado, area brought strenuous objections from parents. It proposed that they submit to the Church their Federal Income Tax record of wages so assessments could be made based on 5 percent of wages. Then, says priest Ralph Berg, “notices could be sent to people who slipped behind in their payments,” reports the Wheat Ridge Sentinel.
◆ “We lose the equivalent of one medical school class a year” to alcoholism, says the head of alcoholic detoxification at San Francisco General Hospital. Physicians are said to have the highest alcoholism rate of any profession in America.
Following Religion’s Example
◆ New York’s professional gamblers are taking their cue from synagogues and Catholic churches who sponsor so-called “Las Vegas Nites.” This is illegal gambling in the guise of religious fund raising. Now the gamblers arrange their own “Nites,” under the names of fake “charitable” organizations. Police have usually overlooked illegal religious gambling; but now a deputy police commissioner asks: “Can they be selectively prosecuted, since they are all technically illegal”? There is another problem too: “Among the unpaid volunteers who conduct the gambling parties for religious bodies there is a suspicion that these professionals are connected with organized crime,” says the New York Times. Police are investigating.
◆ Three years ago U.S. silver coins with a face value of $1,000 could be bought for about $1,200. Now it takes about four times that much. In the same period the old $20 gold pieces jumped from a purchase price of $70 to more than $375. One coin dealer says: “I’ve never seen anything like it. . . . The last week has been total insanity—people just buying with reckless abandon.” Why? “It is lack of faith in governments—both individually and collectively—that is at the root of the gold frenzy,” observes a New York Times editorial.
◆ The South African Coal & Gas Corporation opened a plant in 1955 that is thought to be the only one in the world commercially successful in producing oil from coal. Last year it produced the equivalent of $295 million in oil, gas and chemicals at a profit. How? Coal is crushed to powder and mixed with steam and oxygen under pressure. Raw coal, together with converted coal, supplies 80 percent of South Africa’s energy needs. Engineers from oil-dependent countries are now studying the system with interest.
◆ The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency claims that all burnable trash, now wasted, has the potential energy equivalent to 150 million barrels of oil annually. That is enough to light all U.S. homes and commercial buildings for a year. St. Louis, Missouri, now generates 5 percent of its electricity by burning 200 tons of refuse a day.
◆ Do recent slight decreases in the spiraling rate of some reported crimes in the U.S. indicate a turn in the tide? Or does it actually mean that many victims are becoming so hardened to crime that they do not report it? A recent survey of eight cities by the Justice Department’s Law Enforcement Assistance Administration found the latter to be true. Over twice the number of crimes reported were actually committed! The study found that either the victims do not believe that the police can do anything or they themselves do not want to be troubled with reporting crime. A spokesman says that this raises serious questions as to “the confidence of the public in law enforcement agencies.”
◆ How effectively do prisons deter crime? A U.S. congressional subcommittee found that two thirds of serious crime in the country is connected with former prisoners. And a Citizens’ Inquiry on Parole and Criminal Justice in New York reveals that, within five years, half the prisoners judged worthy of parole get into trouble again. Most of these go back to prison.
More Smoking Hazards
◆ The recent discovery that babies “breathe” in the womb led a team of English doctors at Oxford to find that smoking can also harm the fetus. When mother smokes, the baby can “be seen to gasp in the womb, . . . almost certainly suffering a temporary oxygen shortage. Over a long period the oxygen shortage . . . can stunt growth of the baby and may also cause brain damage,” reports London’s Sunday Times. And the New England Journal of Medicine reveals that a study of 36,656 adults showed double the incidence of peptic ulcers in male smokers over nonsmokers and half again as many among women smokers.
Back of the Bus
◆ Last month the U.S. Interstate Commerce Commission banished smokers to the back 20 percent of the bus on interstate trips, saying that “smoking on buses creates serious health hazards to those passengers who are nonsmokers.”
Another Transfusion Danger
◆ The Copenhagen medical periodical Ugeskrift for Læger discusses blood-transfusion hazards for patients being treated for complications of kidney disease (uremia). It reports: “Despite [red blood cell] values of approximately one half of normal, these patients are capable of compensating for acute blood loss . . . with the assistance of iron administration and without blood transfusion. Transfusions should be avoided in patients with terminal uremia for various reasons, such as the risk of hepatitis, sensitization with reactions to subsequent transfusions . . . and the fact that transfusion inhibits [production of red blood cells] in the bone marrow.”
Baptists and Abortion
◆ Do traditionally fundamentalist Baptists stick to the Bible’s view on the life of the unborn? (Ex. 21:22, 23) They do not seem too sure what to believe. The Baptist General Convention passed a resolution neither supporting nor condemning abortion and recommending only a “continuing study” of the matter.
Catholics on Homosexuality
◆ Leading Catholic theologian Gregory Baum of St. Michael’s College in Toronto, Canada, says that “homosexual love . . . is not contrary to human nature” by his definition. Calling for more study of the subject, he states that theologians “may conclude that persons who are constitutively homosexual must accept their orientation and live accordingly.”
Fruits of “Sexual Revolution”
◆ The raging gonorrhea epidemic struck an estimated 2.8 million Americans last year. The rate of infection was twice as intense as in Sweden, where the government has launched an explicit publicity campaign to curb it. However, “no U.S. campaign could flaunt the sexual revolution in the public’s face,” says a spokesman for the U.S. Center for Disease Control. Why? Because it might offend religious people. Yet, many of the clergy are busy fueling the “revolution.” Writing in The Catholic Weekly, a University of Michigan chaplain says of an unmarried couple: “Simply to tell them to ‘shut down’ their sexual drives is far too unrealistic a response.”
◆ When thieves emptied the money boxes at St. Peter’s Church in Dennery, reports The Voice of St Lucia, West Indies, the parish priest angrily pronounced sorcerer-like curses on the bandits. And in Guyana, Georgetown’s Roman Catholic vicar-general condoned legalization of the popular local sorcery called “obeah.” He recommended the Church’s usual compromise with paganism, saying: “I don’t believe the practice of obeah would harm the church and Guyanese should . . . regain what they lost from their cultural heritage.”
Learning to See
◆ An Italian doctor, Dr. B. Strampelli, at Rome’s San Giovanni Hospital, is reported in Medical Tribune to have restored sight to nearly 300 patients. He places an acrylic lens on the cornea in a “bed” of dental ivory to keep the eye from rejecting the artificial lens. However, among those blind for years or who have never seen before, many “must be taught to see like a newborn baby, taught to see every object—a fork, a knife,” says his assistant. Intellectuals are said to have the greatest difficulty adjusting, some becoming depressed and behaving as if still blind. Rehabilitation may take as much as a year.
◆ While the 1,350-foot World Trade Center in New York and the 1,454-foot Sears Tower in Chicago vie with each other for “highest” honors, the Toronto communications and observation tower is rising toward its projected 1,805-foot height. It will be the world’s tallest freestanding structure, over one third of a mile high. Construction and design head Malachy Grant says the cable-reinforced concrete shaft is built to withstand “even a direct hit by a Boeing 747.” The tower is expected to increase television broadcast range by about 25 miles. Observers about 1,500 feet up in the tower will have a breathtaking 17,500-square-mile view.
◆ Sports physicians meeting in Munich recently were told that strenuous competitive sports “may be quite dangerous to people past the age of forty” even if they had trained incessantly when younger. And young athletes “who overstress their [physical] system in competitive sports may suffer irreparable damage to their spines . . . and to other involved joints. Moderation was suggested to both old and young,” reports The Journal of the American Medical Association.
◆ “The 1973 [U.S.] tornado season . . . had the most, lasted the longest, involved more states and produced more ‘super tornadoes’ than any year since tornado records began,” marvel the directors of the National Severe Storms Forecast Center. The 1,107 tornadoes ripped across all but 4 states, killing 87 persons and causing half a billion dollars’ worth of property damage. Two of the most violent on record left trails of destruction 135 and 158 miles long respectively. In contrast, the 741 tornadoes reported in 1972 caused 27 deaths.
◆ The well-preserved fossil skeleton of one of the largest extinct elephants so far discovered was found in northwest China’s Kansu Province. Peking’s China Reconstructs magazine reports that the mammoth stood 13 feet high and was about 25 feet long, with tusks a foot in diameter and almost 10 feet long.
World’s Richest Street
◆ The value of land on Zurich’s, Switzerland, Bahnhofstrasse (Railroad Station Street) is now the equivalent of about $1,000 per square foot. That is twice the rate paid on New York’s Fifth Avenue. Yet the street itself is rather plain, being mostly shops, department stores and a few hotels. Even so, it has attracted some of the most elite of the world’s business community, anxious for space even at that price.