Insight on the News
How Far Will It Go?
● The Italian legislature in 1970 passed a historic law providing for civil divorce. Now, on May 12 of this year, a referendum was held to decide whether the law should be repealed. For two months Italy’s bishops and most—but not all—of its 190,000 priests and nuns mounted a strong campaign in favor of repeal, which was also supported by the Christian Democratic party. International interest was stirred because of the vote’s significance as to the future of the Church in Italy. What resulted?
Overwhelming defeat, as Italians voted almost three to two in favor of retaining the divorce law. The city of Rome itself voted 70 percent against repealing the law. Even the pope’s home district of Brescia voted against repeal. A United Press dispatch called it “the worst setback for the Roman Catholic Church in Italian political affairs since Italian troops chased Pope Pius IX to the Vatican, ending the church’s temporal power in 1870.”
Referring to a “soul-searching review on the part of the leadership of the Italian Church,” the Catholic magazine “America” (May 25, 1974) saw the event as probably stepping up the “process of disengagement from an outmoded pattern of church-state relations.”
That far more than a divorce law may be at stake is seen by dispatches showing that, once the outcome of the referendum was known, “anti-clerical groups announced a nationwide drive to collect signatures on a petition calling for a referendum on all laws giving the Church a special position.” Among these laws is one saying that “the Roman, Catholic, Apostolic religion is the only religion of the state.” Other laws grant tax exemptions and special privileges to Church agencies.
Readers of “The Watchtower” will not be surprised at such developments. The “handwriting” has long been on the wall, recorded in Bible prophecy.—Rev. 17:15-18.
A Third VD and Oral Sex
● Herpes-virus infections are not new. They cause, among other things, the common “cold sore” in or around one’s mouth. But since 1960 herpes infections have made a dramatic appearance in the role of a highly contagious venereal disease. In this field, genital herpes-virus now ranks next to gonorrhea (which is about thirty times as prevalent as syphilis). Herpes infections of the male or female genital areas cause painful lesions. Though temporary, these can bring serious consequences. Newborn babies passing through the mother’s birth canal can pick up the infection, and about one in four cases proves fatal. Babies surviving often suffer brain damage. Besides this, evidence points to a link between genital herpes and cancer of the female cervix and perhaps of the male prostate. Studies too show a greater possibility of abortions during pregnancy.
“Time” magazine says that genital herpes tends to afflict “primarily the sexually promiscuous,” particularly among young people. Writing in “Medical World News” (April 26, 1974), Dr. Elmar G. Lutz relates that for years he has pointed out to patients inquiring about oral-genital sex the possibility of this virus being “transmitted from the oral cavity to the genital area and vice versa.” He warns that liberation from stricter sexual attitudes “does not necessarily lead to freedom, or if so, only at the expense of other freedoms. Cunnilingus and fellatio [forms of oral sex] can be dangerous bedfellows,” he says, while “morality often is a matter of health.”
This emphasizes once again the truth stated at Romans 1:26, 27. Those engaging in sexual practices “contrary to nature” eventually receive in themselves the full recompense due for their error.’
Older, but Not Less Intelligent
● In contrast with modern emphasis on youth, the Bible often links wisdom with old age. (Job 12:12, 20; 32:6, 7) But does not old age bring a decline in mental ability? Some aged persons become senile. But a recent article in the Detroit “Sunday News” says that many psychiatrists, educators and gerontologists now view any automatic declining intelligence in old age as “a myth.” “There is plenty of evidence,” says University of Michigan professor Howard Y. McClusky, “that if life is rewarding and people continue to use their talents, they will keep growing intellectually regardless of age.” Compare this with the fine description at Psalm 92:12-15.