World News in Brief

Vincentians call for end of APEC

More than 500 protesters in Manila, including dozens of Catholic religious and other Christians, have called for the abolition of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. On the 21-country summit’s last day, protestors gathered and cried, “junk-junk APEC!” over and over. 

“I represent the Church stance of calling our leaders of our country not to participate in this kind of meeting, which aims only to plunder our natural resources and plunder, oppress and suppress our poor people,” said Fr Edprim Gaza, who is based in Manila but works closely with indigenous people on the southern island of Mindanao. 

The president of the bishops’ conference challenged APEC leaders to create policies to give the marginalised a voice. “It’s about empowering the poor so they are heard because we are so used to looking at the poor as recipients of help,” said Lingayen-Dagupan’s Archbishop Socrates Villegas. 


Swiss Church counsels prostitutes

The Church is Switzerland is setting up a counselling service for prostitutes. ‘Spiritual Welfare for the Taboo’, which will provide counselling for women in Basel’s sex trade over the next three years, will be housed within an existing counselling centre at the heart of Basel’s red light district. Many of Basel’s reported 3,000 prostitutes come from South America, the Philippines, Hungary, Germany and Spain. Basel’s Bishop Felix Gmür said, backing the service, “I want a Church that goes out to the people.”


Nuns’ rescue group expands

Talitha Kum, a network of 1,100 religious sisters who rescue victims of human trafficking even by infiltrating brothels and buying children being sold into slavery is expanding to 140 countries, according to its chairman.

John Studzinski said though the organisation, which was founded in 2004, currently operates in about 80 countries the need to tackle trafficking is growing globally. The group believes that 1% of the world’s population – 73 million people – are trafficked each year in some way. 70% of these are women.


Quebec care home offers to assist suicides

At least one of Quebec’s 31 palliative care facilities is planning to offer physician-assisted suicide to its patients after the Canadian province’s Respecting End-of-life Care law goes into effect in December.

Sherbrooke’s La Maison Aube-Lumiere in Sherbrooke will offer assisted suicide, according to Elisabeth Briere, president of the home’s board of directors, as it is “totally coherent with the core values of our general philosophy, which puts the patient at the centre of all our interventions”.

Sherbrooke’s Archbishop Luc Cyr said he was “troubled” by the decision, praising palliative care staff in general, and saying that “when the patient’s sufferings are soothed through proper medical care, end-of-life can be an outstanding opportunity to step back, to reflect on the meaning of life and to deepen our faith. Fear and anxiety about one’s eventual death thus becomes less acute”.

The new law was passed in June in the aftermath of February’s Supreme Court decision invalidating across Canada the Criminal Code articles regarding medically induced death.