Spain, once considered a European stronghold for the Roman Catholic Church, has become increasingly secular. The Church finds its spiritual and social influence throughout the country is in decline. It’s estimated fewer than 20 percent of Spaniards now attend Mass regularly. More
A government advisory committee recommended that 11- and 12-year-old girls be routinely vaccinated against a sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer. The vaccine is most effective when it’s administered to girls before they become sexually active. But with the potential for premarital sex involved, the recommendation has been caught between science, politics and religion. More
In Myanmar, which many still call Burma, military rulers allow no democracy or free speech and persecute religious minority groups. Human rights groups say there is a campaign of oppression that has resulted in almost a million and a half displaced people. Critics say the generals who control the area are conducting a form of ethnic cleansing hidden from the eyes of the outside world. More
Expanding medical technologies continue to create a host of new ethical dilemmas. Researchers can now detect early in a pregnancy if a fetus has Down Syndrome. The condition usually results in some degree of physical and mental disability, and armed with that information, some expectant parents face the wrenching decision of whether to terminate the pregnancy. More
A new report says this year Americans gave record amounts of private charitable donations. Another report says Americans donated nearly $3 billion to post-hurricane relief efforts. Yet nearly four months after Hurricane Katrina, the magnitude of the destruction is still difficult to comprehend. In the midst of it, many people here say the themes of Christmas are echoing in new and poignant ways.
In Germany, several of the concrete slabs at Berlin’s memorial to the Holocaust were defaced by vandals. In spite of anti-semitic incidents and other difficulties, the number of Jews moving to Germany has been going up dramatically. Also growing are the accompanying efforts to help them recover a sense of Jewish identity. More
Forty-six states have what are known as “conscience clauses” that allow health care workers the right to refuse to perform abortions. What concerns many women and men is that several states are now debating legislation that would expand these clauses to include not only abortion but emergency contraceptives as well. More