Global Briefs for Feb. 9

Earthquake Relief: The earthquake that hit Taiwan on Feb. 7 is the most powerful experienced in the island nation in 50 years, according to the Rt. Rev. David Lai. Bishop Lai has called on parishes to raise funds and help in relief efforts.

“Let them know Christians do not just stay in the church,” the bishop said.

Earthquakes have left 13 dead, 380 injured, and many buildings demolished. Tremors were felt 300km away from the quake’s epicentre in the island’s capital, Taipei.

Stay Focused, Archbishop Says: The Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, Archbishop of Nigeria, has called on his country’s federal government to exercise caution in resettling internally displaced persons and to not give up the fight against the militant Islamic force Boko Haram.

Speaking at the opening of his province’s standing committee in the capital city, Abuja, he said the government needs to be certain of the security of territories captured from Boko Haram before sending people back to them.

“We want to reiterate that fighting terrorism is not a 100-meter dash but a long cross-country race,” he said.

Kidnapping continues, he said: clergy and traditional rulers are taken in different states, and “we should not wait until people in government are being kidnapped before we react.” Okoh called for a holistic approach in endeavors to defeat corruption.

Bishops Reject Euthanasia: Nine New Zealand Anglican bishops have declared. They have urged the nation’s parliament not to proceed with pro-euthanasia legislation.

They say that “legalizing medically assisted dying will open the gateway to many foreseen and unforeseen consequences which will be damaging to individuals and the social fabric.”

Seven serving and two retired bishops signed the statement. It recognizes “the great distress of patients, families, and friends in the case of some intractable and prolonged terminal illnesses,” but recommends that “resources to enhance palliative care and counselling support for both patients and their whanau be increased.”

In a separate submission the ecumenical and cross-cultural InterChurch Bioethics Council says: “For those with terminal illness, effective care is now possible through palliative care, which includes modern methods for the management of pain and distress through people trained to help the terminally ill die well and with dignity.”

Faith and Contentment: Karl Marx called religion “the opiate of the people,” a drug to quell the pain of human existence. For others, however, religion is the key to the meaning of life. A new study in the United Kingdom confirms that faith can make people more content in life.

Figures from the well-being research of the Office of National Statistics suggest that people who report they are without religious affiliation have a lower level of happiness, life satisfaction, and self-worth than those who do. Non-religious Britons, however, report lower levels of anxiety than people linked to the main faiths.

The survey found that people’s general sense of well-being peaks in their late 60s and tapers downwards from their early 70s. It found that middle-aged people are most stressed.

Nick Spencer, research director of Theos, a think tank on faith, said in the Telegraph that while some of the findings could be affected by temporary factors, the findings on how worthwhile people consider their lives suggest a “positive correlation” between religion and contentment.

“You have to recognise that this has nothing to say about the truth of every religious belief, just its effect,” he said. “It matches a trend in evolutionary thinking over the last 10 to 15 years, which says that religion, having been seen in the 20th century as a [stage] of progress, is an instinctive aspect of human nature with survival benefits to it.”

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