Washington: The Vatican has not dropped its request that the 24 American nuns who signed a “freedom of choice” ad last year should retract their statements or be dismissed from their religious orders.

Cardinal Jean Jerome Hamer, the Vatican’s top official for religious life, reiterated the demand for retraction at the end of a U.S. visit in August.  He said the nuns should “take steps to repair the scandal by indicating their adherence to the teaching of the Church.”  If they did not do so, the Cardinal said in a statement that the nuns could face disciplinary proceedings.  The ultimate penalty would be dismissal.

Frances Kissling, director of “Catholics for a free choice,” said “they are being asked to sign loyalty oaths that they adhere to the teachings of the Church.  The assumption is that we are disloyal,” she protested.

None of the 24 nuns who signed the ad has retracted.  Kissling explained that they “are expressing strong solidarity with women who face the question of abortion.”

In the meantime, the “Committee of Concerned Catholics” has launched a new signature campaign to protest “reprisals.”  “We affirm our solidarity with all Catholics whose right to free speech is under attack,” the headline for a proposed new ad reads.  “We…agree to stand with all who face reprisals.  We shall become the dismissed, the disinvited, the unwelcome,” days the text in part.  It goes on to say that some of the Religious signers of the first ad have been “harassed” and have lost invitations to teach, lecture or participate in various church-related programmes as a result of their public stand.

Monsignor Richard Malone, executive director of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, observed that free speech is not the issue.  The Church has a right, he said, “to pick its own teachers and speakers.  It does not have to give equal status to those who fail to understand its teaching or openly reject it or f ail to represent (it) accurately.”

The “Committee of Concerned Catholics” was formed by a group, mainly women Religious, who signed the original ad.  This group is supported by “Catholics for free choice” (who organized the first campaign) who sent out the appeal for new support in the July-August issue of its magazine, Conscience.


Florida: A Fort Lauderdale nurse was fired from her job at Plantation General Hospital after she allegedly caused “bad publicity” for the hospital in an infanticide case.

Sandra Tosti was on duty last February when a 17-ounce baby was rushed into the hospital’s neo-natal unit.  The staff began treatment, including putting the baby on a respirator, but were given an order to remove the life-saving equipment because the child was the survivor of a five and a half-month abortion.  Tosti claims she repeatedly asked the neonatologist on duty to save the child and says the nurses were also told not to give any medication that would run up the bill, and told to delay standard procedures for 12 hours “to see how the baby does.”  (The child died before 10 hours had passed.)

Tosti, a Christian, says she phoned her prayer partner during her dinner break and asked her to pray for the baby’s life.  News about the baby spread and phone calls asking about her condition were received by the hospital.  Tosti was asked to resign, accused of “breaking confidences” and causing “bad publicity,” but she refused, protesting that she had done nothing wrong.

Sandra Tosti is suing the hospital, charging them with religious discrimination, wrongful and retaliatory discharge and breach of contract.  The suit claims that “she objected on a moral and religious basis to what she believed was improper treatment of a baby born alive after an abortion.”

Florida laws prohibits the denial of life-saving treatment of a baby who survives an abortion.  It specifies that all babies are to be treated the same, whether or not they were intended to be born.


Soviet Union: Russian scientists are pursuing the possibility that diseases such as Parkinson’s disease may be cured by brain transplants.  Experiments on grafting embryonic human brain tissue to young rabbits seem to have been successful in improving “functioning of the visuosensory cortex of the great cerebral hemispheres.”

Soviet research has already established that transplanted brain operations in animals only work when embryonic or new-born tissue is used.  The current experiments with rabbits use “pieces from the brain of human embryos extracted in the early stages of pregnancy,” in other words, from aborted babies.  (Information from “Soviet News and Views,” published by the press office of the U.S.S.R. Embassy.”


Australia: Human fetal pancreatic tissue has been transplanted into six diabetic patients at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.  A doctor involved with the experimental programme would not identify the tissue as coming from aborted babies, saying that it came from pathology departments which did not reveal the source.

However, an employee of the bio-ethics centre at St. Vincent’s Hospital asserts that a deal is arranged between a mother, abortionist, researcher and pathologists before an abortion.  He suggested there may be cases where mothers with diabetic children are advised to get pregnant and then have an abortion so that the right type of tissue could be obtained.

Meanwhile, the Australian Health and Medical Research Council has told the Right to Life Association that a 1985 grant of $56,217 for research into the characteristics of human fetal pancreases does involve tissue from aborted babies.  However, the Council denies that the researchers have any connection with decisions relating to abortions.  (Information from “Life Quotes,” of the Australian Right to Life Association.)


Liechtenstein: Pope John Paul II visited Liechtenstein on September 8, to celebrate the Feast of the Birth of the Mother of God.  He used some of his most powerful language ever in condemning abortions as “repulsive crimes.”

“The unborn being’s right to live is one of the inalienable human rights,” he said.

Tiny Liechtenstein has maintained its ban on abortion while both of its neighbours, Austria and Switzerland permit it.