Sunday, 15 June 2014

Pope Francis meeting the poor at the Community of Saint Egidio in Rome

I was very touched to be part of the big crowd of people who wanted to be in Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere in Rome this afternoon. Thousands of people welcomed Pope Francis. It was a fantastic experience!

The Piazza was full, even though some people had not been able to join due to the heavy rain. Nevertheless, there were thousands of people singing cheerfully when I arrived. I was there together with some dear friends and I am happy to be able to say that I have met the Pope and listened to some of the speeches made by poor, immigrants, sick and elderly in the Church of Santa Maria in Trastevere. The Pope was touched to tears when the 90-year-old woman Irma talked about how important it is to appreciate the elderly and how her life changed when she started helping those that were older than her when she was 70. Now, I am not able to move or do many things myself, she said, but I am not to be put aside. I still have a lot to give.

A young Roma man touched me deeply when he told the pope and the audience how people from the community came to pick him up to take him to school when he was a little boy. He kept studying thanks to the volunteers of the community and eventually found a job and now has a family and lives in a flat. He keeps helping other Roma people and tell them to study.
 Many people talked and unfortunatelly I had to run away before listening to the Pope since it started raining too heavily. I have posted the video above (Italian).

The Community of Sant'Egidio was founded in Rome in 1968. It has 60.000 members today in over 73 countries in the world. I was told that a site was started in London where there are 8 members who have started up the activity.

The members of the community do a lot of volunteering and I paste the below from the homepage:

Friendship with the poor
The third "work" typical of Sant'Egidio, fundamental and daily commitment since the very beginning, is the service to poor people, lived as friendship. The students of 1968 who began gathering around the Word of God, felt the Gospel could not be lived far from poor people: poor people as friends and the Gospel as the Good News for poor people. Thus the first service of the community began, when it was not yet named Sant'Egidio. It was called the "People's School" because it was not simply providing extra tutoring for drop-out children of the slums of Rome (like the "Cinodromo" shacks along the Tiber), but it was the beginning of a friendship between the rich and the poor. Since then, the people's schools multiplied, in Rome and in all the other cities where the community lives, with special attention to the most disadvantaged children in the most difficult situation.

The Pope was invited to the Synagogue in Rome at the entrance of the church today, and we will soon see him there. Francis believes in communication and said so also during the sermon.

Thank you Comunità di Sant'Egidio for this great experience!

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Abortion in Italy - 70% of Italy's gynecologists are conscientious objectors

Of course, we have all asked ourselves  the question whether it is right or wrong to have an abortion, haven't we? 70% of Italy's gynecologists are against abortion and refuse to terminate a pregnancy. This counteracts the law 194, for free abortion, in some places, yet still give doctors the right to choose.


Since 1978, the Italian women have been able to go to the govermental hospitals to have an abortion. The law 194 for abortion was introduced on 22 May the same year. However, you can not always go to the nearest hospital to interrupt a pregnancy beause a lot of Italian gynecologists are against abortion and refuse to do this kind of surgery. On average, 70% of gynecologists in the country refuses to interrupt a pregnancy, but the number varies from city to city. At the hospital in Jesi (Ancona) is 100% of the gynecologists are conscientious objectors.

Italy is one of the countries with the most conscientious objetors when it comes to abortion. In Britain 10 % of the gynecologists refuses to abort, while an average of 80% of the doctors in Portugal considesr it unethical and object. In Italy, we know that the Catholic Church has a big influence, but is this the only reason why doctors refuse to terminate a pregnancy? According to the doctor Giovanna Scassellati at San Camillo Hospital in Rome, religion is not the only reason. She believes that one can be against abortion without being a Catholic, and it is very stressful to have to do with abortions. At the hospital where she works 91% of the gynecologists is conscientious objectors.

In Sweden, about 110,000 children are born each year and  between 35,000 and 38,000 abortions per year are carried out. In Italy the objectors have increased by 17.3% in recent years, according to the Metro newspaper (13 March 2014). The number of abortions has also declined in recent years in Italy.
Photo: Percent of abortions in Italy

Below we can see what percentage aborted pregnancies we have in different countries in Europe. Romania has the largest number of abortions while Holland has the lowest. Germany have fewer abortions than Italy so I do not think that it all depends on the Catholic Church. Why does Sweden have so many abortions? I believe there is a good sex education in Sweden and is also very open to talk about sexuality. Or perhaps it isn't so?

Percent aborted pregnancies in the different countries in 2010

I will not dig into the ethical question of abortion and discuss if it is is right or wrong, but I am confident we can all agree that the best would be to avoid an abortion? What do you think?