Tuesday, July 29, 2008

On July 29

On this day in ...

... 1968 (40 years ago today), media coverage focused on a new encyclical entitled Humanae Vitae, in which Pope Paul VI (right) rebuffed the recommendation of a majority of a Pontifical Commission, and thus "confirmed a ban on the use of contraceptives by Roman Catholics." Among the pope's "the most controversial" acts, it was reaffirmed in 1995 by a successor, John Paul II. This year's anniversary has stirred the issue again: among those commenting are "[m]ore than 50 dissident Catholic groups from around the world," which last week published, in an Italian newspaper, "an open letter asking Pope Benedict XVI to lift the church's ban on birth control." This group focused on HIV/AIDS as a reason for change; other commentators cited opposition among Catholic laypeople, sometimes by "majorities exceeding 80 percent," as well as links between overpopulation and global warming. Meanwhile, in the Philippines, Manila's archbishop supported the ban with this argument:

'If there is discipline in the marital bed, then there is discipline in the streets, there is discipline in schools, there is discipline in the government.'

... 1993 (15 years ago today), an Israeli appellate court overturned the conviction of John Demjanjuk. The court found insufficient evidence to support charges that Demjanjuk had committed war crimes as "Ivan the Terrible, a gas chamber operative at the death camp Treblinka, in Poland." Demjanjuk had been extradited to Israel by the United States. On his return, the United States undertook to deport him; however, no country has agreed to accept the Ukraine-born man, who'd immigrated to the United States in 1951. Earlier this month, a Spanish court announced that it would proceed with a war crimes action against Demjanjuk and 3 others. Initiator of the suit -- brought pursuant to the principle of universal jurisdiction -- was the NGO Equipo Nizkor. (credit for 1987 photo of Demjanjuk on trial in Israel)

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