Pope Francis takes over Knights of Malta after condom dispute

Pope Francis delivers his blessing during his meeting with Grand Master of the Knights of Malta Matthew Festing, left, at the Vatican on June 23, 2016. Photo Credit: AP / Gabriel Bouys

Pope Francis on Wednesday seized control of the Knights of Malta, and action that amounts to one sovereign country annexing another, if on a very small scale.

The naming of a delegate signals a Vatican takeover, harking back to the Vatican’s previous takeovers of the Legion of Christ and Jesuit religious orders when they were undergoing periods of scandal or turmoil.

But those are religious orders that report directly to the Holy See. The Knights of Malta is a sovereign entity under international law, making the Vatican intervention all the more remarkable.

Festing had refused to cooperate with a papal commission investigating his ouster of the order’s grand chancellor, Albrecht von Boeselager, over revelations that the Knights’ charity branch had distributed condoms under his watch.

Festing had cited the Knights’ status as a sovereign entity in refusing to cooperate with what he said was an act of internal governance. Many canon lawyers had backed him up, questioning the pope’s right to intervene.

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Scorsese warns against ‘tossing away’ spirituality

US film director Martin Scorsese says he overcame ‘monumental’ problems to make his latest film (AFP Photo/MARTIN BUREAU)

Paris (AFP) – Hollywood legend Martin Scorsese said that despite “horrific” conflicts around the world involving religion “we shouldn’t toss away spirituality”.

The Oscar-winning maker of “Taxi Driver” and “The Last Temptation of Christ” told reporters on Thursday that he had to overcome “monumental legal and financial problems” to make his latest film “Silence” about the martyrdom of hidden Catholics and Jesuit missionaries in Japan in the 17th century.

“I was constantly discouraged from making it by Hollywood,” said the 74-year-old director, who insisted that the human need for spirituality cannot be ignored.

He said his film, which he had been trying to make for two decades, was a meditation on the spiritual reflex. “It does exist. So how do we nurture it? Not necessarily through religion but in the spiritual meaning of being a human being.”

Scorsese said that while “there are horrific events going on in the world” tied to religion “we shouldn’t toss away spirituality”.

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European Parliament Proposes that Robots Be Given Human Rights

© Francois Lenoir / Reuters

A European Parliament committee has voted in favor of a draft report that proposes granting legal status to robots, categorizing them as “electronic persons”.

The draft report, approved by 17 votes to two and two abstentions by the European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs, proposes that “The most sophisticated autonomous robots could be established as having the status of electronic persons with specific rights and obligations, including that of making good any damage they may cause.”

Authored by Luxembourg MEP Mady Delvaux, the report proposes definitions and outlines rules to govern how robots interact with humans “now that humankind stands on the threshold of an era” that it claims will see artificial intelligence (AI) “unleash a new industrial revolution.”

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Babies made without mothers ‘will come sooner than we think’

Babies made without mothers could come sooner than we think, leading biologists claim.

Late last year, a team at the University of Bath discovered that sperm and skin cells – or any other kind of non-egg cell – might be all you need for conception.

At the time, they said the scenario of men conceiving with men was ‘speculative and fanciful’.

But in a new report published today, the top embryologists at Harvard and Brown Universities urge nations to begin contemplating the legal minefield that would surround mother-less babies.

‘With science and medicine hurtling forward at breakneck speed, the rapid transformation of reproductive and regenerative medicine may surprise us,’ they write.

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