Views from the News

Twitter users invited to help choose the new Archbishop of Canterbury

The Church of England is to use the social networking site Twitter to help select the new Archbishop of Canterbury. Spokesman for the Church of England said the invitation would be made through the church press but also through other media including the social networking site Twitter, where the Church of England already posts news in nuggets of 140 characters or less. Tweeters and others will be asked to offer names and ‘views on the needs of the diocese of Canterbury and the wider community’. It will also seek the views of people of all faiths and none, from the Chief Rabbi to Professor Richard Dawkins.

For the first time in history, the long and usually private process will begin with a widespread public consultation, to be finished by the end of May. The Crown Nominations Commission, which must present the Prime Minister with two possible successors to Dr. Rowan Williams, will also ask for contributions from ‘senior figures in other faiths, the secular world and the life of the nation’.

The Bishop of Durham, the Rt. Rev. Justin Welby has 562 followers; the Bishop of Bradford, the Rt. Rev. Nick Baines, has 3,953; and the early front-runner for the job, the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, has 21,558.

MPs reject relaxation of assisted suicide laws

MPs have backed the Director of Public Prosecutions over his guidance on assisted suicide, but rejected proposals to change the law. The motion put forward by Conservative, Richard Ottaway, welcomed the 2010 guidance and called for a government consultation on whether to put it on a statutory basis.

After a five-hour debate in which MPs from both sides made impassioned appeals, MPs gave their backing to the DPP’s guidance, but refused to support any moves to relax the law on assisted suicide.

Mr Ottaway argued that courts should not ‘have the last word’ on assisted suicide, but rather Parliament, as representatives of the public.

He said that the law at present does not distinguish between a malicious person encouraging a suicidal person and ‘the loving spouse who lovingly fulfils a partner’s request’.

The DPP’s guidance – which identified motive and public interest as the main factors in deciding whether to prosecute someone who helped another to die – was ‘realistic and compassionate’, he said.

An amendment calling for better palliative care was supported by more than a hundred MPs.

‘We are absolutely delighted that the House has sent such a clear message that improving specialist palliative and hospice care is a priority and that assisted suicide is not the route we wish to take as a society’, said Fiona Bruce, MP.

Labour’s Frank Field said the debate was really about euthanasia.

‘Somehow we think this country is populated by all these husbands who love their wives and wives who love their husbands … all gathering around doing the right thing’.

‘I also see a very nasty side sometimes about life, and I know perfectly well that in those circumstances those individuals would have no hesitation in trying to persuade people [what] the decent thing to do is – end their lives’.

Therese Coffey MP added, ‘It was a mature debate but certainly clear that there was no appetite of the majority of the House to change the law as it stands today’.


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