Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
Alarm over surge in drink consumption
Vietnam's alcohol rates are no cause for cheersConsumption has rocketed in recent years, especially among the young.
- ucanews.com reporter, Ho Chi Minh City
- October 4, 2012
This is a sudden and sizeable surge in Vietnamese consumption. Having been rapidly increasing for several years, it has jumped by a billion liters since 2009.
Authorities have expressed concern over the spread of ‚Äúdrinking culture,‚ÄĚ especially among young, urban people.
They also say the fast-growing taste for alcohol has brought a raft of social problems.¬†These were highlighted two weeks ago by the case of 30-year-old Ly A Hop, a respected local official in the Bat Xat district of Lao Cai province.
When he came home drunk and his 26-year-old wife refused to have sex with him, he allegedly asphyxiated and raped her, then threw her body into a nearby pond.
While this instance is extreme, it is by no means exceptional.
Alcohol is also a major cause of road accidents in the country. Surveys estimate that more than 30 percent of fatalities and up to 60 percent of hospitalizations involve alcohol consumption above the legal limit.
Now the government is tackling that aspect of the problem, by stiffening the penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol. From November 10, fines for exceeding the legal limit will be 250 percent higher than before.
A hard-hitting social marketing campaign by the National Traffic Safety Committee and World Health Organization on the dangers and consequences of drink driving will be aired until the end of 2012.
Dr Takeshi Kasai, the WHO representative in Vietnam, hailed the initative this week.
‚ÄúThe causal relationship between alcohol and road trauma is well established and for the majority of adults, a few drinks in a short space of time is all it takes to seriously impair driving ability,‚ÄĚ he said.