The Vatican has offered a "safe haven" to the family of Siamese twins involved in a controversial High Court ruling in the UK.
    British judge Robert Johnson ruled that the two-week-old Siamese twins -- given the pseudonyms Jodie and Mary -- should be separated from each other, even though one of the girls will die in the process. The operation is supported by doctors but opposed by the babies' parents, who are devoutly religious and believe their daughters' future is in the hand of God.
    Cardinal Ersilio Tonini, Archbishop Emeritis of Ravenna, in north-east Italy, and the Vatican's principal commentator on medical ethics, said the offer of indefinite and completely free medical services was an "ethical alternative."
    The cardinal told the Sunday Times newspaper in London: "This family will be offered safe harbour in Italy in one of two specialist centres. An invitation will be issued."
    Mr Justice Johnson, giving his ruling in public after a private hearing on Friday, said: "For Jodie, separation means the expectation of a normal life; for Mary it means death."
30 Aug 00

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