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The percentage of children born outside marriage continues to increase, according to new figures from the Central Statistics office. The figures, contained in the Vital Statistics report for the fourth quarter of 2011, show that there were 5,866 births registered outside marriage, which accounted for 34.3pc of all births, an increase of 0.1pc on the fourth quarter of 2010 and an increase of 1.3pc on fourth quarter of 2006. Nineteen percent of new births were to unmarried parents living at the same address.
One in ten children, some as young as nine, have looked at inappropriate sexual imagery online, according to a new EU survey. The report, Towards a Better Internet for Children, is part of a study looking at 25,000 families in 25 countries across Europe, and is funded by the European Commission's Safer Internet Programme. It showed that 11pc of Irish children reported seeing sexual images online. Across the EU, the average was 14pc.
The Government has been attacked over its attitude towards religion by The Irish Catholic newspaper. In an editorial, the newspaper accused the Government of unleashing “a veritable double whammy” against people of faith, by coming out in favour of gay marriage and abortion. Citing the announcement by Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore that he supports same-sex marriage, it said: “It seems odd for a man who insists that the voice of faith must be silent on issues of political or social concern to speak of 'belief' in political causes.
The UK Government has no mandate to introduce same-sex marriage, the head of the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has said. In his strongest attack yet on Prime Minister David Cameron's proposals to permit same-sex marriage, Dr Rowan Williams (pictured) pointed out that the measure had not been included in the Conservative or Liberal Democrat election manifestos, the Daily Telegraph reports. His intervention follows the publication last month of the Church of England’s response to the Government’s consultation on same-sex marriage.
New laws must allow women to take maternity leave who have used surrogate mothers to have children, according to the Equality Authority. In its last annual report before its merger with the Human Rights Commission, the chair of authority Angela Kerins, said it had supported three women who, though genetically the mothers of their babies, were not entitled to maternity leave because they had not given birth to their babies.
The Church of England has announced a new initiative aimed at preventing Christianity 'sliding out of cultural memory'. The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, chairman of the Church’s board of education, said his Church will promote religion through its schools, the Daily Telegraph reports. At a meeting of the Church’s General Synod in York, Bishop Pritchard said that plans were being drawn up to overhaul the entire curriculum to reflect the Christian foundation “in every part”.
Parents who wish to adopt babies will be permitted to foster them under the age of one as part of new UK Government plans to reduce disruption the children suffer in early life. Infants aged less than a year will be fostered by families who hope to adopt them under plans by the Government to reduce disruption they suffer in early life, according to the Daily Telegraph. Prime Minister David Cameron said new laws will mean it is “standard practice” for babies to be looked after by approved adopters.
The legal group of the US House of Represenatives has asked the Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of the Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA) after President Barack Obama (pictured) decided last year to stop defending the law in court. On Friday, the House appealed to the Court’s justices to weigh in on the law after a number of lower federal courts said that the law was unconstitutional. The Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), which represents the House of Representatives, has taken the lead in defending the 1996 law.
U.S. Catholics must “speak out” for religious freedom in a time that calls for “sentinels and public witness”, Archbishop of Philadelphia, Rt Rev Charles Chaput has said. In a homily at a Mass in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, to mark the end of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Fortnight for Freedom, a two week series of events to protest against President Obama’s health care law, Archbishop Chaput said that “[r]eligious liberty is a foundational right. It’s necessary for a good society”.
Easy access to online porn is making teenage relationships more abusive, according to one of the leading law officials in the UK. Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said that the “exposure of young people to all sorts of material” was a serious cause for concern. And he said that the easy access to internet pornography for children and “emerging research” about increasing violence in teenage relationships could be linked, the Daily Telegraph reports.
Religious traditions, including circumcision, continue to be protected in Germany, despite a court ruling last week, according to the German Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle. Speaking on Sunday in the wake of a decision by a court in Cologne, which held that circumcision amounted to bodily harm, Mr Westerwelle moved to offer reassurances after furious protests by Jewish and Muslim groups. Last week, a state court in Cologne ruled that the child’s right to physical integrity trumps freedom of religion and parents’ rights.
A Conservative MP who supports same-sex marriage has said he wants Prime Minister David Cameron to shelve the idea because it is alienating the party’s core voters. David Mowat says a former chairman of his constituency association has resigned from the party over the proposal, the Liverpool Daily Post reports. The Conservative Party, Mr Mowat said, couldn't afford to lose members over this. He said: “I would be pretty happy if the whole thing got dropped.”
A speech by Eamon Gilmore (pictured) calling for the removal of faith from politics has been described as, “an attack on religious freedom,” by the Iona Institute. The speech, made on Sunday to Labour’s Tom Johnson Summer School, suggested that, “the separation of Church and state,” means that the Government is obliged to legislate for same-sex marriage and embryonic stem cell research. Commenting on the speech, Dr John Murray of The Iona Institute said today, “Religious freedom has to include the freedom to fully participate in the public and political life of the country as religious believers.
Five million "test tube babies" have now been born around the world, according to research presented at a conference of fertility experts. But two leading experts in the field have warned that the fertility treatment must be used with care. The first test tube baby, Louise Brown, was born in the UK in July 1978. Her mother Leslie Brown died last month.
Prime Minister David Cameron’s (pictured) favoured model for blocking internet pornography in the UK does not go far enough to protect children, charities have warned. The UK Government yesterday launched a consultation on a possible change in the law to give parents more control over the material their children are viewing online. It follows growing concern over sexually explicit and violent material children are able to view and share on the internet.
Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, one of Ireland's largest Catholic teacher-training colleges says it is “unreservedly committed to catering for students from all faith traditions and none”. The statement comes in its submission to a review of teacher education. It comes after accusations last year, made by the Teaching Council, the professional body for teachers, that the College spent too much time on religion.
New guidelines published yesterday by Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald (pictured) are to put the emphasis on modesty when it comes to kid's clothing. The new voluntary guidelines, drawn up by Retail Ireland, outline what kind of clothing can be acceptably marketed for children, particularly girls, under the age of 12, the Irish Times reports. The move comes after years of criticism about the selling of inappropriately sexualised clothes for preteen children such as padded bras, micro-mini-skirts, tops with plunging neck lines and t-shirts with slogans like “porn star in training” by some shops.
Jewish and Muslim groups in Germany have expressed outrage over a court ruling delivered on Wednesday that deemed circumcision equivalent to grievous bodily harm. The groups said the ruling infringed on religious freedom and could lead to "circumcision tourism". A Colonge city court ruled that circumcision violated a child's "fundamental right to bodily integrity" and that this right outweighed the rights of the parents.
The number of stay-at-home mothers is falling by almost 10,000 per annum, despite the steep rise in unemployment figures, according to figures from the 2011 Census. According to the new figures, published today, show that there are now 230,645 married women working in the home, which represents a 13pc fall since the last Census in 2006. Then, there were 230,645 married women working in the home, which in turn represented a 14pc decline on the 2002 figure.
Single people and same-sex couples will be prevented from having children through surrogacy in the Australian state of Queensland, it was announced last week. The state's governing Liberal National Party (LNP) also said that it would be changing the state's civil partnership bill to make it less like marriage. MPs from the Katter Australian Party, led by Bob “The Hat” Katter (pictured) abstained from the vote on the basis that they wanted the civil partnership law overturned completely.
One third of all births are outside marriage, according to new figures compiled by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI). The figures, from 2010, show that 65.6pc of all births in that year were to married women, as compared to 32.8 for unmarried women. There were 75,245 births in total. The figures, published on Monday, showed that the number of births outside marriage had remained relatively consistent since 2006.
Women who have IVF treatment early in adulthood are at greater risk of developing breast cancer, new research suggests. According to a new Australian study, published in the journal, Fertility and Sterility, women who went through the IVF procedure around their 24th birthday were found to have a 56 per cent greater chance of developing breast cancer than those in the same age group who went through treatments without IVF.
A New York lesbian couple has sued to force a Catholic hospital to provide them with insurance benefits by challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The same-sex couple has filed a lawsuit against Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield and St. Joseph’s Medical Center because one of St. Joseph’s divisions, St. Vincent’s Westchester, denied them spousal benefits. The plaintiffs, who have chosen to remain anonymous, are seeking past and future benefits and a declaration that they are entitled to receive them.
A coalition of 149 mostly Protestant religious leaders, have signed a letter objecting to the Obama Administration's health insurance mandate which obliges religious organizations to put their employees in health insurance schemes that cover abortifacients, sterilisations and artificial contraception In a letter sent last week to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the 149 religious leaders said that they hold differing views on “the moral acceptability” of contraception and on the viability of various administration proposals to allow faith-based groups to bypass the mandate for contraception and sterilisation coverage.
Cherie Blair (pictured) has attacked stay-at-home mothers, warning that it was 'dangerous' for women to rely on their husbands and set an example of dependency for their children. Mrs Blair criticised women who, she alleged, marry rich men in order to quit work and put their energies into raising children, reports The Daily Mail. The wife of former Labour prime minister Tony Blair also declared women should be 'self-sufficient' in case their partner leaves them or dies.
The Government's proposed children's rights referendum “will have major implications in the child protection and in the adoption area” one of the country’s leading experts on child law has said. Geoffrey Shannon (pictured), one of the co-authors of a damning report on the deaths of 196 children known to the HSE which was published earlier this week, welcomed the announcement made yesterday in the Dáil by Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore that the referendum would be held in the autumn. No wording has been announced as yet.
One of Britain’s most respected religious leaders, Lord Jonathan Sacks (pictured), the Chief Rabbi of England, opposes Government plans to legalise same-sex marriage. The submission said that civil marriage for same-sex couples should be rejected because “any attempt to redefine this sacred institution would be to undermine the concept of marriage”. A carefully worded submission to the Home Office consultation states that same-sex unions are “against Jewish law”.
The findings of a report into the deaths of 196 children in care or known to the Health Service Executive have been branded “a disgrace” by Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald. The report, carried out by child law expert Geoffrey Shannon and Norah Gibbons of children’s charity Barnardos deals with the period 2000 to 2010. It found that 115 of these children died from unnatural causes ranging from suicide to drug abuse, accidents and killings and that many of these deaths were preventable.
The recommendations of the Forum on primary schools “caused serious concern among those involved in denominational schools”, the Catholic hierarchy has said in a statement. The hierarchy’s Council of Education was responding yesterday after Education Minister Ruairi Quinn (pictured) revealed details of how the State will survey parents as to the kind of schools they want in 44 designated areas around the country. It is the beginning of a process that will see an undetermined number of Catholic schools given to new management bodies.
Members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe are being urged to sign a petition condemning surrogacy as a violation of the fundamental rights of women and children. There are currently three cases on the issue of surrogacy pending before the European Court of Human Rights, an institution of the Council of Europe. The petition, from the European Centre for Law and Justice, says that “surrogate motherhood implies a contract on the unborn child and the exploitation of a woman’s womb, and that it voluntarily dissociates motherhood and manipulates filiation”.
Almost 30,000 reports of suspected abuse, neglect of children as well as general welfare concerns were reported in 2010 to social services, according to a new official report. The findings are in the Health Service Executive’s Review of Adequacy of Child and Family Services for 2010 and 2009. The number of cases reported increased a quarter in just three years. The HSE has not produced one of these reports in a number of years, despite the fact that it is obliged by law to do so, the Irish Times reports.
A “sexual health strategy” is set to be put before the Government by the end of 2012, Minister of State for Health Róisín Shortall has said. Speaking at the launch of a campaign by Dublin Aids Alliance to encourage young people to carry condoms, Ms Shortall said: “The Department of Health have set up a steering group who are currently working on developing a national sexual health strategy to be presented to Government by the end of this year.
The refusal by a divorced mother to give her former husband access to their children could lead to her being banned from travelling abroad, driving or even leaving her home in the evening, under plans announced by the UK government. The proposals are part of a series of changes to the law aimed at establishing a legal right for children to have a “meaningful relationship” with both parents after a marriage breakdown. The consultation, published by the Government, proposes a series of steps to establish the notion of “shared parenting” after separation in law.
Catholic schools could become unwitting agents of secularism unless teachers, parents and school authorities take heed of the report of the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism, a leading expert in Catholic education has warned. He said the recommendations did not give proper recognition to the positive role of religion in society. The report, published earlier this year, recommended the abolition of Rule 68 for National Schools, which recognises religious instruction as a fundamental part of the school day and permits a religious spirit to "inform and vivify the whole work of the school".
Christians “have both a right, and an obligation, to bring their faith to bear in their engagement in politics,” former Taoiseach John Bruton (pictured) has told the International Eucharistic Congress. Speaking last night in the RDS on the topic of Christianity in politics, Mr Bruton said that he believed that a “separationist “ view aimed at keeping religion out of politics was artificial. Such a stance “misunderstands human nature” he said.
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