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A Christian street preacher who was arrested and held in cells for 19 hours for telling two teenagers that homosexual acts are sinful has been paid £13,000 in compensation by the Manchester Police force. According to the Daily Telegraph, John Craven, 57, was preaching from his soapbox in Manchester City Centre when two gay teenagers asked him about his view of homosexuality. Craven said that the Bible stated that “homosexuality was sinful” and added that God “hates the sin but loves the sinner”. He then quoted John 3:16, which begins “for God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son”.
Adoptees will be able to access records about their parents if their birth mothers have died or cannot be traced, under legislation proposed by Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald. Minister Fitzgerald also told the Sunday Times that she wanted to go “as far as possible” in giving adoptees access to information about their origins, while respecting their mother's constitutional right to privacy. The legislation would oblige all bodies holding adoption records to make them available to adoptees, “in certain cases”.
The average age at which people in Ireland get married rose to 34.7 years for grooms in 2012 and 32.6 for brides, while the marriage rate has increased slightly compared to the previous year, according to the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office. Ireland’s marriage rate is in line with the EU average but it has fallen by 40% since the early 1970s.
Pope Francis raised questions about aspects of President Barack Obama's health-care law as the two met for the first time during an official visit to the Vatican by the US President.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has come out against legalising assisted suicide, saying that it could lead to elderly people being “unfairly pressurised” into ending their lives. According to the Daily Telegraph, Mr Cameron plans to allow a free vote on a bill to legalise “assisted dying” introduced by Labour's Lord Falconer, but will vote against it himself.
The US Supreme Court has heard oral arguments in a landmark religious freedom case that will determine whether businesses have to provide health insurance for contraceptives and abortifacients. The case was taken by Hobby Lobby, a family-owned chain of arts and crafts shops, challenging the Obama administration's 'HHS mandate', which requires employers to cover contraceptives and some abortifacients in the health insurance plans they provide for employees.
The bodies of thousands of aborted and miscarried babies have been incinerated as medical waste in UK hospitals, with some used in “waste-to-energy” plants which generate power for heat. According to the Daily Telegraph, an investigation carried out by Channel 4's Dispatches programme revealed that at least 15,500 bodies were incinerated by 27 NHS trusts over the last two years alone.
The deputy president of the UK Supreme Court has said that Christians with traditional beliefs should be given “reasonable accomodation” in law. According to the Daily Telegraph, Baroness Hale, Britain's most senior female judge, said Britain was “less respectful” towards people with religious views than many other countries, despite its long Christian tradition.
The Pro-Life Campaign have criticised the Irish media for not doing enough to inform parents of babies with life-shortening conditions about perinatal hospice care. Responding to the coverage of cases such as that of ‘Ricki’ and ‘Niamh’ who are planning to go to England for an abortion after they would told their baby has a life-ending disability, Cora Sherlock of the Pro Life Campaign said: “It is wholly unacceptable that the national discussion on this important and sensitive issue should be so completely one-sided and favouring abortion."
A new study of divorce and separation cases in the Irish courts has found that men are vastly less likely than women to be made the primary carers of their children; and tend to come off worse in the post-separation division of assets, especially if the man is a stay-at-home father. The study, reported in the Irish Independent, was carried out by Roisin O'Shea with funding from the Irish Research Council, and looked at over 1,000 cases.
The OECD have recommended that the government introduce state-subsidised childcare in order to incentivise parents to return to the workforce. According to the Irish Independent, Herwig Immervoll of the OECD said that childcare costs were “a barrier to women in labour market participation across OECD countries” but that in Ireland they served as a “particularly strong barrier” due to “high costs and limited childcare availability”.
A new report from the UK-based Christian think tank Theos has aimed to articulate principles for understanding and discussing religious freedom in a secular society. How To Think About Religious Freedom, authored by Nick Spencer, argues “not that religious freedom must be honoured above all other principles but that, in the fluid balance of principles in which no one principle serves as an immutable centre of gravity for all the others, a proper recognition of the intrinsic nature of religious liberty must be allowed to take its full and proper place in discussions.”
A second challenge to Ireland's abortion law has been filed with the UN's Human Rights Committee by The Center for Reproductive Rights, an advocacy group that favours abortion-on-demand. The Center is making the case on behalf of Siobhan Whelan, who travelled to the UK for an abortion when she discovered that her baby had a life-shortening condition. In a press release, the Center for Reproductive Rights claimed that Ms Whelan had been subjected to “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”, had suffered a violation of her privacy, and had been discriminated against because of her gender.
“Support for marriage and family life is central to what the Church teaches and lives... The gift from God of the family, based on the love of wife and husband and open to life, is a gift that the Church seeks to protect and cherish”, the Irish Catholic bishops have said in a statement ahead of the Synod on the family to take place in Rome in October. They have also thanked the thousands of people who responded to the Vatican's questionnaire in preparation for the Synod on the Family.
The divorce rate in the US may have been increasing over the last 40 years, rather than slowly declining as previously thought, according to a new report from the University of Minnesota. The report, authored by Sheela Kennedy and Steven Ruggles, argues that previous metrics used to estimate the divorce rate were flawed, and tended to underestimate the rate of divorce among older people. However, the authors say that new divorce-related questions from the US Census bureau have enabled them to update the estimates.
Four new Educate Together primary schools are to open in Ireland, with three set to move into buildings left empty after Catholic schools amalgamated, and one taking over a divested Church of Ireland school. According to RTE, Minister for Education Ruari Quinn announced today that schools under the patronage of Educate Together will open in temporary premises in Tramore, Co Waterford, Trim in Co Meath, and Malahide in Dublin.
There will be no new exemptions for conscientious objection or religious freedom if the same-sex marriage referendum is passed next year, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has said in response to a parliamentary question. Only religious ministers will be protected from having to officiate at same-sex marriage ceremonies as previously announced.
The so-called “Millennial Generation” meaning 18-to-33-year-olds, are are less likely to be married, to self-identify as religious, or to affiliate with a political party than the generations before them, according to a new US poll from the Pew Forum. They also have much lower levels of social trust, and are more likely to have high levels of student loan debt, to be poor, and to be unemployed than their two immediate predecessor generations at the same age. However, they tend to be very optimistic about the future.
Irish women and men work very similar hours when the amount of paid and unpaid work they do each day is added together, a new OECD reveals. But they split their work in different ways, with men doing more paid labour and women more unpaid house work. According to the study, the average Irish person spends about eight hours a day working, with the average man spending around six of those in paid work and two in unpaid work in the home, while women spend on average around five hours on unpaid work and three on paid work.
A widow in the UK has won a High Court battle allowing her to keep her husband's frozen sperm with a view to being impregnated with the sperm later. Beth Warren's husband Warren Brewer, a ski instructor, died from a brain tumour two years ago, but signed paperwork before starting cancer treatment saying that his wife could use them after his death. However, regulations from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) state that donated eggs or sperm can only be stored for long periods of time if the donor keeps renewing their permission. Lawyers representing Mrs Warren said that the regulator was taking an “excessively linguistic and technical approach.”
A senior Vatican official has strongly defended religious freedom at a conference on in Slovakia. He also criticised Uganda’s new law outlawing homosexual acts. On the subject of religious freedom, Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace said: "It is important to preserve and defend religious freedom because it concerns “each person's freedom to live according to their own deeper understanding of the truth.” He added that “freedom of religion is inseparable from freedom of thought and conscience”.
UK government plans for ‘mitochondrial replacement therapy’ could lead to children with genetic material from three parents being born in 2015. According to the Daily Telegraph, the new rules will allow clinics to replace an egg cell’s defective mitochondrial DNA with material from a donor egg.
One in five births were to cohabiting couples and more than 35% in total were outside marriage in the third quarter of last year, according to new figures from the Central Statistics Office.
Church teachings on marriage and family are poorly understood, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin told a group priests and members of parish councils at Clonliffe college yesterday. He was commenting on the results of a survey of lay people in the diocese, conducted ahead of a Synod on the family that will take place in Rome in October at the initiative of Pope Francis.
A new US report into state and government programmes designed to encourage and stabilise marriage has found that these programmes can have a positive effect, particularly on lower-income families. However, the report also found that the level of success varied considerably depending on the programme, and that many of the initiatives suffered from a lack of funding.
The government have proposed lowering the age at which a person can change their legal gender from 18 to 16. Under the proposed law a person can be biologically male or female in every detail but still be declared a member of the opposite ‘gender’.
Independent Senator Ronan Mullen today called for a "lucid debate" on gay marriage in the *Irish Times *today, saying that there exists "real hatred about towards people who defend marriage as presently constituted." "It would be strange" he wrote "for gay rights supporters to argue that the term homophobic was not defamatory. They, more than anybody else, have reason to understand how abhorrent homophobia is."
Children have a right to know the identity of their genetic parents, writes Deirdre Madden, lecturer in Law at UCC. Writing in The Irish Times, she said that it was “unfortunate” that in Justice Minister Alan Shatter’s proposed Family and Relationships Bill 2014 “nothing is said about the child’s right to discover the identity of the donor, which is an important human right worthy of legal protection and which other jurisdictions have enshrined in legislation in recent years.”
The Catholic Bishops Conference of Poland have criticised “gender ideology” which holds that there are no fundamental differences between men and women and that our ‘gender’ is chosen. In a pastoral letter, the Bishops write: "Confronted with increasing attacks against different aspects of family and social life coming from this ideology, we are compelled to speak out clearly in defence of the Christian family and the fundamental values that support it, on the one hand, and, on the other, to warn against threats stemming from propagating new forms of family life”.
The success of the film Philomena has lead to a ‘significant increase’ in the number of people trying to trace their birth parents, Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald has told the Daíl. She said that the film, which is based on the struggles of Philomena Lee to make contact with her son, who was adopted against her will, had acted as a “catalyst” for the increased numbers of queries to the Adoption Authority.
Only 46% of children aged 15-17 in the United States have been raised with both their married biological parents since at or near the time of their birth, according to a new US survey. The Marriage and Religion Research Institute, (MARRI), a branch of the Family Research Council, released its 4th annual ‘Index of Family Belonging’.
The Spanish government has won a parliamentary vote against a Socialist motion that would have forced it to withdraw a bill aimed at narrowing the circumstances under which abortion is available. Spain has had abortion on demand up to 14 weeks since 2010. Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon's bill, which bans abortion except in the case of rape, or when women can prove that having the child would pose “a severe risk to her physical or mental health”, was challenged by the opposition Socialist Party, which tabled a motion for the bill to be withdrawn immediately.
The Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, has defended his proposed Family and Relationships bill, which seeks to regulate the whole area of Assisted Human Reproduction but which overlooks the importance of giving a child a mother and a father. “It is important that legislation should support couples who wish to create a family together” Minister Shatter said in a speech to the Family Lawyers Association.
Scotland’s new same-sex marriage law contains a provision stating that the introduction of same-sex marriage will have no impact on existing rights to freedom of speech and that it is possible to oppose same-sex marriage "without being homophobic". Meanwhile, the last Catholic adoption agency still open in Scotland has won a legal battle to be allowed to continue to operate as a charity, and to place children in accordance with its ethos.
The Supreme Court has reserved judgement in the State's appeal of a landmark surrogacy case in which the High Court decided that twin’s genetic mother, rather than the surrogate mother, that is the birth mother, was to be placed on the birth certificate as the the legal mother of the children.
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