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The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Equality and Defence wants the Government's proposed Children and Family Relationships Bill to be made even more permissive than it already is. A report sent to the Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald, by the Committee wants the law to permit posthumous conception (using the sperm of a dead person), ‘traditional surrogacy’ (meaning a mother gives birth to her genetic child for another person), and it also in effect gives the green light to commercial surrogacy which is when a woman is paid for the use of her womb.
The Catholic bishops are expected to discuss what happened in religious order-run mother and baby homes at their quarter meeting which is currently taking place. The Bishop of Cork and Ross, Dr John Buckley, has joined the Archbishop of Tuam, Dr Michael Neary, and the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin in call for a full inquiry into what happened at those homes including why so many children died of disease in them.
A new report from Child Trends seems to show that weekly church attendance is a significant 'protective factor' for young adults aged 18-29. People in this age group who reported attending a religious service every week were substantially less likely to be involved in criminal activity, substance abuse, or to suffer from financial hardship.
Britain's most senior family court judge has ruled against a Slovakian Catholic couple seeking to block the adoption of two of their children by a same-sex couple. In a witness statement, the couple said that being placed with a same-sex couple would not be in the children's best interests, as they would not be able to fully “promote the children's Roma heritage or their Catholic faith”. But Sir James Munby ruled that the children’s “welfare needs” outweighed the “impact that adoption would have on their Roma identity.”
British political leaders, including David Cameron, have spoken out against the impending execution of a Christian woman in Sudan. According to the Christian Institute, the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, and leader of the Opposition, Ed Milibrand, have all condemned the death sentence given to Meriam Ibrahim for 'apostasy', and 'adultery'. However, the Obama administration have yet to comment on the case, despite the fact that Ms Ibrahim is married to a US Citzen.
Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, the European Commissioner for Research Innovation and Science has rejected the 'One of Us' Citizens’ Initiative, which called for an end to EU funding of of organisations that perform abortions and of embryonic stem cell research, which destroys the embryo. The initiative had gathered over 2 million signatures – more than double the amount required to have the Commission consider a Citizens’ Initiative, a new power granted to EU citizens by the Lisbon Treaty
The governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, has signed a bill that will enable adoptees to obtain their original birth certificates and discover the identities of their birth parents. According to the New Jersey Star-Ledger, the New Jersey Adoptees' Birthright Bill will enable adoptees 18 and older to gain vital family medical and genealogical information.
Catholic obstetricians and gynaecologists who follow Church teaching on sexual ethics would be better off leaving the UK, the Catholic Medical Association (CMA) conference has been told. Charlie O'Donnell, a consultant in emergency and intensive care medicine, said that any Catholic training to be an OB/GYN consultant would soon find they had conscientious objections to a variety of tasks, including prescribing artificial contraception, giving unmarried couples fertility treatment or Viagra to gay couples.
An organisation in Switzerland that assists people in taking their own lives has voted to extend its services to elderly people who are not terminally ill. According to The Guardian, Exit, Switzerland's biggest “assisted dying organisation”, voted at their annual general meeting to add “suicide due to old age” to their list of services offered, allowing people with psychological or physical problems to end their own lives.
The Archbishop of Toronto, Cardinal Thomas Collins, has received an “overwhelmingly positive” reaction to his letter confronting Justin Trudeau, the Liberal party leader, over his insistence that all new Liberal candidates be “resolutely pro-choice.” According to LifeSiteNews, Cardinal Collins expressed his deep concern with Trudeau's stand in a letter earlier this month, noting that had Pope Francis chosen a different vocation he would himself be denied the opportunity to run as a Liberal.
Sex-selective abortion is "unacceptable and illegal" in the UK, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced. Mr Hunt issued new guidelines in order to close a loophole used by prosecutors to avoid bringing charges. The guidance follows an investigation by The Daily Telegraph which uncovered doctors who were willing to terminate pregnancies for women who said they did not want to have a baby girl.
The government must not deprive Catholic schools of the right to the Church's message about marriage, Bishop of Down and Connor, Noel Treanor, has warned. According to the Irish Catholic, Bishop Treanor warned that based on experience in other jurisdictions, this freedom is very often denied to Churches once same-sex marriage legislation is introduced.
The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People), a prominent civil-rights organisation in the United States, is seeking to overturn an Arizona law that prohibits abortion on the grounds of the race of the unborn child. According to LifeNews, the NAACP's lawsuit against the Arizona law – which bans all sex- and race-based abortions – was dismissed by a district court last October, but the NAACP, along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), are appealing the decision
Mandatory reporting of illegal sexual activity involving minors will not apply to consensual sex between “older teenagers” under the government's proposed new child protection laws. The Irish Independent reports that the Children First Bill 2014, which could become law by next year, will make it mandatory for certain professions and post-holders to report incidents of harm, and the risk of harm, to the Child and Family Agency (CFA).
Pope Francis has expressed support for the UK pro-life group 40 Days for Life, which organises peaceful prayer vigils outside abortion clinics and conducts community outreach campaigns to raise awareness about the pro-life position. According to LifeSiteNews, in a letter sent throught the Vatican Secretariat of State, the Pope said he “greatly appreciates the dedicated work” that 40 Days for Life do “to promote respect for the lives of all unborn children”.
The Iona Institute has announced that the Rt Revd. Ken Clarke, who retired as the Church of Ireland bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh last year after 13 years in the post, has agreed to become a new patron of The Iona Institute.
Catholic schools must be confident in their identity if they are to enrich society, Francis Campbell, former British Ambassador to the Vatican, has told a Belfast conference. Mr Campell, who served as UK Ambassador to the Holy See from 2005 to 2011, also warned that Catholic schools and institutions are in danger of losing their distinct identity unless they put more focus on their unique ethos.
Assisted suicide must be opposed because of the pressure it will put on terminally ill people, the Bishop-elect of Elphin, Kevin Doran has said. The announcement that Fr Doran, from Dublin, will be the next Bishop of Elphin, succeeding Christopher Jones, was made yesterday.
The number of people living alone in the UK is growing at a rate 10 times that of the general population, according to a new study. The Daily Telegraph reports that the study, commissioned by the insurer Liverpool Victoria, also concludes that young people will spend 50 per cent longer living alone than members of their parents' generation.
The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has rejected three complaints against the apology RTE made to John Waters and members of The Iona Institute following accusations against them by Rory O’Neill on the Saturday Night Show in January.
Two major law societies in Canada have refused to recognise the law degree from a proposed new Christian law school seeking accreditation because of its parent university's policies on sexual ethics. According to Christianity Today, Trinity Western University (TWU) institutes a “community covenant” where students and staff are asked to refrain from “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.” The University is planning to open a law school in 2016 and is seeking recognition for its degrees.
The U.S. Supreme Court has given local government officials across the United States more leeway to begin monthly town meetings with a prayer, ruling that prayers from a specific faith or tradition do not automatically violate the U.S. Constitution. According to Reuters, the court said on a 5-4 vote that the town of Greece in New York state did not violate the Constitution's ban on government endorsement of religion by allowing Christian prayers before monthly meetings.
Thousands of people took part in the 'National Vigil for Life' on Saturday on Merrion Square, Dublin to protest against the Government’s abortion legislation. Organisers said they are ‘massively encouraged’ by the turnout. The Vigil is the first such event to take place since the Government’s “Protection of Life During Pregnancy” Act legalised direct abortion in Ireland.
The families of people who died in the 1916 rising have appealed to Minister Alan Shatter to lift a ban he has imposed on Defence Force members taking part officially in a commemoration Mass for the rising. According to the Irish Catholic, Cara O'Neill, whose grandmother was in the GPO during Easter week 1916, said that the families of those who fought in the rising are “deeply offended” by Minister Shatter's decision and “at a loss as to the justification for it.”
Cohabiting couples should enjoy the same legal protection as those who are married, the most senior family law judge in England and Wales has said. He also called for the idea of fault or blame to be completely removed from divorce, and added that divorce could largely be taken out of the court system, with marriages dissolved by officials instead of judges, in a similar way to the registration of births or deaths.
Declan Ganley, Senator Ronan Mullen (pictured) and Professor Patricia Casey will be among the speakers at a pro-life conference to take place in Westport, Co Mayo starting on Friday and ending on Sunday. The theme of the conference is Life is fragile such as the effect of economics on everyday life, to coping with suicide to ‘understanding the Human Condition’.
The Northern Ireland Assembly has rejected a motion calling for the introduction of same-sex marriage legislation by 51 votes to 43. No nationalist MLAs voted against the Sinn Fein motion, although six SDLP members abstained. Opposition from the overwhelming majority of unionist MLAs was enough to defeat it. The Catholic Bishops of Northern Ireland, and the Church and Society Commission of the Church of Ireland opposed the motion.
Ireland has the fourth highest number of childless women over 45 out of all the OECD countries, with nearly one in five Irish women past their childbearing years having no children. The Irish Independent reports that according to a new OECD study, Italy has the highest rate of childlessness at 24%, Austria is second with 21.1%, and England and Wales are third at 20.5.
British Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, an agnostic, is ‘nonplussed’ by the angry response from prominent atheists to the claim by Prime Minister, David Cameron, that Britain is a Christian country, according to the Times. Mr Clegg said: “I'm not a practising man of faith, but I don't find it an issue to say we have an important Christian identity in terms of our history and heritage”, the Times reports.
Catholic schools are already inclusive a Church spokesman has told Education Minister Ruairi Quinn after he attacked the Church for not providing him with examples of schools that are models of inclusivity. Mr Quinn complained that the Catholic Church has not yet provided the Department of Education and Skills with “clearly demonstrated examples” of inclusive Catholic Primary schools.
A Christian nursery worker in the UK is suing her former employers, claiming that she was fired for her beliefs after refusing to read stories about gay couples to children. According to The Daily Telegraph, Sarah Mbuyi says she was dismissed due to anti-Christian discrimination, having also been accused of “harassing” a lesbian colleague.
The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) has rejected calls for the deletion of Section 37 (1) of the Employment Equality Act, which allows religious employers to hire staff in accordance with their ethos. They instead recommended that Section 37 be amended. In a submission made to Justice Minister Alan Shatter, the IHREC (which includes the former Equality Authority) said that deleting Section 37 (1) “could constitute a violation of the rights of employers and employees to religious freedom. Such a right exists within European and Irish Constitutional law.”
The Italian constitutional court has overturned a ban on egg and sperm donation. However, it continues to be the case that only married couples can use donor eggs and sperm. Elements of Italy's “Law 40” banning donor egg and sperm were declared unconstitutional with immediate effect
Children have a right to a mother and father, Pope Francis has said in an address to the International Catholic Child Bureau. He stated, “we must reaffirm the right of children to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity.”
The Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has defended his proposed family law bill, calling it a “radical reform of the law as it relates to children and their parents” which “recognises the diversity of families and which supports children across a multiplicity of situations. “ In a speech to the Children’s Rights Alliance, Minister Shatter said that many of his proposals were ones that he had “long considered necessary based on my extensive experience as a family law practitioner.
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