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Ireland’s abortion laws and its policies on faith schools have been among the issues raised by the U.N. Human Rights Committee in a hearing scrutinising Ireland’s human rights record. In response, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said that “significant recent developments” had been made “in relation to access to lawful termination of pregnancy in Ireland”.
A Dutch academic who supported euthanasia legalisation in the Netherlands has urged the British parliament not to introduce assisted suicide, ahead of a debate on Lord Falconer's 'assisted dying' bill in the House of Lords next week. That Bill would allow terminally ill patients to obtain lethal drugs to kill themselves. According to the Christian Institute, Theo Boer, who has been part of a committee monitoring euthanasia cases since 2005, said that “Euthanasia is on the way to become a ‘default’ mode of dying for cancer patients.”
The director of a major Catholic hospital in Warsaw has been fired after he refused to help a woman obtain an abortion for her unborn child, who suffered from severe brain malformations. According to LifeSiteNews, Dr Bogden Chazan, director of the Holy Family Hospital, was fined 70,000 zlotys (about €17,000) and removed from his position by the Mayor of Warsaw, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, after an inquiry commissioned by the mayor's office alleged that he not only refused to perform the abortion, but refused to refer the mother to another doctor who would. The inquiry also him accused of having deliberately prolonged a diagnostic procedure in order to prevent the abortion. In order to be legal, the abortion would have had to be carried out before the child was at 25 weeks gestation.
Catholic school governors in the UK have criticised the National Governors’ Association (NGA) for advocating the abolition of compulsory Christian assemblies in schools. But the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, who is the Church of England’s head of education, said that changing the law could be “liberating” for schools and churches, and called for assemblies to be replaced with a time of “spiritual reflection” According to The Tablet, The NGA decided to call for the abolition of laws that say daily worship is compulsory in schools at the most recent meeting of its policy committee, claiming that few schools met the requirement and that it was “meaningless” in communities where the majority were not Christian.
The annual Rally for Life, which took place in Belfast this year, saw what organisers claimed was its largest ever turnout in the city. Organisers estimated that 8,000 people attended the march. The rally heard from parents whose children had life-limiting disorders who said that better support for families, not abortion, is the answer when children are diagnosed with severe disabilities in the womb.
A Catholic priest in the diocese of Baton Rouge faces a court order to break the seal of confession, after a decision by the Louisiana State Supreme Court. According to the The Times-Picayune of Greater New Orleans, the case stems from a claim a minor's parents that their daughter confessed to the Rev. Jeff Bayhi during the sacrament of reconciliation that she engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior with a grown man who also attended their church. Court documents indicate the child was 12 years old at the time of the alleged sexual abuse.
A Christian-run bakery in Northern Ireland is facing legal action after its owners refused to bake a cake with a slogan supporting same sex marriage. According to The Christian Institute, the McArthur family, who own Ashers Baking Company in the Belfast area, said they could not fulfil the order because it conflicts with their Christian beliefs about marriage being between a man and a woman. Northern Ireland' s Equality Comission is supporting the complainant against the company.
The government has released detailed guidelines on the implementation of its abortion legislation, setting out the cirucmstances in which an abortion can be legally performed. The Pro-Life Campaign have strongly criticised the guidelines, saying that they show that guarantees given to Fine Gael backbenchers who voted for the legislation were "worthless."
The US Supreme Court has invalidated a Massachusetts law imposing 35-foot “buffer zones” around abortion clinics. In a unanimous decision, the court sided with pro-life campaigners and lead plaintiff Eleanor McCullen in saying that the law placed an undue burden on the free-speech rights of pro-life activists. According to the Wall Street Journal, Kristan Hawkins, executive director of Students for Life of America, said that the ruling “frees sidewalk counselors at abortion facilities to be able to offer compassionate and caring alternatives.”
A new report from the Department of Education's Forum on Patronage and Pluralism, discussing ways to make primary schools more inclusive for children of all faiths and none, has been described as “a step in the right direction” by Breda O'Brien of the Iona Institute. The original set of recommendations from the Forum gave rise to fears that the ethos of religious schools would be watered down. For example, the recommendations said prayers must be ‘inclusive, which raised the possibility that Christian prayers would not be deemed sufficiently 'inclusive' towards non-Christian pupils.
A Bill aimed at weakening a religious ethos protection clause in the Employment Equality Act is to go before the Cabinet. It seeks to amend Section 37 of the Act. with a view to preventing religious-run schools from dismissing staff on the grounds of being a lone parent or a divorcee, or on the basis of sexual orientation. The Bill will be brought before the Cabinet by Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald.
The United States Supreme Court has ruled that the owners of most American businesses do not have to comply with an Obama administration mandate requiring them to pay for health insurance covering abortifacients for their employees; provided that the business owners have a religious objection to providing such coverage. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the owners of the arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby, which was suing the Obama administration over being forced to cover four forms of contraception which can in some circumstances act as abortifacients.
Ireland, along with other Western countries, has voted against a resolution at the UN which recognises the importance of the family and commits States to protecting and supporting it. Western countries voted against it on the ground that the resolution, which was passed, did not refer to ‘families’. However, Article 16 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights itself refers to the ‘family’.
In four adoption cases before the High Court, the fathers of the children could not be notified that their children were to be adopted by other men because the fathers are unknown. The usual procedure is that the fathers are told if their children are to be adopted but this was impossible in these cases.
The Ombudsman for Children, Emily Logan (pictured), has recommended that children produced via egg and sperm donation and/or surrogacy be given the right to know their origins.
THE State must respect freedom of conscience, the new Bishop of Limerick, Dr Brendan Leahy, said in a talk delivered in Limerick last night. The talk was hosted by The Iona Institute and The Irish Catholic and attended by almost 200 people.
The Church cannot stand aside in debates about the family, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin told a conference on the family organised by the Catholic hierarchy ahead of October’s Synod on the family in Rome.
Only one in seven Irish women who have abortions in the UK are married according to the latest figures which confirms once again that being married hugely decreases the odds of a pregnancy being unwanted. The new figures also show that the number of Irish women travelling to Britain for abortions declined by more than 7 percent last year. This is the twelfth consecutive year that the Irish abortion rate has decreased.
In a decision welcomed by religious freedom advocates, the European Court of Human Rights has found in favour of the right of a Catholic bishop in Spain who did not renew the contract of a religion teacher after he publicly campaigned in favour of married priests. In a narrow 9-8 ruling the court decided this the plaintiff’s right to privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights had not been violated.
The Irish Catholic Bishops' Council for Marriage and the Family is holding its second annual conference in Clonliffe college, Dublin, tomorrow (Saturday). The conference comes in advance of the Vatican's Synod on the Family, where the heads of Catholic bishops’ conferences worldwide will meet and discuss the challenges facing families in the world today, and how the church can best address them.
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).
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