The Iona Blog

Opinions contained in The Iona Blog are not necessarily those of The Iona Institute. The Iona Blog is open to anyone who broadly shares the views of The Iona Institute. If you wish to post a comment on a relevant topic please email 200 – 400 words to [email protected] and it will be considered for inclusion in the blog.


Growing hostility to Christian and pro-life groups in universities

By Ben Conroy on 23rd March 2014. ~ Categories: Schools and Education

There's a growing trend in Ireland which is worth highlighting – namely, the growing hostility of third-level institutions to groups representing advocating Christian and pro-life ideas. The phenomenon of universities excluding those who disagree with the current consensus on sexual morality, or the prevailing academic view of abortion, has already been happening for awhile in the US and the UK, but in the last few months it's increasingly become an issue here.


Breda O'Brien Debates Surrogacy on Prime Time

By David Quinn on 19th March 2014. ~ Categories: Other

Breda O'Brien was on RTE's Prime Time on Tuesday evening, debating surrogacy with Dean Hutchinson of the American for-profit company Circle Surrogacy.


Growing evidence that fatherlessness harms children

By Ben Conroy on 19th March 2014. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Evidence that fatherlessness can have a bad effect on children is becoming harder and harder to ignore. Christopher A. Brown at the Huffington Post writers about a new review of studies on the effects of “Father Absence” which show that causation and not merely correlation is at work. There's a lot of interesting and sobering stuff it it, most of it confirming the destructive effect fatherlessness often has on children. But Brown's concluding words particularly struck me...


Sticking with a marriage for the sake of the children

By David Quinn on 17th March 2014. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

A headline in the Daily Telegraph reads, “Millions of Youngsters in Britain growing up in ‘loveless’ families”. This makes it sound like a tragedy for the children, but the story could just as easily read, “Millions of couples stay together for the sake of their children”, which is probably what is happening in many cases. As the Telegraph reports it, data from the Department for Work and Pensions “show that in households where both biological parents live together, 24 percent say they are either fairly, a little or very unhappy with their relationship”.


By David Quinn on 14th March 2014. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family


A different view of sex education

By David Quinn on 14th March 2014. ~ Categories: Schools and Education

Chastity group, Pure in Heart, has been under heavy media fire lately. The Iona Institute's Ben Conroy was on a number of programmes in the last few days talking about Pure In Heart and responsible sex education. He argued that sex education in schools should be less about providing information about contraception, and more about providing young people with a holistic view of sex, with a focus on commitment, love and fidelity.


What responsible sex education really looks like

By Ben Conroy on 11th March 2014. ~ Categories: Schools and Education

What constitutes responsible sex education? What should it look like? It's an ongoing debate, but one thing all sides at least pay lip service to is the idea that that the information we give to young people in schools should be based on scientific evidence. Chastity group Pure In Heart has recently gotten a lot of grief for suggesting that “condoms have a one-in-six failure rate”. The thing is that, properly understood, this claim is correct.


The battle over surrogate motherhood heats up

By Ben Conroy on 7th March 2014. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Over at The Public Discourse, here's a really interesting piece by Jennifer Lahl of the Center for Bioethics in America on surrogacy in the US, and on some of the legal battles now taking place in various states. With Alan Shatter's Children and Family Relationships Bill on the horizon, this topic is one we ought to be hearing a lot more about in the coming months because, if passed, the Bill will permit surrogacy - unlike the situation in other European countries such as Germany.


‘Catholic schools have no right to promote Catholic sexual morality’

By Ben Conroy on 5th March 2014. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family,Schools and Education,Freedom of Conscience and Religion

Catholic schools are not entitled to promote Catholic views on sexuality, Dr Jacky Jones, formerly of the HSE, announced in The Irish Times on Monday. Where does one even begin?


How Ireland’s marriage rate has declined in the last 40 years

By David Quinn on 4th March 2014. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

In his column last week, Fintan O’Toole of The Irish Times tried to argue that the institution of marriage has not declined at all in Ireland. His chief piece of evidence was that the number of marriages in Ireland has actually gone up compared with a few decades ago. He overlooked many countervailing facts including the huge increase in the number of births outside marriage, the huge increase in cohabitation and the large increase in divorce and separation. But even the marriage rate itself isn't as simple as it appears.


Why does chastity group provoke shock and awe?

By Ben Conroy on 28 Feb 2014. ~ Categories: Schools and Education

The Catholic lay group Pure in Heart has been attracting criticism lately, some of which actually managed to mention them in the same breath as Holocaust deniers. The chief reason for the criticism is that they promote chastity. In his weekly column in The Irish Independent David Quinn defends Pure in Heart and specifically addresses criticism that what they teach is ‘offensive’ and ‘unrealistic’.


Do dads matter? Of course they do

By David Quinn on 26th February 2014. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Do dads matter in the lives of their children? The authors of this article from The Atlantic are in no doubt that they do and that children often suffer when they don’t have a father who looks out for them. The authors draw on both evidence and stories to back up their argument. It’s a message that society badly needs to hear. In Ireland as in America, huge numbers of children are growing up without the benefit of a father.


Breda O’Brien discusses same-sex marriage etc with Marian Finucane

By David Quinn on 25th February 2014. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Breda O'Brien was interviewed by Marian Finucane on her programme last Saturday about same-sex marriage and the 'homophobia'/RTE apology controversy. Breda discusses the implications of same-sex marriage for children's rights, and the personal impact of some of the hate mail she has received for her stance on the issue. The interview also discusses the work of The Iona Institute.


New poll reveals support for same-sex marriage is soft

By David Quinn on 12 Feb 2014. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

A new RTE/Sunday Business Post poll confirms the finding of an Irish Times opinion poll on same-sex marriage from a few months back, namely that support for the proposition stands in or around 75 percent. That’s a very big lead. However, this latest poll confirms what some commentators have suspected all along, namely that much of the support for it is soft.


Same-sex marriage and 'homophobia' on the BBC

By Ben Conroy on 19 February 2014. ~ Categories:

The debate about homophobia and same-sex marriage was the subject of an item on BBC World’s Have Your Say programme. Rory O’Neill took part in a discussion with Caroline Farrow of Catholic Voices and Brandon Ambrosino, a gay writer who supports gay marriage but, in his own words, wants to “open up the conversation. I think when we throw out a label like ‘homophobia’ we stop the discussion before we can even have it.”


Marriage in Ireland: a quick response to Fintan O’Toole

By David Quinn on 18th February 2014. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

In his latest opinion piece in The Irish Times, Fintan O’Toole takes issue with The Iona Institute’s thesis that marriage in Ireland is in decline. On the contrary, says O’Toole, marriage “has proven to be far more robust than either conservatives or radicals ever imagined.” Unfortunately, Fintan can only make such a broad claim by ignoring lots of statistical evidence to the contrary.


Breda O’Brien describes the personal impact of receiving hate mail

By David Quinn on 12th February 2014. ~ Categories:

Breda O'Brien was interviewed by Hugh Linehan today for the Irish Times' 'Inside Politics' podcast. She speaks in a very heartfelt way about the impact the vilification she has been subjected to by some people for disagreeing with same-sex marriage has had on her, as well as giving her thoughts on the whole controversy surrounding RTE's apology and 'homophobia'.


Timothy Radcliffe sets the right tone on same-sex marriage

By David Quinn on 11th February 2014. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

The Dominican Timothy Radcliffe would be no-one’s idea of a ‘conservative’ in theological terms or any other terms for that matter. In a very interesting blog on the issue of same-sex marriage that he wrote for the Guardian newspaper he welcomed “the wave of support for same-sex marriage”, but at the same time reaffirms marriage as we have it on the grounds that it celebrates real difference.


The debate about homophobia progresses

By Ben Conroy on 7th February 2014. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family,Freedom of Conscience and Religion

A few interesting developments in the ongoing debate about the uses and misuses of the word ‘homophobia’: First, Paddy Manning and our director David Quinn were on Prime Time opposite Senator Ivana Bacik and Brian Finnegan. Link here. For what it's worth, both Bacik and Finnegan agreed that opposition to gay marriage was not automatically homophobic.


The meaning of homophobia discussed on Tonight with Vincent Browne

By Ben Conroy on 5th February 2014. ~ Categories: Freedom of Conscience and Religion

Tuesday night’s episode of Tonight with Vincent Browne featured Kevin Brophy, the solicitor who represented The Iona Institute in our dispute with RTE, and Paddy Manning, a gay man who opposes gay marriage, discussing the use of the word ‘homophobia’.


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