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 and it will be considered for inclusion in the blog.


The seal of confession and freedom of religion

By Tom O'Gorman on 1st September 2011. ~ Categories: Freedom of Conscience and Religion

Today’s criticism by The Irish Times of Cardinal Sean Brady's defence of the seal of confession is puzzling to say the least. Cardinal Brady described Government proposals which would require Catholic priests to break the seal where child abuse is confessed as an attack on religious freedom.


Tony Blair’s confused thinking on the UK riots

By Tom O'Gorman on 30th August 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair's (pictured) has written about the London riots and to judge from a headline The Guardian put on his analysis you could be forgiven for thinking Blair rejected David Cameron’s “broken society” rhetoric in its entirety. It’s true that Blair seemed to reject suggestions that there was an overall moral crisis, but then he appeared to contradict himself by describing Cameron's speech on the matter as “excellent”. (He also said that the speech by current Labour leader, Ed Miliband, was excellent.)


Sexualising children in our Brave New World

By David Quinn on 27th August 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Recently I read Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World for the first time. I was reminded of it the other day when reading about a sex education kit being handed out to young children in Switzerland. In Brave New World, the children who are ‘decanted’ in baby factories are raised by the State, not parents, and from a very early age are encouraged to ‘explore their sexuality’.


Are Asian women really rejecting marriage?

By David Quinn on 25th August 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

The cover story of The Economist last week was called ‘Asia’s lonely hearts: Why Asian women are rejecting marriage and what that means’. The picture on the front showed a lovelorn Asian man, rose in hand, and a woman striding purposefully away from him.


How we are depleting our moral capital

By David Quinn on 23rd August 2011. ~ Categories: Other

One of Britain’s most acute and insightful thinkers today is Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (pictured). Dr Sacks has written about the UK looting and arson for a number of publications, including in this article from the Wall Street Journal. In it he makes the point that the West has been spending its moral capital as fast and as recklessly as it spent its financial capital.


Children’s conference has blind spot about marriage

By David Quinn on 20th August 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

The topic of this year’s Merriman Summer School in Co Clare is ‘Changing Irish Childhoods’. It ends on Sunday. So far it has been addressed by such people as Children’s Minister, Frances Fitzgerald (pictured), Norah Gibbons of Bernardos, and Mary O’Rourke. To judge from the reports of their speeches in The Irish Times, one very important subject has been absent from them, namely the importance of marriage.


Words of wisdom on fatherless children

By Tom O'Gorman on 18th August 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

David Cameron was the most prominent figure who suggested that fatherlessness and general moral breakdown were behind last week's riots, but he wasn't on his own. David Lammy (pictured), The Labour MP for the Tottenham area, where the riots started said that the lack of male role models in young men’s lives was one of the long term reasons behind the trouble.


Time for Cameron to walk the talk on families

By Tom O'Gorman on 16th August 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Monday's speech by Prime Minister David Cameron used some of the strongest language heard from any politician anywhere in Britain or Ireland in a very long time to describe the extent of the moral collapse which led to the anarchy and looting in British cities last week. Mr Cameron spoke of “people showing indifference to right and wrong” and “a complete absence of self-restraint” and stated, correctly, that the unwillingness of politicians to speak the truth about behaviour and morality had actually helped to cause the social problems we see around us.


Why an obsession with GDP harms the family

By Tom O'Gorman on 15th August 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

A growing GDP is generally considered to be a very healthy and desirable thing for a country, but in fact as a measure of economic, much less social well-being, it is a very blunt instrument which for one thing ill-serves the family. Here is a useful article by Robert W. Patterson of the Family in America journal in which he points out that most people want to see an economy that supports families, not one that is simply about growth.


Collapse of traditional family one reason for the riots

By David Quinn on 12 August 11. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family,Other

The looting and arson in Britain have many causes, but who can seriously doubt that one of the causes is the collapse of traditional morality and the traditional family in large parts of Britain. Notably, Indians were not among the rioters. Why not?


London riots: Absent fathers have a lot to answer for

By David Quinn on 10 August 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Many factors are to blame for the riots in London and other English cities. One of them has to be the absence of a father-figure from the lives of so many of the rioters. There is a well established link between father-absence and juvenile delinquency.


Behind the "pay gap" between men and women

By Tom O'Gorman on 7th August 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Kay Hymowitz has a useful piece in the US website, City Journal explaining the phenomenon of the gap in income between men and women. Hymowitz acknowledges that the gap exists, but rejects the notion that it is because of policy failures on the part of government.


Getting to the heart of the same-sex marriage debate

By David Quinn on 4th August 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Some months ago Robert P George, Ryan T Anderson and Sherif Girgis wrote one of the best papers to date on the same-sex marriage issue. That paper has prompted an ongoing debate with various advocates of same-sex marriage critiquing it and the paper’s authors, chiefly Girgis responding.


Will the Taoiseach object to 16 year-olds getting the Pill?

By Tom O'Gorman on 29th July 2011. ~ Categories: Other

Last week the Law Reform Commission (LRC) published a report, Children and the Law: Medical Treatment, which said that teens as young as 16, and in some cases younger, should be able to access contraception without their parents approving or even knowing. This is in spite of the fact that age of legal consent for sexual intercourse is still 17.


Polygamy enters the mainstream

By Tom O'Gorman on 27th July 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Those who argue against same-sex marriage sometimes argue that to legalise it would be to fundamentally redefine marriage. Legalise same-sex marriage, they argue, and you may as well legalise polygamy. If marriage shouldn't be confined to a man and a woman, why should it be confined to just two people? Why not one man and two women, or one woman and two men etc.


If Enda is serious about protecting children then he must promote marriage

By David Quinn on 25th July 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Speaking at the Glenties Summer School at the weekend, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said it was the aim of his Government “to create the environment where the innocence of children can develop naturally through their formative years.” If he is serious about this, then the number one thing his Government needs to do is promote and strengthen marriage.


Getting it wrong on cohabitation

By Tom O'Gorman on 21st July 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

A new study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) indicates that children raised by cohabiting couples do no worse on average than children raised by married couples once socio-economic background is taken into account, and therefore there is no good reason on the part of the State to encourage marriage.


Is the idea of sexual exclusivity in marriage passé?

By Tom O'Gorman on 15th July 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

W. Brad Wilcox, a US sociologist who researches in area of marriage, had a piece in The Washington Post last week, attacking the idea, which appears to be gaining ground, that marriage be sexually exclusive is passé. Wilcox points out that there are a range of problems with marital infidelity; out-of-wedlock births, increased risk of sexually transmitted infections, lack of emotional satisfaction, and the emotional risk to children where there is, as Wilcox puts it “a revolving carousel of romantic partners in the home”.


The Divorce Generation: An Opportunity Missed

By Jennie Mooney on 12th July 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

In a prominently featured book extract entitled ‘The Divorce Generation’ published in the Wall Street Journal (Saturday/Sunday July 9-10, 2011), author Susan Gregory-Thomas discusses the impact of divorce on her generation, Generation X.


Ireland needs to challenge contentious interpretations of UN human rights treaties

By David Quinn on 7 July 2011. ~ Categories: Other

Ireland goes before the UN Human Rights Council in October to report on how well it is doing in conforming to the various UN human rights conventions and treaties the Irish State has signed. The Irish submission is now publicly available. It is very heavily biased towards a particular interpretation of human rights.


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