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Cinema company attacked after banning Church of England ad

By Admin on 24 November 2015. ~ Categories: Freedom of Conscience and Religion

A cinema advertising company has been criticised on all fronts for banning a Church of England advert promoting prayer. One of those attacking the decision is David Cameron. Another critic of the decision is atheist, Richard Dawkins. According to The Guardian newspaper, the 60-second advertisement, which shows Christians from various walks of life saying The Lord’s Prayer, fell foul of Digital Cinema Media (DCM) which argued that it breached the company’s own practice of not showing ads with overtly religious or political content, and because the advert might cause offence to non-Christians.

Mattie McGrath says abortion debate being “manipulated” to cause repeal of pro-life amendment

By Admin on 24 November 2015 . ~ Categories: Other

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Government to fully clarify its position on the Constitutional protection for the unborn following a number of interventions by ministers in favour of its repeal in recent days. In a statement, Deputy McGrath voiced his concern that on the issue of the 8th Amendment to the Constitution, “there is a palpable sense that the whole debate is already being manipulated and dragged toward a pre-ordained end; that of unlimited abortion without any kind of legislative restraint”.

Anti-Christian hate crimes in Europe “under-reported” says Vatican official

By Admin on 21 November 2015. ~ Categories: Religion and Religious Practice

Hate crimes against Christians in Europe are more widespread than official reports show, the Vatican’s representative to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has said. In a statement before a sitting of the OSCE in Vienna, Austria, Monsignor Janusz Urba?czyk asserted that “poor attention is given to hate crimes committed against majority communities” and such crimes, being “under-reported and under-recorded”, leads to the conclusion “that hate crimes against members of religions and, especially against Christians, are certainly more numerous than those indicated in the annual reporting of the [Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights]” - the OSCE’s principal institution. Pointing out that 60-70% of hate crimes were committed against properties and not persons, crimes considered “less serious”, Msgr Urba?czyk warned that this led to a risk that such crimes would not be fully investigated towards prosecution of offenders.

Irish doctors join Amnesty call for abortion in Ireland and worldwide

By Admin on 20 November 2015 . ~ Categories: Other

A number of Irish doctors have added their names to an Amnesty International letter calling on governments worldwide to legislate for abortion. In all, 838 medical professionals from around the world signed the letter, arguing that access to abortion is good for women’s “health and bodily autonomy”. Among the signatories are Dr Veronica O'Keane, Consultant Psychiatrist at the Adelaide and Meath Hospital, including the National Children’s Hospital (AMiNCH) and Dr Peter Boylan, former Master and Clinical Director of Ireland's National Maternity Hospital.

Sydney Archbishop criticises legal moves against booklet defending traditional marriage

By Admin on 20 November 2015 . ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family,Freedom of Conscience and Religion

A leading Catholic Archbishop in Australia has expressed his alarm at legal moves to sanction a fellow prelate for distributing a booklet defending traditional marriage. Following confirmation by Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Commission that it is examining a case brought by a transgender activist against Archbishop Julian Porteous of Hobart, Lifesite News reports that Sydney’s Archbishop Anthony Fisher felt compelled to speak out against the case and the apparent breach of religious freedom it represents. "Australia is party to treaties guaranteeing freedoms of religion and of speech, and regularly exhorts other nations to observe these,” Archbishop Fisher said. “It is therefore astonishing and truly alarming that people might be proceeded against for stating traditional Christian beliefs on marriage.”

Call for change to law protecting denominational school admissions

By Admin on 19 November 2015 . ~ Categories: Schools and Education

Laws around school admissions should be changed to prevent religious-backed schools from offering priority to children of faith, a Government advisory panel has said. According to The Irish Times, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) has recommended that the law be altered so as to allow unbaptised children and those of minority faiths to apply for school places on the same basis as those drawn from the faith community served by a particular school. The recommendation has come as part of the commission’s input to the new Admissions to Schools Bill (2015), due to be debated by the Oireachtas shortly.

US Church participation rates vary widely - study

By Admin on 19 November 2015 . ~ Categories: Religion and Religious Practice

Christians in the United States vary greatly in their levels of active involvement with their congregations, a new study has revealed. According to the ‘Religious Landscape Study, undertaken by the Pew Research Centre, Christian communities in the country vary greatly in levels of active participation with their congregations, with just 30% of all Christian adults having a high level of congregational involvement. However, only 12% fall into the lowest category of involvement. The figure falling into the category of medium engagement was 58%.

Papal Nuncio urges Catholics to protect school ethos

By Admin on 18 November 2015. ~ Categories: Schools and Education

The Papal Nuncio to Ireland has urged Catholics to protect religious ethos in schools from the risk of disappearing entirely. Addressing a conference to mark the 50th anniversary of Gravissimum Educationis, the Declaration on Christian Education by the Second Vatican Council, Archbishop Charles Brown warned: “Schools have to be concerned about their Catholic character, and recognise that without a conscious effort to maintain their distinctly Catholic ethos, that ethos can dissolve to non-descript and vague spiritualism, or even disappear entirely.”

Swedish court rules against midwife who refused to perform abortions

By Admin on 17 November 2015. ~ Categories: Freedom of Conscience and Religion,Other

A Swedish court has ruled against a midwife who was denied posts because she is unwilling to perform abortions. Ellinor Grimmark first took a case for discrimination in 2014, contending that she had been denied jobs on three separate occasions for her stated objection, on religious grounds, to participating in abortion procedures. Grimmark was supported in her action by the human rights groups Provita and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).

First same-sex marriages take place in Ireland

By Admin on 17 November 2015 . ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

The first same-sex marriage ceremonies are taking place in Ireland today. In anticipation today, numerous gay couples in Dublin, Cork and Galway had registered their intention to marry. Civil partners do not have to give notice of intent to marry. Under the terms of the Act, formulated after Ireland’s referendum on same-sex marriage last May 22, all same-sex couples previously married in foreign jurisdictions will have their marital status automatically recognised in Ireland from today, and, while no new civil partnerships will be recorded, existing civil partnerships will continue to be recognised unless a couple decides to transfer the arrangement into a same-sex marriage, at which time the civil element will be dissolved.

Australian Bishops face sanction for Defence of Marriage booklet

By Admin on 16 November 2015. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family,Freedom of Conscience and Religion

Australia’s Anti-Discrimination Commission office is to hear a case against the country’s Catholic Bishops for distributing a booklet supporting traditional marriage. According to The Australian newspaper, the case against the Bishops was launched on foot of a complaint against Archbishop Julian Porteous of Hobart, Tasmania by transgender Martine Delaney.

UK foetal genetic test could be resulting in sex-selective abortions – report

By Admin on 14 November 2015 . ~ Categories: Other

A blood test in use in Britain to check for genetic abnormalities in foetuses could be resulting in sex-selective abortions, a government report has warned. According to The Daily Telegraph, government concerns were raised following a review by the Department of Health into the use of Non Invasive Pre-natal Testing (NIPT), which, among other things, can determine the gender of a foetus from as early as seven weeks of pregnancy.

Abortion filmmakers warn Ireland against rejecting protection for the unborn

By Admin on 13 November 2015. ~ Categories: Other

Two Irish filmmakers who focused on the case of US abortionist Dr Kermit Gosnell (pictured) have warned against a rush to liberalise abortion in Ireland following their research of the case. Having made Gosnell’s infamous ‘house of horrors’ case the subject of a documentary film and book, Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney admitted, in an article for The Irish Times, that their previous support for liberal abortion provision had radically changed and warned abortion campaigners in Ireland to “be careful what you wish for” as the drive continues for a repeal of the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution, which protects the unborn child.

Northern Ireland woman takes legal challenge on abortion guidelines

By Admin on 13 November 2015 . ~ Categories: Other

A woman in Northern Ireland is taking a legal case over alleged failings to issue concrete guidelines on abortion there. According to The Irish Times, the unnamed woman travelled to England in 2013 to procure a termination of twins suffering foetal abnormalities after doctors treating her at a hospital in Belfast cited uncertainty in the law in Northern as a reason for refusing her an abortion. Unlike the UK, Northern Ireland restricts abortion to specific cases where the mother’s life or mental well-being are threatened.

Parents urged to defend Catholic ethos in schools

By Admin on 11 November 2015 . ~ Categories: Schools and Education

Parents who back denominational education for their children must insist that religious ethos is defended, Archbishop Michael Neary has said Speaking at the launch of two new texts on Religious Education for Catholic schools, the Archbishop of Tuam insisted that “we have Catholic schools because parents want them” and, therefore, “it is parents who must insist that the religious ethos of our schools is respected and not abandoned”.

‘Future of Ireland’ survey predicts further decline of Church and marriage

By Admin on 10 November 2015 . ~ Categories: Other

Irish people believe the Catholic Church will decline further over the next decade, and so will marriage These are just two of the findings of a newly released survey of Irish attitudes. The ‘Future of Ireland’ study was undertaken by the OMD media agency with the backing of Ulster Bank and was based on conversations with over 1,000 Irish people on a range of issues. Fully 60% said they believed marriage may be less important over the coming years, but that Irish people will continue to strongly value family and relationships.

Pace of primary school divestment ‘disappointing’ – forum chairman

By Admin on 10 November 015. ~ Categories: Schools and Education

The pace of divestment of patronage of Catholic schools has been described as “disappointing” by the former chair of the Forum of Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary sector. Speaking to The Irish Times newspaper, Professor John Coolahan, whose report to Government in 2012 set in train efforts to shift some religious schools to alternative patronage, contended that while his forum had attempted to “encourage a generous spirit where existing patrons were concerned” on the issue, “overall, the situation is disappointing when it comes to divestment”.

Dismissal of cleric in same-sex marriage upheld by UK tribunal

By Admin on 7 November 2015. ~ Categories: Religion and Religious Practice,Other

The dismissal of a Church of England cleric from a preaching position following his marriage to his same-sex partner has been upheld by an employment tribunal in Britain. According to The Daily Telegraph, the Rev Canon Jeremy Pemberton, a hospital chaplain in Lincolnshire took a case for discrimination when his licence to preach in the Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham was removed by Church authorities whom, it was alleged, viewed him as being no longer “in good standing” following his same-sex union. This action, Rev Pemberton alleged, had denied him the chance of promotion to a senior chaplaincy post.

Denominational schools have right to choose ethos - Bishop

By Admin on 6 November 2015. ~ Categories: Schools and Education

Bishop Brendan Leahy has defended the right of denominational schools to choose their ethos. Responding to plans by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) to introduce a new Beliefs and Religions subject at primary level which has the potential to negatively affect the daily 30 minutes of teaching time afforded to faith formation in denominational schools, Bishop Leahy told The Irish Independent that the rights of schools on religious education were guaranteed both in the Constitution and law.

City of Houston rejects transgender ‘toilet access’ law

By Admin on 6 November 2015. ~ Categories: Other

Voters in the US city of Houston, Texas have repealed a local ordinance which offered transgendered people the right to use toilet and changing facilities of their self-identified sex. According to Lifesite News, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) was struck down by 63% of voters who agreed that the law adversely affected the privacy of ‘vulnerable young women’. Many people, including High School students, have objective to transgendered individuals who are anatomically male being allowed to use women’s showers, toilets and changing rooms in schools and elsewhere.

UK women deferring motherhood over desire for own home - report

By Admin on 5 November 2015. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Women in Britain are deferring motherhood as they pursue the desire to own a home first, a new survey has revealed. According to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), which has unveiled its findings in ‘Becoming a Mother – Understanding women’s choices today’, rather than the commonly held belief that women are today putting careers ahead of parenthood, it is a desire to have a secure home, coupled with a stable relationship and financial security which dictate women’s deferral.

Primary school religion hours face cuts under proposed RE shake-up

By Admin on 4 November 2015. ~ Categories: Schools and Education

Time allotted to faith formation in Catholic primary schools could be slashed under new Religious Education plans unveiled by the Government, The Irish Independent reports. The Education about Religion, Beliefs and Ethics (ERBE) subject is being proposed by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) as an additional component of the school day to introduce children to all world religions. However, in an already packed curriculum, it is likely that to accommodate its inclusion, the daily 30-minute slot currently afforded to religious backed schools for faith formation will be curtailed.

Amnesty criticised for campaign against Ireland’s protection for the unborn

By Admin on 4 November 2015. ~ Categories: Other

Amnesty International in Ireland has been criticised for urging the repeal of the country’s Constitutional protection for the unborn. Quoted by The Catholic Herald as he responded to a new campaign ad from Amnesty to ‘Repeal the 8th’, Lord Alton told the House of Lords that the campaign was “simply disingenuous”. “Their publicity makes it seem as if they want abortions solely where the baby is going to die,” he said. “If you dig deeper you discover that they want to ‘Repeal Article 40.3.3 of the Irish Constitution to remove the protection of the right to life of the foetus’. These are their words, not mine.”

Same-sex marriage vote struck down by DUP

By Admin on 3 November 2015. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

A fifth attempt to introduce same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland has failed after a majority vote in favour was blocked by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). For the first time since Members of the Liberal Assembly (MLA) began repeated drives to legislate on marriage redefinition so as to bring the North into line with both the Republic of Ireland and Britain, a majority of 53 MLAs backed the Sinn Féin/SDLP motion, with 52 against. Crucially, however, with just four of the majority coming from the unionist side of the house, the DUP issued a petition of concern, a legal device open to parties concerned at any vote offering too much to one community in the North over the other. The vote was thus blocked and the legislation stalled.

Scientific research backs marriage as best for families and children

By Admin on 31 October 2015. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

There is a “growing scientific consensus” that the family structure based on marriage is best for both children and parents. In a piece penned for the US-based National Review, W. Brad Wilcox, a sociologist at the University of Virginia pointed to a host of studies, including three recent research projects, which clearly demonstrated that, “despite persistent efforts to claim otherwise”, individuals young and old benefit from “strong and stable married families”.

Government moves to tackle surge in sexually transmitted infections

By Admin on 30 October 2015. ~ Categories: Other

The Government has announced plans for free access to medical testing to meet a surge in sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. According to RTÉ, between 1995 and 2013, rates for STIs increased from 3,361 to 12,753, with the greatest rates of infection being among those aged under 25 and among men having sex with men. Infections such as HIV, Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea all showed increases. In 2013 alone, 344 people were diagnosed with HIV in Ireland.

Canadian faith leaders issue declaration against assisted suicide

By Admin on 30 October 2015. ~ Categories: Other

Faith leaders in Canada have issued a joint declaration against the introduction of euthanasia and assisted suicide. As medical personnel come under increasing pressure to participate in end-of-life procedures in the wake of a Supreme Court decision in February that people in ‘grievous pain’ should be allowed to request assisted suicide, more than 30 Christian denominations together with representatives of the Jewish and Muslim faiths have issued their Declaration on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, arguing for respect for human dignity and a recourse to palliative care in end-of-life cases.

Teachers of faith ‘isolated’ in Catholic schools

By Admin on 29 October 2015. ~ Categories: Schools and Education

Some teachers in Catholic schools in Ireland report feeling “intimidated” when they raise concerns about ethos within their schools. According to The Irish Catholic newspaper, which gained comments from a number of teachers working in schools today at a conference on denominational education organised by The Iona Institute, the pressure is widespread as many schools are now “Catholic in name only”. Among the teachers – all unnamed for fear of being targeted - who spoke of feeling “isolated” and “oppressed” is one who claims that her colleagues are openly “anti-Catholic”.

India unveils Bill to end commercial surrogacy

By Admin on 29 October 2015. ~ Categories: Other

India is proposing an outright ban on foreigners seeking surrogacy services there. According to The Guardian newspaper, in the wake of a court challenge earlier in October to the commercial surrogacy issue nationwide, the Indian government was called upon to finally move towards some form of regulation of an industry which is said to be worth €126 million, a figure growing at a rate of 20% annually. Critics have denounced the exploitation of impoverished Indian women in what is referred to as a ‘rent-a-womb’ scheme for infertile couples and individuals.

Britain refuses to recognise Middle East slaughters as ‘genocide’

By Admin on 28 October 2015. ~ Categories: Other

The British government is reluctant to describe the slaughter of Christians in the Middle East as genocide, a minister has admitted. According to a report in The Tablet, when pressed in the House of Lords for a clear explanation of what Britain is doing to uphold Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – relating to religious freedom - Baroness Anelay of St Johns, Minister of State at the Foreign Office conceded that the government remained reluctant to use the term ‘genocide’, even as it reflected on the horrendous litany of abuse perpetrated by the Islamic State group on Christian communities.

Religious, secular campaigners unite against Britain’s attack on free speech

By Admin on 28 October 2015. ~ Categories: Freedom of Conscience and Religion

A coalition of opponents to Britain’s controversial plans to tackle extremist preachers has formed into a campaign group to defeat what it views as an assault on free speech. As David Cameron’s government presses ahead with the introduction of Extremism Disruption Orders (EDOs), under which it can effectively silence community leaders, including preachers for communicating ‘unacceptable’ messages, The Defend Free Speech group launched at Westminster, bringing together an unlikely alliance of religious and secular groupings, together with one of Britain’s most well-known gay rights campaigners, Peter Thatchell.

Archbishop Eamonn Martin hails Synod outcome

By Admin on 27 October 2015 . ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

The Primate of All Ireland, Dr Eamonn Martin has said that the Synod on the Family which finished on Sunday will provide the Church with a clear vision of pastoral action for families. Writing in the Sunday Independent after his return from Rome, where he had served as a moderator of one of the English-language groups discussing the Synod's theme of ‘The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and the Contemporary World’, Archbishop Martin said he “ had a sense of being part of something very special and historic in the life of the Church”, adding: “I am confident that the final document, together with Pope Francis's reflections on it, will provide us with both a manifesto and a challenge for pastoral action in the coming years.”

Scotland's child monitoring scheme faces legal challenge

By Admin on 27 October 2015. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

A legal challenge against Scotland's proposed 'state guardian' scheme will be heard in court next March 8. The Named Person legislation has been roundly criticised as undue interference in family life since it was introduced as part of the region's Children and Young People (Scotland) Act last year. Set to come into effect in August 2016, the legislation would see state-appointed monitors to oversee the well being of every child in Scotland. A coalition of opponents will now be afforded two days in court in March to lay out their objections to the plan.

Spanish Socialists vow to end Religious Education in Schools

By Admin on 26 October 2015. ~ Categories: Schools and Education

Spain's main socialist party has vowed to end all Religious Education in the nation's schools if elected this December. According to EWTN News, as part of his party's election manifesto, Pedro Sánchez, leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE), has promised that, if in government, he will lead a campaign to “promote a secular public school where religious instruction is not included either in the curriculum or the school schedule.”

Pope announces new Pontifical office for the Family

By Admin on 24 October 2015. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Pope Francis has announced the establishment of a new body dedicated to the care of the family, the laity and life issues. Addressing the assembled participants at the Synod of the Family in Rome, the Pope said: “I have decided to establish a new Dicastery with competency for Laity, Family and Life, that will replace the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Council for the Family. “To this end, I have constituted a special commission that will prepare a text delineating canonically the competencies of the new Dicastery. The text will be presented for discussion to the Council of Cardinals at their next meeting in December."

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