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Police in the US state of Texas have arrested a woman after a firebomb was hurled at people engaged in a prayer vigil outside an abortion clinic. Members of the Central Texas Alliance for Life had gathered in the city of Austin for the prayer event when the crude device was thrown from a passing car, allegedly by 52-year-old Melanie Maria Toney. Luckily for those who were the intended target, the thrown bottle did not shatter and a burning wick failed to make contact with the liquid contents, thought to be flammable.
Senator Jim Walsh has given up the Fianna Fáil (FF) party whip following his expressions of opposition to the Children and Family Relationships Bill. Arguing, during a Seanad debate on the Children and Family Relationships Bill that it contains “many gaps”, Senator Walsh opposed 36 individual sections of the legislation and tabled amendments which recognise the right of a child to be raised by a mother and a father. Prior to his resignation, Senator Walsh met with FF party leader Micheál Martin to communicate his concerns and later, in his letter of resignation, stated that his actions were based on his “deeply held and conscientious opinions”.
The Government's Children and Family Relationships Bill, which is currently being debated in the Seanad, has been strongly criticised by Senators Ronan Mullen and Jim Walsh. Independent Senator Ronan Mullen accused the government of the same kind of groupthink that led to the banking crisis, and said that the Bill “wrecks the Government's credentials as defenders of the best interests of children.” Senator Jim Walsh of Fianna Fail said that the Bill did nothing to safeguard a child's right to have a mother and father, and said that in failing to restrict the use of donor eggs and sperm the Bill “in no way respects the genetic kinship of (donor-conceived) children and completely disconnects legal motherhood and fatherhood from genetic parenthood.”
The vast majority of Irish parents continue to have their children baptised, a new poll has revealed. According to a 'Family Values' survey undertaken by Ipsos MRBI on behalf of The Irish Times newspaper, 93% of parents have had their children baptised, with the figure climbing to 95% for parents aged under 35 and 97% for single parents. Those parents unmarried but cohabiting are least likely to have their children baptised, but the figure still stands at 86%. When asked about the faith of their child, 81% of respondents said their child believes in God.
The Tanaiste has emphatically ruled out any conscience clause for businesses in Ireland such as printers and bakers that on grounds of conscience do not wish to facilitate same-sex weddings. When asked to comment on the notion of such a clause, which has already been offered to religious ministers, allowing them to avoid performing gay marriage ceremonies should the May 22 referendum pass, Joan Burton stated that, in relation to businesses: “No, such an exemption will not be possible.” Deputy Burton's statement on the issue comes in the wake of comments made by Dublin's Archbishop Diarmuid Martin on the issue of conscience. During a session of questions at an event organised by the Iona Institute on the topic of 'The Church's Teaching on Marriage Today', Dr Martin described conscience as a fundamental human right.
Less than ten percent of parents with young children have placed their children in day care, according to a new poll. The survey, conducted on behalf of The Irish Times by Ipsos MRBI reveals that for those parents juggling work with child-rearing, a parent remaining at home is still the most common option. According to the survey, 58% of parents state that one of them, usually the mother, stays home and minds their own children. Where both parents work grandparents are the most popular choice with 42% of parents leaving their children with them, while 20% each opt for creches and childminders. These are followed by other family members, accounting for 14%, au pairs at 4%, a figure matched by friends/neighbours as childcare options.
Over 70% of people in Northern Ireland believe it is wrong for the region’s Equality Commission to prosecute a Christian bakery over its refusal to bake a pro-same-sex marriage cake. As Ashers Baking Company prepares to face a court in Belfast this week, a poll undertaken by the UK’s Christian Institute found that, not alone did 71% of respondents disagree with the Equality Commission’s proceedings, but a massive 90% said that equality laws should be used to protect people from discrimination and not to force people to say something they oppose.
A Chilean cardinal has urged people to “fight” for the lives of unborn children as his country prepares to overturn its abortion ban. Responding to news of the introduction of a bill before Chile's parliament to allow abortion in cases of rape or a threat to the life of a mother, Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, president of the Chilean Bishops' Conference issued a call for the faithful nationwide to “fight and get organised”.
Dublin's Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has expressed concern at the hasty pace of political debate towards redefining marriage and the family. Speaking at an Iona Institute in Dublin last night, on the topic ‘The Church’s Teaching on Marriage Today’, the Archbishop said that “ in the current debate normal parliament procedures seem rushed”.
A case taken against a Christian bakery in Northern Ireland could have serious implications for freedom of conscience, a legal expert has said. Having examined the case of Ashers Baking Company, which faces sanction for its refusal on the grounds of faith to make a cake bearing a pro-same-sex marriage message alongside a picture of the Sesame Street characters Ernie and Bert, Aidan O'Neill QC said that the case had far-reaching implications, and not only for faith communities.
Ireland’s forthcoming referendum on same-sex marriage should be postponed as it may be unconstitutional to hold it before a pending Supreme Court ruling, legal experts have said. Speaking to The Irish Catholic newspaper, Dr Maria Cahill, a lecturer in constitutional law at University College Cork said that until a ruling is made on case currently before the Supreme Court, and centred on the Referendum Act itself, the same-sex vote may be ultimately be ruled unconstitutional.
A teacher at a Catholic school in New Jersey, USA, has caved into pressure from LGBT activists by suspending her from her job at the school after she defended traditional marriage on her Facebook page. Patricia Jannuzzi, a teacher at the Immaculata School in Somerville, drew fire when she accused gay activists wanting to “reengineer western civ (sic) into a slow extinction. We need healthy families with a mother and a father for the sake of children and humanity.”
The Catholic bishops of Virgina, USA, have voiced their support for Catholic groups which have backed out of the annual St Patrick's Day parade in the city of Norfolk following the naming, as grand marshal, of the state's pro-abortion and pro-same-sex marriage Governor Terry McAuliffe. Despite his stance on these issues, Governor McAuliffe was chosen for the honour by the parade organisers, the Knights of Columbus Council 3548, which has organised the local St Patrick's Day parade for the past 48 years.
The Catholic Church in Ireland has issued new guidelines on inclusion for schools under its management. Seeking to respond to the state's Forum on Patronage and Pluralism, which was established to examine primary schooling in modern Ireland, the Church's Catholic Schools Partnership launched 'Catholic Primary Schools in a Changing Ireland: Sharing Good Practice on the Inclusion of all Pupils'. The document offers guidance for schools in welcoming pupils of other faiths and none, while at the same time dealing with how Catholic schools can accommodate such pupils during the teaching of religion. The Catholic Church currently has responsibility for 89% of primary schools in Ireland.
Christians in the UK are afraid to speak openly in work about their faith for fear of ridicule by colleagues, a study by the country's Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has found. In a study conducted among 2,500 people of all faiths and none on the topics of religion and the workplace, the EHRC found that Christians who openly declare their faith are often labelled 'bigots' by work associates or routinely mocked for their beliefs.
Truly pluralistic and democratic nations should enshrine conscientious objection in law, a conference of Catholic legal advisors has stated. Over the course of a three-day meeting in Slovakia of advisors to Catholic Bishops' Conferences of some 20 European countries, delegates discussed both the idea of conscientious objection and argued for its maintenance by States Noting that “freedom of conscience - a fundamental right at the foundation of democracy and the Rule of law of our European countries - is increasingly struggling, especially in the medical and educational field” in a Europe “ strongly marked by secularism and liberalism”, delegates called on states to recognise that for Catholics, while fully respecting laws, “conscientious objection should be instituted as a legal possibility that gives people the right to refuse duty, which is contrary to the general principles of doctrine and morals of the Church”.
Doctors in the Canadian province of Ontario will be forced to refer patients for abortions, contraception and other treatments regardless of conscientious objections following a ruling by the region's College of Physicians. Following a 21-3 vote, surgeons of the Ontario College of Physicians adopted the new policy on patient care, with one supporter stating it had been drafted in such a way as to ensure there was no “wiggle room” on grounds of moral or religious beliefs. The adoption of the new policy comes despite massive objections from both medical practitioners and members of the public during a three-month online consultation process. The College of Physicians has admitted that, of 16,000 submissions received, most were against the policy move.
Ireland's bishops have warned that passage of the same-sex referendum will “make it increasingly difficult” for people of faith to speak of their deeply held belief of marriage as that between a man and a woman. The statement was presented by Archbishops Eamon Martin and Diarmuid Martin as the spring quarterly meeting of the Irish Bishops’ Conference continued. It poses a series of questions as to the impact on the Catholic community of a yes vote in the May referendum: “What will we be expected to teach children in school about marriage? Will those who sincerely continue to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman be forced to act against their conscience? Can a way be found to protect the civil rights of gay people without undermining the fundamental meaning of marriage as commonly understood across cultures, faiths and down the ages?”
Couples who marry before starting a family are far more likely to stay together than those marrying or cohabiting after the birth of a child, according to new research carried out in the UK by the Marriage Foundation. Tracking the changes in tens of thousands of British homes over time, the Marriage Foundation analysed a sample cohort of 1,800 mothers with at least one mid-teen child in 2010. Of this cohort, 62% were married before having children, 16% were married after the birth of a child or children, while 14% lived with their child's father but never married.
Russia has reversed its abortion trend to witness a five-fold decrease in terminations in 25 years, according to a representative of the Russian Orthodox Church from four million a year down to 700,000 annually. In an interview, Alexey Komov, a member of the Family Commission of the Orthodox Church as well as the advocacy group Family Policy, said that his country's dubious international lead in terminations has steadily declined from a situation where there were more abortions than births to show a healthier ratio today of two births for every termination. “The number of abortions in Russia decreased five-fold over the past 25 years,” he said, “from four million a year to less than 700,000 today.”
Places at Catholic secondary schools in the UK continue to be hugely popular, with newly available figures showing record applications by students. According to the data released this week, tens of thousands of applicants have made Catholic secondary schools their first choice, creating fierce competition among pupils progressing from the primary education sector.
A legal requirement for donors of sperm and eggs to be non-anonymous has been described as unenforceable by a former legislator. During discussions of the Child and Family Relationships Bill at a sitting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality yesterday, former Minister for Justice Alan Shatter, who helped draft the original Bill, warned his successor, Frances Fitzgerald, that a requirement for genetic donors to be fully identified, as a measure to protect children's rights to know their biological parents, would merely see intending parents “get on a plane” to seek reproductive services in jurisdictions allowing for anonymous donations, effectively rendering the Irish ban useless.
A woman in England acted as a surrogate mother for a baby whose biological father is her adult son, the Daily Telegraph reports. The man, who is single and in his mid-20s was seeking the approval of the High Court in order to adopt the child. The judge granted him his request, saying that while the situation was “unusual” it was “entirely lawful under the relevant statutory provisions.”
A major study has found that areas with less liberal abortion laws are those with better rates of maternal health. Conducted over a 10-year period from 2002, the study by a team of international researchers examined maternal health in 32 states across Mexico, utilising a standard indicator known as the Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR). Mexico was chosen as it holds virtually complete and accurate records on maternal healthcare.
Gay activists have demanded the removal of a portrait of Lord Carey from King’s College, London, following his defence of man/woman marriage. A high-profile alumnus of King's College, the former Archbishop of Canterbury's portrait has become the target of renewed demands for its removal by the college's LGBT Liberation Association. The group's ire with Lord Carey dates back to 2012 when he said that any attempt to redefine the meaning of marriage would “strike at the very fabric of society” and insisted that same-sex unions could not be considered “on the same level” as male/female marriage unions.
A hospital in the US state of Washington is to be sued for not providing enough access to abortion. In an action brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Skagit Regional Health stands accused of allowing doctors to opt out of abortion procedures on conscience grounds thereby reducing the number of terminations actually carried out. A spokesperson for the Washington State Hospital Association has pointed out that under state law, hospitals cannot force medical staff to go against their consciences in relation to the abortion issue, and further, imposition of the law based on the ACLU's demand would see hospitals forced to consider ending maternity services altogether to avoid lawsuits.
Newly compiled figures show that at least 57 babies born to a surrogate mother have been brought to Ireland by Irish couples since 2008, according to The Irish Independent. The true number for foreign surrogacy may be much higher, given that the compiling of figures has been based on emergency travel certificates, a document required of parents bringing a child into Ireland, but not mandatory for all countries of origin. Thus, while researchers have been able to look at children originating in India, for example, no accurate figure can be ascertained for the United States, where a baby is in receipt of a passport when born.
A Catholic bishop in Northern Ireland has criticised laws which enforce “prejudice and discrimination” against people of faith. Speaking before legislators at the North's Assembly earlier this week ahead of the introduction of a proposed Freedom of Conscience Bill, Bishop Noel Treanor of the Diocese of Down and Connor said that current laws, such as equality legislation which omits a conscience clause, requires people of faith to act against their consciences in ways that simply would not be tolerated by other sectors of society.
“The media is the main driver for abortion in Ireland,” a leading pro-life advocacy group has stated. As it prepares to roll out a major information campaign on what it sees as the media's pro-abortion agenda, the Pro Life Campaign (PLC) has accused the national media of “blatant” bias on the issue.
Ireland’s proposed surrogacy legislation will “devalue the importance of mothers and fathers in the lives of children” a family advocacy group has warned. Reacting to news that the Health Minister Leo Varadkar (pictured) is currently working on draft legislation towards regulating surrogacy, while banning commercial surrogacy outright, the Mothers and Fathers Matter group stated that, if implemented, the proposed legislation will in fact “violate the rights of both women and children”.
The Church has a right and a duty to “speak out on social issues” Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has said. Referring to the same-sex marriage debate, Dr Martin stressed that “the teaching of the Catholic Church on marriage is well known and is not something just Irish. That teaching is the same in Ireland and in any other country in the world and does not change according to fashion.”
A Catholic bishop has stated that campaigners for a Yes vote in Ireland's same-sex marriage referendum are not seeking 'marriage equality'. Speaking at a gathering in Dublin last night, Bishop Kevin Doran, the Irish bishops' spokesman on bioethics and a member of their Council on the family and marriage said that in order for ‘marriage equality’ to exist in fact would necessitate a change to the meaning of marriage or the removal of the openness of marriage to procreation as an intrinsic part of marriage.
Europe's bishops have denounced surrogacy as “a violent assault on human dignity” in a new document released this week. At a special event at the European Parliament in Brussels, the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) unveiled its 'Opinion on Gestational Surrogacy: the question of European and International Rules' towards explaining the prelates' position on surrogacy.
A claim that same-sex marriage is a human right, made by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC), has been rejected by a legal expert. In a policy statement released ahead of the forthcoming same-sex marriage referendum, the IHREC stated it “believes that the opening out of civil marriage to two persons without distinction as to their sex is a matter of equality and human rights”.
A Christian florist in the US state of Washington has been found to be in breach of anti-discrimination laws for not supplying flowers for a same-sex wedding. Despite mounting a defence under her rights to freedom of religion and expression, Baronelle Stutzman fell foul of Benton County Superior Court, which ruled that while the US Constitution protects religious beliefs, it does not necessarily extend such protection to actions arising from those beliefs. Explaining that the state has a duty, under its anti-discrimination legislation, to prevent incidences of discrimination, the court ruled that refusing to supply a service to a gay couple fell under that law and further ruled that Stutzman was liable for damages for her actions.
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