The US Supreme Court has ruled that the government cannot fine a congregation of nuns which refuses to offer contraception and abortion as part of mandatory insurance packages to employees. The nuns had taken their case as a result of a US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) that requires all employer health plans to provide free contraceptives, sterilisations and abortion-inducing drugs, regardless of any moral or religious objections. The ruling in favour of the nuns has been described as a “game-changer” for organisations working from deeply held beliefs on issues such as abortion.
Cardinal Robert Sarah has described an “insidious war” against the family and human nature unfolding in the name of tolerance. Speaking at a gathering in Washington DC, the prefect for the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Sacraments said: “In the name of ‘tolerance,’ the Church’s teachings on marriage, sexuality and the human person are dismantled. The legalisation of same-sex marriage, the obligation to accept contraception within health care programmes, and even ‘bathroom bills’ that allow men to use the women’s restrooms and locker rooms. Should not a biological man use the men’s restroom? How simpler can that concept be?”
Persecution of Christians continues even after they escape to refugee camps in Germany, a new report has revealed. According to an Open Doors report, there have been at least 300 incidents of Christians suffering physical or sexual assault in camps in Germany, with thousands of other forms of persecution also recorded. Some have reported receiving death threats for their faith. A number of others were subjected to “punches, spitting, pushing and sexual abuse” and as many as 75% of respondents said harassment from Muslims is a “frequent” problem.
A gay man in Texas, USA, who pursued a lawsuit against a bakery for allegedly supplying him with a cake with a derogatory term for homosexuals has admitted his allegation was falsified. Jordan Brown had initiated proceedings against Whole Foods bakery after claiming that the company had written the word ‘fag’ on a birthday cake he ordered for a gay friend. However, Brown now admits “the company did nothing wrong”. Brown’s case fell apart when CCTV showed labelling on the cake box in a different place to that picture in subsequent images from a news conference.
Governors in a number of US states have refused to back down on transgender access to school toilets and changing rooms of their self-identified gender despite the Obama administration’s warning that federal funds will be cut from schools that do not comply. Leaders in at least a dozen states have responded that the threat is unconstitutional and they will not open locker rooms, showers and toilet facilities to people who self-identify with a particular gender.
Midwives in Britain are rebelling against a move by their union boss to sign members up to scrapping the abortion time limit, without prior consultation. The plan was led by Prof. Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, but has resulted in thousands of midwives signing a ‘Not in my Name’ petition against any involvement in ending the 24-week limit on terminations. Midwives have also called for the removal of Prof. Warwick, who serves simultaneously as chair of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, the country’s biggest abortion provider.
Faith-based education will be a “casualty” if the Government pushes ahead with a new programme on faith from a secular perspective, a religious expert has warned. Speaking to The Irish Catholic newspaper, Dr Eugene Duffy of Mary Immaculate College Limerick warned that “a consultation document for the proposed Education about Religions and Beliefs and Ethics programme suggests an agenda that “should be of the utmost concern to those involved in the provision of faith-based education”.
The proposal of a citizens’ assembly to address how to hold a referendum to remove the protection from the Constitution that is currently given to unborn children has been described as a ruse to allow the Government deniability in relation to any eventual recommendations, Bishop Kevin Doran has said. Speaking to The Irish Catholic newspaper, Bishop Doran said: “In my view, the setting up of the citizens’ convention is really just about window dressing and making it look democratic, and I suppose to some extent to distance government from it, so that whatever the citizens’ convention comes up with the government can say ‘that wasn’t our idea, that was their idea’.”
Northern Ireland’s leading pro-life group has welcomed the outcome of the recent Assembly elections as an endorsement of pro-life parties. Precious Life, which had pursued a ‘Your Vote Matters’ campaign ahead of the elections pointed out that 49 newly elected Members of the Legislative Assembly have publicly vowed to vote against abortion, and welcomed the commitments offered by both the DUP and SDLP to remain pro-life parties.
The Pro-Life Campaign (PLC) has criticised countries involved in a UN Human Rights Committee which criticised Ireland’s abortion laws. Following a sitting of the committee in Geneva at which Irish representatives were grilled on this country’s protection for the unborn, the PLC said of Ireland: “Far from being embarrassed, we should be challenging some of these countries over their appalling record when it comes to defending human life.” She went on to cite the records in terms of abortion of participants Canada and Denmark the latter of which, the PLC noted, “has set a goal to create a Down’s Syndrome–free Denmark by 2030”. The PLC’s statement was echoed by Independent TD Mattie McGrath who described the committee’s questioning as displaying “jaw dropping levels of hypocrisy toward Ireland”.