News Roundup

Scottish education chief voices alarm at Green Party plans for Catholic schools

The Catholic Church’s education chief in Scotland has warned that a vote for the Green Party in forthcoming elections is a vote to close Catholic schools. Michael McGrath, director of the Scottish Catholic Education Service, said the party wanted to “close schools, and end Catholic schools in Scotland”. “They don’t want Catholic schools and it’s important the electorate know that voting Green means you’re voting to end Catholic schools,” he said. The Greens have acknowledged that they desire greater integration of the Catholic and non-denominational sectors in Scottish schools.



‘Agenda-driven media damaging reputation of Church’

A leading priest-sociologist has accused anti-Catholic media commentators of damaging public opinion towards the Church. Speaking to The Irish Catholic newspaper, Fr Micheál Mac Gréil SJ said he believed that “proselytising is now not on the side of religion but on the side of atheism and humanism. People are becoming compulsively alienated to what they were in the past and they are transmitting that alienation to others”, he said. He was speaking ahead of Census 2016.


Education chief calls for Government to address faith school funding issue

The “glaring inequalities” evident in faith school funding must be addressed by the incoming government, an education chief has stressed. Faith schools in the second-level sector receive less funding per capita than non-faith schools. Speaking to The Irish Catholic newspaper, John Curtis, General Secretary of the Joint Managerial Body, said that previous administrations had gotten education “on the cheap” due to the input of the Church in the sector. “It is a bit of a concern that the amount of money as a society we spend on education would be less than in most developed countries,” he said.


Netherlands funds study into viability of child euthanasia

The Netherland’s Health Minister, Edith Schippers, has announced public funding for research into the viability of offering euthanasia to children in the country. The move comes following a request last year from the Dutch Association of Pediatricians for the decriminalisation of so-called ‘mercy killing’ of children between one and 12 years.


Same-sex couple wins surrogate custody battle

A same-sex couple has won a custody battle in Thailand for a surrogate baby born to a woman who changed her mind on the arrangement when she discovered the couple was gay. The Bangkok Family Court ruled that US-born Gordon Lake, the biological father, has legitimate guardianship of the child, which was born before Thailand banned commercial surrogacy. Thailand does not recognise same-sex marriage.


NI Bishops tell voters it is ‘never morally acceptable’ to support a policy that attacks the right to life

The Catholic Bishops of Northern Ireland have told Catholic voters ahead of the Assembly Election there that “the social and moral teaching of the Church is clear, that it is never morally acceptable to support any policy that undermines the sacred inviolability of the right to life of an innocent person in any circumstances”.  They make the comment in a Pastoral Reflection on the forthcoming elections. The document offers 10 questions “which Catholics are encouraged to ask candidates who are standing in the Assembly elections”.


Northern Ireland abortion restrictions ‘ridiculous’ – David Steele

Lord David Steel, the British former MP who introduced the Abortion Act in 1967 has described Northern Ireland’s ongoing protection of the unborn as “simply ridiculous”. The peer was speaking during an interview to mark the 48th anniversary of the Abortion Act. Criticising Northern Ireland politicians for what he claimed is discrimination against women, Lord Steel said: “I think they’ve got to face up to the fact the law in Northern Ireland is simply ridiculous…It is time they came up at least to 1967, if not to 2016.” When David Steele introduced his Bill in 1967 he admitted later he never anticipated it would pave the way to almost 200,000 abortions in the UK each year.


Mother’s nurturing linked to greater brain development in children

Pre-school children who receive motherly support display brain development at twice the rate of neglected youngsters, a new study has shown. Specifically, the study, conducted by researchers at America’s Washington University reveals that children nurtured by their mothers show more growth in the hippocampus, that region of the brain linked to learning, memory and the regulation of emotions. “The parent-child relationship during the preschool period is vital,” said Dr Joan Luby, author of the study’s findings


Same-sex couple gains joint guardianship of daughter

A same-sex couple has been granted guardianship of a daughter born to one of them, effectively offering legal recognition to the unit as a family. Marie Cloke-Hayes gave birth to a daughter in 2012 in a pregnancy made possible by sperm donation. Now, a judge at Ennis Courthouse has used provisions of the the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 to extend guardianship rights to Marie’s wedded partner, Angela.



Majority of Americans oppose gender choice on toilet facilities

A majority of Americans believe transgender people should use the toilet facility corresponding with their biological sex and not their chosen gender identity. The finding has come from a new poll conducted by Reuters which showed that 45% of people hold the belief, against 40.9% who would allow for gender choice. The results also showed a decrease in support for gender choice over facilities from a previous poll two weeks previously.


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