Significant numbers of parents still want their children to be taught the sacraments at school, the chief of the new Community School model of patronage has said. Michael Moriarty, general secretary of the Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI) said: “This is being ignored by people who live in mainly large urban centres, but throughout provincial Ireland, in particular, there is a demand for the tenets and basics of the core of Catholic religion and sacraments.” He added that this need for ‘belief nurturing’ is recognised in the Community National Schools, 11 of which are already running on a trial basis.
Requiring children to attend school assemblies is a violation of their human rights, a United Nations committee has ruled. In a report, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern at Britain’s requirement that school children attend gatherings with are “wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character” and called on the government to “repeal legal provisions for compulsory attendance at collective worship”. Reacting to the report, Conservative MP David Burrowes described the criticism as “ludicrous” and said the government can “respectfully put those kind of reports in the bin where they belong”.
The Anglican Church in Scotland is to conduct same-sex weddings after a motion was passed by its general synod. The Scottish Episcopal Church’s (SEC) general synod voted to amend its teaching on marriage so as to remove the understanding that marriage is between “one man and one woman”. The decision will now be discussed across Scotland’s seven dioceses before a final vote is held next year. It is reported that the Church will allow for conscientious objection on the part of clergy wishing to opt out of such ceremonies.
A court in the US state of Oregon has ruled that a resident of that state who chooses not to identify as male or female can be considered ‘nonbinary’. Born a male, Jamie Shupe began to transition as a female in 2013 before deciding that neither gender was the preferred one. Shupe filed a legal action in April of this year for legal recognition of a nonbinary state. “It feels amazing to be free from a binary sex classification system that inadequately addressed who I really am, a system in which I felt confined,” Shupe said after the court’s ruling.
Reserving marriage to one man and one woman is not discriminatory, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled. Arising from a case of two French men who wished to marry in 2004, and who were prevented from doing so by the law in France at that time, the ECHR ruled that there is no discrimination if a State denies the right to marry to two adults of the same sex. The ruling has been welcomed by European Federation of Catholic Family Associations (FAFCE), whose president, Antoine Renard, said: “We encourage all National and International institutions to take this decision into account: marriage, i.e. the union between a woman and a man in view of founding a family, is a unique institution that must be protected“.
The Minister for Health Simon Harris has ruled out any Government intervention on the abortion issue ahead of the proposed Citizens Assembly debate. Reacting to the latest call by a UN body for Ireland to amend its abortion laws, Minister Harris expressed his personal sense of upset at the case at the heart of the call, that of a woman who received a diagnosis of congenital defects in her unborn child and who travelled to England for an abortion, but he reiterated his belief that attempting to develop a consensus approach through a Citizens Assembly was the best way forward and the UN committee findings would form part of that process. Such an assembly could get underway this autumn.
Catholic schools have been urged to ban Amnesty International from addressing their students due to the organisation’s support for the introduction of abortion to Ireland. Speaking to The Irish Catholic newspaper, Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute said Catholic schools have to “draw a line in the sand” on the issue. “If you are a group campaigning aggressively for abortion, something that is completely contrary to a Catholic ethos, then you don’t have a right to visit Catholic schools and attempt to gain support for your organisation. Cora Sherlock of the Pro Life Campaign agreed with the call. “Given Amnesty is perhaps best known in Ireland for its vocal stance in favour of repealing the Eighth Amendment, I would question whether it is appropriate for them to be speaking to young schoolchildren who can’t understand the full implications of abortion.”
The US state of California has become the fifth state to introduce assisted suicide. As of June 9, doctors are empowered to give lethal prescriptions to adults who are able to make medical decisions if their attending physician and a consulting physician have diagnosed a terminal disease expected to end in death within six months. The move has been condemned by Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles who said that California has “crossed a line… from being a society that cares for those who are aging and sick to a society that kills those whose suffering we can no longer tolerate”.
The United Nations Human Rights Committee has called on Ireland to amend its abortion laws. Citing the 2011 case of a woman who failed to procure an abortion here following a diagnosis of congenital defects in her unborn child, the Committee has insisted that Ireland should end its constitutional protection for the unborn to protect patients and health workers from criminal sanction on terminations. The Committee also stated that the woman also suffered “inhuman” treatment in not being able to access abortion information as an option in her case.
All Presbyterian wedding ceremonies in Ireland must now include a statement that marriage is only between one man and one woman following a decision taken by the church’s general assembly in Belfast. The decision was reached following a resolution that stated: “Since the beginning of creation God, in his gracious purpose, provided marriage as the accepted way in which a man and a woman may come together as husband and wife. This is the only basis on which marriage can take place within the Presbyterian church in Ireland.”