News Roundup

Murder of Nigerian Christians ignored, says Irish missionary

Ongoing, brutal attacks on Christians in Nigeria, including murder, are being ignored by the Nigerian Government while the Irish, EU and other governments do little to respond.

That’s according to the leader of an Irish missionary society that has worked for years in the country.

Writing in the Irish Times, Sr Kathleen McGarvey of the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles says the growing power and influence of Islamist militant groups, as well as the widespread and increasing targeting of Christians in the country, presents an urgent situation that demands attention.

“[The Militants] savagely attack Christian-populated villages, shoot and use machetes to kill all in sight including children, kidnap and demand high ransoms, which even when paid do not assure safe release. They often circulate menacing videos of beheadings, allow public lynching for supposed “blasphemy”, make travel by road and even by rail totally insecure, attack and burn churches and other Christian symbols of identity,” she writes.

Despite this, she says the reality that Christians are being routinely targeted is denied by the Nigerian administration. She adds that this “should not continue to be ignored by Irish, EU and other governments”.


Special Oireachtas committee to examine assisted suicide

An Oireachtas special committee to examine the issue of assisted suicide is likely to be established following the completion of a parliamentary committee on international surrogacy, according to the Times, Ireland.

The proposed committee, which will have a reporting deadline of nine months, is expected to be set up after the Dáil’s summer recess.

An Oireachtas spokesman said this week that it was “not possible to give an exact timeframe” for the establishment of the assisted suicide committee.

Last July the Oireachtas justice committee recommended that a special group of TDs and senators be appointed to examine assisted suicide after a failed attempt by Gino Kenny, the People Before Profit-Solidarity TD, to get a ‘Dying with Dignity Bill’ on the statute books.


Ireland’s remaining abortion restrictions ‘inhumane’, claims UN official

Ireland’s abortion legislation is “inhumane” and “discriminatory” in its treatment of women with crisis pregnancies, according to a member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee. This is despite it allowing abortion for any reason up to 12 weeks, which is in line with many other European countries. She was echoing complaints from Irish abortion campaigners who want the law to go even further.

The body is examining Ireland’s compliance with the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights .

Minister for Equality and Children, Roderic O’Gorman was in Geneva, Switzerland, leading a high-level delegation of senior civil servants to respond to the committee.

Hélène Tigroudja, a member of the body, said the 2018 abortion act placed “very many barriers, both legal and practical” to “safe, legal and non-discriminatory access to abortion”.

She said the three-day wait period was “a disadvantage for women living in rural areas, women in poverty and women experiencing violence [who] simply cannot return several times”.

She also attacked the rule that women carrying a child with a serious disability could access abortion only where the child was likely to die within 28 days of birth: “This is a problem for women who are less well off. They have to continue with their pregnancy … This is inhuman treatment and this is discrimination on the grounds of economic status,” she said.


FG TD demands faster revision of sex-ed in primary schools

Fine Gael TD Jennifer Carroll MacNeill has heavily criticised the length of time being taken to change Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) and claimed it could be five years before a new curriculum is rolled out in primary schools. The TD believes RSE should be compulsory.

Education Minister Norma Foley had told Ms Carroll MacNeill in a parliamentary answer last month that work on the curriculum would be completed in early 2025 before being given to the minister.

“A primary curriculum framework that only comes back to the minister in 2025 means no roll-out until when — 2027? That means that any kid born already can be certain not to have it ready for their entry into junior infants,” Ms Carroll MacNeill told the Sunday Independent.

“I think we need more urgency than that. I hope the third strategy publication will put a fire under the department in delivering this. I don’t know what else will.”

“Five years from now is simply too much,” Ms Carroll MacNeill said.


EU Bishops: ‘No such thing as a right to abortion’

Representatives of the Catholic Church at the EU have again vigorously protested attempts to assert a right to abortion.

The President of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, SJ, met with the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, last week.

Cardinal Hollerich insisted that the attempt to see abortion as a fundamental right, “not only goes against the respect of the dignity of every human being, which is one of the pillars of the EU, but it will also gravely endanger the right to freedom of religion, of thought and conscience and the possibility of exercising conscientious objection.”

His meeting anticipates the European Parliament’s response to the overturning of Roe v Wade in the USA. It is expected to call for safe access to abortion, and condemn what it considers a “backsliding in women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights in the US.”


Christians in Pakistan are victims of rape, forced marriages, and violent mobs

Up to 2,000 Christian girls are raped, forcibly converted and married off to older Muslim men in Pakistan every year, according to a leading academic.

These crimes have helped earn Pakistan its ignominious designation as a “Country of Particular Concern” on the U.S. Department of State’s Religious Freedom Report. Representing only 2% of the population of Pakistan, Christians are also often victims of the country’s harsh blasphemy laws and mob violence.

NGOs often estimate that 1000 young women and girls are subject to forcible marriage. However, Shaheed Mobeen, a Pakistani professor of philosophy at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome and an advocate for religious freedom in Pakistan believes the true figure is far higher.

“The government of Pakistan doesn’t accept [the number of victims as] 1,000 a year, but in the last two years, what I have seen, and what volunteers, nuns and lawyers have found, is that there are about 2,000 forced conversions and marriages a year,” Mobeen told Aleteia.

In addition to Christians, Hindu, Sikh, and Shia Muslim families are being victimized and forced into marriages with Muslim men, he said.


Thousands attend ‘Rally for Life’ in Dublin city centre

Several thousand people gathered in Dublin city centre on Saturday for a pro-life rally. It took place against the background of Roe vs Wade being overturned in the US after almost 50 years.

Organisers said the chief aim of the Rally For Life was to urge the public, and the Government, to rethink abortion.

A campaign to retain the three-day waiting period before undergoing an abortion was launched at the rally.

Megan Ní Scealláin, a spokesperson for the Life Institute, said: “Voters were guaranteed that women would have a three-day period to reflect between a first abortion appointment and the doctor giving the abortion pill, and it is appalling to see abortion campaigners now push to have that time to think scrapped.

“We know from figures released to Carol Nolan TD that between 800 and 1,000 women did not proceed with an abortion after that initial appointment.

“Scrapping the requirement for those three days to think might mean another 1,000 abortions a year.”

Pro-life TDs, Independent Carol Nolan and Peadar Tóibín of Aontú, also addressed the rally.


Big majority oppose trans women competing in female sport, poll reveals

A big majority of people do not believe biological men who who identify as women should be allowed to compete in female sports, according to the latest Sunday Independent/Ireland Thinks poll.

When asked if transgender women should be allowed to take part in sporting activities against other women, 68pc said no, with 17pc saying they should, while 15pc were unsure.
The figures reveal differences in attitudes among respondents, depending on age and political allegiance.

However, significantly more people agree than disagree with the statements that “a transgender man is a man” and “a transgender woman is a woman”.

When asked if they believed “a transgender man is a man”, that is, a person who is born female but identifies as a man, 48pc said they either strongly agreed or agreed, while 29pc either strongly disagreed or disagreed.

There was a similar response when respondents were asked if they believed the statement that “a transgender woman is a woman”.


UK: Three quarters support inquiry on assisted suicide

Nearly three quarters of the British public support a parliamentary inquiry into assisted suicide, polling has revealed.

Research by YouGov found that 74 per cent were in favour of re-examining the law whereby medically-assisted suicide and euthanasia are illegal.

The polling was released before a debate on the issue in the House of Commons today which was secured after a petition lodged by Sarah Wootton, of Dignity in Dying, received more than 155,000 signatures.

She is looking for a change in law to facilitate assisted suicide and believes the YouGov poll shows a desire for change among the public.

Campaigners against such a move say that existing laws adequately protect vulnerable people. They claim it would be impossible to ensure that a patient’s wish to die was truly free from outside pressures.

In 2015 MPs rejected plans for a right-to-die law change for some terminally ill adults in England and Wales.

Last year the British Medical Association dropped its long-standing opposition to a change in the law after a debate at its annual representative meeting. It instead adopted a neutral position.


Harvard professor praises religion’s role in tackling loneliness

Faith plays a crucial role in living a happy life, Harvard Professor and social scientist Arthur Brooks has said.

There’s a lot of research on the main happiness habits but faith and life philosophy are the first factors to be considered, Professor Brooks told The Irish Catholic newspaper.

“What you do find is that people who don’t pay attention to things larger than themselves, the transcendental questions, the big questions of life and the universe, those people tend to be a lot less happy because they’re way too focused day to day to day on the quotidian trivialities of their life.

“You know, we need relief and perspective, and that’s why the transcendental….is so critically important,” Prof. Brooks said.

Much modern discontent, particularly the “loneliness epidemic” has fear at its root, Prof. Brooks said.

“Loneliness is at epidemic proportions, not just because of the coronavirus epidemic. We started to see these problems coming much earlier,” he said.

“The biggest problem…loneliness obviously is a lack of love. It’s a lack of love in your life. The main reason that we have a lack of love in our life is because we have too much fear. Fear and love are opposites,” which is a principle to be found in religious literature, Prof. Brooks said.

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