News Roundup

Ireland is diversifying, says Dublin archbishop after Census results

The Census 2022 results released this week show that Irish society is changing and diversifying, according to the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Farrell, though he cautioned that changes to the religion question in the census may have helped drive the result.

Archbishop Farrell said that preliminary census figures showed that the Irish population was “becoming more diverse.”

“Part of this reality is the reported change in the religious affiliation of the population, with those identifying as Roman Catholic in the 2022 Census representing 69% of respondents, compared to 79% of respondents in 2016,” he commented to the Pillar.

“However, the CSO has rightly pointed out that the structure of the question has changed radically between the two census forms. As a result, direct comparisons are problematic.”

The 2016 census form asked “What is your religion?” and listed “Roman Catholic” as the first option and “No religion” as the last.

The 2022 form asked “What is your religion, if any?” and put “No religion” as the first option, followed by “Roman Catholic.”


Progress of radical abortion bill “very disappointing”, says PLC

A preliminary Dáil vote in favour of a radical expansion of Ireland’s already permissive abortion regime has been met with dismay by pro-life representatives.

The bill by People Before Profit TD, Bríd Smith, would, if passed into law, permit abortion on request up to birth among other things. Tuesday night’s vote in favour of it moving to committee stage passed by 67 votes to 64 with 8 abstentions.

Commenting on the result, Eilis Mulroy of the Pro Life Campaign said when members of the public realise what is in the bill, “they will be disgusted”.

“It is a bill that shows zero respect for the rights of unborn babies. Many of those who voted in favour of this evening’s bill voted against a bill in the Dáil less than two years ago that would have allowed humanitarian pain relief to be given to unborn babies prior to late term abortions. There really are no words to describe how cold and uncaring some members of the Dáil have become when it concerns the issue of protecting defenceless and innocent unborn babies. When the people voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment in the 2018 referendum, they certainly didn’t vote for abortion on request throughout the entire nine months of pregnancy.”


Canada Cathedral and historic church suffer arson attacks three days apart

A 121-year-old church in Northern Alberta, Canada, was gutted by a fire set by arsonists last week.

A second church in Alberta, St Mary’s Cathedral, was also the victim of alleged attempted arson three days earlier, as local police seek assistance in identifying a man who allegedly set a fire and assaulted two staff members.

Referring to the historic St Bernard Catholic Church, Local Archbishop Gérard Pettipas, said it was “irreparably destroyed”.

“It was not only a monument to the past but [also] a vital part of the present and a building our diocese has been trying to restore, little by little, to its original beauty,” he said.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police have charged two men with break and enter to commit theft as well as arson.

Just three days before, on May 19, police responded to reports of a “deliberately set fire” at St Mary’s Cathedral in Calgary, in the western province of Alberta.

Law enforcement was called and the Calgary Fire Department put out the fire when it arrived.

More than 50 Catholic churches in Canada have been vandalised or burned down since the announcement in 2021 that graves had apparently been found near a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia.


Justification for dropping 3-day waiting period has ‘completely collapsed’

A recommendation of the abortion review to scrap the three-day period before a woman has a termination has “completely collapsed”, the Pro Life Campaign has claimed.

At yesterday’s meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Health Committee, it emerged that the authors of the Government-sponsored report never spoke to any women who availed of the waiting period or examined the reasons why so many of them chose in the end not to proceed with an abortion.

The Health Committee was meeting to discuss the Report of the review which was published last month and recommends legislative changes to radically widen the grounds for abortion in several areas.

Regarding the call today from the Chair of the Review for legislative change on foot of her report, Eilís Mulroy of the Pro Life Campaign said: “It was highly inappropriate and revealing the way the Chair of [the] Review personally called for specific changes to the law at today’s meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Health Committee” She said the Chair should not have advocated in this way for specific changes to the law.

Scotland: 84% increase in abortions where baby had Down’s syndrome

An 84% increase in the number of abortions where a baby has Down’s syndrome has been recorded in Scotland.

Abortion statistics released by Public Health Scotland show that numbers increased from 32 in 2021 to 59 in 2022.

The roll-out of new NIPT (Non-Invasive Pre-Natal) tests by the public health system, NHS Scotland, appears to be having an impact.

The disability advocacy group, ‘Don’t Screen Us Out’, is calling on the Government to undertake an urgent inquiry to review the impact that Non-Invasive Pre-Natal tests on the NHS in Scotland are having on the number of babies with Down’s syndrome who are screened out by termination in Scotland each year. They then want to see the introduction of urgent reforms to the national pregnancy screening programme in Scotland to ensure the increase in the number of abortions for Down’s syndrome is reversed.


Two girls killed by policeman in shooting at Catholic school in Pakistan

A police officer who was doing security work for a Catholic school for girls in north-eastern Pakistan opened fire on a group of teachers and students, killing two young girls, one of whom was only nine years old, reports Aid to the Church in Need. Five other girls, and one adult woman were injured in the shooting, which occurred on 16 May in Sangota, in the Swat Valley, at a school run by the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the Diocese of Islamabad-Rawalpindi.

The police officer had been hired in February to provide security at the school and has been arrested. An inquiry is ongoing.

In the wake of the incident, Archbishop Joseph Arshad of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, said: “We feel threatened and insecure in the midst of the growing terrorism in the country”, adding, “this is regrettable. We demand that the guard be punished, to avoid similar incidents in the future.”


Link between pornography and sexual offending ‘irrefutable’ says expert

A child protection expert says there is an ‘irrefutable’ link between unsupervised smartphone use and sexual offending.

Exposure to pornography from a young age, almost invariably through a smartphone, has become an almost routine fixture of sexual offence cases involving child offenders when they appear before the courts.

According to figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), more than 20 per cent of sexual offences are committed by a male child. The link with pornography, according to Kieran McGrath, a social worker with 30 years’ experience, is “irrefutable”.

Most professionals working with children who display concerning behaviour believe there is a direct connection between sexual offending and the ease with which they can access extreme pornography on a device that can be all but impossible for parents to supervise.

“It coincides with the smartphone, so the last decade or so,” says Mr McGrath, when asked when he had first started to notice the problem.


Nurses live in fear after false accusation of Qur’an desecration in Pakistan

Two Christian nurses in Pakistan have gone into hiding after being falsely accused of blaspheming the Qur’an.

Speaking to Aid to the Church in Need, Mariam Lal, 54, and Newosh Arooj, aged 21, said “If we showed our faces in public, we could easily be targeted, lynched even. We can’t stay in one location. We have to keep on the move for our own security. The person who succeeds in killing us knows they would be hailed as a hero.”

The pair were on duty as nurses on a psychiatric ward at Civil Hospital, a government establishment in Faisalabad when a patient handed them part of a sticker which she had torn off a medicine cabinet. The sticker included a verse from the Qur’an. The next morning, a mob descended on them, accusing them of blasphemy, but the two nurses were lucky to escape with their lives.

They were however officially charged with desecration of the Qur’an, which carries life imprisonment, and have had their lives on hold for two years while the case rumbles on.

Research shows that a disproportionately high number of blasphemy cases in Pakistan involve Christians, even though they make up less than two per cent of the population.


Kardashian sister admits ‘transactional’ nature of procuring baby via surrogacy

Khloé Kardashian has revealed that she struggled to bond with the baby she procured via surrogacy. Having paid someone else to gestate for her, the reality TV star reports that “I definitely buried my head in the sand during that pregnancy” and “didn’t digest what was happening”.

The segment in the latest series of The Kardashians sees Khloé acknowledge that in effect she bought a baby, calling it “such a transactional experience”. And, centrally, that none of this was in the baby’s interests: “it is not about him”.

She tacitly acknowledges the harm this does, saying, “I felt really guilty that this woman just had my baby and I take the baby and go to another room and you are separated”.

Writing for unHerd, Mary Harrington says her choice of phrase is telling: there was a “you” — a mother-baby dyad that did not include her, and that had to be destroyed in order for the baby to become “my baby”.

But while this might have been transactional, Kardashian says, “it doesn’t mean it is bad or good. It is just very different.”

Harrington disagrees: “Surrogacy bakes mother-loss into a baby’s earliest experience — and inflicts this loss on a profoundly vulnerable infant, in the name of adult desire. Parents have a duty to put their children’s needs first. This is an inexcusable inversion of that duty”.


3 Dublin schools to stay under Catholic patronage after public consultation

Three schools in Raheny are to stay under Catholic patronage after an in-depth debate in the North Dublin community.

The schools took part in a pilot scheme that investigated local interest for divestment, but Minister for Education Norma Foley confirmed they were “not amenable to or potential candidates for transfer of patronage”.

Discussions on divestment, which took place in Autumn last year, involved parents and others with interest in the schools and became heated, The Irish Catholic understands.

While a minority of parents took a hard line in pushing for divestment, somewhere around 80% of parents who gave their views wanted to keep the school’s Catholic ethos.

Some 63 schools across the country participated in the pilot scheme, a joint project between the Department for Education and the Irish bishops’ conference.

The results were due to be released in March, but Minister Foley has yet to do so.

The Irish Catholic understands that the vast majority of schools favour retaining their Catholic patronage, leading to speculation that the reports’ release are being delayed as they reflect an unpopular political opinion.

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