News Roundup

Suspected Jihadists kill four Christians in Sudan

A church pastor and three other Christians were killed in Sudan last week when suspected Islamic extremists shot them to death, an area source said.

Four of the victims’ travelling companions were wounded when the assailants opened fire on the team at the facility where they were spending the night in Kadugli, capital of Sudan’s South Kordofan state.

Sudanese-American Pastor Ibrahim Kandr, Ismail Osman, Bashir Almaak and Ayoub Ibrahim were spending the night in Kadugli en route to their home area of Um Durein when the assailants shot them between 3am and 4am, an area church leader said.

Islamic extremists, who have been terrorising people in the area since 2011, monitor movements in and out of town and likely saw the ministry team arrive for the night, said the church leader, whose name is withheld for security reasons.


Catholic education chief warns against ‘crowbarring’ gender theory into schools

A radical theory of sex and gender should not be crowbarred into Catholic schools under any guise, according to a leading Catholic education figure.

The head of the Catholic Education Partnership, Alan Hynes, made the comments on ‘The Week that Really Was’ podcast.

He said that Catholic schools have already been supporting pupils with gender dysphoria, but that pastoral outreach does not mean the Government can or should force schools to accept and teach a transgender view of sexuality as fact.

The Catholic body for primary schools, the CPSMA, sought professional advice from doctors who deal with transgender people and believe in gender dysphoria and wrote to the Ministers for Children and for Education to say that even medics working in the area deny there is any consensus or any easy way to understand and communicate the theory.

Alan Hynes added: “Furthermore, it is still a matter of contested public debate, and to suddenly bring that contested public debate within schools is to invite conflict within schools that doesn’t belong in schools.

“Adults will have this debate, it might take us several years, but to simply try to crowbar it into schools, and thereby bring a matter of heated public contestation into the fora of schools, we just don’t see that as prudent”.


Births in Hungary down 5% in 2022 despite pro-natal policies

Hungary’s population dropped by almost fifty thousand last year while previous growth in the fertility rate was also reversed. Fertility rates all across the EU are below replacement level, including in Ireland where it was 1.63 children per woman in 2020.

The figures are disappointing news for Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government, which has for long deemed halting depopulation a priority. The cabinet has taken credit for positive developments in recent years, helped by generous subsidy schemes to families.

 The drop in population from 9.69mn to 9.64mn was the second-biggest decline since 1900, excluding the COVID-19 years.

The fertility rate slipped to 1.52% from 1.59% in 2021, ending years of growth. Neighbouring Slovakia had a fertility rate of 1.57 in 2020.

In 2021, the country’s population fell by nearly 60,000, the steepest decline in 145 years as the number of deaths exceeded 150,000, the highest since the end of WWII in 1945.

The death toll from or with COVID-19 stands at close 49,000, which ranks Hungary among the top five in terms of death per 1mn inhabitants globally.

The government has long advocated a “procreation over immigration” approach to deal with demographic decline and introduced a string of measures. Prime Minister Viktor Orban repeatedly said that family support programmes are his government’s answer to migration.

A string of family support schemes from state grants to preferential loans to families helped to lift the fertility rate from 1.2% in 2010 to close to 1.6% in 2021.


Pro-life TD to chair Oireachtas Committee on assisted suicide

Pro-life Kerry Independent TD, Michael Healy-Rae, has been appointed Chair of the special Oireachtas Committee on assisted suicide/euthanasia.

In 2021, it was recommended that the Committee be established to undertake an in-depth examination of the topic after an earlier piece of legislation, proposed by Socialist TD, Gino Kenny, was shelved.

The appointment of Deputy Healy-Rae as Chair of the new committee is based on the rotation system regarding chairmanships that operates in the Oireachtas between the various political parties and groupings.

The names of other committee members have still to be released but is expected to be heavily weighted in favour of euthanasia.

The Pro-Life Campaign has called for an active participation with the committee to head off the possibility of the measure being introduced.

Sacristan dead, and priest injured in machete attack on churches in Spain

A sacristan was killed and a priest wounded during a suspected terrorist attack Wednesday on two Catholic churches in Spain.

The suspect is a 25-year-old Moroccan man who was due to be deported from the country, police said yesterday.

He was arrested on Wednesday evening after a machete attack on several people at the churches of San Isidro and Nuestra Senora de La Palma, around 300 metres (1,000 feet) apart, in the southern port city of Algeciras.

Police said they took the suspect to his home overnight for detectives to conduct a search.

He was expected to be transferred to the Spanish capital Madrid to appear before a High Court judge on terrorism charges at a time to be confirmed, police and court spokespeople said.

A police source denied local media reports that the suspect had been under surveillance by security operatives in the days or months before the attack.

Mayor José Antonio Landaluce said the attacker’s knife narrowly missed the priest’s spinal cord. “He lost a lot of blood, the stretcher was soaked with blood but if everything goes well he could be discharged today at the end of the day,” he told TVE.


Two indicted for vandalising pro-life centres

The US Department of Justice on Tuesday indicted two suspects accused of vandalising three pro-life pregnancy centres in Florida in June 2022 in the wake of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.

The centres, also known as crisis pregnancy centres, provide free services and resources to pregnant women, including alternatives to abortion.

One centre in Winter Haven, Florida, was spray-painted with several threatening messages including “YOUR TIME IS UP!!,” “WE’RE COMING for U,” “if abortions aren’t safe than niether [sic] are you,” and “We are everywhere.”

Some pro-life activists were grateful for the indictment but expressed frustration about the length of time it took to indict the suspects and the lack of arrests in other attacks on pro-life pregnancy centres throughout the country.

The indictments represent the first suspects known to have been arrested in attacks on pro-life pregnancy centres since a rash of incidents of vandalism began in 2022 including one centre in Wisconsin which was firebombed.

CNA has independently tracked and confirmed nearly 60 attacks nationwide on pro-life pregnancy centres since May 2022.


Row at Catholic school over ‘inclusion’ policies

Some staff at a Spiritan-run secondary school in south Dublin have described the workplace atmosphere as “toxic” in a mediator’s report.

Templeogue College, an all-boys secondary school, has been at the centre of grievances aired at the Workplace Relations Commission regarding a range of issues.

Among them, last month two dozen teachers raised concerns about a “non-inclusive culture” regarding LGBT issues and the taking down of a Pride flag in the school canteen.

A recent controversy over the handling of a rainbow flag raised “deep value conflict concerns” and words like “bullying, victimisation, gaslighting” have been used on all sides.

The mediator’s report includes a number of recommendations, including the creation of a “charter for shared future” and facilitated sessions to deal with challenging issues.

In light of the flag controversy, it says there is an “urgent” need to clearly articulate the values and approach of the school with the Spiritans, board and school community.


Rishi Sunak challenged on abortion-exclusion zones

No one should be arrested because of their thoughts or prayers, according to the leader of the DUP as he challenged Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on abortion clinic exclusion zones.

He was speaking after his party hosted a woman who was arrested for praying silently inside a protest exclusion zone near a Birmingham abortion clinic.

Jeffrey Donaldson asked the Prime Minister to review such laws and ensure that England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are “beacons of religious freedom” across the world.

Mr Sunak replied that the matters were under discussion in Parliament.

Meanwhile, ADF International, which fights for religious freedom and is supporting the woman who was arrested, said Isabel Vaughan-Spruce was criminally charged, “for simply praying in her head outside a closed abortion facility, when no service-users were around”.

“To be able to pray – think – in one’s head is a core human right which is fundamental to everybody, no matter their view on abortion. We urge the Prime Minister to revisit the issues raised by Clause 9 of the Public Order Bill, which go far beyond proportionate condemnation of harassment or obstruction at the entrances of abortion facilities”.


Parents more interested in their children making money than having children

Parents are far more interested in seeing their kids be financially independent or in a fulfilling career than be married or have children, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

The analysis is based on interviews with 3,757 U.S. parents with children under age 18.

When asked about their aspirations for their children when they reach adulthood, parents prioritise financial independence and career satisfaction. Roughly nine-in-ten parents say it’s extremely or very important to them that their children be financially independent when they are adults, and the same share say it’s equally important that their children have jobs or careers they enjoy. About four-in-ten (41%) say it’s extremely or very important to them that their children earn a college degree, while smaller shares place a lot of importance on their children eventually becoming parents (20%) and getting married (21%).


Japan PM says country ‘on the brink’ over disastrous birth rate

Japan’s prime minister says his country is on the brink of not being able to function as a society because of its falling birth rate.

Fumio Kishida said it was a case of “now or never.”

Japan – population 125 million – is estimated to have had fewer than 800,000 births last year. In the 1970s, that figure was more than two million.

The issue is particularly acute in Japan as life expectancy has risen so that there are a growing number of older people, and a declining number of workers to support them.

“Japan is standing on the verge of whether we can continue to function as a society,” Mr Kishida told lawmakers.

“Focusing attention on policies regarding children and child-rearing is an issue that cannot wait and cannot be postponed.”

He said that he eventually wants the government to double its spending on child-related programmes. A new government agency to focus on the issue would be set up in April, he added.

However, Japanese governments have tried to promote similar strategies before, without success.

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