News Roundup

Bishop questions why a ‘committed Catholic’ would vote for pro-abortion candidates

A Catholic Bishop has questioned why any serious Catholic would vote for someone who voted for the radical abortion regime in the last Oireachtas.

In a letter to his diocese, Bishop of Elphin Kevin Doran wrote that, “If we are to reverse the 2018 legislation, which may take many years, and if we are to prevent the legalisation of euthanasia, our first step must be to ensure that we elect public representatives who are committed to the right to life, from conception to natural death”. He added: “For that reason, irrespective of traditional party loyalties, it seems to go completely against the common good for any committed Catholic to vote for a public representative who, in the outgoing Oireachtas, voted for abortion.”

On education he said that public representatives and state bodies need to be clear that parents are the primary educators of their children and any changes in patronage must be planned in consultation with parents. Likewise, he said, “there needs to be a commitment that schools which remain under Catholic patronage are free to be Catholic in their inspiration”.

Quoting Pope Francis who said “everything is connected”, Bishop Doran commented that the basic needs of people, such as housing, poverty, education and healthcare are all connected. “The purpose of government is to seek the common good, which is the good of each and of all. The immediate focus of government is society as a whole, but the good of society can only be achieved when the natural rights of each person and each community are respected.”

The bishop in particular outlined his concerns regarding the care of the sick; the problem of housing and homelessness; the care of the environment; our response to migrants and refugees; the education of children; concern for young people; and, the protection of human life.


Parents have no right to withdraw children from sex education, says Spanish Government

Parents’ right to decide the education their children will receive is being attacked by the hardline secularist Government in Spain with a spokeswoman for the prime minister saying that children “do not belong to their parents”.

The conservative Vox party is demanding that parents be allowed to opt their children out of sex education class if they wish. The left-wing coalition Government in Spain is pushing back, arguing parents have no such right.

“We want to protect children from sexual content which is being given, for example, to children up to the age of six,” said Vox’s leader Santiago Abascal on Monday. “I have no doubt that they should not be taught any kind of erotic game as is happening in some places.”

Mr Abascal appeared to be referring to an educational scheme in the Navarre region, which encourages small children to explore their “sexual curiosity”.

Vox has made its support for a budget bill in the southern region of Murcia contingent on allowing parents to boycott classes they deem inappropriate for their children. The ruling parties of the regional Government have agreed to the measure.

However, although Spain’s 17 regional governments have some control over education matters, this parental authorisation policy is not allowed under national law. Spain’s new coalition government of Socialists and the far-left Podemos party has given the administration in Murcia one month in which to cancel the measure before it takes legal steps.


Law should permit use of dead men’s sperm, say British ethicists

Men in Britain should be able to donate their sperm after death, according to a group of ethicists who argue that posthumous use of sperm would help infertile couples and relieve the pressure on living donors. However, it would mean that a child’s father would be dead before they were ever conceived.

The shortage of sperm donors in the UK has led to at least 7,000 samples being imported each year, primarily from Denmark and the US, to keep up with the demand from fertility clinics.

Under the new proposal published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, men would be allowed to give consent for their sperm to be extracted when they die and then used to help couples have families.

“We know there is a shortage of sperm donors in the UK and this is one way to address the problem,” said Joshua Parker, a doctor and ethicist at Wythenshawe hospital in Manchester, who makes the case with Nathan Hodson, a doctor at the University of Leicester.


Catholic Schools Week to focus on harmony with all creation

Living in harmony with God’s creation will be the theme of this year’s Catholic Schools Week.

It will be held from Sunday 26 January – Sunday 1 February and families, parishes and schools, North and South, are invited to celebrate Catholic schools and their contribution to the common good.

Commenting on this year’s theme Father Paul Connell, Secretary of the Bishops’ Council for Education, said this year’s theme encourages us to see that we all have a responsibility to care for the earth, not just for our own future, but for the future of every one of God’s creatures.

“In Laudato Si’ Pope Francis has very clearly delivered the message to people all over the world about the need for all of us to care for our common home.  Pope Francis challenges us to look at our lifestyles.  He asks for justice and equality, as it is clear that climate change is creating a huge amount of suffering and impacting the poorest of the poor in our world; the very people who did least to cause this situation.  The hope of Catholic Schools Week 2020 is that we realise how powerful each and every one of us is and that even the smallest changes can have the biggest impact.”


European bishops underline EU’s importance in protecting religious freedom

The importance of the European Union in promoting and protecting the right to religious freedom, was emphasised in a meeting in Zagreb on Monday between a delegation of European bishops and Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.

Croatia is currently presiding over the Council of the European Union and in that context, Prime Minister Plenković met with representatives of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community, headed by the Archbishop of Luxembourg, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, and representatives of the Conference of European Churches, headed by pastor Christian Krieger.

After they were informed of the priorities of Croatia’s EU presidency, the bishops underlined the significance and role of the European Union in promoting and protecting the right to religious freedom and confession within their borders as well as in relations with third countries.


Spain’s anti-clerical Government targets Church land and religious education

Spain’s Catholic bishops have expressed fears of a conflict with the new Socialist-led government over radical plans to strip the Church of thousands of “improperly registered” lands and properties, while restricting religious education and legalising euthanasia.

“The Church isn’t seeking privileges but nor does it want to be discriminated against,” said Bishop Luis Argüello, secretary general of the bishops’ conference. “Our welfare state depends on the Spanish Church’s active role in education, health, social services and care for the elderly. Instead of considering it a residue of the past or a nest of privilege, the authorities should value its work with generosity and solidarity.”

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez launched his “progressive coalition” with the far-left Unidas Podemos party, led by political scientist Pablo Iglesias.

He is committed under the coalition deal to legislation on a range of “feminist policies”, as well as for “a dignified death and euthanasia”; the scrapping of religious teaching in schools; and “facilitating recovery of assets improperly registered to the Church”.

The assets in question mostly concern lands and properties registered for religious uses in the Spanish Church’s 23,000 parishes in controversial circumstances under a 1998 mortgage law loophole, which was removed in 2015. Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera of Valencia told Catholics in a pastoral letter that their country faced “a critical situation and true emergency”, and needed intensive prayer “in these times of secularisation and the eclipsing of God”.


Tens of thousands protest against new French donor IVF bill

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Paris on Sunday to protest a bill that would create a generation of children without fathers through a radical change of law to enable donor assisted IVF.

French law currently only allows women in heterosexual relationships to access medically assisted procreation (MAP).

The French government now plans to extend MAP to single women and lesbian couples.

“Many of us have come from all over France to raise the alarm: the child, the father and the mother are in danger,” said the president of Manif pour tous, the main organisation behind anti-gay marriage protests in 2013, Ludovine de la Rochère.

Many families were among the protesters.

“We’re here for every child,” said a male protester pushing a pram. “They have the right to have one father and one mother. Many people today are protesting in order to protect society. The family is part of that society. The family is the foundation of it.”


German Parliament rejects bill to make every citizen an organ donor by default

The German parliament has voted down a proposal to make every citizen an organ donor by default.

Instead, members of parliament accepted the alternative proposal of Annalena Baerbock of the Green Party.

The goal of the Baerbock proposal is to foster a regular examination of the question of organ donation. People would be encouraged to register their decision, either for or against organ donation, in an online database. That decision could be changed at any time.

After the votes, Reinhard Cardinal Marx, president of the German Bishops’ Conference and archbishop of Munich and Freising, welcomed the decision for the “Baerbock proposal” made by lawmakers.

“The German Bishops’ Conference emphatically supports the intention of this law to effectively increase the number of organ donations.”

Marx added, “The law still grants as wide as possible a freedom of decision on the issue of organ donation. At the same time, it takes steps leading to people considering the question of organ donation more intensely.”


University drops case against midwifery student banned over pro-life views

A UK University has dropped a case against a midwifery student it banned from her hospital placement over her pro-life views. The student is now seeking a formal acknowledgement of wrongdoing by the university to ensure no other student undergoes the same ordeal she has.

Julia Rynkiewicz, 24, a final year midwifery student at the University of Nottingham, was subject to an almost 4-month long investigation after concerns were raised about her involvement with the “Nottingham Students for Life” society. Rynkiewicz was immediately suspended by the University pending the outcome of the investigation which was ultimately dismissed by a Fitness to Practise Committee on 13 January. However her suspension meant that she was unable to complete required assessments in time and has led to her being forced to delay her studies. Rynkiewicz has now lodged a complaint with the University and is considering her options.

Ms Rynkiewicz, of south east London, said that she would like an apology from the university “as a matter of justice” so that “they realise they have done wrong and will change it so that no one else has to go through what I have”.

“I think it’s important to remember that being pro life isn’t incompatible with being a midwife,” she added.


Assisted suicide opponents ask Manx parliament not to legalize ‘despair’

A proposal to survey lawmakers’ support to legalize assisted suicide on the Isle of Man drew criticism from disability groups and other foes of the practice, who say it promotes “despair” rather than support for the vulnerable.

“There is no safe system of assisted suicide and disabled people want help to live, not to die,” said the disabled persons’ advocacy group Not Dead Yet UK. The group asked residents of the Isle of Man to write their legislators to voice their concern and to call for opposition to the motion set for a Jan. 21 vote.

The group said it is “very concerned” by the proposed motion to determine whether the parliament, known as the Tynwald, is “of the opinion that legislation to allow for voluntary assisted dying should be introduced.”

Efforts to legalize assisted suicide have repeatedly failed to pass the legislature on the Isle of Man. The last vote, held in 2015, failed by 17-5.

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