News Roundup

Primary school cancels prayers after atheist complaint

A primary school run by a Church of England trust has cancelled prayers at its daily assembly after a complaint from atheist parents.

The Daily Telegraph reports that “Lee Harris and his wife Lizanne bought a judicial review against Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust (ODST) after arguing that Burford Primary School is acting ‘unlawfully’.”

Burford Primary had been founded as non-religious ‘community’ school and in 2015 the ODST took over its running.

The ODST indicated that the cancelling of daily prayers is not long-term and will end once the couple’s child leaves the school.


Liberal Democrats deselect candidate over Catholic views

The Liberal Democrats in Britain have deselected one of their candidates in the British General Election because he has traditional Catholic views on issues like marriage and abortion.

According to The Tablet, “Robert Flello was ditched as for the Stoke-on-Trent South constituency just 36 hours after the party named his as the prospective parliamentary candidate.”

A party spokesperson said: “We do our best to screen candidates in our approval process. In this case it only really became clear over the past few hours how greatly his values diverge from ours.”

Two years ago Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, stepped down because his Evangelical Christians views had put him at odds with the party.


Almost half of abortions in UK are repeat terminations

Almost half of abortions performed in Britain last year were repeat terminations, according to new figures obtained by Sky News.  The figures also show that five teenagers had at least a sixth abortions in 2018 and that 140 women had at least eight terminations.

Each year in Britain, almost 200,000 abortions take place – amounting to one abortion for every four births- and 84,258 were repeat terminations, meaning women who have previously had an abortion.

Pro-life campaigners say the 7pc rise in the number of repeat abortions could be due to a change in the law permitting women to take the abortion pill at home.


New Zealand to hold euthanasia referendum

New Zealand will hold a referendum next year on euthanasia. If it passes, the country will permit euthanasia when a patient is deemed to be terminally ill with less than six months left to live.

The New Zealand parliament voted by 69-51 in favour of the legislation which will be put to the people on the same day as a scheduled General Election next year.

The referendum is not required, strictly speaking and there will no nothing in the future to stop parliament passing more liberal legislation. The original form of the law would have permitted euthanasia/assisted suicide for ‘severe’ and ‘incurable’ conditions.


Carmelite monastery vandalised while nuns present

A Carmelite monastery in Malahide was vandalised in broad daylight this week while the Carmelite nuns were at prayer. The nuns were verbally attacked and insulted by the assailants.

The incident happened at Star of the Sea Monastery Center.

Fr. Jimmy McPartland, co-parish priest at the nearby St. Anne’s Church in Portmarnock, announced the incident to parishioners during a morning Mass, according to Catholic News Agency.

Fr McPartland said the vandals had “desecrated” the chapel. The gang had shouted “very horrible things” about the nuns after the vandalism.

The attack is only the latest in a series of similar attacks on churches in recent times.


Churches vandalised and desecrated in Chile

Churches in Chile have been vandalised, desecrated and looted as part of continuing violence and unrest in the South American country. The protests are partly against economic conditions there but churches are now being targeted by extremist activists as well.

In one incident “protesters broke into Santiago’s La Asuncion parish, hauling out pews, confessionals, and statues – which they defaced – to build a barricade. They set the barricade on fire before clashing with police, and sprayed anti-Catholic graffiti on the walls, pillars, and altar of the church”, Angelus News reports.

Chilean bishops have appealed for calm.

Chilean churches looted during protests


Warning issued about accuracy of foetal screening

Women must be given full and proper details of the true accuracy of tests designed to screen for fetal abnormalities, including life-limiting conditions, maternity hospitals and units around the country have been told by the HSE’s head of women and infants health programme, Dr Peter McKenna.

Dr McKenna sent a letter to the hospitals and units after it emerged that a couple were incorrectly told in the National Maternity Unit earlier this year that their unborn baby had a life-limiting conditions only for it to emerge after the termination that the baby was perfectly healthy.

Dr McKenna draws attention in his letter to a document from the Nuffield Council on Bioethics in England which has been challenging the claim made by some doctors that early pregnancy blood tests are 99pc accurate when screening for fetal abnormalities.


Charges dropped against wheelchair-bound man who prayed outside abortion clinic

A wheelchair-bound man who was arrested and prosecuted for peacefully praying outside a London abortion clinic has seen the charges against dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service.

The arrest and case raise the question of whether praying in a public space now constitutes ‘harassment’ and whether ‘buffer zones’ around abortion clinics breach freedom of expression, religion and thought.

Christian Hacking, 29 and wheelchair-bound after breaking his back in a climbing accident, was arrested by police in August 2019 for failing to comply with a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) outside a Marie Stopes abortion clinic in Ealing.

Police were initially called after a member of staff reported two men praying on the grass outside.

Police warned Christian and his friend that merely being on the green outside of the clinic was a breach of the PSPO.


New laws to allow female couples register both names on birth cert

Two separate announcements were made yesterday to enable both partners of female same-sex couples to be recorded as parents of children conceived through donor conception or surrogacy.

First, the Department of Health is considering giving to Courts the power to resolve parenthood in surrogacy cases, particularly those involving same-sex couples. This would involve a court declaring the intended parent or parents of a child born through assisted human reproduction to be the legal parent(s).

In addition, Minister for Health Simon Harris signed regulations to commence Sections 2 and 3 of the Children and Family Relationships Act which will now come into effect on May 5th, 2020. Under the Act, the mother of a donor-conceived child will be allowed to name the second parent, regardless of that person’s sex. The child will have a birth cert naming both parents.


School to ‘push’ unisex toilets on pupils

A new secondary school is to have gender-neutral toilets in order to accommodate pupils who do not identify with their biological sex. “What we push on our students is acceptance”, said the school principal.

The Limerick Educate Together Secondary School to be built in Castletroy and cater for 1,000 students said the facilities would be installed before it opened in September 2021.

Principal Eoin Shinners confirmed the introduction of what are called “universal” toilets.

“What you will have is stand-alone cubicles,” he said. “The only part of the student toilets which are communal are wash-basins.

“Parents might ask how you supervise boys and girls entering the same toilet block. But they’re set up where washbasins are back-to-back and there’s a screen visible from the corridor,” Mr Shinners explained.

He said there were students “who identify differently” from the point of view of gender.

“It’s very much part and parcel of the school and reflective of the society we live in,” he said. “What we push on our students is acceptance. Accept them for who they are without drawing particular attention on an aspect or an issue.”

Five soon-to-be-built secondary schools had also requested permission from the Department of Education to introduce such facilities.

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