News Roundup

Psychiatrist objects to role in certifying abortion

A leading psychiatrist has complained about the working of the 2013 abortion act, saying the process to certify abortions puts an unfair burden on psychiatrists. The act allows abortion where a pregnant woman is at risk of suicide and requires a psychiatrist to certify that the woman is suffering from suicidal ideation. John Hillery, president of the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland, said the Act brought psychiatrists “a step away” from what they are trained to do. Speaking in a personal capacity, he said psychiatrists were trained to “assess mental illness and treat mental illness”, while the Act required them to make decisions about whether a suicidal pregnant woman should have an abortion. “It’s really putting it back on psychiatrists to decide something that should be decided by wider society” which then put psychiatrists in the “firing line” when people disagreed with their decision, he said.
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Bishop decries hostility toward the Church

A climate of hostility exists towards the Church, the Bishop of Ferns, Dr Denis Brennan has said. Speaking at the ordination of Fr Billy Caulfield, Bishop Brennan said to those present that at times “you will feel the anger/hostility people have for the Church in general directed at you.” Bishop Brennan said there is a lot of concern in the Church about the future which “is understandable given the volume of criticism and negativity directed at the church over recent times”. However, he continued, “In these Pentecost days we need to cast off our fears too, we are not the first generation of Christians to worry and wonder about the future. In every age people have written the obituary of the church and our age is no exception.” Just last week the Bishop of Kilmore, Leo O’Reilly, also spoke of the Church suffering a level of hostility that amounted to a kind of persecution.
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Girl detained for own safety after psychiatrist ruled out abortion

A girl requesting an abortion on foot of a threat of suicide was detained under the Mental Health Act for her own protection as the psychiatrist treating her advised that an abortion “was not the solution”. The case was one of 22 detailed by the Child Care Law Reporting Project who provide independent, anonymised reporting on child-related cases before the courts.
In this particular case, a psychiatrist gave evidence that while the child was at risk of self-harm and suicide as a result of the pregnancy, “this could be managed by treatment and that termination of pregnancy was not the solution for all the child’s problems at this stage”. A few days later, however, a second psychiatrist said although the “young girl” presented as being depressed “there was no evidence of a psychological disorder” and so the court ordered her release. It was not reported whether or not she subsequently got an abortion in the State.
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Ireland’s religious orders have a rightful claim to their properties, says UCD professor

The Church in Ireland have a rightful moral claim to the properties they own due to the years of hard labour put into them by generations of priests and religious, says a UCD academic. Tony Fahey, Professor Emeritus at the School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice at UCD, said that State-aid and public donations amounted to a kind of “earned income” for the services provided in health and education by droves of religious who worked for a pittance. Moreover, anything the religious congregations got from the State, he said, is dwarfed in comparison to the lavish grants and tax-breaks for multi-nationals today. Opposition to the congregations’ role in these services, he said, is often motivated “by hostility to their religious character”, adding, “[t]oday, a secular republic is likely to regard God as a foreign power and his agents as interlopers who are as unwelcome in the public sphere as Russian hackers in an American election.” He concluded by asking that the uncritical hagiographers of yesteryear not be replaced by equally imbalanced anti-religious commentaries: “we should avoid swinging to the opposite extreme and allowing the nuances of the historical truth to be buried in populist invective”.

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Principal calls for State to take-over Catholic School he heads

The principal of a Catholic secondary school in south Dublin has called on the Department of Education to take it over and for its patron, the Edmund Rice Schools Trust (ERST), to step aside. The principal made the comments in response to a decision by the patrons of the school, the Christian Brothers, to sell some of its playing fields to a housing developer in order to raise monies for a government redress scheme. “This is a golden opportunity for the State to take ownership of these schools. They say school lands are being transferred to the State. Why not take the buildings too?”, said Edward Melley, principal of Clonkeen College in Deansgrange. Local TD, Richard Boyd Barrett, echoed the call and said it is “outrageous that this and future generations of students could be punished and pay for the Christian Brothers’ crimes against past generations. The Minister needs now to intervene and take the school from the trust to secure it and its facilities for the future.”

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County Dublin Council proposal would prevent schools selling land

Emergency motions designed to prevent schools from selling off lands will come before Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown councillors on Monday night. The move comes after two Catholic schools had announced they were selling playing fields to housing developers. The land is currently zoned for residential use and the motion would change it to non-residential use so as to make it worthless to developers. The move has cross-party support with councillors from Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein and the Green party coalescing around similar motions to give effect to the policy.

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Church enduring hostility, antipathy, and persecution says Bishop

Hostility to the Catholic Church in Irish society has risen to the level of persecution says Bishop of Kilmore, Leo O’Reilly. Speaking at the welcome Mass for the relics of Saint Oliver Plunkett, Bishop O’Reilly said people from abroad are often astonished at the antipathy to the Church here in Ireland and, while it is unlike the violence of penal times, it is nonetheless a real, if subtle, kind of persecution. “It takes the form of gradual exclusion of Church people or activities from the public space.  There is denigration of religious beliefs, practices and institutions on radio, television and on social and other media.  There is often a focus on bad news about the Church to the almost total exclusion of any good news”, he said. It even acts as a deterrent to vocations such that anyone would need “real courage, deep faith and strong conviction to offer oneself as a candidate for the priesthood or religious life in a culture as hostile to faith as ours”.

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Bad divorces have long term consequences for children’s health

Children whose parents have a bad divorce are more likely to have a weakened immune system, a scientific study suggests. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University exposed 201 healthy adults to a cold virus and found that those whose parents separated and were not on speaking terms were more than three times as likely to develop a cold compared to those whose parents stayed together or split up amicably. “Our results target the immune system as an important carrier of the long-term negative impact of early family conflict,” said Professor of Psychology, Sheldon Cohen. “They also suggest that all divorces are not equal” he said, implying that parents who kept in touch after splitting up could protect their children’s health.

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Anti-religious vandalism rears its ugly head

Stones were thrown through the window of a mosque in Galway while people were at prayer, and in Kerry the wall of an ancient Cathedral was defaced with lewd graffiti in the latest incidents of anti-religious bigotry. Over 100 people were in the Mosque on Monday night when rocks smashed windows, leaving the people inside “terrified”. The Imam of the Mosque said he thought the attack was a reaction to the terrorism in London over the weekend. Meanwhile, in Kerry, ancient Ardfert Cathedral was daubed with obscene graffiti. The historic site had been the seat of the Diocese of Ardfert from 1117 and is dedicated to Saint Brendan. Locals are said to be “outraged” by the vandalism.

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The rise of sologamy: marrying yourself

Two years after Ireland redefined marriage to make the requirement for sexual complementarity obsolete, the Irish Times is reporting the rise of a new kind of ‘marriage’ in the US that makes the requirement of a second person obsolete: solo-marriage or marrying one’s own self. There may be a ceremony where a person walks up the aisle, in the company of friends and family, makes vows to himself and then throws a party, but it is not yet recognised as marriage in civil law, so it confers no rights or responsibilities. Irish Times columnist, Padraig O’Morain, comments that he “cannot help seeing self-marriage as, on some level, a form of weirdness”, adding somewhat ruefully, “Perhaps I’m just old-fashioned and out of touch with the times”.

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