News Roundup

Four stand trial for mock crucifixion of Catholic co-worker

Four Englishmen are facing trial for the mock crucifixion of a Catholic co-worker in a campaign of bullying described as religiously aggravated assault. The young Catholic man at the heart of the case, who remains anonymous, told York Crown Court that he felt “ashamed” and “embarrassed” when the defendants restrained him in 2015 and tied him to a make-shift cross and placed it against a wall while they filmed the incident. The man alleges a pattern of behaviour of bullying which included him being covered in drawn crosses on another occasion. He said: “I just felt ashamed that everyone else saw what was happening to me and it wasn’t happening to anyone else. I just felt really embarrassed.”

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Forty English schools allow boys to wear skirts

Some 40 schools in England have adopted a gender neutral uniform code which will allow for young boys wearing skirts. The move has been led by the government funded campaign group Educate & Celebrate. One school involved said its adoption of the policy was to reflect “each child’s right to express their gender and personality in whichever way feels right for them”. However, Andrea Williams of Christian Concern said: “Children at the age of five years old need to be reassured and supported if they experience feelings of confusion about their gender. This policy will only serve to introduce unnecessary questioning and doubt to pupils who may have never otherwise experienced such feelings.”

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Ireland could move on abortion issue by September

Ireland could move to liberalise its abortion laws as early as this September, it has been revealed. As ministers gather to discuss the country’s response to a recent UN call for such a move, some indicated to the media that, rather than Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s earlier suggestion of convening a Citizens’ Assembly on the issue within six months, moves could be underway by September. However, regardless of the discussions to be held between ministers, Simon Harris, the Minister for Health, reminded that legal advice to Government has been that the issue of abortion remains a constitutional matter and therefore one to be placed to the people by referendum.

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Parents still want Sacraments taught at school

Significant numbers of parents still want their children to be taught the sacraments at school, the chief of the new Community School model of patronage has said. Michael Moriarty, general secretary of the Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI) said: “This is being ignored by people who live in mainly large urban centres, but throughout provincial Ireland, in particular, there is a demand for the tenets and basics of the core of Catholic religion and sacraments.” He added that this need for ‘belief nurturing’ is recognised in the Community National Schools, 11 of which are already running on a trial basis.

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School assemblies violate human rights – UN

Requiring children to attend school assemblies is a violation of their human rights, a United Nations committee has ruled. In a report, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern at Britain’s requirement that school children attend gatherings with are “wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character” and called on the government to “repeal legal provisions for compulsory attendance at collective worship”. Reacting to the report, Conservative MP David Burrowes described the criticism as “ludicrous” and said the government can “respectfully put those kind of reports in the bin where they belong”.

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Scottish Anglican Church to conduct same-sex weddings

The Anglican Church in Scotland is to conduct same-sex weddings after a motion was passed by its general synod. The Scottish Episcopal Church’s (SEC) general synod voted to amend its teaching on marriage so as to remove the understanding that marriage is between “one man and one woman”. The decision will now be discussed across Scotland’s seven dioceses before a final vote is held next year. It is reported that the Church will allow for conscientious objection on the part of clergy wishing to opt out of such ceremonies.

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Oregon citizen legally recognised as ‘nonbinary’

A court in the US state of Oregon has ruled that a resident of that state who chooses not to identify as male or female can be considered ‘nonbinary’. Born a male, Jamie Shupe began to transition as a female in 2013 before deciding that neither gender was the preferred one. Shupe filed a legal action in April of this year for legal recognition of a nonbinary state. “It feels amazing to be free from a binary sex classification system that inadequately addressed who I really am, a system in which I felt confined,” Shupe said after the court’s ruling.

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Reserving marriage for a man and woman ‘not discrimination’ – European Court

Reserving marriage to one man and one woman is not discriminatory, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled. Arising from a case of two French men who wished to marry in 2004, and who were prevented from doing so by the law in France at that time, the ECHR ruled that there is no discrimination if a State denies the right to marry to two adults of the same sex. The ruling has been welcomed by European Federation of Catholic Family Associations (FAFCE), whose president, Antoine Renard, said: “We encourage all National and International institutions to take this decision into account: marriage, i.e. the union between a woman and a man in view of founding a family, is a unique institution that must be protected“.

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Government will not move on abortion ahead of Citizens Assembly – Minister

The Minister for Health Simon Harris has ruled out any Government intervention on the abortion issue ahead of the proposed Citizens Assembly debate. Reacting to the latest call by a UN body for Ireland to amend its abortion laws, Minister Harris expressed his personal sense of upset at the case at the heart of the call, that of a woman who received a diagnosis of congenital defects in her unborn child and who travelled to England for an abortion, but he reiterated his belief that attempting to develop a consensus approach through a Citizens Assembly was the best way forward and the UN committee findings would form part of that process. Such an assembly could get underway this autumn.

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Call for Amnesty ban in Catholic schools

Catholic schools have been urged to ban Amnesty International from addressing their students due to the organisation’s support for the introduction of abortion to Ireland. Speaking to The Irish Catholic newspaper, Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute said Catholic schools have to “draw a line in the sand” on the issue. “If you are a group campaigning aggressively for abortion, something that is completely contrary to a Catholic ethos, then you don’t have a right to visit Catholic schools and attempt to gain support for your organisation. Cora Sherlock of the Pro Life Campaign agreed with the call. “Given Amnesty is perhaps best known in Ireland for its vocal stance in favour of repealing the Eighth Amendment, I would question whether it is appropriate for them to be speaking to young schoolchildren who can’t understand the full implications of abortion.”

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