News Roundup

Northern Ireland abortion guidelines may reduce terminations

Northern Ireland’s newly issued abortion guidelines will “make doctors more conscious of their obligations” and make procuring a termination harder, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has said. The new rules, SPUC, added clear up the ambiguity of the previous ones where abortion as a legal option was “open to a wide spectrum of interpretation”.

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Christians in Raqqa forced to study Islam

Christians in the Islamic State stronghold city of Raqqa are being prevented from leaving and are now forced to study Islam, an observer group has revealed. It is believed that there are 43 Christian families remaining in Raqqa, having survived thus far by paying the non-Muslim tax levied by Islamic State.

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Historian laments ‘baptism barrier’ to Catholic schools

The high profile historian Diarmuid Ferriter has accused Catholic schools of operating a ‘baptism barrier’ in accessing Church-run schools, describing it as “a dark stain on the national conscience that needs to be removed”. The UCD academic made his comments during an address to this year’s conference of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation.
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Same-sex couple seek help in transferring surrogacy babies

A same-sex couple from New Zealand has issued an appeal for help in bringing from Mexico three babies they procured from two surrogate mothers. The two men travelled to Mexico to collect the three infants ahead of new laws aimed at restricting surrogacy there. However, their case came to light as a result of an alleged theft of the money they sent for the surrogacy and adoption procedures.
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Christian magistrate faces further sanction for beliefs

A Christian man in Britain whose role as a magistrate was terminated by the Lord Chancellor after he expressed support for adoption by traditional family units over same-sex couples has now been removed from a National Health Service Trust where he held a non-executive position. Richard Page has been informed the NHS he is suspended while the body “considers whether it is in the interests of the health service” for him to remain in his post.

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Christian groups welcome Northern Ireland abortion guidelines

Christian groups in Northern Ireland have welcomed newly published guidelines on abortion which offer no change in laws regulating terminations there. Despite some concerns over the affording of a more liberal approach to interpreting the new guidelines, issued in the wake of a legal challenge, both the Christian public policy charity CARE and the Evangelical Alliance have expressed support for them.

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Pope appeals to Pakistan for greater Christian security

Pope Francis has urged the Pakistani authorities to step up security for the nation’s Christian community in the wake of the Easter bombing in Lahore which claimed 70 lives. The Pontiff appealed to “the civil authorities and all community leaders in that nation to do everything possible to ensure the security and serenity of the population, particularly the most vulnerable religious minorities.” The extremist Jamaat-ul-Ahrar grouping claimed the attack and stated it specifically targeted Christians.

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Georgia vetoes religious freedom bill in face of corporate pressure

The US state of Georgia has vetoed a bill aimed at protecting the religious freedom of groups unwilling to facilitate same-sex weddings. The ‘Pastor Protection Act’ fell after major corporations such as Disney, and leading Hollywood figures said they would boycott the state if the bill was passed. The failure of the bill now opens the door to legal actions against individuals and groups opposed to same-sex unions on the grounds of faith.

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Christian student body faces sanction for accepting Jesus as Lord

A student union in Australia has threatened to de-register a Christian grouping for students because it believes the group’s requirement that members accept the divinity of Jesus Christ amounts to discrimination. The University of Sydney’s student union has demanded that the on-campus Evangelical Union drop this requirement by the end of March or be barred from the campus.

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Former minister critical of threat to faith-based funding

Former minister Dr Martin Mansergh has criticised the State for its role in the Diocese of Elphin’s withdrawal from a family life centre on the grounds of a threat to its funding.
Following a report on The Irish Catholic newspaper that the diocese had felt compelled to end it backing for the centre in Boyle, Co. Roscommon so as to secure the continued funding from Tusla, the State’s child and family agency, Dr Mansergh said it “is sad when the State withdraws financial support for work that has been of public benefit for many years, unless it renounces its original mission or core values”.
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