News Roundup

Attacks on churches, pro-life pregnancy centres in US

Attacks on Catholic churches and pro-life pregnancy centres have been reported in numerous states across the USA in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade.

West Virginia, Washington, Virginia, Louisiana, Colorado, California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Indiana all recorded separate incidents.

St. Patrick Catholic Church in Philadelphia was defaced with pro-abortion spray paint  on June 25, which said “Abort the church”.

All Saints Catholic Church in Portland, Oregon had its sign defaced with pro-abortion graffiti on the same day.

A photo of the vandalism shows the words “If abortions aren’t safe, neither are you! -XOXO Jane.”

A pro-life Pregnancy Resource Clinic in Yuba City, California was vandalised two days later.

The clinic had one of its windows smashed by what seems to be one perpetrator according to video footage, the clinic’s executive director Kristen Bird told CNA.

Video shows the perpetrator throwing three rocks at the window until it broke.

The Pregnancy Resource Center of Salt Lake City was vandalised on June 24, within hours of the release of the Dobbs decision.

A sign was taped to the front door that read “If abortions aren’t safe neither are you,” and on the backside, “Women are fragile, not like a flower, but more like a bomb.”

Stickers were left on the building, one of which that said “Jesus loves abortion”.


Minister attacked for subjecting Catholic schools to ‘trial by media’

Four Catholics schools were subjected to a “trial by media” by being publicly named and shamed by a Government minister, according to a Catholic primary schools’ body.

The minister for special education, Josepha Madigan’s decision to put schools in the spotlight over disputes regarding provision of special education classes was “strongly objected to” by the Catholic Primary Schools Management Association (CPSMA), along with many other stakeholders.

“The Government would be far better advised to look at the very real challenges faced by schools opening special classes rather than subjecting some schools to trial by media,” Seamus Mulconry, CPSMA secretary general, told The Irish Catholic.

The minister’s plan was announced in a meeting last Thursday with the National Council for Special Education, when the CPSMA and other schools’ bodies were told that a number of schools were to be publicly ‘named and shamed’.

The Catholic management body along with “many other stakeholders present… strongly objected that such a move would be unfair and unhelpful”, Mr Mulconry said.


Dutch Health Minister proposes euthanasia for children under 12

Euthanasia should be an option for ill children between the ages of one and 12 who are in ‘unbearable pain’ and for whom there is no hope of a cure, Health Minister Ernst Kuipers has said in a briefing to MPs.

Infanticide in the Netherlands already exists for severely disabled infants under the age of 12 months, as well as for adults on broad grounds.

Euthanasia for terminally ill babies is not part of the original law but stems from a separate ‘protocol’ drawn up by paediatricians and the health and justice ministries dating from 2005.

Kuipers, acting on the advice of paediatricians, is proposing a similar protocol for children under twelve for whom no formal criteria have been created so far. He has proposed seven criteria including that the child’s suffering is ‘unbearable’ and there is no possibility of a cure or a treatment to alleviate the pain. Palliative care doctors say almost all pain can be controlled today.

Kuipers proposal is currently out to consultation. He will present the final concept in October, when he will also announce when the protocol will come into force.


More over-65s than under-15s for first time in England and Wales

The number of people in England and Wales aged 65 and over has for the first time surpassed the number of children aged under 15, according to the first results of the 2021 census in a sign of how fast the population is ageing. Populations throughout Europe, including Ireland, are getting older as a demographic crisis takes hold.

The news comes only weeks after the population of Ireland was announced as 5.1 million, its highest level in a census since 1841.

Across the Irish Sea, a 20% surge in the number of people aged 65 and over in the past decade drove the population of England and Wales to a historic high of 59,597,300, the Office for National Statistics recorded 11.1 million people aged 65 and over compared with 10.4 million people aged under 15, tipping a balance that has always favoured the young.

The number of infants aged four and under was one of the few categories where the population fell but the over-90 population broke through the half a million mark, rising to 527,900 people.


Abortion clinic buffer zone set to be tested in Glasgow

Glasgow is being lined up as a “test case” to enforce buffer zones that keep anti-abortion protests away from clinics. A similar measure is proposed by the Irish Government.

Pro-choice campaigners and politicians want to introduce 150-metre zones around facilities providing abortion so prayer vigils, offers of help, and pickets would all be banned.

At a meeting on Monday, local authorities retreated from their previous opposition to the use of bylaws to move the protests. Councils have more flexibility than the national Government around where people are allowed to gather and it is thought that bylaws could be used as a temporary measure while national legislation continues to be examined.

Susan Aitken, the SNP leader of Glasgow city council, said she was prepared to make her authority a national test case.

Concerns have been raised about legal issues surrounding the introduction of national legislation, such as human rights and the ability to protest. Nicola Sturgeon again signaled support for a national law, although that could take years to resolve those issues.


Four priests, one religious sister murdered in one week

The past seven days were among the deadliest for Catholic priests and religious in recent years, with one violent murder every 33 hours.

Monday, June 20, saw the killing of two Jesuit priests in Mexico.

On Saturday, June 25, Sister Luisa dell’Orto, a Little Sister of the Gospel of Saint Charles de Foucauld, was killed in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti.

In between those murders, two more took place in Nigeria.

Also on Saturday, June 25, Father Vitus Borogo was murdered in Kaduna State, the same region where two churches were attacked a week earlier. The murderers are believed to be members of the Islamic terrorist organization Boko Haram.

The 50-year-old priest was murdered at a farm, during what the chancellor of the diocese defined as a “raid by terrorists.”

On Sunday, June 26, Father Christopher Odia was murdered after being kidnapped from the Diocese of Auchi, Edo State, in the southern region of Nigeria. He had been abducted on his way to Sunday Mass at St. Michael Catholic Church Ikabigdo.

He was 41 and ordained a priest in 2012.

According to Open Doors International, an NGO that tracks Christian persecution globally, in much of northern Nigeria, Christians live under the constant threat of attack from Boko Haram, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), Fulani herdsmen, and other criminals who kidnap and murder at will.

While all citizens of northern Nigeria are subject to threats and violence, Christians are often specifically targeted because of their faith — ISWAP and Boko Haram want to eliminate the Christian presence in Nigeria.


Worker awarded €15,000 after being harassed for his religion

A worker who said his supervisor failed to act when a colleague laughed at his tattoo of Jesus Christ, told him Polish people are “too religious” and insulted the Pope in front of him has been awarded €15,000 for racial and religious harassment at work.

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) was told the harassment started after the victim told his employer that his supervisor was planning to extort money from the company by staging an accident at work and making a personal injuries claim.

Days later, Andrzej Waszkiewicz overheard the supervisor, Mr A and a second employee, Mr C calling him a “rat” and a “snitch”, he told the commission.

Mr Waskiewicz, who told the WRC he is a Catholic and from Poland, said Mr C “made fun” of his race and religion in a series of episodes between 12 October 2020 and 22 October 2020 and that his supervisor, Mr A, “did nothing to stop it”.

Mr C questioned his faith and laughed at his traditions, such as celebrating Christmas on December 24th, he said.

Mr Waszkiewicz’s claim was upheld by the WRC.


US Supreme Court upholds religious freedom of football coach in prayer case

The US Supreme Court has upheld the right of the football coach of a public high school to kneel and pray on the sports field after games.

The case before the justices involved Joseph Kennedy, a Christian and former football coach at Bremerton High School in Bremerton, Washington. Kennedy started coaching at the school in 2008 and initially prayed alone on the 50-yard line at the end of games. But students started joining him, and over time he began to deliver a short, inspirational talk with religious references. Kennedy did that for years and led students in locker room prayers. The school district learned what he was doing in 2015 and asked him to stop.

Kennedy stopped leading students in prayer in the locker room and on the field but wanted to continue praying on the field himself, after games, with students free to join if they wished. Concerned about being sued for violating students’ religious freedom rights, the school asked him to stop even this practice while still “on duty” as a coach after the game. When he refused, the school put him on paid, administrative leave.

On Tuesday, the court ruled 6-3 in favour of the coach, saying his prayer was protected by the First Amendment.

“The Constitution and the best of our traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, for religious and nonreligious views alike,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the majority.


Council refuses posters advertising pro-life event

The Rally for Life has been banned by a county council from putting up posters advertising an upcoming event in Fingal.

An officer in the Operations Department of Fingal County Council (FCC) told the Rally that the council “does not allow posters of a contentious nature on public property.”

When questioned by Gript, the staff officer who oversaw the decision, claimed that  there would be “lots of complaints from the public” if the poster were allowed.

She added that permission was refused due to an image on the poster, rather than the fact that the posters promoted a pro-life event, but emails seen by Gript show that the Rally offered to remove the image in question from the poster and were told the poster would still be refused as the issue itself was still “contentious.”

Megan Ní Scealláin of the Rally for Life Committee told Gript that the FCC’s refusal was “open censorship of one point of view,” and was, in their view, “an attack on free speech happening in plain sight” and was “completely unacceptable.”


Arson attacks on pro-life pregnancy centres in US

The FBI has joined local police investigating a suspected arson attack at a pro-life pregnancy centre in Longmont, Colorado on Saturday. Last week, centres in Michigan and Minnesota were hit.

It occurred in the wake of Friday’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the landmark abortion case, Roe v. Wade.

It is the latest in a series of attacks on centres offering concrete help to pregnant women as an alternative to abortion.

The centre in Colorado, Life Choices, sustained fire and heavy smoke damage, authorities said. The front of the building also was defaced with pro-abortion slogans, including the words, “If abortions aren’t safe neither are you,” written in script with black spray paint.

Federal law enforcement had issued a warning that a radical group is “calling for extreme violence” against churches and pro-life pregnancy centres nationwide in response to the Supreme Court’s expected reversal of abortion rights.

An internal document obtained by Newsweek outlines intelligence shared by the Department of Homeland Security with the Catholic Church of a planned “Night of Rage,” targeting churches and pregnancy centers over their opposition to abortion rights.