News Roundup

Catholic Bishops get ready for upcoming Church-State talks

Conscientious objection to abortion plus faith-based education will be raised by the Irish Catholic bishops at a Government meeting with religious and non-faith organisations that Leo Varadkar will chair at Dublin Castle on July 4.

In response to a request by Martin Fraser, the Taoiseach’s secretary general, that each delegation propose up to three topics for discussion, the bishops listed “conscience, care of the marginalised, and support for parents who wish for a faith-based education for their children”.

The hierarchy has nominated Diarmuid Martin, the archbishop of Dublin, and Emer Crooke, research co-ordinator of the bishops’ Council for Justice and Peace, to attend the meeting.

Mr Varadkar has said Government ministers are being told to keep their diaries clear for July 4th in order to attend the meeting and respond to issues relevant to their portfolios. The Tanaiste and the ministers for health, education and justice are expected to attend.


Catholic Schools’ RSE teaches both facts and values, say Bishops

Ireland’s Catholic bishops have defended the kind of sex education taught in Catholic schools.

In a statement following their summer meeting at Maynooth, the bishops said: “Contrary to some recent negative commentary, in Catholic schools young people do [their emphasis] learn facts as part of their relationships and sexuality education.

But they also “learn about values, about respect, about consent, about self-esteem” and other important issues on relationships and sexual health “in age appropriate ways, and in cooperation with parents”.

On schools the bishops said they “strongly support parents as the primary educators of their children, particularly in the area of relationships and sexuality education (RSE).” In a statement they stressed “the central role of parents as they nurture their children to grow in these challenging times.

“Parents must therefore be consulted in the development of RSE programmes. Teachers also face challenges in RSE, and they need support. Appropriate resources, including the provision of in-service training and continuing professional development, are required to address current deficits,” they said.

The bishops welcomed the document Male and Female He created Them, published last Monday by the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education, which reiterated church teaching in the areas of gender and sexuality.


Irish abortions in UK continued downward trend in 2018

Some 2,879 women gave addresses from within the State at abortion clinics in England and Wales in 2018, down from 3,019 women in 2017, according to the latest data released by the UK department of health and compiled by the HSE. Ireland’s new abortion law came into operation in January.

In contrast, the number of women availing of online abortion pills rose by more than 13 per cent in 2018, with 1,405 people buying the pill online, according to figures one abortion pill provider gave to the HSE.

Data from the UK also shows that 107 women from Ireland contacted one online abortion pill provider in the first three months of 2019.

All of these women were directed by the provider to contact the HSE’s My Options phone line which offers guidance and support on how to access a medically supervised abortion in Ireland. Some 43 of these women received “additional support” from the online pill provider, compared to 184 women during the same period in 2018.


Dáil hears allegation of illegal abortion at National Maternity Hospital

The abortion of a child at the National Maternity Hospital after a wrongful diagnosis may have been carried out illegally.

That’s according to the parents of the child who had their case raised in the Dáil yesterday by Aontú TD Peadar Tóibín.

During Taoiseach’s questions, Deputy Tóibín said the couple have alleged that the medical practitioners who signed off on the abortion never examined or met the mother in advance of the abortion.

“If that is the case, it is contrary to the law brought in by the Government and it is illegal,” said Mr Toibin.

He also said the couple, “are shocked by allegations that the medical professionals signing off on the abortions have a commercial interest in the companies that produced the fatally insufficient test”. They were further “shocked to hear that the State Claims Agency will indemnify the private company that carried out the fatally insufficient tests.”

Mr Tóibín added that the family have said “their calls for an independent investigation have been ignored by the Government and that they have had no real input into the terms of reference of the internal review which the Government is planning.”

In addition, he said, “they are furious with the Taoiseach for stating in the Dáil that this is a confidential issue.”

“They believe he is seeking to sweep this illegal abortion under the carpet”.

He then pointedly asked the Taoiseach: “Will the Government change the law, institute guidelines and carry out a fully independent investigation?”

The Taoiseach refused to be drawn on the matter except to say that it was his understanding that Minister for Health Simon Harris “wants and expects an external inquiry into the facts of the case to be carried out”.


Social media platform blocks pro-life group Live Action over ‘public safety’ guidelines

One of the biggest pro-life groups in the US have been banned from the popular social media platform Pinterest.

Live Action founder and president Lila Rose said the group’s posts have been deemed a threat to “health or public” safety. This is so even though users of the platform can still see the content of abortion provider, Planned Parenthood.

“@Pinterest has now permanently suspended @LiveAction’s account (my account remains suspended), claiming our pro-life content is ‘medically inaccurate information’ & ‘conspiracies’ that lead to ‘violence.’ #LifeCensored,” Ms. Rose said in a series of tweets.

“Pinterest Logic: You can freely pin if you’re Planned Parenthood, an abortion provider. But if you’re a pro-life group & pin about the beauty & humanity of a baby in the womb, you’re banned bc you’re a threat to ‘Pinner’s health or safety.’”


Sydney Archdiocese releases anti-euthanasia videos

A series of anti-euthanasia videos are being released by the Archdiocese of Sydney, Australia, in anticipation of new laws in the state of Victoria that will allow both euthanasia and assisted suicide.

A group that favours the new laws questioned the relevance and accuracy of one of the videos that compared the state with Belgium and called for it to be taken down.

The Archdiocese however are standing over the video.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP said it was no surprise that proponents of the new laws, “are wanting to shut down any evidence of the alarming nature of the consequences of the legislation of euthanasia in other countries”.

“But we need to keep raising our voices in defence of the vulnerable, and to share the truth about the consequences of state-sanctioned killing. Now is not the time to be silent, or silenced,” he said.

A spokesperson for the archdiocese defended the ad saying that while the new legislation in Victoria might begin with a number of safeguards, “it’s impossible to stop the ball rolling on subsequent laws”.

“Euthanasia was originally sold to voters in countries such as Belgium as a voluntary option for a narrow group of terminally ill patients, but has resulted in a cascade of deaths where unconscious and non-consenting patients have been killed by doctors,” she said.

“Administering drugs with the explicit intention of hastening the end of life is euthanasia regardless of the spin activist organisations such as Go Gentle Australia wish to put on it,” the spokeswoman added.


Lethal abortion drugs still being illegally imported

Women are continuing to import lethal abortion drugs illegally via the internet despite abortion being lawful and free of charge in Ireland for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

There were nine seizures of 104 of these medicines between January and April, according to figures obtained from the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA). The HPRA said that between January and April last year there were 14 seizures of 204 tablets.

Doctors say there is likely to be always some level of importation of the pills as women seek privacy.

It is believed around 800-900 abortions a month are being carried out since the change in the law. Around 320 GPs are now signed up to provide medical abortions, but there are still no doctors willing to deliver the service in Co Sligo, Leitrim and Carlow.

It was reported in March that Irish women are also still travelling to England for abortions ‘in their droves’.


New Citizens’ Assembly to look at gender equality

The Cabinet has agreed to establish a new citizens’ assembly to bring forward proposals on gender equality.

The Assembly will be tasked with discussing the “remaining barriers facilitating gender discrimination” in this county.

Ninety-nine members of the electorate will asked for suggestions on how to ensure women have “full participate at all levels of decision-making”.

The terms of reference will “recognise the importance of early years parental care” and ask the assembly to “examine the co-responsibility for care, especially within the family”.

The chairperson will then report back to the Government with definitive proposals.


New Vatican document says gender theory is ‘cultural and ideological revolution’

A Vatican department has attacked so-called gender theory, and affirmed the principles of human dignity, sexual difference, and complementarity.

In a new document entitled “Male and Female He Created Them”, the Congregation for Catholic Education says that the Church teaches an essential difference between men and woman, ordered in the natural law and essential to the family and human flourishing.

The document says that the aim of the Church must be the education of children in line with authentic principles which defend and instill true human dignity. By contrast, it says, “In practice, the advocacy for the different identities [in gender theory] often presents them as being of completely equal value compared to each other. The generic concept of ‘non-discrimination’ often hides an ideology that denies the difference as well as natural reciprocity that exists between men and women.”

In keeping with the teachings of the Catholic Church, it also says that children enjoy the right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother.

The document also underlines the primacy of parents in educating their children, which is supplemented by the subsidiary role of schools and the Church. Quoting Francis, it also says that this educational alliance has entered into crisis.


Minister applauds as school cancels plans for Catholic body to deliver sex education

Accord is a marriage counselling organisation attached to the Bishops’ Conference. It teaches about contraception in a morally-neutral way and it counsels couples in same-sex marriages. It receives State funding.

Accord had delivered the programme at the school for the past number of years but their presence was protested by parents and outside groups such as Atheist Ireland, and the People before Profit TD, Ruth Coppinger.

Minister Harris tweeted his approval of the move calling it “positive news”. He added that RSE should never be delivered from an ethos-based perspective: “Sexual and relationship health is integral to overall health and wellbeing. Important our children have access to unbiased information. We must respect religious belief but all health education must always be based on facts, not ethos.”