News Roundup

Pope Francis offers defense of the unborn, elderly on trip to France

Pope Francis included abortion and euthanasia in a broad critique of threats to human dignity on a trip to France at the weekend.

He travelled to Marseille to attend the closing session of an international conference focussing on the Mediterranean Sea to discuss challenges related to the environment, migration, and violent conflict.

It was attended by Church and government leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron; Vice President of the European Commission Margarítis Schinás; and Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank.

Pope Francis told the delegates: “Who listens to the groaning of our isolated elderly brothers and sisters, who, instead of being appreciated, are pushed aside, under the false pretenses of a supposedly dignified and ‘sweet’ death that is more ‘salty’ than the waters of the sea? Who thinks of the unborn children, rejected in the name of a false right to progress, which is instead a retreat into the selfish needs of the individual?”

He told participants at a mass human life is discarded not only in the “rejection of many immigrants,” but also in “countless unborn children and abandoned elderly people”.

He reiterated his comments on the Papal plane on his return to Rome.

You don’t play with life, neither at the beginning nor at the end. It is not played with!”


Americans’ desire for larger families hits 50-Year high

Americans’ view of the ideal number of children in a family has crept up to the highest level since 1973, according to the latest survey from Gallup.

Americans are about evenly divided in their views of whether smaller versus larger families are preferable. When asked about the ideal number of children for a family to have, 45% of Americans favour larger families, a steep increase from 38% in 2013, and an even wider gap from 33% in 2003.

This figure includes 29% who say having three children is ideal, 12% who think four is best, and 2% each who prefer having five or six or more children.

A 44% plurality of U.S. adults think having two children is best, and 3% say a single child is ideal.

This contrasts sharply with previous results.

Between 1967 and 1971, preferences for larger families plummeted from 70% to 52%. This drop was likely fuelled at least in part by concerns about a global population explosion, and changes in societal norms.

In 1973, Americans’ preference for smaller families of one or two children became the standard.


Gardai investigate deaths related to euthanasia drug received by post

A number of Irish people died suddenly after having allegedly bought a fatal poison from a Canadian man.

Garda sources have confirmed the accused man, Canadian chef Kenneth Law (57), sold the chemical substance to more than 10 people in Ireland.

A small number of those, believed to be fewer than five, have since died suddenly. However, it is not yet established whether their deaths resulted from consuming the substance.

The Canadian authorities several months ago supplied details to the Garda about people in Ireland who had allegedly bought the substance from sites purportedly linked to Mr Law. Gardaí performed welfare checks on those people and determined a number had died suddenly.

Mr Law was first arrested by the authorities in Canada in May as part of an investigation into two deaths there. The scope of the investigation soon widened. While he now faces charges in relation to 14 alleged assisted suicides in Canada, it is suspected he sold the substance to as many as 1,200 people in 40 countries, including Ireland.


Referendum on ‘mothers’ work in the home’ postponed

The Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman has said a proposed referendum to replace the constitutional protection accorded to mothers working in the home will not take place this year.

The Government intends deleting the protection that mothers should not be forced to work outside the home out of economic necessity–a constitutional provision that was never given legislative force.

A November referendum had been promised by the Government earlier this year, following a recommendation from a Citizens’ Assembly on ‘gender equality’.

But speaking on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics, Minister O’Gorman said: “I think it is most likely that it will be early next year.”

He said the Government is “close to the final wording” of two proposed amendments that would change the constitutional understanding of marriage, family, parenthood and and gender.

When the texts are finalised, a four-month lead-in time is envisaged to allow for a public information campaign.


Leading clinician warns of HSE activist driven transgender service

The HSE is trying to establish a new “activist-led” transgender service that will be “dangerous for patients”, according to doctors working in Ireland’s adult National Gender Service (NGS). This can include puberty blockers, sex hormones and even operations to remove male or female body parts.

On September 14, the HSE began recruitment for a new model of treatment for children and adults with patients being referred to a Belgian clinic by a former senior manager with Transgender Equality Network Ireland (Teni), a state-funded support and lobbying group.

Professor Donal O’Shea of the NGS said the new pathway is “absolutely an attempt to have an activist-informed model of care that would be dangerous and goes against all emerging evidence of the need to be safe and careful”.

​O’Shea is shocked that the new job specification does not require a candidate to have clinical experience in treating gender dysphoria.

“The idea that you would have an activist-driven model of care within the medical setting is just unthinkable,” he said. “There is no condition where you invite the activists to come in and direct how care should be delivered.

“Any endocrinologist can do gender care safely, but if you’re doing this in a person who’s not suitable to make that step on the journey, it’s an incredibly negative, destructive and dangerous step for that individual.”


No complaints from patients about pro-life ‘protests’, says hospital

Cork’s main maternity hospital has not received any complaints about pro-life activities near-by, including vigils, despite an activist group saying the activities showed the need for ‘safe zones’ outside centres that carry out abortions. The Government has promised to impose these exclusion zones.

A spokesperson for Cork University Maternity Hospital told the Examiner that “to date, CUMH has not received any complaints from patients regarding the protests.” He also explained that alleged protests are very “infrequent” and “typically consist of between two and four [people]”, take place outside the gates of the hospital, but access through the gates has never been blocked.

The Government has previously committed to bringing in legislation that would create “exclusion-zones” in the vicinity of facilities that provide or administer abortions. Within these zones it would be a criminal offence to manifest any visible pro-life presence.

A spokesperson for the Pro-Life Campaign said the proposed ‘Safe Access Zones Bill’ is perhaps the greatest example of the tail wagging the dog in Irish politics.

Hands-on fathering produces long-term benefits, says study

A father’s active involvement in his children’s lives underpins their later ability to self-regulate and problem-solve, according to a vast new study, published in the journal Pediatric Research this past summer.

Led by Tsuguhiko Kato, a researcher at Japan’s National Center for Child Health and Development, the study started with over 100,000 Japanese babies born between January 2011 and March 2014. The researchers narrowed the group to a sample of 28,040 children.

At intervals of six months, from one month of age to their third birthday, each child’s mother was asked to rate the father’s participation in early child-rearing, including feeding, changing diapers, bathing, dressing, playing at home or outdoors, and putting the child to sleep. Japanese fathers are typically less involved in child-rearing than North American fathers, but when the researchers examined the children’s milestones at age 3, they discovered that children whose fathers invested more time in their care showed better gross and fine motor skills, problem solving, and social skills than children whose fathers were not as involved.

Moreover, “the risk of developmental delay in children with highly involved fathers was 24% lower,” said Dr. Kato.


Charges dropped against woman arrested for silent prayer near abortion clinic

UK Police have confirmed that they will not bring charges against a pro-life volunteer whom they arrested while praying silently near an abortion facility in March.

Following a six-month investigation, West Midlands Police also issued an apology to Isabel Vaughan-Spruce for the length of time to reach the decision not to prosecute her.

The charitable volunteer was arrested for praying in a “buffer zone” surrounding an abortion facility. The zones, introduced by local authorities, bans prayer and other activities considered to be protest against abortion.

“This isn’t 1984, but 2023 – I should never have been arrested or investigated simply for the thoughts I held in my own mind. Silent prayer is never criminal,” commented Ms Vaughan-Spruce.

She added: “it’s important to highlight the extremely harmful implications of this ordeal not just for myself, but for everyone concerned with fundamental freedoms in the UK. What happened to me signals to others that they too could face arrest, interrogation, investigation, and potential prosecution if caught exercising their basic freedom of thought”.


Nigerian police criticised after priest’s kidnapping

The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) has condemned the kidnapping of more than 30 people across Nigeria’s Enugu State, including a Catholic priest, and called on police officials in the Nigerian state to either act on the lack of security in the region or leave office.

Father Marcellinus Obioma Okide was abducted last week on his way back to St. Mary Amofia-Agu Affa Parish in the Enugu Diocese, where he serves as parish priest. A prayer appeal has been sent out for the priest’s safe release. Okide is among dozens of people who were taken by armed Fulani bandits in separate locations within Enugu State.

Intersociety condemned the police force in Enugu for “looking the other way” and “choosing to be deaf” as Islamist Fulanis wreak havoc on Christian populations in the Nigerian state and in the entire southeast region of the West African country.

Instead, the authorities are busy killing innocent civilians in the name of a crackdown on the “sit-at-home” order by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Intersociety said in a Sept. 19 report.


Lutherans stop registering marriages in response to marriage redefinition

Estonia’s Evangelical Lutheran Church (EELK) has decided to stop registering marriages on behalf of the State after the Baltic nation approved a law that redefines marriage to include same-sex relationships.

The EELK’s official position is that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.

“If we officiate gender-neutral marriages on behalf of the state, while in the church we bless and officiate marriages that are between a man and a woman, are we dealing with two different marriages?” said Archbishop Urmas Viilma.

Minister of Social Protection Signe Riisalo says that churches have the freedom to decide on the issue. The Family Law Act allows clergy to officiate marriages if they have undergone “civil registrar preparation.” According to Riisalo, clergy are not forced to carry out a marriage if they hold objections.

However, Viilma questions the Act’s protections for clergy who want to hold traditional marriage ceremonies.

“Does the law that stipulates that two ‘natural persons’ can marry each other give meaning to marriage so far as the state goes or does the gender of those people marrying each other provide the meaning to marriage?” he asked.