News Roundup

Pope: priests and medics caring for COVID-19 patients are heroes

Pope Francis offered his prayers and praise for those who died from coronavirus-related illnesses after helping COVID-19 patients and their communities.

At least 50 priests, four nuns and 24 doctors have lost their lives and 5,000 health care workers in Italy were known to be infected as of March 24 because of the pandemic.

At the start of his morning Mass March 24, the pope said he was aware of the growing number of doctors, nurses and priests who have died after becoming infected while being “at the service of the sick.”

“Let us pray for them and their families. I thank God for the heroic example that they have given us in their care for the sick,” he said.

Meanwhile, Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin told his priests in a letter they are called to a ministry in some ways similar to that of doctors, nurses and psychologists.

“The people turn to you with trust and hope, seeking help or even just a word of support, of accompaniment,” he wrote.

Recognising the difficulties and restrictions placed upon them for the safety of themselves and others, the archbishop said they were still shepherds, and Jesus teaches that when confronted by a wolf, a good shepherd “is not afraid and does not run away like a mercenary, but defends his flock.”


Pro-Life Campaign calls Brid Smith’s ‘home abortions’ proposal reckless and life-endangering

The Pro-Life Campaign has described as “reckless and life endangering” the call by PBP TD Brid Smith for the Government to dispense abortion pills for women to self-administer at home without medical supervision.

Deputy Smith made the call for home abortions by claiming the COVID-19 crisis is making it much harder for women to access abortions.

Commenting on Deputy Smith’s proposal, Eilís Mulroy of the Pro Life Campaign said: “It is reckless and life endangering to push for home abortions where there will be no medical supervision. Deputy Smith has a record of ignoring the right to life of unborn babies but on this occasion what she’s promoting would also put the lives of pregnant women at serious risk.

“Abortion supporters never miss an opportunity to promote abortion. At a time when Ireland is uniting to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, once again abortion advocates try to find an abortion angle to divide the country when we should be working together to bring to a speedy end the COVID-19 crisis that has the potential to end so many lives. Abortion campaigners like Deputy Smith repeatedly calling abortion a “healthcare issue” doesn’t make it a healthcare issue.

“Abortion is not a medical treatment, it is about ending innocent human life. As a country, we need to come together like never before to beat the COVID-19 virus. It is a time to focus on saving human life not ending it.”


Coronavirus: Isolation may spark surge in divorces, warns lawyer

A family lawyer from Belfast firm Phoenix Law believes that the coronavirus outbreak could lead to a spike in Northern Ireland’s divorce rate as couples enter isolation together.

Ciaran Moynagh spoke out after divorce lawyer Baroness Shackleton of Belgravia, whose previous clients include the Prince of Wales, Liam Gallagher and Thierry Henry’s ex-wife Claire Merry, told the House of Lords that an increase in the UK’s divorce rate was “very likely”.

She told peers at Westminster: “The prediction amongst divorce lawyers is that, following self-imposed confinement, it is very likely that the divorce rate will rise. Our peak times are after long exposure during the summer holidays and over Christmas.

“One only has to imagine what it’s going to be like when families are sealed in a property for a long period of time.”

Mr Moynagh added that because families and couples were being dragged out of their daily routines through school closures and working from home, cracks that may already be in a relationship would begin to show or “will certainly widen”.


RTÉ to broadcast daily Mass during the Covid-19 emergency

In response to Covid-19-related restrictions on public gatherings, RTÉ will air Mass every weekday at 10.30am from St Eunan’s and St Columba’s Cathedral, Letterkenny, on RTÉ News Now.

The broadcasts will continue at least until 29 March, when current public health measures will be reviewed by the Government.

Mass will be followed each day by a short religious message from representatives of Ireland’s other faith communities and Christian denominations.

RTÉ’s Head of Religious Content, Roger Childs, said: “We are aware that, either through self-isolation or Government restrictions, many people are unable to come together to worship at precisely the time when they feel most in need of community, comfort, encouragement and prayer.

“Facilitated by the web-streaming service, the Bishop of Raphoe, Dr Alan McGuckian, and Cathedral Administrator, Monsignor Kevin Gillespie, have kindly agreed to celebrate a Mass every weekday morning, which RTÉ is very happy to share with viewers, as part of our commitment to public service during the current emergency. We want people of all faiths to know that RTÉ is with them in spirit.”


New Zealand passes radical pro-abortion law

New Zealand’s parliament has passed a bill that entirely decriminalises abortion up to birth, and provides for an abortion on demand regime for the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Previously, abortion was technically outlawed in the country except if the pregnant woman’s health was seriously jeopardised. However, no woman has been prosecuted under the previous legislation, the New York Times reported.

The Abortion Legislation Bill legalises abortion up to 20 weeks into pregnancy for any reason, while an abortion after 20 weeks can be approved by a woman’s physician “if the health practitioner reasonably believes that the abortion is clinically appropriate in the circumstances.”

MP Agnes Loheni, a member of New Zealand’s National Party, called the bill an “attack on our own humanity.”

“It will allow for abortion up to the moment of birth,” Loheni said of the bill’s section allowing some abortions after 20 weeks into pregnancy. “It is a broad, ill-defined, vague section with no regard to the unborn child.”

MP Greg O’Connor of the center-left Labour Party also dissented, saying the section of the law approving abortion after 20 weeks with consent of a pregnant woman’s physician was too vague.

The bill passed on its third reading by 68 votes to 51.

An earlier plan to put the issue to a public referendum was abandoned during the proceedings.


Call for solidarity to support families in Europe

A European-wide family association has issued a call for greater solidarity between EU member States during the coronavirus outbreak. They also underlined the central importance of the family as the primary social unit of every society.

The Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe (FAFCE) represents 27 national and local associations including Family Solidarity in Ireland.

In a press release yesterday, they said no European family should feel abandoned by the institutions. “In this moment where fear and disorientation might seem to prevail, we wish to reaffirm the fundamental importance of the family: the corona-virus outbreak in Europe is an occasion to rediscover the role of the family as the primary social unit of our communities”.

They added that they support greater solidarity between member States and expressed confidence “in the financial coordinating role of the European institutions which guarantees the effectiveness of the initiatives to be carried out in favour of families”.

 “At the European level, it is high time to show our adherence to the basic principles that unite us all: solidarity, subsidiarity and common good”, they concluded.


Congressman calls on UK to let N Ireland decide its own abortion laws

A US Congressman has said that Westminster’s imposition of abortion on Northern Ireland is “not the will of the people” and that abortion law must be left to the Northern Ireland Assembly.

New Jersey Representative, Chris Smith, penned a letter to the UK secretary of state, urging him to refer Northern Ireland’s abortion law back to the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Mr Smith, who is co-chair of the Congressional Committee for Irish Affairs, and of the Bipartisan Pro-Life Caucus, said: “Imposing a liberal abortion regime upon Northern Ireland shows a contempt for the Good Friday Agreement’s devolution provisions, and weakens the entire agreement, which is the framework for the fragile peace that Northern Ireland has known.”

“Let Northern Ireland work this issue out through its own representative Assembly. Abortion on demand is not the will of the people in Northern Ireland, and if it were, Northern Ireland has a duly constituted Assembly by which it can balance equities and legislate on the matter.

“The democratic traditions of Westminster are some of the oldest in the world. The imposition of Section 9 fails the most fundamental test of any act of government, it neither reflects nor respects the will of the people, who have a right to expect that their Government act in their interest, and carry out their will. I thus appeal to you to re-examine your course of action and defer to the Northern Ireland Assembly, thereby allaying any doubts about HMG’s commitment to the Good Friday Agreement and the principle of devolution.”


Six priests have died from the coronavirus in Bergamo

In northern Italy’s city of Bergamo, six Catholic priests have died during the past week from the coronavirus disease and, as of Sunday, over 20 priests were hospitalised.

The Bishop of Bergamo, Francesco Beschi, confirmed this numbers speaking with the Italian TV news network RaiNews24.

“Our priests are many, and numerous are those who have exposed themselves [to the virus] to be close to their community,” he said Sunday. “Their illness is an evident sign of closeness, a painful sign of closeness and sharing in the suffering.”

Beschi also said that no one is “exempt” during this “extremely painful trial.”

Bergamo today is the Italian province with the highest number of people who’ve fallen ill. The number of deaths in Bergamo is also growing exponentially, with an estimated 50 people dying daily in this region due to the virus.


Nigerian priest urges Western leaders to do more for country’s Christians

Western nations have an obligation to defend Nigerian Christians being slaughtered by Boko Haram since many are being killed because the militant group views them as being “allies of the West,” says one Catholic priest from the African country.

According to Father Joseph Bature Fidelis of the Diocese of Maiduguri, “the rise of militant groups is growing very high and that should be the concern of Western leaders to say ‘we need to step in there and we need to help these people.’”

“It is very clearly stated by Boko Haram that they are persecuting Christians because they fear Christians are allies of the West,” he told Crux during a visit to the U.S. sponsored by the international papal charity Aid to the Church in Need, which supports suffering Christians around the globe.

While Bature said that Christians in Nigeria aren’t necessarily allies “in the strictest sense,” Boko Haram has targeted them for their support of Western civilization and Western education.


Court confirms criminal sanction of Argentinian doctor who refused to abort 23-week-old baby

The appeal of a doctor who refused to perform a legal late-term abortion on a 23-week pregnant woman was rejected Wednesday by a court in Rio Negro. The child is now two years of age and has been adopted. The court ruled that he had not fulfilled his duties as a public functionary in the local public hospital.
The woman had taken an abortion pill but the doctor decided to save the baby’s life. It was born at 35 weeks gestation. The woman alleged she had been raped.

Dr. Leandro Rodriguez Lastra’s 14-month suspended prison sentence has been confirmed and he will also be suspended from all public appointments for 28 months, as was decided by the first judges last May.

The appeal judgment on Wednesday was a divided decision, where one judge considered Rodriguez Lastra not guilty against the two others, Miguel Angel Cardella and Maria Rita Custet Llambí, who went further than the original trial judges.

Judge Cardella said the accused did not take into account the mother’s will “to decide about her body and health; they made her give birth. That’s gender-based and obstetric violence.”

The unborn child at the centre of the case is now a two-year-old little boy who is alive and well today.

Rodriguez Lastra’s lawyer, Damián Torres, told the local press that he considered the decision to be “ideological.”