News Roundup

Maternity hospitals say no record of complaints for pro-life vigils

There is no evidence that pro-life protesters have been harassing and intimidating women attempting to access abortion in Irish hospitals, according to an in-depth media investigation.

Despite years of claims, from politicians, media personalities, and NGOs, Gript reported that the available evidence suggests the claims are entirely untrue.

The media outlet contacted every hospital that provides maternity services in the country, asking if a) any staff or patients had ever made a formal complaint to the hospital about pro-life protesters, and b) if there had ever been an incident at the hospital in which “pro-life protesters have impeded the ability of patients to access the hospital, or attempted to intimidate or harass patients?”

They received responses from 16 of the 19 relevant hospitals – none had ever received a formal complaint from any member of their staff or from patients regarding the protests, and none detailed any incident in which protesters had attempted to intimidate or harass patients.

University Maternity Hospital (UMH) in Limerick, who did not respond to their queries, previously told’s David Raleigh, in December of last year, that they had never received complaints regarding pro-life protests from patients, their families or staff. They did however say they had received “third-party correspondence on this matter.”


Pope Francis tells Vatican diplomats to resist ‘cancel culture’

Pope Francis has warned against “cancel culture,” which he said has been “invading many circles and public institutions.” He was making his annual address to the Vatican’s diplomatic corps.

The pope slammed those who operate under the “guise of defending diversity” and in the process eliminate “all sense of identity,” which he said risks “silencing positions that defend a respectful and balanced understanding of various sensibilities.”

Diplomacy, he told representatives from the 183 countries accredited to the Holy See, is “called to be truly inclusive, not cancelling but cherishing the differences and sensibilities that have historically marked various peoples.”

The pope’s pointed remarks came during an address often referred to as his “State of the World,” wherein he made a strong plea for multilateral diplomacy at a time of significant global crises amid increased social fragmentation.

Francis also lamented that the work of diplomacy has been “diminished” through a sense of mission creep by international organizations pursuing “divisive” aims unrelated to their founding principles.

France’s historic Basilica of Saint-Denis vandalised

The Basilica of Saint-Denis in Paris, the final resting place of the kings of France, has been vandalised.

A man in his thirties entered the building with an iron bar with which he broke windows and three plaster statues in various chapels: those of St. Denis, St. Genevieve and St. Anthony. He also attacked several display cases in which religious objects were sold on the spot before being quickly arrested.

“The three damaged statues are a relatively recent plaster series, and without historic value,” said the rector of the basilica, Father Jean-Christophe Helbecque. “No words or gestures of threat were uttered and no injuries were reported.”

The vandal entered the basilica a first time but was refused access to a space behind the altar, at the level of the choir, forbidden to the public. He returned a little later with an iron bar.

Famous for housing the tombs of the kings of France, the Basilica of Saint-Denis, jewel of Gothic art, had previously been vandalised in March 2019. Stained glass windows as well as the organ were damaged in that attack.


Ban on Missionaries of Charity receiving foreign funding reversed

The Missionaries of Charity have been cleared to receive and use foreign funding in India, after the religious order founded by Mother Teresa had unexpectedly been ruled ineligible to receive donations from abroad.

Minorities religion in India, including Christianity, are being subjected to growing restrictions and sometimes violent attack.

Vatican News reported on Saturday that the Indian government restored the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) license for the religious order, allowing the group to once again receive and utilise foreign funds.

India’s Ministry of Home Affairs had, on Christmas Day, ruled the Missionaries ineligible for foreign donations, without giving a full explanation of the reason.

The Missionaries had begun to ration their distribution of food and other items to the poor, leading to consternation and worry on the part of people in poverty being helped by the Missionaries.


Progress on school choice described as ‘slow’

The Government has been criticised for its “slow” progress in providing access to multi-denominational education.

A Department of Education report on enrolment for the 2021/22 school year states that multi-denominational schools are the fastest growing sector, with the number of such schools up 28 since 2018, while the number of Catholic schools is down by 26 over the same time-frame.

However, in total there are 164 multi-denominational schools compared with 2,750 Catholic primary schools.

The Irish Human Rights Commission’s (IHREC) said it has asked the United Nations to directly ask the State to account for its “slow progress on the divestment of patronage from Catholic schools”.

A spokesman for the Irish Episcopal Conference said Bishops “are supportive of an educational landscape which reflects the reality of the increasingly diverse society in our country”.

“A true plurality of patronage across the country should ensure parental choice whilst enabling patrons to be true to their own ethos and characteristic spirit.”

He added that any move to divest must involve a meaningful engagement at local level, supported by the Department of Education, with parents, teachers and the wider parish communities served by existing Catholic schools.


Pope Francis: it can be selfish to have pets instead of children

Pope Francis has said that it is a civilisational loss when dogs and cats replace children in society, encouraging couples to “take the risk” to become parents.

“The other day, I was talking about the demographic winter that we have today … many couples do not have children because they do not want to, or they have just one — but they have two dogs, two cats,” Pope Francis said at his general audience on Jan. 5.

“Yes, dogs and cats take the place of children. Yes, it’s funny, I understand, but it is the reality, and this denial of fatherhood and motherhood diminishes us, takes away humanity.”

Speaking in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, the pope said that with this “selfishness” on the part of some couples, “civilization becomes older” as the “richness of fatherhood and motherhood is lost.”


Online religious services led by foreigners to be banned in China

China is set to ban foreign-led Christian online activities. It is part of a general crackdown on all religious activities not under the total control of the State.

The Chinese State Administration of Religious Affairs (SARA), recently announced the new restrictive measures for churches, organisations and individuals, which will come into force on 1 March 2022.

The measures state that “online preaching should be organized and carried out by religious groups, temples and churches and religious colleges that have obtained the Internet Religious Information Service permit”.

That permit will allow religious leaders “to preach religious doctrines online that are conducive to social harmony and civilization, and guide religious people to be patriotic to the country and abide by the law, only via their own specialized internet websites, applications or forums that are approved by law”.

Religious colleges that has the permit will also be able “to train their students and religious people on their specialized internet websites, applications or forums, approved according to law, which must use a virtual specialized network to connect to the outside world, and verify the identity of personnel participating in the training”.

However, religious ceremonies cannot be broadcast live or recorded online, and organizations or individuals should not fundraise in the name of religion on the internet.

The measures also point out that overseas organizations and individuals or organizations that are set up by foreigners are not allowed to operate online religious information services within the Chinese territory.


“Support Gay Marriage” cake campaigner loses appeal at European Court

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that an application over the long-running so-called “gay cake” case is inadmissible as arguments relating to the Convention were not raised or adjudicated on by the domestic courts.

The court has said that the decision is final.

In 2018, the UK Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Northern Ireland gay rights activist Gareth Lee was not discriminated against when the Christian owners of a Belfast bakery refused to make him a cake iced with the slogan “Support Gay Marriage”.

Asher’s said the refusal had nothing to do with Lee’s sexual orientation, and everything to do with the political nature of the message. They would have refused to the same cake order for anyone irrespective of their sexual orientation, and would happily have fulfilled an order for Mr Lee had it not had a political message that contravened their deeply help religious beliefs about the nature of marriage.


Nurse sacked for wearing cross was discriminated against, tribunal rules

A Christian nurse in the UK who was forced to quit her job after being told to remove her cross necklace was discriminated against, an employment tribunal has ruled.

Mary Onuoha, 61, was harassed and victimised by Croydon Health Services NHS Trust when she was told to stop wearing the cross due to an infection risk, according to the ruling.

It added this had created a “humiliating, hostile and threatening environment” for the nurse, breaching her human rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Mrs Onuoha resigned as an NHS theatre practitioner at Croydon University Hospital in south London in June 2020 following what she described as a two-year campaign against her when she refused to remove the cross.

The tribunal found the trust had constructively dismissed Mrs Onuoha from her job of 18 years.


Campaigners demand greater access to abortion, fewer conscience rights

The few remaining restrictions on abortion, including conscience protections for staff at Ireland’s hospitals, have been called into question by pro-choice campaigners.

Niall Behan, chief executive of the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA), called for a full decriminalisation of abortion.

Of the 19 maternity hospitals across Ireland, only ten provide full abortion ‘services’. Behan described this as “absolutely outrageous”.

Regarding the law in operation, he said there are a number of areas that need to be changed. “The most urgent and the most important for us right at the moment is the 12-week limit, which is excluding women from abortion care.”