News Roundup

Archbishop Martin says Christianity still has much to contribute to society

Dublin’s Archbishop of Diarmuid Martin has insisted that “Christianity still has much to say to an amnesiac world about human dignity, political freedom and economic inequality”. Speaking as he delivered the first sermon by a Catholic Archbishop of Dublin during evensong at Christ Church Cathedral, Dr Martin challenged people of faith “to find a language from our own rich faith tradition which can be understood and welcomed in a pluralist world”. “People have, in many ways, lost that historical understanding of the contribution of Christian belief to the development of Western culture. This is often the fault of the way we live as churches,” he explained, adding, “churches urgently need to find new language for…engagement and the churches must build bridges of new and perhaps surprising partnerships.”
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Romanian Church supports move to enshrine traditional marriage in constitution

The Romanian Orthodox Church has voiced support for a constitutional amendment in the country to recognise marriage as between one man and one woman. In line with the submission of a Bill proposing a referendum on the measure, to be held on the same day as parliamentary elections, the Orthodox Church revealed it has garnered three million signatures supporting the strengthened recognition of the traditional family unit. Romanian Patriarch Daniel urged congregations to “protect the natural, traditional and universal family, and resist some new family models that consider the natural woman-man union only one model among others”. Gay activists have accused the Church of “meddling” in secular matters.
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British government ‘illiterate’ on faith – Archbishop Welby

Britain’s Archbishop of Canterbury has warned that government officials know so little of religion that their definition of ‘extremism’ would include conservative Christians. In an address to the heads of Church of England schools, Archbishop Justin Welby lamented that some officials have “no grip” on what it means to be a person of faith. “The Foreign Office, the Ministry of Defence, our Government generally,” he said, “is desperately trying to catch up, to understand a world in which they have no grip on what it is to be religious at all; where religious illiteracy is prevalent and extremely destructive of understanding and where they can’t see really the difference between an extremist Muslim group like the Muslim Brotherhood and a sort of conservative evangelical group in a Church of England church.” The Archbishop said that while not everyone has to believe, “we do want them to recognise that [faith is] a feature in people’s decision making”.
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US Bishops pledge to hold President Trump to pro-life election pledges

Bishops and Church leaders in the United States have pledged to hold President-elect Donald Trump to his pro-life promises and other social justice issues. Communicating their congratulations to Mr Trump and expressing hopes for his tenure, Church figures used the win to restate those issues to which the new president would be held. Among the messages, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president of the US Bishops’ Conference said: “The Bishops’ Conference looks forward to working with President-elect Trump to protect human life from its most vulnerable beginning to its natural end.” And, he added: “We will call attention to the violent persecution threatening our fellow Christians and people of other faiths around the world… And we will look for the new administration’s commitment to domestic religious liberty”. Archbishop Kurtz ended by stating: “Now is the moment to move toward the responsibility of governing for the common good of all citizens. I believe God will give us the strength to heal and unite.”
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Spread of gender theory requires encyclical response – Cardinal

The Netherlands’ Cardinal Willem Eijk has said a papal encyclical or other magisterial document may be needed to counter the spread of gender theory and the belief that gender can be a choice over biology. Warning that Catholic parents are beginning to accept that their own children can choose their genders partly because “they don’t hear anything else”, Cardinal Eijk said: “It [gender theory] is spreading and spreading everywhere in the Western world, and we have to warn people…From the point of moral theology, it’s clear, you are not allowed to change your sex in this way. Perhaps a document only on this problem might be an urgent question,” he concluded.
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Hungary abortion rate down nearly a quarter since pro-life campaign

Hungary has recorded a fall of almost a quarter in the number of abortions in the country following a long-term pro-life push by government. Figures between 2010 and 2015 have shown a 22.9% decrease in terminations. Since 2011, Hungary – which allows for abortion up to 12 weeks, and up to 24 weeks in the case of severe disability – has promoted a major pro-life drive coupled with a requirement that a woman seeking a termination undergo counselling and wait three days between requesting an abortion and having one. In addition, since 2012 Hungary’s constitution has stated that life begins at conception.
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NI Faith communities experience ‘chill factor’ in wake of Ashers case

Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster has said faith communities are feeling a “chill factor” resulting from the upheld discrimination judgement against Ashers Bakery. Focusing on the criticism levelled by the Court of Appeal on the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (ECNI) following its lack of assistance to Ashers’ owners, the McArthur family, Ms Foster said: “It is incumbent upon the Equality Commission to indicate to the Executive how it intends to remedy what has been pointed out to it by the court and what affirmative action it intends to take in terms of faith communities…there is certainly a chill factor there for faith communities. That is communicated to me weekly, and the commission have to take notice of it. I have to ask this question: where is the balance in dealing with faith communities in Northern Ireland? It is something I will be asking the Equality Commission to comment directly and give me some feedback on that.”
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Colorado votes to legalise assisted suicide

The US state of Colorado is the fifth in the country to legislate for assisted suicide after a voter ballot during the presidential vote approved the measure. The ballot in favour came after the state legislature had originally rejected bills calling for assisted suicide. The measure allows Colorado residents over 18 to request assistance to die if they are ill and have less than six months to live, though opponents have pointed to a serious lack of safeguards in the law to protect vulnerable people. “The law is deceptively written,” said Margaret Dore, an attorney in Washington state, where assisted suicide is also legal. “There’s no requirement that people be dying. The bill is sold as choice and control. It’s stacked against the person.” Colorado now joins the states of California, Oregon, Washington and Vermont in offering assisted dying.
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High Court adjourns surrogacy case

The High Court has adjourned a case centred on the legal status of a child born through surrogacy who was later discovered to have no genetic link to the commissioning adults. The case involves an Irish couple who sought surrogacy outside the State and subsequently applied to bring the child back to Ireland. Needing to prove a genetic link to the child in order to secure necessary documentation, the test showed no such link exists. The child was admitted to Ireland on humanitarian grounds. The High Court has now declared it requires more time to gain further statements from the State on its position on a most unique case and adjourned until January.

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Australian same-sex marriage referendum struck down

An Australian proposal to hold a national referendum on legalising same-sex marriage has been defeated in the nation’s senate. Despite a preference for such a vote on the issue by the government of Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull, opposition parties and supporters of same-sex marriage have argued that a referendum would be ‘deeply divisive’ and the issue of gay marriage should be decided by parliament alone. The defeat of the proposal means same-sex marriage is now set aside as a topic for the next parliamentary term.

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