News Roundup

Staff at Australian broadcaster receive ‘trauma toolkit’ to deal with distress from same-sex marriage debate

ABC, the Australian version of the BBC, has offered staff a counselling hotline and “trauma toolkit” to help distressed employees during the country’s upcoming same-sex marriage postal plebiscitein November. Managers have been provided with strict guidelines on how to spot a staff member who is suffering from trauma, including what is called ‘vicarious trauma’: “The potential for vicarious trauma (also known as secondary trauma, compassion fatigue and burnout) is high when we feel ­connected to events occurring,” the document said. “Vicarious traumatisation means that we connect with the vulnerability of the situation and may be emotionally engaged with the story or event because of this.” Those affected by a potentially traumatic event (PTE) are enocuraged to seek help: “Over 65 Peer Support Leaders are available across the ABC and provide a listening ear to anyone who needs to discuss a PTE”.

Some politicians have sharply criticised the move. “I want to know where the Christian helpline is, particularly after the ABC themselves broadcast outrageous slurs against those who go to church, incorrectly claiming they were more likely to engage in domestic violence,” Senator Matthew Canavan told The Australian yesterday. “They have no authority in these debates to be taking the moral high ground when they have been some of the worst perpetrators of prejudice and bigotry in the last few months.” Liberal senator Eric Abetz said it showed the “gross and deliberate bias” of the taxpayer-funded broad­caster, “highlighted by the clear assumption that only one side of the debate might be dealt with inappropriately”.

“There is no offer of counselling and assistance for those that might be vilified and attacked for holding a view opposed to the ABC’s groupthink in favour of changing the definition of marriage,” Senator Abetz said.


As protestant bigotry fades, a new ‘progressive’ bigotry rises, says Scottish Archbishop

The Archbishop of Glasgow, Philip Tartaglia, has said that although old-fashioned Protestant bigotry may have faded, more “sophisticated” forms of discrimination have taken its place. Speaking to a convocation of priests in Philadelphia, he said: “Atheists and secularists in the 1960s and 1970s were content to ignore or mock the Catholic Church, but today many see her as the single most formidable threat to their notions of justice and equality, particularly when it comes to matters of human sexuality. If the Church dissents from today’s new rulebook for the human person – and she must – then she should expect rough treatment.”

He said the hostility came from a “new ‘religious’ consensus” formed from a “combination of scepticism, consumer appetite and political intolerance”. “It masks itself with progressive vocabulary, but its targets tend to be practising Christians.”


Syrian Archbishop says West has ‘betrayed’ Middle East Christians

The West has failed to do enough to protect Christian minorities in the Middle East, the Syriac Catholic Patriarch has said. “I can tell you, we’ve been not only abandoned by the Western countries, but even we have been betrayed,” Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan told The Southern Cross, newspaper of the Diocese of San Diego.

“We Christians in the Middle East … are the indigenous communities of these countries,” Patriarch Younan said, noting that it was in this region that Christianity was born. “We’ve been there for millennia and we have been always persecuted. And now … our very survival is at stake.” Regrettably, Patriarch Younan said, Western leaders have succumbed to “pandering” and utilizing “politically correct language” in their dealings with the Middle East. He said that, unless the United States and European nations demonstrate that they have the political will to speak honestly with the region’s leaders, helping them to create “a civilized constitution” and insisting that they separate religion and politics, “there is no hope for the future.”


Courts to decide on same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland tomorrow

The High Court in Belfast will decide tomorrow if same-sex marriages will be recognised in the North for the first time ever. A trio of cases are being adjudicated that cover two separate issues. One is whether same-sex marriages from elsewhere in the UK should be regarded as such in the North. Under current law, they are treated as civil partnerships. Secondly, the Court must decide whether marriage laws in the North itself might be redefined so that same-sex marriage would be made legally available. The cases have been under consideration for almost two years by Mr. Justice O’Hara and are being dealt with at the same time because of the close nature of the issues.


Reports of elimination of Downs in Iceland ‘conceals an awful truth’

A recent report from CBS News in the US that Down Syndrome births have been “almost eliminated” in Iceland revealed an awful truth behind that reality. Far from Iceland having found a cure for the condition, or a means of treating it in utero, instead they have simply been clinically efficient in screening for the disease and aborting those children found with Downs. Close to 100% of women in Iceland who received that diagnosis aborted their unborn babies. However, another dark truth revealed that some Down Syndrome births still occur because the prenatal testing is not entirely accurate.  “Babies with Down syndrome are still being born in Iceland,” said Hulda Hjartardottir, head of the Prenatal Diagnosis Unit at Landspitali University Hospital. “Some of them were low risk in our screening test, so we didn’t find them in our screening.”

CBS faced a backlash for its reporting with actress Patricia Heaton tweeting, “Iceland isn’t actually eliminating Down Syndrome. They’re just killing everybody that has it. Big difference.”


Nearly 400 botched abortions in two months at UK’s Marie Stopes clinics

A health watchdog has revealed extremely serious failings at Marie Stopes abortion clinics in the UK. The Care Quality Commission report showed there were 373 botched abortions in January and February of this year alone and, in another three month period, 11 women had to be rushed to hospitals for emergency treatment after suffering complications. The report is more bad news for the abortion provider who was forced to suspend abortions for minors and vulnerable women last year after a previous inspection detailed over 2600 serious incidents in 2015. Marie Stopes International (MSI) carries out 70,000 abortions a year in the UK with 60,000 of them paid for by the National Health Service. Dr Peter Saunders, chief executive of the Christian Medical Fellowship, said: “It is disgraceful that this business, which performs a third of Britain’s abortions… has continued to fail to meet basic standards of care.” Lord Alton of Liverpool, a cross-bench peer and a pro-life campaigner, said: “As this is the second time MSI have been brought to book for failing, the Government should cease giving them taxpayers’ money.”

Former EU Council President challenges Pope Francis on Euthanasia

Former EU Council President, Herman Von Rumpuy, has tweeted out a challenge to Pope Francis’ ruling that Catholic hospitals in Belgium cease involvement in euthanasia. Von Rumpuy sits on the board of the Brothers of Charity whose hospitals decided to offer euthanasia to its patients this year. The move was opposed by the worldwide head of the Brothers of Charity, Br. Rene Stockman, who has been supported by the Bishops of Belgium and the Vatican. The Vatican, with the personal approval of the Pope, issued an ultimatum to the Brothers in Belgium to reverse their Euthanasia policy by the end of August or face sanctions under canon law. However, Von Rumpuy sent out a tweet Sunday that reads, “The time of ‘Roma locuta causa finita’ is long past.” The Latin phrase, which means “Rome has spoken, the cause is finished”, is used to indicate that the Pope has the final say on matters of faith and morals, and once he has issued a decision, then the matter is settled. By his tweet, Von Rumpuy seems to imply that the Pope’s directive will not be accepted as the final word on whether the Brothers’ of charity should cease euthanising patients in their hospitals.

Australian Commission urges violating seal of confession when child abuse revealed

An Australian Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse issued a report today recommending that laws on reporting sexual abuse of children “should exclude any existing excuse, protection or privilege in relation to religious confessions”, including the confessional.
The commission’s report said the right to practice one’s religious beliefs must accommodate civil society’s obligation to provide for the safety of all and, in particular, children’s safety from sexual abuse. “We understand the significance of religious confession – in particular, the inviolability of the confessional seal to people of some faiths, particularly the Catholic faith. However, we heard evidence of a number of instances where disclosures of child sexual abuse were made in religious confession, by both victims and perpetrators. We are satisfied that confession is a forum where Catholic children have disclosed their sexual abuse and where clergy have disclosed their abusive behavior in order to deal with their own guilt,” they wrote.
In response, Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne, the president of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said the inviolability of the seal of confession is a “fundamental part of the freedom of religion,” and this is recognized in Australia and many other countries around the world.
“Confession in the Catholic Church is a spiritual encounter with God through the priest,” Hart said.

Arlene Foster assures pro-life group she will fight to preserve NI abortion law

The leader of the DUP, Arlene Foster, has told a pro-life group that they will do “everything in their power” to preserve the North’s strict anti-abortion laws. She was meeting with Youth for Life NI, who are a youth branch of Precious Life, as part of their ‘lobby for life’ campaign.

Precious Life said in a statement that Mrs Foster acknowledged Northern Ireland is “definitely under pressure to change its pro-life laws”, however she “firmly assured us that the DUP will do ‘everything in our power’ to safeguard our current laws and protect the most vulnerable in our society.”

“It is so incredibly important to lobby for life at this present point in time because of the stark threat to unborn children here as Northern Ireland faces a great deal of political instability,” Precious Life said.


You must include gay bar, London council planners tell developers

For the first time ever, the inclusion of a gay bar as part of a development has been mandated as a condition of planning permission by a London council. Moreover, the Guardian newspaper is reporting that “the mayor’s office will send an inspector to make sure it is gay enough”. The move is in response to the declining number of gay bars in London.

Tower Hamlets council has told the developers of the site, which used to house a gay bar, that their plans for offices and nine luxury flats will get planning permission only if it includes a pub that will “remain a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender-focused venue for a minimum of 12 years”. It is believed to be the first time that the sexual orientation of a venue’s customers has been included as a condition of planning approval.

The borough’s mayor, John Biggs, said: “Tower Hamlets council is committed to celebrating our great diversity, which includes serving the needs of our LGBTQ+ community. I am delighted that as a council we are leading the way in using innovative ways to protect spaces such as the Joiners Arms site.”

According to the Guardian’s correspondent, Rupert Neate, City Hall’s culture at risk officer, Ed Bayes, will be involved in assessing licensee applications to ensure that the operator of the new bar “will be sufficiently LGBT, and not seeking to open a gay bar in name only”.