News Roundup

Bishop calls on Catholics to reject pro-abortion candidates

A US Bishop has urged Catholics to vote pro-life in the forthcoming presidential election. In a Facebook post, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Rhode Island wrote: “I encourage faithful Catholics to vote pro-life – and never to vote for any candidate, of any party, who supports abortion. And don’t be fooled by those who say they ‘aren’t pro-abortion, but are just pro-choice’. It’s a smoke screen for what they really believe, but are afraid to admit.”

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Norway priests to end role in civil marriages because of same-sex marriage

Catholic priests in Norway will no longer officiate at civil weddings so as to avoid pressure on the issue of same-sex weddings. Bishop Bernt Eidsvig of Oslo revealed that the decision had been reached after the Lutheran Church in Norway voted to accept same-sex marriages, raising the prospect of the government pressurising other faith communities to do the same, “so the best option is for us to stop conducting marriages on the state’s behalf”.
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America urged to act now on Islamic State genocide

The Knights of Columbus in America have said that the country must now act against the actions of Islamic State against Christians and other minorities following their labelling as ‘genocide’ by Congress. Speaking before a congressional committee, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson warned that if Christians disappear from the Middle East as is Islamic State’s plan, “pluralism and stability leave with them”.
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Chinese leader warns of ‘religious infiltration’

China’s President Xi Jinping has warned his country to be on guard against infiltration of the nation through religion. State media reports that during a high level meeting, Mr Xi stated: “We must resolutely resist overseas infiltration through religious means and guard against ideological infringement by extremists.” The President also pushed for greater management of the internet towards promoting the Communist Party’s own theories on religion.
 
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MEPs call for protection of freedom of conscience

Members of the European Parliament are calling on the legislative body to counteract what they say is a deterioration of freedom of conscience on the continent. Parliamentarians from four political groups have signed the ‘Declaration on the Importance of Strengthening the Fundamental Right of Freedom of Conscience’ which calls for “robust protection of freedom of conscience”. The religious freedom lobby group ADF International described the declaration as “a wake-up call” for the EU.

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Rural Ireland ‘eroding’ – SVP

The Society of St Vincent De Paul is calling on the Government to act at once to reverse what it says is an escalating “erosion” of rural Ireland. Citing the Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC), the charity points to “a continuing escalation of poor living conditions and a lack of basic services which adds to the exclusion of those who live in what is called ‘rural’ Ireland”. The charity added that “a large number of people suffering from stress and anxiety, [feel] forgotten by successive government agencies”.

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Loss of Christians will damage Middle East – Report

A new report compiled by three Christian charities and the University of East London charts the extent of modern decreases in Christian populations across the Middle East and argues that the departure of the community risks damaging the fabric of Middle Eastern society as well as, in the case of Iraq and Syria, impacting their economies. Before 2011, Syrian Christians comprised around 8-10% of a 22 million population, though 40-50% of those Christians have since left. Meanwhile, there were approximately 1.5 million Christians in Iraq before 2003, but estimates now range from 200,000 to 500,000.

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Children should select preferred gender pre-school – UK council

A council in Britain has written to all parents whose children begin school this year to recommend that children as young as four be allowed to select their preferred gender before term begins in September. In a letter from Brighton and Hove Council, parents are urged: “Please support your child to choose the gender they most identify with. Or if they have another gender identity please…discuss with your child’s school.”

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Joint call for conscience rights in medical practice

Twenty-six religious, pro-life and medical organisations have issued a joint call on the US House of Representatives to pass the forthcoming Conscience Protection Act of 2016 for those health service workers who wish to opt out of participating in abortions. “Even many ‘pro-choice’ Americans realise that the logic of their position requires them to respect a choice not to be involved in abortion,” the groups stated. “Yet it is increasingly clear that the current laws offer far less protection in practice than in theory.”

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Number of Irish priests plummets

The number of serving priests in Ireland has plummeted by 500 in just a decade, new figures show. In the period 2013-14 alone, the number fell by 120. Vatican figures show that while there were 3,141 diocesan priests in Ireland in 2004, that figure had dropped by 514 to just 2,627 in 2014, the latest year for which statistics are available. However, since about a quarter of these priests are thought to be retired, the real figure for diocesan priests still actively working is probably closer to 1,900.

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