News Roundup

Activists demand prosecution of four Bishops over gender ideology remarks

LGBT activists in Spain are calling for the prosecutions of four Bishops who voiced objections to new legislation on LGBT rights and protections in the Madrid region. In a statement on the new ‘Law of Integral Protection against LGTBIphobia and Discrimination for Reasons of Orientation and Sexual Identity’, Bishops Juan Antonio Reig Pla, Joaquín María López, and Auxiliary Bishop José Rico Pavés warned that it “seeks to prohibit the public teaching of the Bible”. The statement was supported later by Bishop Demetrio Fernández, who said “gender ideology is an atomic bomb that seeks to destroy Catholic doctrine and the image of God in man and the image of God the Creator”. All four now face demands that they be prosecuted for hate speech in a Spanish court.

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Mass graves reveal scale of Islamic State slaughter of religious minorities

A major investigation of mass graves in Syria and Iraq by The Associated Press (AP) has uncovered the scale of killings by Islamic State (IS) of Christians and other minority groups. The agency claims to have found at least 72 mass graves already – with more set to be uncovered – which contain the remains of thousands of people summarily executed by the militant group since its emergence in 2014. The number of dead is estimated at anywhere between 5,200 to 15,000 so far, including women and children. Sinjar Mountain, where thousands of Yazidis sought shelter from the onward drive of IS is, says AP “dotted with graves”.

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Spanish priest reprimanded for same-sex marriage blessing

A Spanish priest who offered a blessing for a same-sex marriage has apologised after being reprimanded by his diocese. Fr José Garcia was brought to the attention of the Diocese of Segorbe-Castellón in Vallencia on July 30 when he conducted a blessing ceremony following the couple’s civil marriage. In a statement, the diocese said Fr Garcia’s action contradicted the teachings of the Catholic Church, adding that the priest “did not distinguish the welcoming and pastoral accompaniment of persons, on the one hand, from the apparent approval of a union that the Church cannot approve”. The diocese is now considering punitive measures against the priest, investigating whether or not “there exists in this case the necessary elements for the disciplinary measures established in the Code of Canon law.”

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UK sees increased abortions for cleft palate

The number of babies with a cleft palate aborted in Britain has tripled in the last five years, according to latest figures. Despite the minor facial condition being completely treatable, it is thought increased access to tests diagnosing the condition in the womb is leading to a growing number of terminations. According to government figures, 30 infants were aborted over the last three years directly as a result of a cleft palate diagnosis. Reacting to the numbers, Fiona Bruce MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group, said: “It is deeply disturbing if these figures reflect a worrying trend in society to disproportionately value the physically perfect and beautiful.” Meanwhile, the House of Lords’ peer, Lord Alton, said “Aborting a baby with a cleft palate should be unconscionable. For the law to allow this up to birth should be unthinkable.”

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Increased porn and sex addiction warning from Rutland Centre

Ireland is set to witness a “tsunami” of sex and porn addiction, according to an addiction psychologist.  Erica Ruigrok of Dublin’s Rutland Centre offered her prediction during the launch of the centre’s headline findings ahead of its Outcomes report in September. According to its findings, while alcohol and gambling addictions still top the list for treatments sought at the Rutland Centre, sex addiction is a rapidly growing phenomenon, increasing from less than half a percent in 2009 to 6% of presentations today. Ms Ruigrok pointed out, that just like gambling, the internet was a major factor.  “It’s a game-changer,” she said. “With the internet you can find a sex partner within 15 minutes – as quickly as you can find a take-away.”

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MPs sound freedom of speech warning on extremist legislation

MPs in Britain are calling on the government to include a clear definition of ‘extremist behaviour’ in upcoming legislation to avoid religious communities being penalised. In a submission, the Home Affairs Committee has insisted that a “full explanation of what the Government is and is not seeking to achieve” must be offered to ease concerns among those holding conservative religious views who feel that extremist legislation will backfire and curb their rights to freedom of speech. The Committee, made up of MPs’ from all main political parties pointed out that current laws provide an “extensive legal framework for dealing with people who promote violence” and so far the government “has not been able to demonstrate that a significant gap in this framework exists”.
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Pro-abortion urge UN to establish ‘Safe Abortion Day’

Pro-abortion groups have joined in urging the United Nations to declare September 28 as ‘Safe Abortion Day’. Under the umbrella title of the ‘International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion’, some 1,800 groups from 115 countries backed the call in a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Pro-Life advocates were quick to criticise the call. Rebecca Oas, associate research director for pro-life organisation C-Fam, who has conducted research on maternal mortality causes, said “what women need is better maternal healthcare” and not more abortions, while Steve Phelan of Human Life International lamented that “these pro-abortion radicals deny the existence of the majority of women who are pro-life and who resent having their femininity reduced to the act of killing an unborn child”.
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California judge to hear challenge to assisted suicide law

 A judge in the US state of California has granted permission for doctors opposed to newly enacted assisted suicide legislation to proceed with a challenge to the law. Although Judge Daniel A. Ottolia did not suspend the legislation as requested by lawyers for the doctors, he did agree that they could proceed to argue that it lacks necessary safeguards against abuse. One concern is that doctors are not required to be present when the patient takes the deadly medicine; therefore, there is no way of knowing whether the person is taking the medicine of their own free will. California is now the fourth US state to legislate for assisted suicide after Oregon, Washington and Vermont.
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India announce plans to outlaw commercial surrogacy

The Indian government has announced plans to outlaw commercial surrogacy. In efforts to counter what is now a billion-dollar industry, the government is to place draft legislation before parliament which would ban women from offering surrogacy services as well as prohibiting foreign passport holders, Indian single people and homosexuals from having children through surrogacy. Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj told reporters that under the proposed law, only local infertile couples, married for at least five years, would be able to seek a surrogate, who must be a close relative in order to avail of an altruistic path to having a child. “This is a comprehensive bill to completely ban commercial surrogacy,” she said.
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US Major cleared in ‘open Bible’ row

A Christian member of the US Air Force who faced a military investigation after complaints that he kept an open Bible on his desk has been told he may continue to do so following an investigation. Major Steve Lewis had become the centre of a call for “swift, visible and aggressive punishment” from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), a body dedicated to the separation of church and state within the military, when it was discovered that he kept an opened Bible on his desk at all times. The group said the opened Bible was a “brazen display of sectarian Christian triumphalism and exceptionalism” which caused “helpless subordinates” to view it daily. However, the Air Force has ruled that Major Lewis’ act is “well within the provisions” of military regulations on religious expression.

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