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A Christian nursery worker in the UK is suing her former employers, claiming that she was fired for her beliefs after refusing to read stories about gay couples to children. According to The Daily Telegraph, Sarah Mbuyi says she was dismissed due to anti-Christian discrimination, having also been accused of “harassing” a lesbian colleague.
Dr Eamon Martin, the Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh, has said he “would dearly love to see a greater public debate [on same-sex marriage] in a calm and reasonable manner which respects the voices of people on both sides of the debate.”
The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) has rejected calls for the deletion of Section 37 (1) of the Employment Equality Act, which allows religious employers to hire staff in accordance with their ethos. They instead recommended that Section 37 be amended. In a submission made to Justice Minister Alan Shatter, the IHREC (which includes the former Equality Authority) said that deleting Section 37 (1) “could constitute a violation of the rights of employers and employees to religious freedom. Such a right exists within European and Irish Constitutional law.”
The Italian constitutional court has overturned a ban on egg and sperm donation. However, it continues to be the case that only married couples can use donor eggs and sperm. Elements of Italy's “Law 40” banning donor egg and sperm were declared unconstitutional with immediate effect
Children have a right to a mother and father, Pope Francis has said in an address to the International Catholic Child Bureau. He stated, “we must reaffirm the right of children to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity.”
The Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has defended his proposed family law bill, calling it a “radical reform of the law as it relates to children and their parents” which “recognises the diversity of families and which supports children across a multiplicity of situations. “ In a speech to the Children’s Rights Alliance, Minister Shatter said that many of his proposals were ones that he had “long considered necessary based on my extensive experience as a family law practitioner.
The European Parliament has held a meeting at which calls to stop EU funding of human embryo research, including embryo stem cell research, were heard. The meeting was held as a result of the ‘One of Us’ citizen’s initiative which gathered 1.7 million signatures from around Europe, including Ireland, protesting against embryo research. The initiative also wantsdevelopment aid to be withdrawn from organisations promoting abortion.
The Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality has heard aural submissions from groups that are interested in the government's Family and Relationships Bill. In addition, it will give single men, single women, cohabiting couples, and same-sex couples full access to Assisted Human Reproduction along with married couples. Only one group, Family & Life, has argued in favour of a child's right to a mother and father and against the deliberate cutting of the natural ties.
A significant majority of people believe that being raised by a mother and a father is the best family situation for children to grow up in, even as support for same-sex marriage remains high, according to a new Irish Times/IPSOS MRBI Poll. In response to the question “Which (of the following parenting combinations) are capable of fully meeting a child's needs?”, 67% said a father and mother were “extremely capable.
More than 250 academics and writers, including 'The Golden Compass' author Philip Pullman, have written a letter to The Daily Telegraph condemning efforts by Ofsted, the UK’s education inspector, to have more children enrolled in ‘early education’. The head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, has said children should be enrolled in pre-school from the age of two.
The number of parents in the US reporting 'aggravation' with their children has increased substantially since 1997, according to new research from Child Trends. Their new report “Do parents feel more aggravated these days? Parental aggravation in the US 1997-2012”, found that between 1997 and 2007 the proportion of parents reporting aggravation increased substantially, from 20 to 35 percent, and stayed at approximately that level from 2007 to 2012. Research finds that, on average, children of parents with high levels of aggravation are less well-adjusted and experience more negative outcomes.
A Christian street preacher who was arrested and held in cells for 19 hours for telling two teenagers that homosexual acts are sinful has been paid £13,000 in compensation by the Manchester Police force. According to the Daily Telegraph, John Craven, 57, was preaching from his soapbox in Manchester City Centre when two gay teenagers asked him about his view of homosexuality. Craven said that the Bible stated that “homosexuality was sinful” and added that God “hates the sin but loves the sinner”. He then quoted John 3:16, which begins “for God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son”.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin praised educational pluralism in his homily at the opening Mass for a new amalgamated Catholic primary school. Dr Martin said “Pluralism is something welcome. The fruits of such pluralism will have to be measured, however, not just in the provision of schools, but in an outcome in which every school, independent of its patronage, becomes a places of welcome for the deprived, the marginalised and those with educational challenges.”
Adoptees will be able to access records about their parents if their birth mothers have died or cannot be traced, under legislation proposed by Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald. Minister Fitzgerald also told the Sunday Times that she wanted to go “as far as possible” in giving adoptees access to information about their origins, while respecting their mother's constitutional right to privacy. The legislation would oblige all bodies holding adoption records to make them available to adoptees, “in certain cases”.
The average age at which people in Ireland get married rose to 34.7 years for grooms in 2012 and 32.6 for brides, while the marriage rate has increased slightly compared to the previous year, according to the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office. Ireland’s marriage rate is in line with the EU average but it has fallen by 40% since the early 1970s.
Pope Francis raised questions about aspects of President Barack Obama's health-care law as the two met for the first time during an official visit to the Vatican by the US President.
Under 16s in the UK will be available to pre-order the morning after pill under new NHS guidelines, despite concerns from the Government and others that it will encourage promiscuity. According to the Daily Telegraph, the guidance for GPs and chemists says that under 25s – including girls under 16 – should be able obtain the morning after pill in advance of having sexual intercourse.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has come out against legalising assisted suicide, saying that it could lead to elderly people being “unfairly pressurised” into ending their lives. According to the Daily Telegraph, Mr Cameron plans to allow a free vote on a bill to legalise “assisted dying” introduced by Labour's Lord Falconer, but will vote against it himself.
The US Supreme Court has heard oral arguments in a landmark religious freedom case that will determine whether businesses have to provide health insurance for contraceptives and abortifacients. The case was taken by Hobby Lobby, a family-owned chain of arts and crafts shops, challenging the Obama administration's 'HHS mandate', which requires employers to cover contraceptives and some abortifacients in the health insurance plans they provide for employees.
The bodies of thousands of aborted and miscarried babies have been incinerated as medical waste in UK hospitals, with some used in “waste-to-energy” plants which generate power for heat. According to the Daily Telegraph, an investigation carried out by Channel 4's Dispatches programme revealed that at least 15,500 bodies were incinerated by 27 NHS trusts over the last two years alone.
The deputy president of the UK Supreme Court has said that Christians with traditional beliefs should be given “reasonable accomodation” in law. According to the Daily Telegraph, Baroness Hale, Britain's most senior female judge, said Britain was “less respectful” towards people with religious views than many other countries, despite its long Christian tradition.
The Pro-Life Campaign have criticised the Irish media for not doing enough to inform parents of babies with life-shortening conditions about perinatal hospice care. Responding to the coverage of cases such as that of ‘Ricki’ and ‘Niamh’ who are planning to go to England for an abortion after they would told their baby has a life-ending disability, Cora Sherlock of the Pro Life Campaign said: “It is wholly unacceptable that the national discussion on this important and sensitive issue should be so completely one-sided and favouring abortion."
A new study of divorce and separation cases in the Irish courts has found that men are vastly less likely than women to be made the primary carers of their children; and tend to come off worse in the post-separation division of assets, especially if the man is a stay-at-home father. The study, reported in the Irish Independent, was carried out by Roisin O'Shea with funding from the Irish Research Council, and looked at over 1,000 cases.
The OECD have recommended that the government introduce state-subsidised childcare in order to incentivise parents to return to the workforce. According to the Irish Independent, Herwig Immervoll of the OECD said that childcare costs were “a barrier to women in labour market participation across OECD countries” but that in Ireland they served as a “particularly strong barrier” due to “high costs and limited childcare availability”.
A new report from the UK-based Christian think tank Theos has aimed to articulate principles for understanding and discussing religious freedom in a secular society. How To Think About Religious Freedom, authored by Nick Spencer, argues “not that religious freedom must be honoured above all other principles but that, in the fluid balance of principles in which no one principle serves as an immutable centre of gravity for all the others, a proper recognition of the intrinsic nature of religious liberty must be allowed to take its full and proper place in discussions.”
A second challenge to Ireland's abortion law has been filed with the UN's Human Rights Committee by The Center for Reproductive Rights, an advocacy group that favours abortion-on-demand. The Center is making the case on behalf of Siobhan Whelan, who travelled to the UK for an abortion when she discovered that her baby had a life-shortening condition. In a press release, the Center for Reproductive Rights claimed that Ms Whelan had been subjected to “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”, had suffered a violation of her privacy, and had been discriminated against because of her gender.
“Support for marriage and family life is central to what the Church teaches and lives... The gift from God of the family, based on the love of wife and husband and open to life, is a gift that the Church seeks to protect and cherish”, the Irish Catholic bishops have said in a statement ahead of the Synod on the family to take place in Rome in October. They have also thanked the thousands of people who responded to the Vatican's questionnaire in preparation for the Synod on the Family.
The divorce rate in the US may have been increasing over the last 40 years, rather than slowly declining as previously thought, according to a new report from the University of Minnesota. The report, authored by Sheela Kennedy and Steven Ruggles, argues that previous metrics used to estimate the divorce rate were flawed, and tended to underestimate the rate of divorce among older people. However, the authors say that new divorce-related questions from the US Census bureau have enabled them to update the estimates.
Four new Educate Together primary schools are to open in Ireland, with three set to move into buildings left empty after Catholic schools amalgamated, and one taking over a divested Church of Ireland school. According to RTE, Minister for Education Ruari Quinn announced today that schools under the patronage of Educate Together will open in temporary premises in Tramore, Co Waterford, Trim in Co Meath, and Malahide in Dublin.
There will be no new exemptions for conscientious objection or religious freedom if the same-sex marriage referendum is passed next year, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has said in response to a parliamentary question. Only religious ministers will be protected from having to officiate at same-sex marriage ceremonies as previously announced.
The so-called “Millennial Generation” meaning 18-to-33-year-olds, are are less likely to be married, to self-identify as religious, or to affiliate with a political party than the generations before them, according to a new US poll from the Pew Forum. They also have much lower levels of social trust, and are more likely to have high levels of student loan debt, to be poor, and to be unemployed than their two immediate predecessor generations at the same age. However, they tend to be very optimistic about the future.
Irish women and men work very similar hours when the amount of paid and unpaid work they do each day is added together, a new OECD reveals. But they split their work in different ways, with men doing more paid labour and women more unpaid house work. According to the study, the average Irish person spends about eight hours a day working, with the average man spending around six of those in paid work and two in unpaid work in the home, while women spend on average around five hours on unpaid work and three on paid work.
A widow in the UK has won a High Court battle allowing her to keep her husband's frozen sperm with a view to being impregnated with the sperm later. Beth Warren's husband Warren Brewer, a ski instructor, died from a brain tumour two years ago, but signed paperwork before starting cancer treatment saying that his wife could use them after his death. However, regulations from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) state that donated eggs or sperm can only be stored for long periods of time if the donor keeps renewing their permission. Lawyers representing Mrs Warren said that the regulator was taking an “excessively linguistic and technical approach.”
A senior Vatican official has strongly defended religious freedom at a conference on in Slovakia. He also criticised Uganda’s new law outlawing homosexual acts. On the subject of religious freedom, Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace said: "It is important to preserve and defend religious freedom because it concerns “each person's freedom to live according to their own deeper understanding of the truth.” He added that “freedom of religion is inseparable from freedom of thought and conscience”.
UK government plans for ‘mitochondrial replacement therapy’ could lead to children with genetic material from three parents being born in 2015. According to the Daily Telegraph, the new rules will allow clinics to replace an egg cell’s defective mitochondrial DNA with material from a donor egg.
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