News Roundup

No research justifies the use of human embryos, Pope Francis says

Pope Francis said that there is no justification for the use or destruction of embryos for scientific purposes – not even to help those suffering from incurable diseases. “Some branches of research, in fact, utilize human embryos, inevitably causing their destruction. But we know that no ends, even noble in themselves, such as a predicted utility for science, for other human beings or for society, can justify the destruction of human embryos,” he said May 18. Pope Francis spoke during a meeting at the Vatican with people affected by a rare and incurable genetic brain disorder called Huntington’s disease, along with their families and caretakers which was extensively covered in the Irish Times as numerous people from Ireland attended.

New UK Poll shows surprising degree of respect for unborn life

New polling in the UK shows a number of surprisingly pro-life stances by a majority of people there. The results are highlighted on a new website that helps people know where candidates in their own constituency stand on important life issues such as abortion, assisted suicide and embryo research. Spokesperson Madeline Page said: “This polling suggests that many candidates standing for election are out of touch with where the general public, particularly women, stand on abortion. We have launched our website to ensure that anyone can find out exactly where their local candidates stand on the issues of abortion, assisted suicide and embryo research.”

Cohabitees far more likely to split than married couples says Norwegian study

A new study in the European Sociological Review shows that even in wealthy, egalitarian Norway, cohabitees were three times as likely to split as those who married without first cohabiting. The study examines the period 1970 to 2007. It looks at the likelihood of couples with children and without children splitting up, and at the likelihood of married and cohabiting couples splitting up. It finds that couples with children are less likely to split up than couples without children.

UK Bishops emphasise importance of life issues with voters

In the run up to the UK’s General Election, a number of bishops have urged voters to consider abortion, euthanasia and other life issues as they head to the polls. Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth listed ten questions that Catholic voters should ask of a candidate. “First, and foremost, how far will this or that candidate protect the sacred dignity of each human life from conception to natural death, opposing moves to liberalise the abortion laws, to extend embryo experimentation and to legalise assisted suicide and euthanasia?” In Scotland, the Bishops conference released a letter that said “Any laws which permit the wilful ending of life must always be rejected as reprehensible and unjust,” and they urged Catholic voters, to “remind our politicians that abortion, assisted suicide and euthanasia are always morally unacceptable.”


Prince Charles hosts leader of persecuted Iraqi Christians

The Prince of Wales met with a visiting Iraqi Archbishop in the Royal residence, Clarence House, in London this week. The Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, northern Iraq is working with other Bishops to enable a rebuilding and repopulation of Christian towns and villages in the Nineveh plains. The inhabitants of those towns had fled the advancing hordes of ISIS terrorists in August 2014 but are now beginning to return. The Archbishop is being helped by the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need who facilitated the meeting with Prince Charles.


Study claiming Abortion pills are safe debunked as unscientific

A study that claimed women can “safely” abort their pre-born children using abortion pills is being debunked by critics as unscientific, problematic, and lacking any real credibility. The study tracked the outcomes of 1600 women in Ireland who had obtained the pills from the Netherlands-based pro-abortion organisation Women on Web. “The main problem with this study is that of the 1600 women who self-induced medical abortions without medical supervision, —  600 (over 30 percent) did not respond to a follow-up survey,” said Michael J. New, Visiting Associate Professor of Economics at Ave Maria University and an Associate Scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute. “There is a good chance that women who did not follow up were more likely to experience medical complications than those women who were happy to participate,” he added. Professor New called the study “not particularly rigorous.” The study used a non-random sample and was based on self-reporting by participants.


Christian printer sued for turning down gay pride request wins US case

A printer who declined to make shirts for a US gay pride event because it would have violated his conscience has won his court case. Blaine Adamson was sued after turning down the order because it promoted a message that conflicted with “sincerely held religious beliefs”. On Friday, an appeals court in Kentucky found in favour of the Christian designer with one judge saying there was no evidence Adamson had turned down any work because of a customer’s sexual orientation.


Coppinger Bill would ‘destroy denominational education’

A Bill tabled by left-wing TD, Ruth Coppinger, would “destroy denominational education” by stripping faith schools of their right to teach religion in their own way, to have a religious ethos and to admit children of their own faith communities first, the Iona Institute has said in a statement yesterdayMeanwhile, Education Minister, Richard Bruton has rejected the Bill saying that it would be discriminatory against children from minority religions. As written, he said, the legislation would “put a red line through schools” such as Educate Together or Gaelscoileanna. The Bill would amend the Education Act to delete the reference to the “characteristic spirit” of a school and replace it with “constitutional and human rights of all persons concerned”. Addressing the author of the bill, Deputy Ruth Coppinger, the Minister said, “You say your Bill will protect minority religions. I say the opposite. If you want your child raised in the ethos of your religion you can’t do that under this Bill.”


Online abortion pills being used as an alternative to travelling for abortion

Research published in the British Medical Journal has claimed that Abortion pills bought online can be a safe “alternative” to travelling for abortion. Such pills can be used to induce abortion up to 10 weeks of pregnancy. However, the study was based on a non-random sample and on self-reporting by respondents. The main authors are involved in the distribution of the online pills. While the importing of abortion pills is strictly speaking illegal, the organisation behind the study claim they have sold the pills, mifepristone and misoprostol, to 1,636 women on the island of Ireland during the two years. In a follow-up survey, to which over 1000 women responded, “ 94.7 per cent reported successfully ending their pregnancy without surgical intervention. Seven women (0.7 per cent) reported receiving a blood transfusion and 26 (2.6 per cent) reported receiving antibiotics. No deaths . . . were reported by family, friends, the authorities or the media.” Ninety-three reported experiencing symptoms for which they were advised to seek medical attention, of whom 87 did seek attention. Of the five who did not report, none reported any adverse outcome.


Anglican Church in the UK no longer in decline suggests report

The rapid decline in churchgoers in the UK may be slowing thanks to a rise in patriotism and pride in Christianity, a new report is suggesting. The trend appeared in an analysis of two major surveys of British attitudes by a Professor of theology and the sociology of religion at St Mary’s University, Twickenham. Professor Stephen Bullivary told the Telegraph, “People see Christianity as an expression of Englishness. There has been more rhetoric around Britain being a Christian nation. People are looking for ways to connect with others. I suspect a larger proportion of people who do say they are Anglican tend to be patriotic”. In the period from 2009, the proportion of non-religious people has declined by 2% whereas those who self-describe as Anglican has increased by almost 1%. Professor Bullivary commented, “[a]fter decades of bad news, this is certainly welcome for the Church of England. If I was in the Anglican Church I would be celebrating this.”

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