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VATICAN

Pope Francis visited Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI for Christmas

(Aleteia) Pope Francis visited his predecessor on the Thursday before Christmas, stopping in to bring his Christmas greetings to Benedict XVI in his home at the Mater Ecclesiae convent. The Vatican press office reported about the visit on Tuesday.

The pope and pope emeritus prayed together briefly and then visited for about a half hour, the press office said. Francis visits Benedict at least at Christmas and Easter, and also accompanies the new cardinals when they go to visit the retired pope after receiving their red hats.

 

CAIRO, EGYPT

Egypt says at least 11 killed in attacks on Christian church, business

 (Crux) At least 11 people, including eight Coptic Christians, were killed after unidentified gunmen opened fire outside a church and a Christian-owned business in a south Cairo suburb, Egypt’s Health Ministry spokesman said Friday. It was the latest attack targeting the mostly Muslim country’s embattled Christian minority.

Late Friday, a local affiliate of the Islamic State in Egypt claimed responsibility for the assault through its Amaq news agency, though it provided no evidence for the assertion.

Health Ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed said the attack outside the Coptic Church of Mar Mina left at least one policeman dead and eight others wounded, including two critically. The attack took place when two gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire outside the church, he said.

Egyptian security officials said earlier that two policemen were killed in the shootout and the discrepancy was not immediately clear. The officials requested anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

Egypt’s Christian minority has been targeted by Islamic militants in a series of attacks since December 2016 that left more than 100 dead and scores wounded. The country has been under a state of emergency since April after suicide bombings struck two Coptic Christian churches on Palm Sunday in an attack that was claimed by the local affiliate of the Islamic State group.

Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s population, have long complained of discrimination in the Muslim-majority nation, and say authorities have often failed to protect them from sectarian attacks.

IRELAND

Pro-life amendment in Irish constitution under threat

(Crux) Editor’s Note: Cora Sherlock is the spokesperson for Pro-Life Campaign Ireland, and working to preserve the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution, which protects the right to life. The future of the amendment is in doubt, after a ‘Citizen’s Assembly’ recommended changing the constitution to allow legalized abortion in Ireland. Sherlock spoke to Charles Camosy about the efforts to protect the 8th Amendment in Ireland.

Camosy: Not everyone In the U.S. is aware of the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution. What should those who fall into that category know?

Sherlock: The text of the 8th Amendment is, “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

In essence, the Amendment recognizes that the unborn baby has the same rights as any human being does regardless of age, color, creed, or any other distinguishing factor. The 8th Amendment is all about equality.

Pro-choice advocates like to spread the myth that the pro-life movement thinks the rights of the baby should take precedence over the mother, but this is simply not true: The 8th Amendment is a legal protection for both mother and baby equally.

It can happen that the baby is lost as a side-effect of necessary medical treatment during the pregnancy, which is obviously tragic for all affected. But the crucial difference is that in this scenario, the loss of the baby is an unwanted side-effect of treatment. An abortion, on the other hand, is the intentional ending of the baby’s life. An abortion has no other aim but to end the baby’s life.

But that law is currently under attack, and you are on the front lines of defending it. Can you fill us in on what is happening?

We are currently in the middle of a cross-party Government Committee, which can only be described as part two of a process set up to pave the way to a referendum to remove the Eighth Amendment.

Part one was the Citizens’ Assembly, held during a handful of weekends in 2016 and early 2017 when 99 members of the public were given the briefest of introductions to this life and death issue, and then expected to provide recommendations to the government on the best way forward.

Given that the Assembly organizers never invited those who have the greatest testimony to give – families who say their children are alive thanks to the Eighth Amendment – it was no wonder the final report recommended the introduction of abortion on wide-ranging grounds.

Now that we are on part two, things are no better. The government committee will complete its work and finalize its report on 20th December, but its dealing of the matter has been imbalanced and biased from the very beginning.

Instead of inviting an equal number of pro-life and pro-repeal witnesses to give evidence to the politicians on the committee, the committee invited 24 speakers who are on record as saying that they think the Eighth Amendment should be repealed or removed, as opposed to just four who would speak in favor of keeping the provision.

 

Tej Francis

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