NEWS BRIEFS

– Tej Francis

 

MONTREAL, CANADA

‘WE’RE IN A VERY DIFFERENT TIME NOW’: MONTREAL OFFICIALS OUST CRUCIFIX FROM CITY HALL

(CNA) A crucifix that has hung on the wall of Montreal’s City Hall since 1937, reminding city officials to let God guide their decisions, will be taken down for a renovation project, never to be put back, local sources have reported.

City councilor Laurence Lavigne-Lalonde made the announcement at an executive council meeting this week. “The crucifix was installed during an era that was completely different than the one we live in today,” Lavigne-Lalonde told the council, according to CTV News Montreal. “We now live in a society that has evolved and is represented by democratic institutions that must be secular, neutral and open to all citizens,” Lavigne-Lalonde added.

City officials also said they will be removing another crucifix that is hung in a different room in city hall. After the decision was announced, the Archdiocese of Montreal issued a statement saying that the crucifix is a symbol of the Christian roots of Canada and doesn’t need to be removed in a religiously pluralistic society.

“As a sign revered by Christians, the crucifix remains a living symbol. It symbolizes openness and respect toward all peoples, including toward other faith communities and religious traditions, which rightfully adhere to their own signs and symbols,” Archbishop Christian Lépine said in his statement. Nevertheless, nothing forbids us, and our respective beliefs, from being present in the public space in an attitude of respect and openness, since we share the same common humanity,” he added.

DUBLIN, IRELAND

IRISH BISHOPS SPEAK OUT AGAINST ABORTION REQUIREMENT FOR MEDICAL JOBS

(CNA) The Irish Bishops’ Conference has objected to job requirements mandating that certain consultant doctors be willing to participate in abortions, saying that the country’s new abortion law had promised to safeguard conscience rights for medical professionals. “This precondition runs totally counter to a doctor’s constitutional and human right to freedom of conscience,” said the bishops, according to Irish Catholic. “This totally undermines the whole concept of freedom of conscience which was guaranteed in the recent legislation,” they added.

In a statement following their Spring 2019 General Meeting in Maynooth, the bishops of Ireland addressed an advertisement for two consultants at the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin. As a job requirement, the candidates for the Obstetrics/Gynecology and Anesthesia positions must be willing to take part in abortions. Once a majority-Catholic and pro-life contingent, voters in Ireland last May voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment to their constitution, which had banned abortion. General practitioners are now allowed to perform abortions up to nine weeks and hospitals are allowed to perform the procedure up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

The repeal has already led to concerns about freedom of conscience for medical professionals. At least 640 general practitioners in Ireland signed a petition in November objecting to the new obligation of referring patients to other doctors for abortions. The majority of the country’s 2,500 general practitioners (GP) are unwilling to perform abortions. Only between 4 and 6 percent of GPs have said they would participate in the procedure.

NEW YORK

SURVEY: NUMBER OF CATHOLICS CONCERNED ABOUT CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION RISES

(Catholic News Service)  More than half of U.S. Catholics say they are very concerned about the persecution of Christians around the world, with this 58 percent figure up by 17 percent from a similar poll a year ago. When asked to rank their concerns about global issues, respondents considered persecution of Christians as a slightly more important problem than climate change (57 percent), but less important than human trafficking (82 percent), poverty (74 percent) and the refugee crisis (60 percent).

U.S. Catholics were asked for their views on Christian persecution in a survey conducted by Aid to the Church in Need-USA, a pontifical foundation based in New York, and McLaughlin & Associates, a national survey research company. The nationwide poll of 1,000 Catholic adults was conducted online with survey invitations distributed randomly within predetermined geographic units. Forty-six percent of respondents said the global persecution of Christians is “very severe,” an increase of 16 percent compared to the 2018 poll. They ranked Iran as the country where Christians are most severely persecuted.  Next were Iraq, Syria, China, North Korea, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

According to Aid to the Church in Need-USA, the survey aimed to measure how aware U.S. Catholics are of Christian persecution, the countries and regions where they consider Christians the most severely persecuted, and specific measures and policies they want the U.S. and other Western governments to pursue to combat it.

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