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DECEMBER 13 2013 THE CATHOLIC HERALD
BRITAIN’S most senior judges will consider next week the legal case for the “right to die” in Britain, raising the possibility of a landmark ruling on the issue.
A panel of nine Supreme Court judges, led by Lord Neuberger who is president of the court, will meet to examine three challenges to the current law on assisted suicide.
The three cases have been put into one “super-case” to enable a sweeping judgment on the law in England and Wales, where assisted suicide is
Supreme Court to consider ‘right to die’ cases BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
still illegal and punishable by a prison sentence of up to 14 years.
The cases involve the widow of locked-in syndrome victim Tony Nicklinson, who died last year. Paul Lamb who was left quadriplegic by a car accident and another man known as “Martin” who is severely disabled, will also be represented.
Their lawyers will argue that the 1961 Suicide Act imposes “extraordinary and cruel” limits on individual freedom.
Human rights lawyer, Neil Addison said: “This case epitomises the dangers of the modern tendency to replace the rule of law with the rule of lawyers.
“The law about assisted suicide is clear and if there is a need to change the law then that is a job for Parliament not judges and lawyers forcing the issue through human rights arguments.”
Mr Addison said that he did not think the Supreme Court would change the law but he said: “What is worrying is that the Courts allowed these cases to be brought in the first place.
“When legislative proposals for assisted suicide have been brought before the UK and Scottish Parliaments they have been rejected. Campaigners are therefore attempting to force a change through the courts and this is deeply destructive to the entire idea of representative democracy.”
Peter D Williams, senior campaigner for Right to Life, said: “All people should respect, and have sincerest sympathy, for the experiences and courage of the plaintiffs in this case, regardless of where we stand in the assisted suicide debate.
“The consequences of their legal challenge to the 1961 Suicide Act succeeding, however, would be profoundly damaging. It would remove protections for many more vulnerable people, who do not have the level of support and capacity that Paul Lamb and Martin enjoy, from being pressured into dying by unscrupulous beneficiaries of their passing, or ruthless and uncaring others close to them. It would allow a practice that we know from the experience of Oregon, Holland, Belgium, and other jurisdictions abroad, has retarded the development of desperately-needed palliative care.”
MSPs hear archbishop
BY STAFF REPORTER
IN HIS FIRST address to the Scottish parliament Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews and Edinburgh has said that the country’s laws were founded on the Christian idea that all life is sacred.
This principle, he said, was “the bedrock” of the law, adding: “When we look at Scots law, we can see the various origins and influences upon it, and one of them is Christianity.
“Of course, that pleases me as a Christian, not because it makes the law biased in my favour, but because I know that Christians start from the premise that all life is sacred, irrespective of creed or any other accidentals, and because they believe – as many do – that all creation starts in some way in God...
“Until recent times, all law in our country, to some degree, reflected our relationship with God and our relationship with our fellow human beings, including with our own selves. If our human laws failed in either of these two dimensions, the argument went, they would fail to promote the common good that all law must surely strive to uphold.
“By contrast, laws that passed these two tests stood the test of time, for the good of the whole community, even nonbelievers.”
The archbishop also prayed that politicians in Scotland would be blessed with “justice and temperance, with courage and prudence”.
Faithful praised MP hails efforts to help Filipinos THE SHADOW Secretary of State for International Development has praised Catholics for their response to the Philippines typhoon disaster.
Jim Murphy MP (left) on returning from his visit to the Philippines, said: “It’s clear that the Church has given not just emotional and pastoral support, but enormous logistical support. The Church was here when it happened; it will be here long after everyone else has gone. One of the priests I met said they may be homeless and they may be roofless, but they’re not hopeless. Many people here get that hope from their faith.
“My message to Cafod supporters is that your money will make a difference. It’s clear now, even three weeks into this operation, that this will take months if not years. We need to ensure that our commitment to this area outlasts the shock that we all felt. A small amount of money can make a massive difference.
“The aid workers are working with local communities to pick up the pieces.” Bishop John Arnold: Page 12
A LEADING high court judge has said that married couples need to be taught about the importance of monogamy in order to prevent family breakdown.
Speaking at a conference in London last Thursday, in order to promote the idea of “relationships education”, Sir Paul Coleridge warned of “yawning public igno
Teach married couples about monogamy, says judge BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
rance” concerning the detrimental effects of family breakdown on children.
Sir Paul, who serves as a judge in the Family Division of the High Court, called for a new approach to solving family fragmentation with a focus on the prevention of relationship breakdown.
Sir Paul has recommended sending couples to professional classes to teach them about avoiding marital problems rather than sending them to marriage counselling after the problems emerge.
Sir Paul, who founded the Marriage Foundation think-tank, will retire next year following opposition within the judiciary to his support for traditional marriage.
Edmund Adamus, who was recently appointed to the advisory board of the Marriage Foundation, welcomed Sir Paul’s comments.
He said: “Sir Paul is a brave and counter-cultural witness for the universality of marriage as it’s more widely appreciated as the foundation of society.”
During his speech Sir Paul highlighted the public row between Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi, saying that it would “chime with many who had been exposed to the rigours of the break-up mill”.
Sir Paul said that couples need to learn to respect “self-imposed boundaries” in order to prevent Britain facing “social anarchy” where children are the main victims.
He said: “I encounter it, day in and day out, in arena of the family courts. Let it not be forgotten that 50 per cent of all children are not living with both parents by the time they are 15. It is they who are the real victims and casualties... The children are given no choice.”
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Barrister: ruling is a big boost for religious freedom Pro-lifers hail ‘historic setback’ for abortion lobby
BY SIMON CALDWELL
A LANDMARK ruling by the Court of Appeal will make it easier for Christians to defend themselves against religious discrimination in the workplace, a leading Catholic lawyer has said.
Neil Addison, a barrister, said the outcome of a case brought by Celestina Mba, a Baptist who refused to work on Sundays, had clarified the law in favour of Christians.
Although the Court of Appeal concluded that Miss Mba did not have a case for “indirect discrimination”, it also found that the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) was wrong to discriminate against her on the basis of her beliefs.
The judges ruled that the EAT had made an “error of law” when it decided that because most Christians were willing to work on Sundays, Miss Mba’s belief that the Sabbath was a day of rest did not constitute a “core component” of Christianity.
Mr Addison said that the judgement “put to rest” the wrongful practice of the courts deciding for themselves what represented authentic religious doctrine. What was of crucial overriding importance, he said, was that the beliefs of Christians were sincerely held.
“The decision, though it does not help Miss Mba will certainly make it easier to bring and to win claims of religious discrimination,” said Mr Addison, the Liverpoolbased director of the Thomas More Legal Centre and an expert in religious discrimination law.
“This should avoid courts and tribunals in the future being driven into arguments about theology which the House of Lords ... had accepted are outside the competence of secular courts.”
Mr Addison continued: “In the decision Lord Justice Maurice Kay held that what mattered was whether Mrs Mba had a sincere belief which was held by some Christians.”
Two other judges of the appeals court went even further, he added, by saying that under human rights law the tribunal should not even have considered if the beliefs were shared but only if they were sincere.
The judges observed that because Miss Mba’s beliefs belonged only to a Christian minority it would have been easier for her employer to accommodate her.
Mr Addison said that, based on the facts alone, he did not believe Miss Mba would win her case because the children’s home where she worked needed to be staffed around the clock, with children cared for on Sundays just as any other day.
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
MEMBERS of the European Parliament have rejected a report recommending that abortion should be enshrined as a human right.
The “Report on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights”, put forward by MEP, Edite Estrela suggested that abortion is a human right, called for compulsory sex education for all children in and outside of school, and would have undermined conscientious objection for healthcare professionals.
But a majority of MEPs rejected the report with 334 votes in favour of rejecting the report, 327 voting against and 35 abstaining.
A statement from European Dignity Watch described the report’s defeat as “a historic setback for the abortion lobby”.
It said: “Citizens in Europe are no longer willing to be dictated an agenda that goes against their profound convictions: parents who don’t accept to be pushed away as the primary educators of their children and who want to give their children love and education, not aggressive and inappropriate sex education and contraception; citizens who want the European Parliament to respect democracy and the boundaries of EU law; doctors and nurses who do not want to be forced to perform abortions.
“They made their voice heard – loudly; according to a communication of the European Humanist Federation on December 3, MEPs had received 80,000 emails of protect against the report by concerned citizens. Since a strong, European-wide mobilisation was maintained until the vote today, it is likely that the number of emails exceeded 100,000.”
It concluded: “European citizens and MEPs have made an important step forward to stand for a Europe that respects dignity, life and the constitution of Europe. The occasion for this debate presented itself in the form of the Estrela report and citizens have made use of it.”
The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children also welcomed the vote’s result. John Smeaton, its chief executive, said: “The Estrela report represents one of the most concerted recent attempts to get the European Parliament to exceed its competence and try to impose abortion on European Union member-states. Today’s rejection of the Estrela report proves that peaceful and prayerful grassroots lobbying by pro-lifers can have a real positive impact in the political arena.”
The Estrela report was previously rejected in October by MEPs and sent back to its committee group for “further study.”
Stressed out by Christmas? Read the Bible, says bishop BISHOP Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton has suggested that people feeling stressed in the run-up to Christmas should read the Bible to find “a bit of calm space”.
The bishop, who is chairman of the bishops’ Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis, said the Bible offers “lifechanging words of peace and hope”. Speaking ahead of Bible Sunday, which fell on December 8, the bishop said: “Christmas is supposed to be a celebration of all that is good, but for many it is actually frightening, if they don't have the financial resources to meet other people’s and their own expectations. Many passages in the Bible... suggest a simpler way of living.”
Crossrail appeals to St Barbara CROSSRAIL has had 38 statues of St Barbara blessed and installed at the entrances to the tunnels it has constructed under London.
The project to build a 73-mile railway line from Maidenhead to Shenfield and Abbey Wood involves 14,000 workers and many safety features ― including the protection of the third-century saint.
One of the priests who took part in the ceremony was Fr Alexander Sherbrooke from St Patrick’s, Soho Square, according to the Independent Catholic News website, Indcatholicnews.com. Several hundred contractors and senior management attended the St Barbara’s Day ceremony at the Thames Tunnel.
Known in the Eastern Orthodox Church as the Great Martyr, and one of the 14 Holy Helpers, Barbara was an early Christian saint who died for the faith. Accounts place her in the third century in Nicomedia.
Agency: poor are left behind THE HEAD of Caritas Social Action Network, the social action arm of the bishops’ conference, has said Britain’s economic recovery is leaving the poor behind.
Helen O’Brien, chief executive, said: “While we are seeing some economic growth, we are also witnessing soaring levels of poverty and hunger.” She said Catholic charities had experienced a rising demand for services.
Police interview Rochdale priest POLICE in Manchester have questioned an 82-year-old priest over allegations that he sexually abused three women when they were primary school pupils between 1980 and 2000.
Canon Mortimer Stanley, 82, was interviewed under police caution over allegations of abuse at St Vincent’s primary school in Norden, Rochdale. Police have asked women who may have information to come forward.
CARJ honours Nelson Mandela THE CATHOLIC Association for Racial Justice has honoured Nelson Mandela and Haynes Baptiste, who has been made a member of the Order of the Knights of St Gregory.
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