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Apr 13 2014


I heard a discussion of a new movie, Calvary, on BBC Radio 4′s Saturday Review yesterday; it sounds pretty damn interesting. The Irish Times has a review. The predictably flawless Brendan Gleeson plays Father James Lavelle, a decent priest serving the needs of an absurdly colourful Sligo community, whose world is upended by an unexpected encounter in …

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Nov 04 2013

Loosen the screws, the better to tighten them

Hmm, it’s good to get rid of a blasphemy law, but it’s not good to replace it with “a new general provision to include incitement to religious hatred” – meaning, apparently, to include something that forbids so-called incitement to religious hatred. Unfortunately that’s just what Ireland’s constitutional convention has recommended, according to the Irish Times. …

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Sep 11 2013

Vaccines undermine “divine providence”

At the end of August, epidemiologists in Texas traced a measles outbreak to people who attended a particular megachurch, the pastor of which has preached against vaccinations. The pastor has apparently repented that stupid move. Fortunately, that outbreak was able to be pretty well-contained — after the disease sickened about 21 people, Texas issued a public health …

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Jul 17 2013

If you can’t leave, that’s prison

The Taoiseach has told the religious orders to have a serious think about their refusal to pay any compensation to the women who did slave labor in the Magdalen laundries for decades. This was a for-profit business the orders were running, and the women got literally no payment at all. That’s slavery, and a pretty …

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Jul 12 2013

The culture that has absorbed the poisonous misogyny of the Catholic Church

Well Vincent Browne is blunt. Tonight the (almost) all-male parliament will vote to imprison a woman, for up to 14 years, who refuses to give her body to the sustenance of another human being, irrespective of almost all circumstances. It is irrespective of whether the pregnancy would do serious and irreversible harm to her health …

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Jul 12 2013

There was suffering somewhere

In Ireland, chapter 20 of the Murphy Report has just been published. Three former Archbishops of Dublin have been criticised in trenchant terms in a previously unpublished section of a report on the handling of child abuse cases in Dublin. Archbishops Dermot Ryan, Kevin McNamara and Cardinal Desmond Connell are named in Chapter 20 of …

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Jul 11 2013

Bishops in charge

Ivana Bacik thinks that bishops shouldn’t be telling legislators what to do. A call by Labour Senator Ivana Bacik for a Seanad debate on the separation of church and State led to sharp exchanges. Ms Bacik said she looked forward to the debate on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, adding that she welcomed …

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Jun 25 2013

More dubious still

David Robert Grimes takes a beady-eyed look at the way theocrats distort scientific research to support their opposition to things. The abortion debate provides numerous examples of such contrivances. In this paper recently, Breda O’Brien  brandished a study by Ferguson et al (2013) and claimed abortion damages women. However, her championing of this study is …

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Jun 15 2013

Not offering all management options to the patient

A report on the death of Savita Halappanavar was published on Thursday. The report, described by Minister for Health James Reilly as a “hard-hitting report which spares nobody and doesn’t pull any punches”, identifies three main factors which led to Ms Halappanavar’s death. They include: – A failure to adhere to clinical guidelines for prompt …

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May 27 2013

The source and certainty

Desmond Clarke, an emeritus professor of philosophy at University College Cork, explains why religious moral certainty is out of place in discussions of abortion law. In particular, he says that those who are absolutely certain about their ethical views – which are evidently not shared by many others – should reflect on the source and …

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