CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 8 December 2018

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English and Welsh bishops concerned over gender ideology
MANCHESTER (CNS): The bishops of England and Wales have raised concerns over the rise of gender ideology, saying it is creating confusion among people about the truth of human nature.
 
“The idea that the individual is free to define himself or herself dominates discourse about gender. Yet our human instinct is otherwise,” they said in a statement issued at the end of their April 16 to 19 bi-annual plenary meeting in Leeds.
 
The bishops acknowledged some people did not “accept their biological sex” but said they, as pastors, were “committed to their pastoral care.”
 
“We know that there is so much about our lives that is foundational,” they said. “Today we are faced with an ideology of gender.”
 
The bishops statement continued: “We are deeply concerned that this ideology of gender is creating confusion.
 
The bishops assured transsexuals that they wished “to understand their experience more deeply and ... to accompany them with compassion, emphasising that they are loved by God and valued in their inherent God-given dignity.”
 
The bishops stressed, “There is a place of welcome for everyone in the Catholic Church.” 
 
They continued, “We hope for a renewed appreciation of the fundamental importance of sexual difference in our culture and the accompaniment of those who experience conflict in their sense of self and God-given identity,” adding, “We all have a duty to protect the most vulnerable.”
 
At present, the British and Scottish governments are considering reforms to the law to allow gender reassignment by self-declaration—including for children. 
 
Mexican priest stabbed to death
MEXICO CITY (CNS): Father Ruben Alcantara Diaz was stabbed to death in his parish on April 18, in the latest attack on clergy in the heavily Catholic country.
 
The priest was attack just prior to the 7.00pm Mass at Our Lady of Carmen Parish in Cuautitlan Izcalli, the Diocese of Izcalli said in a short statement.
 
Father Diaz, who was also the diocesan judicial vicar, was accosted by the assailant and was involved in a discussion prior to the attack, according to Mexican media.
 
The assailant alleged abuse in his shouts and fled the scene, the newspaper, Reforma, reported. His whereabouts remain unknown.
 
Attacks on clergy have become common in Mexico where the homicide rate reached historically high levels in 2017 and the violence consuming large swaths of the country has not spared the Catholic Church.
 
The Catholic Multimedia Centre has counted 22 priests killed in Mexico since December 2012, when the six-year administration of the president, Enrique Peña Nieto, began.
 
Sri Lanka mulls criminalising hate speech and fake news
Colombo (UCAN): The Sri Lankan government is considering criminalising hate speech and fake news on social media after communal violence erupted last month in Kandy (Sunday Examiner, March 18).
 
A week-long ban on social media was imposed after the anti-Muslim riots broke out in this popular tourist area.
 
A committee has been appointed to investigate the issue while the Attorney-General’s Department is working on adding some restrictions into the legal code, according to Harin Fernando, the minister of telecommunication and digital infrastructure.
 
Jagath Liyanarachchi, an attorney, said hate speech on traditional and social media must be stopped if peace is to be restored.
 
“The government should control not only hate speech but also communal violence that is being encouraged and spread on various media platforms,” he said.
 
“Existing laws are more than adequate to curb this, for example the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Act and the Sri Lanka Penal Code, but they have not been properly implemented,” he added.
 
“However it needs to be handled carefully and in such a way that it doesn’t infringe on people’s freedom of expression. We need a proper system of checks and balances when new laws are put forward.”
 
Liyanarachchi noted that the government “tried to criminalise hate speech in 2015 by incorporating that into the penal code but civil society organisations opposed the move.”
 
He said if the government enacts laws to curb hate speech with the agenda of limiting people’s freedom to express themselves on a broader range of topics, it would threaten the basic tenets of democracy.
 
Nalaka Gunawardena, a new media researcher, said people were concerned the law could leave too much room for abuse by politicians.

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