My dear people of St. Mary’s:
Blessed John Henry Newman founded the Catholic University of Ireland in 1854 as an alternative for Roman Catholic students who were not welcome at schools such as Oxford and Cambridge. Today, it is known as University College Dublin, and its own Catholic roots are virtually absent from its website. Recently, the elected president of the school’s Student Union made international news when she was impeached by the student body for being pro-life. Specifically, what Katie Ascough did was to remove from a student magazine information on how to obtain an abortion. Abortion is currently illegal in Ireland, though the country has scheduled a referendum in 2018 to change that. However, Ireland’s laws regarding distributing unsolicited abortion information are strict. Katie received legal advice (from a pro-abortion attorney) that publishing the material might violate Irish law, so she had it removed from the publication. Last week, after a storm of angry protests and sensational news coverage, seventy percent of students voted to remove her from the office they had elected her to in March. “It was clear from the outset that some students didn’t want to give me a chance as SU president because of my views on abortion,” Ascough said. It seems that at the college founded by Newman as a haven for Catholics, one is no longer permitted to hold both Catholic beliefs and student office.
Felix Ngole attended Sheffield University in England and was pursuing a Master’s Degree in Social Work until he was expelled in 2015. The reason? He posted, on his personal Facebook account, his religious views on traditional marriage. The married 39-year-old, originally from Cameroon, then sought legal help from the Christian Legal Centre in Britain to have Sheffield University’s decision overturned. Last week, High Court JudgeCollins Riceagainst Mr. Ngole, saying that the university was acting lawfully when it expelled him, stating: “Public religious speech has to be looked at in a regulated context from the perspective of a public readership.” Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “Rulings like this show that society is becoming increasingly intolerant of Christian moral values. Christians are being told to shut up and keep quiet about their moral views or face a bar from employment.”
St. Louis Marie de Monfort came from Brittany in France. Last week, the Conseil d’Etat, France’s highest administrative court, ordered the removal of a cross from a monument to Saint John Paul II in a public square in Brittany, ruling that it violates a 1905 law to preserve the secular nature of the state. A lower court originally ruled the entire monument had to come down, but the court modified that opinion to just the removal of the cross. However, Georgian-born Russian artist Zurab Tsereteli, who donated the monument to Mayor Paul Anselinthe city of Ploërmel in 2006, has said he will not permit his work to be modified. According to the ruling, the city now has six months to eliminate the cross, and must pay €3,000 to the “National Federation of Free Thought”, which has been leading the legal battle to have the statue removed since 2015.
The Prime Minister of Poland, Beata Szydło, weighed in on the ruling, saying “The Polish government will try to save the monument of our compatriot from censorship, and we will propose to transfer it to Poland, if French authorities and the local community agree,” she said, adding that Pope John Paul “is a symbol of united Christian Europe.” The Prime Minister warned: “The dictates of political correctness” and“secularisation of the state” were promoting“values which are alien to our culture, which leads to terrorizing Europeans in their everyday life”. Poland may have some competition in the matter, however. An elementary school in former communist Hungary has also stepped forward to request the cross if the French remove it.
Some 230 miles away from Ploërmel is the town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, in Normandy. It was in the parish church in that town where, on July 26, 2016, Fr. Jacques Hamel was martyred by two Muslim terrorists, who slit the throat of the 85-year-old priest as he was celebrating Mass. His dying words, when confronted by his killers were “Satan, go!” His cause for canonization had been opened by Pope Francis in Rome.