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Ireland Investigates Death of 800 Babies at Home for Unwed Mothers

(WNS)–Ireland’s government launched an investigation in early June into the high mortality rates and mistreatment of babies who died decades ago in homes for unmarried mothers, plunging the country into a painful examination of the past.  The investigation followed the revelation that hundreds of children died at a former “mother and baby” home run by the Congregation of the Bon Secours Sisters in western Ireland. Historian Catherine Corless found records showing that 796 children, mostly infants, died in the home in Tuam, which operated from 1925 until 1961. Corless said the child death records suggest that a former septic tank filled with bones is the final resting place for most, if not all, the children. The inquiry follows four other fact-finding investigations in Ireland, including examinations of the cover-up of child abuse inside industrial schools and by priests in Dublin, Cork, and the southeast county of Wexford.


Groups Mobilize to Save Ukranian Orphans


(WNS)–The day before Ukraine’s presidential election on May 25, dozens of orphans and foster families arrived in Kiev, eager to find out where their temporary residences would be. Evacuated from the eastern town of Mariupol near the Russian border, they were the latest group to arrive as part of a growing effort to remove at-risk orphans from a region that has attempted to declare independence from Ukraine.  Ukrainians hope the election of a new president, billionaire candy tycoon Petro Poroshenko, will usher in a new era of stability and end the separatist takeover of Donetsk and Luhansk, two crucial regions in the east. So far, Moscow has not given orders to annex the regions as it did with Crimea in March. But should the standoff between Russian separatists and Ukraine’s military continue in the east, NGOs and local churches are armed with a plan to protect orphans from a Russian system that has shunned American adoptions.


Catholic Church Wins Hiring Case at European Rights Court


(WNS)–The European Court for Human Rights ruled June 12that the Roman Catholic Church can base its hiring and firing decisions on its beliefs and conduct policies. The split, 9-8 decision upheld the Church’s 1997 decision not to renew the contract of Fernández Martínez, a former priest, after he opposed the doctrine of priestly celibacy. Martínez, a high school religion teacher in Spain, took the case from a local Spanish employment tribunal all the way to Europe’s highest rights court. All rejected his claim that the Church violated his rights. The human rights court majority ruled that the religion teacher was “voluntarily” part of a group that, “for reasons of credibility,” had “a duty of loyalty towards the Catholic Church.” By voluntarily entering into the contract, he was “limiting his right to respect for his private life.” Martínez’s teaching position was also “very close” to the “Church’s proclamatory mission.” Therefore, the Church had a right to not renew his contract if he publicly opposed its doctrines.


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