25 July 2019, The Tablet

News briefing: From Britain and Ireland

News briefing: From Britain and Ireland

Tafida Raqeeb's mother, Shelina Begum

The Government has backed the findings of an independent review into the plight of persecuted Christians, with MPs voting unanimously on Thursday last week to adopt its recommendations on protecting freedom of religion.

The review’s final report, which was released earlier this month, recommended that the Government consider imposing sanctions on countries that persecuted people because of their beliefs.

Former Foreign Minister Sir Alan Duncan (pictured), who resigned on Monday ahead of the result of the Conservative leadership race, told the House of Commons last week that “the Government has decided to accept every recommendation in full” and pledged to “put freedom of religion or belief at the heart of Foreign Office culture”.

Bishop Philip Mounstephen, who chaired the Independent Review into Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Support for Persecuted Christians, said: “Accepting the recommendations in full is a measure of how seriously the Government is taking this issue and, I hope, a recognition at the highest level that freedom of religion or belief is a fundamental human right.”

Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh has spoken of his shock after a car was driven at speed at a crowd gathered in St Patrick’s Cemetery in Dundalk, Co Louth, last Sunday during the blessing of the graves.

An elderly man was injured after being struck by the car, which had been parked in the graveyard. Irish police arrested the male driver.

Archbishop Martin told The Tablet that the parish priest, Fr O’Hagan, said the episode was “traumatic and frightening”. He said his prayers were with the injured man and he hoped he would recover soon, adding: “It is an opportunity for all of us just to think about how fragile our lives are. We have to look after each other and take care of each other at all times.”

Search for favourite prayer

Bishop Denis Nulty of Kildare and Leighlin has launched a search for Ireland’s best-loved prayer. The “Prayer at the Ploughing” initiative is linked with the nation’s annual ploughing competition in September, an event which attracts more than 250,000 people over three days.

Ahead of the National Ploughing Championships at Ballintrane in Co Carlow on 17-19 September, Bishop Nulty has asked people to choose their favourite prayer, such as the Rosary, or the Lord’s Prayer, and submit it to prayerattheploughing @kandle.ie by 10 September.

A shortlist of the most popular prayers will be displayed at the Kildare and Leighlin stand at the Ploughing Championships.

The lead bishop for life issues in England and Wales, Bishop John Sherrington, has called for international co-operation in the case of Tafida Raqeeb, a comatose five-year-old whom London doctors said should be allowed to die after she suffered a brain arteriovenous malformation (AVM).

While doctors at the Royal London Hospital, where Tafida is being treated, say there is no chance she will recover, two doctors who examined Tafida by video link from the Gaslini Children’s Hospital in Genoa have said they would be willing to care for her in Italy. Her mother, Shelina Begum (pictured below) and her family believe she can recover if she is given more time.

In a statement on 18 July, Bishop Sherrington cautioned: “Those of us not in possession of all the relevant information might best be reserved in our judgement.”

He hoped that doctors from the Gaslini Children’s Hospital in Genoa will be given time and an opportunity “to come to a well informed view” and to share their prognosis with doctors in London. “Such international co-operation is essential good practice in the care of tragically difficult lives,” he said.

Ordinariate anniversary

Cardinal Vincent Nichols is due to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Anglicanorum Coetibus, the Apostolic Constitution that established the Anglican Ordinariate, by preaching at a Mass at the Ordinariate-run church of the Precious Blood in Borough, south-east London, on Saturday 9 November.

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