BELFAST, Northern Ireland - For years, the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, refused to heed repeated calls for him to step down over alleged cover-ups of sexual abuse of children by clergy.

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Updated 06/09/14

LONDON - The Roman Catholic archbishop of Dublin, regarded as among the most influential church leaders in England and Ireland, has added his voice to those calling for an urgent inquiry into the discovery of nearly 800 babies and children buried in a septic tank at Tuam, a home for unwed mothers in western Ireland.

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DUBLIN - The Irish government established a working group to address details emerging about Catholic-run, state-funded mother-and-baby homes and the burial of deceased children.

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DUBLIN - Pro-life campaigners in Ireland vowed to work for the repeal of a controversial abortion law introduced in 2013.

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DUBLIN - The independent watchdog that monitors child safeguarding procedures in the Irish Church pledged to follow the example of Pope Francis and "disturb the peace."

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DUBLIN - The Irish cannot afford to be complacent about violence, even though they have lived with a peace agreement for 15 years, said Ireland's most senior Catholic leader.

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DUBLIN - The head of the Redemptorist fathers in Rome said he deeply regrets the actions of an Irish member of the order who accused the Vatican of subjecting him to "frightening procedures reminiscent of the Inquisition."

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DUBLIN - In the wake of the largest pro-life demonstration ever to have taken place in Ireland, cracks have begun to emerge in the coalition government over its plans to legislate for abortion.

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VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI named Msgr. Eamon Martin as coadjutor archbishop of Armagh, Northern Ireland, making him the designated successor to Cardinal Sean Brady as the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland.

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DUBLIN - The Irish government has announced plans to legalize abortion in limited circumstances, but Minister for Health James Reilly insisted his plans will take "full account of the equal right to life of the unborn child."

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DUBLIN (CNS) -- An Irish bishop and pro-life activists insisted that any legislation to provide abortion in limited situations would inevitably lead to widespread abortion.

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DUBLIN - Expressing anguish and sorrow over the death of a pregnant woman in an Irish hospital, the country's Catholic bishops said that pregnant women must receive all treatment to save their lives, even if it results in the unintended death of an unborn child.

The statement Nov. 19 came three weeks after the deaths of Savita Halappanavar, 31, who died after a miscarriage, and her unborn child. Halappanavar died after hospital medical staff determined they could not end the child's life because they could detect a fetal heart beat, even as the woman's husband, Praveen, urged them to save his wife's life.

Halappanaver's death Oct. 28 at University Hospital Galway has led to an outpouring of public anger. Thousands of people have taken to the streets calling for the country's constitutional ban on abortion to be overturned.

In its statement, the Standing Committee of the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference described the case as "a devastating personal tragedy" for the Halappanavar family and acknowledged that the circumstances of her death had "stunned our country."

The bishops' statement sought to clarify Church teaching on the need for medical intervention to save the life of a mother. The bishops said they believe Ireland's medical guidelines contain adequate ethical provisions to allow medical staff to intervene as long as necessary steps have been taken to save both mother and unborn child.

The bishops insisted that the Catholic Church has never taught that the life of a child in the womb should be preferred to that of a mother.

"Whereas abortion is the direct and intentional destruction of an unborn baby and is gravely immoral in all circumstances, this is different from medical treatments which do not directly and intentionally seek to end the life of the unborn baby," the bishops said in their statement.

The bishops also reiterated a statement made by Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin to Catholic News Service Nov. 18 that Ireland is a safe place for expectant mothers. Pointing to international health care data, the bishops said "Ireland, without abortion, remains one of the safest countries in the world in which to be pregnant and to give birth. This is a position that should continue to be cherished and strengthened in the interests of mothers and unborn children in Ireland."

The maternal mortality rate in Ireland stands at 4.1 per 100,000 births and is among the lowest in Europe.
Martin told CNS he believed doctors, nurses and midwives "set out always to save lives."

"The fact that our maternal mortality is so low is a sign that there is something that is working well in the system," he said.

Meanwhile, pro-life campaigners have expressed concern at the appointment of Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, head of obstetrics and gynecology at St. George's, University of London, as chairman of a Health Service Executive inquiry into Halappanavar's death. They cited a 2009 statement in which he argued that abortion should be a legal right for women.

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DUBLIN, IRELAND - A sabbatical involves taking time out from a busy routine in order to lay fallow the “land” of one’s being. It is a time, a favourable time, to turn towards God, to deepen prayer and to move towards a more contemplative stance, to put to rest all that is out of kilter in one’s life. It offers the opportunity to take stock of life and to deal with what is involved in a transition in community, ministry or parish.

All Hallows College is a Catholic and Vincentian higher education institution in Dublin, with links to colleges and universities in Europe and the United States, including De Paul, the largest Catholic university in the United States. The college prides itself on being a compact, friendly and hospitable campus. Set in six hectares of wooded parkland provides residents and guests with an opportunity for a pleasant stroll and quiet reflection.

DUBLIN - One of the key architects of the Northern Ireland peace process has been honored by Pope Benedict XVI for his commitment to peace and reconciliation in the region.

John Hume, a founder-member of the mainly Catholic Social Democratic and Labor Party, was credited with initiating the political dialogue that brought about the 1994 cease-fire by the Irish Republican Army. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998.

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I was a little embarrassed watching the coverage of the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) in Dublin. Not because of anything that went on in Ireland, but rather because of my original attitude toward the congress being held there at all. Yet watching the pilgrims from around the world gathering in Dublin, I saw that their gestures of sympathy and solidarity were better than an attitude of ostracism and punishment.

When it was announced in 2008 at Quebec City that the 2012 IEC would be in Dublin, I was rather dismayed. I understood that sometimes a local Church in distress can be buoyed by such an international event — after all, that was the logic of having the IEC in Quebec City to begin with, to administer an emergency transfusion to the anemic local Church. Yet Dublin struck me as a step too far. After all, it would be hard to find any place where spectacular incompetence had brought the Church into greater crisis than in Ireland. And Irish society as a whole, led by its government, was hardly better.

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