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Friday, October 28, 2016
Statements from Irish Bishops' June meeting (ii): Human Trafficking; Rural Planning; Cobh Cathedral; Vocations
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¬†Continuing from the last e-mail: Following the completion on Wednesday evening of the June General Meeting of the Irish Episcopal Conference in Maynooth, statements were also released on these subjects: Human Trafficking The grave issue of human trafficking is a matter that concerns us as Bishops. The recruitment, transfer and sale of vulnerable people ≠ women, children and men ≠ is a gross violation of human rights. Trapped through various forms of coercion or deception, trafficked persons are kept restrained by their captors, frequently under appalling conditions. They are powerless to escape. In this "trade", human life is reduced to a commodity. Exact numbers are impossible to estimate as this problem is kept hidden. However, reports indicate that this ranks third among organized transnational crime, after drugs and firearms.[1] Conservative estimates suggest that 2.4 million people are trafficked across international borders each year.[2] Recent reporting confirms that we should be concerned about the numbers of people who are trafficked to Ireland.[3] We would hope that all concerned people in this country will assist in finding a means to eradicate this immoral and criminal behaviour. We all have a serious Christian obligation to care for those who have become trapped in this way. Already, members of religious and missionary societies have set up a Working Group with the objective of raising awareness about this issue and challenging the Government to introduce appropriate legislation and provide essential services to trafficked persons.[4] We would not wish to see our country fall short of our moral and political responsibilities regarding this issue. We call on the Government to ratify, implement and incorporate into Irish domestic law the following: *The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (UN Convention 2002, Palermo); *The Council of Europe's Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings (2005); *The EU directives relating to Trafficking ≠ following on Treaty of Amsterdam (1997). It is a matter of urgency that legislation be put in place which regards the trafficked person as the innocent party, and which strengthens criminal proceedings against traffickers. It is important that Ireland co-operates fully in international efforts to address this modern form of slavery. [1] Athens Round Table of Business Community Against Human Trafficking, Report January 23, 2006, p5. [2] Ibid. [3] E.g. Ruhama Biennial Report 2003-2004; Prime Time Investigates, May 8, 2006 [4] Submission by the CORI-IMU Ad Hoc Working Group Against Human Trafficking to the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights, May 25, 2006. Rural planning policy in Northern Ireland The Northern Bishops discussed the subject of rural planning policy in Northern Ireland. The Bishops said that a balance should be struck between creating sustainable, rural communities and protecting the environment and heritage of the countryside for the benefit of all in our society. Thus the British Government's policy on building new homes in the countryside must include a commitment to the sustainable development of social, economic, community and family life in rural areas in the North. It is an approach which can best be based on transparency in policy-making, consultation in decision-making and fairness in application. Rural communities face increasing challenges. Opportunities in higher education and employment inevitably attract young people to urban areas. There are few factors encouraging their return. Thus the social cohesion of some rural communities faces increasing strain. In addition, agricultural policies, agreed by the European Union, indicate that existing economic practices in rural communities will face massive transformation within the next decade. The expected changes in farming will impact on all aspects of rural life. Thus the British Government's policy on physical planning in the countryside must be framed in the context of an overall development strategy for rural communities, so that the fabric of social and family life can be maintained. The Church does not have a policy on residential planning ≠ that is for a government to formulate. But what the Church does have is a social teaching about the goods of this earth and their use for the common good. The Church's Compendium of Social Doctrine teaches that the planning capacity of a society orientated towards the common good is measured above all on the basis of employment prospects that it is able to offer. Thus the countryside cannot become merely a desirable residential area for those who can afford to live in it. It must be home to vibrant communities, built on economic activity and social cohesion. Economic activity must be based on social responsibility so that the economy can truly be at the service of humankind. A very important and significant example in this regard is found in the activity of co-operative enterprises and small and medium-sized businesses. The Church also has commitment to the development and preservation of family life as the foundation of rural communities. Our strongest rural communities are built on the principles of Christian teaching in the practice of daily life as often exemplified in rural parishes. They have a sense of identity in our wider society and a sense of place in a culture of increasing globalisation. The protection and growth of such communities must form an integral part of the process of government policy formulation. The Church teaches that because the countryside represents a scarce resource in our society, it must therefore be used for the common good. The scarcity of resources in nature requires each society to come up with a plan for their utilisation in the most rational way possible, following the logic dictated by the 'principle of economising'. Public expenditure must be applied with a view to efficiency in provision of services such as electricity, water, sewage, transport and telecommunications. These strategies also require the protection of the environment for the benefit of society now and in the future. Unchecked new building in rural areas will not necessarily guarantee that efficient use of resources and thus there is a need for government policy on residential planning. But that policy must reflect all aspects of the needs of rural society It must represent an integral part of the continuum of good government across many facets of public administration and, above all, it must foster the growth and development of traditional rural activities and values. At all times it must be respectful of the unique countryside environment which has been given to us by God. The Church teaches that an economy respectful of the environment will not have the maximisation of profit as its only objective, because environmental protection cannot be assured solely on the basis of financial calculations of costs and benefit. Most rural communities have as their centre a village or some similar settlement which must be respected as the focal point for the sustainable development of the rural way of life. It would therefore be of immense value if government were to provide positive leadership in the planning and development of villages in such a way that they can provide the social and economic facilities essential for the growth of rural communities. It is a concern if government intends to ban any extension of living in the countryside as a one-dimensional policy. The Bishops appreciate that regulation is needed to allow for good planning of rural housing for the common good. However, the decision to effectively ban future rural housing is of concern to all if it is merely an attempt to force rural dwellers off the land and into urban communities. The decision of An Bord PleanŠla regarding St Colman's Cathedral, Cobh The Bishops' Conference has noted with grave disappointment and concern the decision of An Bord PleanŠla to refuse planning permission for the liturgical reordering of the Sanctuary of St Colman's Cathedral, Cobh. The direction and order of the Board to refuse planning permission is being studied. The extensive report of the Board's Inspector, who conducted the oral hearing (28 February, 1-2 March 2006), and who recommended approval for planning, is also being studied. Council for Research & Development Vocations survey for 2005 The Bishops' Council for Research & Development published its annual vocations survey for 2005 which is available on A summary follows: The survey involved 179 questionnaires and these were sent to 26 diocesan offices, 39 provincial houses of clerical religious orders as well as 114 houses of sisters' and brothers' orders. 19 priests were ordained in 2005, an increase of four on 2004. 14 nuns and brothers were finally professed* in 2005, an increase of six on the previous year. The total number of ordained and finally professed personnel in 2005 is 16,322, a drop of 2.6% on the 2004 figure of 16,770. In 2005, the largest increase in ordinations and professions is recorded amongst clerical religious orders. The total number of departures for 2005 was 43, down from the previous year's figure of 47. In 2005, there was a net loss (i.e. departures and death) of 35 diocesan priests. This is the lowest net loss since 1997. In 2005, there were 90 applicants to orders and dioceses. 56 of these, or 62%, were accepted as entrants. This is highest percentage of entrants to applicants in the last 10 years. 1n 1995, seminarians accounted for 59% of all departures but they accounted for only 33% in 2005. There are 2,439, or 78% of all diocesan priests, in parish ministry. The profile of diocesan priesthood is getting older. 43% are aged between 50 and 69 years and there are steady increases in the numbers of those aged 80 and over. Amongst those studying for the diocesan priesthood, almost two thirds are studying to degree level. There were 3,036 priests and brothers in clerical religious orders in 2005. Of these, 60% of these are based in Ireland and the balance live and work abroad. In 2005 there were 15 ordinations and final professions amongst the clerical religious orders. There were 9,248 finally professed sisters in 2005, 86% of whom are based in Ireland. 65% of applicants to sisters' orders were accepted in 2005. There were 700 brothers in 2005, 82% of whom are based in Ireland. The declining numbers amongst brothers' orders is primarily due to the low number of entrants and final professions as well as an ageing profile. * Finally professed refers to men or women who are definitively incorporated into a religious community. Of the men who are finally professed, some are subsequently ordained priests and some are not. Source: Irish Catholic Media Office
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