Welcome to this week’s Wednesday Wrap, where we provide you with some interesting and inspirational stories which you might have missed.
Cairns “Baby Welcome” Festival cancels stall for stillborn babies
It was reported that a group called Angel Babies Up North in FNQ booked a stall at this weekend’s Baby Welcome and Family Expo in Cairns, only to have their registration cancelled because it did not fit the “theme” of the event. Angel Babies is a group of volunteers who turn old wedding dresses into garments for stillborn babies, and then donate the garments to hospitals so that, when a parent who has suffered the loss of a child before birth is given their baby to hold, the baby is dressed in a beautiful garment rather than wrapped in standard hospital gauze (which has been the case.)
The group usually holds stalls at wedding and baby expos so that people know of the service they provide.
The organisers of the expo are obviously free to make this decision based on their audience, that’s fine. But I hope the media coverage this cancellation is receiving brings attention (and additional donations and volunteers) to this group, whose mission, it seems, is to affirm the preciousness and the dignity of each and every person, even the ones who don’t get to live outside the womb. What a beautiful act of mercy!
McDonald’s employee celebrates 30 years on the job
Northmead McDonald’s longest-serving employee is a man named Russell O’Grady. This month, Mr O’Grady is celebrating 30 years in the job he began at 18. In present times, any person committing to a job for a period of three decades might very well be newsworthy, but Mr O’Grady’s case made the news because he has Down Syndrome.
Mr O’Grady’s father told media that if his son is asked whether he has a disability, he responds: “I used to when I was in high school, but now I work at McDonald’s.”
It is a reminder the difference we can make in a person’s life by providing them with the opportunities to do something “normal” like have a regular job. Congratulations to Mr O’Grady (and McDonald’s for their commitment to true equality and diversity). Ad multos annos.
Toowoomba mayor aims high, calling for a “porn free” city
It was reported recently that Toowoomba mayor Paul Antonio has begun an initiative to make Toowoomba the “city free from porn.” The initiative was launched at a gathering of 200 people in a local park, where those attending heard stories of the effects of pornography on the people involved, and on families and other relationships. Recognising that young teenage boys were the fastest growing group of pornography users, and the terrible effect that exposure to increasingly violent pornography had on relationships, it was agreed that something needed to be done.
Those in attendance read out this pledge:
I acknowledge that viewing pornography promotes exploitation of women and violence against women, and it damages families. I commit that I won’t view porn and I will help create a city free from porn.
It is a high ideal, to be sure, but the best ideals always are. If we set the bar low, we often don’t respect it. It is a wonderful initiative; I hope Toowoomba is successful and I hope many other local areas take their lead.
Northern Ireland court seeks to define conscience for Christian bakers
This week, the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland rejected an appeal by the owners of Ashers Bakery against a claim of discrimination against them. In 2014, an LGBTI activist ordered a cake featuring the slogan: “Support Gay Marriage.” The owners declined the order, saying it was against their beliefs.
The court rejected the appeal, and the ruling that the bakers had discriminated on the grounds of sexual orientation was upheld.
The case is both similar and different to the other “Christian baker” stories we have been hearing. It is similar in that the basic facts are the same: the bakers declined to take the order on the grounds of their beliefs about marriage. But it is different in a handful of ways.
Firstly, the cake was not for a wedding, but rather making a political statement. The court ruled that the only way a baker (or a printer) could avoid being caught by anti-discrimination provisions would be to not bake and cake (or print any brochure) which contained a political message. Once you opened up for business including political messages, you would be required to provide services to produce messages with which you disagreed.
Secondly, the court ruled that baking of the cake did not indicate support for the relevant cause. Essentially, the court was seeking to make a determination about the individual conscience. To my knowledge, this is a new and frightening development.
Dutch government considers euthanasia for those who have “completed life”
It was reported recently that the health and justice ministers within the Dutch government are proposing the legalisation of assisted suicide for those who “have a well-considered opinion that their life is complete.” To be clear, this means that a person who is not suffering from any type of illness but who considers that their life should end would be able to access the necessary drugs to die.
I wonder how those euthanasia advocates in Australia who consistently tell us that there is no such thing as a “slippery slope” when it comes to legalised killing will explain this one.
Monica Doumit, catholicTalk contributor