‘Pope Francis called for discussion on family life, and we are getting discussion, but we have not been used to grown-up discussion in the Catholic Church. Instead, we have been excellent at mutual excommunication, and caricature.’ above, Pope Francis waves to members of the media as he leaves a morning session of  the synod on family issues, at the Vatican. Photograph: AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino

Opinion: Priest helped unmarried parents to gradually build foundation for family

‘The report points out astonishing anomalies in the way that children’s cases are treated. Take the issue of care orders, where children are taken into the care of the State, usually into foster care, for their own safety.’ Photograph: Getty Images

Opinion: ‘Early intervention and support could prevent a great deal of grief later on’

  ‘Pope Francis’s decision to go to Lampedusa early in his ministry reflected that concern, and few institutions understand better the push/pull factors that underpin forced migration, particularly in the developing world.’ Above, Pope Francis  recently  met  some migrants who survived the boat sinking on  October 3rd, 2013 off the island of Lampedusa.  Photograph: L’Osservatore Romano

Opinion: Complex pastoral challenges raised by cultural norms and demographic shifts

‘It is probably wise that the revised scheme of Bill issued this week declines to deal with surrogacy, given that there is a current Supreme Court case.’ Photograph: Getty Images

Opinion: Unmarried fathers are still not automatically entitled to guardianship rights

A woman touches an icon of the Virgin Mary during a pilgrimage to    Lourdes .... “inside the Domain, there is a intensely spiritual atmosphere, even when you are not taking part in a procession”. , southwestern France, on August 24,   (Photo: Remy Gabalda/AFP/Getty Images)

‘People rarely talk about how so many charities would fall apart without the fundraising done by students ’

Monica O’Connor  being taken by gardaí from her home  to prison. Photograph: Dylan Vaughan

Opinion: Would better communication and a change of culture have helped both the Kings and Monica O’Connor?

‘In the early 2000s, senior social care managers and police continued to believe that the scale of the problem was exaggerated.’ Above, a protest outside Rotherham police station following the publication of the child exploitation  report. Photograph:  Lynne Cameron/PA

Opinion: It is naive to believe the Irish Child and Family Agency can overcome all the flaws of the previous regime in a short ti(...)

‘Being stigmatised for being pregnant outside of marriage was a common phenomenon until recent decades in Ireland. We routinely condemn those times.’  Photograph: Getty Images

Opinion: ‘There are two very vulnerable people in this nightmare who have been let down by our selective indignation’

‘The young women’s father spoke eloquently to me about how difficult it is to demand high standards of work and commitment, all the while knowing that under current circumstances, it is impossible for them to go to third level.’ Photograph: Getty Images

Opinion: Their parents are not permitted to work, and neither are they

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