‘Brittany Maynard, found meaning in actively promoting the “right to die”.’ Photograph: Maynard Family, File

Brittany Maynard, who had a terminal form of brain cancer, has received enormous support for her decision to die at a time of her own choice, surround(...)

 ‘The Sophia housing project is an excellent intensive residential intervention, but sometimes, much more low-key and local initiatives can prevent people ever reaching an extreme stage such as homelessness or facing a care order.’ above, children playing at the Sophia housing project. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Prevention is not only better than cure, but also cheaper, particularly where a cure may become progressively more difficult or even impossible. Two s(...)

‘I believe Gerry Adams  when he says that he prioritised the peace process so that no young person would have to kill or maim in the name of freedom. However, it is still utterly chilling that he seems to believe that violence was perfectly understandable in the absence of such a process.’ Photograph: Cyril Byrne

“ Wouldn’t every leader of a political party love to be as bulletproof as Gerry Adams?” my friend mused a week ago. It was only when he saw my eyebrow(...)

‘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

Anyone trying to understand the interim discussion document which emerged from the Synod on the Family this week could do worse than read a blog post (...)

‘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

Sometimes, the news is good. In Dr Carol Coulter’s latest report from the Child Care Law Reporting Project, the case of a very bright and very angry l(...)

  ‘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

Perhaps unsurprisingly, much of the coverage of the forthcoming synod on the family has focused on whether it will become easier for the divorced and (...)

‘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

The Children and Family Relationships Bill is a highly complex piece of legislation. It covers everything from education programmes designed to encour(...)

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)

Until last week, I had never been to Lourdes, which is an admission, I suppose, on a par with Fintan O’Toole letting it be known that he had only rece(...)

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

Last Wednesday, five-year-old Ashya King was reunited with his parents at a hospital in Malaga. God knows what the days without them must have been li(...)

‘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

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council: Where everybody matters. You couldn’t make it up, but that is the slogan on the download page for Prof Alexis (...)