Friday, 19 February 2010

Catholic teaching forbids schools from implementing government's sex education plans

A government media release yesterday cites a Catholic school in Bedford as a good example of how faith schools should implement the government's plans for sex education. The media release says (my emphases in bold):
"St Thomas More is a mixed secondary school in Bedford. 60% of students are from a Catholic/Christian background with 40% from a range of ethnic minority groups, including Muslim. It has achieved Healthy Schools Status and has an Outstanding Award for cultural diversity.

"St Thomas More delivers SRE [sex and relationships education] through the pastoral programme in conjunction with the RE syllabus. It is led by pastoral tutors, all of whom are well prepared and confident to lead discussion with students across a wide range of SRE issues.

"The school has developed a very successful balance of providing students with accurate information within the faith ethos of the school. For example, sex within marriage is promoted as the ideal of the Catholic faith, but the school explicitly recognises the reality that some young people may choose to be sexually active and, if that is the case, they need the knowledge and confidence to make an informed choice to protect themselves from pregnancy and STIs.

"The school nurse provides students with clear accurate information about the full range of contraception and STIs and details of local services. Chlamydia screening is also offered to students in Years 11 to 13. Pregnancy options, including abortion, are also discussed in a non-judgemental way with the RE syllabus requiring students to understand the spectrum of pro- and anti-choice views on abortion. By combining the pastoral and RE teaching, the essential knowledge component of SRE is provided to students but within the context of relationships and the school's values."
I will be writing to St Thomas More school, asking them to confirm or deny the government's claims about what is happening in its school. Readers of this blog may also like to write to the school at: Tyne Crescent, Bedfordshire MK41 7UL email@stm.beds.sch.uk If, however, the government's claims are proved to be true, then what is being taught is entirely contrary to Catholic pro-life and pro-family teaching:
  • Catholic education on sexual matters should not be taught according to some arbitrary notion of "balance", let alone the government's anti-life false idea of "balance". Such education should be according to the truth and meaning of human sexuality (specifically according to the Vatican document of the same name)
  • sex within marriage only is not simply an "ideal of the Catholic faith" but an absolute requirement of morality as taught by the Catholic Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches (para. 2353):
"Fornication...is gravely contrary to the dignity of persons and of human sexuality which is naturally ordered to the good of spouses and the generation and education of children. Moreover, it is a grave scandal when there is corruption of the young."
  • Catholics may not, under any circumstances or for any reason, "choose" contraception, as is abundantly clear from 2,000 years of constant church teaching. For a Catholic school to "inform" children with "knowledge" to "choose" from "the full range of contraception" is like teaching children how to lessen the chances of getting caught by the police if they "choose" to rob a bank.
  • Contraception does not "protect" against pregnancy or STIs. To use contraception is to play Russian roulette with pregnancy and STIs - the more one uses it, the more likely those things are to happen.
  • "The full range of contraception" includes drugs and devices that not only prevent pregnancy, but may, according to the manufacturers, kill newly-conceived embryonic children.
  • Local "services" providing contraception will either provide, or refer schoolgirls for, abortions.
  • "Non-judgmental" "discussions" of "pregnancy options, including abortion" means that the school abandons moral responsibility for its pupils by leaving them free to accept the killing of innocent members of the human family. This model of non-teaching is the "values clarification" method designed to destroy any notion of right and wrong children might have.
St Thomas More (pictured) preferred to sacrifice himself rather than put the state's demands above the church's teachings. Catholic schools and the Catholic education system must be prepared to do the same.

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Government amendment on sex education is not u-turn

The Liberal Democrat party and secularist groups are mistakenly claiming that a new government amendment to the Children, Schools and Families bill will let faith schools decide what to teach in sex education classes.

Paul Tully, SPUC's political manager, has told the media this morning:
"There has been no u-turn. Children in faith schools will be subject to the same abusive so-called education as children in other state schools. The government amendment is mere window-dressing. The amendment makes no difference to what must be taught in schools. It only restates the principle that allows faith schools to teach sex education 'in a way' that reflects the school’s religious character. The Liberal Democrats and secularists have confused the 'way' sex education is taught with the content. The government's amendment will not keep pro-abortion and anti-family content out of sex education classes in faith schools.

"The only people likely to be pleased with the press reports about the misinterpretation of this amendment are the Catholic Education Service (CES), who want Catholic parents and Catholic schools to think they are sticking up for them, when in fact they are betraying their principles.

"SPUC condemns the action of the Catholic Education Service (CES) in pursuing this amendment, which is designed to mislead pro-life MPs and thereby help the bill to pass. The CES both welcomed and helped develop the government's draft sex education guidance, which is full of radical anti-life and anti-family ideas. The CES does not represent Catholic teaching on sex education, and its betrayal of Catholic families is widely lamented within the Catholic Church.

"We call upon MPs instead to oppose the bill as a whole and to vote for a opposition report-stage amendment to delete the bill's PHSE principles."
The department for children, schools and families yesterday confirmed that:
  • "All maintained schools and academies will be required to teach the full programmes of study in line with the principles outlined in the Bill including promoting equality and encouraging acceptance of diversity."
  • "[F]aith schools should be forced to teach that homosexuality is normal and harmless"
  • The government's amendment "does not diminish or detract from the over-arching principles" in the bill for PHSE
  • "Faith schools...cannot...suggest that their views are the only valid ones"
Please read SPUC's campaign alert and take action immediately. The bill's report-stage and third reading in the House of Commons is this Tuesday (23 Feb).

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Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Pontifical Academy for Life members call for academy president to be sacked

LifeSiteNews.com reports that:
"Five prominent members of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life are calling on the pope to remove Archbishop Rino Fisichella as the Academy’s president following their plenary meeting in Rome last week."
This unusual step has been prompted by Archbishop Fisichella's opening address to members of the Academy in which he stood by the original wording of his article in L'Osservatore Romano, last year, which implied that there are difficult situations in which doctors enjoy scope for the autonomous exercise of conscience in deciding whether to carry out a direct abortion.  I explained the potentially disastrous implications of Archbishop Fisichella's article in a talk at the 4th Pro-Life World Congress in Saragossa last November.

A statement from the Academicians indicates that many members of the Academy now consider that they are being led by a churchman who does not understand what  absolute respect for the sanctity of human life entails:
"This is an absurd state of affairs in a Pontifical Academy for Life but one which can be rectified only by those who are responsible for his appointment as President"
the statement says.

I congratulate the five academicians for their statement, which upholds the integrity of the Catholic Church's pro-life witness. Countless numbers of unborn children are saved daily by the strength of that witness. Archbishop Fisichella's article and his justification of it jeopardise that same witness.

Pope John Paul II wrote in Evangelium Vitae (para.95):
"Too often it happens that believers, even those who take an active part in the life of the Church, end up by separating their Christian faith from its ethical requirements concerning life, and thus fall into moral subjectivism and certain objectionable ways of acting.  With great openness and courage, we need to question how widespread is the culture of life today among indiviual Christians, families, groups and communities in our Dioceses.  With equal clarity and determination we must identify the steps we are called to take in order serve life in all its truth."
The Academicians, clearly speaking for others in the Academy, have demonstrated that "openness and courage" and "clarity and determination" for which Pope John Paul II called. I also wish to congratulate LifeSiteNews.com for their reportage. This sort of courageous pro-life journalism is essential too.

Speaking earlier this month to the Scottish bishops, Pope Benedict urged that there must not be the slightest compromise in the Church's witness on the sanctity of human life.  He said:
"If the Church’s teaching is compromised, even slightly, in one such area, then it becomes hard to defend the fullness of Catholic doctrine in an integral manner."
The position set out by Archbishop Fisichella, like the collaboration of the bishops of England and Wales with the British government on life issues, are cancers which are threatening to destroy countless human lives. They require diagnosis and removal.

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Catholic leaders give uncompromising pro-life message

The news so far this week has brought reports of Catholic bishops speaking out courageously for life and family around the world:
  • In Scotland, Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow has said that: “[I]t is wrong in principle for someone to take their own life” and “it is wrong in principle for someone to help them to do so.”
  • In Oregon, America, Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker has ended his diocese's sponsorship of a local hospital which was performing sterilisations.
  • In the Philippines, the bishops' conference has said that the distribution of free condoms in Manila "undermines the significance of human sexuality and love and and deserves the condemnation of the entire population"
  • At the Vatican, Cardinal Carlo Caffarra has written that: "It's impossible to consider oneself a Catholic if that person in one way or another recognizes same-sex marriage as a right," said Cardinal Carlo Caffarra of Bologna.*
  • And Pope Benedict told the Romanian bishops last week that they should respond to "the scourges of abortion [and] birth control by methods contrary to the dignity of the human person" by "organis[ing] improved pastoral care of the young."
When the full weight of the Catholic Church is put behind an uncompromising pro-life stance, lives can saved in large numbers. For example, the educational effort by the Catholic Church in Poland was effective in massively reducing Poland's abortion rate. And LifeSiteNews.com reports that the Philippines has one of Asia's lowest HIV rates, no doubt thanks to the resilience of the Philippines bishops' conference.

The pro-life movement in this country in England and Wales could achieve so much more if the Catholic bishops' conference here would end its collaboration on pro-life/pro-family issues with our anti-life/anti-family government. "For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?" (1 Cor.14:8)

*(The reason why the Catholic Church's teaching on homosexuality is so important for the pro-life cause can be found in Pope John Paul II's Evangelium Vitae. In paragraph 97, Pope John Paul teaches that it is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not offer adolescents and young adults an authentic education in sexuality, and in love, and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection.)

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Tuesday, 16 February 2010

SPUC Pro-Life criticises BBC promotion of Gosling killing claim

SPUC Pro-Life has criticised the BBC’s decision to give sympathetic coverage to Ray Gosling (pictured), a BBC presenter who claims to have killed his terminally-ill ex-lover. Mr Gosling claimed that his victim, whom he said had AIDS, was in “terrible, terrible pain”.

Anthony Ozimic, SPUC Pro-Life's communications manager, told the media today:
“If  doctors found the victim’s pain difficult to control, they should have referred him for specialist palliative care.

“Mr Gosling claims that he killed the man as part of a ‘pact’. Morally and legally, this does not change the case from one of murder to one of suicide. We hope Mr Gosling’s frank admission will lead him to regret his crime, though nothing will bring back the sad victim. We are glad that the police are investigating. We call upon the legal authorities to ensure that future potential victims are protected, by upholding existing laws against the intentional killing of the innocent.

“Changing the law or watering down prosecuting policy on assisted suicide or euthanasia would pose a major threat to the terminally-ill, the disabled and vulnerable people generally.

“In practice, acceptance of assisted suicide or euthanasia leads to cases of murder. The BBC has been complicit in this slippery slope towards unlawful homicide through its biased programming.”
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Monday, 15 February 2010

There's light and dark in the English bishops' approach to pro-life issues

In a sermon on marriage and family on Sunday Archbishop Vincent Nichols spoke of:
"the gift that is a child, the treasure of children ... They need our careful guidance and tutoring ... [M]arriage, as the strongest foundation for stable family life and the best environment for the growth of children, is to be supported in our country today if we are really to pursue, both politically and socially, the genuine common good of all."
I applaud the archbishop's words and thank him for them. It is therefore all the more disturbing that the Catholic Education Service (CES), an agency of the Catholic bishops' conference of England and Wales, has both welcomed and helped draft the government's sex education guidance. The draft guidance is a cornucopia of anti-life and anti-family evils. Routes to these evils will be established in both faith and non-faith schools if the Children, Schools and Families bill is passed unamended. (A government amendment related to faith schools will be ineffectual in keeping these evils out of Catholic schools.) The ideology of the guidance is "sexual and reproductive rights", the mantra that everyone, including teenagers, have a right to be provided with abortion and contraception in order to enable consequence-free sex. Yet, as Cardinal Antonelli told the Pontifical Council for the Family last week:
"It's only because of children that sexual relations become important for society"
meaning that sex is naturally ordered towards procreation of children.

Archbishop Nichols was the CES's chairman until becoming archbishop of Westminster. I have spoken before about how:
  • the CES, whilst under Archbishop Nichols' chairmanship, welcomed (and still welcomes) into Catholic schools Connexions, a government agency whose advisors are trained to facilitate secret abortions on schoolgirls without parental notice or consent
  • the openness of Bishop Malcolm McMahon, the current CES chairman, to headteachers being in same-sex unions*
  • the "Diversity and Equality guidelines", a publication of the bishops' conference. This policy document welcomes, seeks to implement, and says that it will monitor the implementation (in the Catholic Church, including in Catholic schools) of British government and EU law on the equal employment rights of male and female homosexuals, and bisexuals and transsexuals.
Also this past weekend Archbishop Nichols spoke of:
"[the] fear of undertreatment or neglect – sometimes, for instance, food and water may be simply put in front of patients unable to feed themselves who are then noted as having refused their food."
Again, I applaud and thank Archbishop Nichols, in this instance for his opposition to euthanasia by neglect (and, elsewhere in the same sermon, to assisted suicide). Yet Archbishop Peter Smith, on behalf of the bishops' conference, publicly opposed SPUC's campaign on the pro-euthanasia Mental Capacity bill (now Act), welcomed the bill, accepted the government's assurances on the bill, and co-operated with the government in ensuring its passage through parliament. The Act enshrines in statute law euthanasia by neglect.

Is it not time that the English and Welsh bishops cease their collaboration on pro-life/pro-family issues with the government? Pope Benedict told the Pontifical Academy for Life last week that:
"History has shown us how dangerous and deleterious a state can be that proceeds to legislate on questions that touch the person and society while pretending itself to be the source and principle of ethics."
Indeed, the lesson from history was learnt by the Papacy last century. The Nazi regime began to violate the terms of the concordat between Germany and the Holy See as soon as it had been signed. This moved Pope Pius XI to write:
"[I]it will be every one's duty to sever his responsibility from the opposite camp, and free his conscience from guilty cooperation with such corruption. The more the enemies attempt to disguise their designs, the more a distrustful vigilance will be needed, in the light of bitter experience."
*(The reason why the Catholic Church's teaching on homosexuality is so important for the pro-life cause can be found in Pope John Paul II's Evangelium Vitae. In paragraph 97, Pope John Paul teaches that it is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not offer adolescents and young adults an authentic education in sexuality, and in love, and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection.)

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