Friday 29 August 2008

The abortion scandal in Catholic schools in England, Part One: Catholic Education Service at the root of the problem

In previous posts, I have referred to the government’s policy of providing children at school with access to secret abortions and abortifacient birth control without parental knowledge or consent. (The document to which I link, above, states, amongst other things: “Deliberate breaches of confidentiality … should be serious disciplinary matters.”) I have also referred to the fact that the Catholic authorities in England and Wales are co-operating with this policy.

I’ve spoken publicly about the abortion scandal in Catholic schools at many meetings in England and Wales and at international meetings, in Warsaw, Kracow and Manila, with bishops, cardinals and representatives of the Vatican and the Holy See listening to my talks. I’ve been interviewed about the situation in Zenit, the Catholic news agency which, according to its mission statement, aims to view the modern world through the messages of the Pope and the Holy See.

No-one has ever sought to deny the evidence I’ve put forward. No-one has ever written to Robin Haig, SPUC’s national chairman, to ask him: Why is SPUC’s national director saying these things about the Catholic authorities in England and Wales? On the contrary, Catholic priests and parents have approached the Society to confirm that what I am repeatedly and publicly saying is true. Occasionally, SPUC is given the facts about an abortion agency being promoted, with the consent of the school, and SPUC takes up the matter with the Catholic authorities.

But still the abortion scandal in Catholic schools in England and Wales continues.

As a pro-life campaigner I consider that the government’s policy of providing secret abortions to children is the worst development since the passing of the Abortion Act 1967. As a Catholic father, I consider that the policy of the Catholic authorities in this respect is the worst imaginable betrayal of the sacred trust given to the church by her founder. Jesus’s words could not be more relevant and appropriate: “It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than you to cause one of these little ones to stumble” (Luke 17,2)

The “little ones” concerned are the families betrayed by the policy of the Catholic authorities in England and Wales – parents and children of whom Pope John Paul II said:

“Following Christ who ‘came’ into the world "to serve" (Mt 20:28), the Church considers serving the family to be one of her essential duties. In this sense both man and the family constitute ‘the way of the Church.’"

It’s clear to me that at the root of the problem is the policy of the Catholic Education Service (CES). I’ve decided to write to the CES as a Catholic father whose children recently attended Catholic schools, and as national director of SPUC … but I would appreciate help from the readers of this blog. My letter not only needs to dot all the “i’s” and cross all the “t’s” – the CES policy must be reversed. The CES must understand, above all, from the Catholic laity and all concerned citizens, its responsibility to protect (not expose) children from the government’s policy of encouraging children to access to abortifacient birth control services and abortion.

If this is an issue which concerns you, please look at the links I provide in my posts on this topic and let me know what you think. This will be the first of several posts.

Let me start by looking at the CES remit which begins:

“The CES negotiates, on behalf of all bishops, with Government, and other national bodies on legal, administrative, and religious education matters in order to: promote Catholic interests in education; safeguard Catholic interests in education; contribute to Christian perspectives within educational debate at national level…”.

We’re told then that the CES negotiates on behalf “of all bishops”. The Catholic Directory tells us that the CES chairman is Archbishop Vincent Nichols and it was established in 1988 as an agency of the bishops’ conference [of England and Wales]. The CES chief executive is Ms Oonagh Stannard.

The CES document “The Connexions Service working in Catholic schools in England” tells us: “The Connexions Service is making an increasing impact on young people in Catholic schools and colleges. It is a service to be welcomed.”

Connexions is the Government's support service for all young people aged 13 to 19 in England. Prominent on the homepage of Connexions’ website is a link and contact details of Connexions Direct advisers – a major aspect of their work to which I will return in later posts.

Another link, centre-stage on the homepage, entitled “Relationships”. Various routes on the Connexions website lead to information about how to obtain an abortion and just a few clicks away on this page you find the following advice:

“I'm pregnant, what are my options? ... There are four main options ...

“ ... Terminate the pregnancy by having an abortion ...

“ ... Remember, ultimately the choice to keep the pregnancy or terminate it is yours. Listen to other peoples' advice and consider financial, physical and emotional support networks that you will need whatever your decision, but the choice is ultimately yours.”

In my letter to the Catholic Education Service, the first question I will be asking is: Why is Connexions ‘a service to be welcomed’ when it’s clearly a government agency which, amongst other things, refers young people to abortion agencies?

Please let me know your views – and any comments you may have on the documents to which I’ve linked. Write to me at

I will return to this matter very soon. With many schools starting back it really is time the CES policy was more widely understood and reversed. As parents and responsible citizens we must resist the government’s pro-abortion policy and, as a Catholic, I am particularly concerned about my church authorities’ co-operation with that policy.