Tuesday 2 February 2010

The bishops should repudiate their Diversity and Equality guidelines

Pope Benedict's address to the English and Welsh bishops has made headlines in the mainstream media, and sparked much comment and debate.

What I have yet to see is a reference to the bishops' 2005 Diversity and Equality guidelines. These guidelines no longer appear on the bishops' conference website, but are listed and replaced with a holding page informing visitors that new guidelines are being drafted to take account of recent legislative changes. The guidelines are a policy statement on British government and EU law on the equal employment rights of male and female homosexuals, and bisexuals and transsexuals.

The guidelines, whilst they contain elements of Catholic doctrine, welcome, seek to implement and state that the bishops' conference will monitor government policy within the Church, including in Catholic schools. Interestingly, the guidelines still appear on the website of the Catholic Education Service for England and Wales, which is giving general support to the government's proposals for sex education to be taught compulsorily in all state schools.

The bishops’ guidelines speaks about welcoming “the social and cultural changes which are required of us…”. It says “…it would be wrong to give some forms [of the six forms of discrimination listed by the Government] greater or lesser importance than others.” The guidelines say that Catholics “must understand and comply with discrimination legislation”.

The bishops’ guidelines calls on “those with authority at all levels of the church to be more aware of whether different groups are represented in the many facets of life of the Church e.g. schools…” and the bishops say: “…Organisations, institutions and diocese should consider appointing or entrusting someone with responsibility for diversity and equality”. Finally, the bishops warn: “We … intend to review progress … in two years”.

A pro-abortion document, prepared at the request of the EU Commission on the right to conscientious objection, links rights relating to sexual orientation to other supposed rights, including the “right” to abortion and the “right” to euthanasia and assisted suicide. The document quotes, in part, the bishops' Diversity and Equality Guidelines in a generally approving way. The bishops’ guidelines and the EU experts’ document clearly agree that, subject to limited and narrow exceptions, Catholic organisations must ensure that no job applicant or employee receives less favourable treatment than another on the grounds of sexual orientation.

With the bishops welcoming and guaranteeing the presence of homosexual, bisexual and transsexual teachers in Catholic schools, is it not completely unrealistic to expect that Catholic sexual morality, including the sacredness of human life before birth, will be taught in these schools?

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.

Particularly in the light of Pope Benedict's address to them so widely reported today, the bishops must repudiate their 2005 Diversity and Equality guidelines.

Comments on this blog? Email them to johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk
Sign up for alerts to new blog-posts and/or for SPUC's other email services
Follow SPUC on Twitter
Join SPUC's Facebook group
Please support SPUC. Please donate, join, and/or leave a legacy