Saturday 6 February 2010

Catholic episcopal policy in England and Wales harms the common good

The British Government, it seems, is backing down on its discrimination legislation in the light of stiff opposition to its equality bill from Anglican bishops and others in the House of Lords, from the Catholic bishops, and, last but by no means least, as a result of Pope Benedict's stirring address to the English and Welsh bishops this week in Rome.

However, a much more important development has not yet occurred.

The British Government may have heeded church leaders' warning (including Catholic leaders) in relation equality legislation currently before Parliament, but will Pope Benedict's words be heeded by the Catholic bishops when he told them earlier this week:
" ... I urge you as Pastors to ensure that the Church’s moral teaching be always presented in its entirety and convincingly defended. Fidelity to the Gospel in no way restricts the freedom of others – on the contrary, it serves their freedom by offering them the truth ... " ?
I explained earlier this week the terrible harm done by the Diversity and Equality guidelines published in 2005 by the Catholic bishops of England and Wales (which continue to appear on the Catholic Education Service website) and I concluded:
"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.

And shamefully, as I have said before, the Catholic Education Service in England and Wales (CESEW), an agency of the Catholic bishops, is betraying Catholics and non-Catholics alike by its giving general support to the British government’s legislative proposals to require all state schools to teach sex and relationships education throughout the school years (from ages five to 16). (N.B. The state schooling system in England and Wales includes the majority of Catholic schools.) The British government has stated clearly that its proposals have been drafted to entrench a form of sex education which promotes access to abortion and contraception in all state schools, including in Catholic schools.

What a strange world we live in. On the one hand the British Government is seen to bow to church leaders' pressure (including the Catholic bishops of England and Wales) whilst, on the other, the same Catholic bishops are happily complying with the government's bidding! Let's remember, it's our children and grandchildren whose welfare is being put at risk - as well as the culture of life itself - by Catholic episcopal policy in England and Wales. Catholics have a right and a duty to tell the bishops that their policy is not in keeping with Catholic teaching and is doing harm to the common good.

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