Tuesday 23 February 2010

Faith schools must promote abortion, Ed Balls confirms

Ed Balls (pictured, with Oona Stannard of the Catholic Education Service (CES) and Vincent Nichols, archbishop of Westminster), secretary of state for Children, Schools and Families, has spoken this morning on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on his sex education bill, which will be debated later today in the House of Commons (please read and act upon SPUC's latest campaign alert). Mr Balls has also writtten a letter on the same subject, published in today's Times newspaper.

Here's some of what Mr Balls said on the Today programme (my emphases in bold):
  • "If you are currently a Catholic school ... you could choose to teach only to children that contraception is wrong, homosexuality is wrong. That changes radically with this bill." (at 06:30 mins)
  • "A Catholic faith school can say to their pupils we believe as a religion contraception is wrong but what they can't do is therefore say that they are not going to teach them about contraception to children, how to access contraception, or how to use contraception. What this changes is that for the first time these schools cannot just ignore these issues or teach only one side of the argument. They also have to teach that there are different views on homosexuality. They cannot teach homophobia. They must explain civil partnership. They must give a balanced view on abortion, they must give both sides of the argument, they must explain how to access an abortion, the same is true on contraception as well." (from 07:20 to 08:47 mins)
  • "To have the support of the Catholic Church and Archbishop Nichols in these changes is, I think, very, very important, is a huge step forward." (at 09:05 mins)
  • "[Catholic schools] cannot teach that homosexuality is wrong and that therefore it is OK to discriminate on homosexuality" (at 10:42 mins)
  • "[T]he Catholic Church, which I really welcome, is supporting, for the first time, compulsory sex education with an opt out at 15" (at 12:25 mins) (JS: Mr Balls knows that the opt-out i.e. parental right to withdraw children from SRE classes, ends at 15, not starts. Also, what is unappreciated is that no child of any age will be able to withdraw themselves from SRE.)
In Mr Balls's Times letter, among other things he says (my emphases in bold):
"[S]tatutory lessons on sex and relationship education...includes education about contraception and the importance of stable relationships, including marriage and civil partnerships. It will not allow the teaching of homophobia. All maintained schools and academies will be required to teach the full programmes of study. This includes promoting equality and encouraging acceptance of diversity ... The bottom line is that...discrimination is prevented in all schools."
Mr Balls's statements today not only confirm, but add further truth to the warnings that SPUC has been issuing for months about the government's plans - and the English and Welsh Catholic bishops' complicity in those plans. Please make sure that you have read and acted upon SPUC's latest campaign alert on the Commons debate later today.

(P.S. 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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