Monday 22 March 2010

The CES condemns itself from its own mouth

The correspondence below between the Catholic Education Service (CES) and an enquirer has been forwarded to me. Although it dates from November, it is very much applicable to the current situation regarding the Children, Schools and Families (CSF) bill.

Enquirer: "What will happen to Catholic pupils at non-Catholic schools?"
CES: "CESEW does not have authority over pupils at non-Catholic schools, so queries relating to any such schools ought to be directed to DCSF" [JS note: Ed Ball's Department for Children, Schools and Families]
JS comment: This is a shameful comment. Instead of showing concern for Catholic pupils, the CES abandons them to the most pro-abortion and anti-family government in British history.

Enquirer: "What will the sex education be based upon?"
CES: "Ed Balls emphasised that the approach to Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) will be determined by each school’s governing body, and this should be in accordance with the ethos of the school. In the case of Catholic schools, this means that SRE will be taught in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church."
JS comment:
  • There is nothing in the bill which says that Catholic schools will be able to teach SRE "in accordance with the teachings" of the Catholic Church. The government has never used this language; it has always spoken only of the "ethos" of schools and of teaching which "reflect[s] the school's religious character".
  • The CES never explains (at least clearly or adequately) what it means by "the teachings of the Catholic Church" regarding SRE.
  • Many Catholic schools are teaching, facilitating or promoting anti-life/anti-family practices. There is no evidence that the CES is doing anything concrete about it.
  • The bill requires schools to teach SRE according to the principles of "equality", "diversity" and "rights". These concepts are interpreted by the government to mean abortion, homosexuality* and non-marital sexual acts, including contraceptive intercourse. It is the government's interpretation that will have most influence before the courts and with regulatory bodies - which are often all too willing to follow an anti-life/anti-family agenda.
  • The bill requires information presented in SRE to be "accurate" and "balanced". These concepts are interpreted by the government in a way which excludes pro-life facts, such as the physical and psychological damage caused to women by abortion, and the abortion-inducing mode of many birth control drugs and devices.
  • The bill requires that the SRE taught "is appropriate to the ages of the pupils concerned and to their religious and cultural backgrounds". This is interpreted by the government to include exposing primary school children in faith schools to pornographic representations of sexual activity.
Enquirer: "Will pupils be taught about abortion and contraception? If so at what age?"
CES: "The programmes of study are available online: and Whilst pupils will be taught the factual content within these frameworks, in Catholic schools this content will be placed within the context of Church teaching."
JS comment:
  • The answer avoids the question.
  • Again, the CES never explains (at least clearly or adequately) what "within the context of Church teaching" means.
Enquirer: "Will they follow DCSF guidelines?"
CES: "Yes, DCSF guidelines apply to all schools within the state sector."
JS comment:
  • The government's draft SRE guidance is an anti-life/anti-family corncupia, including the promotion and facilitation of abortion, contraception, homosexuality and a "wide range of [sexual] practices".
  • The CES helped draft the guidance and welcomed it as "a positive step forward".
  • In saying that the Catholic state schools will follow the guidance, the CES is going even further than the law, which requires state schools to "have regard" to the guidance.
  • This answer shows that the CES is colluding with the government to promote and even impose the culture of death in Catholic schools.
Enquirer: "How does all of this square with paragraphs 78 and 83 of the Vatican’s Truth and Human Sexuality [JS: These paragraphs teach pre-pubescent children should not be exposed to direct sex education.] Is this move announced yesterday [JS note: SRE from age five onwards] not in contradiction with Vatican teaching?"
CES: "Parents continue to have the right to withdraw their children from SRE classes up until the age of 15, thus protecting the important parental rights and duties enshrined in the Pontifical Council for the Family’s teaching document. You will have seen the two statements issued by CESEW ( and and these represent our final position on the above."
JS comment:
  • Why should parents be forced to withdraw their children from school classes? It is Catholic schools who should conform themselves to Catholic teaching instead. The CES is effectively telling Catholic parents to like it or lump it.
  • Neither of the statements cited by the CES explain how the government's plans are compatible with "The truth and meaning of human sexuality", the Magisterium's key document on sex education.
  • The first statement says: "[L]egal encumbrances mean that a blanket right of withdrawal can no longer apply". What this means is that the CES has accepted the government's interpretation of the Gillick judgment. Yet the Gillick judgment doesn't apply to education, only to consent to medical treatment. Isn't it encumbent upon the CES to challenge that interpretation? I suspect that the CES doesn't really mind.
  • The first statement also says: "[W]e are comforted in the knowledge that our schools and colleges will do an exceptional job in providing Sex and Relationships Education, set within the teachings of the Catholic Church." As I've pointed out before, many Catholic schools are doing a bad job, by promoting and facilitating practices contrary to Catholic teaching, teaching which the CES never defines.
  • The second statement says: "We welcome the government’s reiteration of its support for the important principles underlining SRE, which emphasise that schools continue to have the legal right to determine the content of what is taught in PSHE within their schools and that governing bodies retain the right to determine what is taught, and must determine this in line with the ethos of the school." Yet the government has never said that "schools continue to have the legal right to determine the content of what is taught". The bill is clear, and the government has been clear, that schools must teach SRE according to certain principles (which will be interpreted in an anti-life/anti-family sense, see above) and are forbidden from teaching according to other certain principles. The DCSF has made clear that schools will be forbidden to teach (what it regards as) "discrimination" or "suggest that their views are the only valid ones" (DCSF reply, 18 March).
Enquirer: "Will the CES support Catholic schools if they choose to maintain the right of sex-education opt-out from 15? If it will do, how will it be supporting them? What form will the support take?"
CES:  "Such a move would be unlawful and as such we would not be able to support a school that took this approach."
JS comment: The CES is quite content for Catholic schools and Catholic parents to suffer, as long as the law upholds the government's sex education agenda. A truly Catholic education service would instead pursue and be pursuing every legal and other avenue to stop the government's agenda.

In conclusion, the CES has condemned itself out of its own mouth. An education service which prefers to listens to, follow and collude with the most anti-life/anti-family government in British history is not fit for purpose.

*(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.)