Last Wednesday, I was contacted by the BBC to ask if I would take part in a radio discussion the next morning (Thursday) about Archbishop Vincent Nichols's interview to be broadcast on Good Friday morning on BBC Radio West Midlands. I said I would do so - provided the BBC supplied me with the text of the entire interview, which they would not do.
On Good Friday morning I listened to the Archbishop's interview (and again this morning when the interview was repeated). As a result of what I heard I decided to respond to the call from the National Association Catholic Families to offer up my Easter Triduum for what the archbishop had said and for the policy of some church leaders on the government's plans for sex and relationships education.
Archbishop Nichols's widely reported comments on contraception during the BBC West Midlands interview must be seen in the context of his seriously misleading remarks on the Government's plans for compulsory sex and relationships education in all state schools in England, including in Catholic schools. I will write more fully about this later this week.
Tragically he said nothing during the interview to distance himself from the general support given by the Catholic Education Service, on behalf of the Catholic bishops' conference of England and Wales, to the Government's plans. On the contrary. Our children, our unborn grandchildren, our nation's families, Catholic and non-Catholic, are being thrown to wolves. Legislation more completely opposed to the common good of British society would be difficult to devise.
However, I also offered my Easter Triduum in thanksgiving for the three Catholic bishops and over three hundred clergy of various denominations who wrote last week to the Sunday Telegraph as follows:
"Parents and guardians have the primary responsibility for bringing up their children in accordance with their own values and culture. They may entrust the task of formal education to a school of their choice, but the overall responsibility for the upbringing of their children remains theirs.I believe that history will judge these bishops' and priests' intervention as a significant moment for the churches.
"The Children, Schools and Families Bill undermines this principle and seeks to impose a particular ideology by means of statutory sex and relationships education from the age of 5 (which primary schools do not currently have to teach). We would therefore urge Parliament decisively to oppose it ... "
The BBC reports that Archbishop Nichols is expected to say today: "Talk of sin is not always popular - unless we are talking about other peoples' sins.
"In recent weeks the serious sins committed within the Catholic community have been much talked about.Today and in the decades to come I believe that we must make reparation for the policy of those church leaders in England today who give general support to the British government's plans, through its sex and relationships education policies and legislative plans, to abuse and corrupt our children of all faiths and none.
"For our part, we have been reflecting on them deeply, acknowledging our guilt and our need for forgiveness."
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