Friday 17 September 2010

Catholic bishops must obey Pope’s words that school teaching must be pro-life

The Catholic bishops of England and Wales must obey Pope Benedict’s words this morning that teaching in Catholic schools “must always be in conformity with Church doctrine”.

Pope Benedict made his statement this morning at St Mary’s University College, Twickenham, London, referring to:
"the much-discussed Catholic ethos that needs to inform every aspect of school life"
"the self-evident requirement that the content of the teaching should always be in conformity with Church doctrine."
As I told the media earlier today, the Catholic bishops’ conference of England and Wales has signally failed to ensure that teaching in Catholic schools is in conformity with Catholic Church doctrine, including on the sanctity of human life. The Catholic Education Service (CES) of England and Wales welcomed and helped write government draft guidance on sex education under the previous government, draft guidance which was diametrically opposed to Catholic doctrine on abortion and sexual ethics. Indeed, Bishop Malcolm McMahon, the current CES chairman, told Pope Benedict today at Twickenham that the Catholic Church in England and Wales “value[s] very much” its “unique relationship with our government”.

The CES recently appointed Greg Pope as its deputy director, a former Labour MP with a lengthy anti-life/anti-family record. It also seems that Vincent Nichols, archbishop of Westminster and former CES chairman, goes along with prevailing unCatholic ideas on sex and relationships education.

The papal visit should be the occasion when the bishops start obeying Pope Benedict’s teaching through a root-and-branch reform of the CES. The bishops must also conduct a thorough review of the content of teaching in all the Catholic schools in their dioceses, ensuring that such teaching is in perfect conformity with Vatican documents on sex education.

I totally endorse comments made this morning on Sky TV by Fr Thomas Williams, professor of theology and ethics in Rome, who said:
“It’s not for 50 protestors to tell parents how to educate their children. Parents are the primary educators of their children, and have a right to educate their children according to their values and to ensure that external education corresponds with that upbringing. It’s not for others [than parents] to indoctrinate children with [different] values.”
I also totally endorse Pope Benedict's call, made at an inter-faith meeting later in the morning at Twickenham, for all faiths to unite to "defend human life at every stage".

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