Monday 7 February 2011

Archbishop Nichols is failing repeatedly to protect unborn children and Catholic families

Last week Vincent Nichols (pictured, right) archbishop of Westminster, issued a statement in response to parent-led protests about the way Westminister archdiocese is treating the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School. Firstly, I should say that it is outside SPUC's remit to comment on the key issue in the dispute between the parents and the archdiocese, namely, the school's admissions policy. However, I note with great interest the Vaughan Parents' Action Group (VPAG)'s response to Archbishop Nichols:
"The VPAG notes that, in his 85 word statement, the Archbishop does not even mention the word “parents” ... The Church teaches that parents are “the primary and principal educators” (Gravissimum Educationis, 3) of their children, not the Diocese, and not the Bishop. It is their role to support parents in that task..."
I note that Paul Barber, Westminster archdiocese's director of education who has just been appointed by Archbishop Nichols to the Vaughan governors' board, in March sent a shameful message to clergy whitewashing the Labour government's attempt to force all state-funded schools to teach anti-life/anti-family sex education.

Elsewhere, Archbishop Nichols has been giving lip-service to Catholic teaching on the family. In a recent speech to Caritas Social Action, he cited a statement issued by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales reflecting on Pope Benedict's visit to Britain:
"Catholic social teaching reminds us that the key to social development lies in placing the good of the human person centre-stage. In that perspective marriage, family life, and the dignity of work are vitally important. The future of society crucially depends on the nature and quality of family life."
Archbishop Nichols also said:
"In the social doctrine of the Church, particularly as expressed in [Pope Benedict's encyclical] Caritas in Veritate, we have a source of practical guidance and profound wisdom relevant to all who desire to recover a stronger sense of a more humane civil society."
Yet, just there as there was no mention of parents in his statement on the Vaughan school, neither was there any mention of unborn children in his speech to Caritas Social Action - even though Pope Benedict spoke clearly of the need to protect unborn children in both Caritas in Veritate (paragraphs 15 and 28) and directly to the bishops themselves during the papal visit.

Time and again Archbishop Nichols (and the bishops' conference of which he is president) not only fails to protect unborn children and Catholic families, but is actively complicit in undermining them. The parents' group at the Vaughan school is but the newest of a growing number of elements in the Catholic Church in England and Wales who rightly demand better of an archbishop of Westminster.

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