Let us look at the sequence of events again: the Website of the Catholic Education Service put a headline suggesting that they, by their lobbying, had managed to make the bill Catholic-teaching compliant. I'm paraphrasing, of course, and I see that the headline is no longer there.
This was not tactful: imagine how it was read in certain Labour quarters. They would have considered that the Catholic Church had yet again sidestepped its obligation to respect 'fundamental human rights' such as the right of a mother to kill her unborn child. Ed Balls had been placed in a tight corner.
So, to put himself back in charge, the minister feels that he has to assert that Catholics will in fact be absolutely obliged to provide all sorts of things that are profoundly rebarbative to us.
'They must explain how to access an abortion. The same is true on contraception as well.'
No exceptions will be made. We may give our opinion on it if we like (how gracious!), but not to refuse to involve ourselves in killing the unborn, even if only in a remote way.
The press, of course, picked up the story, and tried to contact the CES for a comment. The CES seemed simply to have taken the phone off the hook, the day off, and were in a word uncontactable. Imagine that; probably the biggest crisis in Catholic schooling for a century, and (no doubt not knowing what to say) they have nobody to make a comment!
And now here we are with a big unanswered question:
Is Ed Balls right? Will we be obliged in law to do this?
We need an answer!
Meanwhile, silence. Now, silence does not, of course, imply inactivity, merely that things may be going on under the surface. Let us hope and pray so. I expect that there are plenty of influential people very concerned about this. Meanwhile, Canon 212 §2 says:
The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.
So, though others may think it disrespectful to the bishops, I humbly suggest you request their Lordships to do their duty, and sign the petition here.