Tuesday, 2 March 2010


I am not greatly in favour of petitions: they don't usually achieve their purpose, and often have the opposite effect. Ed Balls' appearance on the Today programme, much discussed on other blogs, has rather sharpened the issue, though.

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.


Dominic Mary said...

I think the critical point is that the question of exactly what our Schools are going to be obliged to do is a function of 'precisely what does the law say ?' : and until we know that, we simply can't answer the question.

My hope is that, as with so much legislation of recent years, the law will be so badly drafted as to make it possible for Catholic Schools to comply with the letter of the law in good conscience !

It's truly not impossible that that could happen - though whether by accident or design, who knows ?

Kate said...

One brave young lay chaplain of my acquaintance arranged for an excellent speaker on chastity to give a talk/answer questions in his Catholic school. The speaker and the message were so good that even some of the most unruly yr9/10 pupils were spellbound. Afterwards,a few made enquiries about the Catholic Faith/ becoming Catholics.
But the home economics teacher was not impressed, and took it upon herself to treat the pupils to a 'real' SRE lesson- safe sex, condoms etc. She didn't seem to believe that young people could even aspire to live out Catholic teaching in their lives.Surely something is wrong when people have such low expectations of young people!

Dominic Mary said...


sadly, I fear that the answer is that the Devil has entirely reasonable expectations; and knows that if he doesn't 'get in quick', then those children may be safe from him . . . so he uses the weakness of impressionable people like that HE teacher to further his aim of corruption and sin.

Good on your friend, and we should pray for him and the school; but above all for the HE teacher who was so shamefully used by the Devil, and who so clearly needs our prayers.

Robert said...

I just get the impression that Christian leaders and advisers in the churches are weak and insipid. Thge history of the church shows that people should just disobey the law and take he cosequences. We need a churchill, perhaps. The RC church in this country has shown itself to be risk averse and panders to the secular authorities. Did Thomas More and John Fisher say "we must not rock the boat; we must follow the guidelines?" Let's see a few priests and bishops in prison and the state will back down as it did when Anglo-Catholic were imprisoned under the woeship acts 100 years ago. Sadly, it is still true that the time when the highest number of clergy were in prison was under DR 18B in the 1940's.

John Kearney said...

Silence is seen in law as an affirmation.

Anthony Ozimic said...

Kate, many thanks for your post. If you have further details you can share about the school you mention, do please email them to johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk