Parliament’s inquisition on Roman Catholic education
They stand accused of ‘promoting a hard line on “immoral” teaching in schools’, after the Roman Catholic Bishop of Lancaster, Patrick O'Donoghue, issued an edict instructing Catholic schools across much of north-west England to stop 'safe-sex' education and place crucifixes in all classrooms. He also wrote: 'Schools and colleges must not support charities or groups that promote or fund anti-life policies, such as Red Nose Day and Amnesty International, which now advocates abortion.'
Confronting the Government head-on, he exhorted Catholic schools to use science to teach about the 'truths of the faith'; that sex should only be mentioned in the context of the 'sacrament of marriage'; and to insist that ‘contraception was wrong’, preferring ‘natural family planning’.
In a parallel development, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Leeds, Arthur Roche, also sent a letter to parishes warning them that ‘Catholic education was under threat following attempts by the local council to set up an inter-faith academy’.
Well, Cranmer agrees with this man, for the establishment of an ‘inter-faith’ anything quite obviously imperils the orthodoxy of any one faith. Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, has written to Secretary of State Ed Balls MP accusing the schools of trying to 'indoctrinate' pupils. Yes, Mr Porteous Wood, to induct children into a moral framework is indeed the role of education, and the assertion that your ‘secular’ one is neutral is a manifest falsehood. And Cranmer notes once again that it is church schools which are being persecuted for their ‘fundamentalism’: how many Muslim, Sikh or Jewish schools take similar lines on ‘immoral’ teaching, yet are left completely alone for fear of the inevitable accusations of ‘racism’?
The Inquisitor General is one Barry Sheerman MP, who chairs the parliamentary cross-party committee on children, schools and families. He detects 'intense turmoil' about the future of Catholic education, and revealingly asserts: 'It seems to me that faith education works all right as long as people are not that serious about their faith. But as soon as there is a more doctrinaire attitude questions have to be asked. It does become worrying when you get a new push from more fundamentalist bishops. This is taxpayers' money after all.'
Well, Mr Sheerman, Cranmer has news for you. People who are 'not serious about their faith' do not possess a faith. And faith schools which are 'not serious about their faith' are not faith schools. Does Parliament 'work all right' if politicians are not that serious about politics? This is taxpayers’ money being used to confront the secular view on sex outside of marriage, sexually transmitted disease including HIV and Aids, and abortion, and the inference that the state presents neutrality on these matters is false. The perpetual intoning of ‘safe sex’ at taxpayers’ expense is clearly not working, with the UK now producing more than 50,000 pregnant teenagers each year, who will either abort or raise their children, once again, at taxpayers’ expense. And the National Union of Teachers has waded in, asserting that ‘the bishop's instructions could damage the health of teenagers who chose to become sexually active despite the church's teaching’. Can these people not see that the present policy is failing miserably?
It seems to Cranmer that these bishops should boldly proclaim to Torquemada Sheerman in the High Court of Parliament that their heresy does not make them enemies of society, and that no torture, mental or legislative, will force them to recant. It is the right of parents under United Nations charter to educate their children in accordance with the principles of their faith and morals, and there are far more pressing questions to be asked of other faith schools in regard to their ‘citizenship’ provision.
What is a very great pity is that the Roman Catholic bishops also called for ‘any books containing polemics against the Catholic faith to be removed from school libraries’.
A faith, any faith, and especially one which is built on a rock, should have no fear of polemics against it. To demand censorship and effectively reinstitute book-burning in educational establishments is indeed unwelcome. They are taxpayers’ books after all.