Sunday, February 28, 2010

Why I will not sign this petition

Mrs Amanda Lewin has organized an online petition to the bishops in the following terms:

To: Bishops of England and Wales
We, the undersigned, call upon the Bishops of England and Wales and the Catholic Education Service to fulfil their duty as guardians of our Catholic Faith and unequivocally reject recent Government measures forcing Catholic schools to teach what is explicitly condemned by the Church, viz: presenting active homosexuality as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, and providing information on the nature - and provision - of contraception and abortion services. Compliance on the part of the Bishops and the CES in such measures would effectively render our schools no longer Catholic in any meaningful sense, and would place the faith and moral life of our children in jeopardy. As Catholic parents, teachers and pastors, we earnestly beg of you, our Shepherds in Christ, that you do not allow this to happen.
I make no judgement about other priests doing so but I cannot sign it, you may by going here, at least the bishops may become aware of the feelings of ordinary Catholics.

As a priest I cannot sign, because it implies criticism of the Bishops who reign by the God's Grace, who stand in the place of Christ as Apostles. It is by them the sheep and lambs are fed, it is through them that the Catholic faith is passed on. I cannot believe they will give stones instead of bread, scorpions instead of an eggs, a serpents instead of a fish.

Certainly I am distressed and perplexed by their silence but I am willing to believe that it is for some good purpose. I sure that they are working behind the scenes, possibly for a defeat in the Lords.

I am willing to believe the CES has failed, not just the Church but society, catastrophically. It is not just Catholic children but all children who are going to suffer through the arrogation to the state of the rights of parents, given by them natural law, but I believe the CES's error will be corrected in time by the Bishops.

But as for the Bishops failing in the guardianship of the Catholic faith or suggesting that they would be compliant in anything contrary to the faith, that is a criticism I could never make and could never be true.
Yes, they can be misled, or misunderstand or make mistakes or act foolishly or even be coerced into acting badly, which is why they need our continual prayers and fasting, and our encouragement to be brave too.


Anagnostis said...

I don't agree with your sentiments, Father. Of course bishops can fail, individually and collectively. History is littered with examples. Almost the entire English hierarchy defected under Henry VIII. One thousand years earlier the overwhelming majority went Aryan too. The Tradition is the responsibility of all the baptised, and sometimes martyria requires holding not pagans or emperors, but one's own shepherds to account.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Let us be very slow to judge the Lord's annointed. We might actually be wrong.

Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Oh shoot! Spose I shudda read it first..but well I dunno I have 10 children..& we can't afford to wait around..the 3 eldest are adults..but the 7 left..we need to take urgent action. What should we do Fr Ray? Letters haven't we keep removing them from school..what do we do?

Simon Platt said...

I'm with Moretben on this one.

Volpius Leonius said...

Whoever thought that this was a appropriate action in response to the current situation clearly does not understand what the Church is.

You do not publicly petition a Bishop like this, nor in such a threatening tone to do so is to risk destroying the very unity we require now more than ever.

The Bishops still have the confidence of the Pope, it is not for anyone of us to seek to depose them while they still have that. That Moretben is the essential difference between now and the Tudor times.

Now is not the time for rash judgements or reckless action, we must all keep or heads and be as wise as serpents as our Lord commanded us to be.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Jackie, I really don't know, pray and fast, pray and fast.
God will give us answer.

Anonymous said...

I've signed. I have to say, I don't really think the petition is worded that badly.
Amanda and Mark are right; we need to petition the bishops to stand up for us.
Mine has refused to even meet us.

David Joyce said...

VL, this petition is calling upon the Bishops and begging their intervention in an hour of need. It is based upon reality and an understanding of the laity's position to intervene in the life of the Church, when needed. This law will affect parents directly, and action is required now - it effectively outlaws the teaching of objective truth in moral matters in our schools.

Thank you, Father Ray, for publicising this petition.

Ma Tucker said...

Not convinced of your position. The CES is controlled by your Bishops. It does not stand alone in it's activities. They are responsible for it. While charity is a good policy I think your position is untenable given the evidence. With you on praying and fasting though. We are dealing with a failure of faith here and this is how Catholics overcome the evil that emerges as a result of this failure. I think petitioning is somewhat pointless when dealing with the diabolical.

Michael Petek said...

I agree with Moretben on this, Father. Here's why.

Can. 212.3 They [Christ's faithful] have the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence and position, to manifest to the sacred Pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church. They have the right also to make their views known to others of Christ's faithful, but in doing so they must always respect the integrity of faith and morals, show due reverence to the Pastors and take into account both the common good and the dignity of individuals.

Could Bishops fail in the guardianship of the Catholic faith or be compliant in anything contrary to the faith?

Indeed yes, and the same would appear from Ezekiel 34. The pages of history are replete with evidence for even the most blind to see. There is scarcely a heresy that has not been led by a bishop.

Among the Bishops only Peter and his Successors are by the prayer of Christ immune from failure in faith.

Might we actually be wrong?

Not on your life! The subject matter of the petition is taught by the infallible Magisterium and confirmed by the Holy Spirit.

Active homosexuality is not an acceptable alternative lifestyle, and is amatter of grave depravity.

Providing information on the provision of contraception and abortion services is also repugnant to right reason and natural truth.

There is a canonical maxim: Prima sedes a nemine iudicatur. The First See is judged by no-one. It is often found with a theological extension: "unless found to be deviating from the faith."

In this case this is not a matter of judging as a superior judges his subjects, but a matter of subjects discerning the limits of a superior's authority and sounding the alarm if those limits are exceeded.

"And some of the Pharisees from the throng said to Jesus, Teacher, reprove Your disciples!

He replied, I tell you that if these keep silent, the very stones will cry out." (Luke 19:39-40)

If the sheep keep silent, then it falls to the lambs to cry out. (Cf. John 21:15-17)

tempus putationis said...

You are in a difficult position, Father. We all owe love and obedience to our bishops, and want to give both, but sometimes the diet of stones, scorpions and serpents becomes so bitter.

"I [am]sure that they are working behind the scenes, possibly for a defeat in the Lords".

Why can't they work in the full light of day, as children of the light? Our Lady said "Whatever He shall say to you, do ye."

What was it that you were saying a few days ago, about transparency?

Patricius said...

Thank you for a very wise post, Father. I felt I couldn't sign this petition, much as I share the widespread disquiet on this subject, because it seems poorly formulated. You raise a point which has also occured to me -particularly following news of the northern bishops' pastoral letter. There is clearly more going on than meets the eye and it is not altogether impossible that our bishops are picking their battles carefully. Rather than criticising what appear to be failings in the hierarchy we should be making those good bishops who are clearly doing God's work aware of our support. While they have an unquestionable right to rule us what they really need in today's society is something approaching a demoratic mandate. In other words the government needs to know that we are fully behind our shepherds when they stand up for Catholic values.

Michael Clifton said...

Father, I am rather surprised at your attitude to the petition. It seems it is only asking them to stand up and be counted on this issue. It may be a little strongly worded but the petitioners are quite within their rights to ask for more action from the Bishops. They may be specially chosen to act as our leaders in the faith, but that does not mean that they are good at the work to which they have been called. It is impossible for a Catholic School to teach different ways of contraception or tell pupils where to get information on contraception or abortion. This has to be made clear.

Jacobi said...

"Now is not the time for rash judgements or reckless action"

The time comes when timidity is to be put aside, and action, or a stand on principle,is appropriate.

The majority of Catholics do not appreciate just how invasive the Secularist attack on the Church has become.

Our bishops have, historically, in the cited examples, failed the Church, and arguably the last forty years is another example of such failure.

Did Vatican 11 not, after all, call for greater lay involvement? If this directs the Hierarcy back to their prime Apostolic duty of proclaiming, fearlessly and openly the word of God, then so much the better.

In the last resort, we well-off,
21st century UK Catholics can afford to pay for our own Catholic schools - as many of our European fellow-Catholics do.

Jack Ormsby - Middlesbrough said...

Fr You are being redicullus, I am not sure what the episcopal equivalent of an Ultramontane is, but you are it!
Sheer madness! The bishops are obviously in bed with the Govermnent.
You are the type of priest who would have followed the German bishops into the arms of Hitler.
Open your effing eyes, see where they are leading us!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jack O said...


Independent said...

"They forsook Him and fled" Matthew 26.56. Was it not Cardinal Ottaviani who commented that this was the only case of all the bishops acting together?

Volpius Leonius said...

I've been accused of many things in my life Jacobi, but timidity is not one I hear very often.

It is not action I object to, it is the type of action.

What is the plan exactly save Catholic schools by undermining the hierarchy founded by Christ to govern His Chruch thus destroying the Church herself?

We are not just dealing with our local councillors here and political activism has no place in the Church.

If you have a problem with the government then take your sudden interests in political action to its proper sphere, politics.

This has only come to pass because lay Catholics have utterly failed to engage in the political process and now you want to scapegoat the Bishops.

Where is the Catholic political party in this country? No where, why not? Because the laity have not formed one.

Where are the orthodox Catholic politicians? No where, Why not? Because the laity have not bothered to stand for election.

What you are all trying to do is just another example of the mentality that has given us extraordinary ministers.

You all want to invade the spiritual sphere which is meant to be governed by the clergy while you have failed to govern the civil sphere which the laity are actually responsible for.

How many of you are even on the board of governors at your local Catholic school?

Michael Petek said...

Jack Ormsby, that comment is uncalled for!

I suspect it's more the case that the Bishops are afraid to act because to do so might be tantamount to an admission that they should have acted a lot earlier.

Anonymous said...

It's a fine line to tread, isn't it. On the one hand, we may not touch the Lord's anointed - even if they are mistaken, misled or otherwise in the wrong place. On the other hand, I don't think it's wrong to call to them for help - in fact, where else could we turn? Signing the petition, though the wording is perhaps a little hasty, is doing no more than that. We need their help; I think it's OK to ask for that without the asking being seen as judging. I have to say it's hard to believe there will be any response, and I guess we'll just have to accept that.

Patricius said...

If bishops actually deny Catholic teaching by all means oppose them but I am not aware of any of them having done so- yet.It would be nice if, instead of criticising them over something about which they have not yet spoken, we were to actively support the bishops engaged in the adoption agency fight.

JamesP said...

"It must be observed, however, that if the faith were endangered, a subject ought to rebuke his prelate even publicly. Hence Paul, who was Peter’s subject, rebuked him in public, on account of the imminent danger of scandal concerning faith"

Thomas Aquinas

JARay said...

I suppose that the follow-up of this recent legislation, forcing Catholic schools to teach error, will be further legislation preventing parents from homeschooling their children. This is the case in Germany and some parents have successfully found a safe-haven from this legislation by seeking a home in America as refugees. Maybe, Britons, down the track, will be following in their footsteps.

Adulio said...

Certainly I am distressed and perplexed by their silence but I am willing to believe that it is for some good purpose. I sure that they are working behind the scenes, possibly for a defeat in the Lords.

A naive attitude, that got us into this mess for the last 40 years. "Father says, father knows". Is this the sort of clericalism that proponents of Vatican II called to be dismantled?

Red Maria said...

I understand why Father Ray Blake will not, indeed cannot sign the petition. He is being both loyal to the bishops and courageous in writing about the petition and why he won't be signing it.

When he says, "let us be very slow to judge the Lord's anointed," adding, "we might actually be wrong" he displays the kind of Christian humility we could all learn from.

Furthermore he shows a saint-like trust in the Almighty by saying, "God will give us the answer". At the end of the day this is what all of us should be saying.

That's not to say that I don't sympathise with those who have signed the petition, far from it. I do. However, I agree with Patricius that it is perhaps not as well formulated as it could have been AND that we are not actually privy to the bishops' discussions, still less their private thoughts.

Rawsthorne, Roche and Drainey have shown some commendable backbone in their defence of Catholic Care. That's the sort of thing we should encourage and celebrate.

Back to the CES. I'm far from impressed by it. Actually I'm hopping mad at it. The government's sex-"education" policies are a gigantic mistake.

Volpius Leonius said...

The Bishops aren't teaching error James.

Red Maria said...

None of us desires or is able to dispute the will of the bishops ...I know that one must not be right against the bishops. One can be right only with the bishops, and through the bishops, for the Church has no other road for being in the right. The English have a saying: “My country – right or wrong.” With far more doctrinal justification we may say: my bishops – in certain concrete cases – right or wrong ... And if the bishops' conference adopts a decision which one or another of us thinks unjust, he will say: just or unjust, it is my Church, and I shall support the consequences of the decision to the end.

With apologies to Lev Davidovich Bronstein

Volpius Leonius said...

If you are all really serious about doing somethign worthwhile to stop this bill you all need to arrange a meeting and discuss what YOU are all going to do to put pressure on the government to leave your schools alone.

The Bishops may or may not be doing something, but you do not have to just sit around waiting on them you can do just as much as they can. If anything you can do more, numbers count with the government far more than ecclesiastical titles.

At the first meeting agree on your objectives and choose who amongst you will do what roles then arrange a follow up meeting and go from there.

The second meeting you need to come up with a concrete plan of action on who you are going to pressure and how.

So in between the meetings you need to do your research to find out who in the government gets to call the shots on this thing as well as who would be sympathetic to your position and plan your course of action accordingly.

Latin Mass contact said...

I would feel very guilty for not signing the petition (and so I have), because I have always believed it important to make clear in totally polite terms any concerns, requests or opinions I have had, on rare occasion to the bishops of Leeds. In turn I have always received equally polite and clear responses from Bishops Wheeler, Konstant and Roche.
I did not think that signing the petition could be anything but an act of obedience to the teaching of the Church. Without support and concern from its own people, the sleeping lion which is the Catholic Laity, how can the Bishops hope to do any back room deals if the enemies of the Faith with whom they must negotiate should ask for evidence of support from its rank and file?
What future our schools?

Adulio said...

Red Maria - such a veneration of bishops borders on idolatry. Protestants are forever accusing Catholics of worshipping every word that comes out of the Pope or the bishops and your line of reasoning will only just confirm them in their misguided thinking.

Unknown said...

While I am unhappy over the situation, I agree with Fr. Ray.

We don't really know the whole story, what was said behind the scenes. We are dealing with an evil and insidious government here.
For all we know, the bishops could have been threatened with complete closure of all Catholic and faith schools is they didn't co-operate or be seen to co-operate in the formation of this law.

Sometimes, you might have to lose a battle to win the war. We could yet surprised with the outcome of this.

Like Fr. Ray said, let us pray and put our trust in God. He will not let the gates of hell prevail over His church.

gemoftheocean said...

Volpius, I think the bishops are teaching error in that "silence gives consent." In this case I can see no mitigating factors "working behind the scene." The bishops are being cowards. As someone else pointed out sometimes we have the DUTY to remind those in power of THEIR duty.

Anagnostis said...

I ought to have expressed myself more clearly: I make no comment on the rights or wrongs of signing the petition in question. The bishops are not my bishops - and I sympathise with those who express concern about the appropriateness of this particular approach, or about over-hasty or reflexively disrespectful attitudes generally.

My point was a more general one, in response to Father Ray's suggestion that bishops do not err or defect because they're bishops - a suggestion that renders every era of Christian history absolutely incomprehensible. God does not operate by determinism, at any level. ALL are responsible. If those whose office commits to a greater level of vigilance appear to slacken, then it's the responsibility of others, without failing in respect for their office, to rouse and, if necessary ultimately, to reproach them. I agree that doing it publicly in the first instance is probably not the best way.

sedevacantist priest said...

has anybody thought of mass prayers to our Lady mother of Jesus for intercession in this present crisis.

All Bishop of England and Wales,Scotland and Ireland should organize a day of prayers and intercession.

O Queen of the Holy Rosary sweet virgin of Fatima who has deigned to appear in the of Portugal and hast brought peace both intetior and exterior to that once so troubled country, we beg of thee to watch over our dear homeland, and assure its moral and spiritual revival.
bring back peace to all nations of the world, so that all, and our own nation in particular, may be happy to call thee their queen and the queen of peace. Amen.

Anonymous said...

As a parent I certainly would not bother signing this petition, no need to.
We can pray and fast for our Bishops but as parents we have a first duty to the souls of our children entrusted by God to us.
We certainly cannot wait on the conversion of Bishops before we teach our children the Faith.
The education of our children is the responsibility of us parents and woe betide all of us if we do not face up to our responsibilities and leave this important task to others such as bishops.

Fr William R. Young said...

Father, I think you are right. Public stridency makes for heat rather than light. The government proposals are in need of a nuanced and therefore more deadly attack. We must make sure tht the Bishops know they have our support in fighting this battle effectively.

Elizabeth said...

Other than pray, what can we do?
If we shoot down our Bishops who will lead the flock? I totally agree that what is happening in our schools in unacceptable. But the rot set in over 40 years ago. Most parents with their children in our Catholic schools are contracepting and have no notion or interest in what the Catholic Faith actually says. The teachers on the other hand are not even Catholic. I think the repair to our schools will take a very slow U turn once the Church is being persecuted. It is only when something so wonderful is taken away do people realise what they have lost. I understand that a priest cannot be disloyal to his Bishop and therefore no more should be said about that. But what our Bishops need more than anything else right now is prayer and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit to do God's will.

Elizabeth said...

Dear Father, I think what Jack Ormsby says is totally uncalled for. Thank you being such a good and Holy Priest and doing your best to bring to our attention all that is going on around us. Most of us would be oblivious of the damage that is being done to Our Church.
The schools are failing that is without a doubt. But I noticed yesterday how my daughter (at the dinner table) became upset by this constant attack on the schools and liberal Bishops which is causing distress in many families. We need to trust that God is in total control of the situation and with the Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit the whole situation will be dealt with Wisdom, Understanding, Right Judgement, Courage, Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Goodness, Kindness, Forbearance, Mildness, Faith etc

George said...

Good commentary overall (Jack Ormsby excepted - apology to Fr Ray is in order).

As a Catholic parent of six I say 'We are all perplexed by the Bishop's silence - it is deafening! and what's more - it has been so for decades!!!

Now, I know that God's ways are not man's ways and God never lets bad things happen without some greater good coming from that.

However, at the same time Christians are called to be the 'salt of the earth' to be the 'lamps of light to the pagan world of darkness'! How can we do this unless we speak out, unless we instruct, unless we lead by example. Just see the example of today's Saint - St David of Wales!!! Hoorah for Wales and St David! Fearlesss and tireless in spreading the Gospel to the pagans.

Timidity and silence has led to where we are now in England - with a confused and poorly formed laiety, extensive recourse to contraception and abortion services by Catholics, liberal clergy making up their own liturgies and a wholesale abandonment of Catholic Religious practice by our youngsters because they see that the desolation among Catholic families (divorce, breakups, marital strife) is no different to what they see in the secular world - so why bother with the Church's Teachings!

Had our Bishops stood firm on Magisterial Church Teaching over the last 5 decades, matters would be different. So several generations have been sold to the 'wolves', BUT it is not too late to reverse the situation for future generations.

As I see it, at least if we sign this and other similar petitions, and continue to hammer on their Lordhsips doors they will know that ordinary Catholics in this country DO CARE about what is happening, and that we will be there right behind them to help and support them when they do finally rise to the challenge, stand up and fight back the secular tide. The Bishops should understand that Catholic parents have fought a long and lonely battle to date and the results are not good! Without our Bishop Captains to lead us and draw up strategic 'battle' plans we continue as small groups or alone here and there, mostly ineffective against the governments heavily subsidised 'We know better than Parents' and 'Promiscuous sex are us' departments.

Jackie Parkes' sentiments mirror mine. When your own children are in the firing line "please dear Bishops, what should we do"????

Volpius Leonius said...

Gem it is not the Bishops duty to engage in politics, that is a duty of the laity.

And half the laity probably voted for this government. If we want someone to blame we need only to look at ourselves for surrendering the political sphere to the secularists.

Fr Gary Dickson said...

I do not think this petition criticises the Bishops. I signed this petition not to confront the Bishops but to beg their help in preventing our Catholic teachers being put into an impossible position; our parents from having their right to nurture their children in core values removed from them, and our children from being confronted with information contrary to our faith.
We are entitled to ask our Bishops for their help when our Faith is overridden by the Government, and especially when a body such as the CES appears to have given formal cooperation to the offending Bill.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

"...and they all fled..."

terryprest said...

The petition is unhelpful.

In terms of the legislation, parents have a right to withdraw their children from the sex education classes.

See Clause 14 of the Bill

Exemption from sex and relationships education

For section 405 of EA 1996 there is substituted—

Exemption from sex and relationships education

If the parent of a pupil under the age of 15 in attendance at a school to

which section 403 applies requests that the pupil may be wholly or

partly excused from receiving sex and relationships education at the

school, the pupil shall be so excused accordingly until—

the request is withdrawn, or

the pupil attains the age of 15.”

The onus will be on the parents to withdraw their children from such class or classes.

Hopefully the parents will arrange for a mass withdrawal from these classes. That will say much more to the politicians than a statement from the Bishops.

Perhaps the Bishops are handing the matter over to the laity (parents and school governors) in the matter. The politicians no longer think that the Bishops` views are representative of the "Catholic vote" and doubt if in most parts of England a "Catholic vote" as it used to be even exists any more. See the recent you-gov poll.

Politicians in the UK rely on polls these days especially before a General Election. They are not concerned with ethical debates.

The only problem will be: who in the Catholic schools will be required to give out this information in Catholic schools to, we hope, empty classrooms.

Perhaps there is a need for an exemption clause for Catholic teachers who on the ground of conscience and conviction just simply could not be a party to giving out such information to the children in their charge.

George said...

Hilary Jane Margaret White - Today you are the Master of Understatement. "...and they all fled..." priceless! God Bless.

Delia said...

Seems a little premature to me. We don't know that negotiation is at an end, and negotiation doesn't mean capitulation. The bishops must know the score; after all, they've just come back from the Holy Father. I think it's presumptious to imply that they've failed their flocks already.

Volpius Leonius said...

Father Dickson I have great respect for the work you do in your parish but I must point out to you that there are much better ways than a global public petition to ask our Bishops for help.

Surely things are not so bad in our diocese that you are not on speaking terms with the Bishop.

Further Catholic schools are in my experience already Catholic in name only and have been for at least the last 20 years at least.

These classes would not teach anything the pupils don't already learn from the non-Catholic teachers and pupils who are allowed in hat are meant to be Catholic schools, and I am speaking from personal experience of Catholic schools in the 1990's here.

So while the bill does nothing that isn't already present in Catholic schools unofficially it may actually do some good in forcing us to confront and deal with these realities at long last.

But it is us the laity as members of the board of governors who are responsible for running our own schools. We have been asleep for to long, its nice to see some signs of life but action must be properly directed.

It is the government, your local school governors and the head master of your school you need to work on not the Bishops.

The Bishops have not condoned even close to the worst things that go on in our schools, that blame rests on weak governors who simply cave in to whatever recommendations given by a head master in my experience.

You as parents must either become school governors or make the school governors answerable to you. How many of you with children even know who your school governors are I wonder?

Richard Collins said...

Father, our Bishops are not infallible and those in England and Wales have done a great deal to destroy the Faith. Doing nothing is also a means of destruction but they have been culpable of allowing heresy to flourish in our schools, disobedience to the Holy Father (many Catholics have been maligned by their Bishops over the past 30 or so years as they have tried to attend the Tridentine Mass) and how many of the Bishops have responded to the Summorum Pontificum?
Furthermore, they watch their vocations decline and their priests become second grade social workers and do nothing.
This petition is good and should be signed by every Catholic layman as wel as priests.

Lucy said...

Father, I do agree with you. I find there is often a lot of judgement of the Bishops ( and even of Popes) in home educating Catholic groups - and we don't know the reasons for their actions nor bear the same responsibilities are they do. I am so grateful to read your opinion and not feel like less of a Catholic because I don't feel called upon to demand anything from Bishop except that he does what he believes God is calling him to.

johnf said...

As one who has worked within the LIFE Charity for 20 years, it has always struck me that the pro- abortion lobby have continually been economical with the truth.

Likewise the homosexual lobby have managed, with sympathetic commentators in the BBC and other media to distort the facts about homosexual lifestyles.

Being 'forced' to teach the truth about these topics will present some quite interesting opportunities, as long as we ensure that true and verifiable facts are taught, not the politically correct spin.

This will lead no doubt to some bruising confrontations with education authorities, should this bill actually get the royal assent.

The question is 'are we up for it?' or will we roll over and be trampled on?

I have a lot of sympathy with the petition, but haven't signed it because I am worried about the gulf that is opening up between the Bishops on the one hand and the laity on the other.

LizzieD said...

I have signed this petition. Why, because my poor husband is an RE teacher in a Catholic school (and he is a Catholic, so don't tar all teachers with the same brush, please, Elizabeth!). He will never teach that homosexuality is a valid "alternative" lifestyle, and all the other immoral things that the Govt. want him to do. When he has had recourse to Bishops to complain about errors being taught in schools, he has always been told to go to the CES! laughable! He is in grave danger of losing his job, and being put into prison, if he goes against what the Govt. is proposing. Ed Balls quite categorically stated that he had the backing of Abp Nichols, and the Catholic Church for the bill. People we know are extremely worried that this has not been denied, and that it will be foisted on them. When I was expecting my first child, I requested that I would not be treated by any doctor who had dealings with abortion. My GP said, "I wish more women had acted like you in '67"....Sometimes ordinary Catholics feel desperate enough with the situation in this country, and so sign such things - it is merely a request that the Bishops speak up on behalf of them - the Govt. do listen to Bishops, when they speak up. This isn't a judgement on the Bishops, it's their flock bleating like crazy so that their lambs won't be devoured by the wolves any longer.

RJ said...

As I understand it, the bishops guide us infallibly in our faith if they teach in communion with the Pope (cf Lumen Gentium). It is conceivable that an individual bishop or number of bishops might break away from this communion. In those circumstances we would probably have to make a provisional judgement as to whether they were in schism/heresy, until there was some guidance from the Holy See. It doesn't seem we are dealing with such a case here.
It seems a good thing to encourage our bishops in their ministry; possibly even to reproach a bishop if he fails to do his duty or flagrantly transgresses, but the saints I can think of were more in favour of prayer than public protest on that score. As someone intimates here, there is a lot the laity could and should be doing.

georgem said...

I can understand why, given this contentious issue, feelings are running high. But to put Fr. Blake in the firing line is to miss the target spectacularly. He has actually done a service by drawing our attention to the petition, with a link, so that those who want to sign may do so. I shall sign.
Predictably, there is a division of opinion but neither is right or wrong. To the laity the barricades. However, there will be some priests who feel bound in loyalty to their bishops. That is not a cause for opprobrium but for respect. Since when was kneeling in prayer a bum option?
Getting into this mindset that you are with us or against us is why so many campaigns fizzle out. So give Fr Blake a break, will you? Those of us who know and love this blog are aware how finely nuanced some of his posts are. Long may it continue.

Clare said...

I've signed the petition.

Things were bad enough when I was at an ostensibly Catholic secondary school 20 years ago. They are even worse now. That same school now directs pupils to websites which instruct them on how to get abortion, contraception, the morning after pill, supposedly to protect vulnerable pupils.

As for the idea that the bishops would not give us stones, well the evidence shows that they already are.

This should have been nipped in the bud long ago. Now it's a case of damage limitation, or more likely, locking the stable door after the horse has bolted.

On the side of the angels said...

Sorry Father , normally I should have agreed with you that this was a premature act and we should trust in our Apostles to bring about the Lord's work.

BUT - on discovering a few days ago that already within Catholic schools there are Nurses [and a Connexions programme] which provide contraception and underage sex-advice and abortifacients and abortion advice/referrals !!!

That discovery was a Rubicon.

They haven't merely crossed a line - they've thrown up on it.

And if you haven't already seen the details of what's still occurring at the St John and St Elizabeth Hospital ? Ask laurence for the newsletter I e-mailed him.

I understand it's placing you in a difficult position Father ; but what price your soul ? Can you look yourself in the mirror while there are Catholic schools out there already conspiring in the culture of death and underage [and therefore sexually assaulted] schoolgirls are murdering their own babies !

I can't - therefore I'm demanding an answer - after a whole week of silence from every one in our hierarchy.

I have never been so ashamed of our Bishops before....

gemoftheocean said...

Volpius, who is asking the bishops to engage in "politics?" The truth is non-negotiable.

Once the government forces Catholic schools to teach contrary to the truth, DE FACTO that Catholic school has been shut down. It will be even worse than a government school because the word "Catholic" in the school name will be another lie.

What's wrong with telling the bishops you expect them to grow a backbone and ALL STAND TOGETHER and tell the government flat out that they will not be introducing vile "morality" into the Catholic schools. "NO, we won't allow it" is not exactly "negotiation", is it?

They can't throw you all in jail.

I find it highly doubtful that the bishops are doing ANYTHING useful "behind the scenes."

The rolled over, belly-button up, when the government eviscerated Catholic adoption agencies from being really Catholic. Now they're forced to give up innocent children into the homes of "gay" and lesbian "couples." They show every sign of doing the same with this piece of legislation being forced down good Catholics throats.

What was that quote re: "the millstone around the neck?" regards innocent children.

1st: "Catholic agencies" having to turn a blind eye to putting children in moral danger by letting them be adopted by gays...

2nd: this further roll over re: your Catholic schools being forced to teach error

Whatever will they do next to complete the millstone trifecta? [Or was that one done already when they kept shuffling around pedo priests until the laity finally screamed loudly enough.]

If leaders won't lead, it's time to replace them, or at the very least call them to task and ask them to start doing the job of "shepherd" instead of "hired hand."

There are far too many "hired hands" in position of authority.

As regards to "God's annointed ones?" Well, let's not forget there were too many "pink palace" seminaries where a lot of ORTHODOX guys got thrown out because the gay clique didn't like them. I really don't think flaming practising homosexuals getting a wink and a nod are necessarily "God's chosen ones" even if they did manage to get ordained.

I'm not saying all these bishops were that way, or even a majority, but there was a lot of malarkey [to say the least] that was allowed to go on, and it needs to be rooted out.

Peter Hamilton said...

I have signed it Father, but I agree with you too. I agree that it does at times hint of telling the bishops what to do, and this is not our job. If we try to do that, we are likely to not have our wishes- nobody tends to listen to someone who tells them how to do their job, unless it is their superior, and we are not the superior of the bishops. Charity must always come first. I do believe a petition was definitely needed though, and so therfore have signed it (in the absence of any other), as I agree with the idea in principle, but would have written it differenctly (if I had written the petition myself).

Rather than telling them what they should be doing, it should be phrased something like: We the undersigned, have taken a commitment to pray and fast for the Bishop's of England & Wales, that you may be able to be affective in your defence of our catholic education against the forces that wish to destroy our church... etc. Therefore we petition our bishops to listen to what the spirit is saying today, to enable our catholic education to grow and thrive in the future. We place our trust in you as our sheperds and guides.

Red Maria said...

@ JohnF

As one who has worked within the LIFE Charity for 20 years, it has always struck me that the pro- abortion lobby have continually been economical with the truth.

As someone who's been a journalist for over a decade LIFE's press operation, such as it is, has struck me more than once as being totally shambolic joke. What does it come out with? A few reactive press releases a year. Er, big deal chaps.

And who took the decision for LIFE to back litiation queen Josephine Quintavalle's disastrous assault on the Abortion Act in 2007-2008? Was it a collective decision, democratically taken or what?

You say that the pro-abortion lobby is economical with the truth, you go and prove it. As I recall, the 20 Weeks Campaign aka Alive and Kicking "Alliance" (members included, er, LIFE) tanked amid the exposure of its junk science by science writers like Ben Goldacre and enterprising bloggers and the laughable mess which was the Science and Technology Committee hearings. You may remember it. I certainly do. Some eight witnesses failed to disclose their membership of the Christian Medical Fellowship (another A&K member), facts which were duly disclosed when Dr Evan Harris MP entered their names into a google search engine and hit the "search" button. Cue banner headlines in the Gruaniad and not entirely unfounded fears that the CMF was trying to pull a fast one. As part of the A&K set up LIFE should accept its share of the responsibility for that mess up.

And there's more. JohnF opines:

Likewise the homosexual lobby have managed, with sympathetic commentators in the BBC and other media to distort the facts about homosexual lifestyles.

What facts about homosexual lifestyles would they be? JohnF hasn't cared to say. My worry is that they would be less based on facts and more based on prejudices and wishful thinking. It doesn't necessarily follow that something which is prohibited in religion is physically bad for you. The example of eating treyf bears out my point.

Being 'forced' to teach the truth about these topics will present some quite interesting opportunities, as long as we ensure that true and verifiable facts are taught, not the politically correct spin.

Avoiding NARTH style spin might also be a good idea. Why not just stick to the religious facts and say that such and such is prohibited in our religion and leave it there rather than making unsustainable claims about it which the world will giggle at?

There's an awful lot of moaning about the bishops here - and ok, fine, some frank criticism can do the world of good - but none directed elswhere. Why not?

Gillian Claire O'Donnell said...

Thank you Majella for speaking some sense into this situation. When we meet with Jesus face to face he is not going to ask me what the Bishops did for my children but he WILL hold Me accountable for what I did for my children.

Despite saying that I have signed the petition. The people who are signing it are only being honest and hopefully not critical.
As many people have pointed out our Pope, Bishops and Priest all have a pastoral, nurturing annointed role put over us by Christ.

If we consider them to be our spiritual Fathers how sad it is to see that we feel a NEED to communicate with them in this way.

In my family my husband and I have made decisions for our children. Although they know that at the end of the day we have the last say it would not be a breakdown of our relationship with them if they had to 'petiton' us over our choices.

Being able to communicate with each other is backbone of relationship....maybe this is the underlying problem ?

Kathryn Hennessy said...

As a co-creator of this petition, I am sorry that some of you find it too strongly worded. However, I would like to make a few points:
1) nothing was done in haste: last year we wrote to every bishop in the country, respectfully asking them to oppose these measures when the government first proposed them. We received six replies, only one encouraging (from the then Bishop O'Donaghue). We followed this with a (respectful) petition which we also sent to each bishop: we received only three replies. We were simply asking them to oppose these measures.
2) we have prayed heartily for our bishops, and continue to do so. We realise their position is difficult and that they need all the prayers they can get. We are not radical trouble causers or bishop-bashers: we are concerned parents exercising a legitimate right to invoke the aid of our bishops. Prayer is always our first recourse (yes, and we do our share of fasting too :-)
3) This petition does not directly criticise the bishops nor does it accuse them of failure, nor does it judge them: it simply begs them to ACT.
4) in response to the lady who suggested that we should take responsibility for our own children's education and not wait for the bishops to put things right for us, might I point out that I for one HAVE taken this responsibility seriously to the extent that my husband and I have provided for the education of our seven (soon to be eight) children at home throughout their lives. It seems ironic, then, that we are the ones beseeching the bishops to protect the children in our Catholic schools.

Mrs Frost said...

I feel that people have misunderstood this petition. It is not a criticism of the Bishops of England!! It may be worded incorrectly but what it is is a plea from desperate parents that our Catholic Children are not taught incorrectly. Sex ed in its entirety is the responsibilty of the parent, it should not be broached by the schools, in its correct catholic teaching or not.

nickbris said...

We need another "Good Queen"Mary.

The State is going to give Sex Education a new twist,at the moment they are churning out pupils who can barely read & write and are virtually unemployable.

Unless there is going to be massive changes in the system what exactly are the children going to learn?

George said...

I am a Governor at our local Catholic Comprehensive - and all my efforts in these areas over some years just seem to get sucked into the system where they simply float around in a vacuum without any action from the head, other teachers or indeed other governors. Oh yes, I am given all the assurances that 'we must stand against the hostilities of the government towards Catholic schools'... yada yada yada, but nothing gets done and the next sex-ed class gets through with maybe one parent voicing their concern. Just this week one hopping mad parent has told me that during a PHSE day their child's class was told all about condoms. And so it just goes on and on. With the CES appearing to be fully in favour and with Ed Balls ranting on about the fact that + Nicholls is giving the government the 'green light' on the new sex education policies - what are we to do??? Far too many non-Catholic teachers in Catholic schools is one BIG problem because they do not see a problem with all this. Add that the majority are probably contracepting, having affairs (even IN THE SCHOOLS!!!) and you can begin to see that the deconstruction of Catholic Education has gone a long long way. This tide of decay should have been stemmed many years ago!! And who is to blame - dare I ask???

Back to this petition: going through the signatures it is noteworthy that several good and holy priests have signed (not that you are not good and holy Fr Ray - far from it). One great name jumps out from the list - for me at least, and that is Daphne McLeod - a fearless Catholic Educator and fighter for many decades in the UK. If she has seen fit to sign this petition then frankly that is a good enough endorsement for me!

God Bless and help us all in upholding the Truth of our Glorious Faith. God Bless the Missionary Church and put some much needed spark and zeal into the 'Couch-Potato Church'!

Independent said...

Eamon Duffy says of popes and includes all other bishops - "Like their fellow bishops, popes can be clever or stupid, effective or inept, alert or lazy, well or badly advised, and they can be all of these things in their teachings as in any other aspect of their ministry". (E. Duffy "Faith of our fathers : Reflections on Catholic Tradition"(2004) p 41. If this is true of Popes then why be so hard on other bishops?

santoeusebio said...

Kathryn Hennessey puts the situation well. Gentle pressure on the bishops has had no effect. The new legislation proposes that, amongst other things, that children be informed where they can get an abortion. The CES says this is an acceptable situation. The Bishops, so long as they say nothing, will by their silence be condoning this as well. Giving information as to where an abortion can be obtained is co-operating in abortion and may incur the sanction of automatic abortion. Are the Bishops going down that road? That is the question which needs to be answered. It is a question which the laity are entitled to ask. It is no good thinking of political action if the hierarchy are pointing the other way. If the line taken by Volpius Leonius is the correct one then we should be following our bishops regardless. Some of us though may fear that is the road to hell. It is not somewhere I want to go for the sake of loyalty to the bishops.

As for the provision for withdrawing your child - is whoever suggested that really suggesting that Catholic parents with children at a Catholic school should do that as a solution? Have the Bishops suggested that that should be the solution?

Michael Petek said...

I think you may have overlooked something, Father.

The subject matter of this petition is Catholic schools. The parents of a Catholic child are his or her principal educators.

Once they have received the Catholic faith, it is for them to pass it on to their children, and the local Bishop as supervisor of the Catholic school is subordinate to the parents in that matter.

So parents are well within their rights to pass judgement on teachers, schools and Bishops in what concerns the education of the child.

fidelisjoff said...

Fortunately we do not rely on Eamon Duffy for our faith. The Petrine ministry is where we look to. I have signed the petition but I believe Rome will be made aware and may very well have some clear guidance on the matter. All Catholics priest and laity have the right of appeal to Rome. Perhaps now and when/if enforcement comes we should use it for "England and Wales is a very strange part of the Church" as a Curial Archbishop said to me. Rome can only work with what is available.

Mr G. said...

I'm not sure how you're defining 'compliance', Fr, but our bishops have been 100% behind CAFOD's dissent for years, to begin with.

My children were removed from 'Catholic' school at primary level because they were being taught error and corrupted at every turn. My son was actually disciplined on more than one occasion for speaking up when error was being taught - an extremely confusing experience for a young child. Our bishops are responsible for the state of our schools. I really do wish it were different, and admire your loyalty. Please don't take the comment from Jack Orsmby to heart, Fr - he's very far from the mark, and has obviously not read your post very attentively.

Joseph Shaw said...

Fr Blake: you say we ought to give the bishops the benefit of the doubt, perhaps they are working behind the scenes. I am quite sure they are. The point remains that their work will be much strengthened if the Government sees the Catholic faithful united in horror at what is being proposed, and calling on them to be tough.

So I have signed this petition, and I urge everyone to do the same.

Michael Petek said...

As I write I'm watching Father John Corapi on EWTN. Last week he said (he's an American by the way):

If you want your kids to keep the faith, send them to state school. If you want your kids to lose the faith, send them to Catholic school.

Simon Platt said...

I don't understand the criticism of the wording of the petition. I went back and read it very carefully. It seems to me that it is carefully and respectfully worded. I think that Amanda Lewin, Kathryn Hennessy, and their collaborators have done a good job and I pray that it will have a good effect.

I hope many more people will support it.

Peter said...

I do not have to think very hard as I do not live in the UK so am ineligible to sign.
Your critics forget that you have to report to a bishop and so cannot oppose them. The diversity of responses show how challenging this is.
I think that you are right.
Of course as a parent my first duty is to my child. I look to the bishops and clergy to help me with her education in the faith. They need forgiveness for their failings as do I.
Thank you Father for many good posts and for helping those near to you and far away.

PaulineG said...

I know it is somewhat off topic but I feel Red Maria's comments concerning the behaviour of members of the Christian Medical Fellowship in 2007 should not go unchallenged.

Red Maria,

Please read this press release form the Christian Medical Fellowship:

Does this change your perception of the behaviour of the CMF and its members? If not, perhaps you could explain how, in the light of this, you sustain your apparent view that the behaviour of these people was less than honourable.

I declare an interest here in knowing some of these people personally. Their integrity is beyond doubt.

You describe the scientific evidence presented to the Committee by these people as "junk science", and imply it was exposed as such. Well, I was following this myself at the time and I am not aware of this. My recollection is that the arguments offered by those who tried did not withstand critical scrutiny. Can you provide an example of the evidence presented by members of the CMF to the Committee being exposed as “junk”?

My recollection is that the worst that could be established was that John Wyatt (Professor of neo-natal medicine at University College Hospital) had provided evidence based on his own work at UCL which had not yet been peer -reviewed and published.

Well, silly him! There was he thinking the Committee wanted the latest evidence from a highly regarded 'state of the art' neo-natal facility which works hard to care for very premature babies (the point at issue) and providing it in good faith when actually what they wanted was only the evidence which suited their agenda.

His evidence was, of course, written up, peer reviewed and published subsequently.

Your thoughts please, Red Maria.

Father John Boyle said...

Dear Friend and Father, I respectfully disagree with you.

The Bones said...

Please, dear Shepherds, feed Our Lord's lambs. Please don't feed them to the lions.

georgem said...

OK, just throwing this into the mix, but of the Catholic parents you know - and I don’t mean activists like the posters here - who
*has a catechism/bible in the home and opens them
*has a crucifix or holy picture on display
*has holy water/a small holy water stoup
*helps the children with morning/evening prayers
*says a decade of the Rosary with them
*says grace before and after meals
*ensures frequent confession
*ensures reverent reception of Holy Communion
*helps the children give up something for Lent
*takes them to Stations/Exposition/Benediction.
Incidentally, the challenge by Bishops Rawsthorne, Roche and Drainey to the Government’s same sex adoption law and due to be heard at the High Court this week, would have taken months of planning. It could well be the test case for religious freedom.

Volpius Leonius said...

It would be interesting to know where the national union of teachers stand in all this I would imagine with the government against the Chruch.

Red Maria said...

First, a reply to Kathryn Hennessy. I don't doubt her sincerity for a minute, or her very real concerns which are shared by us all.

However, I quite understand why some priests may feel unable to sign her petition. It's a tricky tightrope to walk.

I am disturbed to read that her letters to the bishops went largely unanswered. It gives lie to one bishop's suggestion (or perhaps his private secretary's suggestion) that he knew of no parents concerned about sex-"education".

I think you would be well within your rights to whack copies of the correspondence up to Rome. Go for it. You are entitled to do so.

@ Hestor, my comment, No one can be right against the bishops was a great big screaming JOKE. Ok, so it was a bit insider baseball, as our American friends say but I gave that away in my final line, "with apologies to Lev Davidovich Bronstein" and the smiley face.

It was a parody of Lev Davidovich Trotsky (for it was he) and his famous speech, No one can be right against the party. Just insert the words "party" where I put "bishops" and "Church" and you will see what I mean.

Look, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that the Bishops' Conference is the Central Committee or that Father Ray is Trotsky. I'm just JOKING.

Still, if only Lev Davidovich had sought asylum in the Vatican not Mexico he'd never have run into Ramon Mercarder but instead would have lived to a ripe old age in graceful comfort, enjoying argumentative pasta lunches with Cardinal Ottaviani, "Signor Trotsky, if only Cardinal Bea could be as reasonable as you are ..." and Masses in all their full-on pre-Vatican II pomp and could have written endless pamphlets on those burning questions: Soviet Union deformed workers state or ...zzzzz.

But back to the CES, sex-"education" and abortion advice which is no joke. How I wish it were.

We're all on the same side here and what debate there is, is over means not ends. What we've got to do - and I stress the importance of this - is to get united and into some fruitful collaboration. Let's recognise that we all have different functions and can't all do the same things.

So to set the ball rolling: what are we going to do and how are we going to do it?

laicus said...

I think this petition should be supported.

The bishops appear to have left to the CES the talks or negotiations with the Government, and the CES appear not to have performed well.

The bishops, our shepherds in this country, each responsible for his diocese, need (in the opinion of many) now to take over the reins of this dreadful bolting horse which has been let loose by the Government. That is the background. Now this petition is respectfully asking - it is a petition - that the bishops will do what is right for our schoolchildren and for the integrity and freedom of the faith in this country. It expresses the deep anxieties of the petitioners, who will be right behind the bishops, encouraging and supporting them in their doing that at this critical time.

johnf said...

@Red Maria
Shock horror! Scientists are found to be Christians. This cannot be allowed and evidence must be discounted.

Oh dear, I’ll have to throw my degrees in the bin then.

But the incontrovertible evidence I was thinking of was not arguments about statistics but rather the development of the embryo / foetus from conception up to birth. (Recall that the pro-choice lobby were for years telling girls that it was all right – it was only a blob of jelly – it was not human). Explaining the categories for which an abortion is allowed and the numbers each year in aborted in each category. Particularly that 97% of abortions are agreed on the presumption that continuing the pregnancy would involve risk of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated. Explaining too, that different countries in Europe have different limits for legal abortion and that the UK allows abortion up to birth in cases where the child could have severe disablement.

These simple facts are often a revelation to young people

Pointing out that Parliament takes a strictly utilitarian view and that does not mean that it is moral. Inviting pupils to discuss where the utilitarian view can lead.

As regards homosexuality, I am not going to get into the details of that on Fr Ray’s blog except to say that Nick Clegg’s statement that ‘homosexuality is normal and safe’ is perhaps the most stupid statement made by a politician for many years, given the lobbying by homosexuals for more funds for antiretroviral drugs to combat AIDS and HIV. Given the effort that is made to point out the dangers of smoking, it is curious that no effort is made to point out the dangers of ‘lifestyle choices’. Oh, but I forgot, they have no free will in this area because they are cursed with a gay gene – a gene which no-one has yet discovered, in spite careful searches.

terryprest said...

As for the provision for withdrawing your child - is whoever suggested that really suggesting that Catholic parents with children at a Catholic school should do that as a solution? (santoeusebio)

In terms of the relevant legislation parents may withdraw their children from a class of "sex education" either temporarily or permanently if the child is under 15 years of age.

There is no question of withdrawing them from the school.

Therefore if the school highlights that on a particular date or dates that it will be teaching about abortion, homosexuality or the like, the parent can simply serve notice on the school and insist that the child is withdrawn from being taught in the "sex education" classes on that date or on those dates. That is the "longstop" remedy which every parent has in the matter.

Before that is invoked, the next critical issue will be the "guidance" which is to be issued by the Government to schools as to what is to be taught in Sex Education classes on these topics and how it is to be taught.The draft guidance was issued by the Secretary of State on 25th January 2010.There will no doubt be discussions about this draft guidance. If the draft guidance is not to the Bishops` satisfaction then no doubt they will issue their advice to Catholic parents. There is nothing to stop Catholic parents just now indicating to MPs (or prospective Parliamentary candidates)and the like their own views on the draft guidance to be issued.It may be that the Bishops will in any event indicate their views on the pre-election guidance which they are proposing to issue before the next General Election expected imminently.

sedevacantist priest said...

Now there is a priest that has strong moral character and standing the catholic faith and donctrine. Why can other priests and Bishop share same thinking.

Viva Fr.Boyle parish priest of St. Simon Stock Ashford.

Fr. Roberto CRSA

Fr Gary Dickson said...

Volpius Leonius...First, thank you for appreciating the hard work that goes on in our parish.
I agree that our schools have been problematic for 20 years (I would say about 40...) but the poor catechetical materials our teachers have been given for their work has not only formed their pupils but the teachers themselves, if nothing else than by osmosis. We have a big battle to face in re-forming our people -in schools and out.
To my knowledge I am indeed onspeaking terms with our Bishop, but the petition is, it seems to me, addressed to the Episcopacy as a whole for collegial action. This seems to me a far better route than asking a very new Bishop to use a lone voice. Indeed to do so could appear a personal criticism that he has not yet raised his voice, and I do not wish to make a personal criticism of my or any other Bishop. In that the bishops may well be working behind the scenes, I think the united voice of the people for collegial action from the Bishops may well encourage and support them.
People are welcome to disagree with me, but I do not think personal challenge to individual bishops is always the way forward.

Anonymous said...

The Catholic church is only infallible in terms of doctrine. In every other respect it can - and has - made many mistakes. In fact, to paraphrase Belloc, if you ever wanted proof that the church is divinely guided, you only have to consider how it has managed to survive in spite of them.

The religious are there to guide and inspire us, but I believe that the lay faithful also have a very important part to play. If we see that the Church's teachings are not being upheld it is up to us to raise the matter and encourage - even demand - that our leaders act.

While I accept that Father Ray and other religious may not want to raise their head above the parapet in open criticism of their Bishops, the rest of us should feel no compunction about doing so. There is a terrible injustice being perpetrated on our children and we must demand that the Church comes to their immediate aid.

I fully support my wife Amanda's petition and if anyone reading this has any concerns about the rubbish our children will taught under the pretence that it is normal, acceptable behaviour, I would urge them to do the same.

This is not a time to worry about upsetting a few Bishops. There is far more at stake here.

Anthony Ozimic said...

"There being an imminent danger for the Faith, prelates must be questioned, even publicly, by their subjects." St Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, IIa IIae, Q. 33, A. 4

santoeusebio said...


So the idea is that you have a Catholic school. On certain days a talk will be given which gives information which amounts to co-operation in abortion. If the person giving the talk is a Catholic then they will be making themselves liable to automatic excommunication unless the classroom is empty at the time.

Yes up to the age of 15 children can be withdrawn. But will Catholic parents always withdraw their children? Will the bishops issue instructions to that effect and perhaps insist that no Catholic child should attend? And why is it okay to teach corruption to children once they reach a certain age?

This would be a ludicrous situation. It is rather like putting cyanide in the school lunches every Thursday and warning people - there will always be somebody who does not believe the warning. But perhaps the Bishops think they are recreating the Garden of Eden with a tree of Knowledge of which one should not eat the fruit?

As for the draft guidance the track record of the CES and the Bishops so far has been so dismal that I do not expect much unless we all protest as much as possible. I prefer to listen more to what Balls, Cameron and Clegg have said: Homosexuality is normal etc.

It is a shocking discovery but we cannot trust our Bishops as a body.

Nicolas Bellord

Volpius Leonius said...

Perhaps you are right Father Dickson, but this all just feels far to much like the people rising up against their Bishops to me and is not compatible with how I understand the role of laity.

It also reveals our internal weakness to our enemies, which on the eve of battle is I feel a mistake. A house divided cannot stand.

I long ago ceased to recognise the national conference of Bishops and their minions.

Parishioners dealing with their individual Bishops in person is far more effective than trying to deal with the bureaucrats who run those institutions, who while been utterly useless for most things are masters of obfuscation and stonewalling.

Christ intended the laity to deal with the individual Bishop He has placed over them, the sooner we get back to that model the better.

GOR said...

First of all people, lay off Fr. Blake! He has done everyone a service here by publicizing the petition and giving everyone an opportunity to sign it. That he doesn’t plan to sign it is his business, and rightly so. That he is opposed to what is happening to Catholic education at the instigation of the government and secular interests, goes without saying. That other priests may decide to sign it is their business and – again - rightly so. Neither decision detracts from the integrity of the individuals themselves. There’s more than one way to make one’s views known.

Frankly, I think the initiative is more appropriate to the laity than to parish priests. Who knows what individual parish priests have done or are doing within their sphere with, perhaps, little appreciation or even a sympathetic hearing? There’s a limit to how far a parish priest can go when confronted with apparent hierarchical lassitude. Prayer may be the only recourse for them.

But the laity should have no compunction in calling upon their ‘Fathers in Faith’ to act - and act publicly and decisively. It’s not just their right, it may be their duty in faith.

Fr Smith said...

An inspirational post Fr Ray.

A morally corrupt government with a secular agenda is where our real angst should be directed. Vote this government out by all means but don't blame the bishops alone! Pray for them support them! The bishops cannot wave a magic wand and turn back the clock 25 years and fix catholic education! That horse bolted years ago.

In my parish we pay to the diocese 12,000 annually for our two primary schools. The two schools are excellent in their character, the teaching staff are wonderful, the children delightful, the governing bodies work hard in supporting the managing of the schools. The ethos of our schools is catholic.. RE inspections will tell you so but also Mass is celebrated weekly. The amount of non Catholics in both schools is quite high, 40% maybe higher, many of the baptised Catholics given a place in the schools do not come from practising catholic families. In reality it is like trying to pull teeth to get them involved in the life of the parish. Many of the non committed Catholic parents don’t want about Church or faith issues, they want the benefits of a great school but not the bread and butter of catholic faith and life. They tolerate the parish and pay lip service to it. That is so frustrating! Once the children move on to high schools ...........many disappear from the parish. The demise in practise is not just the fault of schools, teachers, priests, bishops all trying hard to make the system work.

Teaching the truths of the Catholic faith in an increasingly secular world is no easy task. I don’t have the answers to how the Catholic faith will continue to inspire people, prayer and more prayer, seems to be the order of the day.

Why not give the catholic schools back to the state let them pay for everything, let them find willing governors to work on behalf of the schools. The money that the parish gives to the diocese could be saved and perhaps could be used to fund a part time catechist who would prepare the catholic children of the parish for the sacraments and generally instruct them about the catholic teaching, sex ed included. This catechism could extend past year six and support the teenage years too and not only the children but their families also.

Some of the people I come across say things to me such as:

How many practising Catholics do Catholic schools produce at the moment? How many Catholic schools are 100% catholic in its intake? How many catholic schools have 100% catholic teachers and not only catholic teachers but teachers who come to Mass.

The debate perhaps should move to asking how Catholic are Catholic schools now?

Is it not time to give em back to the state and catechise in the parish instead??

We do not produce a large percentage of practising Catholics from our Catholic school system. Who is to blame? More importantly what can be done to make a change?

SzukmV said...

Even in the most faithful Catholic schools, the secular propaganda creeps in, e.g. in Y7 Geography a text book uses twisted facts to say the world is becoming rapidly overcrowded and infers that Catholic teaching on artificial birth control is to blame.

We need to protect our children any way we can. For those of us who have written to bishops only to be fobbed off with the CES and their diocesan counterparts, it is very disheartening. We've been advised to write to our bishop, +McMahon etc. At least they can't say no one objected, even if they still defer to the CES.

The CES have been bedfellows with the TPU, Brooke etc. for many years as members of the Sex Education Forum. They speak the same language. They are very practiced at hiding their true beliefs. Ed Balls stood up for them because they share the same beliefs.

The laity - who are they? The handful who voice concerns at our schools, or the vast majority who just do as they are advised by the headteacher and PP? Few of us have been formed in the faith since the death of catechesis in the 70's.

There is also a significant minority who actively support the secular agenda on sexuality and will 'shop' any Catholic school that tries to remain faithful.

shane said...

In 2002 the Irish government held yet another referendum on abortion. The proposed Amendment, formulated in consultation with the hierarchy, was ostensibly aimed at tightening the law on abortion so as to preclude the psychological condition of strong suicidial tendencies (resulting from the infamous 'X' case) as a constitutional ground for procuring an abortion.

BUT the government seriously outmaneuvered the bishops by radically redefining the early embryo prior to implantation as not human life entitled to protection.

Leading pro-life groups condemned both the referendum and the bishops emphatic and uncritical support for the 'yes' side (which they effectively led):

The Irish Post at the time also reported that the President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Cardinal Alfonso Trujillo, said during a conference in Rome that "The situation is delicate in Ireland but we expect that the Bishops will react against the proposals."

In the 1992 referendum on abortion, the bishops also said that Catholics could vote in favour of allowing advertising and travel arrangements for abortions abroad.

Sometimes (...or very frequently) bishops just don't get it right. The laity always have to be on the ball.

Anonymous said...

Fr, sorry to come back to this, but it is such an important issue.
I have signed as I said before. I, along with many other EHE parents have been writing to MPs, Govt people, papers, anyone we thought might listen for OVER A YEAR trying to find someone with a loud enough voice who would stand with us to fight for the rights of our children to have their innocence protected and be educated otherwise than school.
It's been tough.
I have written to more than one bishop and either received NO REPLY at all or been told they wont meet with us but we should contact the CES.
I really don't know what else to do. My older children may be safe enough from all this but my younger ones are not safe at all.
I home educate because I take very seriously indeed my duty to my children and because what my children went through in "Catholic" schools was nothing short of appalling.
I have been a parent for 20+ years and it's been a long, lonely road most of the time.
I am not making judgements about the bishops but I would beg them to just agree to meet with us-just once so we can explain our fears for our children.
I have been part of a few Home Ed groups over the years and have rarely seen bishops criticised-but we do wish they would meet and speak with us or speak out in some way.
Meanwhile I assume everyone here has written to their MP and/or a Lord or two.

RJ said...

Further to my previous comment, I have signed the petition. Why not express our concern on such an important matter?

Red Maria said...

@PaulineG: we've had a similar exchange in the past and I don't mind doing so again now.

However, that doesn't change the fact that your comment wasn't of the intellectual and political standard that it could and should have been.

I haven't accused anyone of being dishonourable - what a grandiloquent way of putting things - but I have openly and frankly called them stupid because they were.

If you think that a bunch of CMF members not declaring their affiliation before a parliamentary select committee on abortion is politically sensible then there's not much I can do for you.

You attempt to mount a defence of the CMF's antics, as you've done on this blog's comments box in the past, by posting a link to a self-serving press release issued by the CMF. I do hope I'm not supposed to take such rubbish seriously.

You go on to claim that you followed the debate at the time but were "not aware" of the fact that Alive and Kicking fell apart because it was peddling junk science.

In perhaps one of the most startling passages I have read, you said:

"My recollection is that the arguments offered by those who tried did not withstand critical scrutiny.

Yes, that's what's called "junk science".

...Can you provide an example of the evidence presented by members of the CMF to the Committee being exposed as “junk”?

Jaw dropping. See above.

My recollection is that the worst that could be established was that John Wyatt (Professor of neo-natal medicine at University College Hospital) had provided evidence based on his own work at UCL which had not yet been peer -reviewed and published.


And you expect scientists to take that seriously?

And you are also asserting, are you not, that you are not aware of the junk science Alive and Kicking was peddling?

And you expect me to take you seriously?

You are seriously saying, are you, that you do NOT know of the results of the Epicure2 Study? That you do not understand the basic point that one (1) premature baby surviving out of a sample of one (1) is an 100% survival rate and wholly misleading at that because the sample size is obviously miniscule? You are seriously saying, are you, that neonatal mortality rates have gone down significantly since 1990?

If you are then that's earthshattering stuff and I would expect you to demonstrate your scientific credentials AND have published a peer-reviewed study in a major academic journal setting out your case.

And if you can't do that but continue with such incredible arguments while asking me (me!) to provide evidence for what is known to everybody but you, it seems - at which point I say go and do some homework, go and read what Ben Goldacre and others wrote at the time - then you cannot be taken seriously as a political activist and your political cause cannot be taken as a serious one.

People want to know why Pro Life has failed in the UK. The answer lies in PaulineG's comment. PaulineG is a well-known Pro Life activist yet the calibre of her political argument - as demonstrated here - is so bad as to be positively counterproductive to the cause she serves. What's worse is that she's hardly atypical of her peer-group. The quality of Pro Life politics in the UK is utterly dismal but if you tell Pro Lifers that, far from showing a willingness to learn, they scream at you. Such is their arrogance. One would have thought that the harsh blows they'd been dealt in the past forty years would have taught them something.

And people moan about the bishops. What a shower.

Red Maria said...

Oh for heaven's sake.

JohnF misses the point entirely. If scientists don't reveal their CMF affiliation in select committee submissions they should expect to have their evidence binned. Politics is a contact sport. It shouldn't be played by rank amateurs.

He claims that the pro-abortion lobby are economical with the truth and he drags out old arguments they don't use anymore. Fine if he wants to battle with the ghosts of the Abortion Law Reform Association but those weren't the arguments used by Abortion Rights this time around.

Alive and Kicking tried to argue that neonatal mortality rates had significantly changed since 1990. The Epicure2 Study showed that it was wrong. Result: another parliamentary failure and accusations that Pro Lifers are liars which aren't easy to shake off. Great stuff, guys.

tempus putationis said...

"Catholics should not be paralysed by last week's disastrous vote", says Archbishop Vincent Nichols, in the Catholic Herald. "...we have to make clear to our political representatives what we expect, engage them in genuine ethical debate, and pray that together we can reset our country's moral compass."

Yes, yes! We are all with you, Archbishop, we have been waiting for this... Tell us how we can help....

But this was nearly two years ago, when the Catholic Herald was reporting the Human Fertilization and Embryology Bill.

How much more desperate is the situation now, Archbishop, when our schools are being set up to conspire with those who, as you said, arrange for "the deliberate killing and dismembering of innocent human beings."

George Carmody said...

It's quiz time: which of the following three statements is the odd one out?

"We, the undersigned, call upon the Bishops of England and Wales and the Catholic Education Service to fulfil their duty as guardians of our Catholic Faith and unequivocally reject recent Government measures forcing Catholic schools to teach what is explicitly condemned by the Church" - the current petition

"I urge you as Pastors to ensure that the Church’s moral teaching be always presented in its entirety and convincingly defended." - Pope Benedict XVI

"Certainly I am distressed and perplexed by their [the bishops'] silence but I am willing to believe that it is for some good purpose." - Fr. Ray Blake

George said...

Wow! This subject is reaching almost record proportions in the comments box Fr Ray - 95 and still counting!

Our Good Bishops should be reassured and in no doubt as to the strength and groundswell of feeling among UK Catholics on issues pertaining to keeping Catholic Education C-A-T-H-O-L-I-C and keeping the Government-CES led 'sex-pests' out of the Catholic classroom.

Now dear Bishops please sound the 'battle cry' and issue the orders to 'arms' (Prayer, Fasting and Witness) on this 21st Century Crusade.

Let's not forget we have our Holy Father coming to these shores in October this year! Let's show him between now and the visit that British Catholics are 'alive and well', that the Catholic Faith in this country has a 'soul' and we are willing to defend the Magisterium - the Teaching of Our Blessed Lord - in its entirety!

Please recite the 'Prayer for England' daily:

O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother look down in mercy upon England, thy dowry, and upon us who greatly hope and trust in thee.

By thee it was that Jesus, our Saviour and our hope was given unto the world; and He has given thee to us that we might hope still more.

Plead for us thy children, whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the cross, O Sorrowful Mother, Intercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true fold, they may be united to the Chief Shepherd, the Vicar of thy Son.

Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by faith, fruitful in good works we may all deserve to see and praise God, together with thee in our heavenly home.

AMEN & God Bless the Catholic Blogosphere.

Independent said...

My twins, a son and a duughter, attended a Catholic School. I was extremely happy with the Religious Education up to O level. The course was taught by an elderly, charming, and erudite Spanish nun. However my daughter had to drop the subject at A level because she found that her Christian faith was being undermined by the excessive liberalism, especially regarding Holy Scripture, of the lay Mistress who taught at that level. It was otherwise a very good school, run by a religious order. This was a long time ago, and I wonder what they are teaching now. Parents cannot take for granted that their children will be taught what they would wish.

Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Fr Ray!!! How could you?? How many more blog posts? How many more letters to the Bishops? How much more silence? You know about the abuse covered up by the Bishops? You know this sex ed is " now then children you don't need to tell your parents this. In fact it can be our little secret! ". Nah..I'm not risking it with my children!

Cathy said...

This is such an important post that the comments deserve to number at least 100. Is this a record for you Father.

Father Blake, I love your blog, and I sincerely wish that every parish had a priest like you, but I think the petition merits support.

God bless.

PaulineG said...

Just to register that I shall not reply to Red Maria for reasons which should be evident.

Francis said...

Fr. Ray,

If the bishops do have a strategy here, it may be based on a cynical view that the Catholic school system is simply too far gone anyway and it's too late to do anything. If practising Catholic children are in the minority in nearly all "Catholic" schools, and it is impossible to recruit enough decent Catholic teachers, all we are left with are a residual "ethos" and fond memories of yesteryear.

The real question is perhaps whether the current Catholic school infrastructure should be scrapped in favour of a tight group of independent schools, where the really committed parents would pay (according to their means) to get their children a proper Catholic education, and where admittance and recruitment could be based on measures of authentic Catholicity and religious adherence. This wouldn't necessarily prevent the imposition, by secularist politicians, of compulsory sex education, but such schools could foster a spiritual ambiance where damage limitation would be possible.

I am disappointed with our local Catholic school. Most kids do not attend church, and my son is beginning to form an awareness that we are somehow the odd-balls because we go to Mass on Sunday! The RE teaching is low-grade as well -- relativistic, simplistic, non-judgmental and confusing. I am having to back-fill and do most of the real teaching myself -- simple things like Jesus is God made Man, man is body and soul, Catholicism is the one true faith, we are here to get to heaven, and other basics. If Catholic schools can't or won't instil these things, are they any use?

Patricius said...

Important as this issue is, it is only one aspect of a much larger crisis confronting the Church in this country. Another aspect concerns the Catholic Adoption agencies. Last year as one after another was cut adrift and bishops made seemingly poor excuses I felt a sense of betrayal. The news of the Catholic Care appeal in the High Court and the pastoral letter of the threebishops has caused me at least to reflect again. The bishops are not all spineless fellow-travellers! Whether or not people sign this petition I beg all reading this to pray for the success of the Appeal in the High Court. It is crucial.

Volpius Leonius said...

Francis Catholic schools have been useless for decades, no one minds as long as its not the government making them useless it seems.

laicus said...

If the bishops are already doing what this petition says (behind the scenes), then the petition will not worry them. In fact it will show that they have our support for what they are doing.

If the bishops are not doing what the petition says, then the petition ought indeed to worry them.

L said...

I don't think it has to be taken as a critism - I think that is a matter of choice. I see it as a way of acknowledging their power in this situation and showing them how much we depend on them. I agree with the prayer and fasting that must be involved in this situation too.

Elizabeth said...

This is the response I received from the CES to my imploring letter, part of which I have reprinted below. It's not what I expected, from those to whom the Faith of our children in Catholic Schools in entrusted.
Your comments please bloggers?

From: Maeve McCormack []
Sent: 02 March 2010 16:32
Subject: RE: Sex education - What are you doing to our children

Dear Elizabeth

Thank you for your email. Please visit the dedicated section of our website: for detailed information on our work on Sex and Relationships Education.

In particular, you may be interested to read our Chief Executive’s recent letter to the Catholic Herald: and the document “Sex and Relationships Education: Setting the Record Straight”:

With best wishes,

Maeve McCormack
Policy and Briefing Manager
Catholic Education Service for England and Wales
39 Eccleston Square
Phone: 020 7901 1900
Fax: 020 7901 1939

Sent: 26 February 2010 15:08
To:;;; CES General
Subject: Sex education - What are you doing to our children

Today’s sex education does not seem to be about education at all, but a promotion of sexual promiscuity without responsibility. The good of the child does not, it seems, enter into the equations.
What needs to be understood by today's politicians, and taught in our schools, is that the liberalising attitudes of the 1960's have failed us. Instead of bringing the promised happier families and more stable persons, the ditching of so-called ‘Victorian Values’ has brought us only greater misery. Yes, we have been handed passing sexual pleasures, but not happiness, consequently the youth of today - who should be the happiest generation according to the theories of the 1960’s has the highest rate of suicides, teenage pregnancies, abortions, STDs etc. despite all the education and provision of contraception.
Now what is even more ridiculous is that the government is foisting Sex Education on our five year olds (latest SRE Bill) while almost at the same time we read in today’s news
Frank Furedi, professor of sociology at Kent University, said society as a whole and adults were to blame.
He said: "The whole of society is hypersexualised - sex becomes the common currency through which adults make their way in the world and continually send a signal to children that sex is all that matters.
"One of the big problems that we are faced with is that increasingly adults have lost the capacity to draw a line between their own attitudes and those of children and increasingly we're recycling adult attitudes about sex through the prism of children."
Tory leader David Cameron said earlier this month that he would clamp down on irresponsible advertising targeted at children.
He also mooted the idea that parents should be able to complain about offensive marketing tactics used by companies, via a specially set-up website.
Such moves were needed to stop children being "bombarded" with inappropriate material, he said.
Home Secretary Alan Johnson said: "We know that parents are concerned about the pressures their children are under at a much younger age, which is why we have already committed to a number of the recommendations in this report.
I implore everyone to look closely at what is going in before we create a generation of incentivised amoral sexually free-for-all adults unable to form stable, loving, long term relationships and families, causing a rising tide of fatherlessness, damaged children, abused women, criminality, drug abuse and other anti social behaviours. All leading to a social meltdown.

In Domino

BA Honours Psychology
MA Maryvale Theology

Anonymous said...

Dear Fr.B, there has be lots of discussion about this. Fr. John Boyle and James Preece have been rather articulate. The many comments have been interesting.

My question is: Have you changed your mind? Would you now sign the petition?

Kind regards.

David Joyce said...

Francis Catholic schools have been useless for decades, no one minds as long as its not the government making them useless it seems.

VL, you have clearly missed out on years of work by many groups working to correct the failures of our Catholic schools. Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice is probably the best known of these groups, and its chariman, Mrs Daphne McLeod, in particular. Christian Order has catalogued these failings for the majority of its 50 years in publication.

The point that people miss is not the practical failings of our schools (which are appalling), but the principle that schools will no longer be able to teach the Catholic faith as objective truth. We are expected to teach "alternatives" in a non-judgemental manner. This makes true Catholic schooling impossible - it enforces relativism. And what is to be taught - this the State decides.

The petition simply begs our Bishops to fight this abomination. If they cannot, or if they find this plea by the laity offensive, then words fail me in describing the gravity of the situation.

Volpius Leonius said...

"VL, you have clearly missed out on years of work by many groups working to correct the failures of our Catholic schools."

If I have missed it, it is because they have achieved nothing which is their fault not mine.

Kate said...

Hoe interesting! The response you received from the CES is identical to the one I received, when I asked for some clarifications re the conflicting claims of the CES/DCSF on the requirements of the draft bill.

Kate said...

Hoe interesting! The response you received from the CES is identical to the one I received, when I asked for some clarifications re the conflicting claims of the CES/DCSF on the requirements of the draft bill.

Anthony Ozimic said...

Fr Ray, I understand your decision to delete criticisms by your commenters of individual schools, though SPUC would welcome those commenters sharing such information privately with us by email to

Red Maria said...

@ Anthony Ozimic: Can you share with us any details of what is being done about this CES madness? I've heard tantalising snippets about "things going on behind the scenes" and "bishops being deluged with angry emails".

Elizabeth said...

Kate, what makes you think everyone got a rubber stamped reply??
CES don't want to be told they they are single handedly destroying what little faith we have left in our schools. And explaining to children the means they need to commit murder!!!

And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck Mk 9:42

Anonymous said...

Father Blake, Could you sign or question your Bishops based on the account in Acts of St. Paul reprimanding St. Peter on the question of circumcision? It appears at first glance that bowing to the government infringes on human dignity and morality. Granted, St. Paul was a fellow Apostle. But then it seems that questioning a Bishop is appropriate in any case wherein that Bishop errs in matters of truth and morals.

Anonymous said...

It also appears that parents are needed more than ever before to be the primary educators of their own children. In this way, errors in morality could be shown for what they are.

dictionar german said...

I agree with you father.Well done!

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