Monday, March 15, 2010

CSF Bill: Bishop McMahon says, "Don't worry!"

The Bones... has an email from Bishop Malcolm McMahon's secretary:
Dear Mr England

Thank you for your email of 23 February 2010.

The Catholic Education Service which I chair has been working very hard to secure the rights of parents and school governors as the Children, Schools and Families Bill passes through Parliament.

There is no question of the CES colluding with the Government. Negotiation is not collusion. I also believe that confrontation with the Government over this Bill would not achieve anything.

There has been much wrong information put about by campaigning groups and indeed the Government itself. The CES has had some of this corrected. As the Bill stands at the present time, it will not be made statutory for Catholic Schools to promote abortion, contraception and homosexuality.

Yours sincerely

Rt Rev Malcolm McMahon OP
Bishop of Nottingham

Catherine Campbell
Bishop's Secretary
Rather than clarifying anything this only adds confusion, the bill itself gives the Secretary of State the right to determine at will what will or will not be taught in schools. It seems very strange that the Government is accused of giving misinformation about its own bill whilst the CES has been correcting this.

Yet under the CES Connexions has been given ready access to Catholic Schools.

"Negotiation is not collusion." says the Bishop. Yet hasn't this bill already passed through the House of Commons? It might be arrogant to ask his Lordship ...but should he trust our Government, is he aware that the majority of people in this country, for good reason, don't trust the Government?

There is a great risk today in Bishops not being clear and unequivocal in the their words, it is that failure which leads to suspicion and mistrust. We must learn at least that from thesituation Irish bishops.


Ma Tucker said...

State sponsored grooming is a disgrace. Great if we have negotiated an opt out by giving Ed Balls the controls???? (am I missing something here or is that simple lunacy??). Nevertheless, what about love of neighbour, what about the poor children in state schools and their parents who I'm sure would find this offensive. You can't quietly negotiate special terms on matters of grave moral danger to your neighbour. You have to correct these perverts for the sake of all the nations children surely.

Kate said...

"As the Bill stands at the present time, it will not be made statutory for Catholic Schools to promote abortion, contraception and homosexuality."

The CES/Bishop McMahon position hangs on what they mean by that word 'promote'.
Ed Ball is quite clear that Catholic schools will have to teach children how to access abortion, contraception, and homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle. The amendment makes it clear that Catholic schools can, in addition, teach about abortion, contraception and homosexuality from a Catholic viewpoint, but neither the CES, Bishop McMahon nor Ed Balls has claimed that the amendment will relieve Catholic schools of the duty of teaching children how to access abortion etc.Indeed,it's difficult to see how they could.
Does the CES/Bp. McMahon think that teaching children how to access abortion, contraception, morning after pill etc., does not promote them to children?

Independent said...

Perhaps he should say "Don't panic".

Dominic Mary said...

'There has been much wrong information put about by campaigning groups and indeed the Government itself.'

With every respect to +Malcolm, this seems naive : if the Government is saying something, it is likely to turn out to be a fact - whatever the original theory may have been.

Governments (and particularly the present Government) have no interest in anything except getting their own way, and I'm afraid that anyone who trusts them to keep their word about anything is woefully optimistic.

Michael Petek said...

You can tell Bishop McMahon from me:

Jesus Christ is the Supreme Lawgiver and the Judge of the living and the dead.

Judgement begins with the house of God, and in particular with the shepherds.

Be afraid, Bishop McMahon!

Be very afraid!

Benedict Kirshaw said...

It is not you being arrogant but His Lordship, who is saying don't listen to the Government, Mr Balls, the media,SPUC, concerned bloggers, the 2000 signatories on the petition, listen to me, I understand these things far better than you.

Why should we, what reason is there to trust him?

fidelisjoff said...

Unfortunately the CES and the episcopate of E & W have no problem with the promotion of contraception in Catholic schools. Apparently slipping a condom over a suitable model of a penis and applying variou spermecidal creams is only information. To stand against this and be faithful brings the wrathe of your "catholic" headteacher and the average CES inspector. You are looked upon as a dinosaur that should be extinct or at least shut up. That sums up the vast majority of Catholic schools I.e they oppose often quite openly Church teaching.

JARay said...

The riposte which comes to mind is "There's none so blind as those who will not see".
It is even in Scripture..."you have eyes but you cannot see. You have ears but you cannot hear..."

P Standforth said...

In 'negotiating' with the Government, the CES and the CBEW seem not to understand the basic srength which they have, and are not using that advantage. Together with the CofE schools, the Christian community run a substantial fraction of schools in this country. They have a position more than strong enough to turn to the Dept of Education (or whatever it's called this week) and tell them to take a long walk off a short pier. Instead they play act at 'negotiating' with a team of ruthless, doctrinaire, militant rogues hell bent on wiping Christ out of our childrens minds, and we are batting with a team of nice old duffers who actually believe what these nice officials tell them.

Get the soft arts graduates out of the CES and get some gritty business savvy sharp shooters in.

Father John Boyle said...

Catholic Schools are promoting contraception and abortion. Believe me. I will not say more now.

laicus said...

I have little confidence in Malcolm McMahon. Spoonfed by the ridiculous Oona, he seems impervious to reality. He needs to wake up.

Anonymous said...

Does the bishop think that those of us campaigning against the Bill haven't read the documents put out by the CES? Of course we have and they are not documents that negotiate on anything-they openly collude. The CES doc on home education was more pro-Govt than the one the C of E produced for heavens sake!
And I might add that when my older children were in Catholic secondary school they were taught about contraception and how to use it.

Here's my email reply:

Archbishop Longley has asked me to thank you for your email of the 14 February 2010 and respond of his behalf.

In regard to the matters about which you write, the Archdiocese would follow advice and guidance from the Catholic Education Service. It might be more helpful to you to contact the Catholic Education Service directly. The chairman is Bishop Malcolm McMahon.

With every good wish,

Father Martin Pratt
Secretary to Archbishop Bernard Longley

Is it time to approach the Nuncio?

Monica said...

Fr Boyle - I know they are and have been doing it for many years. My children were subjected to it and I had no support from anyone in authority, including local priest, when I complained. They couldn't see what I was concerned about.

torchofthefaith said...

Dear Father

Bishop McMahon says that 'there has been much wrong information put about by campaigning groups'.

SPUC have given FACTS straight from the horses mouth so to speak.

Below are the words of Ed Balls himself from the Today programme - via John Smeaton's SPUC blog. (In light of these words whom are we to consider as the 'campaigning groups' giving the really incorrect information... The CES perhaps?).

•"If you are currently a Catholic school ... you could choose to teach only to children that contraception is wrong, homosexuality is wrong. That changes radically with this bill." (at 06:30 mins)
•"A Catholic faith school can say to their pupils we believe as a religion contraception is wrong but what they can't do is therefore say that they are not going to teach them about contraception to children, how to access contraception, or how to use contraception. What this changes is that for the first time these schools cannot just ignore these issues or teach only one side of the argument. They also have to teach that there are different views on homosexuality. They cannot teach homophobia. They must explain civil partnership. They must give a balanced view on abortion, they must give both sides of the argument, they must explain how to access an abortion, the same is true on contraception as well." (from 07:20 to 08:47 mins)
•"To have the support of the Catholic Church and Archbishop Nichols in these changes is, I think, very, very important, is a huge step forward." (at 09:05 mins)
•"[Catholic schools] cannot teach that homosexuality is wrong and that therefore it is OK to discriminate on homosexuality" (at 10:42 mins)
•"[T]he Catholic Church, which I really welcome, is supporting, for the first time, compulsory sex education with an opt out at 15" (at 12:25 mins) (JS: Mr Balls knows that the opt-out i.e. parental right to withdraw children from SRE classes, ends at 15, not starts. Also, what is unappreciated is that no child of any age will be able to withdraw themselves from SRE.)

In Christ
Alan and Angeline

RJ said...

Re the minister's comments: it did occur to me that they do not have legal force as such. Isn't interpretation of the law a matter for the courts? That doesn't mean the proposed legislation is alright, but one is not obliged to take the minister's assertions entirely at face value. He gave me the impression of responding to various political pressures. One has to take into account that he is speaking to more than one audience, and possibly trying to tell each what it wants to hear. It might be more useful to consult a lawyer.

santoeusebio said...

I have received a second letter from Bishop McMahon of which the key sentence is:

There is much misinformation around at the present time, and the Secretary of State is responsible for some of this.

I have replied to the effect that the SofS lays down what is to be taught in every school. The current guidance which the bill will make compulsory requires amongst other matters that a child is able to answer the question:

What can I expect from contraception and sexual health services and where and when are these services available?

Further the statements by Ed Balls - the SofS - in both the House of Commons and the Press only confirms this saying that "you can't deny young people information about contraception outside of marriage". Such information will obviously include abortifacient pills.

I have asked his Lordship to point out where we are misinformed about the above and whether anything different has been said to the CES.

Nicolas Bellord

SzukmV said...

Read "SRE: Setting the record straight (17 December 2009)" on the CES website.

On first reading by the innocent, it may seem reasonable, but you need to look behind the weasel words. Has someone fisked the whole document? Here are some points:

Re 1) “We endorse strongly the view that parents are the first and primary educators of their children.”

It is not a “view”, but ontological reality. In any case the rest of the document puts parents firmly in their place, school first – parents last.

“2) Much that is proposed for SRE is already taking place in schools.”

What a giveaway!

Re 2) “... through a statutory entitlement to PSHE ... parents will know what is to be provided in PSHE and can expect to see the school’s policies and be able to discuss these.”

The CES absolutely supports PSHE being made statutory. This means that all schools will have to teach the statutory content. This has never been denied by the CES. The use of the word “entitlement” is to stop the innocent from questioning what they are told. Parents can already ask what is provided in PHSE and discuss the policy until they are blue in the face – but they have no power to change anything.

“4) Knowing about something is not necessarily the same as promoting it”

This seems to confirm that they know Catholic schools will have to teach all the bad things we have been complaining about. This fits in with +McMahon’s use of the word “promote”.

Re 4) “To keep our young people ignorant about … contraception …, does not help to reduce teenage pregnancies;”

There it is from the horses mouth; ignore the disingenuous phrase “contraception and its risks or to hide the negative consequences of abortion”. The CSF Bill clearly states these need to be taught in a balanced way, so a one-sided apologetic will not wash. By the way, are there positive consequences to abortion?

“6) Pupils will be expected to know [about] … Civil Partnerships”

They say nothing about whether this would be expected at primary level. They have not replied to that question, so I can only assume it will be taught from primary onwards.

Re 9) “The fact that a Catholic school may have an onsite clinic in no way indicates that the clinic is offering contraceptives, or assisting in the facilitation of abortions.”

No of course not … like er Thomas More in Bedford?!

The Catholic ethos and values stuff is just a smoke-screen, the ground was already conceded, in fact it was probably welcomed with open arms. When we complained about explicit videos to 7 year-olds five years ago we were told it was statutory. It wasn’t then, but it will be now. Thanks CES, thanks bishops.

Father John Boyle said...

To mum6kids: Could you get in touch with me about your email?

Joe said...

Don't give up!

The parents of Cardinal Vaughan School, in London, have shown that it is possible to stand up to this onslaught. The Westminster Education service disgracefully referred the school to the Schools Adjudicator, for having catholic entry criteria! The adjudicator ruled that the school had to change some of its criteria. The parents persuaded the governors to take the matter to Judicial Review. Days before the hearing in High Court, the Adjudicator gave way and reversed his decision. The school can keep its entry criteria unchanged for a further year! (see

So if enough of us get together, we can and will succeed.

Don’t give up. Keep writing and get the lawyers involved.

We need to work to change the composition of the Catholic Education Service and its friends in Westminster. How do we go about making this change? Who elects these people to office?

The Lord’s descent into the underworld

At Matins/the Office of Readings on Holy Saturday the Church gives us this 'ancient homily', I find it incredibly moving, it is abou...