Wednesday, March 03, 2010
Petition Against Ed Balls' Sex Ed
The petition: Against Government-Led Sex Education in Catholic Schools has a thousand signatures, a large number I recognise as priests and prominent lay people. In my post about it there are over 100 comments, they are still coming in, there would be more but some were direct criticisms of individual bishops or schools, so I dreleted them. I think this has become a useful forum that complements the petition, and many have gone from this blog directly to the petition itself, maybe to sign, maybe to look at who else has signed.
I am glad that my friend Fr John Boyle was willing to take my decision not to sign to task and to state why he felt under an obligation to do so, important, here at least, to have both sides of the arguement. I disagree with him only on the wording of the wording of this petition, not on manifesting our concerns to the bishops. I am in total sympathy with the sentiments of the petition, but not with the words used. I have been avidly watching the numbers rise, because at least it demonstrates the sense of outrage of many, a thousand is a significant number of signatures.
Bishops are the shepherds of the flock of Christ not hirelings. It is very sad that amongst those commenting here there are so many expressions of frustration, not only at the repeated failure of bishops to respond to letters expressing serious concerns but also the concerns themselves, the fact is that abortion "access" and contraception are available in our schools already. "Access" is one word however collusion to procure an abortion might actually be more accurate. If bishops allow it passively they are not simply obeying the law, they are colluding in sin, and allowing others to be led into sin. Millstones spring to mind.
I urge giving our bishops time for a response, because Mr Balls' bill would turn passive collusion in procuring an abortion into active support in procuring one, which is a very grave sin iundeed. It is something no bishop, no priest, no Catholic lay-person, parent or teacher could be party to in anyway. Even signing a form for a child to be given a place in such an educational system will challenge the consciences of at many priests. Increasingly the only option for many will be home-schooling.
There are a few comments from Catholic teachers who obviously recognise this fact, the most committed of our teachers will have to consider their futures very seriously. I am sure that the Bishops are organising delaying tactics in the House of Lords, with a likely May election they only need to hold out until the Easter recess for the bill to be lost. Our bishops are teachers, governors and sanctifiers of the Church before they are negotiators with the government. Most are rightly much loved, unfortunately so far they have failed to teach on these very important moral issues. The problem is our Bishops Conference structure; having a single spokes-Archbishop on Life issues and a spokes-bishop on schools allows others to negate their responisibilities. In each diocese, every bishop is Apostle and High Priest, he can't delegate it to other bishops, either collectively or individually.
What concerns me about many of the comments on this subject is their insular concern with the Church; abortion and the other issues are not just an evil for Catholics, they evil for everyone. The usurpation by the government of parental rights is a serious affront to justice and human rights within our society, not just the Catholic environment, the same goes for the exultation of other relationships at the expense of marriage. An appeal to reason, a rejection of an untried "morality" makes Mr Balls' bill easily redraftable, under another government, in terms that would respect conscience and be acceptable to Catholics.
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