Another Catholic Education Service Scandal

Torch of The Faith News on Monday 08 May 2017 - 15:33:06 | by admin

Archbishop Malcolm McMahon: Archbishop of Liverpool and Chairman of the Catholic Education Service (CES).

Regular readers will recall that, over the course of several years, we have spoken here about problems relating to the so-called Catholic Education Service (CES). Most recently, we have been lamenting the warm welcome given by the Chairman of the CES, Liverpool's Archbishop Malcolm McMahon, to sex and relationships-education being made compulsory, by the British government, for children in all Catholic schools from the age of four upwards.

As we have already said, this represents nothing short of a betrayal of Catholic parents and their children; who should be able to expect better than this from their ecclesiastical shepherds.

You will also recall that we have consistently situated our critique of this particular matter within the wider context, in which Archbishop Malcolm McMahon had appointed Mr. Greg Pope to a highly-paid leadership position in the CES: even though that former MP had a parliamentary track-record of voting in an anti-life and anti-family manner; and had signed parliamentary motions in support of international and domestic abortion providers, and in support of condom manufacturers who had helped with ''National Condom Week'' in UK schools.

Aware of this background, we were interested to learn that Archbishop McMahon had recently given an interview on the theme of Catholic education to the leftist Guardian newspaper.

This interview was linked to by Fr. Bede Rowe and by Fr. Simon Henry on their respective blog-sites.

Fr. Rowe noted: ''In a generally negative interview with Archbishop McMahon, the Archbishop puts forward many interesting points.'' After listing a series of positive quotes from the interview, Fr. Rowe concludes: ''Read the whole thing, it really is quite excellent. The writer of course, simply doesn't get Catholic Education, but perhaps that says more about the liberal intelligentsia, than it does Catholic Education.''

With a H/T to Fr. Rowe, Fr. Henry's linking article concluded: ''It's all about Catholic Education, of which His Grace rightly defends the principles (whatever some of us might think of the content).''

I've not been able to concentrate on reading and responding to this interview until now, because I broke one of my teeth eating a pizza a couple of days ago. This has left the tooth's nerve painfully exposed. As is the way with these things, my dentist is away until tomorrow morning, and I am feeling at a pretty low ebb today. Nevertheless, as I think that this matter is so important, I shall endeavour to make some kind of articulate reflections in what follows. As ever, I must ask you to also bear with the fact that, since being hacked into, our website remains annoyingly unable to make working links within this blog-page. I must ask you to therefore make your own searches as appropriate to access the various articles mentioned herein. 

In the first instance, Mark Lambert at De Omnibus Dubitandum Est has already provided a response to the Archbishop's interview, which is splendidly on the money in terms of the key issues and points made.

Following from that, a point which Mark mentioned in his initial article, and has since followed up in a subsequent article, has also been dealt with by a number of other laymen writers.

I speak, of course, of the critiques of the title, content and methodology employed in the CES's new document on the theme of ''homophobic'' bullying. These have been written by the aforementioned Mark Lambert; Dr. Joseph Shaw at the Latin Mass Chairman's Blog; ''Ben Trovato'' at the Countercultural Father; and the courageous American author, Joseph Sciambra. 

I would agree with Fr. Henry and Fr. Rowe that Archbishop McMahon does make a number of positive points regarding the principles of Catholic Education in his Guardian interview; an exchange which was clearly clouded by what looked to be a set of decidely anti-Catholic pre-suppositions in the interviewer.

For a few examples: the Archbishop defends the Church's right to give priority to children from Catholic homes; points out that, in Catholic schools, the proportion of students from deprived areas and ethnic minorities is higher than the average in other schools; affirms that the rights of parents to educate their children as they wish is fundamental; and highlights the fact that Catholic schools aim to be ''loving places''.

That is all well and good.

However, there is clearly much more to the Guardian interview than just that.

In light of the other contents of the interview, I would certainly find it hard to agree with Fr. Rowe's depiction of the Archbishop's performance as being really ''quite excellent''. Judging from the comments in various on-line discussion forums, others would agree with me on this.

For instance, in one of his highlighted plus-points regarding the questions and answers to and from the Archbishop in the Guardian interview, Fr. Rowe includes: ''Did some pupils have same-sex parents? Why would same-sex parents want to send their children to a Catholic school?''

What is not mentioned by Fr. Rowe, is that in the original article Archbishop McMahon also adds the words, ''But if they did, we would treat them and their children with respect.''

Well, as persons perhaps, but where is the clear articulation of the full Catholic approach and teaching in that statement? As it stands, those who read the Archbishop's response could be forgiven for thinking that it shows some kind of approval to homosexual pairings and parenting. It certainly shows no disapproval.

Also the context for the Archbishop's above-mentioned depiction of Catholic schools as ''loving places'' came in a response to the question of what would happen if an unmarried teacher became pregnant. Archbishop McMahon simplistically replied: ''I don't think that would be a problem. It might be quite exciting for the children. Catholic schools are very loving places you know. Half the teachers in our schools are non-Catholics. But if they apply for jobs in our schools, they will, if they have any gumption at all, familiarize themselves with what the Church teaches. If they can't subscribe to that in a general sense, there are plenty of other jobs around.''

So, to put it frankly, the Archbishop thinks it normal that Catholic children would be ''quite excited'' that their teacher had been found out fornicating; and apparently had neither plans to marry before the birth of her child, nor shame in front of the students or community for such actions.

Again, on the question of divorced head-teachers wanting to ''re-marry'', His Grace rather lamely suggested, ''They would have to follow their consciences. There is no prying.''

Are these really the responses one would expect from a Catholic bishop in charge of the education of the entire nation's Catholic youth?

On the issue of ''managing fertility'', Archbishop McMahon claimed: ''If older children want to talk about artificial methods, the teachers would encourage debate and present arguments for natural methods. It would be an open debate. We are a rational organization.''

Again, is that a thorougly Catholic response that clearly presents the objective truth of Catholic moral teaching?

A little more positively from a Catholic perspective, Archbishop McMahon did conclude: ''But if we don't bring up our children to know that we are sexual beings for a greater purpose and not just for sexual gratification, we are failing in our duty.''

I say ''a little more positively'' because, although the thrust of that statement is actually very positive, the Archbishop does still seem to make an unnecessarily reductionist concession to the secularist mindset, when he speaks of human beings as though they were ''sexual beings''. The human being has intrinsic gender and sexuality, but none of us are reduced only to the sexual faculty. It seems to me that we are no more to be described as ''sexual beings'' as we are to be spoken of as ''digestive beings''.

Although we hear none of the clarifications about the negative aspects of Archbishop McMahon's interview, or of his general leadership of the CES, from the clergy, it is clear from on-line discussion forums that numbers of laity are deeply concerned by a good deal of the content of the Archbishop's interview.

In any case, the fact that Catholic schools in the realm of the CES are failing in their duty - to use the Archbishop's own words - in the area of chastity, is manifest to any who care to acknowledge the clearly visible facts.

In his interview, Archbishop McMahon asks his interlocutor, ''Have you ever been in a Catholic school?''

Well, in my own case, I can answer that I certainly have. Between 2001-2003 I worked as a regional PR/Education Officer for a nationwide pro-life charity. During that time, I gave over 100 presentations in schools throughout England. Most of these, though by no means all, were based in the north-west region; the split between Catholic and non-Catholic schools that I visited was roughly 60% to 40% respectively.

In all of that time, I only encountered about two ''Catholic'' schools which impressed me as being authentically Catholic in both their intention and their approach. Alas, even these were hobbled by having to use an officially endorsed curriculum which expressed religious indifferentism and moral relativism.

On the particular issue of abortion, I soon realized that the standard curriculum required students to set out the ''pros and cons'' of the pro-abortion and pro-life positions, as if these were merely neutral matters. I was again reminded of this after hearing Archbishop McMahon's mention of a ''debate'' over artificial ''fertility management''.

The underlying relativism of the system was most graphically brought home to me when an R.E. department from a local Catholic school sent me some of the students' artwork to peruse. Whilst some examples set out clearly pro-life themes; others placed both pro-abortion and pro-life positions alongside each other as though both were equal; and still another promoted pro-abortion arguments beneath the word ''abortion''. This latter was written in pink-bubble writing and had a large love-heart in place of the dot on the letter ''i''. It seemed that this student had taken from the ''debate'' the notion that abortion could somehow be a ''loving'' choice. Remember, this was R.E. course-work from a supposedly Catholic high school... 

Then, too, many teachers were themselves either dissenting Catholics, or else were not even Catholics at all.

Although Archbishop McMahon seems to value the presence of such non-Catholic teachers in the schools of the CES, it is a policy at odds with authentic Catholic education principles and traditions. It also has grave practical ramifications.

In one ''Catholic'' school that I visted to give pro-life lessons, the teachers openly laughed at me, and this in front of their students, when I explained to a hall full of teenagers why the contraceptive pill was not morally acceptable. In another session, one of my colleagues met with a similarly-open display, this time of grumpiness, from teachers for merely mentioning Humanae Vitae in a positive light. I even had one ''Catholic'' woman who tried to undermine what I had just taught the kids about the sinfulness of using chemical abortifacients. In one school, I clashed with a head of R.E. in a Catholic school who was bringing in local health workers to promote condoms. In another, a school nurse admitted to me that, though she ''respected the Catholic ethos'', she nevertheless gave out condoms and morning-after-pills to kids in a Catholic school which I was visiting. 

This all highlights another key problem: the fact that school nurses and other agencies are permitted to come in to the ''Catholic'' schools and dish out safe-sex information, condoms and even abortifacient pills without parental knowledge, much less consent!

Due to the complacency of most of the bishops, this has become a pretty well universal problem in this country during the last decade.

Indeed, in recent years some schoolgirls at a school named Sacred Heart were given ''flavoured condoms'' to eat in class; one of our friends told us that his teenaged sibling had been given condoms to handle and look at in his R.E. class; another friend's son told us that his R.E. teacher had told the class that Sunday Mass was no longer obligatory; a priest who left the priesthood and moved in with a divorced woman was given a job teaching in a local ''Catholic'' school; a child in a nearby ''Catholic'' primary school was told by his teacher that there is ''no longer such a thing as sin''; and the head teacher of St. Cecilia's primary school on Merseyside took out a ''homosexual civil-partnership'' with another bloke, and was even allowed to hold his reception in a local parish hall. Worse still, three local Catholic clergy attended the social...

Elsewhere we have described a few times and in great detail, the case of Sacred Heart Primary in Wigan; wherein the headteacher permitted same-sex relationships and a local ''Gay-Pride'' event to be promoted to the young primary-age children in her care, without even consulting the parents. Even though a petition was raised over this issue, Archbishop McMahon has still not taken any public action to correct this matter; and the parish priest/school governor remains silent to this day.

This promotion of homosexual ideology brings us to the latest scandal breaking out from the CES. It is one that Mark Lambert did so well in exposing last week.

Although we rarely read Church Militant these days, we have seen that they have also now provided a very clear expose of this issue under the headline, Leaked Document: UK Bishops Push Gay Agenda in Catholic Schools.

As the Church Militant article points out, this is a document which was commissioned by the Bishops on the CES's management committee - of which, as we have stated above, Archbishop McMahon is the Chairman - and it proposes lesson plans about homosexuality for children as young as nine years of age.

The title of this document is, Made in God's Image: Challenging Homophobic and Biphobic Bullying in Catholic Schools.

As the author of the Countercultural Father blog notes, this appears from the outset to affirm the ''made that way'' argument, which has been so effectively employed by the LGBT lobby.

Indeed, Countercultural Father and Mark Lambert have both done a good job of exposing the fact that the latest document looks to have been lifted straight from the pages of the radically homosexualist Stonewall and similar LGBT pressure groups.

The Church Militant piece notes that, nowhere in the CES document is the Church's clear teaching on the sinfulness of homosexual acts explained.

Instead, it seems that the document makes a partial quote from CCC 2358 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, to speak of the acceptance of people who experience homosexual tendencies; without also stating, as the Catechism does, that the inclination itself is ''intrinsically disordered''. Neither is the Catechism's clear explanation that same-sex acts are ''acts of grave depravity'' anywhere mentioned.

Another aspect of the Church Militant article is the fact that it draws attention to the CES document's promotion of a so-called ''tool-kit'' offered by the secular, pro-LGBT ideology Positive Identities Service. That the slogan of this Orwellian-sounding organization is ''Celebrating Diversity with Pride'' should tell you all you need to know about its values and approach. And yet the CES, headed by Archbishop McMahon, is content to work with this group, by bringing their material right in to teach young kids in Catholic schools.

Church Militant states: ''The training involves ensuring that LGBT youth 'feel safe and supported as individuals and feel positive about their identity' - even if that identity involves same-sex acts gravely contrary to Catholic teaching.''

The American Joseph Sciambra has drawn attention to a lesson-plan suggested in the CES document. This includes an exercise called ''Challenging homophobia''.

He writes: ''Here students are told to read a series of case studies; one of them includes a short story about a woman estranged from her ''gay'' brother. The woman's son watches as she reacts to receiving a card from her brother. The brother, who is in a same-sex relationship, is portrayed as the victim of homophobia - simply: ''Just because he is gay.'' The outcome of the lesson is for students who experience similar situations to challenge such homophobic attitudes.'' It is this lesson plan, which Sciambra describes as ''the most nefarious'' among those listed in the CES document.

Having read through the various critiques offered by the various Catholic laymen mentioned earlier, it is easy to agree with Church Militant's description of the new CES document. That is to say: ''The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales are pushing the LGBT agenda in Catholic schools under cover of preventing anti-gay ''bullying''.

Here in England, there seems to be a real reluctance in some quarters to grasp the nettle and face up to the truth on all of these issues.

For example, when I raised the matter of this CES document with a priest a few days ago, he immediately pointed out that Archbishop McMahon is very sympathetic to the Traditional Latin Mass. 

This type of phenomenon has also been described by the Liverpolitanus blog on a number of occasions.

It seems like the equivalent to some kind of heat-deflector sent out to thwart heat-seeking missiles: anyone who rocks the boat too much by questioning Archbishop McMahon's stances on Catholic education or formation is treated either to silence, silencing or to knee-jerk responses regarding his seeming friendliness to the Traditional Latin Mass. As some of you know, these three treatments - silence, silencing and knee-jerk answers - have been my own experience in recent times.

I would say that the fact that Archbishop McMahon appears to be sympathetic to the Traditional Latin Mass, whilst also appearing less keen to promote a thoroughly Catholic approach in the area of education, might add something to the mystery of what is going on; but it should do nothing to lessen the concerns that all faithful Catholics ought to have in this important area.

I will perhaps have more to say on all of this once my concentration is hopefully improved by the return of my dentist and the removal of my dental aggravations in the nearest future.

In the meantime, it looks like the cigars this time around should be awarded forthwith to such laymen writers as Mark Lambert, Dr. Joseph Shaw, Joseph Sciambra, ''Ben Trovato'' and the writers at Church Militant.

With their integral investigations of the CES's document, these laymen have done a faithful service for Catholic parents and their children.

May God bless them for it.