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Posted by on Dec 30, 2007 in faith schools, Ibrahim Lawson | 5 comments

Catholic schools – Bishops cracking down

According to today’s Observer (p5), the Catholic Bishop of Lancaster, Patrick O’Donoghue (illustrated), has said in a document written for schools in his diocese that:

Under no circumstances should any outside authority or agency that is not fully qualified to speak on behalf of the Catholic Church ever be allowed to speak to pupils or individuals on sexual or any other matter involving faith and morals

O’Donoghue also called for any books containing polemics against the Catholic Church to be removed from school libraries.

He also maintains schools should reject the promotion of safe or safer sex, as it is based on the (in his view, deluded) theory that condom use can provide adequate protection against AIDS (I discuss this here).

O’Donoghue is one of several “fundamentalist” Catholic Bishops pushing for a much more authoritarian, conservative approach to Catholic schooling.

I draw attention to these Bishops as they illustrate the point that it is not just Muslims like Ibrahim Lawson who insist on a very conservative, uncritical style of religious education.

The report does not say whether these Catholic Bishops would permit the questioning of Catholic teaching in the classroom, but it obviously isn’t something they’d encourage.

As I previously pointed out, you may be shocked to discover that independent religious schools in the U.K. can teach children whatever they like about religion, in whatever way they like. Even if they run Medieval-style factories of religious indoctrination, Ofsted (The UK school inspection agency) cannot fault them!

As I have already argued, isn’t it time we did something about this?


  1. Living in Lancaster, as I do, and living (in sin, if you will) with a woman who is, as of this summer, going to be a newly qualified science teacher and, moreover, knowing that there are several Catholic schools in the area at which she may seek employment (though chances are she wouldn’t get a job being that she’s a godless heathen like me) I find this angering as well as extremely worrying.The trouble is that getting anyone to do anything about such attitudes – even ones as extreme as this – is extremely hard. For one thing, so many people have been brought up to respect the authority of the church, catholic or otherwise as one which should not be questioned.The real question shouldn’t be “isn’t it time that we did something about this?” It should be “what are we going to do about this and how?”

  2. Not something I’ve encountered in my own (partly Catholic) school. Books authored by Richard Dawkins actually outnumber the Bibles in my school library!As for the sex talk, I would suggest that abstinence be taught as a sebsible option, as well as other methods of contraception. During a recent (hour long) sex education talk I received in a citizenship lesson, the possibility of not actually having sex was not mentioned a single time. My ears perked up momentarily when the speaker said “You don’t have to be promiscuous…” only for her to finish the sentence “….to get an STI”. Happy New Year

  3. Chris said:As for the sex talk, I would suggest that abstinence be taught as a sensible option, as well as other methods of contraception.The key here is the as well as. All too often the people who teach abstinence as an option teach it as the be all and end all of contraception rather than as just one more way of (not) doing it.However, it needs to be recognised by those who write the sexual education syllabus (if such a thing exists; the teaching of sex ed these days seems to me to be somewhat slapdash) that your average hormonal teenager is not going to be completely abstinent.The Silver Ring Thing, which has become quite popular in certain parts of the western world and which is starting to become a more often-touted solution to the problem of teenage promiscuity in Britain, too, is a case in point. If I remember correctly (and I don’t have the figures to hand) it was found that within a few years of pledging their virginity a large percentage of Silver Ringers had broken their pledge. Moreover, I seem to remember reading that those that hadn’t had found other methods of sexual intercourse, circumventing, if you will, their pledge.The trouble is that contraception has to be taught as a must for all forms of sexual activity. To do otherwise is irresponsible.

  4. I agree entirely, blog. Personally I don’t have a SRT, but I know one fried who does and she is very happy with it.My own reasons for abstinence are mostly secular anyway.

  5. Not too many red-blooded males posting here I suspect. I like sex, I would go so far as to say I need sex. While I can do without and have done, whenever I go without for too long it makes me seriously unhappy. I would suggest that sex is a near requirement for happiness for the average testosterone fuelled male.I am of course speaking from my subjective experience. Society does seem to back me up on this. Women can manage far better without sex for longer periods of time. Don’t know why. Lower sex drive maybe but in any case what is good for the goose in this case is not nessesarily good for the gander. Men and women are VERY differnet on this topic. You might be able to convince a young woman that abstinence is the way to go but I suspect that any young man who thinks its a good idea should consult his GP.

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