19 August 2009

Ad Limina: How We Might Influence It

I have been in correspondence recently with someone about our chances of influencing the Vatican before the Ad Limina visit. We have disagreed gently about the possibility of starting a petition about the way "relationships" are taught in Primary School. The disagreement was about tactics: I think that any attempt to draft a petition about sex education will end up causing more divisions and attracting less signatures; he, less cynical than me, thinks that wording expressing exactly what we all agree on can be found; I don't think many people will get involved; he does.

I suggested, however, that something in last week's Catholic Herald had left me really angry: "tamping mad" as my mother-in-law might say. Only Catholic Action seems to have noticed it online.

It's about Marriage Care, and its Director, Terry Prendergast, and the fact that the A of W is its patron, and the English dioceses fund it. The story is awful - this is just a bit:

The manual, called Foundations for a Good Life, is designed to help to teach pupils at Key Stage 3 and 4 - the last two years of secondary school - and college students about relationships, marriage, the family and sexuality.

The final two modules are aimed at young people over the age of 16 and deals with methods of contraception.

There is no discussion of the morality of the methods with the focus on function and effectiveness. The manual hails condoms as 98 per cent effective in avoiding pregnancy, and the Pill, the coil and hormonal injections as 99 per cent effective, but says that NFP methods are far less reliable.


Joe Mannion, the charity's director of relationship support, said he unaware that the information was inaccurate. He said that Marriage Care would be prepared to change the text of the manual if "it's shown to be different" by new evidence.

Terry Prendergast, the chief executive of Marriage Care, recently caused an outcry when he said marriage is no better for children than other family set-ups.

The charity has an annual income in the region of £900,000, about 10 per cent of which comes from diocesan grants. Its president is Archbishop Vincent Nichols.

It strikes me that this is our petition to the Vatican. This is a call to arms. This isn't about the precise detail in which aspects of the National Curriculum should be taught in primary education: this is about the Catholic Church allowing its teachings to be subverted by people claiming to speak for her.

Does Rome know about this? Have they read this article? Do they know what our Bishops support? Is the lay structure in the Diocesan curias and at Eccleston Square responsible for undermining the Church in E&W from within? Big questions. But unless Rome is invited to think about them, and turn them onto the Bishops of England and Wales, then not only will there be no challenge, but the fact of no challenge will be adduced by Eccleston Square as Vatican support.

I wonder whether this is one chance to stick it to the structures which have so corrupted catholic life in England and Wales for so many years ...


Rita said...

A few garbled thoughts:

I've just had a look around the Marriage Care site. I can't say I know of anyone who uses this educational resource. I was going to download it, but they wanted too much information from me.

Their "beliefs" are a bit suspect. To quote:
"We believe that marriage is a covenant between two people and a sacramental union. Marriage is the basic family unit and fulfils essential social, psychological, emotional, sexual and biological functions with the potential to heal, sustain and enrich both the partners, family and the wider community."

Marriage is a Sacrament, not a sacramental union. Marriage is between a man and a woman, they really do need to state this somewhere on their site.

Getting at Marriage Care isn't really going to get us anywhere, I think. The organisation just isn't Catholic enough. However, the direction of second collections and other church funds towards such organisations is suspect, very suspect, because it quite clearly isn't a Catholic enough institution.

JARay said...

What you say and what I have read convince me that Marriage Care simply is not a Catholic institution. I heartily agree with you that this institution needs to be attacked and the Arch. of Westminster needs to be contacted and challenged over his chairmanship of it. You can count me in but probably I wouldn't count because I do not live in England and have not done so for the last 34 years, although it is the land of my birth. Hence, I still have a British passport but I only use it as a convenience if travelling to England or Europe. I use my other one if travelling anywhere else.

Tamping mad too said...

Your question "Does Rome know what our bishops support?" is a very real and pressing one.

You home in upon the Marriage Care/Terry Prendergast scandal, and with very good reason. But, bad as that scandal is, I consider that the 'Sex-ed for toddlers' thing (our hierarchy - as represented by Eccleston Square backed by our new Archbishop of Westminster - intending to co-operate with the government on it, instead of telling the government "Sorry, not in our Catholic schools") is far far worse.

And this for two related reasons: (1) sex-ed given to the very young, to those in the age of innocence, is a form of psychological abuse in itself; and (2) Rome says: No sex-ed - not some, modified for Catholic purposes, but none at all! - should be given to the very young in our Catholic schools. "Parents should politely but firmly exclude any attempts to violate children's innocence because such attempts compromise the spiritual, moral and emotional development of growing persons who have a right to their innocence" ("The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality", 83).

That is what Rome - the Pontifical Council for the Family - says. But our hierarchy are proposing to act as if that solemn guidance from Rome didn't exist. They are proposing to do the opposite to what it enjoins; proposing in effect to say to Rome: "We in England and Wales know better than you."

What is being intended for our Catholic primary schools ought to make every Catholic parent hopping mad, "tamping mad" in your ma-in-law's expressive phrase. And as for a petition against it - which is greatly needed - I see no difficulty in drafting something very simple, based on what Rome enjoins and what the E & W hierarchy are proposing to do in defiance of Rome.

Yep, I'm tamping mad too!

Tamping mad too said...

P.S. When I speak of "a petition" being greatly needed, I mean a petition about the 'sex-ed for very young children' thing, specifically and simply.

Widening the subject and thus making it more diffusive would, I think, render it less effective. The contrast between Rome's guidance and Eccleston Square's intentions on that subject is so clear-cut.

Anonymous said...

I know August is the silly news month, but this is quite unbelievable. Do you think current employment legislation prevents the bishops from sacking evil little oiks, such as TP, or worse, they agree with his point of view?