Ghetto schools

From Advocatus Diaboli, with Quentin’s permission

My dear Friends

At last, I think, I have found a cause which we can all share.

Many Catholic friends (yes I have some) have told me about the importance they place on two issues. One of these is to encourage a really fair and undiscriminating society in which were are all free to follow our own principles and values, and the other is to work hard for social cohesion.

So you will all be welcoming the new campaign: the Fair Admissions Campaign in England and Wales. As you know it has had tremendous publicity, and its principles are supported by such eminent people as President Obama and Vince Cable and the Christian organisation, Ekklesia.

The first principle is that the State should not spend taxpayers’ money on special interest minorities. The fact of the matter is that faith schools, and I think here of Muslim and Catholic school in particular, are free to refuse pupils places on the discriminating ground that their religious belief, or lack of belief, is not acceptable to the “management”. The Campaign is in no way against religious education, and Muslims and Catholics are quite free to arrange their own schools – and to fund them from their own resources. But there is simply no reason why the public should meet the cost of them doing so.

As a result, many children are unable to obtain a place in a local “religious” school, and are forced to travel considerable distances in order to get their education. In, say, the USA or France such a thing would be unthinkable.

The second issue is social cohesion. We all know that this is vitally important for our society. Yet, often for historical reasons, we have allowed ghetto schools to be supported by the State itself. Does anyone think that it is a good thing, for instance, to allow Muslim children to be brought up in a “ghetto” school and so to be prevented from understanding the culture in which they will have to live their adult life? Do we actually want to preclude integration? And the same principle applies to Catholic schools – just take a look at Northern Ireland and what segregation, effectively from birth, has done there.

There is another reason which applies to Catholic schools. It is a matter of fact that secondary schools without a religious character have up to 30% more pupils eligible for free school meals than the average, while Catholic schools have 20% fewer than the average. Since eligibility for free school meals is an accepted measure of social class this is clearly discriminatory. Of course it has a strong effect on stifling of social mobility. And indeed there is every reason to suspect that the enthusiasm which Catholic have for their subsidised schools owes more to the social advantages than their religious devotion. Incidentally, this also explains why Catholic schools tend to get good academic results.

I realise that it’s a hard thing to ask Catholics either to open their schools freely to all without discrimination, or to withdraw them from the State system. But I am told that Catholics put doing the right thing way ahead of their convenience or even their social advantage. It might well be that the example being shown by Catholics in this way would be the best possible lesson in fairness to teach their children.

Plenty more information on the Campaign at

About Quentin

Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
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81 Responses to Ghetto schools

  1. ionzone says:

    Well….that was written in unusually reasonable terms. From what you say – though you don’t mention it specifically – I think you might be assuming that religious schools get extra funding over other schools. In actual fact, they don’t – they tend towards gaining additional funding from the church.

    Now, I oppose this requirement for a number of reasons. The main reason is that this is a blatant attempt by the secular and humanist societies to further chip away at faith schools until there is nothing left of them. Removing faith schools would not increase integration since their pupils are already specifically exposed to other religions through the Religious Education G.C.S.E. they take – much, much, more so than in a regular state school where the matter is flatly ignored. These societies may pretend they are in the public interest, but their interests are discriminatory – they try to block the creation of new faith schools on arbitrary legal grounds. The fact is that there is a large demand for faith schools, partly because they are actually good at teaching children, but mostly because parents want their kids to be brought up within the Christian community learning Christian values. These values are very important, and what the secularists are doing is trying to strip away at our ability to pass on those values in exactly the same way that invading armies can be relied upon to try and strip away culture and heritage. They are pushing to repeat the mistakes of Russia and China all over again. Atheists will keep on pushing and pushing towards vague utopian ideals, and no matter how many times it turns out to be a bloodbath and an amoral Orwellian nightmare, they will keep on pushing towards it as hard as they can within the society they occupy.

    Every child should gain some kind of Christian or Jewish religious upbringing (I have no idea about the statistics on other religions so won’t comment on them) because those who do are known to be much more moral, charitable, and empathic. STDs, suicide, crime, and drug use are all much, much lower in Christian communities and countries. If you chart the crime rise in England you’ll find that it can be correlated with the drop off in religious upbringing – people are becoming more and more greedy and selfish, and culture is encouraging them to be because it has turned its back on all forms of moral guidance.

  2. ninoinoz says:

    Blimey. Same old piss in a different shaped bottle.

    “The first principle is that the State should not spend taxpayers’ money on special interest minorities.”

    So, spending it on majorities is OK, is it?
    I look forward to your objecting to the Gay Pride march in London this weekend and even more to your demonstration at this year’s Notting Hill Carnival.

    “The fact of the matter is that faith schools, and I think here of Muslim and Catholic school in particular, are free to refuse pupils places on the discriminating ground that their religious belief, or lack of belief, is not acceptable to the “management”.”

    Not at all. What we do have the right to do is rank pupils, but must accept all if there is spare capacity. One way to ensure this is, of course, to build more Faith Schools.

    “Muslims and Catholics are quite free to arrange their own schools – and to fund them from their own resources. But there is simply no reason why the public should meet the cost of them doing so.”

    Don’t Muslims and Catholics pay taxes, then? Perhaps you won’t then mind returning “our own resources” so we can fund our schools. But you strangely omit this point, treating Catholics and Muslims as if they are not members of the public.

    “As a result, many children are unable to obtain a place in a local “religious” school, and are forced to travel considerable distances in order to get their education.”

    If you are so concerned, why don’t you found your own schools instead of this bigoted campaign?

    “Does anyone think that it is a good thing, for instance, to allow Muslim children to be brought up in a “ghetto” school and so to be prevented from understanding the culture in which they will have to live their adult life?”

    Well, apparently lots of people do. Muslims want to send their children there; no non-Muslims want to. A Muslim Free School supposed to take 50% non-Muslims had precisely no non-Muslim applicants.
    Also, Muslims are surrounded by Western “culture” – simply by living in this country.

    “Do we actually want to preclude integration? And the same principle applies to Catholic schools – just take a look at Northern Ireland and what segregation, effectively from birth, has done there.”

    Catholic schools are doing a fantastic job in integrating recent Polish arrivals. You, on the other hand, seem intent on attacking those who are working towards those very same ends.
    Also, speaking about the Troubles, show me the insurgency from English Catholics. Rather knocks your thesis on the head, doesn’t it?

    “There is another reason which applies to Catholic schools. It is a matter of fact that secondary schools without a religious character have up to 30% more pupils eligible for free school meals than the average, while Catholic schools have 20% fewer than the average. Since eligibility for free school meals is an accepted measure of social class this is clearly discriminatory.”

    Not at all. It shows that Catholicism results in better outcomes for children. The hostility to divorce is a key component of this.

    “Of course it has a strong effect on stifling of social mobility”

    Not at all. Catholic and Jewish schools have helped those children from immigrant backgrounds to scale the social ladder. What is more, their children in turn go to the same State Catholic schools rather than going private. This is why free school meals numbers are lower and attainment higher in Faith Schools. Proof of the social mobility that you so crave.

    “And indeed there is every reason to suspect that the enthusiasm which Catholic have for their subsidised schools owes more to the social advantages than their religious devotion.”

    It is Catholics who subsidise the State sector, not the other way round. If Catholic schools are nationalised, the huge Catholic financial contribution to land and buildings would have to be returned.

    If you really think Catholic schools thrive because of social reasons, then why not bring back Grammar Schools? These were engines of social mobility (producing four Prime Ministers – Wilson, Heath, Thatcher, Major) – contrast that with today. But you aren’t interested in that, really, but instead in another poorly disguised attack on religion that has become wearily familiar.

  3. Michael Horsnall says:

    Well I must say I quite enjoyed that Ninoinoz.

    • ionzone says:

      He’s particularly right about this:

      “Also, speaking about the Troubles, show me the insurgency from English Catholics. Rather knocks your thesis on the head, doesn’t it?”

      Ireland isn’t divided by religion or schools, it’s divided by nationality. People who claim it’s religious need to explain why the most common targets used to be police stations, pubs, and the army, not churches. The Irish conflict is Irish nationalists vs English and Scottish invaders. This is what a mural from a ‘Protestant’ area looks like:

      You’ll notice that those ‘Protestants’ seem to really love their Union Jacks and British flags, but there is a suspicious lack of crucifixes and Hail Marys:

      The conflict is over national dominance by an invading foreign power. The Unionists are essentially white nationalists and the republican loyalists are the native Irish people. The Unionists self-identify as Scottish or English and are extremely patriotic. Extremely.

      • St.Joseph says:

        You are quite right.
        A lot of it is ‘blamed on religion’.
        Especially when money for the IRA was collected outside the Catholic Churches!.

      • ionzone says:

        Hmm, I can’t tell if you are being sarcastic there or not, but I think you are. I’ve never heard of that happening – my dad is Irish and he tells me that what they used to do was pass a hat around in the green (Irish) pubs.

        I think you are confusing collecting money outside a church (not inside, I notice) with the troubles being religious in nature. This is rather like saying that, because there were specific Irish and English pubs, that the Troubles were alcoholic in nature. Certainly the IRA and UDF tended to centre around the pubs and walking into the wrong one was suicide. Here is the sort of thing they were targeting:

        Not a single religious thing on that list. I should stress this again by way of a question: If this was a specifically religious conflict, what was their motivation? Also, if it was about religion…..why has part of the conflict been Catholic vs Catholic?

        Their motives are plastered all over the top of that page, it’s not like they were subtle with them – they wanted the English and Scottish out of their country. Pure and simple, cut and dried. To say anything else is historically ignorant.

  4. St.Joseph says:

    I don’t use sarcasm or do I make things up!.
    I said if you read post properly OUTSIDE Catholic Churches.
    My friend comes from Donegal and she told me that this happens and people donate to it.
    She found it disgusting.
    A local Church where I worshipped , a man was collecting outside for the IRA. My late father soon sent him on his way telling him that he was an ex-British soldier Desert Rats and fought for this country- also my grandfather killed in the Somme, both Republicans as I am also from EIRE.
    The priest banned him the man from the Church.
    Also they tried it on in our Public House many years ago- we soon sent them off
    Don’t try to put words into my mouth please.
    And Catholic’s did donate to it whether you like it or not.
    My mother used to call them bitter Irish men, nevertheless we do remember the Black and Tans!!
    However we don’t want to go down that road.
    As far as schools are concerned, I didn’t go to a Catholic school nor did my children! And I married a Protestant Yorkshire man! My children married Protestants and they are all practicing Catholics
    My 20 year old grandson’s girl friend is half Indian and Philippine . No bias there, neither religion or Nationality!!

    • ionzone says:

      Sorry, I wouldn’t have said anything but the last line of your post made it sound like you were saying this meant there was a collation.

  5. ionzone says:

    Correlation, whoops.

  6. Peter D. Wilson says:

    Well put, ninoinoz!
    If you’ll forgive a mischievous point on “Scottish invaders” – don’t forget the Scots came from Ireland in the first place.

  7. St.Joseph says:

    My ancestors on my mothers side are Spanish & French -who eloped to Ireland ,but there was a lot of Spanish who went to Ireland. Hence the dark hair and complexion against the Irish Red and freckles..Noticable on my fathers side. Anyway who minds that we are all children of God.
    Is there a true Englishman?

  8. John de Waal says:

    I comment as a retired Catholic headteacher – with 35 years of teaching experience. As far as taxpayers’ money being spent on “Special interest minorities” is concerned I should like to know what constitutes a “special interest minority”? A true democracy is surely a society in which such minorities are protected. The late Alistair Cooke wrote :”Democracy cannot allow the ceding of too much ground to a single ideology.” A free society is just that : one in which many views are encouraged so long as they do not harm the whole.

    It has already been said that Catholics contribute to the education system in general through their taxes – we are tax payers! – and have a right to a share in the rewards of those taxes.

    The second issue concerns social cohesion. I have experienced one Catholic school – near where I used to teach – which seemed to cream off certain girls – much to the annoyance of the Catholic school I taught where we had a larger than average share of children from more deprived backgrounds. But this, I suggest, is not the norm. This can happen – as in this case – in a large city such as London where there are many Catholic schools. This cannot happen in a small town where there is likely to be just one Catholic secondary school which has to accept whoever applies. In contrast, most state schools serve a small catchment area – especially in large towns – and so become neighbourhood schools ie. ghettoes. This happened in Bradford where the state school in certain parts is likely to have a majority of muslims.

    In two of the three schools I served in there was a great variety of ethnic backgrounds – around 75% in one of them. In one there was also around 50% who were not Catholic. I doubt if you would find more diversity than this in most state comprehensives.

    In other words, a strong case can be made out that Catholic schools are far more likely to encourage social cohesion than their state equivalents.

  9. Mike Horsnall says:

    Yes, the same goes for our parish primary school where out of a class of say 30 less than 50% will prepare for holy communion.The rest are either other faiths, lapsed families or non catholics.

  10. tyke says:

    “As a result, many children are unable to obtain a place in a local “religious” school, and are forced to travel considerable distances in order to get their education. In, say, the USA or France such a thing would be unthinkable.”

    Really? In France? You mean that the ‘internat’ (boarding) doesn’t exist because children live so far from school? Well you live and you learn. (Yes Ionzone, I am most definitely being sarcastic!)

    Although I don’t have the current statistics, some years ago the ‘internat’ at our local ‘école catholique’ had more non-catholics that catholics, many of them from deprived areas in nearby cities.

    • ninoinoz says:

      “As a result, many children are unable to obtain a place in a local “religious” school, and are forced to travel considerable distances in order to get their education.”

      Amazing how difficult it is for some people to move to where the amenities are, isn’t it?

      Move to a place where there’s no non-religious school and then complain that ……. there’s no non-religious school.

      Next week, man moves next to a mosque and then complains there’s nowhere to park on Fridays.

      • St.Joseph says:

        I attended 6 different schools by the time I was 9-one Convent for 5 month’s I don’t count that as I was not there long enough to learn much. We did not complain the only one that had a regular Catholic education was my eldest brother at a Catholic boarding school in Reading. My grandmother taught me all I needed to know. The little Catholic education I received for my Confirmation at 9 was at a School.
        Parents ought to be equipped enough to teach their children their faith if there is no Catholic school. They had to after the Reformation’,

  11. Iona says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong; my understanding is that many Catholic schools were set up by the Church in the late nineteenth / early twentieth century, using donations made by local Catholics who were anxious for their children to have a Catholic education. Under the 1944 Education Act these schools were partially adopted as state schools, though the RC Church still provides some funding. Wouldn’t it be a bit like Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries (and redirecting the income for his own purposes) if the state un-faithed all the faith schools?

    • St.Joseph says:

      The whole purpose of Catholic Schools were to teach Faith & Morals, That is the first responsibility of both parents and teachers. I am with Daphne McLeod on this and that is It has been failing since the 60s to do the very thing it was meant to achieve!
      So we need to stick to what the real purpose is. The Bishops should step in here in defence of the Faith . I believe it has started to happen and the government is getting worried. When the faith gets strong they don’t stand a chance and they know it.
      We will fight them spiritually! This time with the help of the Holy Spirit we will not be moved!

  12. Horace says:

    There is a line from Kipling which says ” two thousand pounds of education falls to a ten rupee jezail”.
    My Father – a Protestant incidentally who sent me to a Jesuit college – used to quote this to me because, he said, that when he added up what he had spent on my education it was about the same amount!
    I never added up what I spent on my son but when he left school to go to University [in those days mercifully largely funded by he State] I still owed five thousand pounds in back fees which took some time to pay off!
    Still, I think it was worth it. He is a good and faithful Catholic.
    What I should have done if, like my grandfather, I had three sons, I do not know.

  13. Advocatus Diaboli says:

    It has been interesting to read the discussion so far, I leave aside such red herrings as the cause of religious rivalry in Northern Ireland (the cause is irrelevant, the idea is to improve cohesion in the future through “mixed religion” schools). Or the claim that Catholic children are somehow better bred than the average (if that is true it’s all the more reason for them to attend secular schools so that they can influence hoi polloi).

    Just focus on the opportunity. The fact is that less than half the Catholic children who are baptised are later confirmed, and that 90% of Catholic children lapse when they leave school. (And that’s from William Oddie, ex editor of the Catholic Herald.) So the whole purpose of Catholic schools is dust and ashes.

    In your own interests you should hand your schools over to the State. Then you should use the money you save (I understand that it’s about 10% of the costs) to provide Catholic teaching out of school hours through a web of catechists. And a reasonable fee should be charged in order to separate nominal Catholic parents, who won’t bother, from serious Catholic parents who actually do bring up their children on Catholic principles (many of whom could be trained as catechists).

    Would that work? Well I doubt if the results could be worse than what you are getting now. And they might be very much better.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Advocatus Diaboli
      And how do you think that Catholic children attending secular schools would influence others.
      We all have dreams but that would not work in reality!
      Young people will always lapse although not all, when they go out into the big wide world, but at least they will have something to return to when they mature.
      The answer is in Catholic schools, and proper ‘knowledgeable’ religious instructions.
      This is the Year of Faith and the Holy Father has asked for devotion to the Blessed Sacrament in Exposition. Every school would do well to heed this message. We need to teach the love for our Faith through Jesus and His Blessed Mother through the Eucharist
      Then they will be able to Evangelize!! When they themselves believe!.

    • Singalong says:

      AD, I think your suggestion has great merit. The devil of course, if you will excuse the pun, is in the detail.

      Would the 10% we currently spend, topped up by fees, be enough? Many families would be unable to afford anything, they can`t afford transport costs now. Time would be a problem, with all the extra curricular activities expected. Perhaps there could be negotiations with State schools to use their premises, possibly before the main school day starts, as I believe they do in at least part of Switzerland,

      I think such a scheme would be easier to implement with Primary school age children.

    • Advocatus Diaboli says:

      Singalong, you are right of course. There would be many details to sort out. But here are one or two avenues to explore.

      It might be necessary to excuse fees to parents who, for example, would qualify for free school meals. And I have no doubt that more prosperous parents would make up the difference through their fees. They would be saving money by not having to transport their own children to Catholic schools (you will be aware that many local councils are simply switching off travel costs formerly used to bus Catholic children to the nearest Catholic school – providing private transport for these children can cost several hundred pounds, which they would save by using the nearest secular school.).

      Another resource are grandparents – I am sure that many of these would volunteer to be catechists. And children often listen to this generation rather than their parents’ generation. Think of St,Joseph as a catechist – formidable!

      And, speaking of St.Joseph, why would the example of Catholic children not influence the others? I thought you all claimed that good examples of your faith being practised was the best form of evangelism. I don’t know how many of their friends would convert, but at least they would communicate the value of your much vaunted Catholic principles, and open a few eyes.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Advocatus Diaboli.
        Are you suggesting that I would threaten them as a catechist?
        The answer to it all is to Love the Lord our God with our whole heart and our whole soul above everything else,the question that Jesus asked St Peter ‘Do you love me’?.
        Then Feed My Sheep.!
        It goes a lot deeper that money-expenses- inconvenience, and more than doing ones duty.
        Show our children all that with a smile , they will follow us in love. It can be infectious then we will evangelise.
        When the Pope came to England the atmosphere was electric-can the bishops have this same kind of presence similar to what Jesus had and still has in His ‘Presence’ in the Tabernacle.
        We really ought to be thankful that our Churches are full on a Sunday-but Holy Mass where the Graces come from in loving it. Not just on a Sunday. Or First Holy Communion Day-if one can because we want to be there.
        I -in my seventies now, 3 minor heart attacks in 2 months. 12-14 tablets a day. Insulin injections etc; I enjoy Holy Mass, I don’t intend to Catechise now. But I can still speak my mind.
        Sorry if I am being ‘boring’.

  14. Michael Horsnall says:

    “In your own interests you should hand your schools over to the State. Then you should use the money you save (I understand that it’s about 10% of the costs) to provide Catholic teaching out of school hours through a web of catechists. And a reasonable fee should be charged in order to separate nominal Catholic parents, who won’t bother, from serious Catholic parents who actually do bring up their children on Catholic principles (many of whom could be trained as catechists).”

    Oh that’s great isn’t it….lets charge to spread the gospel -no more miracles to the 50000 or mass teaching…make the lazy buggers pay and if they can’t see a good thing when they see it more fool them….Don’t waste your time just showing and telling anybody- be economical and you might even turn a profit…Don’t even think that the ‘90%’ lapsed may well return and anyway now understand at least something of reality-forget it. Prodigals? who cares. devil take the hindmost I say forget the weary and the heavy laden why not for as we know the Christian gospel is only for Essenes and Gnostics… isn’t it??

    • Advocatus Diaboli says:

      Oh dear, Oh dear, Michael. Was my suggestion so obviously beneficial that it got you into a pother? All I was doing was suggesting a couple of ways in which the practical needs Singalong queried might be tackled. Of course if you could recruit enough qualified professional catechists to undertake several hours a week for zilch so much the better. But I think you’ll find that the phrase (from your scriptures of course) “the labourer is worthy of his hire” might be quoted at you. Just check, would you? I recall that it was in the context of Jesus sending his disciples out to broadcast the gospel. Apparently they were to take no money because they could expect to be provided for by those whom they taught. Sort of like catechists teaching children — if you get my point.

      • Michael Horsnall says:

        AD you miss the point completely of course. Your view is pessimistic and nihilistic…90% lapse? might as well shut down and not bother then eh..lets get out of Religious education and only preach to the converted…hmmm that’s a good idea..Quote scripture at me as you like dear boy, the use you turn it to is bereft of meaning.

      • Advocatus Diaboli says:

        Michael, I am very happy to leave our fellow bloggers to read the recent exchange of correspondence, starting at my suggestion for consideration at 29 June, 9:35. They can judge for themselves whether your haughty dismissal is either justified or helpful

  15. Iona says:

    There are no Catholic schools in my neck of the woods, and catechesis for Catholic children has been offered in various ways over the years. An after-school session ran for a while, one day a week, though it was difficult to find a day which suited all the children involved (not that there were very many of them). Saturday morning was suggested, but that was worse. A “children’s liturgy” (taking place during the first part of Mass, with the children and catechists returning at the Offertory) lasted for some time, though only for the primary school age children. A change of PP brought an end to that, as the new PP wanted the children in the church for the whole of Mass. Now (and I should emphasise that there is currently only a trickle of children, rarely more than one at a time) preparation for first Holy Communion, Confession and Confirmation takes place on a case-by-case basis, involving parents, the PP, and a suitable member of the congregation.

    More-or-less what AD is suggesting, but without the payment?

    • Singalong says:

      I lived in a similar area many years ago, and was involved in teaching Junior age children in the parish. Sunday mornings after Mass was decided upon as the only possibility, so of course it could not be for very long, but there were a few supplementary sessions when helping to prepare for First Holy Communion. I do not know how the children concerned have fared into their adult lives.

      • Quentin says:

        I imagine that there is a big difference between teaching young children and teaching adolescent children. At a young age, children are likely to accept what they are taught without much question. With more maturity (and particularly after pubescence) not only are they questioning but they will have discovered that many Catholic adults (perhaps even their parents) have reservations about aspects of orthodox doctrine. And of course the temptations of the flesh are likely to be familiar to them. In my experience (as a many-times grandparent rather than as a teacher) the young person quite happily distinguishes orthodox teaching (which they know perfectly well) from what they actually believe. As one 16 year old said to me “I may well not get married until I am 30. Am I really expected to go for 14 years without any sexual experiences?” And indeed that is exactly what is asked of them, if not literally expected.

      • Singalong says:

        Quentin, replying to your 1/2.17 pm Comment here, as there isn`t a button below it on the screen. Of course you are right, but that is by no means the extent of my teaching experience, Catholic and otherwise! My husband worked as a secondary school teacher for many years, and we have brought up 5 children born in the 1960`s, and 70`s, so we have encountered the situations you mention many times.

  16. Iona says:

    Quentin, when you suggested the “Apostolate of the blog” (quite a long time ago now), I seem to remember you were going to focus on replying to adverse comments about Catholic schooling in blogs etc. I wonder if your experience of doing this has inspired AD’s latest contribution to Secondsight blog?

    • Quentin says:

      Iona, thank you for raising the question. I suspect that AD is familiar with the usual Catholic answers on the faith schools question. He has too much respect for the contributors to the Blog not to do his homework.

      I was a little disappointed with the outcome of the Apostolate of the Blog. I believed that we could carry out a valuable mission. But, with the exception of yourself, I had to accept the conclusion that our contributors were happier to debate amongst themselves rather than to gently correct outsiders who disagree with us. I continue of course in the background, and I expect you do too. (The material is still on this website)

      It may be that people felt that they were never going to win against the forces of darkness. But they missed the point that our real audience were casual readers of the discussions – who were open to being shown that we had good rational points to make, and that we could express them with courtesy.

      The latest YouGov poll for the Sun newspaper showed that 41% of young people believed that, more often than not, religion was the source of evil in the world. And those educated to degree level were the ones most likely to describe themselves as non-believers.

      I think that the reason that the British Humanist association has such a high profile is that they really work hard at publicising their views in every way they can. We are very fortunate to have Catholic Voices – who get a good deal of time on the media. This shows that the media are quite happy to give us space if we take the trouble to get it. Catholic Voices, though still young, are already working internationally.

      I just wish that we had the same fire in our bellies as the forces of darkness do.

  17. Iona says:

    I am still apostolate-of-the-blogging, in the sense of following up references via Google, but actually posting very little. This is for the following reasons:

    My “apostolate” was in relation to pro-life issues, and Google sends me references to abortion and to euthanasia. The euthanasia references more often than not turn out to be about animals.
    Nearly all the abortion references come from the USA, where I have realised the issue is a party political one; Democrats are “pro-choice” (pro-abortion) and Republicans pro-life (anti-abortion). There seems to be no possibility of considering the issue on its own merits. Also, it has become evident that financial issues are far more acute in the USA than in the UK, in relation to costs of medical care, costs of raising and educating a child, etc.

    Very often I have been unable to post. A website will invite me to “sign in with” Facebook or Twitter (neither of which I “do”), or one of various other social media items such as Disqus. I have been unsuccessful with Disqus, – I am unsure why, but probably something to do with my general ICT stupidity.

    • Quentin says:

      I do agree with you about this more recent need to use a social networking site, though I have succeeded with Disqus. I might be prepared to explore Twitter just for this purpose (when I find out what Twitter is). I think perhaps one needs to open up new areas of interest as the spotlight changes. Of course it usually requires a bit of research but then that broadens our horizons — so not a bad thing.

      • tim says:

        Quentin, let me encourage you (and Iona, and anyone else who is interested in the Apostolate of the Blog) to sign up to Twitter. You don’t need a mobile phone – you can do it on the internet. All you need is a password you can remember and the ability (which I do not doubt most followers of this blog have) to say something sensible in 140 characters or less. If you need a little more, you can post a second Tweet, or give a link. You choose who you wish to ‘follow’ and so what you wish to discuss. You must sign in to receive messages (unless you get them by mobile phone). It is much less intrusive than, say, Facebook. Try it at

  18. Geordie says:

    Catholic schools have been failing in their duty for the last 40 years. The bishops have been informed of this over the years and the lapsation rate should further reinforce the facts. I have written to bishops and the Catholic papers (Do bishops read the Catholic papers?) as have many others but to no avail. One bishop wrote back and asked me if I “were trying to tell him his job”. Well, yes I was. After 35 years in education I felt I had something to contribute. But bishops don’t listen to their own clergy so there is very little chance of them listening to a mere layman.
    I think AD and others are doing us a favour. Close the catholic schools and then the bishops would have to come up with an alternative. Or would they?

    • Singalong says:

      Yes, Geordie, I don`t think there has ever been a Golden Age for anything, including Catholic schools, but before the Vatican Council, say from the 1970`s, there was certainly more unity and agreement about what to teach, and how to teach it, than there has been since.

      I think that uncertainty and different interpretations of the Council`s message, as well as increased secularisation of our society, and the proliferation of the media and communications, are all a huge challenge, which many schools have not met.

      When they don`t, I think they do more harm than good, because it makes it very difficult for parents to teach their children beliefs and practices which are at variance with those of their so called Catholic school.

  19. mike Horsnall says:

    I was closely involved with a couple of Catholic secondary schools for 3-4 years a while back in a previous incarnation as a Careers teacher/ counsellor. This was up in the NWest of England round the Keighley area. Both of the schools I worked at were generally well regarded and known for their pastoral care. People were quite keen to send their kids to those schools, catholic or not. I don’t personally believe that Christian faith of any kind is ‘teachable’ in the way we suppose it to be so ‘lapsation’ is of little relevance in my view- youth ‘lapsation’ is bewailed in Anglican churches as well.. Similarly poor religious management isn’t really the point. The point is are catholic schools ‘salt to the earth’ My experience of both the secondary schools I mention and our own primary school in the parish would be a resounding ‘yes’.

  20. St.Joseph says:

    I often wonder why parents actually want their children to attend Catholic schools if they have no faith them selves. I know some who have their children Baptised at 5 so that they can.
    If parents speak openly against the faith and belittle it in front of children obviously they will have no faith. It has to start with them. If more parents wrote to their Bishop, flood them with complaints,
    Thankfully all catholic school are not like that, also they have. I think cast the RE books that were around in the last 40 or so years. in the fire.
    Daphne McLeod has written some very good material for children

    Quentin, Daphne McLeod has plenty of fire in her belly as you describe it, however do the bishops listen to her? She has been fighting for proper RI in schools with the support of thousands and we have all had insults over the last 30 years.
    The young lady who spoke very well for Catholic Voice last year on the Sunday programme, was shot down in flames-obviously she will have been listened too, however human nature what it is will only be decided by what is convenient to them.
    We need the Bishops to speak for Catholic voices, and be there in the midst of it all when discussions take place along with the laity-perhaps sometime on ‘The Big Question’ on a Sunday!

    • Quentin says:

      Daphne McLeod is certainly vigorous in her attacks on Catholic education as it is carried out today. Basically she argues that the dropping of formal methods is the cause of current lapsation etc. but I wonder whether this is really the reason. The, recently deceased, American sociologist Fr Andrew Greeley showed there was a powerful correlation between the publication of Humanae Vitae and a mass exodus from the Western Church – which has continued to this day. Now we have a frankly absurd situation where the majority of the laity and, as far as we can discern, a majority of the clergy are at loggerheads with the teaching. And consequently the authority of the Church is much undermined.

      I am not commenting on the right and wrongs of this – merely noting that this huge split (which the Church tolerates because it has to) is almost bound to lead to the double standards within which the Church, in practice, lives. Under such circumstances who can wonder at the difficulties with which the modern catechist has to contend?

      • St.Joseph says:

        We can not keep placing the blame on Humanae Vitae.
        It began long before that.
        Permissiveness, anything goes, in the 50s the sexual explosion especially in music, television, films, abortion underage sex, It suited one to blame HV to clear their own conscience. It seems that the devil was let loose. Liberalism in the seminaries, feminism. women priests, freedom of speech, New Age, National Pastoral Council, with meetings for those who wanted to run the Church-because the bishops thought it would make us more Catholic to be ‘involved’. A big mistake!
        I know teachers who were not allowed to teach the faith as we ought in schools, and had to leave if they did not teach the modern methods or the sex education which were deeply offensive against catholic teaching.
        We were meant to open the windows-and let the Holy Spirit out and get off our comfortable pews, but instead of evangelizing many joined the ‘clan’ all for the sake of ‘Vatican2’!

      • Quentin says:

        St Joseph, I was being careful to avoid giving the impression that I blamed Humanae Vitae. It, and the negative response of so much of the Catholic community, were together a major cause of decline. And this was particularly crucial because it involved a rejection of Church authority. That is a factual claim which Fr Greeley made. Naturally there were other factors too, but probably less important.

    • RAHNER says:

      “Daphne McLeod has plenty of fire in her belly as you describe it, however do the bishops listen to her?”
      I imagine most of our bishops regard her as a crank……

  21. St.Joseph says:

    Thank you Quentin
    I don’t know much about Father Greely, but if it is same Fr Greely that wrote the fictional book, I was not too impressed. You will probably know the one.
    The Pope with his lover on his death bed, and it was not God!!

    • Quentin says:

      I believe Greeley did write novels, but I have not read any. His reputation as a sociologist was very high — which is why his professional view is relevant

      • St.Joseph says:

        I appreciate what you say as your opinion , but someone who disrespects a ‘Holy Father’ even if it is fiction I would find his/her professional view irrelevant more so than if it was true.
        They are belittling towards the Church, and have no self respect which he ought to have as a priest.
        We get enough of that from the media.

  22. Claret says:

    The Church needs to make its mind up about the rational for continuing to provide Catholic education. Should the main purpose be to provide a good well rounded education but without requiring even a modicum of loyalty to the Church from the parents and their children then it is generally doing a good job and perhaps it is enough.
    On the other hand if the idea of Catholic education is to promote Christianity in the education system then it is a terrible failure and the sooner it recognises the fact the better.
    Hardly any baptised adults with children of school age attending a catholic school attend Mass. For a secondary school pupil to admit attending Mass is a case of social suicide.
    Catholic teaching in nominally Catholic schools has often given way to very anti- catholic practices. This will only get worse as more and more a secular mind-set in Government continually tightens the screw on the basis that: ‘he who pays the piper calls the tune.’
    We kid ourselves about the value of Catholic schools in this country (GB) when it is a matter of faith.

    • St.Joseph says:

      It was thought it to be more important to build Catholic Schools before Churches after the Reformation, the thinking being that it would be there the vocations would come from.
      Then we might have the priests to fill the Churches when they are built.
      Now I can not speak from experience of Catholic Schools as I don’t have much, nor do my children from being there. My grandmother was very devotional also my mother, can’t say the same for my father, not a very holy person who used to order us to go to Mass, which upset my mother-who used to tell him ‘you will put the children off’! I was brought up to love God through Jesus Christ and Our Lady and have a relationship with them by both my mother and my grandmother more than outward show more so than my brothers or maybe I took more notice than they did.
      But one does need to study, and I did that when my children were born as I realised I knew little except the basics. Although I must have known something more than I thought as from an early age loved listening to sermons and would not miss a Mission, it was like having a hunger for the Spiritual Food than it gives one.
      It is worth reading ‘Catechesi Tradendae’ (1979) by Pope John Paul and the General Catechetical Directory (1971).
      Particularly (CT 23) I find it very important.!

  23. Michael Horsnall says:

    Yes I would agree with this. Catholic schools in my experience are generally well regarded for their pastoral care, this is why people are keen to send their children regardless of religious interest,.they do so because they think it will be ‘good’. As far as I can see catholic schools do have a religious ethos and do put this ethos on the agenda to some degree or another. This putting forward of the broader agenda is evangelism in practice and should not be judged by the outcomes in terms of bums on seats, the assumption that a child can be taught the fire of faith is a one and probably the true root of what is termed here ‘lapsation’. Catholics who are teachers are of course free to teach in whichever sector they choose to apply to and can get employment in. It can be said that the catholic influence may be equally present if catholics disperse throughout society but this is nonsense particularly in the present secular environment. Someone used the analogy of a coal taken out from the fire and left upon the hearth …not surorisingly it cooled down.

  24. Michael Horsnall says:

    whoops ..should say: “‘the assumption that a child can be taught the fire of faith is a wrongheaded one and probably the true root of what is termed here ‘lapsation’ ”

    Really I think we do kid ourselves terribly at times on the whole issue of discipleship, there is a world of difference between generalised assent and the catching of fire in the heart. This though does NOT mean that children should not be told about the fire or from whence it comes.

  25. Vincent says:

    In looking up AD’s reference to William Oddie, I find that he also tells us that the lapsation rate from Catholic schools is actually higher than the lapsation rate of children who do not go to such schools. I would not draw any firm conclusions from this as the background characteristics of such children may differ, however it is at least possible that, being in a minority, their sense of identity as Catholics may be stronger and so more highly valued.

  26. Singalong says:

    Yes, Vincent, we found it easier in many ways, to pass on the practice of our faith to the child who did not go to a Catholic school, as I said in my comment yesterday, than to those at the Catholic school where, at the time, some of the teaching and example was very unorthodox.

    What could we say, for instance, about the teacher (in the Catholic school) who passed on anecdotes to her class such as the conversations she had with her boyfriend while they had breakfast together in their flat?

    • St.Joseph says:

      It is not so much what you would say to your children, but what you would say to the teacher.
      But of course when my son at Grammar school nearly 40 years ago lost his St Christopher medal and when it was found and given to him from the Head-my son said ‘I knew it would I prayed to St Anthony’ the teacher said to him ‘you don’t believe in all that rubbish do you. Children don’t like to cause a fuss sometimes and be embarrassed.
      He was very upset but did not want me to say anything as he said it would make it worse.’ Even though he did not go to a Catholic school he is a good defender of the faith now.
      It proves the point as to when the Parish Priest told me they would lose their faith not sending them to a catholic school , I told him it was my duty to God that they didn’t lose it!
      They had instructions for their first Holy Communion on a Saturday morning in Church, and made his at 6, he was quite upset when he came back from the Altar and burst into tears ,and said in a loud voice ‘I have just eaten Jesus’ and cried his eyes out .So I had to explain to him a little more for him to understand.
      But he has a wonderful reverence for the Blessed Sacrament., and will always make the Sign of the Cross when he passes the Church- it reminds me then- he got that from his grandmother when he was very young and still has her St Anthony’s Statue in his lounge window. Grandmother’s can do more than teachers as far as devotion is concerned. He is a Foundation Governor at a Catholic School.

      • Singalong says:

        It was the example to the children, ours and others, we were most concerned about, and we did speak to the head teacher, to no effect. No one was going to apologise and change their ways. A newly appointed, experienced,sound Catholic teacher, after making every effort, had to leave after 18 months, for the same reason.

        Claret`s summing up is an excellent analysis of the situation, as he says, we must make up our minds as to what we do about it.

  27. I took my eldest son, (father of two boys with another due any moment and all will be under three,) to the PEEP conference in May. He was so impressed with Daphne’s address and turned to thank me for taking him, he said that several times throughout the day too. If I told him that the word ‘crank’ referring to Daphne was being bandied about in Catholic circles he would be incredulous. Now my son is not a daft person, in fact he holds down a job as a consultant and earns more than £500 a day working in Canary Wharf area. No fool him. He would spot a crank straight off but he didn’t see one, he knew how to recognize a true Catholic though. When the next speaker, a young man spoke about his ‘catholic education’ my son turned to me saying that was his experience too. It is not what he wants for his boys. So where do we go to get true Catholic Education?
    My lovely son-in-law didn’t got to a Catholic school and his faith is resounding. His Mother took her family to SPPX church for Mass. He and his wife (my daughter) are homeschooling at present.
    This name calling and labeling is odious especially when addressed to someone who is fully experienced in their topic and, over time the statistics prove them right. We all know that if a person is labeled they can be dismissed. Hmmm!

    • St.Joseph says:

      Gail, it is good to hear you back, keep up the good work.
      Yours is the perfect example of the ‘Holy Family
      ‘It is true what you say about the PEEP Conference-there are some wonderful speakers there. Unfortunately I missed it this year
      For parents who would like their to children to watch TV. EWTN have some wonderful programmes also for parents who feel they would like to know more about our faith.
      It is 589 on SKY Freeview.It is free and no cost. Holy Mass 3 time a day for those who are ill and housebound, and wonderful showing of His Holiness Pope Francis-.One can get free programme info- also it is on the Web. On 24 hrs a day.

    • John Nolan says:

      Gail, I suspect Rahner’s right. Doesn’t say a lot for the bishops, though.

  28. John Nolan says:

    There are 4484 Church of England primary and middle schools, a quarter of the total. Where village primary schools still exist they are likely to be CofE. Add to this the 2300-plus Catholic primaries, and you’ve got a very large ghetto.

    • St.Joseph says:

      John Nolan.
      There are 7 Catholic Churches 1 Abbey and 1 Monastery all no more than 6 miles from me, except the Abbey which is about 9 miles some as close as 2.All packed on Sunday.
      Latin Mass in 2, and Exposition 3 times a week in one, 2 have I day a week, I don’t know about the rest
      Lots of activity going on.
      St Peters High School 10 miles away all with school buses-and I am in the country.1.College-2, Secondary State Schools,- 2 Grammar, not counting the C of E Schools
      I don’t know if that is unusual.
      There are 3 catholic primary schools all very close.2 or 3 miles away.
      Unfortunately no vocations to the priesthood yet.

      • mike Horsnall says:

        “Church gets go ahead to take over state schools….. The Times 7.7.13

        “A clear moral ethos often underpinned by an active parish providing willing supporters has proved an effective formula in many Church of England schools….Even non-believers are prepared to attend church to boost their child’s chance of securing a place.”

  29. St.Joseph says:

    Have you heard of the Association of Catholic Women (ACW) They have a web site.
    In 1989 a number of Catholic women met together because they were both upset and exasperated.
    You will find everything on their web site. I have been a member since then.
    They do wonderful work especially in Catholic primary schools with projects and competitions for children in a way that it is interesting learning the faith. You can sign up a yearly membership £12. with a magazine sent to you or £6 if you are a member on the website. However you can read it now on the web and past ones too.
    It would be good for every Catholic woman to know about. They held a lot of flood-gates back since they started, in 1989 and do have an important and respected Voice within the Church.

  30. johnbunting says:

    I speak in ignorance, having no children, but I do wonder if Catholic education concentrates too much on Catholic ‘culture’, devotional practice etc., with insufficient reference to the underlying theological and metaphysical ideas. Judging from the debates of my own school days, I suspect that many children are quite receptive to discussions of this sort. For example – to take a current ‘hot topic’ – is Darwinism essentially atheistic, or not?

  31. Rahner, I’m convinced the Bishops would like to think Daphne is a crank, it suits them to do so otherwise they would have to accept that statement she made about about them declaring their ‘dereliction of duty’.
    They may call her Crank but she is not. They may call white black but it is not.
    All the best.

  32. Singalong says:

    Yes, Mike, the DM article also included this, which is great as far as it goes, especially in Primary schools, but in Secondary schools covering many parishes it is much harder, and does not seem to be very often achieved.

    Don`t you think that for the older children, Catholic schools should provide more, sound, in depth Catholic doctrine, ethics and practices, great reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, the importance of the Mass, with soundly guided discussions as John Bunting has mentioned, as well as the social and charitable concerns which are not usually neglected.

    And the term Pastoral Care covers a wide spectrum. Sometimes, it just seems to mean making sure that boys use condoms and girls don`t get pregnant.

    • mike Horsnall says:

      Yes I do think that. I’m a catechist too and I am astounded by the lack of understanding in our church. But I don’t think you can ‘teach’ reverence-internal revelation is required. But this revelation probably begins with clear teaching….but have you any idea how hard it is to teach clearly on these things?

  33. mike Horsnall says:

    Singalong again!
    In fact Singalong if I’m completely honest I think that the teaching of Catholicism can be achieved to a certain level by classroom teachers but then needs to be bolstered by catechists working with small groups. These catechists need to be alive in their own hearts to the spirit of God-when I trained this was not the case. There is no easy answer to any of this and some of it is shrouded in the mystery of faith but there is a sense in which catechesis of primary/secondary schools is a missions vocation-a calling and not a job. This catechesis does not mean that there should be no catholic schools but that genuine catechesis is evangelism and not everyone is an evangelist.

    • Singalong says:

      Thank you, Mike. It must be very difficult to teach as you say, and I am sure it is a real vocation. I am afraid I have to admit that we did not even manage very well with our own children, lots of reasons, including confusion after the Vatican Council. I often wish that the sacrament of Confirmation still had the same immediate and dramatic effect as at the first Pentecost.

      • St.Joseph says:

        A little book ‘ What every Catholic child should know about the Faith’ by Daphne McLeod and Frederick Taylor. Can be obtained at 4,Fife Way, Great Bookham, Surrey. Kt23 3PH.
        Review by Rev Canon Francis J Ripley. From 1st Year Infants 4-5 Years Old through Primary School.
        It is a summary of what Primary School children should know by the end of each school year of their education. Very easy for instruction.
        It was £1 25 including UK postage and packing, maybe more now Reductions for quantity more than 5 copies. post free.

      • Quentin says:

        St Joseph, do you (or does anyone) know of a good catechetical textbook aimed at ages, say 14 or 15, which fully understands adolescents’ way of thinking and engages directly with their needs, their question and concerns? And which is acknowledged by them as being relevant?

      • Michael Horsnall says:

        Singalong: Ha ha that’s really funny…just imagine it-whole lines of schoolkids running around speaking in serbocroat- with flames coming out of their little heads-it would soon be banned as a health risk by the local authorities

  34. St.Joseph says:

    I was very pleased when I read my middle grandsons RE book for his exams at 16.
    It was truthful and religious within the teachings of the Church. That was 4 years ago,
    How it was explained by the teachers is another matter, but the school he and his brother went to is exceptional. They were prepared well at their primary school, by the priest.. He is now at Canterbury University .and loves the Church.
    My granddaughter is 16 today actually and her Catholic school my son keeps his eye on that! All I know is she is quite knowledgeable when she speaks of her faith, And she shows me her homework books. My children are quite adequate to keep an eye on their education-in education. herself. Also their religious & moral welfare. I have no worries there Thank God,
    Parents have that duty-however at that age a little rebellion creeps in, but we ought to be able to handle that with understanding honesty and ‘Kid gloves’

  35. ionzone says:

    Probably already been mentioned, but the easy answer to AD’s statistics on lapsed Catholic schoolchildren is that many such schools have been allowed to drift and aren’t regulated enough by the Catholic Church. If they aren’t inspected and seen to be teaching the faith properly, which seems to be common, then children will lapse. The solution is better Catholic Schools. The thing about transferring Catholic schoolchildren to secular schools is daft, they get their education from the Catholic schools so if they go to a non-Catholic school they will simply be under peer pressure to conform to the ‘me culture’. Offering the suggestion of out-of-hours teachers is plainly, like most of what you write, a ‘smokescreen’ or misdirection. The true motive is to neuter the ability of Catholic parents to provide a Catholic environment for their children. The first thing that Soviet authorities did was ban faith schools and ensure that children were only brought up in the atheist party doctrine. This is the same by stealth – an attempt to chip away at Christianity while instituting ever more secularism. One of the key points of a faith school is that they meet others like themselves and grow up as a part of the Catholic community. This is a lot harder when it is a once-a-week club behind closed doors. You talk about segregation, and yet segregation is EXACTLY what this would create. You see, while all their friends from the secular-school are out playing football, they’ll be inside with an ever diminishing group of children who know they are being forced to study in their own time. And that is a massive disincentive that will put them off before they even know what they are being put off of.

    Speaking of misdirection, I’m betting you wouldn’t be too opposed to an atheist or agnostic school? The same people who hate faith schools and try to stop them being build have already tried to make one.

  36. Singalong says:

    Mike, July 11th, my remark was not meant to be flippant,it was a heartfelt wish, and I was thinking of a more delayed effect I suppose, on adults, as teachers and parents. However, if you are good at drawing, how about a little cartoon depicting what you describe?

  37. Singalong says:

    Mike, my remark was not meant to be flippant, it was a heartfelt wish for a delayed effect, I suppose, to help adults as teachers and parents, but if you are good at drawing, how about a little cartoon depicting the scene you describe?

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