On the other side of the fence

Josephine looked over the fence and, shaking a letter in her hand, she called out to Betsy “We’ve got it, we’ve got it! Dominic has been offered a place at St Bede’s – next term”

But Betsy didn’t smile. “Good for Dominic, but my Bob won’t be going there. We’re not Catholics like you. So he’ll be at the Lawn Primary. It’s a bit of a journey and they have some rough kids there. Sorry Jo, but I think its unfair. After all we both pay our taxes, so why shouldn’t Bob have just the same chance as Dominic to go to the nearest school – he’s a bright boy.

“I do sympathise” said Josephine “but we have Catholic schools to provide a Catholic education. So it’s inevitable that Catholic children have the best chance of a place.”

“That’s just what I mean. After all, the school system is public and it’s paid for with public money. I don’t think they should have denominations. If Catholics want their own schools then they should pay for them directly, so should the Muslims or Jews. I don’t see why I should subsidise Catholic schools when I’m not a Catholic.”

“You know” said Josephine “you’re not having to spend any extra – in fact, a little bit less because we have to contribute to the capital costs of our schools. Sometimes I think people are jealous because Catholic schools seem to do rather better than most academically.”

“There’s another thing” Betsy added “it can’t be right for Catholic children to be shielded from mixing in ordinary society. After all, we have to live together so why start off by keeping Catholics separate from everyone else. In two ticks your Dominic is going to have Catholic friends – he’s going to have a shock when he gets out into society. Wouldn’t it be better if he got used to all sorts of people from the word go?”

And so the conversation carried on. We may hope that Jo and Betsy remained friends, and that Dominic and Bob remained friends too. But are you a supporter of Catholic schools or do you think that it would be better to have secular schools, and separate arrangements for studying Catholic doctrine? There are certainly points on both sides which Jo and Betsy haven’t made. So this is an opportunity to put this right.


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44 Responses to On the other side of the fence

  1. tyke says:

    If parents choose to send their children to faith schools that are not publicly funded, then logically their tax payments should be reduced accordingly, and the difference redirected to the faith school. So what in practice is the difference?

    Or is the secular society asking that parents with children at faith schools should pay for their education twice?

  2. milliganp says:

    If I could take an entirely different tack – if the production of adult Catholics is the ultimate measure of faith schools, they are a monumental failure. The whole Catholic School system was born out of the ghettoization of Catholics in the 19th century and Irish immigration. If the role of the church is to spread the Gospel, Catholic schools are a distraction. We could raise billions selling the schools to the government and put real effort into forming parish communities.

  3. Hock says:

    As I have no widespread knowledge of Catholic schools in the UK I can only comment on the ones I do know about and the plain fact of the matter is that barely a handful of children from any of the Catholic schools I have had any contact with attend Mass with their parents.
    Barely a handful of parents support the parish that supports their school.
    While many parents seem to value the ethos of a Catholic school and want their children to have moral values that is the limit of their involvement.
    Catholic secondary schools are no better than State schools in relation to sex education, provision of birth control and support for abortion.
    Teachers in Catholic schools who are Mass going Catholics are as rare as hen’s teeth.
    The only saving grace are those few parents who do take an active interest in promoting the Catholic faith and their parish, plus the fact that the wider world, including the Secular Society and its supporters, are under the misapprehension that Catholic schools teach the Catholic faith and that it is practiced by the majority of pupils and students.
    Of course in Private Schools you get what you pay for.

  4. Horace says:

    I was sent to a Catholic Boarding School by my Anglo-Irish Protestant father, who said that this was because he admired the Jesuit claim – “Give me the child, I will give you the man.”
    I sent my own son to the same school and never regretted it (although when he finished school and went to University I still owed £5000 which took some while to pay off!).

    I never remember receiving overt Religious Instruction – being a Catholic was simply a part of everyday life – and this, I think, is how it should be.

    We did, of course, learn about the Reformation and persecution of Catholics – “No Popery”, “Hocus pocus” and so on, so that when I left school to go to University and later to do my National Service and then join the NHS as a physician, I expected a certain amount of adverse pressure and criticism – but none ever materialised!

  5. Brendan says:

    Now retired , I can’t speak with any conviction about the current state of Catholic schools , since I have had no day to day contact myself or with relatives with them since 1962. It is obvious that ones own Catholic education/upbringing was very different to today ; but from the outside looking in , the picture seems very patchy indeed . From my own parish, I get the picture that our schools are turning out good citizens with a good grasp of the Catholic Faith. However, anecdotal stories from society at large tell me that Catholic Education ( Catechetics ) and the lamentable numbers of churchgoers among’st the young tell a different story. No wonder we and society at large are questioning the effectiveness of continuing with our own schools.
    I await more postings to comment further. All I can say generally, is that the early years – good Primary Catholic Education – is critical to further a child’s ongoing development in the fiture.

  6. Brendan says:

    From my own personal experience I am tending grudgingly, towards the view Milliganp expressed , with emphasis on strengthening the current parish situation along with the ‘ New Movements ‘ now entrenched in the Church . Something like ‘ Sunday school ‘ built on the old system at different levels to hold sway. Sound Catachetics through the Catholic parish Community involving the whole range of ‘ families ‘ is still necessary to the vigour and vitality of the Catholic person and community for its survival in the current secular climate. I believe I stand as something of a witness to this process.
    St. John Paul 2 was prophetic in seeing the maturing of the New Movements as being very important to Catholic parish life in the future. A lot more needs to be done in Britain to achieve the desired effect.

  7. Brendan says:

    Politically , we have a problem with organisations like the National Secular Society. While they state that people have the ” right ” in public or in private , individually or in community ” to manifest religion and belief ” ; the Catholic mindset among’ st other ‘ religious groupings ‘ , as compared to secular society, tends inexorably to the standpoint that there is no such thing as absolute equality , ( frankly, some will be saved , some won’t ! ). During the gay ‘ marriage ‘ debate I had this out with my socialist M.P., and found no convergence was possible.
    The NSC arguments are cogent, reasoned and have moral force. I am concerned like us all about ‘ exemptions ‘ put forward by Catholics ( and others ) to equality legislation that could be struck down by unsympathetic British/European Courts . Lawyers like Neil Addison and John Duddington in Wales have great experience in defence of such exemptions.
    The question NSC fails to address , is where does that leave for the individual and the community , that right to freedom to carry out and achieve by any means ( including academies and free schools ) , that high standard of education and moral rectitude that ‘ faith schools ‘ believe they are demonstrating to society at large, if ‘ equality for all ‘ destroys that right ? Their reply being typically, socialist / right wing utilitarian.

    • Quentin says:

      Brendan, an alteration in your email address required you to be approved as a new contributor. Please check. Q

    • Brendan says:

      Sorry about this Quentin, I know you’ve mentioned this before. My only excuse is that I’m trying to juggle two or three things here this morning !

  8. John Thomas says:

    Faith schools. Er, that’s Catholic, Anglican, Jewish schools – Right? Wrong! ALL schools are faith schools, it’s just that the others teach, inculcate, and brainwash children into, the Secular Materialist faith. So never go down the road of trying to justify Catholic schools to atheists – get them to try to justify their own faith schools to you.

    • St.Joseph says:

      I believe that it is not too well known in the media just what catholic youth are doing in the world through our schools and catholic organisations.
      When I went to Lourdes a while back last year the number of young people looking after the sick was breathtaking.Also my 17 year old grandaughter, her school had a Pilgrimage, she decided to acompany my son and daughter instead of going with the school.
      Also the World Youth Day of Prayer, and the Youth Pro Life Conference in Southport last weekend,also other Pro-Life movements.and The March for Life,
      This is all through our schools.
      They would not have this from a non-faith school.
      All my grandchildren went to RC Schools.
      We just have to keep an eye on the teaching, that is parents responsibility too!!!.

  9. Truthos says:

    I’m 21 now and I went to a large Catholic school, around 1700 pupils attended over 7 year groups. It certainly had it’s fair share of rough students and I feel that had I gone to a smaller school, more local as well, I may have been exposed to some adult things (relationships and drugs) a lot slower. However with a school that size in a large city, that kind of think is expected. Although I sometimes felt like I was the only Catholic there, being at the school certainly played a large part in me retaining my faith. The majority of the people in my friendship groups were quite bold and open in their dislike for religion and enjoyed to joke and make fun of it, they also enjoyed trying to debate with me and convince me I was deluded and believing in myths etc. I feel like this kept me thinking and evaluating my faith though, and I was fortunate enough to have wise and influential people like my Nan to back me up and teach me where I may become confused or unsure about anything. All in all this certainly made my faith stronger and made me be much more open about it. This combined with having to say the Angelus every lunch time and afternoon prayers at the end of the school day definitely kept my faith alive as part of everyday life and I still say my prayers every morning and evening. I can’t say for sure if this is due mostly to my home life and up-bringing; or the school I went to, but I know I’m glad I went to a catholic school.

    I think the trouble is that Catholicism isn’t very fashionable. I was happy to make it part of my character and enjoyed wearing the enormous crucifix I had round my neck only to have to spend the next hour debating on whether or not there is a God. But I fear that some pupils wouldn’t take such pride and could eventually lose faith through being so closed off about it in an attempt to avoid judgement from their peers. It is important that Catholic schools openly and bluntly discuss the misconceptions about the Catholic faith which so many people enjoy to believe. I’ve been asked far too many times whether or not I believe in dinosaurs.

    • Brendan says:

      Thanks for your comments Truthos. I can see you cherish The Faith. Cherish your Nan and all around you wise enough to guide you and let you live !
      As a Culture , we do not like the thought of failure. As human beings because of our fallen nature we are prone to disobedience and reject legitimate authority . Our Catholic Faith is in that sense is counter-cultural to society at large.
      We are fortunate to have two ‘ living Popes ‘ – one honourary . One might call them the ‘ Laurel and Hardy ‘ of the Catholic World !. We are privileged that the Spirit of God gave us this guidance in these troubling times , and must pray that amid all this confusion and disobedience the Synod of The Family later this year will bear fruits under the guidance of Pope Francis.

    • Martha says:

      That is a very powerful statement Truthos, and I am sure your parents and your Nan are praying that your love for God and His Church will continue and grow as you progress in your adult life. It is very sad, but not surprising, to read that you sometimes felt like the only Catholic at your school, and I do not think that all personalities can cope with such a situation at a young age.

  10. Vincent says:

    I have seen this quote pasted elsewhere. It certainly suggests to me that Catholic education is playing an important part in the integration of society.

    “Based on their 2013 Census, the Catholic Education Service reported:
    The data collected in the census show that on average pupils at Catholic schools in England come disproportionately from the most deprived areas. 18.4% of pupils in Catholic primary schools are from some of the most deprived areas, compared to only 13.8% nationally. Catholic secondary schools follow a similar trend. 17.3% of pupils are coming from some of the most socially deprived areas with a national figure of 12.2%. The Census has also found that Catholic schools take more pupils from ethnic minority backgrounds with 34.5% of pupils in Catholic primary schools from ethnic minority backgrounds and 30.2% of Catholic secondary school pupils.”

    • Quentin says:

      Vincent, this is interesting information, and I will certainly make use of it. However, we should bear in mind that schools are no melting pot. That is, the young tend to pick their social circle within a school from people who seem like them (just as we do in or our normal friendships). So the academics tend to mix with academics or the ethnic minorities mix with their own kind. There may be more segregation within a school than there is outside.

  11. Geordie says:

    Milliganp, I agree entirely with the statement below.
    “….if the production of adult Catholics is the ultimate measure of faith schools, they are a monumental failure.”
    I taught in Catholic schools in latter part of the sixties. It was at the time when new syllabuses, with very little Catholic doctrine, were being introduced. As a young teacher I couldn’t believe that my more experienced colleagues and the bishops would accept such watered down religious teaching. I waited and waited for the reaction and it never came. My older colleagues and the parish clergy seemed quite happy with what was going on and I began to doubt my own judgement. Was I being weighed down with scruples?
    In the end I left the Catholic school system and went into the state system. I couldn’t reconcile my beliefs with what I was being asked to teach. You didn’t have to be a Catholic to follow the syllabus. Possibly I should have stayed and campaigned against what was happening but I was too young and unsure of myself to do this. I am glad I left. Just look how Victoria Gillick was treated by the hierarchy when she campaigned on another issue.

  12. Brendan says:

    In 2011 , Pope Benedict at his annual ‘ Study Group ‘ of past students of his at Castel Gandolfo, asked his students to asked God for forgiveness for all the generations of ” cradle Catholics ” who had failed to pass on the Faith. For post-Vatican Catholic world that must apply to us all. Was leadership always apparent when it was needed from the princes of the church down and why wasn’t it there when we knew it was needed ? I don’t know the answer to that but plainly Pope Benedict would not have gone out of his way to emphasise the point off asking forgiveness if it was not needed.

    • Martha says:

      As parents we are often told not to blame ourselves if our adult children give up practising their faith, that it is their responsibility, as it is, but . . . if we had really passed on a real knowledge and love of God as St. Therese’s parents managed to do, would they so quickly and easily abandon such a treasure?

      • Brendan says:

        One can only speak for oneself Martha. That’s why wholesale blame is so difficult to attribute in some areas of Church life – I’m talking about sins of omission . If it is that serious then one can only suggest The Sacrament of Reconciliation . For some of us this is plainly difficult for many reasons and as a Catholic I would say that frequent take -up of that healing grace of Confession , with a contrite heart , fulfills its purpose.
        Cardinal Raymond Burke in a measured but ‘ no punches pulled ‘ prepared piece delivered to The Extraordinary Synod last October, said :
        ” This Antinomianism [ disobedience to God’s Law ] embedded in civil society has unfortunately infected post-council ecclesial life. ” When we think of – as Geordie said – about Victoria Gillick , and the likes of Daphne McLeod and Bishop O’ Donoghue , late of Lancaster Diocese and their siren vioces speaking of problems they perceived in Catholic Life in Britain , particularly in education; do we really feel that sufficient attention was paid paid to them ? Pope St. John Paul certainly did – but did our Bishops and ourselves ?

  13. Tmothy Potts says:

    The alternatives proposed by Josephine and Betsy are simplistic. The Catholic Church in England & Wales has inherited a large real estate of school premises, in varying states of antiquity and repair. The financial terms upon which they receive government assistance (90% of capital costs and 100% of running costs) have not always been as generous as they are today, and even 10% of capital costs represents a big sacrifice for parishes which have to find it. Even if there were general agreement that the Church should relinquish all of its schools, therefore, it would be very difficult to do so, and it is far from certain that buyers would be found for most of them. It would be more realistic to ask whether the role of Catholic schools should be envisaged anew. At present, they are conceived very narrowly, as denominational schools that try to guarantee a place to every Catholic child. But what has happened to our undertaking to do everything jointly with our fellow Christians that can be so done? Surely there is a strong case for ecumenical instead of exclusively Catholic schools?

    • Vincent says:

      As the Catholic Church owns the schools, and those schools would be needed for the same number of pupils (around 840,000), the State would need to buy the schools from the Church. A big bill, I think.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Timothy Potts.
      I went to non-catholic schools.
      When prayers were said I was sent out side the door until I was called in again.
      My family had almost all non-catholic friends, although helped financially with the building of a catholic church in the village.
      I think we have gone too far with the ecunemical movement,we ought to be able to live in peace with each other,having our own beliefs. I married a Methodist.Of course he did not try to convince me to become one-nor did I try to convert him to be catholic, it just went that way as I practiced my faith,he didn’t practice his.So of course he went along with mine alway learning and being involved in parish life..Contradicting everything for 50 years ,until he then became a catholic, convinced entirely in his beliefs. that the Rc was right. Then he died.RIP
      I believe it can work mixed christian religious schools,as does happen,having different religious lessons and even prayers and Holy Mass.
      My 2 children went to a junior State school, then a Grammer School,and a priest came in to teach RE Instructions along with Saturday morning lessons in the parish for 1st Holy Communion and Confirmation. Thank God now in their 50s they are still practicing,however what helps is that they are involved in parish life.
      I believe that is the important thing to keep them involved. Which is happening now with the different organisations that I mentioned in a above comment..
      We have so much going for the young now in the Church, more than what we or I had as a teenager.I had no catholic friends at that age and no idea what the Church had to offer me spiritually outside Holy Mass and Novena evening.
      I think we will have more vocations now with the activities that young people can be together in their faith.
      They will always question the way of the teachings and as Truthos said in his comment ,that a better understanding when discussing the faith and be brave enough to do it.
      Like he did.

  14. Brendan says:

    Spurred on by Timothy Potts, I’ve searched for some figures for Wales. There are 1,478 state/ County Primary with about 240 Secondary Schools.. The Church of Wales ( Anglican ) has 172 Voluntary – Aided Schools ( all Primary ) .The Anglican Diocese of Swansea and Brecon ( where I live ) have 1 Primary School !
    In conversation with young people attending the local state comprehensive; I asked if they had a morning assembly daily or a few times in a week with any prayers or thought for the day included , religious / moral. Answer came back ; none of the above. But at least they seemed open to the suggestion that someone put this forward at the next School Student Council. Many questions filled my mind after this disturbing encounter !
    Wales has 3, 000, 000 people . England about 60, 000, 000 ?

  15. Brendan says:

    In Wales at least , there is a big question not surprisingly around local authority finance.
    To cut a long story short ; there is a test case currently going forward ( on behalf of pupil ‘ w ‘ at a Catholic Comprehensive ) through the High Court in Swansea , the decision on which is
    expected around Easter . The case is fighting a decision of Swansea City and Council to stop free transport for all students to all Catholic schools in their area regardless of their financial circumstances from September this year. On the other hand free transport will continue for students ( regardless of their financial circumstances ) who attend all schools – primary and secondary – offering education through the medium of Welsh. The Catholic Diocese of Menevia believe that this policy , described by a Catholic educationalist as ” brutal ” has a good chance of being overturned by the courts.
    This Comprehensive serves a very large area ; one student for instance having to travel 1 hr. 50 mins. from home. It accommodates a disproportionate amount of BME’s ( Black/Asian ethnicity ) pupils – something Vincent tuned into earlier – and children taking up free meals. As far as I am aware the local authority has always had good relations with the Catholic Education Services in the Diocese , so it may well be the ‘ soft ‘ option ( much vaunted by politicians ) to look for savings in the area of Council Catholic services .
    One can imagine the financial sacrifice of families trying to give their children a Catholic education in the area. As far as I am aware all of the Catholic schools in the area have a good reputation and are oversubscribed taking in pupils of different faiths and none.

  16. Brendan says:

    It seems to me – even with my limited knowledge and experience in this area – that our Bishops and their flocks have to look at the ‘ Catholicity ‘ of schools in their charge in connection with the assumed ‘ Catholicity ‘ , of the support from the communities with the corresponding stake in them. These are difficult questions to be asked and hard choices to be made; in that it is already being looked at with the closure of Catholic churches and amalgamation of some parishes , especially in England. It appears that some schools must be fighting a rearguard action in respect of maintaining the critical number of Catholic teachers ( observant ) and the number of practicing Catholic students in their schools. Catholic education is about forming the whole person, however good academically the schools may be ; are they turning out ‘Catholic ‘ adults? With the proportion of Catholics in any one school say less than 50 %, is the Catholic ethos of the school lost ? If this is the case then there must be a strong argument in SOME diocese’ for putting all its efforts into the Parish Community , which has always been the stable default position for the Catholic Church in England and Wales. At least presumably it will have full control given re-vitalised efforts of each community, to maintain a vibrant local ‘ church.’ If IT fails in that area then it will only have itself to blame !
    Maybe from that strengthened , slimmed – down position ,the Catholic Church in Britain can really make its evangelising efforts within and outside the Church, come to full fruition in the future.

  17. St.Joseph says:

    You are so right when you speak of the Catholic women as Geordie said who were treated by the heirarchy when they campaigned on issues relating to Catholic teaching.
    Also on sex education in schools.. especially the Catholic Education Service an official agency of the Bishop’ conference, headed by in the late Bishop David Konstant of Leeds
    The CES committee responsible for producing Education in Sexuality1993 (too explicit for me to print here)! was chaired by Canon Harry Stratton the Bishop, representative for marriage life. Among the other committee members. was Martin Prendergast, an ex Carmelite priest and co-founder of the radical umbrella group COSPEC (Christian Organisation for Social Political and Economic Change)The vice-chairman of the Catholic Renewal Movement in 1982, he has also been a member of QUEST the organisation for homosexuals seeking tolerance within the Church. Another member was Margaret Vincent a former member of the Catholic Marriage Advisory Council, an official Catholic Agency which also advertises FPA literature in it own publications .(whether they do now or not, and promote NFP.I would like to know).
    ‘Taught not Caught’ one of the three resources which the CSE recommended for secondary schools.13 to 16 yr old, and Knowing Me Knowing You. 11 to12 yr old

    To even think that such literature could be taught in catholic schools it proves that they are
    incompetent even to produce a guideline on sexual education which does not corrupt the the morals of our children.
    The words of the late Phyllis Bowman, the national director of the Society for the Unborn commented ‘A lot of us were wondering why on earht Bishop Konstant and his committee should take it upon themselves to produce a manual when we are awaiting official guidlines from the Pontifical Council on the Family’.This is the past, hopefully!.
    Daphne McLeod , Victoria Gillick, the ACW Association of Catholic Women and many more organisations including catholic teachers who have been attacked for teaching the Truth in the church,and bullied for years, with no Bishop’ support , is it any wonder the we are asking ‘Why have things got to this state’?
    . .

    • Quentin says:

      St Joseph, I know and understand where you are coming from. There are two sides to this story, and I hope we can examine these carefully one day. Meanwhile, since you mention Bishop Konstant, I think I should say that he is an expert in education and, to my personal knowledge, a holy man. Whether or not you agree with his approach be confident that he has thought about these issues for many years and that he has worked in the ways which his long experience has taught him are most effective.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Thank you for your reply.!

        You say ‘there are two sides to this story and I hope we can examine these carefully one day ‘I will look forward to that!

        .I would like to know the other side because it might give me a better understanding as to why such explicit sex lessons would be considered appropriate to children aged 11 -13.. Also why Family planning-booklets produced by The Brook Advisory Centre, also a Free Contraceptive Display Kit . Happy Family Planning produced by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Revenge of the teenage Perverts, a video produced by the Lesbian and Gay Youth Project should be taught in our Catholic schools.to 13 to 16 yr olds..
        The British Guild of Catholic Doctors and the UK Association of Catholic Women (which I am a member) had joined forces with Parents and school administrators who expressed grave concern. over the resource material recommended in guidelines on children’s sex education.
        I am not criticising Bishop Konstant, however,he may have been an expert in ‘education’.
        I believe sex education was not what the Lord called him to do !It would have been more appropriate to teach purity chastity and if family planning was necessary, Holy Mother Church’s way would have been more appropriate.NFP info was then available however not particularly favoured with Bishops.
        Then it would have been practiced with confidence within families,as those children would be the parents of today.

        But I will wait for my mind to be converted in these matters.

  18. Ignatius says:

    Alas if local Catholic primary schools are anything like ours …then close or amalgamate them.

    • St.Joseph says:

      My grandchildren went to a primary catholic school,one 2 aged 11 still there, he goes to a Catholic High School in Septemb near me and another in Herts,.
      There are many non catholics going..maybe half, a small school about 200 and sought after by non-catholics, in a small Cotswold village.
      Of course they have a very holy young priest,he serves 2 parishes. and very pro-life.. and is not afraid to be a ‘catholic!!.
      My grandson has learned to serve Mass being next to a convent Chapel. and he is looking forward to serving more often when he goes in September to his next school.
      Of course I do see the difficulty with big Cities and big schools.
      That must have their problems..

      • ignatius says:

        Yes thats as may be.However not all Priests are as expert as managing the staff from a governing perspective and the governing body drawn from the church may be no more than a sham. Depends on the school. At ours there is a veneer of catholicism covering a shambles.

      • St.Joseph says:

        I am sure you are right.
        My son is a foundation governor at a primary school where his youngest daughter goes.
        He finds things difficult at times.
        Am I right in saying ‘to be a Governor in a catholic school.one does not need to be a catholic’!.
        That must make things difficult if it is right.I seem to remember my son saying something like that.

  19. Brendan says:

    Thank you for your interjection at this stage Saint Joseph. Either a lot seems to have passed me by in the last 40 years or so , ( having no formal Catholic education since the age of eleven , not living near any of my own solidly Catholic family since 1977 and my wife and I having no children ) or I did not comprehend the full nature of a counter – cultural Church running parallel to the Church that I clung to for my life and love ……..or did I really know deep down and refused to believe ‘ ad hoc’ reports of apparent disobedience by my co-religionists.during those years ? Maybe reading ‘ The Tablet ‘ would have put me straight !
    God has his own plan for each one of us and God knows I’ve sinned like everyone else ; but never even handling a male contraceptive device, breaking my vows of marriage and to this day trying to follow the path God marked out for me through The Faith passed to me by my ‘.blood ‘ – meant nothing less than obedience to and love of the Faith I cherish. Finally , breaking what Saint Paul would call ” a thorn in my side ” purely by the supernatural action of God and His Grace of Confession , corresponding in the later years ; to the grip of the Devil finally being wrenched from me after so many years under his corrupting power.
    Believing fully in Christs’s promises to his people I know which Church I will follow ’till I die !

  20. Geordie says:

    The mention of Bishop Konstant revives my thoughts on the syllabuses that referred to as the cause of my leaving the Catholic sphere of education. The Konstant syllabus was one of those introduced in the 1960s and to my mind lacked a solid Catholic foundation. I don’t doubt the man’s holiness for a moment but I disagree with his approach to Catholic education.

  21. Geordie says:


  22. Brendan says:

    The years 2007-2008 , saw a difference of opinion between some politicians of a Labour Government in the way the Catholic Faith was being taught in its schools. This seems extraordinary since at least the Butler Act of 1944 governments would have known the broad details of Catholic Doctrine which was part and parcel of the ” Catholic ethos ” of any school guaranteed in the Act. It seems clear that comments , made earlier by Bishop Patrick O’ Donoughue of Lancaster and later by Bishop Arthur Roche incurred not only the ire of some politicians at the time but even prominent Catholics .Whereas teaching Catholic belief was perfectly acceptable it was now termed ” doctrinaire ” and ” fundamentalist .”
    Our Catholic Bishops must have felt under some pressure at the time with statements like the following:
    Reported as saying on 30 Dec. 1007 in The Guardian : Barry Shearman M.P. ( Labour-Co-op ); Chairman of cross-party commitee of children, schools and family.
    ” A group of bishops [ Catholic ] appear to be taking a much firmer line, and I think it would be useful in committee ……. to find out what is going on. ”
    ” It seems to me that faith education works all right as long as people are not that serious about their faith. But as soon as there is a more doctrinaire attitude questions have to be asked.It does become worrying when you get a new push from more fundamentalist Bishops. This taxpayers money after all !”
    These statements alone should have set alarm bells ringing at least among’st the Catholic hierarchy.

    • Brendan says:

      1007 should read of course 2007.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Bishop O’Donoghue wrote some very clear documents 3. 1 for Marriage, 1 for Schools. I can’t remember the other one. I think on NFP
      It seems to me that the Bishops Conference did not take any interest in them.
      Bishop O’ Donoghue retired after that. I wonder if it was voluntary.
      A lot of catholics campaigned for his documents to be taught in RC schools.in their areas.
      I have wondered if the reason was ecunemical- to increase more non-catholic entrients.
      I have noticed however parents who have had their children baptised so that they can go to a catholic SecondarySchool.
      I see a problem when children do make their 1st Holy Communion, they are rarely seen again at Sunday Mass.
      This was noticed by the parish priest one Sunday after.
      The responsibility is with the parents.
      When young people are at an age they dont go,they are not mostly to blame.

  23. Brendan says:

    Jo and Betsy will remain friends when they both begin to realise and ‘ radicalise ‘ in their own lives, what is at the heart of Catholic Faith and Practice ( and by osmosis in a Catholic schools’ life and setting )…. by the following :
    ” In the film ‘ Love Story ‘ Oliver Barret, played by Ryan O’ Neal says to Jennifer Cavilleri , played by Ali Mac Graw , ‘ Love means never having to say your sorry. ‘ Great film; wrong message. Because love actually means being able to say ‘ sorry ‘ many, many times, so that we can be forgiven, many,many times. Why is sorry often the hardest word ? To acknowledge our faults, confess our sin or weakness, is the way to live a joy-filled and happy life. The way of the Beatitudes is the way of sorrow, repentance and conversion. God’s grace helps us to understand the blessing which is the conviction of sin. God’s spirit convict’s and convinces us of sin but only so that we can be set free from it. ”
    ( Lenten Reflection, the 3 Bishops of The Welsh Province )

  24. Alasdair says:

    The situation in Scotland would appear to be radically different from what I’ve heard you describe in the rest of the UK. Catholic schools are the only “faith” schools which exist, and they are, with a very few exceptions, state schools within which there is a guarantee of Catholic preparation at primary level (ie up to confirmation), and an guaranteed option of Catholic Religious and Moral Education up to SQA National 5 at secondary school. There are no Catholic secondary schools here in NE Scotland (pure demographics) and an attempt to sustain Catholic RME in selected schools recently failed due to lack of qualified staff. The entire Scottish state education system was set up by the Church of Scotland and its predecessors long before the vast majority of schools morphed into non-denominationality (not truly secular however).
    The Scottish Labour Party leader has made guarantees about the continuing status of RC schools in the country if Labour form the government after the next Scottish Parliamentary elections. The SNP have not made any such statements, and are assumed to be agin the long term continuation of fully state funded catholic schools.

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