Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Those doctrinaire bishops

~from The Guardian Unlimited
Roman Catholic bishops are to appear in front of a powerful committee of MPs amid fears that they are pushing a fundamentalist brand of their religion in schools. Bishops have called on parents, teachers and priests to strengthen the role of religion in education. In one case the Bishop of Lancaster, Patrick O'Donoghue, instructed Catholic schools across much of north-west England to stop 'safe-sex' education and place crucifixes in all classrooms.

He also wrote: 'Schools and colleges must not support charities or groups that promote or fund anti-life policies, such as Red Nose Day and Amnesty International, which now advocates abortion.'
In a 66-page document, O'Donoghue called on teachers to use science to teach about the 'truths of the faith', only mention sex within the 'sacrament of marriage', insist that contraception was wrong and emphasise natural family planning.

The Bishop of Leeds, Arthur Roche, sent a letter to parishes warning them that Catholic education was under threat following attempts by the local council to set up an inter-faith academy.

Barry Sheerman, chairman of the parliamentary cross-party committee on children, schools and families, said he had heard of other cases and felt that behind the scenes there was 'intense turmoil' about the future of Catholic education. 'A group of bishops appear to be taking a much firmer line and I think it would be useful to call representatives of the Catholic church in front of the committee to find out what is going on,' he said. '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 is taxpayers' money after all.'
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