I knew there was something else... something that has been niggling at the back of my mind over the weekend.
And I woke up with that sudden clarity induced by a glass or two of red last night and a shower this morning.
It is this: I think the practice of appointing ex-nuns and ex-priests (I use the term in the colloquial sense - priestly ordination is, of course, permanent) to teach in our Catholic schools is a very risky one.
It has been going on for decades now: someone leaves the convent or the presbytery and immediately turns up teaching in a Catholic School.
Here's why that concerns me. I think that teaching in a Catholic School is also a vocation. A Catholic School should be a sanctuary dedicated to learning the Faith and how to live as a Catholic adult in a hostile culture, not a sanctuary for people on the run from their vocation, or struggling to come to terms with themselves.
That, I am sure, sounds harsh. But the reality is that if people are leaving the priesthood or the religious life, they have either discovered that they have mistaken their vocation, or are in the process of abandoning it. Either of these realities is likely to be a traumatic and unsettling time for them: it is not the time to start teaching children.
Yet somehow, Catholic Schools repeatedly appoint people in that situation. I suspect it is as a way of keeping them on the Catholic payroll, as it were, when their lives are in transition. A charitable aim, perhaps, but I think a misguided response.
I am not saying that no ex-priest or ex-nun should ever be employed as a teacher. People who have gone through that trauma are certainly not beyond redemption, and once they have resolved their crisis they may make fine teachers.
Nor am I saying that the Church should not find ways to support such people: that may indeed be an obligation, and is almost certainly an act of charity.
But it is also true that while going through such turmoil, people are almost by definition not in the most stable state. Many also have issues with the Church and its teaching.
So I think that at the very least there should be both a cooling off period, and then a process of genuine scrutiny before appointing such people to teaching positions in Catholic Schools. Our children deserve no less; and yet that is not what I see happening.
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