Sunday 21 May 2017

So, to summarise...

In this weekend's edition of the Catholic Herald, there is a piece by Dan Hitchens on the #CESScandal. It seems to me rather to miss the point. Therefore I thought it might be helpful to summarise the issues which I  have raised in one place, as so far they have been scattered over some 20-odd posts.

The first thing to say, of course, is that bullying is always contrary to Catholic teaching, and educating children not to bully (or to put it in the positive, to practice the virtues, in particular the virtue of charity) is fundamental to a Catholic education. Let nobody say that those who oppose this document are in favour of bullying.

There are two broad aspects to this scandal (and I use the word advisedly, and not unaware of the resonance with Luke 17:2): the document itself, and the way in which the CES has gone about producing, and communicating about, it. There is also something to be said about the context.

Looking first at the document itself, there are several problems.

The approach
The overall thrust of this document is that we should not bully people who identify as gay or bisexual (or whose parents or carers do) because gay and bisexual people are just as good as us, but different.  That is wrong. We should not bully them because we should not bully anyone - even if they (or their parents) are bad. The risk of the approach taken is that the implicit message is that if someone is bad (by whatever current measure that is unacceptable - say racist or indeed homophobic) he or she may be bullied; and likewise if someone's parents are racist, homophobic or whatever. So the whole premise of the approach is flawed. 

The anthropology
The document accepts the language and worldview of the LGBT movement entirely and uncritically. The ideas that gay is a valid way of describing a human being, that people are born gay, that to be gay means that fulfilment may only be found in a sexual expression, and so on are all, to say the least debatable propositions; and are all at odds with a Catholic understanding of reality and humanity.

The ambiguity
The unquestioning use of the LGBT language (and indeed pages and pages of material lifted from LGBT sources) means that much that should be clear is ambiguous (possibly to prevent overt heresy) but clearly inclines in a particular (and anti-Catholic) direction. Thus the definitions of homophobic bullying, the reification of 'gay,' the elision of same-sex attraction and homosexual behaviour under that single word, and the implication in the title 'Made in God's Image' that God has created some people this way so it must be good, are all profoundly problematic, and such ambiguity is very poor from any educational standpoint.

The propaganda
Some of the material presented is simply untrue, and is outright propaganda for the LGBT worldview. The presentation of the 'case study' about Alan Turing is one obvious example. The attempt to control language and how it is used, defined as LGBT propagandists define it, is another. 

The omissions
Nowhere does this document contain Catholic teaching on chastity, on human sexuality, on concupiscence or anything else to provide a Catholic context for a discussion of homosexuality. "But it's about bullying" the apologist cries. OK: nowhere does it contain any reference to the Catholic understanding of virtues (and contrary vices), of temptation and grace, of the need for self denial in order to develop necessary self-mastery for moral and spiritual combat, of the need for a prayer life, and grace through the sacraments, and  so on. 

Turning now to the role of the CES, again there are several problems.

The opacity
Who wrote this document? Why was it being kept hidden? Why the fury when it was made public - whilst on its way into our schools? Why no acknowledgement of sources, when it gives the appearance of being a well-referenced academic document?

The collusion with Stonewall and LGBTYouth Scotland
What relationship has been established with these two organisations, whose work is extensively quoted, and who apparently gave permission for that to be done? Given that their work is in large part aimed at overturning a Catholic understanding of human sexuality this is a very serious question.

The questions over funding
The CES have contradicted themselves over the funding of this document. Initially, they said:  'The CES has received funding to cover the printing and distribution of a hard copy for each school.'

A number of sources whom I deem credible and honest have told me that the CES had received money from Stonewall. As this was reported, the CES changed their tune, and said: “The document is a collaboration between the CES and St Mary’s and no external funding has been received for it.” and also:  “The CES has not received any funding for either the printing or the distribution of the document.” 

There was no explanation of the contradiction. What are we to believe?

The response to the questions raised
Other than the completely inadequate response to the question over funding, I have seen no attempt by the CES to address any of the other concerns. Privately, they seem more intent on tracking down who 'leaked' the document.  This falls far short of the standards one would expect of a body funded, in large part, by the laity. The Nolan principles of public life would be useful standards to look to for guidance here. Nobody I know who has contacted the CES privately has yet had a response, beyond the autogenerated acknowledgement.

A few words about the context...

A few commentators have accused me of ignorance of the context, so I shall just add a few words on that.  There is no doubt that Catholic Schools will come under scrutiny from OFSTED on this topic. However, that can be no justification for teaching anything that is contrary to the Faith.  I believe that a truly Catholic approach should be enough to satisfy OFSTED; but if it is not, then we should not shy away from the resulting confrontation. To refuse to teach the Faith in order to stay open is a completely self-defeating policy.

A Catholic approach would consist of teaching that all bullying is wrong, forming children in the virtues, with the associated teachings (on the spiritual life, grace etc) to underpin that, and having a robust anti-bullying policy in place, that could demonstrate that Catholic Schools do not tolerate bullying of anyone, for any reason. 


It seems likely that this post may be read by people beyond my usual readership. For their sake, I should make it clear that I have no hostility towards (nor fear of) those who identify as LGBT. I merely disagree with them on some things.  The Church teaches that we are all damaged by Original Sin, that we are all sinners, and that we all sin in many and various ways: that is certainly true of me.  Likewise, made in the image of God, we all have intrinsic worth and are worthy of respect and should love each other. The path to salvation is to deny ourselves, take up our cross (whatever that may be) and follow Christ, who became Man - like us in all things but sin - and lived, died and rose again, so that we might be divinised and share in eternal life and happiness. That is my wish for myself, for those I love and for those with whom I disagree.

For more detailed analysis, including quotations, links etc, see my previous posts on this topic, all of which have the label CESScandal.

For the contact details for the CES and responsible bishops, should you wish to raise your concern and request action (which, of course, you should...) see here.

And pray!

Sancte Michael Archangele,
defende nos in proelio;
contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium.
Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur:
tuque, Princeps militiae Caelestis,
satanam aliosque spiritus malignos,
qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo,
divina virtute in infernum detrude.

Holy Michael, Archangel,
Defend us in the day of battle;
Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, 
And do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, 
By the power of God,
Thrust down to Hell Satan and all wicked spirits
Who wander through the world for the ruin of souls.



umblepie said...

Well done Ben on working so hard to bring this disreputable matter into the public domain. We hope and pray that those responsible will take the necessary action to put things right.

Anonymous said...