- It is currently legal to abort certain handicapped babies up to birth, and to abort healthy babies up to 24 weeks of gestation. Would you vote for any restrictions upon this? If so, could you briefly suggest what type of restrictions.
- Ed Balls intends that Catholic schools be required to inform their children “how to access abortion” by virtue of the Children, Schools and Families Bill, if enacted. Do you agree with him?
- Would you vote against the legalization of euthanasia?
- Do you accept that faith schools have the right to teach as the truth matters of human sexuality and relationships according to the principles of their religion?
- There is a target to increase overseas aid to 0.7% of Gross Domestic Product by 2013. Do you think this is broadly correct, or should be more or less?
I'm pleased that discussions about the new Children, Schools and Families Bill saw agreement between the Government and the Catholic Education Service. The Catholic Education Service has said clearly that schools will not be required to promote abortion. All schools will have to teach about relationships in an accurate and balanced way, and will have to do so in a way appropriate to the age, religious and cultural background of pupils. All schools will have to reflect a range of religious and other perspectives, emphasising both rights and responsibilities.There are a number of obvious problems with this answer. Teaching about relationships in an "accurate and balanced way" could mean that homosexual partnerships have to be presented as "normal and harmless" or as a legitimate lifestyle option. Saying that schools have to "reflect a range of religious and other perspectives" could place them in sharp conflict with the teaching of the Catholic Church expressed in Dominus Iesus:
It must therefore be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith that the universal salvific will of the One and Triune God is offered and accomplished once for all in the mystery of the incarnation, death, and resurrection of the Son of God.The practical interpretation of those ambiguous phrases will seen in the guidance issued by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, and the criteria set by the school inspectors. That is where schools will discover what they are, and are not, allowed to teach if they are to survive their OFSTED Inspection.
The crucial point, however, is that the election candidate can claim the support of the Catholic Education Service. He is in a happy position because if he is sent a set of questions by a secularist, he can quote the response of the CSF to the accord Coalition which I reported on last month (Catholic schools: have we reached the endgame?)
Intriguingly, that response now seems to have been removed from the website of the Department for Children, Schools and Families. I suppose the Department's frankness at that time was rather embarrassing all round.