Bandying the "F" word about

Last month, I reported on the Bishop of Lancaster's excellent "Fit for Mission - Schools" document which encourages Catholic schools to teach the Catholic faith. Nothing terribly controversial there, you might think, but the Independent reports today (MPs investigate Catholic influence on schools) that Barry "as long as people are not that serious about their faith" Sheerman, chairman of the Children, Schools and Families Committee thinks otherwise. The committee
... is to investigate evidence that the Roman Catholic Church is pursuing a more fundamentalist approach towards religion in its schools.
There's that "F" word beloved of the secularists everywhere, conjuring up images of suicide bombers, blown-up buses and women in burkhas. The Independent helpfully gives us an example of the heinous thought-crime from the Bishop of Lancaster himself:
"The secular view on sex outside marriage, artificial contraception, sexually transmitted disease, including HIV and Aids, and abortion, may not be presented as neutral information."
The message is clear: if Catholic schools present abortion as anything other than "neutral", they are "Fundamentalist". Apparently, Sheerman also said that
there was evidence from other areas of the country of Catholic schools being told to adopt a more fundamentalist line.
Please do tell - it would give great solace to my readers.

He then bandies on with the usual propaganda about taxpayers' money:
"A lot of taxpayers' money is going into church schools and I think we should tease out what is happening here,"
Let's be clear about this. Catholics also pay tax. The money does not belong to the Government, it belongs to us and is given to the Government in trust for use for our benefit. If Catholic children are not educated in Catholic schools, they will be educated in community schools at the expense of the state anyway. By his emotive appeal, Sheerman is attacking the historic agreement of 1944 with little less subtlety than the "No Rome on the Rates" campaigns of a former era.

There is an interesting subtext to the article. Sheerman apparently observed that
"the official spokesmen for the Catholic Church often peddled a softer line."
"We seem to have a shift in emphasis on the ground despite what the reasonable voices of the leadership are saying."
This gives a clear and important message. It does not matter how reasonable the "leadership" presents itself. Let just one Bishop poke his head above the parapet and issue a gentle, mildly-worded document encouraging sound Catholic teaching in a moderate way: this will be enough to engender cries of "Fundamentalist!" from the secularist high-priesthood. These people will not be appeased.

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