Can Catholic schools co-operate in killing babies or not?

People have been emailing me all day about the Radio 4 Today programme this morning. A liberal rabbi, Jonathon Romain went into bat first, berating the (actually worthless) amendment to the CSF Bill, purporting to allow faith schools to teach Personal Social and Health Education "in a way that reflects the school’s religious character." As I pointed out the other day, the amendment is indeed worthless since all schools, including Catholic schools, will still be required to give information about contraception, abortion, and homosexual partnerships: and they must teach a "range of views." In other words, whatever they do in terms of presenting teaching in a way that reflects the religious character of the school, they are not allowed to teach that Catholic doctrine is true.

The Today piece was bizarre. Rabbi Romain was complaining that the reference to the school's religious character was unacceptable. Ed Balls was cast as the enemy, defending the rights of faith schools while insisting that he was not transgressing against secularist orthodoxy because Catholic schools will still be required to give information about contraception and abortion. (See also Richard Marsden's excellent summary with quotations from the programme.) Nobody was there to point out that Catholic schools cannot give information about how to access the local abortion clinic since this would be formal co-operation in a grave evil.

As Damian Thompson reports, everyone official on the Catholic side was conveniently unavailable. If you think that it is OK for a Catholic school to give information about abortion services, I suppose you might as well let Ed Balls give the reassurances rather than allow yourself to be quoted on the subject.

Earlier this month, Pope Benedict said to the bishops of England and Wales:
I urge you as Pastors to ensure that the Church’s moral teaching be always presented in its entirety and convincingly defended. Fidelity to the Gospel in no way restricts the freedom of others – on the contrary, it serves their freedom by offering them the truth.
So would it be too much to ask for a clear statement that Catholic schools may not refer pupils to "services" that will kill unborn babies?

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