Saturday, October 21, 2006

Persecution Returns

This weekend, at the request of our bishops, we bring to the attention of our parishioners the current attempt by the British Government to undermine Catholic schools. The bishops have asked all Catholics to lobby their MPs to defend so-called 'faith schools' against an attempt by the Government to force them to reserve a quarter of their places for children from other faiths and none.

The parishioners of the Holy Ghost will not be surprised that this issue has come to the fore as I have been predicting it for some years, ever since a 'Code of Practice on Admissions' was published describing such quotas of 'community places' as 'good practice'. Unfortunately I think someone at the Catholic Education Service has not been reading the smallprint, or has been excessively naive in recent years.

This latest move is only the latest in a series of policies which seriously affect Catholic education. It is probably because there has been no effective opposition to these measures that the Government has felt emboldened to act now, even without consulting the Catholic Church in this country.

The argument is that 'faith schools' are socially divisive. The facts, produced by OFSTED - the government's own schools' inspectorate, demonstrate that the opposite is the case. Trevor Phillips, Chair of the Commission for Racial Equality, commented last year that: "Data from OFSTED shows that when we look at the ethnic mix of schools, Catholic Schools tend to be far more mixed than local authority schools".

The truth is that this move has nothing to do with social inclusion. It is simply part of the secular humanist agenda to abolish faith-based education. One of the first acts of our present government when it took over in 1997 was to introduce a clause to its Education Act which says that if a voluntary aided school (as Catholic schools are) were to be closed its land and buildings would be forfeited to the local education authority.

At the time of the Reformation Henry VIII took control of all the monasteries in this country. It was an asset grabbing act of massive proportions: in those days it was barely possible to go a day's journey without coming across a monastic institution. Today our present government is planning something similar for our schools in the name of social inclusion.

For more information visit the website of the Catholic Education Service. To find the contact details of your local MP click here and insert your postcode. We have only until 30th October to mount an effective opposition to this measure. If you live abroad but want to help us in this campaign you might contact the MPs in Labour's marginal seats. You can find out where they are by clicking here.

No comments: