Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Clifton's Catholic-Anglican Schools to have content-free RE

Local action as appropriate. PEEP's Daphne MacLeod has uncovered some very serious deficiencies in the RE syllabus of the new joint Catholic-Anglican schools established in Clifton.

From The Flock, newsletter of Pro Ecclesiae et Ponitifice. We have received a copy of the uncompleted R.E. Syllabus compiled for religious teachers in Catholic/Anglican Senior schools in the Diocese of Clifton. It covers the whole of the first Year, (Year 7) so is for eleven- to twelve-year-olds. It also gives a summary of the teaching to be given in the next two years. It seems to have been written by Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty, who made words mean whatever he liked them to mean because this Syllabus changes the meaning of even important words. For example, the first Module for Year 7 on The truth of faith misinforms the eleven-year-olds by stating that: 'Truth in the church is revealed by the shared understanding of the community' and again: 'In the church we understand that Truth is discerned by the understanding of the community.' This is clearly wrong!

Not only is this wrong, even about secular truths, but it also contradicts the Church’s consistent, universal and therefore infallible teaching that religious Truth is found in Divine Revelation. As the 1994 Catechism explains, Truth comes to us first from Old Testament prophets, then from Almighty God Himself when He became Man and now from His One Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church. But this Syllabus ignores Divine Revelation and even the possibility of objective Truth. We are obviously dealing with blatant heresy here, and a very dangerous heresy, but one which is convenient for R.E. teachers who have to teach two conflicting beliefs like Catholicism and Anglicanism at the same time to their mixed classes.

Once the pupils have been indoctrinated with the belief that Religious Truth is merely subjective, the next module Truth about Jesus follows this dictum. So they discuss questions such as Why depict Jesus as a revolutionary? trying, it must be supposed, to come to a consensus! Most of their R.E. time is spent in discussing such questions - or using irrelevant resources like an image of Jesus looking like Che Guevara. The next unit deals with Salvation so: we need saving from ageing, death, poverty, boredom, etc is to be discussed and the outcome must be that Students will be able to agree their own definition of Salvation. There is a great deal of open discussion and very little solid teaching, and what there is misleads pupils. For example, after the Resurrection, the statement 'Jesus is alive in the spirit' qualifies 'Jesus is alive' and makes it look as if He is not really alive.

Clare Richards (despite her condemnation by the Vatican) is a recommended resource!

The next Module called Belonging deals with the Church and ‘church’ is redefined as 'a community who see in Christ their salvation and are called to be his presence in the world.' This is not precise enough. The Council of Trent defined the Church as: 'a union of human beings who are united by profession of the same faith, by participation of and in the same Sacraments and under the direction of their lawful pastors, especially the one representative of Christ on earth, the Bishop of Rome.' This definition was confirmed by the second Vatican Council and therefore must be taught to pupils at Catholic schools. The Vatican Document, Dominus Iesus in 2000, explained that the Anglican community cannot legitimately be called a Church.

The final module for this year deals with Sikhism and it is rather sad to read that the learning outcome is that 'Students are able to describe and explain the key beliefs in Sikhism' when they are extremely unlikely to be able to describe and explain the key beliefs in Catholicism. The next two years, taking the children up to 14 or 15 seem to offer only more vague questions loosely based on some aspects of Christianity with, in year 8, lessons on Buddhism and Judaism while year 9 deals with Islam.

There is no attempt in these three years to cover any of the material which should be covered, for example no explanation of the precepts in the Creed: no teaching on the Commandments: no exploration of the Sacramental System; nothing about the Fall, our Redemption, Sanctifying Grace or the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; no attempt to introduce the children to Our Blessed Lady, the Angels and the Communion of Saints or even our holy Martyrs, no mention of Church History or the importance of daily prayer. No suggestion is made that teachers should consult The Catechism of the Catholic Church, called the “norm” for R.E. by Pope John Paul 11, nor is the Compendium, recommended by Pope Benedict XVI, even mentioned.

It is obvious from this Syllabus that these schools can no longer be described as Catholic as, not only do they fail to teach enough about the Faith for pupils to be able to lead good Catholic lives, they falsify the status of the Divine Revelation the children are entitled to hear unaltered. Rome should insist Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton removes the name ‘Catholic’ from them, admits to his flock that he has given away the schools their forefathers sacrificed so much for and advises Catholic parents to use state schools in future while teaching religion to their children at home with Faith and Life or another sound American Scheme. Catholic R.E. teachers, many of whom we understand are very unhappy with this Syllabus, would be well advised to seek employment in other schools.

Daphne McLeod

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Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

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. Amen