Monday, March 1, 2010

It is not disloyal to sign this petition

My learned and esteemed colleague and friend Father Ray Blake raises objections to the petition I referred to in a previous post. I respectfully disagree with him.

The rights and obligations of the Christian Faithful are dealt with in the Code of Canon Law.
Can. 211 - All the Christian faithful have the duty and right to work so that the divine message of salvation more and more reaches all people in every age and in every land.
This clearly acknowledges the right of the faithful to use the modern means of mass communications, such as blogs, to propagate the Gospel.

But more significantly for the current matter:
Can. 212#1. - Conscious of their own responsibility, the Christian faithful are bound to follow with Christian obedience those things which the sacred pastors, inasmuch as they represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or establish as rulers of the Church.
When the Bishops declare on a matter as teachers of the faith, we must give our assent and obey. However:
Can. 212 #2. - The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.
Sometimes the faithful will approach their pastors as needy children and plead for what they consider to be their needs and desires. If these needs and desires are something they have a right to then there is a complementary obligation on the part of the pastors not only to listen to the faithful but to ensure that those needs and desires are satisfied. I think the petition in question is a fine example of filial pleading with our Fathers in God. There is no insubordination in the wording of the petition, but rather a request for succour and assistance. It might be argued that the faithful who sign the petition should approach the pastors individually. But Can. 212 #2 does not stipulate how the faithful are to make their needs know to the pastors. The use of modern communications is by no means excluded. It is also possible that many people feel that they have got nowhere in the past and so they have chosen to take recourse to this more public form of manifestation. This web-based petition also enables many more people to more easily exercise the right referred to in Can. 212 #2.
#3. - According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.
It is clear that in the petition there is nothing which threatens the integrity of faith or morals. The Church's teaching is clear on homosexuality, contraception and abortion, which are the matters referred to in the petition. Furthermore, those who have proposed the petition and many of those signing it will be:
  • parents who are experts and experienced in the education and bringing up of their children in the ways of God;
  • teachers who are faced with the dilemma of introducing this objectionable material into the classroom;
  • priests who are experts in morals and who, on a daily basis, engage pastorally with their parishioners - parents, children, young, old - and who often deal with the hurt caused by lost innocence, the abuse of sex through the use of contraception, the healing needed by the post-abortion victim;
  • lay faithful who pray outside abortion clinics and witness the ever-increasing destruction of human life and the coarsening of consciences of those involved in abortion or who are victims of it
and others, all of whom have the knowledge and competence, if not the prestige, referred to in the above Canon. There are also many experts who work in pro-life organisations and who work on a daily basis in the battle to save lives in the face of a hugely powerful and efficiently financed abortion industry and whose voices perhaps appear not have been heeded by the pastors.

The petition pays ample respect to the pastors and is therefore 'attentive to ... the dignity of persons'. It refers to the Bishops as 'our Shepherds in Christ'. It would appear that the 'common advantage' is obvious: that to repulse this Government legislation will be for the good of souls, whereas to acquiesce in it and, worse, to actually support it, would cause great harm to souls and to society. The 'advantage' of our Catholic schools is also at stake.

Here is one comment which has been left on the petition which should make us all think:
Sacred Heart High School in Hammersmith taught the girls in my daughters' PSHE class to put a condom on a life-size model of a penis. How is this compatible with Catholic doctrine? (Signature no. 395)
If nothing else would convince you to sign, I think this comment should.

So, read it again and, if convinced, sign.
We, the undersigned, call upon the Bishops of England and Wales and the Catholic Education Service to fulfil their duty as guardians of our Catholic Faith and unequivocally reject recent Government measures forcing Catholic schools to teach what is explicitly condemned by the Church, viz: presenting active homosexuality as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, and providing information on the nature - and provision - of contraception and abortion services. Compliance on the part of the Bishops and the CES in such measures would effectively render our schools no longer Catholic in any meaningful sense, and would place the faith and moral life of our children in jeopardy. As Catholic parents, teachers and pastors, we earnestly beg of you, our Shepherds in Christ, that you do not allow this to happen.


  1. Catholic HS girls taught in their schools to put condoms on a mock up? What next in 10 years time will be taught in the schools? I suppose a real male model will be used because the dummy is too unrealistic.

    How times have changed some 35+ years ago in my Catholic high school in San Diego our complete "sex education" consisted of ONE day in biology class when the instructor went over the basic plumbing, and 1-2 class periods when our PE instructor (the boys Phys. Ed. instructor was persumably giving the boys their sex ed class) gave us one day showing us a movie of live birth (which put us girls off wanting any boy to touch us for the next two weeks), and the second lecture for us to mention how grossed out we were by the whole process.

    Oh, and the priest in our mixed religious education class basically told us that boys were essential evil, vile creatures who were only out for one thing...but he may as well have saved his breath, because our mothers had told us the same thing, and our father's indirectly confirmed same when they wanted any potential boy friends of ours to fill out an application and swear on a stack of bibles to have us home by nine or they'd go out looking for us.

    "....that camoflaged face at the window will be mine, and don't make any sudden moves towards my daughter...."

  2. A good post Fr. It is a shame that some clergy have a "blind obedience" approach - an approach that has got us into this mess for the last 40 years.

  3. Father, I didn't read it as a wholesale objection by Fr. Blake. If that were the case, it would be counterproductive to post a link to the petition website so that people may sign if they wish to. His modus operandi in this instance is prayer. Who's to say it's a less effective course to take?

  4. Genty, the Canon speaks about freedom, the right, and sometimes the duty to manifest their opinions to the sacred pastors. So, absolutely, prayer. But if we opt not to manifest our opinions to our pastors, we must ensure that we are not neglecting an obligation.

  5. Dear Father, I take on board what you say. As, I hope, a faithful member of the Catholic laity I have signed the petition already; in fact, some hours ago! I was tryng to make the point - not very well, obviously - that Fr. Blake's point of view is not necessarily invalid.

  6. "Sacred Heart High School in Hammersmith taught the girls in my daughters' PSHE class to put a condom on a life-size model of a penis. How is this compatible with Catholic doctrine? (Signature no. 395)"

    As I pointed out over at Father Blakes blog this petition nor even defeating the government bill is going to stop the above it has been going on for decades and will continue to go on while you have non-Catholic teachers and pupils in Catholic schools.

  7. Another thing that needs to considered is the role of the National Union of Teachers stands in all this.

    I am wiling to bet it is threat of legal action by them that is partly responsible for the current situation in our schools.

  8. I saw this article by Peter Hitchens in the Daily Mail which points out that "sex education" which is allegedly designed to lower teen pregnancy rates always has the opposite effect. One thing I did not know, as the article points out, was that sex education was first foisted on the revolutionary 1919 Hungary government onto its state schools, designed specifically to break down Christian morality.

  9. I agree with your reasoning, which I why I signed the petition earlier, before reading your post! Sadly, I consider Fr. Ray to be wrong, but at least he drew attention to the petition

  10. "There being an imminent danger for the Faith, prelates must be questioned, even publicly, by their subjects." St Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, IIa IIae, Q. 33, A. 4

  11. Thank you Father. I have great respect and fondness for Fr Ray but on this one I have to disagree with him.
    He has not said "only pray" and I am sure that is not all he will do.
    I do get very worried about those who refuse to do their duty because they say they are praying.
    God told Adam to tend the garden not just pray and I follow St Benedict; ora et labora.
    And anyway I can't simply sit here while my children's future gets thrown to the wolves.

  12. Father, I sent photographs of the Family Planning Association kit used in my local secondary school to our previous primate. A secretary responded saying the matter had been forwarded to the CES - result; nothing was done I couldn't get the hierarchy or the CES (which failed to respond) to do anything. I have little doubt the the great bulwark of Catholic moral teaching failed in this country when the Chutch's teaching on contraception was rejected and the anti gospel started to be taught. Our moral teaching stands together remove one part and the whole structure is threatened. Those that should care for our souls have led so many astray.

  13. It is in vain to ask God to help us when he has given us the capacity to help ourselves.

  14. I've already signed, but am following these comments with interest.

    In particular, the anecdote about Sacred Heart High School is numbing. Heaven help us.

  15. Volpius points out that "it has been going on for decades and will continue to go on while you have non-Catholic teachers and pupils in Catholic schools." This is so, but I would add that these schools have catholic heads, and catholic governors, and catholic bishops to answer to.

    So I have signed the petition.


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