By Hilary White

LONDON, January 19, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Despite clear teaching from the Vatican, a member of the English Catholic Bishops conference, a member of the English Catholic Bishops conference, and the head of the Catholic Education Service, has denied that there is any Catholic objection to homosexual civil unions. Speaking to The Tablet, Britain’s leading left-liberal Catholic paper, Bishop Malcolm McMahon, the chairman of the Catholic Education Service, said that he had no objection to homosexuals in civil partnerships working in Catholic schools.

McMahon, once tipped by Paddy Power as a contender to replace Cormac Murphy O’Connor as Archbishop of Westminster, “has promised that the Church will not investigate the private lives of applicants for the headships of Catholic schools.”

The comments follow revelations of increasing difficulties faced by the Catholic school system in Britain in recruiting candidates who fully adhere to Catholic sexual teaching. Bishop McMahon told The Tablet that the Church is not interested in the “backgrounds” of “potential school leaders.”

Applicants should decide for themselves “whether they were able to live according to church teaching.”

“Their family life isn’t scrutinised,” said the bishop. “I’d be rather ashamed if the Church was doing that to people. But we do expect people in leadership in the Church to live out their Christian commitment as best they can.”

But not everyone is as sanguine as the bishop about the situation. Fr. John Boyle of Ashford, Kent, a popular priest-blogger, wrote that this announcement by the bishop is the “last nail in the coffin” of Catholic education in Britain. Fr. Boyle wrote, “The backgrounds of potential school leaders, indeed of every living soul, is of immense concern to the Church since She is concerned about the salvation, not only of those who lead our schools, but of those whom they are charged to lead and teach.”

“There needs to be some way of ensuring that our teachers are exemplary in their lives. Only in that way can they give example to the pupils and teach coherently what the Church teaches,” he continued.

Fr. Boyle quoted the Church’s Code of Canon Law that says, “The instruction and education in a Catholic school must be grounded in the principles of Catholic doctrine; teachers are to be outstanding in correct doctrine and integrity of life.”

Canon 804 says, “The local Ordinary [bishop] is to be concerned that those who are designated teachers of religious instruction in schools ... are outstanding in correct doctrine, the witness of a Christian life, and teaching skill.”

The bishop also told the Tablet that the Catholic Church is not opposed to homosexual civil partnerships. They are, he said, “precisely what they say they are. They’re not gay marriages or lesbian marriages. They’re simply a legal arrangement between two people so that they can pass on property and other rights in which they were discriminated against before.”

“We have many gay people in education and a large number of gay people in the Church, at least the same as the national average. I think a person who is leading a church school should live according to the Church’s teaching whether they are in a civil partnership or not. A civil partnership is not a marriage, it’s not a conjugal relationship.”

Bishop McMahon, head of the Nottingham diocese, is well known for his “liberal” views on Catholic teaching. In November 2008, he told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper that the Church should reconsider its restrictions on the married priesthood, “Marriage should not bar them from their vocation, but they must be married before they are ordained.”

“It is a question of justice for those men who want to be priests and to have a wife,” he said.