By Hilary White

LONDON, April 23, 2010 ( – In an early April interview with the BBC Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, and head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, praised the Labour government’s approach to sex education, saying it “is trying to set sex education much more in the context of relationships, therefore much more in a moral context.”

The comments came as the country’s leading pro-life and pro-family lobby group was working desperately, and ultimately successfully, to defeat wording in the government’s Children, Schools and Families Bill that would have made “sex and relationships education” compulsory from 5 to 16 years, and, by the government’s own admission, would have made promotion of abortion, contraception and homosexuality mandatory even for “faith schools.”

The Society for the Protection for Unborn Children (SPUC) denounced the bill, calling it “the biggest expansion of the culture of death” in Britain, that would promote “abortion provision for children and simultaneously sounding the death knell for parents' right and responsibilities to be the primary educators and protectors of their children.”

But speaking to BBC West Midlands, Archbishop Nichols praised the bill saying, “We have secured the right that sex and relationships education in a Catholic school will be presented in a way that's consistent with Catholic teaching.”

Nichols was referring to a promise, hastily rescinded, by the government, that religious schools could teach the new sex-ed curriculum according to their religious “ethos.” But in the uproar from the homosexualist lobby that followed the ambiguously worded promise, the government hastily backpedalled, issuing a statement that confirmed that religious schools must provide information to children on how to obtain abortions and contraception and promote homosexuality as normal.

SPUC called it a “significant victory for the pro-life and pro-family movement,” when in early April the government, in the lead-up to the general election next month, agreed to remove the problematic clauses from the bill.

Nevertheless, Archbishop Nichols and the Catholic Education Service of England and Wales that helped to draft it, never had a negative comment about the bill’s possible impact.

John Smeaton, director of SPUC wrote that Nichols “seems not to have been correctly advised” that “the government’s intentions were to impose an obligation on all schools to teach children that choices for abortion and contraception are reasonable choices, and to promote homosexuality as a normal, healthy life-style.”

Later in the same interview, Nichols also commented on the use of condoms in AIDS prevention, calling the Catholic teaching on contraception a “high ideal” and saying, “I can see the arguments why, in the short-term, means that give women protection are attractive.”

“The use of condoms doesn't lack for champions; there are plenty of champions around giving and distributing condoms. I don't think it's the Church's role simply to add its voice to that but rather, in contrast, to keep saying, ‘If we solve the poverty then consistently we know the birth-rate comes down’.”

See extensive blog post on the issue from John Smeaton:

Archbishop Nichols goes along with prevailing ideas on sex and relationships education