Does London’s Cardinal Nichols support compulsory sex education?
LONDON, April 3, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Amid growing anxiety that, should they win the general election next year, a future Labour government would lose no time in introducing legislation to make sex education a compulsory school subject, with no option for parents to remove their children, the position of the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, has once again come under examination.
Concerns have been reawakened after a member of the House of Lords informed Parliament that representatives of the UK’s Catholic Education Service had been part of a government “expert group” which “achieved consensus around the need for compulsory sex and relationship education.”
During a debate in the House of Lords on January 28, Lord Knight, a former minister in the Department for Children, Schools and Families, recalled his “very good conversations with Vincent Nichols” on the subject of compulsory sex education and welcomed his appointment as a Cardinal.
The original 2010 legislation would have removed the right of parents to withdraw their children from sex education lessons and would have forced all state-maintained schools, including Catholic schools, to teach a sex education program to children aged between 5 and 16. The plan would have enabled promotion of abortion, contraception and homosexual relationships.
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These clauses were defeated after vigorous campaigning by pro-life groups and after three Catholic bishops, more than one hundred Catholic priests, and one hundred head teachers and school governors signed a letter published in the Daily Telegraph. There are, however, serious concerns that they will be introduced again should Labour win the general election.
The Catholic Church teaches that parents are the “original and primary” educators of their children and are responsible for introducing the teaching of sexual matters to their children in a manner appropriate to their age and maturity.
In its 1995 document The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, the Pontifical Council on the Family teaches that the period of a child’s life from the age of five years old until puberty, “the years of innocence,” is “a period of tranquility and serenity” that “must never be disturbed by unnecessary information about sex.” Such disturbance of this “important natural phase of growth” would put at risk the psychological and spiritual developments proper to this time of life.
Concerns that Cardinal Nichols supported compulsory sex education for primary school children were first raised by pro-life activists and concerned Catholics back in 2010 when the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls, publicly stated that he was pleased to have Archbishop Nichols’ backing for the Children, Schools and Families Bill.
Vincent Nichols, who was at that time Archbishop of Birmingham, spoke of the new law on a local radio station and claimed, "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."
However the Minister, Ed Balls, said that once the bill was passed Catholic schools would have to enable promotion of abortion and teach that homosexuality was “normal and harmless.” A statement from the Department for Children, Schools and Families asserted, “Faith schools cannot opt out of statutory lessons when [the bill] comes into effect in September 2011.” The statement continued: “All maintained schools and academies will be required to teach the full programmes of study in line with the principles outlined in the Bill including promoting equality and encouraging acceptance of diversity. Schools with a religious character will be free, as they are now, to express the views of their faith and reflect the ethos of their school, but what they cannot do is suggest that their views are the only ones.”
During his tenure as Archbishop of Birmingham, Nichols had himself introduced a sex education program into the archdiocese that includes computer-generated images of naked men and women. The program, called ‘All that I Am,’ is aimed at children below the age of 11 and was produced by the Diocesan Department of Religious Education, which received funding for the program from the government’s Teenage Pregnancy Unit. Nichols’ name and title appear prominently in the credits.
Antonia Tully of the SPUC Safe at School campaign told LifeSiteNews, “We fought tooth and nail against compulsory sex education during 2009-2010. We are preparing to do the same again.”
Mrs Tully continued, “We must be totally realistic here. Catholic schools will not be exempt from presenting the secular agenda to pupils. It will take an exceptionally well formed Catholic teacher to be able to tick those boxes, while giving a fully authentic and faithful presentation of the Church's teaching on human sexuality.”
Find a full listing of LifeSiteNews' coverage of the Ontario government's explicit sex-ed program here.
LifeSiteNews contacted Cardinal Nichols but did not hear back by press time.