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 Diocese of Shrewsbury

May 22, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — In an exclusive interview with LifeSiteNews, an English bishop has expressed his reservations about the Catholic Education Service [CES] program “Made in God’s Image: Challenging homophobic and biphobic bullying in Catholic Schools.”

Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth responded to questions about the influence of the militant LGBT group Stonewall on the CES program for 14-year-old children and discussed how Catholic schools could best counter ideological colonization.

For the past two weeks, Catholics parents have taken to social media to protest against the “Made in God’s Image” program because it distorts the Church’s teaching on sexuality. The scandal deepened with the discovery that the CES program uses unacknowledged material taken from Stonewall and LGBTYouth Scotland. Stonewall has a reputation for militant advocacy of the LGBT agenda and for being anti-Catholic.

In a statement to The Catholic Herald, Stonewall denied “that the group had any specific involvement with the production of the document” but went on to praise the CES for using its material, welcoming “Made in God’s Image” as a “positive and welcome step from the Catholic Education Service.”

During the interview, Bishop Egan outlines in detail the use of Stonewall and LGBT Youth Scotland in “Made in God’s Image” program, expressing his surprise that the sources of this material were not acknowledged by the CES in the text.

In response to the question about how schools can counter the threat from ideological colonization, Bishop Egan references a remark made by Pope Francis in 2016 that warns about the acceptance of funding from powerful interests to promote gender ideology in schools.

The issue of the funding of the distribution of the “Made in God’s Image” program is a vexed question.

At first, the CES stated that it had “received funding to cover” printing and distribution of “Made in God’s Image” to every secondary school in England and Wales. Questioned about the funding source, the CES denied that it had received “external funding.” If this funding was merely internal, why mention the extra funding in the first place? The statements about funding raise questions about how much and who has approved this expenditure.

Bishop Egan concludes his interview with a succinct and beautiful summary of Theology of the Body as the “best defense” Catholic schools can use to protect children from LGBT ideological colonization.

LifeSiteNews: Bishop Egan, during your Easter homily, you singled out Stonewall as one of the bodies in our society enforcing a secular totalitarianism that is “destructive of the human person.” You said, “Hell-bent on burying the Christian patrimony of this land, they propose Orwellian changes to our language and place ever more draconian restrictions on religious expression, even on what we wear.”  Can you see this influence at work in the CES’s document?

Bishop Egan: “To respond, please let me quote the paragraph from my Easter homily once again:

“But in our world today two dangerous ideologies are mounting. Just as in 20C it was communism versus fascism so in 21C a new battle is brewing. On the one side is fundamentalism, religion without reason. It breeds fanaticism, violence, terrorism, to cause disruption and to force upon others its extremist views. This is a tragic reality in the volatile nations of the Middle East; it now threatens the West also. On the other side is secularism, reason without religion. Its champions seek to privatize religion, driving it from public affairs. Egged on by Stonewall and others, secularists are on the rise in local government, in education, in the media, in the social services, in the BMA, in the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, in the European Court of Justice and other institutions too. Hell-bent on burying the Christian patrimony of this land, they propose Orwellian changes to our language and place ever more draconian restrictions on religious expression, even on what we wear. Both fundamentalism and secularism are totalitarian; they’re destructive of the human person; they pose a grave threat to human happiness and to a healthy society.” 

Although I did single out Stonewall here — who have been in my view remarkably successful in promoting their aims within contemporary culture — the “they” that you cite refers of course not directly to Stonewall but rather to secularists. 

That having been said, I would say, yes, the influence of Stonewall and LGBT Youth is clear in the CES document because it includes quite a bit of 'cut and paste' from Stonewall’s “Getting Started: A Toolkit for Preventing and Tackling Homophobic, Biphobic and Transphobic Bullying in Primary Schools.” This is evident in the definitions of homophobic and biphobic bullying – “negative attitudes, beliefs or views about lesbian, gay or bi people” — on page 3, and also texts on pages 12, 14, 20, 23-25 and 26. In addition, some of the lesson plans use elements from the book “Dealing with Homophobia and Homophobic Bullying in Scottish Schools Toolkit Resource for Teachers” from LGBT Youth Scotland. Strangely, neither of these sources — available on the internet — are acknowledged.”

LifeSiteNews: Pope Francis has often warned of the dangers of the ideological colonization of our schools, highlighting the danger posed by gender ideology. How do you think head teachers and their staff can heed the Holy Father’s warnings and protect their children from ideological colonization?

Bishop Egan: “Pope Francis recently said in conversation with Polish Bishops (27 July 2016):

“I would like to conclude with this aspect, since behind all this there are ideologies. In Europe, America, Latin America, Africa, and in some countries of Asia, there are genuine forms of ideological colonization taking place. And one of these — I will call it clearly by its name — is [the ideology of] ‘gender.’ Today, children — children! — are taught in school that everyone can choose his or her sex. Why are they teaching this? Because the books are provided by the persons and institutions that give you money. These forms of ideological colonization are also supported by influential countries. And this terrible!”

The best defense against this form of ideological colonization is to promote attractively and clearly an authentically Catholic anthropology with its profound understanding of the human person, his/her infinite value and the sacred respect due to others. Personhood is grounded in the equality and difference of the Persons of the Blessed Trinity and every human being made in God's image. This is echoed in a person’s love of God and love of neighbor, and experienced notably in the joy of friendship. That image is most perfectly expressed in the complementarity and difference of the sexes and the ordering of men and women to a permanent relationship in marriage, loving and life-giving.

Bishop Egan’s recommendation that Catholic schools defend their children from ideological colonization with the Theology of the Body stands in marked contrast to the CES’s neutral presentation of homosexuality as a positive “sexual orientation” and “identity” alongside heterosexuality.