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WALSINGHAM, England, December 18, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A new pro-family initiative in the United Kingdom is calling on lay Catholics to pray and offer sacrifices that the country’s bishops will lead resistance to compulsory sex and relationships education due to be introduced to schools in England next year. 

The Catholic Church has consistently recognized parents as the primary educators of their children. The bishops of England and Wales, however, are backing government plans that will end the statutory right of parents to withdraw their children from programs promoting LGBT ideology and “confidential” access to contraception and abortion.

In response, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), the Latin Mass Society, and Good Counsel Network have formed the Coalition in Defence of Primary Educators. The new group’s inaugural event was a two-day pilgrimage of prayer and discussion for the feast of the Immaculate Conception to the Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham. 

In 1061, “the Lady Richeldis” of Walsingham had a dream in which the Blessed Virgin showed her the Holy House of Nazareth and requested that one like it be built in Walsingham. Richeldis did this and Our Lady promised that: “Whosoever seeks my help here will not go away empty-handed.” The shrine was to become a place of prayer and pilgrimage ranked fourth in the medieval world after Jerusalem, Compostela and Rome.

An Augustinian Priory was founded near the shrine in 1153. In 1537, the sub-prior and 11 others were hanged, drawn and quartered on the charge of fomenting opposition to the dissolution of the monasteries.

In 1538, the Priory and the shrine were seized by Henry VIII and the site was sold for secular use. The statuette of Our Lady of Walsingham was taken to London and, with many other holy images, burned at Chelsea. Despite this, Walsingham has remained a site of devotion to the Blessed Virgin.

Taking as its theme Acts 1:14 which describes the disciples as “perseverantes unianimiter in oratione” (persevering with one mind in prayer) with the Mother of the Lord, began with Low Mass on the eve of the feast in the ancient Slipper Chapel, roughly a mile from the shrine. This was followed by a series of talks on education and family life. The climax of the pilgrimage came the next day with the celebration of a Missa Cantata in the Church of Our Lady of Reconciliation. From there, a procession which was led by fathers of families, some barefoot moved praying the rosary to the ruins of the priory. 

Welcoming pilgrims, John Smeaton, CEO of SPUC, said:

“Our procession praying the Rosary to Walsingham Priory will be led by fathers, who have a particular responsibility to defend their families when the innocence of their children are under attack. 

“The purpose of our pilgrimage is to ask Our Lady to pray that God will transform the Catholic bishops of England and Wales so that they lead the lay faithful in resisting the British government’s wicked legislation which makes relationships education compulsory at primary school and Relationships and Sex Education compulsory at secondary school, including compulsory LGBT relationships at secondary level. 

“Our bishops have repeatedly welcomed this legislation, but it’s important to put this into global ecclesiastical context. The scandalous reality is that this policy is in line with the Vatican. After the promulgation of Amoris Laetitia, the apostolic exhortation that followed the 2015 Family Synod — in which Pope Francis called for sex education in educational institutions — the Pontifical Council for the Family published a sex education program called The Meeting Point at World Youth Day in Poland in July 2016. This program, which is intended to be taught in mixed classrooms, adopts a secularized and secularizing approach and exposes children to obscene and pornographic images.

“Parents today are not, for the most part, theological scholars … (but they are) capable of understanding Christ’s words concerning giving scandal to children: ‘ … he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea.’ Parents know, but must be reminded, that these words provide a terrible warning to those, including Catholic bishops, who promote the showing of pornographic images in the classroom to children young and old and who allow false ideas about human sexuality, including homosexuality, to be taught in the classroom.”

Also addressing the event, Dr Tom Rogers, SPUC’s education manager, outlined the longstanding cooperation between the Catholic Education Service (CES), with the approval of the bishops, and the secular authorities pushing anti-life and anti-family sex education. This situation, he explained, has worsened under Pope Francis.

In Chapter 7 of Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis calls for sex education to be taught in a way that lets children learn for themselves rather than imposing “absolute and unquestionable truths.” Despite its vague language, Dr. Rogers pointed out that this approach is actually quite disturbing:  

“Let’s not tell children that with God there are absolute truths or commandments we need to adhere to – especially when it comes to marriage and sexual morality. Just let them get on and experiment sexually and learn for themselves what are vaguely termed ‘certain values, principles and norms.’” 

He described the new sex education legislation, passed by the Westminster Parliament in March 2019, as a completely secular liberal view of human sexuality. He told his audience that the program is to be 'LGBT inclusive' and portray homosexual relationships in a positive manner. Although not an absolute in primary schools, it is strongly urged even there. Teenagers will be encouraged to “explore” their developing “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” Marriage is redefined to include “same-sex marriage” and presented as just one possible relationship option.

Secondary school children are to be provided with comprehensive “non-judgmental” information on contraception and abortion. They will be sign-posted as to where and how to obtain abortion and contraception services without the knowledge of their parents. Carrying an unborn child to term is presented simply as one of the possible options when pregnant. 

“The role of the school, teachers and the state has been greatly expanded into areas up to now considered the rightful and natural territory of parental responsibility. The new compulsory subjects (including Health Education) attempts to cover virtually every aspect of the child’s moral formation, health and well-being. This will further undermine and discourage good, conscientious parenting,” he said.

The new statutory guidance has been welcomed by the Catholic Education Service, but as Dr. Rogers pointed out, the CES has published at least two documents promoting the moral acceptability of homosexuality: Learning to Love (2017), which refers to same-sex relationships as being able to constitute a “powerful” and “an exalted form of love,” equal to that of man and woman – husband and wife (p. 17), and Made in God’s Image: Challenging homophobic and biphobic bullying in Catholic schools (2017; 2nd edn 2018).

Children are essentially being instructed by the CES that if they experience negative emotions about ‘homosexuality’ – if they have an aversion to the idea of homosexuality (including homosexual behavior or advances?) then there is something wrong with them – they have an irrational fear – which is even ‘sinful.’ This is the corruption of children,” he said, “this is grooming!”

The connection between the widespread exploitation of children and the modern education system was also highlighted by Dr. Joseph Shaw of the Latin Mass Society. The rejection of Christian morality, he said, has resulted in the educational establishment promoting the principle of consent as the only justified concern when judging sexual behaviour.   

“This attitude is very much on display from social workers in the now numerous reports of public inquiries into child sex abuse rings. The pattern is that they acknowledge that child victims of abuse were making terrible choices, but this fact didn’t warrant intervention. On the contrary, they saw it as their job to prevent parents from intervening.

“The public inquiry into the Oxford sex abuse ring noted, among other things, that the desire among teachers and social workers to avoid value judgements about sexual behaviour created: ‘an environment where it is easier for vulnerable young people/children to be exploited. It also makes it harder for professionals to have the confidence and bravery to be more proactive on prevention and intervention.’”

But of equal concern, Dr. Shaw argued is the abuse of children by other children. Quoting from a 2017 BBC news report, during the previous three years, police in England and Wales recorded 2,625 sexual offenses, including 225 alleged rapes, taking place on school premises — 23 offenses for every week of school.

Although children are taught that consent is necessary for actions to be “OK,” this single qualification has proved to be incapable of holding back the tide of sexual exploitation.

“The broader picture is that telling children that there are no moral rules, that everything is permitted, that the adults in charge will never judge you, and that there are no effective mechanisms of discipline, has not made children into little angels who never hurt each other, or get drawn into abusive relationships.”

“(I)f schools want to stop children abusing each other, or allowing themselves to be abused by adults, they need to stop talking about consent, and talk instead about inappropriate behavior … ”

Concluding his remarks, Dr. Shaw had this advice for parents: “ … if we want to prepare our children for life, not just in school, but in the wider world … the best way of coming to understand the place of sexuality in a complete life is to experience as a child a family life founded on sexual exclusivity and openness to life, a stable and loving environment where Catholic culture and spirituality are able to flourish. This is not a lesson easily learnt from a textbook of moral theology: the Catholic family must be experienced. If we want to know what we can do about the current crisis, for parents there is always this: to live our vocation more faithfully.”

This theme was elucidated in greater depth by Dr. Shaw’s wife Lucy, who spoke at length about how the role of women in the home has been denigrated by feminism and the social consequences of its attack on family life.

“The current crisis,” she said, “is a crisis of family life as well as a crisis of schools. The influence of school is paramount today because of the collapse to a large extent of the family as an institution capable of forming children. Schools have been moving into a vacuum where families ought to have been even if they have contributed to the creation of that vacuum. What we can’t do about schools we should be able to do about our own families.”

“Mental illness among children is spiraling, and according to figures from the National Health Service in 2018, 12.8 percent of children between 5 and 19 have at least one mental disorder. We can’t doubt that this is connected to the relentless diet of state-sponsored abuse in the form of sex education in combination with a total absence of moral formation.”

“Moral formation cannot be taught effectively in a school setting. The passing on of values doesn’t take place using books and blackboards. Values can only be passed on effectively when children see them instantiated.

“The values of a Catholic home, however — piety, respect, love of family members, purity, love of beauty, orderliness, discipline — are values that even a very imperfect Catholic family can teach by doing.

“Sex education in schools is the natural consequence of the handover of responsibility of the moral education of children from parents to the state. As the state has made more and more aggressive use of this power so the home as a place where culture and principles are nurtured and fostered in children has declined. Our job as parents is primarily to create homes which support not only education and moral formation but also family life and its irreplaceable role in society.” 

Feminism, she argued, has won such comprehensive victories that a proper understanding of this role and its traditions have been almost completely lost. 

“The family is under unprecedented attack,” she said. “An attack which is growing in strength all the time and to which families are increasingly vulnerable, particularly in the absence of strong leadership from the Church.

“One of these attacks is on the physical home itself. Re-establishing the honor of the housewife is an essential part of winning the war against the state power grab of parents’ moral authority over their children. It also guarantees homes where Catholicism can be practiced and passed on and where it is visible to all visitors. A public sign of the beauty and permanence of our beloved faith.”

Further information on the Coalition in Defence of Primary Educators is available by emailing John Smeaton at [email protected]

Recordings of the presentations delivered at the pilgrimage are available at the links below. 

John Smeaton 

Dr. Tom Rogers

Dr. Joseph Shaw

Mrs. Lucy Shaw