A Catholic high school in Northern Ireland has defended its decision to send a delegation of senior students to participate in the local “Gay Pride” demonstration. Jarlath Burns, the principal of St. Paul’s School Bessbrook in Newry, declined to respond to LifeSiteNews' request for comment, but he told a local Catholic news outlet that he did not regret his decision and denied that it was opposed to the school’s “Catholic ethos.”


“We were not making a bold political statement by marching, we are not a campaigning school,” the Irish Catholic quoted him saying. “We were not saying that we are for homosexuals or that we are for the redefinition of marriage or anything like that. We just wanted to walk to show solidarity with what is a marginalised group in our society, to show them compassion, dignity and respect,” he said.

Burns was quoted saying that while the purpose of the action was not “political” per se, it was intended to help change “societal norms.” “At St Paul’s, we celebrate diversity. It is a welcoming place where all students can feel comfortable,” he said.

“Schools should not be places where students are ridiculed or made feel isolated.” On Twitter, Burns added, “Our pastoral care policy is light on dogma and heavy on compassion and celebration of diversity.”

The decision was strongly supported by the local homosexualist group Pride in Newry, who wrote on Twitter, “What a fantastic approach for a school to take towards diversity!! Well done all!!”

The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) issued a statement distancing itself slightly from the decision. They told the Irish Catholic, “The decision by St Paul’s High School in attending the Pride event in Newry recently was an internal decision by the school. St Paul’s is well-known for its promotion of the Catholic ethos.”

“Our pastoral care policy is light on dogma and heavy on compassion and celebration of diversity.”

“We are proud to be a Catholic school and it was because of that we decided to walk as a group and give Christian witness. It may have been controversial but we have to challenge ourselves and the status quo. We can’t be bound by tradition. It’s in that context that we decided to march and I’m very proud of what we did,” Burns continued.

But Liam Gibson, the Northern Ireland representative of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, which has campaigned to preserve the traditional definition of marriage, told LifeSiteNews that this was so naïve as to beggar belief. Gibson pointed out that the Gay Pride events are the premier annual public political demonstration organized by the homosexualist movement in nearly every jurisdiction in the western world.  

“It’s impossible to imagine he doesn’t know that. It’s a political event, with political goals,” Gibson said.

The Newry event also featured one of the western world’s most outspokenly anti-Catholic homosexualist political activists, Peter Tatchell, who gave the keynote address. Tatchell, in addition to his campaign against the Catholic Church’s teaching on sexual purity, was one of the lead voices in the secularist attacks against Pope Benedict XVI when he made a visit to Britain in 2010. Tatchell has also been a leading proponent of eliminating age limits for sexual consent, arguing that same year, “It is time society acknowledged the truth that not all sex involving children is unwanted abusive and harmful.”

Gibson said that the decision by a Catholic school to participate in an event organized by a movement that is in “every way anti-Christian” is a prime example of the deterioration of the Church’s mandate to teach its own people its moral and social doctrine. This failure, he said, is across the board and from “top to bottom” in the Church today, and represents a growing threat to the freedom of Catholics and other Christians to express their beliefs publicly.

“Like the rest of the world, Northern Ireland is under attack from the homosexualist movement,” he said. This movement has gained alarming support from a Church that has refused to defend or even publicly express its own beliefs, Gibson said, which has allowed ideologues to highjack the Catholic institutions, even, in the absence of any official instruction to the contrary, to the point of convincing Catholics that supporting the homosexualist movement is fully in keeping with Catholic teaching.

“We see this reflected frequently in the Catholic world,” he said. “There’s so much sympathy being expressed of the ‘marginalized’ that it seems to override an understanding of Catholic social or moral teaching.” The struggle, he said, is routinely presented by these gender ideologues, as “a matter of sympathy for people who are victimised or excluded from society.”

The August 27 post issued by the school on their Facebook page announcing the decision said, “We are proud to be a school that embraces diversity and promotes inclusivity, further demonstrating commitment to our Catholic ethos… The Rainbow flag will be flown at the school to mark our support for equality for all.”

Commenters on the page were almost unanimously supportive. One woman wrote in saying, “As a former pupil of this school I am so happy and proud that this decision was made.”

“Yes it’s a Catholic school but isn't a real Catholic someone who loves someone, does good and supports people. I don't talk much about being gay but when I had personal issues dealing with this as a teenager growing up in South Armagh I must congratulate the teachers and support that was given to me,” the woman continues.

She adds, “A certain teacher in particular was there every step of the way and helped me. This teacher was an RE [Religious Education] teacher too; funny eh. Anyway, very proud to be a past pupil of this school and think this is a massive step forward to all those young people who are afraid of being who they are.”

Gibson said the remarks are a perfect example of the total failure of the Church to teach Catholics their own faith. Catholics such as this school principal, he said, have been co-opted into an “ongoing struggle between and the homosexualist movement and its objectives and the only thing that stands in the way of their complete domination,” namely, “Christian principles on sexuality.”

“Every other section of society has given way. From politics to the police to the national armed forces,” Gibson said. “The only outstanding obstacles from their completing a total-spectrum domination are the Christian churches.”

Gibson firmly blamed not the school, its principal or teachers, but the leadership of the Catholic Church. “As for taking part in the public debates on this issue,” he said, “it’s been very lax. The lack of leadership at the top [of the Catholic hierarchy] has had huge ramifications.”

“It is clear that in contrast to some of the smaller denominations, there is a serious problem within the Catholic world that is being manifested from the lack of leadership at the top of the Church right down to children in Catholic schools. A clear problem with understanding the nature and reality of homosexuality has become common.”

St. Paul’s School in Newry is part of the small diocese of Dromore, whose head, Bishop John McAreavey, has made no public comment on the event or the presence of the school. No comment came from the Archdiocese of Armagh, and no response was made to LifeSite’s attempts to contact either body.

“It’s fair to say that the vast majority of ordinary Catholics don’t realise the danger to society that’s being posed by this radical agenda, one that is going to completely sweep away any kind of moral order we have held. The result will be catastrophic,” Gibson said.

Among these concrete threats, which Gibson said are growing closer by the day, is outright legal persecution. “We’ve seen in it already in Europe and North America. Attacks on freedom of conscience, speech and belief. Very soon we can expect serious persecution, dismissal from positions, silencing of any voice that is even hesitant in support of the agenda.”

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“It’s not too hard now to believe there will be widespread arrests and imprisonment.”

The Newry event, compared to other places like Toronto and Rome, was largely free of nudity, simulated sex acts and overt displays of anti-Catholic and anti-Christian sentiment, but Gibson said that toning it down is a calculated move.

“In Toronto and Rome, they don’t have to be so guarded about the actual nature of the lifestyle they’re promoting. In Newry, and even in Belfast, they have to be much more circumspect, if they’re going to convince the public this is just an ‘equality’ issue, and not an overt rewrite of the social order.”

The homosexualist movement’s goals to totally re-design western society, however, were publicly revealed recently by none other than Peter Tatchell, who wrote in the Guardian newspaper that his movement, which includes radical secularists as well as homosexualists, is “revolutionary, not reformist.” 

Gibson said it is an old story, and that in the 1970s, when the movement was launched, it was agreed that there would at first only be talk of “equality” and “human rights.” This, he said, was a deliberate smoke screen to deceive the Christian majority public in places like Northern Ireland.

“There’s a real danger that if a stand isn’t taken very soon, it will simply be too late. The preaching of Christian principles on morality are soon going to be considered criminal hate speech.”

He added that the failure of the Church has hurt homosexuals by leaving no room to talk about the “lifestyle itself, how abusive it is for the people involved in it, the terrible medical and psychological consequences. No mention is ever made of how authoritarian and threatening the purveyors of that agenda are.”

These, he said, are “mostly not homosexuals themselves, but professional ideologues, pushing an ideology that is on a collision course with Christianity.”

The acceptance in the Church of the ideologues’ program, he said, leaves no room for those who seek to live according to the true teachings. “There are people who have had to overcome serious difficulties in their moral lives, and the church has always been very ready to provide all the help necessary to overcome that.

“But the sympathy that is rightfully felt by Catholics for people with these serious problems is being distorted into support for a political agenda, which is totally antithetical to Christian morality.”