The Welsh Government has recently launched a consultation concerning the provision of Religious Education for all schools in Wales. The proposal will effect RE provision for schools operated by the Diocese of Menevia. Our faith schools are classed as “Voluntary Aided Schools”, and explicit reference is made to this type of school in the consultation document.
If the proposals outlined in this consultation go ahead, then the effect will be to the detriment of Catholic schools. Instead of being able to guarantee the teaching of our faith alongside an understanding of other faiths, and instead of being able to teach a sound moral system for the benefit of all, we could be forced to adopt a syllabus whereby all moral systems and philosophies are handled in the same way – thus reducing the Catholic ethos to a minimum.
Archbishop George Stack has said of these proposals that “although the language is very carefully worded, the implications of such a curriculum for the teaching of R.E. in Catholic schools are enormous.” Archbishop Stack has written to the First Minister to express concern and, with the Catholic Education Service (and others), is working on a response which spells out the implications of the imposition of such draconian measures on our schools. Archbishop Stack says: “I believe I do not exaggerate when I say this is a crucial moment for our schools and our ability to provide Catholic education.”
I am asking the people of our parish to read a letter from the Education Office of the Metropolitan Diocese of Cardiff. The letter is titled “Christ at the Centre” and can be found in the link below.
Having read the letter I invite each of you to look at the consultation from the Welsh Government and to respond to it. It’s a 13 page document, but don’t be put off – the actual text of the consolation covers only 5 pages. These 5 pages are so important as they could mark the beginning of the end for Catholic Schools. Please do respond to the Consultation by sending in your replies no later than 28th July 2020.
For those of you who feel this may be a challenge, the Catholic Education Service (CES) has very helpfully prepared a page of notes which offers guidance to those who will make a reply. You must feel free to write what your own considered answer, but the notes are there to support you and to highlight elements which you may not have previously considered.
As Parish Priest and School Govenor, I’m asking you to please continue to support the principles of Catholic faith-based education, which gives a positive moral framework to our children, combined with a world-view which is compassionate to people of all faiths. What is distinctive, however, is that we do not see all moral systems as equal and all viewpoints as equally valid, nor do we want to have to teach that two or more directly contradictory viewpoints/faiths/beliefs are as good as each other – some things are either right or wrong, and we can demonstrate why.
Our faith does allow us to make clear distinctions and gives us a framework for living a good life. Catholic Christianity has provided a structure which, for hundreds of years, has shaped the culture of both Europe and the world; it has been foundational in the development of the modern jurisprudence systems we use today; has enabled access to education and healthcare to those who otherwise wouldn’t be in receipt of such goods; and served to transform the lives of many for the better by giving them a dignity which people of other moral systems (or none) would have eroded away.
The proposed changes being made, to my mind at least, throw all of the benefits of Christian culture to the wind and may force us to adopt a curriculum which goes against our better judgment and conscience.
If you have any questions, comments, then please feel free to write or speak to me personally, and I encourage you to make your replies to this consultation known.
With all good wishes,
Fr Liam Bradley