Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I`m sorry but I don`t understand how a Catholic school can provide information about how to have an abortion. According to canon law, anyone whose co-operation in procuring an abortion is an essential part of it coming about incurs an automatic excommunication.

I look forward to hearing how this can happen in a Catholic school.


Patricius said...

Surely it is open to the school to explain in absolutely clear and even graphic terms just what an abortion is. Perhaps not what Mr Balls has in mind but if he insists on the subject being taught Catholic schools can surely do it better than anyone else by telling the WHOLE truth.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I see what the fuss is about. I went to a robust Catholic school 20 years ago and I was taught all about contraception; all about abortion; I was taught tolerance not homophobia. In fact, sex education was purely factual, taught by external teachers ('cos what do priests know about it? ;-)). I was taught the Catholic beliefs and ethics in a different class altogether. And that's probably how it should be.

Pat said...

Catholic schools will be required to give information about how and where to get an abortion not just give information about what abortion is.
I am wondering if you now uphold the teaching of the Church in all of these areas. Tolerance does not mean that we are excused from 'admonishing the sinner' one of the spiritual works of mercy.
I do not think that Catholic schools exist any more in the form they were originally intended and would certainly not contribute to the CES

Seeker said...

I think Fathers point is a little more subtle: The teaching one can work around, but pointing pupils to where it can be accessed? That's the problem.

1569 Rising said...

I have been blogging on this site and others for ages now about the threat to the Church from the secularist organisations, with little or no support from anyone in authority in the Church.

The Secularists are now in the fortunate position of having a government in office who are more than happy to go along with their agenda.

It is very dispiriting to hear the unspeakable Ed Balls claiming the support of Archbishop Nichols and the Catholic (?) Education Service
during today's debate in the House.

It is also instructive to note that the much vaunted "influence" of the Church with Catholic Labour MP's did not seem to work today.

I hate to have to say this, but there is only one Party in the House of Commons supporting the Church over this deplorable matter.

"We cannot go on like this"

FrankE said...

Where are all the bishops and archbishops in all this? There seems to be a stunned silence from them, even though they've just returned from their 'ad limina' at Head Office.

Simon Platt said...

"I was taught the Catholic beliefs and ethics in a different class altogether. And that's probably how it should be."

Nope. Although that's how the secularists think it should be.

Kenneth said...

Point all mothers contemplating abortion to this site -

Anonymous said...

Graphic forms of 'sex education'
have happened for a while but the difference now is that it is given at a younger age.Anti Catholic 'sex ed' is now forced on children without parental consent or opinion. Theoretically parents can remove children from lessons but in practice can this really happen?
Best regards Father,

Thomas More said...

The Catholic bishops are content with the Government's proposals; the Catholic Education Service has endorsed them. Surely that concludes the matter for loyal Catholics. The Magisterium has spoken. To argue further is mere dissent.

Fr Michael Brown said...

TM wasn`t there another time when all but one of the Catholic bishops of England were content with what the government had to say which seemed quite unorthodox and a certain Thomas More gave his life rather than accept what they said and is now a saint while the others are mostly forgotten? He`s even the patron saint of politicians.

Thomas More said...

Fr B, Are you suggesting that all the English bishops have effectively fallen from office and that there is now no authentic hierarchy in this country, as was the situation in the 16th century? Bold dissent indeed!

Fr Michael Brown said...

Not at all. So far we`ve not had an official reaction from the bishops about this and the questions it raises. You seem to have a curious understanding of how the magisterium works. Not everything a bishop says is infallible. Not every thing the Pope says is infallible. People can get things wrong on the level of prudential judgements. All I asked is how does this apparent contradiction resolve itself. I hope there will be an answer before long.

Fr Michael Brown said...

TM, can I direct you to Fr blake`s latest post which you may find useful. http://tiny.cc/cVmX3

Fr Michael Brown said...

TM, can I direct you to Fr blake`s latest post which you may find useful. http://tiny.cc/cVmX3

+David said...

I was under the impression that automatic excommunication was only incurred if one KNEW beforehand that procuring an abortion (or assisting in that procedure in any way)was an excommunicatable offence.Consequently if one did not know..... then excommunication would not be incurred.
It follows that it would be best taught in Catholic schools the consequences of such an act,or perhaps not ,as the spiritual consequences of ignorance seem less severe.
Please correct me if I am wrong.

Thomas More said...

Fr B,
On your recommendation I have read Fr Blake's post (I assume you mean the one about conscience).

I found it puzzling. I am afraid I don't understand what the phrase 'it strikes at the heat of human freedom' means. Nor do I follow his reference to exercise.
Is this clever priestly jargon that is beyond the reach of a mere common lawyer?

Wondering said...

Two ‘comments’ leave me with some questions: “Are you suggesting that all the English bishops have effectively fallen from office”, and “I was under the impression that automatic excommunication was only incurred if one KNEW beforehand that procuring an abortion (or assisting in that procedure in any way)was an excommunicable offence”. The Bishops have allowed this Bill to go through with their blessing via the CES, and they certainly know providing access to abortion is an excommunicable offence. How remote must one’s co-operation be for the excommunication not to apply? Not being a Canon Lawyer, and wishing no one to fall under an excommunication (even though its purpose is remedial rather than punishment), I am concerned that our hierarchy may indeed have fallen from Office, and their CES members with them.

Fr Michael Brown said...

+ David, you are right that according to canon 1323.2 inculpable ignorance regarding violation of a law does remove the penalty. However according to canon 15.2 such ignorance is not presumed and for someone otherwise subject to the penalty must be proven. so the penalty is applies until ignorance is proven.

What is the view of your denomination regarding abortion? Do you have a code of canon law?

Fr Michael Brown said...

TM I don`t suppose any Catholic teaching on the nature of human freedom will carry any weight with you as you seem to have nothing but scorn for the Catholic religion. So why not look at the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which may be more appealing to you. Article 26 states: `Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given their children.` Article 18 speaks of the right of freedom of religion. For the state to dictate what shall be taught in Catholic schools when it is against the tenants of that religion, given that they have agreed to finance such schools, is an infringement of human freedom.

Fr Michael Brown said...

`The state is the servant, not the master, of its citizens` Gerald Warner blogs about this today:

ScepticalBeliever said...

I don't think that the Catholic bishops of England have effectively fallen from office; I do think they are not very good at teaching the Catholic faith - but, to be fair (not easy!) how often do we get any Catholic teaching at Mass nowadays. Is it because priests think everyone went to a Cathoilc school or that everyone is throughly familiar with what we are asked to believe? I suggest that for the majority of (practising) Catholics their only contact with the Church is through Sunday Mass while their secular contacts are on a daily basis which could, at least to some extent, be countered by regular reminders of the teaching of the Church at Mass. Of course anyone who thinks that abortion and contraception can be taught in a 'Catholic context' in schools must be somewhat ignorant of the state of Catholic religious education!

Thomas More said...

Fr B - 'nothing but scorn for the Catholic religion'? That is a very unfair accusation when I am the person on this thread who has been sticking up for the Catholic Education Service and the English Bishops and urging people loyally to follow their judgement in this matter.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Very clever TM but the English bishops have yet to make a statement. The address of Pope Benedict XVI to the English bishops at the ad limina suggests that Catholics cannot accept all that this goverment is seeking to do with regard to religion.
Anyway you didn`t answer the point about what constitutes human freedom and how this law if it ever gets on the statute book, attacks basic human freedoms.

Thomas More said...

Fr B,
Has the Vatican signed up to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? It certainly is not a signatory to the European Covention on Human Rights. Has the Pope not condemned the latter as 'secularist' and 'relativisit'?

Fr Michael Brown said...

TM once again you avoid the question. I don`t see the point of engaging with you if you carry on like this. I quoted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights because you wanted to know how this new legislation will strike at the heart of human freedom. I imagine that there is no point me quoting any Vatican document on the rights of the family as I think that you have no regard for the Magisterium. So I quoted you something I thought you might respect and you choose to ignore it.
For what it is worth, you may like to read this speech made at the United Nations by the Vatican delegate on the 60th anniversary of its promulgation in December 2008: http://tinyurl.com/yhm9j45

This bill `strikes at the heart of human freedom` since it overrules the right of parents as primary educators of their children to educate them in the light of their religious convictions.It imposes a state secularist morality and rides roughshod over basic human freedom. Does that not all sound rather familiar to you, Thomas More?

Anonymous said...

Fr. Brown

Would you respect the right of Islamic parents to raise their children and educate them in the Islamic faith?

Fr Michael Brown said...


berenike said...

Cf. ST 2-2ae somehwere (sorry, can't rememebr where), also Instruction on Infant Baptism of 1980, para 15 - "concerned for the natural rights of the parents".

1569 Rising said...


This blog post has diverted away from your original intention, so to try to get it back on track let's sum up the problem.

1. St Thomas More Mixed Secondary School in Bedford was used as an example of "good practice" by Ed Balls.
2.Their sex education curriculum
How to access contraception
How to use contraception
How to access an abortion
Accept civil partnerships
No condemnation of homosexuality
Compulsory sex education for all
3. Teaching on homosexuality, abortion and contraception to be "non-judgemental"

Balls claimed the support of the Catholic Education Service's head, Oona Stannard and Archbishop Nichols, and many of us have been waiting for some time for some form of denial coming from either the CES or the Bishops' Conference.

Because of the complete silence from our leaders on this issue, we must assume that they approve the actions of this particular Catholic School, and we can expect this teaching to become the norm in all Catholic Schools.

If this is the case, then we, as ordinary lay Catholics, must question the very point of Catholic Schools, and the very point of our Bishops - they were quick enough to act over swine flu!

Em said...

I have been questioning the very point of Catholic Schools ever since I had the misfortune to teach in some of them. The "religious" education that most of them are peddling has nothing to do with Catholicism so why would their sex education program adhere to any Catholic teaching?

As for "not condemning homosexuality", I don't think any of the schools were condemning this anyway because in theory they have always taught tolerance of others... however that seems to go out of the window when staff members are more than happy to bully their colleagues with the full support of management, who also indulge in condemning any member of staff that they don't happen to like.

Sorry, but I really don't see the point of them at all, but maybe someone can enlighten me.

Ronan said...

Heah, heah, Em! The catholic schools are run by a bunch of Nazis, and not the Ratzinger-stickler-for-orthodoxy, type, either!

Father, your combox guest must be the Thomas More that the school in North Shields is named after, not the orthodox one who lost his head for the faith. We were told in our PSE lessons there that we could, if necessary, get abortions without parental knowledge.

BTW, How much did you raise in the collection for CES the other week, Father? I was surprised we even had that collection, and I certainly never contributed.

Can't help wondering why everyone's clucking over the sex ed bill. Catholic schools already do all the things outlined therein.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Thanks Ronan, I didn`t realise things were already so bad.

We got about £30 for the CES. It was before all this blew up although I had some misgivings.