Friday, December 07, 2007

Women and the Church...

...was the subject of a talk yesterday at St John's Church, Horsham, Sussex. A very happy evening, a packed room, lots of good discussion. I had said I would walk from the station, but it was a rainy night and when I arrived, there was the kind parish priest, waiting with a placard with my name on it, like you see people doing at airports! He drove me to the church, and brewed tea, and there was a lively buzz as people were arriving...at the end of the talk I distributed copies of an excellent CTS leaflet about women and the priesthood, and people also wanted copies of my Yearbook of Seasons and Celebrations...

This is a lovely parish. I was made so welcome, and there was such a good atmosphere - coincidentally, I had dropped in to this church when I went through Horsham on my sponsored cycle ride to Brighton, back in the summer, when I was raising money to help send young people from my local deanery to World Youth Day. So it was lovely to be back, and to meet people and be part of the parish for the evening!

Whenever I speak at a Catholic meeting, sooner or later some one is bound to raise the question of what is happening in Catholic schools - children are not learning the Faith, they are confused, they don't know the basics, don't know about the Sacraments, don't go to Mass with any regularity. There is real anguish about this - people are frustrated and recognise that things are getting more muddled...it gets hard to find good practising Catholics as teachers, and schools seem to be confused about whether or not it is possible legally to insist that a teacher in a Catholic school should teach in accordance with the Church and live accordingly... even in a good a cheery meeting such as this, topics such as this get raised.

Home very late: a warm, wet evening, and I sat on the train writing Christmas cards.

6 comments:

Malcolm McLean said...

I think we've reached a kind of limit with Catholic schools. The children are no longer taken to Mass by their parents, the teachers are no longer practising Catholics, Latin and other distinctively Catholic subjects have been reduced to the margins of assembly time and non-academic religious education, there is rarely a full time or even reasonably part time chaplain, links with the Church are formal at best.

What remains is a perception that Catholic schools are more successful academically and in imposing discipline, and a desire by parents to get their children into the better schools.

It's not enough, even probably to grant the parents their wishes.

Mags said...

Sorry this is off topic, but please consider passing this information on, to as many Christians as possible, and if possible post it on your blog, and encourage others to do the same :-

The Post Office (UK) have two sets of postage stamps on a Christian theme, one of the Madonna and Child, but are keeping it quiet, so that next year they can say that there is no demand for 'Christian/Christmas stamps'.

Apparently they are only selling them if people ask for them over the counter.

We are asked to encourage as many Christians as possible to ask for them. This information was given out at 'The Ark of the Covenant' -Coventry ........am dutifully passing it on.

Anonymous said...

mag, I'd hardly call this "keeping it quiet": http://www.royalmail.com/portal/stamps/content1?catId=63500706&mediaId=63500710

Anonymous said...

Not entirely Malcolm! But there are serious battles raging in our schools all the same...i'm finding this more from governing bodies who have no real appreciation of Catholicity (not all). it seems the battle lines are drawn & we know who we're up against...& Catholics like yourself & others will no doubt fight for our schools despite the personal cost...

Joanna, how could you get wet again! lol

Anonymous said...

Catholic education is becoming a tough chestnut that refuses to break. When it is considered how, in the past, the parishes in this country beggared themselves to build and maintain Catholic schools the present situation is desperate. Parishes are still expected to make huge subventions to keep them going, but to what purpose? In rare instances, individual schools do a good job. But what of the non-practicing parents who send children to these schools? They are just as bad as the lukewarm schools themselves. In a new intake it is extremely rare to find children who are taken to Mass on Sundays or even know the Lord's prayer and the Hail Mary. They are regarded as exceptions and sometimes bullied in consequence. Catholic education is now rotten to the core. We don't need secularists trying to minimize their influence when the Church authorities are doing a better job to render them nugatory. All they provide is the means to maintain a tribal Catholic identity and that is not Catholicism but an ugly caricature of the worst elements of Catholic culture. Parasiticsl, non-practicing Catholics are equally to blame for bringing this situation into being.

Dorothy said...

The practical rule in many officially Catholic schools seems to be: Never teach any aspect of the Church's teaching (that is, teach it as true; it may be included in lessons as the detached examination of a cultural phenomenon) if it would contradict the words or the actions of a child's non-believing or non-practising parents or other family members. To teach it as true is regarded as uncharitable and bad for the child's family relationship.

On the other hand, it is perfectly acceptable to give witness against the Church's teaching, and to contradict what orthodox, fully-practising parents teach their children. If the parents object, the school considers itself justified in ignoring, or in bridling at, the parents' objections.

In this way the Catholicism of many a school becomes in reality merely an empty shell.