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How many RE teachers actually care about the faith of their pupils? I’d like to know

Some bishops are demanding RE as part of the English Baccalaureate. But why? In Catholic schools, 90% lapse

By on Friday, 1 April 2011

Catholic school children wait for the Pope at Twickenham during the September 2010 papal visit AP Photo Peter Macdiarmid

Catholic school children wait for the Pope at Twickenham during the September 2010 papal visit AP Photo Peter Macdiarmid

Archbishop Bernard Longley has attacked the Government’s decision to leave Religious Education out of the rather weedy-looking and totally misnamed English Baccalaureate, in a lecture delivered under the auspices of the School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion at the University of Birmingham. This follows a similar attack by Archbishop Nichols and a “call to action” by the Catholic Education Service of England and Wales, (which, you will recall, is one of the secularised bureaucracies attached to the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales).

The English Baccalaureate (EBacc) was introduced in 2010 and is awarded to all students who achieve GCSEs (this is nothing like the much broader, far more advanced and highly prestigious French article) at grades A*-C in English, Mathematics, Science, a Humanities subject and a Modern Foreign Language. The CESEW, in its statement demanding that RE be included in it, professes quite a highflown idea of what is to be gained from this subject, which I suspect that many of those who have undergone the reality, in other words, have direct experience of what is actually on offer, will be hard put to recognise. Have a look at this:

“In RE pupils have the opportunity to engage not only with the most profound metaphysical questions concerning human existence and the nature of reality, but also with the most pressing ethical problems of our day. RE itself is a broad based humanity, demanding knowledge and skills in history, textual criticism, anthropology, ethics, philosophy and theology. Thus it seems aptly suited to being part of any qualification which seeks to ensure that our pupils receive a genuinely broad education. We therefore urge the government to ensure that RE be regarded as a humanity for the purposes of the English Baccalaureate.”

It is to be noted that the CESEW doesn’t point to RE as being a way in to religious faith: that wouldn’t be of much interest to the government, of course, but it ought to be for Catholics. However, it is not, I suspect, for the CESEW, or, indeed for quite a few— (I would be interested to know how many)—teachers of RE. Many Catholics suppose (as I did when 20 years ago I crossed the Tiber) that one way to pass on the faith to our children is to send them to a Catholic school. Don’t you believe it. I began to smell a rat when, at the convent school to which my wife and I finally sent one of my daughters, the sister who taught RE told me proudly that she didn’t believe in “indoctrination” (she expected me to be reassured by this).

“Why not?” I said: “don’t you WANT your pupils to believe in Catholic doctrine? I do: that’s why I sent her to a Catholic school. Indoctrination is precisely what I was hoping for”. From her reaction, you would think I had uttered some grotesque indecency.

But I almost certainly wouldn’t have found any very different attitude in any of the other Catholic schools available to us: the school we had chosen was probably the best we could have hoped for. At the first school we had a look at, the sixth former who was showing us round, when I asked whether the chapel was ever open (it wasn’t) and whether the Blessed Sacrament was reserved there, asked me what the Blessed Sacrament WAS.

There is, as the excellent Mrs Daphne McLeod has pointed out, a “total failure to teach the authentic Catholic Faith in Catholic schools, resulting in a staggering 90% lapsation rate among school leavers”. That’s worth repeating. NINETY PERCENT: it’s higher than the lapsation rate among Catholic children who go to secular schools.

And that’s because Catholic education is no longer focused where it should be focused. Compare the CESEW’s idea of what RE should be about with this:

“The fundamental needs of the human person are the focus of Catholic education – intellectual, physical, emotional, social, spiritual and eschatological (our eternal destiny). These fundamental needs can only be truly fulfilled through a rich and living encounter with the deepest truths about God and the human person.”

That, of course, is by Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue, and it comes from that wonderful document Fit for Mission? Schools (p. 17, CTS Expanded edition). When it was published, it was received with great acclaim in Rome, among others by Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, Secretary for the Congregation for Clergy, who said that his outfit had “studied the document with great interest and hopes it will become an example for other Dioceses in the country in their implementation of the General Directory for Catechesis and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.”

Their implementation of the WHAT? “Other dioceses in the country” have no INTENTION of implementing it; they probably haven’t even HEARD of the General Directory for Catechesis.

As for the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Bishop O’Donoghue directed that all Catholic teachers in his diocese be supplied with a copy of it. I wonder how many bishops followed his example? Not a single one, I bet (please tell me I’m wrong, someone). And I wonder how many RE teachers not only possess a copy of the Catechism, but use it as a constant teaching resource? I would be interested in hearing from any RE teachers out there who may be reading this. This is a genuine question to which I do not know—but greatly fear—the answer.

Meanwhile, forget making RE part of the English Baccalaureate. It will do nobody any good as it is taught now: and it could do considerable harm, if any more children get the idea, as I suspect many already do, that what they are taught is really all that religion is about. Unless, of course, they are Catholic and live in the diocese of Lancaster, whose new bishop, I devoutly hope, is building on what he inherited from Bishop O’Donoghue.

  • Vendeen

    Thank you but with all due respect this entire reply is an exercise in playing with words, selective use of quotes and taking statements totally out of context. When the SSPX preaches that if there is no Tridentine Mass available, the Sunday obligation to attend Mass ceases, the Traditionalists have gone too far. When Archbishop Lefebvre refused to admit that the New Mass is a legitimate Mass, he went too far.

    You do well to ignore and gloss over the importance of the Eastern Rites since it is in the other Rites that we see the relevance of V2. St. Josaphat suffered martyrdom for the cause of Union of Byzantine Catholics with Rome. His prayer for unity…”Let there be one fold and one shepherd”, was formally sanctioned by the Second Vatican Council as the TRUE spirit of modern ecumenism. Similarly, we could not expect to see the creation of the Anglican Ordinariate without V2. Strangely, the early eastern Catholics separated from the unity of the faith for the same reasons. They said that the Church was no longer Orthodox and therefore they did not have to obey. One of their reasons was the change to Latin from Greek. Now we have a new group in the SSPX who say the Church is no longer Orthodox because they have changed away from Latin.

    None of the early Church Liturgies were Tridentine or even close. They had different Liturgies in Jerusalem, Alexandria, Rome, Persia, and Edessa. The Liturgy of James the Apostle (Jerusalem) has a different Canon than the Liturgy of Mark, Clement, Chrysostom, Basil, and the two of Peter.

  • Anonymous

    We are talking here about the Roman rite, the Roman liturgy. Why on EARTH do you keep on about other rites? The easterns won’t touch their rites and the reason why there is no advance in the talks with the Orthodox is that they are appalled at the changes to the Mass. They haven’t touched their liturgy in a thousand years and they won’t. So if you hate the “bells and smells” (as Modernists and Protestants describe the traditional Latin Mass) you’ll not be able to stand the eastern rites. I attended one when I was in Israel and I thought I would never see daylight again. So, forget “eastern rites.” Irrelevant. You mistakenly think that the eastern rites are what Vatican II was all about, what the creation of a new “rite” was all about, but I’ve already explained to you that it is well documented that the new Mass was created for the express purpose of removing anything objectionable to Protestants – crucially, the prayers connoting Sacrifice, remission of sins etc. Archbishop Bugnini said that outright. So, in fact, contrary to what you say, while the new Mass pleases the Protestants no end, it dismays the easterns. Get it?

    Also, it is an error to keep harking back to the way things were in the early Church – that ignores the legitimate development of the liturgy.

    The fact that you dismiss the quotations given by me, from the post-conciliar popes – and, contrary to your claim, they are not selective quotes, they are quotes which stand alone – indicates that you are not seriously seeking the truth of the matter. You are a modernist Catholic and you intend to stay that way. So, before I obey the Gospel injunction to shake off the dust and move on, I’m going to try one more time to enlighten you about the illegitimate nature of the new Mass. Sorry, Catholic Herald – I know this is off blog topic, but Vendeen needs educating and, in fact, we can’t really square the problem of what to teach in Catholic schools when we have a massive problem with the Mass. Which is why, in fact, some “traditional” parents are home-schooling.

    Vendeen, you maintain your hate-filled position towards the SSPX, showing ignorance of the SSPX situation by saying they are only bothered about Latin. Archbishop Lefebvre specifically said that the new Mass could be valid but, listen, priests who have nothing to do with the SSPX are unhappy with the new Mass and at least one expert has expressed grave concerns about validity. Monsignor Klaus Gamber, author of ‘The Reform of the Roman Liturgy – Its Problems and Background’ (with Preface in the French edition by Cardinal Ratzinger who describes Gamber as “one of the truly great liturgists of our century”) wrote: “One thing is certain: the new (liberal) theology was a major force behind the liturgical reforms… Yet to assert, as is sometimes done, that the novus ordo Mass is “invalid” would be taking this argument too far. What we can say is that ever since the liturgical reforms were introduced, the number of invalid Masses certainly has increased.” Drum roll.

    Just as I would steer clear of a butcher’s shop where ALL the meat could not be condemned as containing poison, but, recently, the danger of poisoning has increased, so I am entitled to protect my soul from the danger of poison in modernist parishes, by priests preaching – at best – heterodox homilies and where there is a danger that the Mass itself is or may be invalid. Faith and reason are not opposed to each other.

    The fact is – and here I can speak from personal experience – anyone who attends the old rite Mass for even around 6 weeks, following the beautiful prayers of the Mass, the silent Canon etc. just cannot take the new Mass seriously. It is, as one of its chief proponents, Father Gelineau SJ said, an entirely new Mass and, given the Pope’s condemnation in Session 7 of the Council of Trent against anyone who dares to create a new Mass, nobody, from the Pope down, can force me or anyone else to attend this new Mass. Pope Paul VI intended it as an option – it was his “wish” that we have it (see below) and I am entitled to opt out.

    But don’t take my word for the fact that the Pope cannot impose a new Mass, that it is not a legitimate use of his authority, or the word of the SSPX. Here’s an extract from and link to a scholarly work on the subject. Priests who are NOT SSPX are also concerned about the way the new Mass was created and imposed when, in fact, Paul VI only meant it as an option: one priest in England, now deceased, told me some years ago that he’d contacted his bishop to say he could not, in conscience, say the new Mass. To his amazement, the bishop told him to get out of his parish, find somewhere else to live. The bishop added that if Father were leaving to get married, he’d help him but not under these circumstances. Very “Good Samaritan” NOT. However, Father was the exception rather than the rule. Most priests, went along with the “reforms” and abandoned the Mass which they’d been ordained to offer.

    Which brings me to the quote and link I referred to above:

    “That so many morally upright anointed men of God—by far the vast majority throughout the world—could have been so easily brought to abandon their Mass, so venerable and so pure, and prostitute their personal faith, was not due to some strange and sinister hypnotic power, nor to their lack of theological knowledge, nor to the dreadful threats of a ruthless government. No. It was due to the Act by which Pope Paul VI introduced the “New Mass” with the “wish” that it be accepted, “as an instrument which bears witness to and which affirms the common unity of all.”* The bishops, acting through their various national and territorial groupings, in turn, pretended to impose it as a duty of obedience and fidelity.”11

    Now, Vendeen, if you’re still not convinced, no point in further communication between us. Dust, shoes, off, shake springs to mind. Enjoy your new religion.

  • Vendeen

    First of all it makes me very sad to hear someone call the Holy Mass “Poison”, even the Orangemen don’t use such words against Mother Church. This is the language of Satan himself.

    The issue here is the utter refusal to respect or tolerate the Novus Ordo Mass even if the TLM is fully approved and freely available. You want exclusivity and an end to the New Mass (Never going to happen) and you deny the validity of N.O.Mass. This is unnaceptable and schismatic, end of story. The fact is, the main elements of Mass at TLM and N.O. are practically identical, you know it and I know it.

    This “For us or against us” attitude is a type of dualism. Like most Catholics I was very pleased to see the implementation of Summorum Pontificum, the return of the SSPX Bishops and the revised English Mass but bitter-enders like you have no place in this restoration since you cannot tolerate us while we can tolerate you.

    As to your your scandalizing anecdote about the bad modernist Bishop who kicked out the good traddie Priest…What has the behaviour of individuals have to do with anything? Shall we talk about how one of your SSPX boys tried to murder Pope John Paul II? Or their links with Fascism? Oh those were just bad individuals acting on there own…Well so was this Bishop.

    I ignore the legitimate development of the liturgy? So the Liturgy can develop and evolve but only up to a point where you see fit but then it must stop? How does that work?

    “traditional parents are home-schooling”…No Middle Class parents and bored Houswives with nothing better to do are home-schooling. The rest of us are getting on with the business of working as hard as we can and surviving in an economic downturn. You’d not know anything about this since traditionalism is a middle class pursuit up there with The Daily Mail and Horse riding. What you desire in all things is a type of impossible elitism where kids are either home schooled or packed of to a fee paying private school.

    You desire an elitism where everyone MUST attend TLM even if it is not available for the vast majority of people…much like home schooling and or private education. It’s the same elitism which causes traditionalist to literally hate any mention of Social Justice or Peace Making in Church. (Not suprising considering attending an SSPX Mass in South America can find you sitting next to a former SS Officer)

    “the new Mass dismays the easterns.” That’s just your opinion and it is complete nonsenses too, the Ukrainians especially find the New Mass more to the eastern tatstes especially the peace and the Eucharist. Do you even know any Easterners?

    “They haven’t touched their liturgy in a thousand year.” Utter rubbish, read about the Old Believers in Russia (Very like your lot) Read about the development of the Holy Doors and Iconostasis…Quite recent

    Finally, when you can’t be bothered talking about liturgy you then make a moral judgement on my Parish’s parishoners opinions on contraception, sexuality or abortion based on nothing??? I though this was about liturgy? Personally I’d rather sit next to such people as it sounds as if their sins are less and they bring less scandal to the Church than you.

  • Ian

    Keep saying it all you want. Evolution is fact – faith is the anathema of truth & thinking.
    Denying facts makes you an ignoramus.

  • Ian

    Perhaps kids don’t believe it. Perhaps they don’t want bronze age nonsense. Perhaps it might be a good idea to let them think for themselve & you keep YOUR beliefs to yourself.
    I take it they are taught evolution?

  • Ian

    So any human being who rejects your absurd dark age nonsense will recieve a horrible death?

    To a rational person, this is offensive rubbish.

    I say rational, because only the irrational believes there is actually a place called hell.

  • Ian

    Now why don’t you read the many many evolution sites & read the massive list of credible scientists that follow the evidence. You are only selecting & reading one side because that makes you comfortable. Visit any museum, speak to any biologist, geologist, paleantologist etc etc etc – but you won’t because you will ONLY falsely believe what your cult wants you to.

  • Anonymous

    So the list of scientists who dissent from Darwin, taken from a Science website, don’t count?

    Very open-minded, I don’t think. YOU’RE the cult member, Ian. Big time.

  • Anonymous

    You are one very dishonest person. I’ve no intention of wasting much more time on you and anybody who reads through my post, to which you pretend to be replying, will see just how disingenuous you are being.

    I quoted a renowned expert – Mgr Gamber (highly praised by the present Pope) – as saying: “One thing is certain: the new (liberal) theology was a major force behind the liturgical reforms… Yet to assert, as is sometimes done, that the novus ordo Mass is “invalid” would be taking this argument too far. What we can say is that ever since the liturgical reforms were introduced, the number of invalid Masses certainly has increased.”

    I then used the illustration of poison, to say that I am duty bound to avoid poisoning my soul by attending a Mass that may be invalid. Do you agree with me on this? Am I duty bound to avoid attending an invalid Mass – or does it not matter?

    As for your assertion that the new Mass is here to stay: that’s not what Cardinal Ranjith said recently – he gave it 25 years at most. This whole crisis in the Church is a blip on the computer screen of the Church’s entire history – make no mistake about it, the novus ordo will not last. It’s already undergoing major reforms – which priests across the world are rejecting. Wonder if you’ll reject this latest new Mass, Vendeen?

    Your concluding sentence says it all. No point in any further discussion with you, Vendeen. Enjoy your new religion.

  • Catherine

    Yes they are taught the scientific theory of evolution…and how the Church is not against this understanding, but believes that if this theory is correct then at a certain stage man was given intellect and a soul. Why so aggressive Ian?They know my views because I am honest when I am teaching them. I don’t pretend to be something I am not. I am Catholic and I believe in the Church. That is not saying that I brainwash students or do not show them what others think. Brainwashing and indoctrination is about not allowing people to think or believe differently to you. I think, respectfully, perhaps you are more in this camp than I am.

  • Weary Convert

    Just noticed this after leaving the site alone for some days. Actually as I have said before it was the apparent ability of the Church to reform itself which was one of the attractions whereas the “tradiitonal” church that the Lady idolises was not. As examples of what was so prominent in the publicising of the “traditional”faith that was on its way out – the pointless use of Latin as if the Eastern Churches did not exist; intolerance of other Christian faiths as if they had nothing to offer; Papal support for fascists like Franco – still in power; the cult of Mary which had become so outlandish as to be virtual “Mariolotry;” the insistence that other women were a lower form of humanity and e.g. must cover their heads in church to demonstrate this; the refusal to take part in any joint prayer – even in the Boy Scouts; the extravagence of creeping infallability that was coming out of the Vatican before the Council so that every thought a Pope had in the bath was blown up by the Vatican big wigs like Canali and Ottaviani (disappointed over not being made Pope) as a new divine revelation; a refusal to accept the facts of history (e.g. that Popes had had children not “nipoti”). One could go on indefinitely but the Lady will scream everything down of course – to no avail as history has left her and her supporters far behind.

  • Anonymous

    Weary Convert,

    You may well be “weary” but you are most certainly not a “convert” to Catholicism. Your attraction to the Church because of its apparent “ability to reform itself” reveals the essential flaw in your “conversion” – here’s what St Francis de Sales had to say about the very concept of “reforming” Christ’s Church:

    “The name of ‘Reformed’ is a blasphemy against Our Lord, who has so perfectly formed and sanctified his Church in his blood, that it must never take other form than of his all lovely Spouse, of pillar and ground of truth. One may reform the nations in particular, but not the Church or religion. She was rightly formed; changes of formation is called heresy or irreligion. The tint of our Saviour’s blood is too fair and too bright to require new colours.” St Francis de Sales, (The Catholic Controversy) whose pamphlets countering the claims of the Protestant Reformers brought no less than 72,000 souls into the Church.

    And here’s what a Scots convert has to say on ecumenism…

    And some evidence (from the tons available) that this ecumenical dialogue is a one-way conversation…

  • Weary Convert

    Dear Lady, you have now reached the stage of even traducing the fact that I am a convert since the event comes from a time that you loathe and an approach that you cannot begin to understand. So be it – I trust that the insults that you broadcast throughout this website give you pleasure. In the present instance, however, may I suggest that you divert yourself from your heresy hunting for a while so that you could try to track down some of the thousands of those who, as children, were abused physically, sexually and mentally by priests and religious. And then stand before them quoting your piece of gushing prose from a distant time utterly different from today – and see what reaction you get. I feel that very few of them would agree with St. Frances de Sales that in reality, the Church is “perfectly formed.” However, it is, I suppose, possible that some of them will already have heard similar comments from their abusers as they looked for arguments to make the children stay silent. Interestingly in the present context, I see that the saint was known for his “unfailing spirit of charity and his engagement in controversy in a conciliatory spirit.” Instead, this website is sadly dominated by those, like yourself, who presently seem to have not the slightest interest in copying the approach of the saint.

    I fear that you cannot bear the thought of ending a discussion without giving yourself the warm feeling that you have “won” again because another person has become so weary of the extravagance of your opinions that he/she has given up trying to introduce a little commonsense into the postings. I shall therefore say no more but treasure the fact that one so violent in claims of orthodoxy could accuse all the bishops of being apostates.

  • Anonymous

    Not “traducing” at all – it’s a fact that you came into the Church at a time of unprecedented crisis and that you have not had the advantage of sound formation in the Faith – along with cradle Catholics taught (not) in allegedly Catholic schools. Pure and simple fact, Weary Convert. That’s not your fault, but it’s a fact. Now, you have the duty to truly educate yourself in the Faith, aware that, as Pope Paul VI said, “from somewhere, the smoke of Satan has entered the Church.” You have a duty to make sure you are not tainted by that “smoke”.

    I am friendly with a couple I’ve known since before they were married. Husband not a Catholic, but found a pamphlet on Fatima and has studied it in depth for years. Astonished that priests don’t preach about it. He’s from a Presbyterian background, though never been a regular church-goer. Only a few weeks ago he told his wife that he’d asked to be instructed in the Faith. He rang me and I expressed my delight but warned him that the RCIA classes might not tell the whole story. He immediately said: “There have already been some things….” and asked if he could meet with me. Clearly, he already has sufficient Catholic sense to recognize alleged teachings that are less than Catholic. Maybe you were younger than he and less well read (not meant to be offensive – who among us are well read in our youth?) and perhaps not as equipped, therefore, to recognize the stones you were being fed instead of bread.

    I say this partly because, with respect, your post above again, indicates that you have not been well taught the Faith otherwise you would know the basic distinction between Christ’s Bride, His Church, which is holy, cannot fail and, as St Francis de Sales said, is perfectly formed, and the sinful and fallible human beings who make up the Church’s membership on earth (the saints and souls in Purgatory make up the rest of the Church). You cannot blame “the Church” for the sins of individual Catholics, including priests.

    In any case, here’s the view of a prominent Jewish businessman who made a study of the priest child abuse phenomenon
    He concludes by telling Catholics to hold our heads up high.

    You misjudge me on a number of counts most especially your belief that I am keen to “win” an argument.

    I am only keen that error and heresy is corrected, Weary Convert, which is why I don’t waste time remarking, with any seriousness, on the many personal insults that come my way, not least from your good self. Sometimes, of course, if someone is determined not to see or accept the truth, there is no option but to draw a line under the discussion. Generally speaking, I’m reluctant to do that – perhaps I’m the original eternal optimist!

  • Sharon

    Spot on. My 15 year old son goes to an Anglican comprehensive. He was horrified during his pre Confirmation course by how little his contemporaries at the Catholic comprehensive (and who were at the same Catholic primary school as him) knew about Catholicism. For what it’s worth, a substantially higher proportion of his year go to church on Sundays (whether Catholic, Anglican, Baptist etc) compared with those at the Catholic school.

  • Anonymous

    “Indoctrination is precisely what I was hoping for”

    So free-will means nothing to you? Nor the questioning of one’s own beliefs?
    Surely you want to inspire your children to believe, and encourage them to be interested and to have faith? Do you not believe God will come to them of his own accord, or they will come to God through their’s?

  • ronnie

    I was shocked to hear that the Catholic Schools were giving the girls the cervical cancer vaccine with the approval of the Archbishops, I was told,and when I said to one Deputy Head that they should have the word communist in their name of the school,they said that would be quite right.It is believed that the schools are teaching communism,this is were the sex education,and even in some cases teaching children how to commit suicide come in.We have about three generations now of schools not teaching the faith correctly,if at all,just as Russia did when communism started. The object is the removal of GOD. However,this will never happen.

  • Anonymous

    “That’s worth repeating. NINETY PERCENT: it’s higher than the lapsation rate among Catholic children who go to secular schools.”

    The only way to avoid leaving the Church, is to avoid Catholic schools like the plague or so it seems.

    “…a curriculum that is heavily biased in favour of ‘Social Justice’ causes such as ‘Reconciliation with our Aboriginal peoples’ A laudable, worthy goal and one that has a deserved place in the school community but NOT at the expense of teaching the Doctrines,Spirituality and Life of the Church.”

    Exactly – there can be no really effective work for Social Justice by the Church, *without* “the Doctrines, Spirituality and Life of the Church”. Why can’t educators (or supposed educators) see this ?

    Archbishop Lefebvre was right – the Church has, in effect, denied the Social Kingship of Christ. Now she is reaping the fruits of that denial. God’s rights have been made less important than those of man – & these woes are the result.