Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Sheerman's get-together

Today the courageous Bishop of Lancaster faced Barry Sheerman MP and his Commons Select Committee for Schools at Westminster. You can watch it here; but I warn you, it lasts two and a half hours and you will need to skip through most of it.
Sheerman's "umming" and "erring" made a very shabby start to the meeting, and then all he did was use statistics to fence with the Bishop. Statistics are a useful tool in such a situation because they prevent a real meeting between human beings. But in this case they also suppressed the ability of the Bishop to speak about the value of the Gospel and the dignity of the person redeemed by Christ. Sheerman's pragmatist's challenge to the Catholic Church proved to be a false-start today. The time has not yet come for a real meeting between the Catholic Church and the UK's arch-liberal Parliament. Perhaps today's meeting was seen by some in the Parliament as a way of testing the way it should approach the Catholic Church. Certainly Parliament would not want to upset public feeling, nor to appear an agressor. But one thing is for certain: Sheerman doesn't want Christ to look him in the eye.

6 comments:

John Paul said...

What a shame. Poor man was completely bundeled into the room and made to look like a fool because he came prepared to talk about the real issue at hand and they then gave him (as you say) statistics and questions regarding those statistics which he had no way of answering.

miss book said...

Dear Fr., Thanks for posting the link to 'Sheerman's get-together'.I thought that our gentle Shepherd stood up to the agressive questioning, particularly from Paul Holmes M.P., very well.You are completely right in that there was no meeting of minds, and the committee demonstrated its inability to comprehend the nature and purpose of Catholic schools.One witness,Rebecca Allen of the Institute of Education, talked about 'how difficult it is for some families to meet the religious adherence criteria'.I thought this was a rather telling point of view,considering Barry Sheerman's earlier comment that faith schools are fine so long as nobody takes their faith too seriously.I would speculate that this committee might make recommendations that would prevent Catholic schools from setting admissions criteria [in cases of over-subscription],where the need to offer Catholic children a Catholic school placement is recognised.

Fr Richard Aladics said...

Yes, I think you are right Miss Book, in all that you say here. However in my experience, the question of admissions criteria is far more important for the bulk of admissions than it is for over-subscription. In other words, being able to fill a Catholic school with children of practicing families far outweighs the intermittant issue of over-subscription. For the vast majority of schools, the question of admissions is a cultural and not a religious one. You may be right in speculating that this Committee may make recommendations regarding admissions crietria for Catholic schools that would affect all applications, not just over-subscription. The Establishment definitely wants to make Faith an anodine and amorphous reality, such as is the case in the Church of England.

Holygranny said...

boss post padre

Anonymous said...

I did not think that the Bishop's contribution was particularly good as his communication skills are quite poor and he did not have a grasp of the essential issues..... the chap from the Catholic education Service was a little better but too eager to placate the secularists...we are playing into the hands of the secular agenda with the joint schools fiasco...soon we will be required to have them..to the demise of our catholic identity and faith

Fr Richard Aladics said...

What you say Anonymous, about the two interviewees before the Select Committee mat be true, but take a step back to view the overall picture of what was happened: a trial-run by Parliament in its offensive against Catholic Schools. The issue of the presence of the Catholic Church and its freedom to teach the Faith is not yet in question.