Monday 22 February 2021

A comment on today’s vision for RHSE in Catholic schools. Part 1.


Today’s project of ‘values-based education’, suggests that what being human means, comes from values. 

No, it doesn’t, the meaning of humanity comes from God and from human nature.

Values, even Gospel values, are not the focus of the Christian life. No, our focus is the person of Christ Jesus, who transforms human beings; he is the entire good of humanity.


Values-based education can easily be manipulated today because truth is not referenced. Values can reflect opinion as well as they can reflect truth. Values are important, they reveal the way that we appreciate and understand reality. However, in the matter of RSHE we are looking at the most important values of all because these values are derived directly from humanity itself.


Some new ideas and associated rhetoric:

“Sex is rooted in the ‘image of God’”. Yes, it is, but how is this understood? If ‘image of God’ is used merely as catchphrase, it can become a merely ‘box-ticking’ exercise. 


“Sex is rooted in the ‘image of God’ and therefore we are called to a life of discipleship.” This is not so and it sounds like a way of manipulating both the subject matter and the person. What we are speaking of here is first, anthropology, which is not here defined. And secondly, the concrete embracing of the Christian life. But discipleship is not the consequence of understanding our sexuality, but of a decision for Christ.


“Values that are taught about sexuality need to be in line with the values taught in the school.” This is such a sweeping statement, which lacks focus and meaning. Rather, what we need to look at is how everything that happens and is taught in a Catholic school should flow out of a genuine vision of who the human person is. Values should be taught alongside a genuine understanding of the human person, not on their own, as if they are the key. For instance, if we compare Catholic anthropology with secular anthropology, we will come to very different ways of looking at RHSE. 


The relationship between the school and the Church or parish is spoken of

But what is this relationship? Today it is not at all clear. Yet this relationship is the key to what a Catholic school is. 

This matter was taught by the 2nd Vatican Council. Its decree Gravissimum Educationis gives a really great vision, and Paragraph 8 teaches about the relationship between the Church and the school:
"Since therefore, the Catholic school can be such an aid ... " The relationship of the school towards the Church is one of supporting the Church in her life and mission.
"But let teachers ... be very carefully prepared ... " The relationship of the Church towards the school is to feed the school with evangelised, catechised and formed personnel to carry out that mission.


We can’t merely assume the nature of this relationship, nor that anyone understands it, since in practice it is not clear. However, this relationship is the hinge of the whole matter, and so a conversation should be engaged in, involving all the different sectors, so that this relationship can be clarified. Such a conversation is an urgent need today, will take time and patience.


There is a lot of rhetoric in Catholic vision documents today, which ‘tick boxes’ regarding Christ and the Church, whilst not really engaging with either, and in which a secular and horizontal vision is the underlying ethos. The Christian life immediately becomes a human idea when it is in the hands of secularised people. The secular reality, which is in play today, marginalises the Living God and seeks to draw Catholics (parents, priests, teachers) into becoming agents of our neo-marxist State (the project to re-configure our lives and society upon the basis of newly construed ideas about sexual identity.) The key to any real development is evangelisation, not box-ticking, nor values.


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