INSIDE THIS WEEK’S PAPER
DON’T MISS THE FINAL CHAPTER OF CRISTINA ODONE’S NOVEL ‘THE CHOICE’ PAGE 8
THE CARDINALON THE THREAT TO OUR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM SPEECH EXTRACT PAGE 6
March 62009£1.20 (Republic of Ireland €1.70)
Church is alarmed by new code for teachers
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH has severely criticised a proposed new code of conduct for teachers which it says will force Christian schools to actively promote Islam and gay lifestyles. The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has warned the General Teaching Council (GTS), the professional regulatory body, that many teachers will leave the profession because they will not be able to accept the revised code of conduct in good conscience. Their advisers say the code would also seriously undermine the religious character of Church schools by imposing on them a hostile form of secular morality. The legally binding code would discriminate against Christian teachers in recruitment and in the classroom, they say. Principle 4 of the code demands that teachers “proactively challenge discrimination” and “promote equality and value diversity in all their professional relationships and interactions” before they can be registered. This means that campaigners can complain if teachers fail to observe the new demands and that teachers and schools can be punished if a complaint is upheld. Oona Stannard, director and chief executive of the Catholic Education Service, an agency of the bishops’ conference, told the GTC in a written submission last week that “there was an understandable fear that the call to ‘proactively challenge discrimination’ could be used to oppose faith schools per se, and the rights that
they have in law, for example, to select leaders who are of the faith. “This anxiety extends similarly to the direction to ‘promote equality’,” Miss Stannard said. “It would be unacceptable to expect anyone to be required to promote something contrary to their own faith beliefs and, indeed, it would not be possible for a person of faith to promote another faith –this is a matter of conscience.” She said: “Instead they can teach about other religions and faiths. It would be right, however, to call for and to expect respect. “It is also the case that bullying can never be acceptable, irrespective of to whom; there cannot be an excuse for bullying whatever a person’s faith, sexual orientation or any other personal characteristics. “All teachers should be asked to respect pupils, parents, carers and colleagues (among others) from whatever background.” Miss Stannard added that there were grave concerns in the Church over the question of whether Catholic teachers would in good conscience feel able to register under the new code. This means they would either leave the profession or would be dissuaded from entering, heightening the recruitment crisis already afflicting many schools. The code proposed by the GTC would be binding for all schools, including the 2,300 primary and secondary schools run by the Catholic Church and the 4,660 run by the Church of England. Continued on Page 2
Editorial Comment: Page 13
Bishops: Middle East may soon be empty of Christians
Quentin de la Bédoyère
Why we should back evolution P9
An Iraqi Christian girl attends Mass at St Joseph’s Chaldean Church in Baghdad
AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed
CHALDEAN Catholic leaders have said that Iraq’s diminishing Christian population should be an “alarm bell” for the rest of the world and could foreshadow the transformation of the Middle East. Chaldean Bishop Michel Kassarji of Beirut said at a conference that the Iraqi model of depleting Christians could extend to the whole of the Middle East. He said the mission of the conference was to “sound the alarm bell ... to avoid the transformation of the East into a desert of Christianity”. The bishop said “international religious authorities look at the Iraqi Christian situation as hopeless” and view Christians’ departure “as something imminent and unavoidable”. “Our fellow Muslim brothers
must be aware of these dangers and must take responsibility in turn. The Arab and Muslim countries have to make a serious move to stop the extermination of the Christian existence in Iraq,” he said. “Many Muslim officials have acknowledged that the persecution of Iraqi Christians is actually taking place and it is a practice that is foreign to Islamic traditions,” Bishop Kassarji added. Maronite Fr Walid Mousa, president of Notre Dame University, Louaize, which hosted the conference, told participants: “Christianity is not the one who invaded Iraq and led to the fall of Saddam Hussein. So why is it now a victim?” The conference, under the patronage of Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church, was organised
by the Chaldean Catholic Church in Lebanon. About 400,000 Christians have fled Iraq since 2003 and about 300,000 remain. One bishop and three priests are among the 500 Christians who have been killed. Chaldean Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk, Iraq, said the reasons Christians were fleeing Iraq were complicated. “Tragic mistakes were committed in Iraq, which created huge chaos,” he said. “The occupation of Iraq by the Americans resulted in fatal mistakes, such as the dismantling of organisations, including the army and police forces, and the opening of borders without monitoring them.” In addition, neighbouring countries have had a direct influence on Iraq. Internally, political parties vying for power have taken ad
vantage of minorities, the archbishop said. “Extremist Islamic rhetoric and the call for establishing a theocratic ruling system has played a huge part in the agony of Christians,” he said. “They [Christians] have been associated with the occupier without having any relation to it, or to the crusaders from whom they suffered. And they have been accused of blasphemy and polytheism and are innocent of such accusations. “The idea of emptying the East of Christians is a deadly sin.” “We need to reject all forms of oppression, suppression and terrorism in the name of religion, and the Church has a big responsibility for open and sincere dialogue with Muslim authorities,” Archbishop Sako added, noting there is also a need for government institutions to help to protect minorities.
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Pope delays encyclical so he can better understand financial crisis
A LONG -AWAITED social encyclical has been delayed because of the economic crisis, Pope Benedict XVI has said. The Pontiff said he wanted to avoid giving simplistic answers to complicated questions about global finance. He said that if the encyclical “does not deal competently with the economic reality, it cannot be credible”. The Pope made his comments in a question-and
answer session with 400 priests from the Diocese of Rome. He said: “As you know, for a long time we have been preparing an encyclical on these points, and on its long journey one can see how difficult it is to speak competently about it.” The Pope said almost every person in every country was feeling the consequences of “fundamental errors that have been revealed in the failure of the large American banks; the
error at the basis of it is human greed”. He said: “We must denounce this with courage, but also with concreteness because moralising will not help if it is not supported by an understanding of reality, which also will help us understand what can be done concretely to change the situation.” Pope Benedict said the crisis demonstrates that “original sin really exists. If it did not exist, we could appeal to reason, lucidly, with arguments that are accessible to all and in
contestable and to the good will of everyone.” But the force of reason and goodwill are not enough to overcome greed and selfishness, he said. While the global financial system must be reformed, the Pope said, individuals must accept that they have to make sacrifices to help the poor and move the world toward justice. “Justice cannot be created only with economic reforms, which are necessary, but it also requires the presence of just people,” he explained.
Cardinal ‘in talks’ to publish his memoirs
Shakira gives £4m to build Catholic school
CARDINAL Cormac MurphyO’Connor is reportedly considering publishing an autobiography after he retires this year. The Cardinal is said to have been in talks with Bloomsbury, the publishers of the Harry Potter series, to write an account of his life after a new Archbishop of Westminster takes over.
Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor grew up in Reading, one of six children, and was Bishop of Arundel and Brighton before becoming Archbishop of Westminster. He has known six popes and been in close contact with the royal family and Tony Blair, whom he received into the Church in December. Nigel Newton, the American founder and chief executive of Bloomsbury, is a devout Catholic and has kept in contact with the Cardinal throughout his tenure. But the Cardinal’s spokesman said he was unaware that talks about the Cardinal’s memoir were underway.
THEPOP star Shakira, a committed Catholic, has funded the building of a £4 million Catholic school in her hometown of Barranquilla, Colombia, it emerged this week. The school, which employs nuns as teachers, was paid for out of the profits from the singer’s last tour. Shakira, 32, also founded a charitable fund for education called Pies Descalzos (“Bare Feet”) when she was just
19. Her music is a mixture of Middle Eastern pop and Latin American salsa and her lyrics are often suggestive and frivolous. But she is a goodwill ambassador for Unicef and has written for Newsweek . Shakira’s fellow countryman, the Nobel prizewinning author Gabriel García Márquez, is an admirer.
Never lose hope
In times of conflict – war and devastation – priests risk their lives to minister the hope of Christ. With your help, Aid to the Church in Need can enable priests to stand by their people.
Image shows Fr Andrew ministeringinIraq
Speaking from Gaza Fr Manuel Musallam told ACN: “We are testifying to Christ in this terrible situation. The suffering continues but what I preach is the same: never lose hope.”
Please help ACN offer support to priests at the coalface of suffering both in the Middle East and elsewhere.
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