Roman Catholic bishops want Muslim prayer rooms in Catholic schools
Or he was.
He has penned the foreword and personally approved a new document published by the Catholic Education Service, an agency of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. It advocates that Muslim prayer rooms should be opened in every Roman Catholic school. He also wants special toilet facilities in schools to be adapted for ‘wudu’ – the Islamic cleaning ritual which is performed before prayer. It involves washing the face, hands, arms and feet three times each, gargling the mouth three times and washing the neck and inside the nose and ears. Muslim men and boys might also wash their private parts.
Doubtless some priests will enjoy that.
What is it with the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales? Are they any longer Roman Catholic? Do they understand the meaning of Semper Eadem? Orthodoxy? Do they know the purpose of a Catholic education? Have they heard of Pope Benedict XVI?
These demands go way beyond the legal requirements on catering for the rights and needs of religious minorities. And who is to pay for it? There are 2,300 Catholic primary and secondary schools in the UK, and it will cost millions to convert the facilities of every one to accommodate the sensitivities of Muslim students who have managed perfectly well up to now. The bishops might be keen to answer those who say religious schools sow division, but has it not occurred to these dimwits that the non-Christian 30 per cent of pupils who attend Catholic schools do so precisely because their parents favour the ethos?
There is no compulsion at all for Catholic schools to provide a room for pupils and staff from other faiths to pray. But the bishops want this multi-faith pap to permeate and corrupt the next generation of believers, just to make it less likely that a Benedict might ever become Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster.
Astonishingly, they say: ‘If such space is not available on a permanent or regular basis, extra efforts might be made to address such need for major religious festivals’.
Major religious festivals?
Are they seriously proposing that Catholic schools begin to celebrate Eid and Diwali? Might they not first address the declining numbers attending church at Christmas or Easter, not to mention those holy days of obligation which appear to have been transmuted to a Sunday because of declining numbers?
Archbishop Vincent Nichols is of the view that such an approach to religion will ‘strengthen’ children’s faith and ‘enrich’ the lives of staff and young people. He also exhorts head teachers to ‘keep under review’ all policies which touched on other religions, including school uniform, dietary needs and the time-tabling of events.
So uniforms may be adapted to accommodate the needs of other faiths, which are not religious needs at all, but cultural ones, and cultural ones alien to British culture. And they must consider serving halal meat, which will then most likely impose halal upon all students as it has done in some schools already; and then the school timetable will need to be adapted in order to accommodate Friday prayers and to ensure that nothing as trivial as an education might interfere with their obligations to Allah.
Dialogue is important, and so are respect and tolerance. And these should certainly be values taught in the nation’s schools. But it is a thoroughly secular spirituality which seeks to reduce orthodoxy to perpetual compromise and accommodation. It is a politically-correct move straight out of the Tony Blair brand of Catholicism – it must be New Catholic.
New Labour’s New Catholicism for a New Britain.
His Holiness must be profoundly concerned.
And Cranmer is just as profoundly concerned that these Catholic bishops and archbishops essentially want to turn every Catholic school into a mosque and make them shari’a compliant.
There are not yet enough Muslim schools to make a request for reciprocity in any sense meaningful.
So perhaps the nation’s mosques will provide prayer rooms in which men and women may pray alongside each other as equals.
Equality between the sexes is, after all, the law of England and Wales.
Perhaps the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales might consider the meaning and importance of the Christian heritage of England and Wales before they contribute further to its demise. They are undermining all that Pope Benedict is trying to (re-)construct. A house divided...