Saturday, October 15, 2011

Protestant Michael Gove confronts the Roman Catholic hierarchy

There is a great deal still to be unearthed and disseminated from Michael Gove's writings from the time he was a columnist for The Times: he wrote much on the Protestant ethos of the United Kingdom, and how this has shaped his worldview (and so, now, his politics). It is perhaps eloquently illustrated by Charles moore, writing in The Telegraph, who provides us with a fascinating account of the Secretary of State's Protestant instinct which has swept aside the inefficient bureaucratic hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster in order to liberate one of the best schools in the country from those who sought to undermine its ethos. Thus do we read:

...the Cardinal Vaughan School in west London is in big trouble. Its places are seven times oversubscribed. It got 11 pupils into Oxford and Cambridge this year. According to The Daily Telegraph’s table, it is the most successful comprehensive school in the country. Its parents and staff are fiercely loyal to it.

Sure enough, “The Vaughan”, as it is commonly known, has come under constant attack from the education bureaucrats in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster... Last year, the diocese set to work to appoint “foundation governors” who would outvote the elected parent governors and staff representatives who always support the school’s disciplined, traditionally religious and academically rigorous ethos. It tried to get round the rule that foundation parent governors should be, as the rule obviously intends but does not precisely state, parents of children in the school. The ensuing court case has prompted the Government to strengthen the law to prevent such a thing happening again... With the retirement last year of The Vaughan’s popular headmaster, the diocese saw the chance to find a successor who would change the attitudes of the staff and so neutralise the staff governors.
The parents were having none of this, and the protest reached the ears of the Secretary of State himself:
...It seems that Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, was so struck by the strength of the parental protest that he looked into the matter. He did not like what he found. Under the 1996 Education Act, he has the power to order an investigation of whether a governing body has behaved unreasonably. On Monday or Tuesday, he telephoned the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, and told him that he was minded to do so in this case.

It seems that the archbishop was displeased with Mr Gove, but also alarmed at the prospect of an investigation: processes would be inspected and minutes unearthed. In the past, the foundation governors have always appeared to do whatever the diocese wanted. Now the diocese did not want an investigation. No one is saying exactly what happened next, but on Wednesday, Mr Stubbings was appointed. With a bit of luck, he will achieve his ambition of turning The Vaughan into an academy.
Is it not glorious that religious liberty in education is upheld for Roman Catholic parents (and, indeed, those of all faiths and none) with an appeal to the Protestant instinct to heed the wisdom of the laity? To trust their judgement? To respect their spiritual convictions? As Charles Moore observes: "Only with the help of the minister can bureaucracy be defeated." Yet that is true only for as long as the minister is attuned to the principles of democracy, subsidiarity and accountability. What might have been the outcome of this case had the Secretary of State for Education been a Roman Catholic loyal to his or her church's education bureaucrats and a very good friend of the Archbishop of Westminster?


Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Lets just consider some of the background to this affair before leaping to judgement.

Some parents have accused the diocese of Westminster of wanting to "change the way the school operates, dilute its Catholic ethos and turn it into a local comprehensive".

What cunnngmeans were they using?

In 2009, Catholic education officials referred the school to the admissions watchdog claiming that its points-based policy effectively penalised less devout Catholics.

Boys had to prove that they and one of their parents had attended weekly Sunday mass for at least three years, that they had been baptised within a year of their birth, had made their first confession and first holy communion before their ninth birthday, and that they had either attended a Catholic school for the whole of their statutory education or that their parents had made formal provision for their Catholic education outside school.

Reasonable criteria? The schools adjudicator didn't think so and ruled in favour of the diocese, forcing the school to change its entry criteria for 11-year-olds after being told parts of it were "unlawful" and "unfair".

All well and good. The diocese wanted access to be less restictive. The response from the former chair of governors Sir Adrian Fitzgerald described the church's victory as a "betrayal" of committed Catholics.

So, it's a bit of a muddle this one. A protestant Minister supporting a group of Catholic parents and a school's teachers who want to restrict admissions to those who can demonstrate unquestioning, life long loyalty to the Catholic faith against a Catholic hierarchy who would like access to Catholics who may not be so demonstrably staunch or who may have converted to the faith later in life.

Strange this is being presented as devout Catholic parents being pitted against left-leaning Westminster diocesan bureaucrats The school's policy of giving preference to pupils whose families are demonstrably Catholic was simply seen as too stringent and excessive.

The diocese acted responsibly and within the law. The diocese is the trustee and provider of the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School and it is for the Archbishop to appoint Foundation Governors as a majority. Foundation Governors have the specific responsibility of preserving and developing the Catholic character of the school, as judged by the Diocesan Bishop.

It is not the intention of the diocese to remove the Catholic ethos of the school, to permit the entrance of non-Catholics or to create a run-of-the-mill comprehensive. Why would it want to?

15 October 2011 at 14:10  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Your Grace, from wikipedia

The Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School is a Roman Catholic voluntary-aided comprehensive school

You seem to have a problem with the way the diocese wishes to manage their school. Most interesting - as well as baffling...

15 October 2011 at 14:10  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...


Not only that, but the diocese appears to actually want to be somewhat less dogmatic about the provinence of Catholic lads seeking admission.

Imagine having to "prove":

- one of your parents had attended weekly Sunday mass for at least three years:

- that you had been baptised within a year of one's birth;

- had made your first confession and first holy communion before one's ninth birthday; and

- that you had either attended a Catholic school for the whole of one's statutory education or one's parents had made formal provision for their Catholic education outside school.

Not terribly 'liberal', or 'protestant' for that matter.

15 October 2011 at 14:43  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

In fact, by this set of criteria, thankfully over ruled by the diocose, many of the saints would have been debarred from admission!

15 October 2011 at 14:59  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...


Yes indeed, rather too many hoops for the parents to jump through.

The Inspector believes his initial point is all important. Archbishop Cranmer has a successful blog site, and all down to his direction and management. Imagine if a committee of ‘stake holders’ (...his communicant’s...) got together, let’s say under the chairmanship of G. Tingey (...though unlikely, unpopular fellow that he is...) and demanded they run the show ??. What do you say to that Your Grace ???

15 October 2011 at 15:08  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

It seems to me that a sub-group of Roman Catholics have set aside a sweet little school just for people like themselves, and they want to keep it that way. The stringent entrance requirements are designed to screen the insufficiently committed, the insufficiently Catholic in an effort to protect the ethos of the school. The school wants to guarantee itself and certain kind of student from a certain kind of family.

Yes, this means that some applicants will be rejected who would otherwise qualify as committed RCs. It certainly means that many parents who want access to quality education for their children will feel slighted. That is a price those already within the school are willing to impose on applicants because (1) the school values its ethos more than the occasional injustice it might inflict and (2) these injustices obviously don't affect those who have already made it through the screening process. To the contrary, those occasional injustices pander to the ego of those inside, for they have been found worthy of admission. None of this is particularly noble, but all of it is understandable.

But here is the question. Why is any of this the business of the Government? So a bunch of RCs form a school with strict Catholic entrance requirements. There exists no right to attend a private school. No one has been wronged in a legal sense. People have been offended certainly - as in "Why is my child not worthy?" But offense does not a prima facia case for Government intervention make. This is a power struggle between the diocese and an organization within the dioceses. Let the contending parties work it out amongst themselves. Nothing to see here. Move along.


15 October 2011 at 15:11  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Could be a ruse to keep Johnny Foreigner’s children out – God knows the capital is lifting with them these days....

15 October 2011 at 15:15  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...


Most certainly not - if they are noble Catholics! The schools boasts no less than 44 nationalities attending the school.


I agree with much of wht you say. Indeed, the Court of Appeal has ruled in favour of the diocese, affirming the entrance requirements as being "unlawful" and upheld the right of the trustees to appoint school governors.

This isn't about freedom, as you point out, it's more about a group of traditionalists attempting to preserve their position of priviledge.

Heaven forbid any Catholic child should cross the threshold of this hallowed school who's parents may be judged as luke warm in the faith. Or that a child of 11 years cannot evidence his credentials as a practicing Catholic since the first year of his life.

15 October 2011 at 15:30  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...


Good grief – didn’t know there were 44 different nationalities !

More than their fair share of half melon smiles and children clad in blankets the Inspector will wager....

15 October 2011 at 15:35  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...


Unlikely, given the cost of the mandatory school uniform and assorted extras required on entrance. I suspect one would have to be earning well above the average income as a parent to afford all this.

15 October 2011 at 15:50  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

The Inspector asked ...

"The Inspector believes his initial point is all important. Archbishop Cranmer has a successful blog site, and all down to his direction and management. Imagine if a committee of ‘stake holders’ (...his communicant’s...) got together, let’s say under the chairmanship of G. Tingey (...though unlikely, unpopular fellow that he is...) and demanded they run the show ??. What do you say to that Your Grace ???"

Don't even go there! You might give len or Ernsty ideas. After all thay are staunch protesters.

15 October 2011 at 16:01  
Blogger English Viking said...

I don´t care what cat-licks do with their children (apart from buggering them) so long as they don´t do it near me.

15 October 2011 at 17:40  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Stone the crows – The Viking’s loose...

15 October 2011 at 17:47  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...


I was dreading your reapperance earlier today until Hernandez equalised!

Welcome back! Hope you're rested and reenergised, old friend.

15 October 2011 at 17:54  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

15 October 2011 at 17:54  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

Your Grace is right to point out the crisis in Catholic education and as a Catholic I welcome the support given by Protestant Michael Gove to the parents. It is unfortunate that since the second Vatican Council some fellow travellers seem to ensconced themselves into the higher echelons of the Church and have been intent on ensuring that orthodox catholic priests are denied the higher positions in the Church and their voices silenced all because they are orthodox. It is worth pointing that a number of lay organizations have been instituted by faithful Catholics and perhaps you know about Pro-Ecclesia et Pontifice led by that wonderful lady Daphne McLeod. I just wanted to say that faithful orthodox Catholics are doing their bit to oppose the liberalism of some church leaders but nevertheless the support of Michael Gove and other Christian allies is welcome and appreciated. I’m not sure of all the politics involved and the points made by Dodo and the General that the criteria were too restrictive may have merit but there is no doubt that the Catholic hierarchy have in some cases been too willing to cow tow to government dictat. It is unbelievable how they have simply allowed Catholic adoption agencies to be closed by Labour without a fight. No I think I’d side with the parents first until I have all the details. We are in unfortunate times when faithful Catholic find they have to fight their own hierarchy to defend orthodoxy. There are too many priests who are definitely not orthodox.

15 October 2011 at 18:39  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

To provide some evidence regarding the way in which the hierarchy do not support Catholics but prefer to undermine orthodox organizations I have added a link describing the events which led to the cancellation of the Pro-Ecclesia et Pontifice conference last June. It seemed to have been deliberately undermined by Catholic prelates. May God have mercy on their souls.

15 October 2011 at 19:21  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Your Grace

A SOFTWARE suggestion, if you will, from the Inspector General...

He’s extremely keen not to miss any posts by your learned communicants. He can see the date of your blog release plus the number of comments. Would it be possible to ALSO include the timestamp of the last comment. God knows what an improvement that would be, but as it pleases His Grace of course...

15 October 2011 at 20:27  
Blogger English Viking said...



We woz robbed.

15 October 2011 at 21:23  
Blogger English Viking said...


Sometimes I´m nice, sometimes I´m nasty.

Mostly I´m just sorry.

When I disappear, it´s either because they came for me (again) else I fell into a bottle (again).

Take yer pick.

15 October 2011 at 21:26  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

If my earlier comments appear to show disobedience to the hierarchy of the Church let us remember that within the Westminster diocese and fully with the knowledge and support of Archbishop Nicholls there continues to be masses held for Lesbian, bi-sexual, gay and transgender people. How can this be Catholic? It’s like having masses for Scots people in England – completely divisive and unorthodox. These masses indicate that we have traitors in our midst who are undermining true Catholic orthodoxy in order to fit in with the spirit of the times. Archbishop Nicholls has been challenged on this and has done nothing about it. He is a traitor to the teaching of Christ. We live in times which have a certain similarity with the period of the Arian crisis. After the Nicene Creed defined the true nature of Christ as being equal and consubstantial with the father we then had a period of about 60 years when Arian bishops held the high offices of the Church and persecuted orthodox believers like St. Athanasius. Unfortunately Catholics today have the same problem.

English Viking, Welcome back.

15 October 2011 at 21:33  
Blogger English Viking said...


How nice you noticed me gone.

God bless, though I doubt you would bless me so if you knew.

I am an unprofitable servant,

I have done only that which I ought to have done.

I have left undone those things which I ought to have done.

I have done those awful, wicked, vile things I really wish I had not, but what do you expect if you point a gun/knife at a trained man?

15 October 2011 at 21:49  
Blogger English Viking said...

Marcus Muller

Den du veit.

It rocks.

15 October 2011 at 21:52  
Blogger English Viking said...


Nice that you think me a friend.

God bless you, you heretic.

15 October 2011 at 22:06  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

English Viking

(...Er...) Delighted to see you back, good fellow. Take a leaf out of Edith Piaf's book; she had ‘no regrets’.

You did your duty as a soldier of the crown, remember that. Did Christ curse the Roman soldiers who scourged him, then nailed him to a cross. He did not !!

Looking forward to more of your sharp humour (...and careful with that axe, Eugene !).

15 October 2011 at 22:24  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...


Liverpool did put up a good showing, I'll admit. But robbed? A well earned point by ManU, I'd prefer to say.

15 October 2011 at 22:25  
Blogger Arden Forester said...

It seems odd that the Archdiocese of Westminster would want to be so troublesome. Maybe that was why the Pope side-lined them over the Ordinariate. Troublesome priests are nothing new, though!

15 October 2011 at 23:39  
Blogger Arden Forester said...

You describe Gove as being a "protestant". He was brought up by a Labour supporting family (adopted by them) and raised as a presbyterian (Church of Scotland). He appears to have drifted away from this and is now firmly Anglican and worships at St.Mary Abbots, Kensington. This was also a favourite church of the late Andrew Cruickshank, actor and Scottish Episcopalian.

I wouldn't put Gove in the capital P protestant camp. He's far too cerebral for that!

15 October 2011 at 23:47  
Blogger David B said...

I've read His Grace's post through several times, and cannot see other that, whether he realises it or not, he is making a case for the abolition of publicly funding of 'faith schools', and for a secular publicly funded education system.

For myself, I find it rather obscene that people are led to lie about their religious convictions, to attend and help to fund churches they do not believe in, in order to satisfy the natural urge to want the natural urges to want the best education available locally, and/or the most conveniently local school.

Let there be no more public financing of 'faith schools' - which is, by the way, an expression that fills me with deep loathing, as much on aesthetic grounds as on the grounds of being someone with little respect for faith.

David B

15 October 2011 at 23:58  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...


The dispute in Westminster runs deep and, from what I can glean, seems to centre on church services in Soho for openly practicing homosexuals, who allegedly receive the eucharist, and the orthodoxy of christian education in schools. It's been growing more public, accrimonious and divisive in recent years and came to something of a head last year.

16 October 2011 at 00:04  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Dodo / Shacklefree

Masses specifically for homosexuals and other sexual deviant’s offends the Inspector as no doubt the majority of Catholics. The Inspector has no objection to them attending ‘ordinary’ masses. One wonders if the Vatican is aware of what’s going on in Westminster....

16 October 2011 at 00:18  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

As an ex-semi-brainwashed evangelical, now an atheist....
More power to M. Gove!

I STILL regard the RC chirch as completely rotten ane evil - for all the old reasons, PLUS some new ones!

16 October 2011 at 00:59  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...


Masses for homosexuals attempting to live decent Christian lives is acceptable. Unfortunately, matters appear to have gotten out of hand and it seems they have become a focal point for attempting to pressure the Church into changing its teachings - 'Proud to be Catholic and Gay', a common tactic. There's also a suggestion the Masses were initiated by a priest in an openly active homosexual relationship.

However, I did insert the word "allegedly" about receiving the eucharist. An indignant delegation has been to Rome to offer evidence about the reported dodgy goings on.

The Catholic Church is not immune from the forces of evil. However, as promised by Christ, it will prevail against the Gates of Hell.

16 October 2011 at 01:43  
Blogger Atlas shrugged said...

I think it is true to say that I have a wholly different perspective on this matter.

It is claimed that strong elements within The Vatican are on a long term mission to destroy The RCC as we have come to know it, as well as Christianity in general, and all other established religions as a whole.

This as part of a plan to create a ONE WORLD RELIGION, to compliment a ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT, with The Vatican as its primary base of spiritual operations.

I do not believe that this plan has any particular dead-line to keep, and so can take as long as it ends up taking, however slowly but surely, or in larger progressive steps, The Great Babylonian Plan moves in one direction, and one direction only.

Of course the CofE is well in advance of The RCC, in these matters, however one by one all will undoubtedly be undermined until the whole structure of various established religions, materially as well as spiritually have absolutely nothing holding them up at all.

I predict this, although I make no prediction as to when it will happen, other then it could be at anytime in the future, even tomorrow, if the time is deemed correct.

After much systematic undermining of all nation states, most especially their financial independence, and their political, financial, and spiritual institutions, an apparently WORLD changing EVENT will be STAGED.

This may involve many wild and wonderful things, but will most likely include an apparent second coming of some kind, which will be a game changer, to say the very least.

16 October 2011 at 02:35  
Blogger Atlas shrugged said...

Dear Mr Dodo

You are right to say that The RCC is not immune from the forces of EVIL.

You are very likely very wrong in believing that christ promised to help preserve any institutions still less the type of same the RCC has long since been.

I do not profess to be any kind of theologian, but where in Christ's name does he mention preserving The Roman Catholic Church, in any Holy Scriptures?

Please try no to make it up as you go along.

The RCC like all other rapidly failing institutions, clubs, associations, governments, nations, or corporations, rots first from its head.

It is infinitely easier for the Devils work to corrupt a few at the very top, then it is to corrupt the several billions at or close to the bottom.

16 October 2011 at 02:46  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

Atlas, Malachi 1:11 – "For from the rising of the sun, even to its setting, my name is great among the nations; And everywhere they bring sacrifice to my name, and a pure offering". The Old Testament therefore does mention that the Old Jewish sacrifice would be superseded by a new one and as Protestantism definitely refutes that they offer sacrifice that only leaves the Orthodox and Catholic churches. With regard to one world government it would be expected for satan to attempt to set up a one world government ensure that believers would not be able to buy and sell (Revelation). However, I think that the United Nations and Freemasonry are more likely candidates to bring that about than the Catholic Chgurch

16 October 2011 at 04:13  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Atlas: "It is infinitely easier for the Devils work to corrupt a few at the very top, then it is to corrupt the several billions at or close to the bottom."

I'm not sure the devil is needed that much at the bottom, a fair few of them seem to be doing that without his help.

16 October 2011 at 06:46  
Blogger len said...

I see the Catholics are falling over themselves trying to defend the indefensible.

Hilarious, look at the blogging order!.

Their 'religion' is so shaky that they have to come on 'mob handed 'to defend it.

One man changed the World forever but it takes 'the World' to try and silence Him.

16 October 2011 at 08:43  
Blogger len said...

Welcome back Viking! .

16 October 2011 at 09:17  
Blogger Harry-ca-Nab said...

You are so wrong on this. The hierarchy in Westminster is wholly unrepresentative of both the laity AND the wider church.

Unfortunately the Catholic Church, like the CofE ,has been infiltrated by elements that seek to undermine real church teaching, tradition and culture.

This is more about the man, Gove, than the protestant, Gove. A similarly brave and intelligent Catholic occupying Gove's position would have done the same thing.

Good on him.

And shame on you.

16 October 2011 at 10:20  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Harry-ca-Nab said...

The hierarchy in Westminster is wholly unrepresentative of both the laity AND the wider church.
Unfortunately the Catholic Church, like the CofE ,has been infiltrated by elements that seek to undermine real church teaching, tradition and culture.

And your evidence against Archbishop Vincent Nichols and Bishop John Sherrington consists of .... ?

16 October 2011 at 16:19  
Blogger len said...

'Unfortunately the Catholic Church, like the CofE ,has been infiltrated by elements that seek to undermine real church teaching, tradition and culture.'

Perhaps a glimmer of truth tried to slip under the door?

17 October 2011 at 17:55  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...


Stop peeking through keyholes. You just can't get the full picture without reading the thread and just make yourself look daft - again.

17 October 2011 at 23:57  
Blogger Oswin said...

Dodo: pot, kettle, black ... we all of us ''look daft'' from time to time, but do please try not to unduly abuse the privilege.

Lkewise Len, you seem to have lost something of your calm of late. Steady the Buffs old chap.

18 October 2011 at 02:05  
Blogger Oswin said...

Dodo: pot, kettle, black ... we all of us ''look daft'' from time to time, but do please try not to unduly abuse the privilege.

Lkewise Len, you seem to have lost something of your calm of late. Steady the Buffs old chap.

18 October 2011 at 02:06  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...


I rejoice in my daftness! It's the Way of the Dodo.

As for len, well, he's normally (if the word can properly be applied to him) like a bloody stuck record and it's good to see him show a bit of originality.

18 October 2011 at 11:55  
Blogger Oswin said...

Aye Dodo lad, you might be right on both counts. Anyhows, who am I to set myself as arbitrator; I have my own follies to negotiate.

18 October 2011 at 15:40  
Blogger len said...

Oswin, there is a time and a purpose..............

18 October 2011 at 20:00  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...


There certainly is ...

19 October 2011 at 01:50  

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