At conference today (ie Wednesday - posting has been delayed by a temperamental wireless connection), I had an interesting conversation with a colleague who works at a Catholic School in Lancaster Diocese. My question was about how Bishop O’Donoghue’s recent initiative on Catholic schools was being received by a school in the diocese. My colleague characterised it as being “90% positives, 10% negatives”. He spoke positively about the involvement of parents, governors, and the general context of the “Fit for Mission” process.
Aspects identified as difficulties were as follows. The stance against Amnesty International is awkward for schools where the AI group is largely student run. It is quite difficult to suddenly say that they cannot do something that is an activity over which they have had a genuine ownership. Similarly, an initiative encouraging pupil reading, whereby pupils choose and draw down their books from the library, faced difficulties if the books the pupils are choosing were not approved of. Again, the question is one of pupil ownership.
During our conversation, what struck me was that these were difficulties that could be managed in a way that was fair to the students and faithful to Bishop O’Donoghue’s wishes for the schools in his diocese. The AI group, for example, could adopt a clear position that it did not support any campaigns relating to AI’s recently adopted policy with regard to abortion. AI’s rules do allow this, and it could be published to AI itself, and to the school community. Affiliation to Christian Solidarity Worldwide or Aid to the Church in Need might also be alternative approaches.