Sunday, 9 October 2011

Jon Cruddas dropped from Catholic intern programme

The Romford Recorder, one of my local newspapers, is carrying a report about Jon Cruddas MP. Mr Cruddas, a practising Catholic, is the MP for Rainham and Dagenham, and was due to work with an intern on the 2011-12 Catholic intern programme run by the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. His participation has now fallen through, because of his stance on abortion and gay rights. These views, as stated in the newspaper report, do give a shading to the descriptor "practising Catholic". Even if one might to still grant Jon Cruddas that descriptor (after all, being perfect in the living of the Christian life is not the condition necessary for that descriptor), its implication that Mr Cruddas is a good representative of Catholic participation in public life cannot be granted. It is this latter that represents a problem for his participation in an internship programme which seeks precisely to form young Catholics to be good representatives of Catholic participation in public life.
A spokesman for the Catholic Bishop’s Conference said: “We seek to ensure that their [the MPs on the scheme] views on fundamental moral questions are consonant with those of the Catholic Church.

“One of the MPs we intended to work with this year has views on abortion significantly at variance with the Church’s position.”

Despite the rebuke, Mr Cruddas told the Recorder he will continue to work with the church on a number of local and national issues and said he understood its decision.

“It was just a pity I couldn’t be of help in this instance,” he said. “Simply put, no one likes abortion, but simply outlawing it could lead us back to the days of the backstreet.”

Darinka Aleksic from Abortion Rights, a pro-choice campaign group, said : “We are really pleased Jon stood up for pro-choice.

“There are many pro-choice Catholics. We don’t think his support should bar him from any area of his Catholic duties.”
This last comment is particularly rich!

As a bit of a post-script. Do I think that Jon Cruddas, because of his stance on abortion and gay rights, should be barred from all participation in Catholic events? I do think that it is quite possible that someone who does not hold a consistently Catholic point of view can nevertheless have a contribution to make to developing the Church's work in areas other than those in which they are at variance with Catholic teaching. Working with them on such areas should not automatically be read as giving approval to their differences from Catholic teaching in other areas; but it does need to be clear that they are taking part in the event, not out of any statement of their being a good representative of a Catholic point of view, but rather out of the particular contribution that they can make on the immediate topic under discussion.

UPDATE: This post at Protect the Pope includes some additional material on this topic.

1 comment:

Patricius said...

It seems to me that individuals like this who put themselves forward in public life as "practising Catholics" while promoting policies clearly at variance with Church teaching on such serious matters, should be formally warned and, if failing to repent, publicly excommunicated. It is not simply the good of their own souls that should be borne in mind here but the appalling scandal they cause.