Archbishop Nichols: 'Catholic schools must oppose sexualisation of children'

 Archbishop Nichols: 'Catholic schools must oppose sexualisation of children'

Peter Jennings

"Catholic schools in England and Wales must strongly oppose any action or proposal that would sexualize children or be seen as in any way promoting sexual activity outside the context of married relationships", stressed Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Chairman of the Catholic Education Service of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, in Newcastle, on Saturday.

Addressing more than 300 Governors of Catholic Schools in the North East of England at the Diocesan Conference for Foundation Governors in the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, the Archbishop of Birmingham insisted: "In Catholic schools sex and relationship education must always be designed and delivered according to the teaching of the Church. It is this alone that gives critical stability to what Catholic schools do and to the coherence of the arguments they make."

The Archbishop emphasized: "This is not simply a matter of responding to or resisting public opinion or widespread behaviour. It is a conviction of faith that here lies the correct use of the wonderful gift of human sexuality, both as an expression of a conscious and faithful self giving to another, and as an action of such intimacy that it creates human life in partnership with the Creator of all."

Archbishop Nichols explained that the Church has made important representations as part of the Government's review of the provision of sex and relationship education in schools.

"I welcome the fact that the review intends to give greater emphasis to relationships education and to the emotional content of sexuality."

The Chairman of the Catholic Education Service also noted: "The priority of parents and carers as the foremost educators of their children demands we give more assistance to them to fulfill this aspect of their responsibilities. This fits well with the aims of government policies as presented in 'Every Child Matters' and 'The Children's Plan'.

Archbishop Nichols stated: "Above all we must insisted on the need to preserve the fundamental right of governing bodies to determine a school's sex and relationship education programme in accordance with the teaching of the Catholic Church."

"The Catholic school must be centered on the faith. Christ is the centre of a Catholic school and RE is the core of the curriculum, because it is in RE that we seek to systematically understand what it is to live life in relationship to Christ and in the light of the truth that he brings."

At the start of his lecture Archbishop Nichols expressed his thanks to all those who work as foundation school governors in the schools of the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle. "I thank you for the time, the effort, and the enthusiasm that you give to this responsibility", he said.

Archbishop Nichols concluded: "Foundation governors need to be champions of their schools and not afraid to make the success of schools known locally, through the press, through associations, and not least in commercial and professional circles."

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