Page 11, 31st October 2008

31st October 2008
Page 11
Page 11, 31st October 2008 — Can we trust these promises?

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People: Oona Stannard


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Can we trust these promises?

The Catholic Education Service (CES) is aware that many Catholics will be baffled and even outraged by its decision to welcome mandatory Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) for primary school children.

CES director Oona Stannard insists that Catholic schools will teach SRE in accordance with Church teaching, respecting parental authority and avoiding any early sexualisation of pupils.

The CES has, on the face of it, won significant concessions from a Government committed to "sexual health" policies that are inimical to most Catholics. And there is no reason to believe that Miss Stannard did not put the Catholic case strongly during meetings of the steering group reviewing SRE.

But the question is: can we trust the promises of a Government that has treated Catholic norms on sexuality consistently with contempt?

We remain to be convinced because this reform is part of the Government's drive to reduce teenage pregnancies, which in addition to being immoral is a costly failure. Almost a decade after the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy was launched Britain still has the highest number of teenage mothers in western Europe, as well as a record number of school-age abortions.

The Church may find it difficult to hold this Government to its promises as it seeks ever more desperate measures to meet the target of cutting teenage pregnancies by half by 2010.

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