Head teachers, RE heads and governors may be sacked for ‘unchastity’ and apostasy – Bishops Conference

Mgr Marcus Stock, the General Secretary of the Bishops Conference of England and Wales, has brought out a new version of his book on Catholic schools, Christ at the Centre, which has been co-published by the Bishops Conference and the Catholic Education Service. What is remarkable about this new version is that it includes a supplement that outlines the moral standards expected to be adhered to by head teachers, deputy heads, heads of RE and governors.

The Daily Telegraph reports:

Anyone deemed to be in a “non-chaste” relationship outside marriage, which could also be interpreted to include gay staff in civil partnerships, could be subject to investigation and removed from their posts, it says.
Even those who had married in a non-Catholic church or a register office without official approval might also find their position under question.

The warning comes in a booklet by written by Monsignor Marcus Stock, general secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ conference of England and Wales and co-published by the Catholic Education Service. It argues that any “substantive life choice” which went against Catholic teaching could be incompatible with their work. The booklet lists divorcees who remarry; those who marrying outside a Catholic church without canonical approval or those in openly “unchaste” relationships alongside those who had committed “apostasy” – or renouncing faith.

“Even the most committed Catholic frequently fails in the full expression of the practice of their faith through personal weakness and sinfulness on various occasions and at particular moments. These failures in the practice of the faith are, however, distinct from adhering to and maintaining substantive life choices which are incompatible with the teaching of the Catholic Church and which prevent them from receiving the sacraments. These choices can give scandal potentially both to the Christian and wider community and bring the religious ethos and character of the school into disrepute.”

A spokeswoman for the Catholic Church said that the booklet was intended as guidance for those applying for senior leadership positions which are only open to Catholics such as potential head teachers, deputy heads or heads of RE as well as governors.
“This isn’t about checking up on people,” she said. “It is informing people called to leadership positions in Catholic schools that these are the expectations of someone in a senior role.”

Protect the Pope comment: It is not uncommon for faithful governors to raise questions about the suitability of teachers applying for senior posts in Catholic schools due to the candidate’s adultery or other immoral behaviour. And often it doesn’t end well for the governor who raises these concerns. It is not unheard of that such courageous governors are summarily removed from their positions, even though they have served as governors for 25 years or more.

Now that the Bishops Conference and the Catholic Education Service have explicitly stated that unchastity or apostasy can result in senior teachers being removed from post, it is obvious that candidates for senior teaching posts who are known to be unchaste or are apostate should not even be considered. Faithful governors now have the backing of the Bishops Conference and Catholic Education Service to raises concerns about teachers who are leading immoral lives against the teachings of the Church.


47 comments to Head teachers, RE heads and governors may be sacked for ‘unchastity’ and apostasy – Bishops Conference

  • amator Dei

    Who was who said, ‘Let the one among you without sin cast the first stone’? The Catholic Church becomes daily more pharisaical.

    • Deacon Nick Donnelly

      And what did Jesus say to the woman caught in adultery Amator Dei?”Sin no more’. Those teachers who have chosen to live in states that are sinful are not obeying Jesus’ command. Jesus gave the apostles and their successors his authority and power to judge behaviour that is sinful, and the power to dispense his forgiveness or withhold it in cases of impenitence. Go read Matthew 16:18-19. Deacon Nick.

      • John Dare

        What did he do or say immediately after he said that Nick?

        • Deacon Nick Donnelly

          Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” Please don’t confuse judging with condemning. Jesus made a moral judgement of the woman’s behaviour when he said, ‘leave your life of sin’. Deacon Nick.

    • Augustine

      I don’t imagine for a moment that you recognise the irony:

      1. of being the first to cast a stone at the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (and so implying that you are without sin)

      2. of calling yourself “amator Dei” – when you so persistently attack the Catholic Church. How can anyone claim to love God when they clearly hate the Church? (See Acts 9:4)

    • He who said, ‘Let the one among you without sin cast the first stone’ also criticised the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and those who occupied the chair of Moses enjoining His hearers to “do what they say and not what they do”.

    • Michael Petek

      What do you mean ‘Pharisaical’? If you read the Gospels you’ll find that Jesus excoriated them for setting aside the Ten Commandments, and that God had a plan for their lives which they thwarted by refusing the baptism of John (Mark 7 and Luke 7:30).

  • Haslam

    When I was at school (a very large Community state comprehensive of medium quality) I can’t recall a single instance of a student being in the slight bit interested in the personal lives of their teachers. They were teachers and you viewed them as such. Part of the respect you showed them as teachers was that you didn’t even acknowledge that they had a private life in the same way as you didn’t acknowledge that they had a first name. I now know as an adult that some of the people who taught me were and are gay, divorced etc because my mother was a teacher in the same town. But these are very much things that are of more interest to adults than kids, who have concerns elsewhere. In fact if all the teachers in a school declared that they were gay, that would make homosexuality the least cool thing in the world.

    • Augustine

      You have a point about students not always wanting to appear to be like their teachers.

      However a Headteacher of any school is responsible for the ethos of that school, for holding Assemblies and for implementing the Mission Statement of the School.

      No one is compelled to become the Headteacher of any School. But anyone applying to become the Headteacher of a Catholic School will wish to impress the Governors of that school that he/she is willing and able to lead that school in accordance with its aims and objectives.

      It would therefore be very strange indeed for a Headteacher in a Catholic School not to be a Communicant member of the Catholic Church – and so be unable to receive Holy Communion at School Masses.

      • Haslam

        Well, I didn’t go to a catholic school so maybe things are different there. But the teachers at my school were not examples of chaste behaviour or examples or unchaste behaviour because we had no knowledge of or interest in their behaviour out of school. You tell the average pupil that their maths teacher got married in a register office and the response will be a shrug and a “whatever”. They simply could not care less.

    • Nicolas Bellord

      Haslam: You recently prefaced one of your comments with the words “If I was a RCC …”. I take this to mean that you are not a Catholic in communion with Rome. Your views therefore do not surprise me.

      Part of the ethos of any Catholic school is to teach pupils to live in accordance with the teachings of the Church. All of us fail in that respect but if one goes further and asserts that you are happy to live in sin by say remarrying outside the Church then one can hardly command the respect of the pupils and would rightly be described as hypocritical.

      • Haslam

        I am not disagreing just saying that the idea that the personal relationships of teachers something of interest to the pupils (as opposed to adults with too much time on their hands to be poking into other peoples’ lives) is not credible. The idea that Children are harmed by unchaste teachers is therefore something I find a bit of a stretch.

  • Rebecca

    Catholics Schools are churning out aggressive secularists rather then committed Catholics. Part of this is due to the apathy and disobedience of Catholic Headteachers to do what their job description says (or what it should say) that is to form their young people into the saving truths of the Catholic faith.

    To me it seems perfectly reasonable that a head of a school responsible for teaching children that sex outside marriage is wrong to be expected to live out that view themselves. Secondly this will better help Catholics to fight against Same Sex Marriage, as we will show consistency rather then that we go after a particular group, i.e “those horrible gays”

    If Catholic Headteachers don’t like the Teachings of the Catholic Church then they should find a non-Catholic School to accommodate their beliefs, better still they shouldn’t apply for Catholic Headship in the first place.

    For the love of souls I call upon readers of this blog to start contacting Diocesan Education Services, Bishops and lastly the Vatican to complain against Headteachers who fail to live a life in harmony with the moral teachings of the Church, this is absolutely urgent for Catholics to do.

    • Haslam

      “If Catholic Headteachers don’t like the Teachings of the Catholic Church then they should find a non-Catholic School to accommodate their beliefs, better still they shouldn’t apply for Catholic Headship in the first place.”

      Careful now, that statement sounds rather like recent statements from Keith Porteous Wood about Catholics finding jobs elsewhere if they are not prepared to abide by their employer’s policies and values.

      • Rebecca

        Haslam your being a bit deceptive here, there has always been the remit within Catholic Schools to do this, except the point is Catholic Schools have rarely done this in practice. Other faith schools also have the same power.

        Regarding employers telling Catholics to go elsewhere if they don’t abide by employers policies is stupid. It is not right for the government to devise their own brand of morality, for example change the definition of marriage i.e. Same Sex Marriage and force that on people through employment law, that’s called Communism not democracy.

        • andy

          So to paraphrase. Employer can only call the shots if they are religious. Ie, religious people get more rights than others. And then you demand that you are respected!

      • Michael Petek

        Haslam, your argument won’t run. Keith Porteous Wood would be incapable of raising a valid conscientious objection to a requirement to abide by his employer’s policies and values. He is a secular humanist, which means he makes up his own morality as he goes along and changes it to suit his own convenience. He has no concept that he has been created by God whom he must love and serve, who imposes on him and on all creatures a peremptory and unchangeable law, whose jurisdiction is unlimited, whose will is final and whose judgement and punishment are inescapable. If his employer had Christian poicies and values, Mr Porteous Wood could have no basis in his own world-view for finding it unconscionable to conform

    • LJD

      I have no problem with the Catholic Church having its own policies, provided:

      (a) They are compatible with UK law, determined by Parliamentary Democracy not the RCC, including all laws which explicitly contradict its current ethos.

      If it was up to me, I’d add some more limitations, but I’m subject to current legislation, as are you:

      (b) It doesn’t expect to be funded by the state to promulgate its values against the will of the people.

      (c) They don’t indoctrinate children or those without free will.

      Given that Roman Catholicism is still subject to unique statutory limitation in the UK, I’d have thought it might take a more respectful view of our democracy. By all means use your legitimate voice to influence us, but ignore the will of the people at your peril.

      If you’re opposed to the imposition of Sharia Law, you should also be more circumspect about trying to impose your views on others. Fewer than 10% of UK residents are even nominally RC, only twice that of Muslims. Indeed there are almost as many practicing homosexuals in the UK as there are Roman Catholics. Like them, you’re a minority in need of the protection of UK society as a whole. Keep that in mind the next time you’re tempted to defend or impose policies which look a lot like religious bigotry.

      As for employment practices, RC schools will be subject to UK law in exactly the same way as non-RC and other religious schools. The imposition of the new RC policy, to my mind, appears to be in breach of so much legislation as to make their continued funding impossible.

  • John Dare

    Just for a bit of fun, how about getting a random selection of sixteen year olds from RC schools to read this.

  • ms Catholic state

    Gosh…..is the Catholic Church in Britain becoming more authentically Catholic?! Who would have thought! At very least it will make all Catholic pupils and teaching staff realise that Catholic and secular are not the same. Great stuff.

  • John Dare

    Don’t get too excited Ms, have a look at the comments. And remember this is a conservative paper.

    • ms Catholic state

      Not to worry….there are only 10 comments…so the topic is hardly a hot topic for most people….and only zealous atheists and Catholics tend to seek out posts concerning Catholic schools. Most people aren’t interested.

  • John Dare

    Just out of interest, should the children of unchaste or gay parents be barred?

  • Nicolas Bellord

    Father Marcus Stock is a brave man who deserves our support. There has been much criticism of both the Bishops Conference and the Catholic Education Service in the past. Father Marcus appears to be a new broom bringing both more into line with the teaching of the Church.

    I must say I find Haslam’s ideas rather strange. If a headmaster has to give religious instruction to his pupils regarding marriage most children will soon notice if he is known to be in an irregular situation and will draw their own conclusions at his sincerity. Example is of key importance in the Christian life. In a school where such religious instruction is not given then the children will not be in a position to accuse the teacher of hypocrisy and his situation may well pass unnoticed – although they may be influenced by his example.

    As to the even-handed teaching of the Government’s view on SSM alongside the Church’s view I am afraid this will not work. Civil Partnerships and SSM serve to legitimate and normalise perverse sexual activities. I suspect anyone who teaches that will be attacked as homophobic and action will follow.

    It is notable that the BBC reports to-day on a report that HIV amongst the gay community is on the rise. One wonders how much this is a result of these activities being normalised.

  • Michael B Rooke

    In the C19th there was conflict between the Catholic Church and an Italian secret society know as the Carbonari – charcoal burners- that was anti-clerical in philosophy and programme.
    According to a document attributed to them known as Alta Vendita the purpose of the Carbonari was to infiltrate the Catholic Church to seek destruction from within.

    The Church has a right to prevent dissenting Catholics from obtaining positions of power within the education system who can unwittingly or by design become agents of destruction from within.

  • comte de Frebonius

    What about those journalists who write for Catholic papers? Should they not be also looked at? For example Christina Odone, whose views on Pope Benedict and abortion, are well known for not conforming to Church teaching. How can she still write for Catholic newspapers and hold views opposed to the Church?

    • Michael B Rooke

      It would be consistent with the doctrines of Alta Vendita to chose or promote dissident Catholics precisely because they are dissident. This makes it all the more reason to proclaim the teachings of the Church.

      Cardinal Manning states eloquently[1]

      “Error has its periodic times. What is passing now, has returned in every century, almost in every generation. It is not new to the Catholic Church to have to combat with the depravers of Holy Writ ; for there has been a line and succession of gainsayers who have denied the Divine veracity and authenticity, either in whole or in part, of the written Word of God. Even in the lifetime of S.
      John-, the Cerinthians rejected all the New Testament except the Gospel of S. Matthew and the Book of Acts. In the second century, the Carpocratians rejected the whole of the Old Testament; ..”

      The Cardinal then lists the errors down through the centuries and reflects

      “It is, therefore, no new thing in the history of the Church, nor, indeed, in the history of England since the Reformation. From the Deistical writers down to Thomas Paine, there has never wanted a succession of critics and objectors who have assailed the extrinsic or intrinsic authority of Holy Scripture…” [2]

      We should never doubt or forget as Cardinal Manning states

      “God sustains and preserves His Church by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, the Fountain of all illumination and of all grace, in its conformity with His own divine intelligence. He guides the
      Catholic Church in the path of His eternal truth. That which we call infallibility is nothing but this : the Church cannot err from the path of revealed truth. And they who are faithful to the Church are illuminated and sanctified, even in the midst of the darkness and the distortion of this nineteenth century.” [3]

      Page 136
      The Temporal Mission of the Holy Spirit. Henry Edward Manning(1808–1892) Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster.

      Ibid page 138

      Page 229
      The Internal Mission of the Holy Ghost

  • Alan

    Well this us hardly a surprise. At this rate all Churches will be empty. It’s time for our Leaders to get off their high horse and concentrate on getting people back to Mass rather than condem everyone. Perhaps the Deacon could spend some time in his own Parish knocking on doors and trying to do this rather than spending time in chat forums. St Stephen … Pray for us.

    • Chris

      In case you had n’t noticed, Alan, they are already pretty empty especially of young people. As a parent of children educated in Catholic schools I welcome on an insistence that there is integrity in the appointment of practising Catholics whose private life is consistent with the public position that they hold. That is hardly condemning people, is it?

    • Karla

      Pope Benedict has spoken of a purer and smaller Church

      It makes no sense to have teachers teaching the teachings of the Church if they are not following those teachings themselves. It makes a hypocrite of them and mockery of the entire situation. 100% agree with the Bishops conference

    • Rifleman819

      Alan ,
      How do you know that Deacon Nick isn’t already knocking on doors in his own Parish?

  • Suzi

    This seems such an angry site – I came across it by accident (I was born Catholic but Worship elsewhere, but was interested in the Site Name) but do not feel drawn back to the Catholic Church. It seems that 90% of contributers here are men whilst in my experience, men do not constitute 90% of the Catholic Church Faithfull (at least in the U.K.)

  • tracey gough

    My children go to the only catholic school in shropshire and now its closing down,and now joinig up with a c of e school which I’m not happy with and neither were the parents of that school can you tell me how this is going to work please

    • Deacon Nick Donnelly

      Tracey, has the Diocesan Education Dept talked to you and other families about how they think it will work? Have you expressed your concerns to the Bishop? What did he say? Deacon Nick.

      • Thank you for your response,yes we had a lot of the meetings at the school along with my parish preist,in the end the desion came back from the bishop that the two school will emerge,as there are not enough pup lies and not enough funding as the school is very dated,unlike the other schools,my concern is how can a
        Non catholic school teach our faith,but yetim told this can happen

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