Parents must have the right to withdraw their children from relationship education, a Catholic MP has said.
Sir Edward Leigh, the Conservative MP for Gainsborough, said that some would view new Government measures requiring relationship education to be taught to children as young as four as “a state takeover bid for parenting”.
Sir Edward has introduced an amendment to the Children and Social Work Bill to allow parents of children receiving either relationship education or sex and relationship education to withdraw their children from the class.
Parents already have an opt-out from sex education, but it is not clear if this will apply to relationship education.
The Government has implied that parents will have an opt-out, but this is not yet legally binding. Sir Edward said parents should be able to decide.
Last month, the Government announced plans to make sex and relationship education part of the national curriculum. Primary schools will teach only relationship education, but it is not clear what this term includes. The Government will hold a consultation before deciding.
The charity Life said that, although the government has proposed only relationship education for primary schools, some campaigners might try to define this very broadly. Its education director Anne Scanlan said: “We have heard of calls to teach masturbation to four-year-olds as part of sex education and leaflets telling primary school children that it is up to them to decide when to have sex.”
Under present legislation, sex education is compulsory in local authority-run schools but is limited to biology lessons.
Faith schools and free schools do not have to provide sex education under the current rulings, but will be obliged to do so under the new plans. Archbishop Malcolm McMahon, chairman of the Catholic Education Service, has said that he looks forward to working with the Government on the plans.
Another Tory MP, Julian Lewis, expressed similar concerns about relationships education, asking: “What is there to prevent sex education aspects being smuggled in under that label?”
British soldier turned priest is named a bishop in Algeria
Pope Francis has appointed a British ex-soldier as a bishop in Algeria.
Fr John MacWilliam was named last week as the next Bishop of Laghouat-Ghardaïa, a diocese which is mostly in the Sahara.
Fr MacWilliam is a member of the Missionaries of Africa, an order of about 1,500 priests. Thanks to their habit, which looks like the white robes of Algerian Arabs, they are also known as the White Fathers.
Fr MacWilliam re-started the order’s house in Tizi-Ouzou, after four White Fathers were murdered in the 1990s killing campaign by Islamic extremists. After the persecution, many Catholics left the north African nation, which is now 99 per cent Muslim.
There are only about 100,000 Christians there, most of them Pentecostals. The charity Open Doors, which studies Christian persecution, ranks Algeria as the 36th worst country in which to be Christian.
Fr MacWilliam was quoted by catholic.org as saying: “When things get difficult you don’t leave your friends.”
As part of his Army career, Fr MacWilliam served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.
Morgan: why I avoid confession
TV presenter Piers Morgan has said he finds comfort in prayer but that he does not go to Confession, “probably because it would take me too long”.
He told the Financial Times: “I pray occasionally … I find it comforting that there is something to pray to … I do believe in an afterlife. I do believe that people who meant a lot to me are up there looking down, and if I talk directly to them they might help me.”
Having been unable to sell in churches for well over a year due to the pandemic, we are now inviting readers to support the Herald by investing in our future. We have been a bold and influential voice in the church since 1888, standing up for traditional Catholic culture and values.
Please join us on our 130 year mission by supporting us. We are raising £250,000 to safeguard the Herald as a world-leading voice in Catholic journalism and teaching. For more information from our chairman on contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund, click here
Make a Donation
Donors giving £500 or more will automatically become sponsor patrons of the Herald. This includes two complimentary print/digital gift subscriptions, invitations to Patron events, pilgrimages and dinners, and 6 gift subscriptions sent to priests, seminaries, Catholic schools, religious care homes and prison and university chaplaincies. Click here for more information on becoming a Patron Sponsor. Click here for more information about contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund