Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Cracking The Nuts

A news story of a fairly common type was to be found in the Telegraph today:

'Lawyers have told the Roman Catholic Church that it cannot sack a Catholic headmaster who has entered a civil partnership with a male teacher.

The Archdiocese of Liverpool has been unable to take action against Charles Coyne, the head of St Cecilia's primary school, who has registered a partnership with Richard Jones, who is believed to work at a nearby school.

. . .

Local Catholics and family campaigners have urged the authorities to take action over the "scandal".

One churchgoer said: "Senior officials are aware of this yet they have done nothing. It's unacceptable."

Norman Wells, the director of the Family Education Trust, said: "It is not unreasonable for parents sending their children to a faith school to expect the headteacher to be living according to that faith."

. . .

A spokesman for the archdiocese said senior officials, including Fr Michael O'Dowd, the episcopal vicar for schools and colleges, had discussed the case as issues of employment law were involved.

"Legal advice was sought," the spokesman said. "The Church was advised that in this case nothing could be done, despite the fact that the head was acting contrary to Church teaching."

. . .

The bishop said each case was different, and added that it was possible for male friends to share a house together without breaching Catholic moral teaching.

. . .

The Rev Richard Kirker, the general secretary of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, predicted that Mr Coyne's "courageous" step would be followed by others in senior posts.

"This will be very helpful to everybody who expects the Catholic Church to be open and honest," he said.'

Oh, how the religious tie themselves into knots. There are three primary factions in this argument, and it's quite hard to tell which the most deluded is. On the one hand are the lay complainants, who appear not to have realised that modern anti-discrimination laws mean no-one gives a hoot about their personal moral reaction to one mans sexual orientation. Apparently, nobody was concerned about Mr Coyne's teaching ability until now. Quite obviously underpinning the complainants grievances is the ugly assumption that merely by being around children Mr Coyne is somehow 'teaching' them homosexuality, as if being gay were rather like being a leper, and only quarantine can guarantee public safety.

On the other side of the argument are the 'Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement', who look suspiciously like the proverbial turkeys voting for Christmas, almost as if they are unaware that reinforcing the status quo will lead to precisely the same situation being repeated in just a few weeks time, just as the last one was only a few weeks ago.

And in between these two greasy buns, as it were, is the fetid sausage of the church hierarchy, torn as ever between anti-discrimination legislation that cannot be beaten on the one hand, and a congregation baying for blood on the other. The situation is apparently so desperate that one bishop can issue a statement saying that it's okay for male friends to share a house together in Catholic teaching (duh!), as if pretending that the men are doing no more than playing Scrabble or grumbling at the newspaper is likely to remove the tangible facts of their homosexuality, and their congregations intolerance, from the mix.

Lost, out of all consideration, is Mr Coyne and his partner, whose personal lives have been quietly torn apart by a public media tussle over something that has absolutely nothing to do with them personally, and everything to do with the egos of its various participants. Good luck finding another profession, eh lads?

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