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Catholic schools.

(78 Posts)
Greatnan Tue 15-Nov-11 22:59:01

I believe there has been a sharp falling-off in the number of parents applying for places in Catholic schools for their children, in spite of the much vaunted academic achievements. The response of the church to the child abuse scandal has severely dented people's trust - the latest way of avoiding paying the compensation so richly deserved is to say that the Church is not the employer of priests. The Church hires them, fires them and provides 'benefits in kind' in the shape of board and lodging. Some dioceses in Canada tried to declare themselves bankrupt in order to avoid making payment. This is not the kind of contrition and reparation that the Church promised.
It must be terrible to be a priest, monk or nun and to know that you are viewed with suspicion, no matter how innocent you may be. If you are a Catholic, have you lost any of your trust in the Church?

bagitha Wed 16-Nov-11 06:37:27

Yep. Lost all of it in my youth. Not through abuse, I hasten to add, but because I never had any faith in the first place. Looked at the communion host (wafer/cracker) when I was seven and we were being indoctrinated about transubstantiation and decided I didn't believe a word of it, even though I wanted to at that age so that I would be a "good person". At sixteen I questioned the infallibility of the Pope during an RE lesson and the teacher told me I wasn't a christian. That's that sorted, then. <dusts hands>

Greatnan Wed 16-Nov-11 07:12:08

Exactly my experience, bagitha. It is easy for us though, we probably just feel rage that the abuse was covered up for so long and that the church still does not seem to be able accept its responsibilies to the victims.
I feel a little sorry for catholics, though - it must be very hard when you have been brought up to have such reverence for any institution or group of people and find they have feet of clay. In Eire, there has been a huge drop in attendance at mass. Could this be the end of the church? Or will people go on supporting it, come what may?

bagitha Wed 16-Nov-11 08:18:59

I think, and hope, it could be the beginning of the end. I've nothing against people believing stuff I find unbelievable; I only object to the institutions of organised religion.

My mother is still a practising catholic. I've no idea what she actually believes, but going to church brings her comfort because of the social networking it provides.

Butternut Wed 16-Nov-11 11:04:00

That's an interesting point you've made bagitha, regarding the social networking aspect of going to church. I've often thought that we humans are programmed to be sociable, out of necessity, and sometime think church attendance is rather tribal. It's all about a sense of 'belonging' isn't it, and if one doesn't 'belong' or is exiled, then life can be very tough indeed.

Butternut Wed 16-Nov-11 11:06:05

I've put that very badly, but hope you gather the gist of it! [blush)

Greatnan Wed 16-Nov-11 11:32:59

Not badly put at all, Butternut. The problem is that so many religions seem to exclude more people than they include!

bagitha Wed 16-Nov-11 11:42:32

I thought you expressed your point very well, butty. As for exclusion, yes, that's another thing that didn't appeal to my childish mind. If it was so important to know about, believe in and serve the right god, how come we needed missionaries to save most of the population of the world who hadn't yet heard about this wonderful being? Even to a seven year old that was manifestly unfair and very off-putting indeed. Even at that tender age I'd understood that lots of people believed in different gods and that they all thought they were right! Very fishy. It just doesn't make sense to a logical mind. Never did. Never will. Reject bin.

Mishap Wed 16-Nov-11 12:22:16

My grandfather was abused in a Catholic orphanage - no-one has told me the full details and I am happy not to know them.

I was sent to a C of E convent day school for my first school - not for religious reasons, but because my parents thought that it woul be superior academically - how wrong they were!

I hated it:

- the nuns in their black robes were terrifying to a 4 year old
- we had to go to chapel every morning and twice on Weds
- the chapel had bleeding images of the stations of the cross on the walls that were bigger than I was - sheer terror!
- there was enormous hypocrysy - even my 4 year old mind could see that novices smoking behind the Mother Superior's back was wrong and stupid.

Catholicism (and many other religions) has instilled endless guilt in its followers - I used to see the results of this when I was a social worker. In order to reconcile the paradox of believing in a loving god, whilst being presented with a world that is based upon cruelty and kill or be killed in nature, religions have trumped up the idea of original sin - what pernicious nonsense and how deeply damaging.

supernana Wed 16-Nov-11 12:30:02

The Catholic school that I, a non-Catholic, chose to attend when I passed the scholarship in 1952, gradually stripped my soul bare of all my preconcieved notions of what a good person should be. From day one, I attempted to follow the Faith, and did my utmost to be a good person. I spent most of my lunch breaks in the Lady Chapel saying acts of contrition. However, day by day, I became a sadder and unhappier girl. After taking my GCE's, I could have stayed in the sixth form, taken A levels and then, perhaps, gone on to university. As it happened, I wanted to get as far away from that school as possible. I haven't prayed since. Religion isn't for me. I am happiest with the simplicity and purity of the Buddhist philosophy. smile

Mishap Wed 16-Nov-11 14:17:44

Supernana you have amply demonstrated what I was saying! How can people do this to youngsters and still claim to belong to a loving religion?
I feel so strongly that the idea of instructing children in religion is offensive - let them learn about religion, and its virtues and vices, its role in world development, but don't indoctrinate them.

Greatnan Wed 16-Nov-11 14:29:12

I would be really interested to hear the views of any members who are, or have been, Catholics.

Seventimesfive Wed 23-Nov-11 10:57:16

Have just found this thread after posting under War Baby and it chimes with some of my experience. I was brought up C of E but as the primary school told my parents I would fail the 11+ they put me down for the Convent school in Cardiff as the only other option was the Secondary Modern. I did pass, but as one wasn't consulted in those days (in my case anyway, mid 50's) I went to the convent. This was the best possible education in terms of really looking at religion! Like others of you I found it guilt ridden, based on fear and the nuns unkind. I could not accept any of it. I always thought Jesus was a good guy, courageous and questioning of his times, but the organised side of things was corrupt. How right I was! I could never understand as a young child how people could go to church and then come out and backbite others on the way home. I can remember having a stand up argument with a Catholic girl during one lesson.

I have spent much of my life looking for a spiritual home and like Supernana have found it in Buddhism. The main focus is on love and compassion as well as wisdom and it does not concern itself with heaven and hell but with the everyday conduct of one's life within the context that actions have consequences. That will do for me!

supernana Wed 23-Nov-11 13:58:17

Seventimesfive A true reflection of my own thoughts...x

janthea Wed 23-Nov-11 14:47:20

I'm not sure that religions are loving. They say they are but seem to want to control and frighten their flock into following them blindly. If you aren't a believer then you are evil, even if you belong to a different religion. How does that work? After all, the religions all profess to have a god or gods. If what they say is true, that their gods are good, then surely all gods are good. Ergo all religions are good. The heavens' must be crowded with all these different gods for different religions!!

I think, in the past, religion has been used to control the mass (and usually poor) population. The power has been with the heads of the religion/church/temple/whatever.

I think Buddhism is probably the least controlling religion and therefore probably the most acceptable to me, if I were interested in religion. If you think about it, most the wars in the past (and present) have all come down to differences of religion.

I'm sure a lot of people will disagree with me, but that's how I feel. I believe in treating other people the way you would expect them to treat you - with respect and love. That's all we need!

Carol Wed 23-Nov-11 15:18:11

I'm not religious,but respect those who are as long as it's not pushed down my throat. I've spent many years (probation) treating sex abusers from all walks of life, and the Catholic church is not the only religion that has covered up the damage done to children in their midst. I've sat with born-again christians who claim they will never do harm again now they've found God, and die-hard ministers of various churches who have villified me and my colleagues for enabling perpetrators to face what they have done, and disclose how risky they are so that the church can take protective measures when they attend. Many religious bodies would prefer not to know and would rather shift the problem elsewhere, although all are required to have child protection specialists appointed and trained. The churches who do get to grips with these issues find themselves in conflict and attempts to work together with the authorities have been problematic. It's so difficult to get a sex offender through prolonged treatment and relapse prevention, when you have religious people telling them that God has forgiven them.

Greatnan Wed 23-Nov-11 18:58:03

A teacher in a muslim evening school has just been given a jail sentence for physically abusing pupils. Jehovah's Witnesses and Plymouth Brethren split families where one member leaves the sect. Bhuddism seems harmless enough, although I saw one programme about it where young boys were being practically forced to become monks. On the whole, I don't think religion is a force for good in the world. There are lots of examples of religious believers doing good works (not Mother Teresa!) but I think they are people who would be good whatever they believed.

Joan Wed 23-Nov-11 23:10:31

Today in Australia our local catholic school is very inclusive for kids of other or no faith, and indoctrination is a thing of the past. They are taught "Study of Religion' which covers all the main religions, and they sometimes visit mosques, orthodox churches, synagogues etc. Enrolments increase year by year.

I sent my kids there, because here in Queensland the catholics are good educators. As for me, I went to normal primary schools and a grammar school in Yorkshire.

I would NEVER send any child of mine to a school that indoctrinated the children. There has been no abuse scandal locally, but I'm pretty certain that reduced church attendance is partly as a result of the worldwide scandal. As for me, i was already atheist when the abuse surfaced, so it just reinforced my cynicism. My lads have had the chance to make informed choices about religion. They are not interested in it at all.

glammanana Wed 23-Nov-11 23:35:34

When my DCs where in primary school we moved to a different area,after speaking with the Head of the C of E school they where attending and discussing new schools he advised me to consider the local Catholic school in the area we where moving to,his reason was the school was never short of funds for the extras the school required and it was not necessary for the children to follow the faith.This worked very well and both my DD & DS thrived at the school they where never forced to attend any religious lessons that they did not want to,DD decided on her own merit when she moved up to the High School to be confirmed and practice the Catholic faith which she has done ever since,DH and I have gone to celebrations with her and have always been made welcome but keep our own faith,we have made many friends at her church and school and my DGCs are now also part of the school but with their own choice of attending church nothing is forced on them as they will find their way.

dontcallmegramps Thu 24-Nov-11 20:00:38

Having had to work once or twice (not as a teacher) in Catholic Schools found it all too creepy with crucifixes everywhere...
(Yes "creepy" is the word -both my parents were brought up northern chapel methodist types and so have a gut reaction (still) to the catholic stuff... Dad became a "Ive got better bloody things to do on a Sunday than listen to that rubbish" type and Mum became a weirdo into spiritualism and all sorts of nonsense)

Would prefer it to be like the USA and France - religion should have NO place in any state school If parents feel strongly about it then let them send their children to religious classes on a Saturday morning but not on my taxes

Annobel Thu 24-Nov-11 20:38:32

With you there, DCMG.

Greatnan Thu 24-Nov-11 22:01:12

I agree, dontcallmegramps, and it is very difficult to find a primary school in England that is not either church aided or church controlled. Even if children are withdrawn from RE lessons, so much of the school year is dominated by Christian festivals such as Christmas and Easter.

Joan Thu 24-Nov-11 23:09:35

I believe S.O.R. should be taught at schools (Study of Religion) because then the children learn about all main religions. It helps with literature too, as there are so many biblical references in the canon of English literature.

Learning about all the different religions gives them the knowledge and perspective to see through cults too. For instance, the JWs, the Mormons, and the Scientologists use psychological methods to try to draw people in. A bit of knowledge is a great protector against this stuff, because young people who have not lived long enough to gain much wisdom can be very vulnerable.

Greatnan Sun 27-Nov-11 00:45:55

That is a very good point , Joan.
I must say that the RE teaching at my grandchldren's local comprehesive school was very much like that, with no indoctrination at all. It was really social studies and they had a lot of discussion about relationships, and gained a lot of knowedge of world religions.

supernana Sun 27-Nov-11 11:57:14

DCMG Quite right...well said smile