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No Catholicism, Please, We’re British

Rowan Williams (Mark William Penny/Shutterstock [1])

Robert Louis Wilken, in 2004: [2]

In my lifetime we have witnessed the collapse of Christian civilization. At first the process of disintegration was slow, a gradual and persistent attrition, but today it has moved into overdrive, and what is more troubling, it has become deliberate and intentional, not only promoted by the cultured despisers of Christianity but often aided and abetted by Christians themselves.

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, 2018: [3]

The former head of the Anglican Communion has joined Richard Dawkins in attacking a policy that would allow the Catholic Church to open new schools.

change_me

Dr Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, co-signed a letter to the Daily Telegraph saying it was “difficult to bring to mind a more divisive policy, or more deleterious to social cohesion” than removing an admissions cap that prevents new faith schools from selecting more than half of their intake from their own religion.

Social cohesion — social cohesion! — matters more to Rowan Williams than truth, or even the survival of the religion he professes. Pathetic, just pathetic. As one Catholic theologian observes:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js [6]

Father Peter Sanlon is right! [7] If they made him Archbishop of Canterbury, the C of E might have a chance. If I won the lottery, I’d buy your kids a pony.

UPDATE: Alasdair MacIntyre:

A crucial turning point in that earlier history occurred when men and women of good will turned aside from the task of shoring up the Roman imperium and ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of that imperium. What they set themselves to achieve instead—often not recognising fully what they were doing—was the construction of new forms of community within which the moral life could be sustained so that both morality and civility might survive the coming ages of barbarism and darkness.

Rowan Williams obviously believes it’s more important to maintain the imperium, so to speak, than to save the nation’s dying faith. Do not do as he would have you do.

21 Comments (Open | Close)

21 Comments To "No Catholicism, Please, We’re British"

#1 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On March 7, 2018 @ 10:15 am

Richard Dawkins is at least consistent in that he opposes the expansion of all faith schools:

[8]

[NFR: Exactly right. Dawkins is not the problem here. — RD]

#2 Comment By Larry in NC On March 7, 2018 @ 10:34 am

That is some messed up ish right there. Pathetic of “Lord Williams”.

#3 Comment By Elijah On March 7, 2018 @ 10:42 am

Catholic schools “too divisive” – now what do you suppose he means by that? Does he mean “they actually believe certain things to be true”?

Honestly this guy was a clown as Abp of Canterbury and hasn’t diminished since. He needs to be called out as such.

#4 Comment By Mike On March 7, 2018 @ 11:05 am

Williams was best summed up by this Iowahawk parody from 2008 (which even includes the phrase “social cohesion”):

[9]

#5 Comment By Rob G On March 7, 2018 @ 11:22 am

Never cared much for Rowan — too wishy-washy — but he did write a really good book on Dostoevsky.

#6 Comment By Aidan On March 7, 2018 @ 11:30 am

Always remember one thing about the Church of England :it will always, always, always put the Kingdom of England before the Kingdom of Heaven. Always.

#7 Comment By M. Aemilus Scaurus On March 7, 2018 @ 12:47 pm

Quite simply, the worldwide Anglican Communion–once the glory of Protestant Christendom which spread the Gospel to large parts the world–is no longer a part of the Church catholic in any meaningful sense. I come from a family of Episcopalians. I’m a member of an ACNA congregation now. It breaks my heart a little bit every time I see a reminder of what my tradition has become, and I see such reminders almost every day.

“Lord, we are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy table.” – Prayer of Humble Access

#8 Comment By Matth On March 7, 2018 @ 2:37 pm

Williams is actually doing neither the shoring up of the imperium, nor the creation of new communities. As Archbishop of Canterbury, he actively worked to destroy the British imperium, such as it is, and has consistently supported the importation of non-British cultures into the U.K. at the suffering of British culture itself. At the same time, he has worked to prevent anyone from creating true communities, except perhaps Muslims although I don’t know enough about his support for their communities to know whether he has actively supported them or not.

He is a destroyer.

#9 Comment By John On March 7, 2018 @ 2:40 pm

I wonder if any of this goes back to the Catholic Irish vs Anglican British drama when the religious denominations were closely tied to their ethnic/nationalistic pride.

Either way it seems moot now as religion is on the decline in both the UK and Ireland.

Europeans lack the first amendment protections we take for granted so these comments are’tcthat surprising. I am an American, however, and while I personally have no use for religion (and considering that I am gay view the more orthodox versions in a more in a negative light) I think that the threat from regulating matters pertaining to the mind, body, heart and in this case spirit is worse than allowing people to fill themselves into believing they know the revealed word of whatever god they worship.

#10 Comment By Callan On March 7, 2018 @ 2:54 pm

I give the noble Lord some credit for understanding how the education system in the UK actually works.

Most faith schools in the UK are state schools. This means that the tab is, by and large, picked up by the taxpayer. I was a Curate and governor of a C of E village school, once upon a time, and our admissions policy worked primarily on the basis that if you lived in the village your child was more likely to get a place than if you did not, but attended the local church. In practice, if you met the church attendance criteria your child would get in but, if we had to choose, we would prioritise a local child over a child of devout parents. I think that this is a matter of natural justice. Why the dickens would you say to someone who wanted to send their child to the local state primary school that they should have to drive to the next town because you were prioritising admissions on sectarian grounds. Now if we had been a private school, I would have happily insisted that people were communicant Anglicans before any other criteria. But we weren’t. If the government had taken our funding away we would have had to close. Our ethos was that we were a C of E school that served the village and not a C of E school that only served members of the C of E. During this period I took what was a failing church around and left it in a reasonably good state of health, and part of this involved working in conjunction with said school, so I think we did a reasonably good job of advancing the Kingdom. But we did so in a paradigm of acknowledging that not everyone in our local community was a Christian.

If Catholic schools want to move to a model where they are entirely self-funding they should be allowed to set their admission policies as they like but as long as they are funded by the government the government, and by extension the public, gets a say as to whether they think that’s a good idea.

#11 Comment By Rombald On March 7, 2018 @ 7:00 pm

Rod: It really is important to pay attention to Callan’s comment. Williams’ discussion is about state-funded religious schools; private, fee-paying religious schools have no such restrictions.

I also think there is an element of what John says “Catholic Irish vs Anglican British drama”; it’s maybe less so now, but certainly when I was young there was a feeling of Catholicism being sort of antipatriotic and alien – usually Irish, although sometimes Continental. At the fringes, that drifted off into paranoia about Philip of Spain, Napoleon and Hitler all having been under the command of the Pope.

It’s not true, of course. English Catholicism never died out; there were always Catholic aristocrats, and especially in Lancashire there were always working-class Catholics, often unofficially protected by those aristocrats. There has also been considerable ethnic-English conversion to Catholicism.

#12 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 7, 2018 @ 9:37 pm

Rod nails it. Social cohesion ain’t all that. Certainly not when it means enforced conformity.

I could see that Rowan would have a point if, say, adherents of a certain religion were all living in one neighborhood, all going to schools taught in a foreign language which taught civic virtues utterly incompatible with those of the legal and ethical traditions of the country, and none of the students every interacted with anyone of any other faith tradition.

But this legalistic micromanaging is a bit over the top.

#13 Comment By Aidan On March 8, 2018 @ 3:41 am

Callan, you neglect two things. First, Catholic parents are taxpayers too, so are quite entitled to be provided Catholic schools funded from their tax pounds. Secondly, Rowan is a member of the House of Lords. So while I wrote to my MP and was fobbed off, he will be able to obstruct the repeal of this modern day penal law. So much for the public say you defend.

#14 Comment By constantine On March 8, 2018 @ 10:00 am

I thought you were Orthodox? Are you going back to being Catholic?

[NFR: I am. No, I’m not. — RD]

#15 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 8, 2018 @ 10:15 am

First, Catholic parents are taxpayers too, so are quite entitled to be provided Catholic schools funded from their tax pounds.

That may have some traction in the UK. It has none in the United Colonies/States, where there is a taxpayer-funded public school system open to all, and private schools, religious or secular, are an option funded by their own tuition or endowments, but generally not receiving public funds.

In the UK, if a state-funded school run by the C of E is open to all in the local community, the notion that tax dollars must also be made available for an additional school run by Catholics (presumably open to all in the local community too — since its publicly funded) holds less water. And if one got into that delineation anyway, how many Catholics are there and how many Catholic schools does it reasonably take to serve the small minority of Britons who are Catholic, would be a legitimate question.

Three cheers for our First Amendment.

#16 Comment By Michael Enright On March 8, 2018 @ 11:31 am

Callan—

I think you are missing religious reasons for the policy you mention in a C of E school. Parish churches and schools are generally attached to a territory. The pastor and church community have a responsibility to all people in a territory, not just communicants or even Christians. By preferring local non-Anglican students they are actually serving their role as in building the local Christian community.

Furthermore, a policy like the one you mention should actually remove the canonical obstacles that conflict with the current policy.

Finally, the current policy seems to be aimed at inhibiting the power of the RC church to use its schools to form its students ina Catholic manner.

#17 Comment By Callan On March 9, 2018 @ 8:29 am

Let me put this as simply as possible: yes, I am aware of the ethos of the Church of England to parochial ministry. I am more than happy for Catholic schools, payed for, up to a point, by Catholic taxpayers to exist and to teach Catholic doctrine as part of their remit.

However, a state primary school exists primarily to serve the local community. My own view is that in an urban context it doesn’t much matter how restrictive a schools admission policy is. But I very strongly feel, and legislation in the UK mandates that a child should be able to walk to school. So I don’t think that Our Lady of Smallville ought to be allowed to have an admissions policy that says the inhabitants of Smallville have to sign up to the teaching of the Catholic Church or drive their kids to the next town. I think that state schools, paid for by the taxpayer ought to be available to everyone.

Furthermore, sectarianism in these Isles is an actual thing. We had thirty years of terrorism in the UK because of bad relationships between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland. In Scotland, until recently, there were chants at soccer matches about being up to one’s knees in Feinian blood from protestants with similarly enlightened sentiments expressed by the Catholics. So, you know, it’s no bad thing for Protestants and Catholics to rub up against one another from time to time.

I get where Rod is coming from with the Benedict Option. I had a review with my Bishop, recently, where I expressed the opinion that if my generation don’t turn things round the C of E won’t exist in fifty years time. I am not oblivious as to the stakes here.

But it doesn’t follow that faith schools in the UK ought to demand privileges that it might not be sensible to grant them. Do a search and replace with Catholic schools and replace it with Islamic schools. See how you feel about that. And ask yourself how long Our Lady of Smallville will last if it ceases to serve the people of Smallville. Faith schools, in the UK, are reasonably popular because they serve a wide variety of people, of all faiths and none. Ask yourselves how popular they will be when they only serve a particular community. How parents will feel when they have to drive their child out of town whilst other parents are driving their child into town.

So, if the only thing you care about is having schools that teach Catholic doctrine, then, yes ++Rowan is a terrible person. On the other hand, if you think there are other issues involved, he may have a point.

#18 Comment By Thomas Aquinas On March 9, 2018 @ 12:43 pm

‘Most faith schools in the UK are state schools. This means that the tab is, by and large, picked up by the taxpayer.”

Are not Catholics taxpayers in the UK? So, do they only have to pay and not benefit?

#19 Comment By Thomas Aquinas On March 9, 2018 @ 12:53 pm

Shiarlys writes:

“That may have some traction in the UK. It has none in the United Colonies/States, where there is a taxpayer-funded public school system open to all, and private schools, religious or secular, are an option funded by their own tuition or endowments, but generally not receiving public funds.”

Oddly, that’s precisely the sort of argument given by those in Early America who defended established churches! They argued in response to folks like the Danbury Baptists: as long as you are not coerced to join another religion, it is not a violation of religious liberty for the government to tax you to pay for a church to which you do not belong, since the established church advances the common good.

Forcing property owners, who send their kids to private religious schools, to pay taxes to pay for public schools is essentially burdening their religious liberty, pure and simple. since educating the youth, to most religious groups, is integral to religious practice and formation. There is no difference between what the Danbury Baptists were protesting and how our compulsory education taxing scheme penalizes religious parents.

#20 Comment By Rombald On March 10, 2018 @ 5:40 am

Thomas Aquinas: “Forcing property owners, who send their kids to private religious schools, to pay taxes to pay for public schools is essentially burdening their religious liberty”

That’s an argument for abolishing free education, so parents could then use what they would otherwise have paid in tax to send their children to a religious school, a secular school, or perhaps even no school at all (e.g. for parents who disapprove of literacy). Even if I were to agree with that position, that does not make it unjust to make parents pay for secular schools; if I decide to travel entirely by walking and trains, I still have to pay taxes for roads (one may argue that all roads should be funded by tolls, but that is an issue of public policy rather than individual justice). That is not even starting on the fact that childless people also pay taxes for schools. Part of the duty of being a citizen is, except in the most extreme cases, going along with policies that one considers immoral or unwise.

The situation in the UK, on the other hand, is that there are standard state schools, and alongside those there are schools run by religions (mostly Catholic and Anglican, and a handful Nonconformist, Jewish, Muslim, etc.) The issue is how much say the government, which funds the schools, should have in saying how they’re run. Personally, I think there should be no such schools, although I would also like education to be more conservative and religion-friendly, as it was in state schools when I was young.

#21 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 10, 2018 @ 7:45 pm

They argued in response to folks like the Danbury Baptists: as long as you are not coerced to join another religion, it is not a violation of religious liberty for the government to tax you to pay for a church to which you do not belong, since the established church advances the common good.

Oddly enough, that is precisely the opposite of the argument for free public schools. The framers of our constitution were well aware that an Established Church DOES NOT advance the common good.