Simon Hughes, Southwark archdiocese’s director of education, set out the archdiocese’s position on Green’s visit in a March 3 statement.
He wrote: “From time to time, materials or events emerge for consideration that fall outside the scope of what is permissible in a Catholic school … In such circumstances, we have no alternative but to affirm our unequivocal and well-known theological and moral precepts and to act in accordance with them.”
“The book-signing event scheduled for March 7, 2022, at the John Fisher School, Purley, is one such event and we have recommended that the school’s leaders cancel it.”
The website inews.co.uk reported that the school’s leaders decided to go ahead with the event and its governing body supported the decision after a meeting on March 5.
The archdiocese then removed the school’s foundation governors and announced the creation of an interim executive board.
According to the Catholic Education Service (CES), an agency of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, foundation governors are appointed “by the local bishop specifically to preserve and develop the Catholic ethos of the school and represent the bishop’s education policy (e.g. worship and religious education) to the governing body.”
The CES issued a statement “on the incident at the John Fisher School” on March 10.
It said: “Catholic schools welcome pupils from all backgrounds. This isolated incident has given a false impression of the inclusive nature of Catholic schools.”
“Catholic schools are places where all children can flourish and as such have a zero-tolerance approach to LGBT+ discrimination. Nationally the CES has worked closely with schools, dioceses, and charities to produce Catholic inclusivity guidance and resources for schools that have won acclaim from LGBT+ organizations.”
“We would encourage Catholic schools to work closely with their diocese to ensure that all Catholic schools can be welcoming and inclusive centers of learning where everyone is respected as a human being made in the image and likeness of God.”
Edmund Adamus said it was “somewhat bewildering” that the CES statement did not “emphatically support” Archbishop Wilson.
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“Indeed, the tone and wording of the statement implies that the CES disagrees with the archbishop and distances itself from his decision for the sake of political expediency,” he commented.
Critics of the archdiocese included Elliot Colburn, the local Member of Parliament.
“I am horrified that something like this has happened in my constituency,” he wrote on his Twitter account on March 12.
He added: “The actions of the archdiocese are unacceptable. Would they ban me from visiting as an openly gay MP?”
Colburn announced that he would be raising the matter with the archdiocese and the U.K. government’s Department for Education, which said it was “looking into the circumstances surrounding the diocese’s role in this incident.”
The inews.co.uk website reported that Ofsted, the body that inspects schools in England, visited the school on March 16.