Glasgow, Scotland, Jan 15, 2014 / 04:10 am
A Scottish Catholic education leader is "confident" the government's proposal for sex education in Catholic schools regarding contraception and homosexual unions will not be implemented.
He did, however, characterize the proposal as "a bit mean-spirited."
"The Church has a legal right to provide guidance for Catholic schools in this country. We intend to retain that right, and we're looking for the government guidance to respect that and honor the assurance that was previously given us," Michael McGrath, director of the Scottish Catholic Education Service, said Jan. 14.
"Of course in a Catholic school we won't promote any form of sex education which is at odds with the doctrine of the Church," said McGrath, whose organization is part of the Scottish bishops' Catholic Education Commission.
A new draft of the Scottish government's guidance calls for sex education in Catholic schools to give explicit lessons about contraception and homosexual sex. Government ministers say every student should learn about local clinics where they can acquire contraception and tests for sexually transmitted disease, the Scottish Express reports.
The proposal comes ahead of the introduction of "gay marriage" in Scotland.
Scotland's over 350 Catholic schools are not managed or owned by the Church, but are part of the state system, McGrath told CNA / EWTN News. However, the Church has legal rights over "the content of religious and moral education."
While the government can provide guidance to determine how schools should teach certain issues, such as health education and sex education, McGrath said that "the Church has a legal right to determine what's provided appropriately in a Catholic school in this area of the curriculum."
"We are confident that the final guidance will respect the Church's guidance, as Parliament backs our legal position, and if that were to be changed, we would contest that through the courts," he added. "I'm surely confident that that won't happen."
McGrath said that parents who choose to send their children to a Catholic school are seeking to have them formed in the certain values and tradition which they are comfortable with. That choice is one that we honor and one that is popular in this country."
About 20 percent of schoolchildren are in Catholic schools, he said.
"When parents make that choice, it's right that the children are educated in accordance with their wishes."
McGrath said that Catholic schools will still promote "a vision of marriage which is the Church's traditional vision of marriage between one man and one woman." He said he is hopeful that the government will "respond positively" to comments on this matter.
Government officials have made assurances that they have no intention of requiring a school to act contrary to the policies of the Scottish Catholic Education Service or other religious authorities, the Scottish Express reports.