The Bishop of Lancaster, Patrick O’Donoghue – known almost universally as “Pod” – has just issued a brave and radical set of instructions to Catholic schools in his diocese, telling them that they must be more Catholic.
From now on, says the bishop, all primary and secondary schools must base RE lessons on the Catechism; schools that do not have a chapel should build one; there must be a crucifix in every classroom – and the Church’s teaching on sex outside marriage and abortion must be upheld.
In the past I’ve slagged off the bishop something rotten for his ill-conceived plan to close churches and naïve Left-wing political pronouncements. But when it comes to the defence of the faith, “Pod” is fearless – unlike dreary Catholic educationalists who want to water it down lest it offend the Guardian.
Bishop O’Donoghue’s 60-page instruction to his diocesan schools, entitled “Fit for Mission?”, tells them that they must abandon an attitude that “limits our children’s faith to what they or their teachers personally consider ‘relevant’ ”.
He writes: “The tragic consequence of selection based on ‘relevance’ is that great truths are ignored or treated superficially, such as the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, the incarnation of the Son of God, the virginal conception of Mary, Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist.”
Prayer in schools is sometimes hollow and superficial, he says – so he wants to reintroduce adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the rosary.
Bishop O’Donoghue has had a difficult time in Lancaster, which famously lost millions of pounds after overspending on bureaucracy. As I say, I’ve been very harsh on him in the past. But I’m beginning to understand why one of London’s best-known parish priests told me the other day: “Whatever mistakes he has made, Pod is in a class of his own when it comes to upholding the faith.” "Holy Smoke", Telegraph
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