I have received some good news from the Archdiocese of Tuam which shows the importance of Catholic Action and which should encourage others who are considering taking similar actions.
In the last issue of Catholic Voice, I addressed the issue of an organisation called ‘Sexual Health West’ who promote the homosexual lifestyle and who publicly state that in certain circumstances they will give condoms to children under the age of sixteen, and the fact that they were operating out of a building and with an organisation with strong links to the Archdiocese of Tuam.
I encouraged our readers to write to the Archbishop of Tuam and I wrote to him myself.
Often times when I urge people to write to a bishop I get the response that, “there is no point writing to the bishops”. This is because many people believe that our bishops will not address the issues that they raise. I always tell people to write anyway because in this way you are creating a paper trail, a written record for posterity which shows that there some people did object to the evils of our day.
It is important to state that we should not expect to achieve success with every letter we write, or to achieve success on our first attempt. We also need to look at how we are approaching the issues we address. Our bishops do not need to receive yet another cranky letter from some disgruntled parishioner who rails on about the evils of our day.
When writing to a bishop the letter must be respectful. The letter should only address one main point and should not digress into a lamentation of every evil under the sun. When finished addressing the main point, do not continue with, “and another thing I would like to point out bishop…”. Simply stick to the main point.
The letter should also be well researched and should provide documentary evidence which clearly shows the problem you have identified. The letter should also offer a solution or an expectation of what you want done to resolve the particular matter that you have raised.
On 21st April I received a reply from Archbishop Michael Neary’s secretary which included the following.
“Archbishop Neary was unaware of the matters about which you wrote and is grateful that they were brought to his attention.
The Board of Trustees of the Family Life Centre has confirmed to Archbishop Neary that it will discontinue its relationship with Sexual Health West with immediate effect, and will remove details of same from the Centre’s website, flyers, banners, and advertising material. The Archbishop is pleased to mention that the Board of Trustees acted swiftly and willingly once the matter was raised.”
I am very grateful to Archbishop Michael Neary for the prompt and decisive response to this matter which is indeed very good news.
But this should not be considered an end of the matter as this prompt action, whilst very welcome, does not get to the root of the problem. With this in mind I sent the following reply to Archbishop Michael Neary.
I was pleased to receive your letter of 20th April in which you confirm that the Board of Trustees of the Family Life Centre has confirmed to you that it will discontinue its relationship with Sexual Health West with immediate effect. This is indeed good news.
However, I am a little concerned at your praise for the swiftness with which the Board of Trustees acted. In my research, I have discovered that the relationship between the Family Centre and AIDS West/Sexual Health West goes back to at least 2009. I enclose a screenshot from the Family Centre’s website from July 14th, 2009, which shows that a representative of AIDS West was attending the centre on the first Tuesday of the month back as far as 2009, twelve years ago. It has taken the Board of Trustees twelve years to act!
What this clearly shows is a lack of due diligence on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the Family Centre in Castlebar which could have put children at risk. AIDS West/Sexual Health West provides information which is at odds with Catholic Church teaching on human sexuality and quite frankly, as can be seen from the previous enclosures I sent to you, some of the information they provide represents a danger to children and young people as it promotes the male homosexual lifestyle with all its attendant disease and health risks.
That this situation has only been corrected because a Catholic parent passer-by, who happened to have extensive knowledge of the corrupt ideology of Sexual Health West, noticed a promotional banner outside the centre, clearly shows that the Child Safeguarding policy of the Tuam Archdiocese has been undermined by the lack of due diligence of the Board of Trustees.
As your safeguarding policy states in its introduction by the Chairman of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland.
“Families need to know that the Church is making every effort to protect their children.”
Allowing an organisation, which clearly states that it is prepared, in certain circumstances, to give condoms to children under the age of 16, to operate from a Diocesan owned building and to be publicly advertised outside of that building, is a clear breach of the standards one would expect from an organisation with strong Catholic connections, and which deals with sensitive family matters. The situation is made worse by the fact that there are at least two diocesan priests on the Board of Trustees.
Given that the relationship was terminated with immediate effect, it is obvious that the Board of Trustees agrees with my assessment. Therefore, it is now incumbent on the Board of Trustees to seek to find out how an organisation, which represents a threat to the safety of children, came to be operating out of its premises. The purpose of such a review would be to make sure that such a situation cannot arise again.
There is also a need for the Archdiocese to ascertain whether this organisation has been, or is being, facilitated in making presentations to children in diocesan Catholic schools through their affiliate organisation ‘WISER – West of Ireland Sex Education Resource’, or if any of the resources of the WISER organisation are being used in Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese.
WISER have developed both a primary and secondary school programme and on their website, they say, “Our trained facilitators deliver a comprehensive sexual health education programme to schools. The aim of the programme is to support the Social, Personal and Health Education Curriculum (SPHE). The programme consists of 3 sessions of approximately 1.5 hours each.”
The seriousness of this situation must not be underestimated Archbishop Neary, and the steps to protect our children from this organisation must be taken now and these steps must be robust and decisive in preventing this organisation from having access to Catholic school children.
May God bless you in the Sacred Heart of Jesus.”
I pray that this will encourage others to join in the fight to protect our children from all harm and that it will encourage bishops to act as well.