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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Monday, June 22, 2009
We have been honoured to have our new Archbishop amongst us this weekend. Let us reflect upon some of his very recently published and spoken thoughts concerning modern society, especially with regard to the developing attack upon Catholic education as being anti-social.
In a recently published essay “Community Cohesion and Catholic Education” in The Nation that Forgot God Archbishop Nichols points out that to get people of different religions and cultures to work well together it is not necessary nor sufficient to mix them at an early age. Rather it is necessary to educate the young coherently in appropriate values.
Yet the former approach seems to trump the latter in modern discourse. The open teaching of clear moral principles, which is sometimes even attacked as ‘indoctrination’, is rejected in favour what is termed ‘toleration’. In a 3rd June lecture at London University Nichols pointed out that in fact this is just the teaching of a different set of values, but in a less open and in fact less rational manner than is done in Catholic schools.
He argues that in fact the most rational foundation of moral values is the Creator of all. Religion then is indispensable to man’s happiness and his rational and moral operation, and so to fostering the values which are essential to multi-cultural community cohesion. “Shared moral reasoning as a basis for community cohesion is the alternative to radical individualism which has led us so far on a path that is clearly divisive and inimical to a cohesive society.”
In his London University lecture the Archbishop uses the concept of “human ecology” employed by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. The human person needs the right environment, in John Paul’s words, “to develop every aspect of the individual: social, intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual.”
Archbishop Nichols goes on: “When looked at more closely, this ‘human ecology’ is in fact a series of interlocking ecologies, as indeed is the complex of ecological systems which make up our natural environment.” Catholic schools foster an environment in which all are welcome, through, firstly, respecting each person who is “created by God and has an inner dignity, or spiritual dimension, that comes from God alone.” Secondly comes an “atmosphere of justice” and thirdly recognition of the “faith and religious experience which is innate in human beings”.
He goes on: “We recognize that just as all truth rests in the Word of God, through whom all things were made and through Whom all thing will come to their completion, so too the construction of a true human ecology can only be achieved in relationship to the Word [...] the centre of true human ecology is the person of Christ.”

posted by Sinead Reekie at 12:14 pm