Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Cardinal Vaughan School - Damian Thompson steps up!

Thank heavens someone more in the public eye than me has stepped up to the mark to highlight the disgraceful scandal concerning Westminster Diocese and the desire to control this sound, excellent and Catholic School.
At times I really do wonder at the Catholic Church in England and Wales and my faith begins to get an attack of the shakes. But then, I think that we are being tried as we have been tried over the past 21 years (for my family) and I rally at the thought that Christ also had his accusers and some of those came from within His group.

Here is Damian's piece read it and weep, or, better still, write to Rome :-


The battle over the Cardinal Vaughan School: devout parents and a doughty ex-headmaster versus Left-wing dinosaurs

Michael Gormally with Archbishop Nichols at Westminster Cathedral
Michael Gormally with Archbishop Nichols at Westminster Cathedral
The dispute over the Catholic ethos of the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School in West London has been simmering for the best part of 25 years now. To cut a long story short, it pits devout Catholic parents against Left-leaning Westminster diocesan bureaucrats who are sniffing round like detectives for any evidence of the ultimate crime, “selection”. But it’s not academic selection that the diocese is rooting out: it’s the school’s policy of giving preference to pupils whose families are demonstrably Catholic. Alas, the diocesan wreckers now have the upper hand.
When it comes to education, Archbishop Vincent Nichols is a man of the Left: hence his failure to tackle the “Catholic” Education Service and its ideologically blinkered director, Onna Stannard. Sad to relate, the Archbishop supported the diocese’s decision to force the Vaughan to change its admissions policy by sacking governors and replacing them with its own representatives.
A High Court battle ensued which the diocese won. The terrific headmaster of the Vaughan, Michael Gormally, unfortunately retired this summer through ill health. But he is appalled by the diocese’s behaviour and backs the parent governors’ campaign against the High Court ruling.
In October, at a packed Mass in Westminster Cathedral, Archbishop Nichols paid tribute to Mr Gormally on his retirement, as well he should: his achievement has been nothing short of magnificent. The photograph above shows the two men wreathed in smiles. But if they met today, I suspect, the atmosphere would be less cordial.
On December 8, Archbishop Nichols sent a letter to Vaughan parents arguing that the diocese could not “acquiesce in an erroneous interpretation of the law that would have impaired the legal discretion of the Archbishop to decide whom to appoint as Foundation Governors”. He added that “the Catholic character of the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School, of which it is rightly proud, should be evident in all aspects of its life”.
Here is Mr Gormally’s response to the Archbishop, dated December 9. I make no apologies for printing it in full, because what we are witnessing here is the transformation of a unique and wonderful institution, Catholic despite rather than thanks to diocesan shinypants, into a bog-standard comp which in a few years will be Catholic in name only.
Dear Archbishop Nichols
This is to acknowledge your letter to me of yesterday’s date. It is marked “Private & Confidential”, so I will not quote from it directly. However, since your purpose is to ask me to help to dispel impressions that you and those who act in your name are opposed or inimical to the Vaughan School, I do not feel precluded from publicising this reply.
People’s opinions about the motives of the Diocese will be determined, not by anything I might think or say, but by the actions of the Diocese. I have neither time nor space to rehearse these in detail, but here are a few that seem particularly hard to understand:
• The Diocese’s consistent failure, over the past few years, to observe its own policy on consultation before appointing Foundation Governors.
• The Diocese’s failure to provide a cogent explanation for its refusal to re-appoint as many as seven highly able and dedicated Governors, and two Chairmen in succession.
• The Diocese’s referral of the School to the Office of the Schools’ Adjudicator.
• The Diocese’s appointment to the Governing Body of its own Director of Education.
• The Diocese’s failure to appoint current parents as Foundation Governors.
A lot of people think that the Diocese has treated the Vaughan at least high-handedly, if not with contempt bordering on malice. To their mind the School has been singled out for special treatment. I might add that they will be confirmed in this belief by events at last evening’s Governors’ Meeting – I understand that the attitude adopted by one of your appointees was unfortunate in the extreme – and not least by the astonishing decision of your representatives to appoint to the Chairmanship one who is already Chairman of a nearby Catholic school.
So I regret that no words of mine can help to improve the standing of the Diocese in the eyes of many concerned with the Vaughan. To regain their trust and their respect will take a long time and much patient work. Your agents will have to convince people that they are more interested in the good of the School than in imposing at all costs an ideologically-driven, one-size-fits-all approach to the organisation of Catholic education. No less importantly, they must stop labelling those who disagree with this approach as disloyal or even disobedient. I can hardly exaggerate the extent to which inferences of this kind are resented.
In short, Your Grace, handsome is as handsome does.
Yours sincerely
Michael Gormally

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