A seemingly relatively innocent post regarding a prayer room (Christian) being established at Cardinal Newman School, Hove (where they have a rather beautiful chapel) has extended into the realm of Muslim Prayer Rooms being provided in Catholic Schools.
I must admit, this revelation came as something of a shock to me.
I can see no reason why a Catholic School should provide resources for students of other faiths, especially, Islam which takes such an extreme view on Christian belief and refuses to acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Son of God, relegating His role to that of a prophet.
Furthermore, many Muslims hold to the belief that the crucifixion was a 'sham' and that Our Lord was involved in a last minute switch resulting in some other poor soul being crucified in His place.
The very essence of Islamic theology is utterly opposed to Catholic doctrinal teaching and whilst, I hold to respecting all other faiths, I do not believe that Catholics should be involved in attending Hindu, Sikh or Muslim ceremonies and certainly, Muslim Prayer Rooms have no place in a Catholic School.
It appears that the invidious spread of this practice is at the behest of lay chaplains and Deacons and, therein lies the crunch.
With all respect to people who hold such positions, they do not have the depth of grounding in theology, philosophy and doctrinal issues that a priest (in theory) has. In fact, I do not believe that we should have 'lay chaplains' at all. This is the province of a priest.
They should not, therefore, be the arbiters of moves to radically adopt tactics that defy Catholic orthodoxy.
That Catholic Schools, or, some of them, appear to have moved into this arena, poses the question: "Does their Archbishop know?"
Or, even: "Does their Headteacher know?"
What is the view of Archbishop Peter Smith on this topic?
Does the Catholic Education Service know of such goings on?
If you feel strongly on this topic, please email the Archbishop of Southwark at this address:
And, just for the record, I believe that it is in order for Muslim pupils to attend Catholic Schools provided that there is a shortfall of Catholic pupils and places are available.
Going back to my own schooldays (with the aid of some reminiscence therapy), I recall that non Catholic pupils were welcomed on the basis that, by association, they might come to know and love the true Faith.
That seems eminently sensible to me.
Providing them with a prayer room does not.
And, for those folk who belong to the Call for Action group and who appear to have an uninformed sense of Catholic teaching, here is what Our Lord has to say on the matter:
"That they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be one in us, . . . so that the world may know that you have sent me." (John 17:21)
"And other sheep I have that are not of this fold; I must lead them too, and they shall heed my voice.
So there shall be one shepherd and one flock". (John 10: 11-18)
See also: Catholic Schools, Muslim services