Ross Ahlfeld: Why the indy left should stop attacking pro-lifers and faith schools

CommonSpace columnist Ross Ahlfeld says the Catholic Church's pro-life teachings are in line with its social justice values, and the left should make an effort to understand that if it wants an inclusive indy Scotland

I WAS disappointed to read Michael Gray’s article published in The National on Tuesday 7 February titled: 'So-called pro-life campaign groups have no place in our schools.' 

This article contained some very biased sentiments and lots of misunderstanding around the pro-life movement and the ways in which catholic schools promote catholic values.

Sure, some on the indy left such as Gray are happy when Scottish bishops are more outspoken on nuclear weapons than their English equivalents. They accept and understand that care for refugees is a natural catholic moral outlook, yet they call for the state to intervene when it comes the Catholic community promoting its obvious pro-life position in Catholic schools.

Secularists claim that hospitality towards refugees escaping war and pro-life promotion are two separate issues which are not moral equivalents.

Yes, folks like Gray approve when catholic schools are giving out Caritas awards to pupils for raising awareness around issues such as child refugees, modern slavery and human trafficking. Yet they also claim that parents, teachers and clergy are guilty of an abuse of power when it comes to similar work around pro-life issues.

Secularists claim that hospitality towards refugees escaping war and pro-life promotion are two separate issues which are not moral equivalents. However, this would be to misunderstand our catholic social teaching on 'the common good', which promotes the good for all people and of the whole person. 

It is the idea that we exist "with" others and "for" others but always with one eye on the end goal of "the preservation of all human life". Therefore, they should understand that the two issues cannot be separated by catholics or catholic schools.

Similarly, give some consideration to the possibility of an alt-right dominated, Ukip/Trump era paradigm shift in the near future, in which being concerned for the welfare of refugees and asylum seekers is no longer regarded a mainstream position or standard government policy. 

If this day ever comes, rest assured that the catholic community’s position on such issues will remain unchanged, just as it remains unchanged on pro-life issues. This is because the inherent human dignity of each and every individual always remains the same regardless of any changes in government policy or societal fads.

However, this would be to misunderstand our catholic social teaching on 'the common good', which promotes the good for all people and of the whole person.  

Once they understand this they will better understand how catholic schools regard being pro-life and being pro-social justice as one and the same.

I don't think that newspapers like The National or those on the indy left are doing their cause any favours by being so hostile to faith schools. I’m not seeking to advocate for or against the independence movement here, but these attacks on faith communities show a typically narrow mindset which has not learned any lessons from the previous indyref. 

Any broad, mass movement in Scotland has to reach out to Scots who aren't either secularists or libertarians. Those on the Scottish indy left would do well to accept the fact that monarchists, religious people, pro-lifers, elderly folks, social conservatives and middle class people etc are part of our society, too. It would be better to seek an economy with them rather than simply dismiss such large numbers of potential Yes voters if there was ever an indyref 2.

In reality, we have both No voters and Yes voters in our churches, we should be catholics first and unionists and nationalists second. Christian voters of all denominations in Scotland are not, and never have been, a homogenous group who vote along religious lines.

Despite various stats providing analysis of each denomination’s voting patterns, it’s clear that Scottish christians did not vote collectively for or against independence, and are as divided on this issue as the rest of the country.

It is the idea that we exist "with" others and "for" others but always with one eye on the end goal of "the preservation of all human life". Therefore, they should understand that the two issues cannot be separated by catholics or catholic schools.

However, anyone on the Scottish liberal left who thinks that the church is the enemy of a progressive and modern Scotland would do well to consider the role the christian left and christian democrats have often played in various different devolved, autonomous, federalist and independence movements throughout Europe over the last century.

For example, in Flanders, christian democrats have always been at the heart of the Flemish movement. After World War II, the Christian People’s Party (Christelijke Volkspartij) immediately won the largest number of seats in parliament in 1946. 

Since then, the Christelijke Volkspartij has implemented social reforms and pushed the agenda for more regional autonomy.

In a very different way, the independence movement in Catalonia has benefited from its association with the Benedictine monks of Santa María de Montserrat Abbey. 

The monks have long been the main preservers and defenders of Catalan culture. They have done this by publishing books, studies and articles dedicated to raising the awareness of Catalan language, history and culture. 

I’m not seeking to advocate for or against the independence movement here, but these attacks on faith communities show a typically narrow mindset which has not learned any lessons from the previous indyref. 

For decades the Abbey in Montserrat has been an important spiritual focal point for the independence movement of Catalonia.

It’s exactly this spiritual dimension which appears to be missing from our own autonomous movement. Much like Scots, Catalans do not seek an independent parliament for purely historical reasons; they, too, want a fairer, more equal society. 

Like us, most Catalans want a society which could bring the different members of society together, including faith communities. This is why many Catalans value the role which the monks play in bringing an expression of faith to what would otherwise be a very transactional and bureaucratic movement.

More so, other regional autonomy movements in Spain have benefited, not just from the spirituality of the church, but also from the social teaching of the church, too. 

For example, Father José María Arizmendiarrieta was a catholic priest and founder of the Mondragon cooperative movement in the Basque Country. Mondragon is a collection of workers' cooperatives established in the Basque town of Mondragoe in the 1950s based on the catholic social teaching of Fr. Arizmendiarrieta, who had a deep love of his native Basque Country. Arizmendiarrieta initially worked for a Basque language newspaper associated with the short lived Basque government. He even spent time in jail due to his involvement in the revival of the Basque-speaking culture.

Those on the Scottish indy left would do well to accept the fact that monarchists, religious people, pro-lifers, elderly folks, social conservatives and middle class people etc are part of our society, too.

Finally, that which we stand to lose through Brexit can be preserved through the idea of subsidiarity. Faith schools are an important aspect of subsidiarity since they are devolved, semi-autonomous, community led institutions which occupy the space between two spheres – the state and the individual.

Therefore, if we wish to be a small, modern European nation like Norway or the Netherlands then we should remember that even these liberal secular nations (both with constitutional monarchs) still have their Bible belts (De Bijbelgordel) where traditional Calvinist communities are left to manage their own affairs, including the education of their own children in their own faith schools without too much state intervention. 

Maybe this is the best model for us to follow, too.

Picture courtesy of American Life League

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Comments

brindy

Fri, 03/03/2017 - 17:25

1) You're wrong. Pro-life movement has no place in a progressive society.

2) Secondly your opinion is fundamentally incompatible with Common Weal ideas (see #67). The rights of an actual human must override the rights of a potential human. And in this case, especially coming from a man, any other opinion is purely misogyny and oppression.

3) Why not post this opinion on the platform in which the original opinion was posted. Write a letter to the National.

I think CommonSpace has made a huge blunder allowing this platform to be used to air such disgusting opinions. Other right-wing opinions wouldn't be welcome here, so neither should this.

Kirsty Dee

Fri, 03/03/2017 - 17:48

I wish these people would stop calling themselves "pro-life". They're bro-birth. They couldn't care less about the life of the woman whose uterus is being treated as male property.

Women are human beings, capable of forming our own thoughts and feelings. Capable of making decisions about our own bodies. Denying women this control over their bodies underlies and sustains women’s economic, political, social and sexual subordination.

If someone doesn't respect women's rights, they don't respect human rights. Criticising these people's anti-human-rights opinions is not "attacking them". It's simply fighting to liberate women from centuries of systematic oppression and to end a culture which condones widespread male violence against women.

In the current political climate, where so many of the basic rights our sisters fought for are being taken away, surely appeasing these patriarchal organisations is the last thing we should be considering doing?

For those interested, there is an march for international women's rights taking place on Wednesday evening in Edinburgh.

https://www.facebook.com/events/386640558362793/?ti=cl

florian albert

Fri, 03/03/2017 - 21:07

'Pro-life movement has no place in a progressive society.'

You would think that the failure of Hillary Clinton to defeat as flawed a candidate as Trump would make those who style themselves 'progressives' stop and think about how they appear to others.
It appears not.
I mostly agree with Ross Alhfeld. You regard my opinions as 'disgusting'. I will view it as a badge of honour.

PoliticallyIncorrect

Sat, 03/04/2017 - 09:07

This article was not about the rights or wrongs of abortion.

cliffman

Sat, 03/04/2017 - 10:15

Not an actual human? Not a human rights issue? Time to think again.

https://youtu.be/ESqdmQFTNhE

PS. How do you feel about the man who does this to women and their children? How do you feel about the man who forces his partner to have an abortion?

Supreme_Allied_...

Sat, 03/04/2017 - 11:41

Catholics are lovely people and have helped me out when I have been in trouble.

So I won't hear a word against Catholics.

I simply say to my Catholic friends, there is another from God, better than the Pope, and your place is by her side.

"Condoleezza Rice from God. Catholics, know your place."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWZLNeyVp2A

"The Fall of Rome: Our saviour Condoleezza Rice vs. The Pope"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZX0PD8PmvXs

Supreme Allied Condista

Supreme_Allied_...

Sat, 03/04/2017 - 11:47

Condoleezza Rice's Views on Abortion
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgGYDQioAWg

Supreme_Allied_...

Sat, 03/04/2017 - 12:18

Really Catholics and Christians generally should be finding fault with the Queen, whose governments have sinfully aided and traded with state sponsors of terrorism like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

The terrorists that the Queen's governments have paid for have massacred many innocent Christians and many innocents of other faiths and of none in the Middle East, Africa and across the world.

Christians really should be praying that God will damn the Queen to Hell for all the innocents her kingdom's terrorist proxies have slaughtered. Christians should NEVER be singing "God Save the Queen".

There's a lot of hypocrisy in claiming to be "pro life" yet at the same time praying for an evil Queen and royal family whose kingdom has paid the wages of terrorists to kill so many innocents.

Yvie P

Sat, 03/04/2017 - 18:01

Not a discussion about abortion. Article is about pro life groups in schools.

Michael Gray's article 'So-called pro-life campaign groups have no place in our schools' was right to challenge this. We are told of ONLY two RC high school guilty of having pro-life groups within the school, both in the West. This is not, thank God, indicative of our HTs choices. Indoctrination of impressionable young people into protesting about an issue that they have not been well informed about is hardly good teaching practice. It is quite alarming that Ross Ahlfeld views this as the
"Catholic community promoting its obvious pro-life position in Catholic schools". A)Why promote this judgmental and socially oppressive group? B)What teacher has the right to tell any child to judge another? C) We are a modern society where women make their own choices by their own conscience.

It is NOT the business of Catholic schools to bring bigots into the teaching environment it is not in line with any sense of community that I have experience in 22 years as a parent of school aged children. I would be very worried if I heard this attitude at any PC meeting and would rally vehemently against a Pro-life group having anything to do with my children's school.

The introduction of The Abortion Act 1967 has saved millions of women's lives, sadly too late for a Grandmother I never got to meet.

smitholivia2016

Mon, 03/06/2017 - 11:32

If you were truly pro-life, you would put your ego to one side and spend your time working with women who are too afraid to have babies alone.

You are not. You are power hungry and self promoting. Why debase yourself with the company of the vulnerable when you can spend your time strutting and pontificating and stripping the utterly desperate of their last resort?

If Scotland becomes independent, it will need doers, not sociopathic opiners.

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