Many people have contacted me since reading my last article Women Priests, Gay Sex, and Communion for the Re-Married: Is Fr. Timothy Radcliffe an appropriate speaker for Flame2 Youth Conference 2015? Mostly, people have been angry that a man with these views would be allowed to speak at a UK youth event. Many others have thanked me for alerting them to this issue as they had no idea what Timothy Radcliffe’s views were.
I believe parents and youth ministers alike would have sent their kids to this event in good faith, not realising that Radcliffe holds these views. If parents want their kids to listen to a speaker like Radcliffe then fine, but is the responsibility of CYMFed to be honest as to what they are providing.
It’s such a shame, because Flame 2 could have been such a fantastic event – if only they could employ speakers who are in line with the Catholic faith. I truly hope Flame 2 successfully goes ahead without Radcliffe. There is of course still time for CYMFed to drop him and find another speaker – let’s hope they do. But until that time, they will continue to be held accountable for the fact that they are continuing to sell tickets without informing people of Radcliffe’s views.
Half of the 10,000 tickets have already been sold – many bought in large quantity by youth groups and dioceses. Since the information regarding Radcliffe’s views has now been brought to public attention, the responsibility to inform parents of Radcliffe’s views also lies on the Bishops, clergy and youth workers who are asking parents to part with £20 per ticket and more importantly, to trust them with the care of their children. They have now been put in a very difficult and embarrassing position. Of course they have no choice but to inform parents of the situation, but this will most likely result in many parents wanting a re-fund and feeling extremely let down.
Another key point is that ultimately the buck stops in one place ecclesiastically and that’s at the desk of Cardinal Vincent Nicholls (who also happens to be speaking at Flame 2). It is in his archdiocese that Flame 2 is happening so it’s his responsibility in a unique way to safeguard the orthodoxy of the event and how it could affect the faith formation of those children attending.
It seems to me that the parents of those attending are the last to know in this situation, but it is with them that the real power lies. Let us not forget that prophetic declaration of St John Paul II:
“…families will be the first victims of the evils that they have done no more than note with indifference.” – Familiaris Consortio Para 44.
The church teaches that parents are the primary and most influential educators of their children and their protectors. However, it seems the largest youth conference in the UK deems it unimportant to alert parents to the dissident views of one of its speakers. If my child attended this event and was exposed to a speaker like Radcliffe I would be livid. As a parent I would feel betrayed. Have CYMFed considered how much damage their lack of transparency regarding Radcliffe is going to cause regarding the trust of the parents?
Never before in history has our human right to be the primary educators and protectors of our children in British society been so far removed. Now, according to the Education Act 1996, parents have no right to remove their child from a sex education lesson advocating same-sex marriage. A doctor has no obligation to inform the parents of an under 16 seeking contraception or abortion if he deems them to be Gillick competent. One cannot help but remember the chilling words of Lady Helen Brook, founder of the Brook advisory centre:
“It is now the privilege of the Parental State to take major decisions – objective, unemotional, the State weighs up what is best for the child…” – (Lady Helen Brook The Times 16 February 1980)
I this the direction CYMFed is taking? How does CYMFed expect the child’s parents make an informed decision regarding Flame 2 if they are not given the facts? Are CYMFed recognising and respecting the parents’ role as primary educator and protector? Or are they acting as some sort of ‘Nanny State’?
I would encourage you to join the ever increasing amount of people writing to CYMFed asking why they feel Timothy Radcliffe is an appropriate speaker for a UK youth event? And to ++Vincent Nicholls asking why he is letting this happen in his diocese?
07528 643 420
Cardinal Vincent Nichols
020 7798 9033