According to my ACN diary today is the Feast of the English & Welsh Martyrs of 1535-1680.
It just so happened that my induction day for my new job fell upon this day, today. I thought that was a bit weird but dismissed any thought that it was in any way providential...until I went to my induction day.
The breaking news is that I have a job. That should be enough to get anyone out of their computer chair and splutter their coffee over their computer screen in shock. The other breaking news is that I am unsure whether in good conscience I can accept this job. Please allow me to explain why...
At some point in Lent I applied myself to applying for some jobs. I didn't get any positive news back until I was invited for an interview at a local College for the position of exam invigilator. Incredibly, I was successful in the interview, even though when I was asked about my experience in 'project leadership', I cited organising a pilgrimmage to see the Holy Father in Hyde Park, so I can't accuse them of not being 'equal opportunities' employers.
Anyway, so I got the job and was invited to fill out a CRB form, some other forms and to attend today's induction class on how to be an exam invigilator, receive documentation on our hours, and the rest. The second half of the class, however, was devoted to 'Child Protection and Safeguarding'. So, I listened with the other new employees to a lady discussing what we need to know about child protection and safeguarding, all the legislation and the rest. Now, at some point while she was talking I began to feel a little bit sick.
The lady was talking about how the College has to 'safeguard' the students. It means looking out for their welfare. She talked about circumstances and situations in which students may make a 'disclosure' to staff and what staff are to do. While it was incredibly unlikely that, as exam invigilators, we would be privy to students personal concerns, it was not totally unfeasible that we might be trusted with information from students who have hit some kind of crisis. So, the rules are, if a 'disclosure' is made to you, you must listen to it and report it to your superiors. My mind flitted to potential 'disclosures' and wondered how one would be called upon to react to news of an 'unwanted' pregnancy.
Delicately, I asked her what was the most common crisis or concern for students. For some reason, I had the word "abortion" ringing in my ear. I can be quite naive at times, as friends will tell you and for some reason, on this gloriously sunny day, as I had approached the College, walking past a lecturer explaining, with the window open, the bibliography of George Orwell to his class, I walked into the induction happy as Larry, thinking what a pleasant College this is. In many ways I expect it is a very pleasant College, but by the end of the said lady's very slick PowerPoint presentation, I was beginning to wonder whether this is the place for me.
So, anyway, when I asked the lady what was the most common situation of distress for students, I wondered whether she might say, "pregnancy" because I'd bet what I own that it is. She replied saying something along the lines of "panic attacks, pre-exam nerves, etc." I asked this because during her presentation the College website's Personal Support team came up and I saw the word, 'Sexual Health Clinic' with this service available to students..
- C-Cards and free condoms
- Chlamydia tests
- Advice on where to go locally for further sexual health services
This is a completely confidential service. Do drop in!
Their words, not mind, you understand. Now, I am aware that various Catholic colleges, schools and possibly universities have been surreptitiously co-opted, somehow, by secular groups like Connexions who promote nefarious 'choices' to the students of Catholic schools, but I would doubt that any Catholic college or school would promote artificial contraception, abortion and 'emergency contraception' to students so flagrantly. Having already in the course of the afternoon visited the canteen for a parched throat and walked past the College Philosophy Society's next seminar, touchingly entitled 'Strength in Unity: A Defense of Fascism', I was not all that shocked to see in the side entrance corridor to College, the obligatory board promoting condoms to the students, alongside a large Marie Stopes Clinic poster, basically, advertising the notorious global abortion providers for those times when the former product fails.
It should be noted that a key aspect of 'safeguarding', of course, is that 'confidentiality' is guarded safely, so that students maintain a relationship of trust with the College staff. I'm guessing therefore, that when students are referred for abortions by the Personal Support team, parents are not informed, if that is the student's expressed desire.
I left the induction day without having said anything afterwards to the 'Personal Support' staff member, something for which I shall have to answer to God, but I do have her email. I'm sure that the likelihood is extremely low of me receiving a student 'disclosure' of information which would place me in the awkward position of having to report an 'unwanted' pregnancy to more senior staff who would most likely go on to advise or acquiesce in contacting BPAS or Marie Stopes, but I can't help feeling that that isn't the point. Obviously, it would be 'unprofessional' of me, in that situation, to prepare by having a stash of Good Counsel Network leaflets to give out, wouldn't it?
Somehow, I can't help feeling that the details of this are subsidiary to the more important moral question, in which I hope you can help me: Can I, in good conscience, be a practising Catholic and work for and be paid by, even as an exam invigilator, a College that promotes contraception to and most certainly refers students for abortions? One word answers to the question will suffice, but your additional comments are most welcome. It's very depressing, isn't it? I wonder why they can't advertise the Good Counsel Network or LIFE? On the upside I have had an order for 100 Divine Mercy leaflets from a Catholic chaplaincy in the UK. More generally, I'm wondering if British Catholics should just move to Poland, where life is still defended. It's a new phenomenon called moral emigration...Poles come here for jobs, we go there for their morality...