By Way of Clarification
As you are probably aware there was an article in The Newcastle Herald this week concerning my emails to staff regarding the issue of marriage equality. That article has in turn led to questions being asked by some members of our school community on what is and is not allowed to be discussed at school.  By way of clarification I make the following points:
·         Issues such as moral, ethical and social justice questions are open for discussion at St Pius in a safe and non-judgemental atmosphere.  This includes gay rights, same-sex marriage, gender equity and so on.  Catholic school teachers do this within the context of Catholic doctrine in our Religious Education lessons.
·         Our teaching in Religious Studies encourages techniques and models of ethical decision making as applied to real-world issues.  Our aim is always to encourage and develop students who are critical thinkers, ready to engage with a Catholic worldview and perspective.
·         When discussing issues such as same-sex marriage, teachers have a responsibility to present an un-biased view.  Knowing that our society is pluralistic and issues have many grey areas, teachers present and discuss issues from the different viewpoints that exist, including the Catholic worldview.
·         Pope Francis has advocated for our Church to be merciful, pastoral and less judgmental ensuring that all behaviours and decisions are based on the example of Christ given in the Gospel.  Pope Francis also understands that different communities around the world have their own context and culture and they are a significant influence on a person’s conscience.  The importance (or primacy) of a person’s informed conscience is central to the Church’s teaching.
·         The school follows this lead.  Teachers do not tell students what they must believe on any issue, although as a Catholic school we will teach the Catholic Faith within the guidelines prescribed by our Bishop.  Indeed, it would be very wrong for teachers to try to influence a student’s beliefs to be in accordance with their own.

I am sorry for any anxiety or confusion my emails may have caused any member of our school community.
If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Regards & best wishes
Bob Emery