MANCHESTER, England (CNS) – The British government is investigating claims that Catholic schools have acted illegally by circulating a letter allegedly inviting students to sign a petition in support of traditional marriage.
It is against British law for children under the age of 16 to sign political petitions, but the text of the letter, circulated in nearly 400 schools for children ages 11-16, invites the faithful to sign the petition organized by the Coalition for Marriage, a group of organizations opposed to government proposals to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples.
The government’s Department for Education is now investigating complaints by campaigners for gay marriage that students under the age of 16 years were encouraged to break the law. It is seeking a meeting with officials from the Catholic Education Service, an agency of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
The Catholic Education Service has denied any wrongdoing.
“Catholic state schools have always been permitted by law to teach matters relating to sex and relationships education, including the importance of marriage, in accordance with the teaching of the Catholic Church,” said an April 26 statement. “The Catholic Church’s view on the importance of marriage is a religious view, not a political one.”