We wrote yesterday about the new rapprochement (dare we call it an "unholy alliance"?) between the Catholic Church and the Muslim religion. Here is further proof, if it is needed …
Muslim prayer rooms should be opened in every Roman Catholic school, Church leaders have said. The Catholic bishops of England and Wales also want special toilet facilities in schools to be adapted for Islamic cleaning rituals.
Their demands will shock both Catholic parents and the Government because they go way beyond the legal requirements on catering for the rights and needs of religious minorities. But the bishops are keen to answer critics who say religious schools sow division - and to show that they are leading the way in building bridges between people of different faiths.
"If practicable, a room (or rooms) might be made available for the use of pupils and staff from other faiths for prayer," the bishops said in the document, Catholic Schools, Children of Other Faiths and Community Cohesion. "Existing toilet facilities might be adapted to accommodate individual ritual cleansing which is sometimes part of religious lifestyle and worship," they said. "If such space is not available on a permanent or regular basis, extra efforts might be made to address such need for major religious festivals."
The Islamic cleansing ritual, called "Wudhu", is carried out by Muslims before they pray. Islam teaches that Muslims are unfit for prayer if they have not performed Wudhu after breaking wind or using the toilet. Wudhu involves washing the face, hands, arms and feet three times each, gargling the mouth three times and washing the neck and inside the nose and ears. Some Muslims also wash their private parts (What? They wash their bollocks every time they fart? - GOS).
Catholic schools would need to install bidets, foot spas and hoses to facilitate such extensive cleansing rituals, Muslims say.
The document has been published by the Catholic Education Service, an agency of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. But it has been personally approved by Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Birmingham and the favourite to succeed Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor next year as the leader of the country's 4.3 million Catholics. It will inevitably lead to accusations that the Catholic Church is ready to cave in to the Government's agenda and some Catholics have questioned the wisdom of the policies as well as the cost.
Daphne McLeod, a former Catholic head teacher from south London, said it would be "terribly expensive" for the country's 2,300 Catholic primary and secondary schools to provide ritual cleansing facilities.
She said: "If Muslim parents choose a Catholic school then they accept that it is going to be a Catholic school and there will not be facilities for ritual cleansing and prayer rooms. They do their ritual cleansing before they go to a mosque, but they are not going to a mosque. I don't think the bishops should go looking for problems. Where will it stop?"
The GOS says: Actually, this is a pretty good idea. One trusts the Muslim community will show its appreciation by ensuring there's a Christmas tree in every mosque this year.
As to where it'll stop, why should it stop anywhere?
Perhaps other religious denominations should join in - a muezzin in every parish church, a Christian altar in a corner of every synagogue, little plaster buddhas in a place of honour in all Baptist tabernacles, a celebration of Krishna Janmaashtami by the Scientologists, little wayside shrines to Global Warming in shopping malls, that roundabout at the junction of the A1 and the A421 near Roxton would look great with a replica of the Golden Temple of Amritsar, and let's face it, it's high time there was an end to this silly feud between Christians and the followers of the Hornèd God. I mean, what does it really matter which way up the cross is?
No, I've gone too far. Sorry. I apologise. Shouldn't make fun.
I mean, if all the people who believe that fairies live in hollow trees and eat nectar suddenly make friends with the other people who think fairies are actually very small aliens from Aldebaran whose spaceship crashed and marooned them here five hundred years ago, that's got to be a good thing, hasn't it?
By the way, you may be interested in this report from ReligionNewsBlog.com …
"Insurers have withdrawn the cover on their virginity taken out by three sisters in the event of the second coming of Christ. Essex-based Britishinsurance.com confirmed it had provided the £1m policy, but said it was reviewed on Thursday following complaints.
The firm said the women from Inverness had renewed the policy since 2000. The cover was meant to pay for the cost of bringing up Christ if one of them has a virgin birth.
Britishinsurance.com managing director Simon Burgess said it had not been the company's intention to offend anyone. The company, which is based in Braintree, specialises in accident and unemployment insurance.
Mr Burgess said: "The people were concerned about having sufficient funds if they immaculately conceived. It was for caring and bringing up the Christ. We sometimes get weird requests and this is the weirdest we have had."
The burden of proof that it was Christ had rested with the women and any premium on the insurance was donated to charity, said Mr Burgess.
The siblings had paid £100 annually since 2000. If they had secured a payout, they stood to receive £1m.
He added: "The Catholic Church is up in arms about what we've been doing. We have withdrawn the cover because it was causing a furore. The three ladies have been informed."
The women, who have not been identified, are believed to be members of a Christian group in Inverness. The Catholic Church in Scotland declined to comment."
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