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Voices raised—in praise and opposition—with respect

It is inspiring to see that the relationship between the indie band The Vaccines and St Anne’s Primary School in Glasgow’s East End flourish, taking flight in a single for the Commonwealth Games principle charity UNICEF. The band was originally so inspired by the primary school’s choir and its anti-sectarian song Fix This that it invited choir members to London as special guests at a concert in March 2013.

Now the band has made the return trip north to work with St Anne’s pupils and other pupils from Glasgow’s East End to launch the charity single Let the Games Begin, released ahead of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. An inspiring tale of voices raised in praise for a good cause indeed, and a single tipped for the number one slot.

On that note, criticism has, in the past, been levelled at the Church, and those within it, when there is any sign that everyone is not ‘singing from the same hymn sheet.’ Dissent is not often seen as an admirable, nor as a heroic, trait. Yet it can be required, and effective, if done with respect.

For example, one of Bishop Joseph Toal’s first acts following the announcement of his selection as Bishop of Motherwell has been to make public ‘significant concerns’ about North Lanarkshire Council’s ‘commitment to provide Catholic schooling.’ In a letter to the council, which accompanies a lengthy submission delivered to the chief executive, Bishop Toal said he ‘stand[s] together with the Catholic community’ in opposing proposals which would dramatically reduce the number of Catholic schools in the diocese.

The diocese is opposed to three particular proposals—a shared campus involving St Stephen’s Primary School, Coatbridge, a shared campus in Airdrie, involving the merger of St Dominic’s Primary School and St Edward’s Primary School and a non-denominational school and the merger of Taylor High School and Our Lady’s High School in Motherwell on Ravenscraig site which has been in the headlines of late.

Perhaps those within, and outwith, the Church can learn from Bishop Toal’s approach of tackling issues of concern head on by respectfully and constructively going through the proper channels and transparently and effectively getting the point across.

Regardless of the outcome, Bishop Toals’s approach in opposition is admirable as opposed to those who adopt the stance of taking personal pot shots at the Church, its clergy and/or its laity if and when issues of concern arise.

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