Election 2010: Weymouth's Father Stephen Geddes denies 'electioneering' claim

Father Stephen Geddes

Father Stephen Geddes

First published in News

A PRIEST has hit back at allegations of electioneering in his Sunday service.

It has been suggested that Father Stephen Geddes, of St Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church in Weymouth, may have misconstrued the Liberal Democrat policy on faith schools.

Liberal Democrat councillor Brendan Webster said that while he was at church on Sunday, the priest made a passing comment about the policy at the end of the service, regarding the inclusivity of Catholics and non-Catholics into faith schools.

Coun Webster said: “As a local Lib-Dem councillor, I can say that we have not yet fully developed the policy, and we would have to enter meaningful dialogues with faith communities in reaching suitable criteria to be applied to admissions.

“We wish to promote the existence of more faith schools and that inclusivity is a part of that desire.”

Coun Webster added: “As a Catholic, I like the idea of including some children whose parents want a moral spiritual underpinning of their child’s experience.”

Father Geddes said he wrote to all General Election candidates for the area asking them their views on matters of ethics, including questions about euthanasia and embryology. The only questionnaire that was returned was from Liberal Democrat candidate for South Dorset, Ros Kayes.

Mrs Kayes said that their manifesto states that parents will be allowed to continue to choose faith-based schools within the state-funded sector and it allows for the establishment of new faith schools.

But Father Geddes has hit back at any suggestion that he would try and persuade people to vote one way or another.

He said: “It’s very important that I don’t influence people.

“It’s a private and personal vote.

“I just want people to use their vote and make an informed choice.”

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