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It's Red No Day at RC secondary after claims over charity abortion funds

Pupils attending a South Wales Catholic secondary have been banned from fundraising for next Friday's Red Nose Day amid concerns that the money will be given to charities that back contraception and abortion.

St Joseph's RC Comprehensive in South Wales objects to the bi-annual event - which traditionally sees schools up and down the country take part in activities to raise cash - because of alleged connections with activities that offend Catholic doctrine.

A spokesperson for St Joseph's in Port Talbot, one of several schools in the area that have boycotted Red Noses in previous years, said: "We encourage our pupils to raise money for charities like the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development instead."

The concerns centre around claims by Catholic organisations that some of the money raised by Comic Relief has previously been used to promote abortions in Africa.

But Comic Relief denies these claims. In a statement it said: "In 2000 we opened dialogue with the Catholic bishops of England and Wales to help communicate the facts.

"They issued a statement confirming that after careful examination of our records, they were satisfied with Comic Relief's assurance that we do not fund, and have never funded, abortion services or the promotion of abortions."

However, some schools failed to be reassured. In 2005, three large secondaries in the Diocese of Menevia, which includes St Joseph's, were involved in a Red Nose Day ban.

The Diocese has not issued an official policy on fundraising this year. The other schools were unavailable for comment.

Since its launch in 1985, Comic Relief has sold more than 50 million red noses and raised more than Pounds 600 million for various charities.

This year's Red Nose Day is on Friday March 13.

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