The senior chief inspector of schools will receive a unique honour tomorrow (Saturday) when he is given a papal knighthood by Cardinal Thomas Winning, in spite of the fact that he is not a Roman Catholic.
Douglas Osler will be formally invested as a Knight of the Order of St Gregory at a ceremony in Stirling, entitling him to use KSG after his name. Membership of the oldest order in the Roman Catholic Church is at the personal discretion of the Pope.
The Church has not had the most cordial relations with the Scottish Executive on issues of sex education and morality and pointedly underlined the significance of its faith in Mr Osler in a statement that noted: "No such papal award has previously been made to a senior government fficial who is not a member of the Roman Catholic Church."
Mr Osler has had a long connection with religious education, having been the first HMI charged with inspecting the subject when the century-long ban on state intervention in the RE curriculum was lifted. But it is his close relationship with the Catholic Education Commission that has led to the papal honour.
Cardinal Winning made it clear that the Church regards the senior chief inspector as having ensured the interests of Catholic schools were protected during major curricular developments such as 5-14, Standard grade and Higher Still.
"I am delighted the Holy Father has chosen such a high honour because it is so well deserved," Cardinal Winning said.