Tyrants are tall because the ill-fated stand on their knees. But their children are unfearful. Children everywhere have called upon examinations syndicates to account for marks that limit their prospects. COVID-19 has unmasked the maze and the mysticism. And like the adagio of Minshall’s moko jumbie “The Dying Swan — Ras Nijinsky in drag as Pavlova” the students slog over every obstacle glancing downwards in dread at the doorkeepers dancing the mask-of-marks in hush-hush pageantries below.

Before the present predicament, they crossed the obstacles of a Concordat and the life threatening 11+ selections that shape destiny and identity. Their mothers spot that inequalities at an early age cast the longest shadows because of cumulative consequences. And so those who wrote the high-stakes selections examinations at 11+ know that once upon a time their parents could only hope to sweep the floors of these high temples of light and learning. After all, The Tower Bridge is lowered only for a select 20%.

A Concordat is a union of wills. It is a law, ecclesiastical and civil, made for a certain country in regard to matters which in some way concerns both Church and State. It has the force of a treaty entered into by both the ecclesiastical and civil power and to a certain extent binding upon both. Its purpose is to terminate, or to avert, dissension between the Church and civil powers. The objects treated of in a Concordat can be spiritual, mixed, or temporal. Mixed matters, like public education, are those that belong, though under different aspects, to both the temporal and spiritual orders and are subject to both authorities.

Only those persons in Church or State who are deemed to be competent to enter into a Concordat and who in their respective spheres have the right of making treaties, and indeed of enacting laws, can establish a Concordat. Hence, absolutely speaking, bishops, as true rulers of the Church, are the ones vested with authority to make laws and to make Concordats on all matters falling within their jurisdiction.

On the part of the State, those proficient to create Concordats are supreme legislators or chief magistrates—an emperor, queen, or president, acting alone, where the highest authority is plenary and unobstructed; acting with the accord of the representative body, where such approval is constitutionally necessary for legislation. The Apostolic See, to avoid the risk of open mockery, usually enters into sincere undertakings only where a civil government is under no obligation to seek the consent of a representative body, or where there can be no reasonable doubt that such consent will be granted. In addition, the Pontiff makes Concordats with governments only in their civil capacity, even when such governments are non-Catholic.

In Trinidad, a Count from the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican, lived on the island when a Concordat was made. Count Finbar Ryan, O.P, witnessed Trinidad’s political emergence as an independent country and was the first religious leader to bless the nation, minutes after the National Flag was raised on the first Independence Day 31st August 1962. And he was present at the sessions of Vatican Council II in Rome (1963-1965). But his signature does not appear on the document. Does the document bear the Seal of the Pontiff? Was the Concordat ever sent to the Palace of the Vatican?  Who drafted it? Who signed it and on what authority? On what particular morning was it signed? Can a treaty with Rome extended itself into the broader faith-based school system? These and other more purposeful questions must be discussed with a view to determine if there is in fact a Concordat at all and if we wish to sustain a treaty that seems to be distant from the zeitgeist of the Pontiff’s Fratelli Tutti.

Governments in the Anglophone and Dutch Caribbean have closed schools during the pandemic, leaving 7, 000 000 learners and over 90, 000 teachers across 23 countries and territories grappling with inequality. Countless children have no tools or connectivity to continue school. In “Fratelli Tutti” the Pontiff promotes a basic “brotherly-openness” — to love each person, regardless of physical proximity, regardless of where they are born or dwell. A love that transcends geography and distance and makes blessed those who love their brother “as much when he is far away from him as when he is with him”. In the UK, disparities in the provision of remote learning across income groups and regions overflow.

They estimate that the poorest quintile of pupils may see seven fewer school days’ worth of time spent on education than their richest counterparts. Children eligible for free school meals are almost three times as likely to lack access to a computer at home as ineligible children. Working-class children are also less likely (by a 10 percentage point margin) to receive home schooling from their parents than are middle-class youngsters. Regional deprivation reflects similar inequities, with pupils in the poorer North East region almost half as likely to receive at least four pieces of offline schoolwork as pupils nationwide. In the spirit of brotherly openness. Isn’t it time to ponder the particulars of the Concordat?