'It is not schools' job alone to teach sex education': bishop
Archbishop Eamon Martin's agenda for renewal within the Irish Catholic Church will be achieved through a strategy focused on families, parishes and schools.
Addressing the National Eucharistic Congress in Knock, the Primate of All Ireland called for "a renewed mission to the family in Ireland over the next five years".
This mission, he explained, would implement the recommendations of the forthcoming synod on the family in Rome.
He also pledged to proclaim "courageously to Irish society the Good News about marriage between a man and a woman, always open to life", while "reaching out pastorally to welcome those who may feel estranged from the Church because of their particular family situation".
Calling for parish-based pastoral supports for marriage and the family, the Archbishop of Armagh said this initiative would see married couples preparing other couples for matrimony and providing them with practical advice before and after they wed.
In relation to schools, the Archbishop called on Catholic teacher education institutions to develop in-service faith formation for teachers, aimed at deepening their knowledge and understanding of the faith.
The downturn in priestly vocations could provide an impetus to rediscover and nourish the vocation of the laity in Ireland, he suggested.
On the INTO document, 'Different Families, Same Love', Dr Martin said relationships and sexuality are the role of parents.
"It is not the job of the school to teach children sex education alone, they simply support the wishes of parents," he added.
"It is not for any other body to come in and tell them how this should be - this is a very delicate and sensitive area."
He urged parents to be "strong and courageous" in saying to their schools how they want their children taught.