Faith becoming a 'foreign language', Archbishop warns
Parents and children today may not even understand the language of faith used in Church schools, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has admitted.
In his address to a conference on Catholic education in Dublin, Archbishop Martin said that when society no longer understands faith as relevant "faith-language becomes a foreign language".
Quoting Pope Benedict, Dr Martin said the challenge for people of faith and for faith schools was to speak about God to people who "no longer know where to find him".
Stressing the importance of embracing different views in a pluralist society, the Archbishop warned there was a danger of people becoming fearful of showing devotion to their faith in case they offended others.
He said the culture of "narrow pragmatism" which damaged the economy in recent years was also a threat to education.
"Faith-based schools are called to foster not robots but 'keen intellects and prolific pens [capable of] addressing the pressing subjects of the day'," he said.
Stressing that faith schools are not instruments of religious indoctrination, the Archbishop told the conference that an exclusivist ethos should be alien to any faith school.
"If a faith school is to win acceptance in today's society, it must convincingly show that it offers a true vision of education and show how this vision is beneficial to society," he said.
The conference, hosted by the 'Irish Catholic' newspaper, was attended by Catholic educators and representatives of Catholic school trusts in Ireland.
Archbishop Martin also criticised the "inequity in the educational system" which sees Catholic voluntary schools receive only 70pc of the funding of schools in the community or comprehensive sector.
Other speakers at the conference included former police ombudsman in Northern Ireland Baroness Nuala O'Loan, Francis Campbell, Chancellor of St Mary's University, in Twickenham, London, and Professor Daire Keogh of DCU.
Baroness O'Loan said she believed that grammar schools "had had their day" and criticised the failure of Northern Ireland's integrated model.