Sacrament preparation may move out of school
PARENTS could end up taking responsibility for preparing their children for sacraments such as Confirmation outside school hours.
In a ground-breaking move, the Catholic Church has softened its view that the religious instruction of pupils must be part of the school curriculum.
A church education body is suggesting that faith formation of young children could take place within the parish, but outside the school day.
It represents a significant shift in Catholic Church thinking as work gets under way on how to transfer some of the 92pc of primary schools under its control to other patron bodies.
Up to now, the church has held to the principle that pupils must be taught faith formation during school hours and that parents' rights in that regard would have to be respected in any handover.
But the Catholic Schools Partnership (CSP), representing the views of the bishops and religious orders, yesterday proposed an experiment with a parish-based religious education.
The pilot project would involve a diocese, or a cluster of parishes, and represents an open mind by the bishops to a new way of doing things. "It would help inform everyone's judgment on the best way forward," said CSP chairman Fr Michael Drumm.
The handover to patron bodies arises from a demand for greater diversity to take account of the changing face of Ireland, both in falling Mass attendance among traditional Catholics, and newcomer families of different faiths and cultures.