Tuesday 17 September 2019

Catholic educators 'risk being branded heretics'

Bishop Donal McKeown was speaking at the first Derry Diocesan Religious Education Conference (File picture - Niall Carson/PA)
Bishop Donal McKeown was speaking at the first Derry Diocesan Religious Education Conference (File picture - Niall Carson/PA)

Sarah Mac Donald

Catholic educators risk being branded "heretics" for promoting traditional faith values in schools, the Bishop of Derry has claimed.

Dr Donal McKeown said: "I believe that criticism of Catholic education will continue to grow, not because we are doing a bad job, but because we are doing such a good job of daring to speak a counter-cultural message into our society."

The bishop, a member of the Irish Bishops' Council for Education, was addressing the first Derry Diocesan Religious Education Conference, held at St Columb's College, Derry.

He told his audience that Catholic education now faces "many challenges".

"We will increasingly be condemned for being heretics if we are crazy enough to speak openly about love, community, forgiveness, virtue, family and responsibility rather than just grades and famous past pupils," he said.

The bishop added that some challenges come from those who criticise the existence of faith-based schools and who would prefer that "education could be the only area of society where we don't have choices".

"Many will shout for our removal if we are brazen enough to speak of a God who gives meaning to our lives whether we are rich or poor, glamorous or frail, hero or villain," Dr McKeown said.

Speaking about the purpose of Catholic education, the bishop said it seeks to offer an education that equips young people for the tough realities of life, so that they can work to change a dominant culture that crushes too many people.

Irish Independent

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