Wednesday 17 January 2018

Catholic parents lash out at Martin school comments

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Sarah MacDonald

A group representing parents who support Catholic and Christian faith schools has reacted angrily to the Archbishop of Dublin's criticism of "stubborn reluctance within the Church" to divesting Catholic patronage to alternative patrons in the primary sector.

A spokesperson for 'Faith in Our Schools' hit out at Archbishop Diarmuid Martin's comments, accusing him of not supporting those he should and warned of "a systematic removal of faith and religious education" from Irish schools.

"People at the frontline of protecting the Christian ethos of Catholic schools legitimately expect support and encouragement from the leaders of the Catholic Church in Ireland," Patrick Treacy said.

Mr Treacy, who is a senior counsel, also questioned why the archbishop did not turn his "keen intellect and the prolific pen" to the challenge of "convincing parents of the inspirational purpose of a Catholic school, or of encouraging teachers in such a school of their invaluable role in conveying the vision of the 'Gospel' to their pupils".

He told the Irish Independent a delegation from Faith in Our Schools met Education Minister Richard Bruton last Tuesday and told him it was their conviction that since 2011 there has been a systematic removal of faith and religious education from primary and secondary schools.

In his address in Germany, Archbishop Martin warned that potential hostilities between the Church and State over education could see enrolment policies become more diversified and equality and non-discrimination legislation used to challenge the denominational character of State-funded faith schools.

On the issue of the so-called 'baptism barrier', Faith in Our Schools accused the Department of Education of failing to conduct independent research into what schools are oversubscribed and what is the true extent of that oversubscription.

"Proper, reliable and independent research is simply essential as otherwise national changes will be made to school admission policies based on the political and media influence of secularist lobby groups," Mr Treacy said.

Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh told the Irish Independent in Knock that parents' desire to educate their children in accordance with their religious beliefs was a human right.

He said the State should divert resources towards that.

Irish Independent

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