Lay people are key to Catholic education – Martin
LAY people must play a key role in bolstering Catholic education into the future, the Archbishop of Dublin has said.
Diarmuid Martin argued that the future of Catholic education in Ireland would depend on the Catholic community "forging new coalitions for Catholic education".
This, he explained, would involve returning to the tradition of strong links between the parish and the school.
"We need new coalitions of men and women who will support Catholic education in the realities of the future, and who are not afraid to espouse their ideas even to those hostile to them."
He was speaking at a Mass to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the opening of Synge Street Christian Brothers' school in Dublin. He told the congregation of past pupils and members of the Christian Brothers that "education in the faith cannot be imposed".
Dr Martin recalled the collaboration in the 19th Century between Canon Edward McCabe, who became Archbishop of Dublin, and Brother Edward O'Flaherty which brought about St Kevin's Church and Synge Street, a school he said had been "the backbone of Catholic education in this archdiocese over so many years and produced so many public servants and servants of the church".
Dr Martin also said every school, independent of its patronage, must be a school that welcomes the deprived, the marginalised and those with educational challenges.
"There is a tendency in some circles to use the name of 'pluralism' to opt out of pluralism – and opt for schools with a minimal proportion of disadvantaged children," he said.
Speaking after the Mass, which Dr Martin concelebrated with 19 priests who were past pupils of the school, he defended Catholic schools as "very integrated".
He told the Irish independent that this "doesn't mean that we don't need a different type of pluralism for those who don't want to go to a school with a religious ethos".