The Irish Government must respect the rights of those who want a Catholic education for their children, the Archbishop of Dublin has insisted. While the government has an obligation to protect the rights of parents who do not want their children to be educated in a religious framework, it also has to respect those who want a Catholic education by fostering schools that are “truly Catholic”, Dr Diarmuid Martin said. He said there is a certain ambiguity in the present attitude of Irish society to the role of the Church in the area of education.
He was speaking at the Mater Dei Institute’s Spring Lecture Series on the topic “Reform in the Catholic Church in Ireland: Facing the Future with Hope”. “There is a strong move to reduce the number of schools under church control, yet at the same time on a local level most parents still want their children to attend schools with at least generic religious inspiration,” he said. “There are very few alternatives available and Catholic schools welcome children of all faiths and none. This shows that the Catholic Church is open and welcoming to children of different cultural backgrounds but it has inevitably contributed to an erosion of the concept of what a Catholic school truly is,” Dr Martin said.
“Those parents who do not wish their children to be educated within a religious framework have their rights which the State is obligated to protect. Ireland needs plurality of provision of schools. But the rights of those Irish citizens who wish their children to receive Catholic education can only be respected by fostering Catholic schools that are truly Catholic and there is an obligation of the State to foster that possibility also.”
The Irish Times. February 24.
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