Catholic schools can’t be ‘watery’ about Faith – Archbishop

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin says Catholic schools must be confident in their own identity

Catholic schools must be confident in their own identity and not water down their Catholic ethos Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has warned.

“Catholic education is not indoctrination, but neither can it be milky and watery about who Jesus is and what belief in Jesus involves,” the archbishop writes in The Irish Catholic this week.

While insisting that a Catholic school can never be exclusive of non-Catholics, Dr Martin says “it must always be clearly Catholic and thus focussed on leading the student to a personal knowledge and love of Jesus Christ”.

“The Catholic school has to be clear that the term ethos cannot be reduced to vague generalities or undefined ‘Gospel values’,” he says.

The archbishop, who has been at the forefront of calling on the Government to provide greater school choice for parents, also warns that choice requires a strong State-funded network of Catholic schools.

“A very substantial number of parents – including parents of immigrant communities – clearly want to send their children to Catholic schools.

“It is in the public interest that the Catholic school system be the best possible system, one marked by real educational excellence. This requires that the Catholic school system receive appropriate public support in policy, in finance, in public discourse, in preparing and training teachers specifically for Catholic education,” the archbishop said.

Increased diversity, the archbishop said, “also means that the Catholic schools system will have to relearn the manner in which it brings its contribution to and within a pluralist society. “Such rethinking does not mean abandoning or weakening Catholic identity, anything but! It does mean however that they re-focus on what their Catholic identity means, Dr Martin said.