New recommendations to remove Catholic symbols from state run secondary schools will impose “a secular understanding of religion on the school”, says Fr Eamonn Conway.
According to The Irish Times, an unpublished document recommends phasing out Catholic symbols, compulsory graduation Masses and diocesan inspectors of religious teaching.
Commenting on the report, Fr Conway said that “the very effort to excise religion from the classroom is not a step in the direction of neutrality, but rather it’s an imposing of a secular understanding of religion on the school”.
Fr Conway added that the 2012 report from ‘The Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector’ showed that “the more one is committed to one’s own religion, the more tolerant one is of other faiths”.
“The very point of the roles schools can play in fostering the beliefs of individual pupils, which is that pathway towards tolerance, is now being extinguished in some of our schools,” he said.
Fr Conway said he was concerned such a move would create the “false impression” in the minds of young people that religion is merely an add-on to life, rather than its foundation.
“We have a relationship with these faiths and they deserve mutual respect – this is true of all religions,” said Fr Conway.