Bishop Donal McKeown of Derry has insisted that Catholic schools must continue to present a message that is counter-cultural, even when this leads to criticism.
Speaking at the first diocesan religious education conference – which drew over 800 people – Dr McKeown paid tribute to the passion for Catholic education evident in teachers and other stakeholders.
“We face many challenges in Catholic education,” he told delegated. “Some challenges come from those who criticise the existence of faith-based schools and who would prefer that education could be the only area of society where we don’t have choices,” Dr McKeown said.
Outlining the fact that Catholic schools offer a different and holistic way of looking at human dignity, Dr McKeown said he believed that “criticism of Catholic education will continue to grow, not because we are doing a bad job, but because we are doing such a good job of daring to speak a counter-cultural message into our society.
“We will increasingly be condemned for being heretics if we are crazy enough to speak openly about love, community, forgiveness, virtue, family and responsibility rather than just grades and famous past pupils.
“Many will shout for our removal if we are brazen enough to speak of a God who gives meaning to our lives whether we are rich or poor, glamourous or frail, hero or villain,” he said.
Read our feature this week from Michael Kelly.