The Archbishop of Dublin has warned against schools watering down Catholic education and called on the whole faith community to get involved in the debate on patronage, as it is “too important to be left to the polemicists and bureaucrats”.
Celebrating Mass on Monday evening at the Church of Our Lady Seat of Wisdom at St Patrick’s Campus DCU to mark the opening of the academic year, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said the Catholic community in Ireland needs “a new sense of identity” of the “why” of Catholic education, “forged through real public dialogue between the faith community, parents and school”.
“Watered-down Catholic education will attract no one,” he said.
The archbishop advised that Catholic schools must recognise the primary role of parents and enter into relationships with schools of other patronage, so that it is not a source of division.
“The future of Catholic education is not just one about ownership but about the quality of the faith education that is provided,” Dr Martin said.
Meanwhile, reacting to the announcement that state-run community national schools will no longer offer sacramental preparation, Patrick Treacy of Faith in Our Schools said the wishes of parents are being ignored.
“It is not up to elite bodies to determine what goes on in school, it is up to parents and their wishes should be honoured,” he told The Irish Catholic.
“You have to give parents the freedom to have their children educated in their faith, if that is what they want, and you have to allow parents to meet their responsibility as they see it to educate their children to believe in a faith.”
There are currently 12 community national schools run by the Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI) catering for 4,000 children.