Education warning by archbishop
If parents of school children want a more pluralist patronage system, they must engage fully with the system and not “opt out”, the Archbishop of Dublin has said.
Speaking yesterday at a symposium at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, on Catholic higher education, Dr Diarmuid Martin said it was inevitable the Catholic Church would have less future involvement in the patronage of schools.
He said his status as patron to almost 90 per cent of all Dublin primary schools was “a relic of history”. However, he was quick to reassure Catholics that this did not mean the church could simply “pull itself away from education”.
At present, a debate concerning the future patronage of schools in Ireland is being undertaken. Questionnaires have been sent to schools across the country seeking their views.
“We have to know what these alternatives are about,” Dr Martin said. “There are parents who don’t want their children to have a religious education; there are those who want to have a religious education as part of a curriculum of an overall policy, and there are those who want a good robust Catholic ethos for their schools.”
However, he said, with more and more children being driven to school, parents were not choosing their local school, which was a problem. “Some people will cry out for pluralism and they themselves will opt out of pluralism. They won’t send their children to a school if there are Travellers or if there is a high-level of educationally disadvantaged,” he said. “Education has to involve the entire community.”