Catholic Archbishop of Dublin defends Protestant schools
Denominational education has a place within a pluralist society, he says
Archbishop Martin: said “a growing pluralism in patronage of schools in Ireland but the vast majority of the population attends a school that is Catholic.”
In a country like Ireland “there is a public interest in supporting and defending independent Protestant schools in order to allow the particular role of the Protestant communities in Irish society to flourish,” the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has said. “These separate schools have in fact lead to an enrichment of Irish society through allowing the specific contribution to society of the Protestant communities to emerge,” he said.
Speaking last night at a Contending Modernities conference in the University of Notre Dame’s London centre, he noted Catholic dominance of the educational system in Ireland was “an unintended fruit of history”. He said “the national school system introduced in Ireland in the mid-19th century aimed at having a system of State schools for all, but with separate religious education within the school. Some Protestant authorities rightly saw that this system might effectively leave them as a permanent minority in every school. They withdrew from the system, leaving the majority of schools demographically Catholic and with the passage of time they became institutionally Catholic.”
Now there was, he said, “a growing pluralism in patronage of schools in Ireland but the vast majority of the population attends a school that is Catholic.” He believed “denominational education has a place within a pluralist society but for that to work it requires that those in leadership in both religious education and education of other inspiration have to change attitudes and be mutually respectful and open to dialogue”.