Bishop defends right to Catholic education


REDUCING THE debate over school patronage to a question of churches "clinging to power" trivialises what is at stake, Bishop Donal Murray of Limerick has said.

Addressing school principals at the Ceist education conference in Tralee, Co Kerry, Bishop Murray said that while no secondary school could ignore the need to prepare students for exams and equip them with the skills necessary to be good citizens, these did not address the fundamental purpose of education.

Rather, what education addressed, he said, was "the question about the meaning of life in all its dimensions".

"It is about the discovery of the true, the beautiful, the good; it is about the vast horizon of meaning which can unite all our longing and all our questions." He said that any education which ignored the question of meaning would be doomed to shallowness.

Ceist (Catholic Education - an Irish Schools Trust) took responsibility for trusteeship of more than 100 Catholic secondary schools last year.

Making the case for the right to Catholic education, Bishop Murray argued that the State could not address this fundamental question of meaning in life.

"Nobody is elected to political office with a mandate to determine how questions about the meaning of life should be approached, still less how they should be answered."

The family was the primary and natural educator, he said.