Progress towards a pluralist Ireland can only happen through dialogue and mutual respect, the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has said. He also noted that "there are certain sectors within secular society which can be almost allergic to any explicit mention of faith within a public educational system."
Speaking tonight at a Mass in Dublin's Clonliffe College to mark the opening of the school year, he said "those who neglect or abuse or disregard a child always indicate through their lives that they badly misunderstand who God is or even reject God. There is a sense also that one of the prime ways of determining whether a society is truly Christian or not is by looking at the way that our society treats all its children."
He continued: “if we truly cherish the children of Ireland it means that we will work together to ensure that all our children can enjoy the most favourable possible environment for their education.”
Faith could “and does play a role in the future of Irish education and not just in a marginal way.....We need to reassure them that faith cannot be imposed and one should not attempt to impose it. But when faith gives one an added dimension, one which enriches what is purely technical, that contribution should be welcomed by all,” he said
The “common desire towards a vision of a pluralist Ireland which both those who hold a secular viewpoint of life and those whose lives are faith inspired will only be achieved through a process of mature dialogue, respectful discussion of differences and a sharing of common concerns.” he said.
He continued: "the challenge facing us is great. In this Archdiocese of Dublin 18 per cent of the population is under 9 years of age and there are more children under 4 than people over 70. The youthfulness of our population means that our needs in the educational field are growing and growing rapidly."