Faith formation in schools
Sir, – Anthony O’Leary (“Faith formation in Catholic schools”, Letters, September 16th) proposes “taking faith formation out of the school day or, at the very least, moving these classes to the end of the school day and allowing those who do not wish to attend to go home”.
I wholeheartedly agree. The integration of religious instruction into the school day in Catholic-run schools breaches the human rights of non-Catholic families and contravenes Article 44.2.4 of the Constitution, which refers to “the right of any child to attend a school receiving public money without attending religious instruction at that school”.
Moving religious instruction to the end of the school day would vindicate parents’ human and constitutional rights by allowing them to decide whether or not they want their children to receive this instruction.
As Mr O’Leary rightly points out, providing religious instruction on an opt-in basis would also ensure that these classes are attended only by those who actually want to be there.
Indeed, the number who do not want to participate in these classes is growing every year.
In a speech delivered to the Association of Trustees of Catholic Schools Forum on May 18th, 2016, the secretary general of the Department of Education and Skills, Seán Ó Foghlú, warned that, “schools need to prepare for situations where a majority of students may wish to withdraw and where religious instruction and worship may be required by a minority, if at all”.
The fact that different voices in this debate are arriving at the same conclusion, while approaching the issue from differing perspectives, strengthens the argument of groups like Education Equality that are calling for change.
It’s time to face reality in our schools.
An education system in which evangelisation in one particular faith is impossible to avoid is simply incompatible with the increasingly diverse and pluralist society that Ireland has become. – Yours, etc,