Sir, - Monsignor Faul (November 25th) asserts that Catholic parents have a duty and obligation to send their children to Catholic schools and that this was reinforced by the second Vatican Council. As principle of the Integrated College in Monsignor Faul's home town, I wish to make a few points.
The second Vatican Council affirmed that parents had the basic right to determine the nature of their children's education. Many Catholic parents in Ireland believe that integrated schools will provide the best education for their children. Interestingly, in England, 17 joint church schools have been established in recent years with the blessing of both the Catholic and Anglican Churches. At St. Bede's, in Surrey, the Catholic and Church of England bishops jointly dedicated the school.
Cardinal Hume has said that these schools "have broken new ground and may well be a significant indication of the way forward". I am sure the Cardinal was not inciting a breach of duty when he made this statement. As Father Martin O'Callaghan, head of Belfast's St Mary's Training College, stated at the Irish Forum for Peace and Reconciliation, Catholic parents choosing integrated schools "are exercising a perfect right as persons and as Catholics, and they haven't left the Catholic Church".
Our parents choose integrated schools because they believed it was the best choice for their children. We recognise that other parents make different choices, and that is their right. - Yours, etc.,
Armagh & South Tyrone
Old Eglish Road,
Dungannon, Co. Tyrone.