Religion, schools and rights of parents
Sir, – D Vincent Twomey SVD (January 18th), without the slightest trace of irony, cites Article 42.1 of the Constitution in support of the patronage system and its virtual monopolisation by the Catholic Church. He is either oblivious to, or conveniently ignores, the fact that this very article is equally applicable to parents and children of minority faiths and none. Moreover, the Constitution grants parents a right to withdraw their children from unwanted “religious instruction” (Article 44.2.4). This right is rendered redundant as children are left at the back of the classroom during these periods, thereby attending and absorbing such faith formation or indoctrination, in violation of both their and their parents’ constitutional rights. This is to say nothing of the non-existent ability to opt out of more stealthy forms of indoctrination, which can permeate the entire school day because of the integrated curriculum.
The Catholic Church has carved out for itself a greater degree of control of education in Ireland than in in any other country. Over 90 per cent of publicly funded primary schools are under the patronage of Catholic bodies, which practise the integrated curriculum. And Fr Twomey describes a proposal to change this system as “totalitarian”.
Last year, 37 per cent of marriages of were non-religious. Around 20 per cent of families of parenting age are non-religious. The primary education system, dominated as it is by the Catholic Church, is not fit for purpose.
Fr Twomey’s suggestion that “Church patronage of schools could rather be seen as the result of the parents delegating their responsibility to the churches” is risible.
In reality, the State has outsourced its responsibility to provide primary education to private bodies, over 90 per cent of which are religious. – Yours, etc,