Schools, faith and patronage


Sir, – Your report on school divestment contains the statement “it is likely that school landowners – typically Catholic bishops – will need to consent to any transfers” (“Demand for non-Catholic schools to be assessed under new plan”, January 30th).

And this is the problem with divestment. When you think you are getting somewhere with one problem, a wider, insurmountable roadblock is awaiting you further down that road.

Perhaps we are approaching the matter of school patronage from the wrong direction entirely.

First, dislodge the medieval barons, then issue a magna carta on the true nature of education for the 21st century. – Yours, etc,


March, Cambridgeshire.

Sir, – As a Catholic, I support meaningful divestment of patronage. The problem is the obvious push on the secular side to rid the country of all religious schools.

Catholicism promotes a range of human virtues normally summarised as prudence, justice fortitude and temperance that society in general identifies with. These four are said to be rooted and energised by virtues originating in God – faith, hope and charity. Catholic parents like their secular counterparts seek the institutional support of school to help their children acquire designated virtues and resist the moral toxins present in the environment.

Parents of faith pay taxes that maintain schools. Instead of focusing on the narrow objective of driving faith out of schools secularist pressure groups might consider a pluralist stance and welcome and honour all forms of school experience that promote the virtues necessary for a more amenable society. This involves allowing children from families of faith practicable opportunity of access to schools that foster the faith-based virtues cherished by the taxpayers concerned. – Yours, etc,



Co Limerick.

Sir, – Why is it that the single biggest criteria for the development of a network of multidenominational primary schools appears to be that it meets the needs of the Catholic Church, which already controls over 93 per cent of the country’s primary schools? – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.