The Catholic Church and schools

 

Sir, – Fr Brian Grogan (June 12th) made a lengthy response to Fintan O Toole’s excellent article on the state of the Catholic Church in Ireland in light of recent referendums (“Catholic Ireland is now a religious rust belt of half-empty churches”, Opinion & Analysis, June 2nd).

I would disagree with him on many of his points but I would like to single out one of his claims for closer examination. He claims, “The institutional dimension includes church buildings, schools . . . ”.

That the church owns or pays for our schools is an oft-repeated myth that continually needs to be challenged. Where the underlying land may have passed through church ownership at some stage (but how did the church acquire it in the first place?) virtually all costs of our schools are paid for by the State and the taxpayer (plus fees and charges on parents of students). Perhaps Fr Grogan could show what costs, if any, that churches have contributed into Irish schools in the past 10, 20 or even 30 years.

It is notable that some religious orders are even undermining schools by selling out the very lands and playing fields from under them against the express wishes of the communities, the parents and even the school management.

I note that he left out hospitals from his “church institutions”. During a recent visit to the Bons Secours Hospital in Cork, a building paid for by the taxpayer, with its staff, equipment and maintenance paid for by the taxpayer and patients, I had to walk through an entrance covered with an enormous papal flag and considerable publicity for the pending papal visit.

Perhaps Fr Grogan could explain what contribution his church is making to said hospital for its “control” and marketing? – Yours, etc,

ANDREW DOYLE,

Bandon,

Co Cork.