Just two days after Archbishop Gerhard Müller, Vatican Prefect, speaking in Glasgow, Scotland, touted Catholic education as “a critical component of the Church”, President Barack Obama stood before a crowd of 2,000 young people this morning and called for an end to Catholic education in Northern Ireland.
“If towns remain divided,” said the U.S. President, “if Catholics have their schools and buildings and Protestants have theirs, if we can’t see ourselves in one another and fear or resentment are allowed to harden—that too encourages division and discourages cooperation.”
Obama, who arrived in Northern Ireland this morning to attend the two-day G-8 Summit at the Lough Erne resort in Enneskillen, made the disproved claim on Monday, speaking before an audience which included many Catholics.
His speech was in sharp contrast to remarks delivered on Saturday by Archbishop Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. Archbishop Müller was in Scotland to present the prestigious Cardinal Winning Lecture on Saturday, to officially launch the St Andrews Foundation for Catholic teacher education at Glasgow University. According to the Scottish Catholic Observer, the CDF head said that Catholic education provided a rare place where “intellectual training, moral discipline and religious commitment would come together.” The evening before, at a Friday evening mass at St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Glasgow, Archbishop Müller said that “the Catholic school is vitally important…. a critical component of the Church.” He added that Catholic education provides young people with a wonderful opportunity to “grow up with Jesus.”
He contrasted St. Augustine’s view, which is founded in the thought of Aristotle and Plato, with that of contemporary relativists and warned that relativism, if pursued to its logical conclusion, would lead to the breakdown of society.
The Prefect’s remarks on education are reported fully in the National Catholic Register.