In Ireland fewer children are attending Catholic schools

In Ireland fewer children are attending Catholic schools October 31, 2017

Archbishop Eamon Martin , above, head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, has voiced concern at the ‘increasing numbers of Catholic children no longer attending Catholic schools’.
According to this report, Martin said this presents “clear issues” for parents, families and parishes in ensuring that these children are receiving appropriate religious instruction and are being suitably prepared for the sacraments of the Eucharist and confirmation.
Martin told a conference in Dublin that religion in a Catholic school was:

Not an added extra to be fitted in during break time or twilight hours or during registration. Everything that happens in the school community is rooted in the Gospel values.

And he wondered:

How a state – which appears to recognise the importance of ERB (Education about Religions and Beliefs) and ethics – at the same time appears to want to remove religious education from the core curriculum.

He said there was “a reasonable concern that much of current educational policy in Ireland would promote a generic model of primary education”. Such, he said, would:

Dilute the right of parents to have access to a school which unashamedly and intentionally lives by a faith-based ethos. In choosing to send their children to a Catholic school, parents not only exercise their human and constitutional right to have their children educated in accordance with their religious beliefs, but they are also placing trust that the school community will assist them in accompanying their children on their itinerary of faith.

I was puzzled by Martin’s words, which suggest there are many non-Catholic schools in Ireland to which parents can send their kids. There aren’t; over 92 percent of the primary schools in Ireland are controlled by the Catholic Church.
Writing for the Irish Times in 2009, Fintan O’Toole said:

Ireland is one of the very few countries in the developed world that does not have a national system of primary education. The church controls 2,899 of the 3,282 primary schools in the State, catering for 92 per cent of pupils. This situation didn’t just happen, and nor did it arise because the church undertook a task that the State was shirking. The overwhelming church control of the system of primary education results not from charity but from the exercise of power.

A year later, O’Toole, again writing for the IT, pointed out another shocking fact:

No one can train to be a primary teacher in Ireland unless he or she is either a believing Christian or is prepared to pretend to be so … every single course in Ireland is run by a Christian college, and obliges every single student to both learn and teach Christian doctrine …
There are seven teacher training colleges, all of them funded by the State. These colleges are not private institutions – each is connected to a public university. Yet, in all of them, students have no choice but to learn (and pass exams in) Christian doctrine.

This 2016 report adds that almost half of the parents in Ireland who have school-age children would, if they had the option, not send them to a Christian school.

Even more importantly, this system discriminates against those who are not religious or who do not wish for their children to receive a religious education. Recent legislation has removed the rule explicitly making a religious education obligatory in schools – but barriers remain for non-Catholic families.
Education in Ireland is compulsory from ages 6 to 16. In order to attend a public school, parents must apply for admission for their children. The 90% of public schools that are Catholic nearly always require students to be baptised in the Catholic Church. This discriminates against the many non-Catholic families and children in the nation who struggle to find a school – especially in rural areas – as there are few alternatives.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn

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  • AgentCormac

    ‘… increasing numbers of Catholic children [are] no longer attending Catholic schools.’
    And the problem is what, exactly?
    Furthermore what, exactly, are ‘Catholic children’?

  • Club Secretary

    @AgentCormac says:
    Tue 31 Oct 2017 at 8:07 pm
    “Furthermore what, exactly, are ‘Catholic children’?”
    Cassock Fodder.

  • RussellW

    That is just appalling. I had no idea, I’d assumed that Ireland, like other countries, had parallel education systems , ie both secular and religious.

  • AgentCormac

    @Club Secretary
    Cassock fodder supplied, as ever, by compliant, unthinking, unquestioning parents who, like their own parents before them, have been so brainwashed from birth by the church that they don’t even stop to consider what they are doing, or are what the consequences may be for their children. Having said which, maybe – just maybe – this report shows that things are beginning to change. It would be comforting indeed to think that people, even in the most religiously controlled societies, are now coming to see the monsters who have dominated their culture for centuries for what they really are. We live in hope.

  • Peterat

    I live in Canada, I’ll stop griping about the role of the church in public education here. This situation is simply crazy!

  • Broga

    “Dilute the right of parents to have access to a school which unashamedly and intentionally lives by a faith-based ethos.” He might have added, “and ensures that their children are obliged to accept blind obedience to superstition instead of thinking.”

  • 1859

    Schools run by catlicks? Hummmm…..Any kids who fail to do their homework, might end up in the school’s septic tank….
    Ireland could really lead the way here and show other countries how the education of children must finally be taken out of the hands of those with a religious agenda. The state must have the sole responsibility to educate its future citizens – which, of course, could include a study of all religions , not just one. A school system with a secular agenda would ensure students would emerge with open minds, prepared to reason and argue, debate and compromise – as opposed to students emerging with a religious agenda who inevitably come to see the world, as all the years and years of evidence has shown, like blinkered cart horses. Do it Ireland !

  • Peter Sykes

    I recommend all freethinkers check out Atheist Ireland. These people are doing some great work and their weekly news letter is worth a read.

  • Robster

    The industrial scale indoctrination of Irish offspring by the Catholic religious facilities, the fact they’ve got over 90% of primary schools is not stemming the flow of the populace away from their belief system which is a surprise given primary age school kiddies is their primary market for their indoctrination attempts.The Vatican’s Irish outpost, even with what appears to be a state sanction are failing, demonstrably in their attempts to absorb the yoof into their church as revealed here:

  • barriejohn

    Robster: I remember watching news coverage of Mother Teresa’s “historic” visit to Northern Ireland in 1993 (you know the Catholic hierarchy are getting worried about a country when a visit like that is planned!). She gave a speech in which she stated that “Mary loves Ireland SO much”. Well, I don’t know about the Pope, whom some are now claiming not to be a Catholic after all, but maybe Mary isn’t a Catholic, because her concern for the country seems to have been leading it in a secular direction in the intervening years! Watch the first bit of this – it’s chilling: