Archbishop’s fears as more Catholic children shun Catholic schools

Archbishop Eamon Martin was speaking at a conference in Dublin
Archbishop Eamon Martin was speaking at a conference in Dublin

The Londonderry-born head of the Catholic Church in Ireland has voiced concern at the “increasing numbers of Catholic children no longer attending Catholic schools”.

Archbishop Eamon 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.

Dr 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,” he said.

He said 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”.

He added: “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.”