Irish school teachers must be Catholic missionaries

AI Bishop O'Reilly 2Thinking of getting into the teaching profession in Ireland?  If so be prepared to be a missionary for the Catholic Church. The vast majority of publicly funded schools in Ireland are controlled by the Catholic Church, and if you want to get a job as a teacher you have to accept that Irish school teachers must be Catholic missionaries. You must:

(a) have a Catholic Certificate in Religious Studies, which has as a programme objective that the trainee teacher ‘engage in personal reflection, research and discourse with a view to enhancing their own religious awareness,’ and which includes such learning outcomes as ‘demonstrate competence in the planning of liturgy, prayer and sacraments (Reconciliation, Eucharist, Confirmation) in the Catholic primary school,’ and

(b) uphold the religious ethos of the school, which the Catholic Church sees as a central part of the mission of the Church, and part of the commission given by the Risen Christ to the apostles in Mt 28:18: “Go, make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.”

Failing to comply with this religious discrimination will mean that your chances of gaining employment are slim, and that you can be dismissed if you fail to uphold the religious ethos of the patron.

In order to help the Catholic Church evangelise children, the Irish state requires publicly funded schools to uphold the ethos of the patron. This is supported by Section 15 (2) (b) of the Education Act 1998 which obliges the Board of Management of all schools to uphold and be accountable to the patron for upholding the ethos of the school.

Rule 68 of the Rules for National Schools requires that religion be integrated into the state curriculum and the Primary School Curriculum requires that all children come to a knowledge of god. This Republic of ours ensures that there is no escape from the reality that Irish school teachers must be Catholic missionaries.

The Church sends around Diocesan Inspectors to schools as religious police, to examine the teacher, not the students. They are checking up that the teacher is fulfilling the requirement to evangelise children into the Catholic faith, as this is their purpose and what they were hired to do. We have been informed by some teachers that, when they hear the Diocesan Inspector is coming in, they have to cram the children full of religion for days so that they pass the inspection.

Irish school teachers must be Catholic missionaries

The mission of the Catholic Church is to evangelise and they carry out this mission in our publicly funded Schools, with the help of the Irish State. The purpose of the Catholic Church is not just to evangelise the children of Catholic parents but all children regardless of the religious or philosophical convictions of their parents.

Teacher training colleges in Ireland are set up to train teachers to be missionaries and to evangelise children, in many cases against the wishes of their parents. The purpose of the Certificate in Catholic Religious Studies is not to train teachers to teach religion in an objective, critical and pluralistic manner.

The General Directory for Catechesis the Congregation for the Clergy describes religious instruction for students who are non-believers as “a missionary proclamation of the Gospel, ordered to a decision of faith, which catechesis, in its turn, will nurture and mature.”

For some reason the obligation on the state under the Constitution to respect all parents’ convictions (Article 42.1), does not stretch as far as protecting their children from the missionary activities of the Catholic Church, while accessing education for their children. Instead it protects religious discrimination, by protecting the wish of the Church that Irish school teachers must be Catholic missionaries.

The Catholic Church insists teachers are missionaries

In their General Directory for Catechesis the Congregation for the Clergy are clear that the Church exists in order to evangelise:-

46. The Church “exists in order to evangelize” that is “the carrying forth of the Good News to every sector of the human race so that by its strength it may enter into the hearts of men and renew the human race”.

The Irish Catholic Hierarchy also reiterates this, in their Share The Good News National Directory for Catechesis:

25. The Church exists in order to evangelise, that is, to proclaim in words and action the Gospel, the Good News revealed to us in Jesus Christ, through the grace of the Holy SPirit, that we are loved by God for all eternity.

In their State Report to the United Nations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child the Holy See stated that:

“Catholic schools and institutions

32. Introduction. The Holy See promotes and encourages the system of Catholic schools, which are not State institutions but nonetheless have a public function. The educational activities are carried out in accordance with the Catholic school’s own authority and responsibility under canon law, and pursuant to the laws of the respective States in which they operate”

According to the Catholic Church religious education can only be imparted by teachers of right doctrine and probity of life. They are not just referring to religious instruction classes here, but the religious education that is integrated into the state curriculum. To deliver this, Irish school teachers must be Catholic missionaries.

In a Circular Letter in 2008 to all Bishops Conferences the Congregation for Catholic Education stated that:-

“6. Catholic schools are characterised by the institutional link they keep with the Church hierarchy, which guarantees that the instruction and education be grounded in the principles of the Catholic faith and imparted by teachers of right doctrine and probity of life  (cf. c. 803 CIC; cc. 632 e 639 CCEO). In these educational centres – which are open to all who share and respect their educational goals – the atmosphere must be permeated by the evangelical spirit of freedom and charity, which fosters the harmonious development of each one’s personality. In this setting, human culture as a whole is harmonised with the message of salvation, so that the pupils gradually acquire a knowledge of the world, life and humanity that is be enlightened by the Gospel (cf. GE 8; c. 634 §1 CCEO).”

This is religious discrimination against atheists

The Irish education system is unique. It is a reflection of a foreign state’s mission to evangelise all nations. This Republic has put in place Section 37 of the Employment Equality Act to help the Catholic Church to fulfil their mission to evangelise.

Leaving religious education to parents is just too much for Church and State. They simply don’t trust parents to bring their children up as Catholics. Instead the state funds an education system where Irish school teachers must be Catholic missionaries.

Section 37 gives institutions, that have a religious purpose, exemptions from equality legislation. These exemptions give the Catholic Church the legal power to refuse to employ, and dismiss teachers who just want to teach and do not see themselves as Catholic missionaries.

This religious discrimination is not just confined to religion teachers, but all teachers who wish to work in the majority of our publicly funded schools. In practice, the exemptions in Section 37 are used to justify religious discrimination against atheists and minority faith members.

The Irish State claims that the EU Equality Directive sanctions this religious discrimination against teachers who are atheist and religious minorities.

We are told that the purpose of this religious discrimination is to protect religious freedom. But it is the religious freedom of an institution and a foreign state that is being protected, not the religious freedom of parents, who have no choice but to subject their children to an education system where Irish school teachers must be Catholic missionaries.

This is also religious discrimination against Catholics

Many parents who call themselves Catholic do not practice their faith, and do not believe in all the various doctrines of the Church. Rites of passage such as Holy Communion are just cultural celebrations to them.

In 2013 the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin said that:-

“If people wanted their child to go to a Catholic school because then they can make their First communion and then leave, you know, have no more contact with the Church, a lot more debate has to go on.”

This Republic cedes control of education to a religious institution (a foreign state) to evangelise all children while they access a vital public service. Whether Irish school children are from atheist or minority faith or non-conforming Catholic families, their Irish school teachers must be Catholic missionaries.

The State trains school teachers to be Catholic missionaries

The state also funds the teacher training colleges where teachers are trained to be missionaries.  St. Patrick’s teacher training college prepares teachers to evangelise not only in Ireland but also in the UK, North America and Australia.  This teacher training college is proud of their tradition in preparing missionaries for the Catholic Church.

St. Patrick’s Teacher Training College in their introduction to the Certificate in Religious Studies states that:

Programme Introduction

“St Patrick’s College has a long tradition of preparing teachers to teach in Catholic schools in accordance with the requirements of the Council for Catechetics of the Irish Episcopal Conference. The Certificate in Religious Studies, along with Religious Education modules, is the means by which this objective is achieved. In making appointments, Catholic school management boards will normally require the CRS as a condition of employment. As well as being recognised as a qualification to teach Religious Education in Irish Catholic primary schools, the CRS is also accepted by some of the Catholic elementary school systems in the UK, North America and Australia.”

There will soon be a merger between St Patrick’s College and Dublin City University, which will effectively result in a secular College training teachers to be missionaries for the Catholic Church. St Patrick’s College says in a mission based performance compact with the HEA that:

“A publicly funded higher education institution in the Catholic tradition, the College is inclusive, welcoming and respectful of those of all religious and secular traditions.”

“As a consequence of the merger, the College will move from denominational management to participation in a secular university”

“The College is in negotiations towards a full merger with DCU.

“This change will go beyond governance and will have profound organisational, administrative and pedagogical consequences for the four incorporating institutions”

These Colleges say that they respect people of secular traditions, but not to the extent that they will be able to gain employment in the teaching profession in the vast majority of Irish schools. None of the teacher training colleges, or DCU for that matter, are campaigning against the  religious discrimination of Section 37 of the Employment Equality Act.

Bishop Leo O’Reilly on the missionary role of the Church

In May 2009 Bishop Leo O’Reilly when speaking from the Patron’s Perspective stated that:

“Catholics in other countries look at our system and marvel at the fact that the State pays almost the entire cost of capital expenditure on new schools. It pays capitation and other grants towards the cost of day‐to‐day running of the schools, and also pays the teachers’ salaries. Of course it does the same for schools of other patron bodies as well. Compared to a country like the U.S, where the State makes no contribution at all to Catholic schools, or schools of any other denomination, our system is very supportive.”

“The Reason for Church Involvement — Ultimately, the reason for the Church’s involvement in education is that we see it as a central part of the mission of the Church. It is part of the commission given by the Risen Christ to the apostles: “Go, make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” (Mt 28:18)

The Catholic vision of education sees it as consisting of much more than simply imparting knowledge to students… In the Catholic vision of things, education is primarily a moral and spiritual enterprise… A central part of it is education and formation in the faith.”

It is clear that the mission of the Catholic Church is to evangelise children while they are accessing their Constitutional and Human Right to education.

Remember that religion is integrated into the state curriculum, and it is impossible to opt out of because of Rule 68. If you opt your child out of religious instruction classes, no other subject is provided.

Our Republic has no issue with funding the training of teachers as missionaries for the Catholic Church, but cannot fund another subject such as philosophy or ethics.

Teachers in Ireland are trained to uphold the ethos of the patron, not respect the human rights of parents and their children, their job depends on it. This means that Irish school teachers must be Catholic missionaries.

A missionary proclamation of the Gospel for non-believers

The General Directory for Catechesis of the Congregation for the Clergy describes religious instruction for students who are non-believers as “a missionary proclamation of the Gospel, ordered to a decision of faith, which catechesis, in its turn, will nurture and mature.

“75. The life and faith of students who receive religious instruction in school are characterized by continuous change. Religious instruction should be cognizant of that fact if it is to accomplish its own ends. In the case of students who are believers, religious instruction assists them to understand better the Christian message, by relating it to the great existential concerns common to all religions and to every human being, to the various visions of life particularly evident in culture and to those major moral questions which confront humanity today.

Those students who are searching, or who have religious doubts, can also find in religious instruction the possibility of discovering what exactly faith in Jesus Christ is, what response the Church makes to their questions, and gives them the opportunity to examine their own choice more deeply.

In the case of students who are non-believers, religious instruction assumes the character of a missionary proclamation of the Gospel and is ordered to a decision of faith, which catechesis, in its turn, will nurture and mature.”

The purpose of the Certificate in Religious Studies

The Irish Episcopal Conference National Directory for Catechesis in Ireland, Share the Good News is clear about the requirement to produce the Certificate in Religious Studies to gain employment in publicly funded schools under their control:

Page 214 – 158. “Formation Objective 3:

Education and Training in Religious Education, Catholic Teaching and Christian Initiation, will be considered an essential element in the qualification of all teachers who wish to teach in Catholic Primary schools.

Some Indicators of Achievement

• Colleges of Education that prepare teachers who may wish to work in Catholic primary schools, will ensure that they have access to the fullest possible training as religious educators.

• Evidence of training in Religious Education, Catholic Teaching and Christian Initiation will be required by a Catholic primary school employing new teachers.

• In Colleges of Education with a Catholic ethos, resources will be set aside for chaplaincy services. A programme of person faith development will be available, suitable or encouraging young adults of varying commitment to connect more fully with their Catholic faith tradition.”

Help Atheist Ireland to end this religious discrimination

The Irish state has put in place laws to enable the Catholic Church (agents of a foreign state) to carry out their mission to evangelise children while they access the education system.

The state went to Europe and secured an exemption from the Equality Directive to continue to ensure that atheist and minority faith teachers will be denied access to the teaching profession in a democratic Republic.

Religious discrimination against atheist and minority faith teachers is accepted as part of the Irish way of life, through deference to the Catholic Church. Irish school teachers must be Catholic missionaries.

Religious discrimination, like all discrimination, undermines the dignity of the human person. In this case religious discrimination in our education system has undermined the human rights of parents and their children.

It also denies atheists and religious minorities their right to access the teaching profession in a democratic Republic without religious discrimination.

It is time to challenge Church and State and demand equality for all. Religious discrimination against atheist and minority faiths teachers must be removed.

Atheist Ireland is campaigning to change these unjust laws and to promote equality. Please help us to do so. For further information on how to help, please email us at humanrights@atheist.ie.

Atheist Ireland

3 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Daniel September 22, 2015

    The point of education is to bring kids into a fuller awareness of what is actually true about our universe. If a person is a teacher, they of course are going to, whether they admit it or not, try to help kids see what they personally believe is truth. If a teacher is a Catholic, they will and should teach kids about the truth of Jesus, the truth of a Creator God who loves us, because far too much is at stake to let kids go 13 years without ever hearing this good news…

    Atheists have the right to think their teachers are delusional. But if their teachers truly believe that Jesus is the way to true and deep and meaningful, real happiness, then they have to share that reality with their kids. For someone to think that they have discovered the absolute most crucial truth to lead to personal and lifelong joy, and to NOT tell their kids that, is complete disregard for their kids well being and is in fact, hatred.

    If teachers are going to love their kids, they have to share what they have every good reason to believe is true with them. A good teacher knows that if a kid thinks he’s right about solving a math problem but is not, it would be no act of kindness to let him go on thinking he’s right. The teacher has to correct and lead the child to the truth. To the Catholic Teacher, there is simply no truth more important than Jesus Christ – and whether we seem delusional or not, we simply have to share that. We simply have to. Laugh if you want but we must follow God and not man.

    And this is not persecution. ISIS is persecution. This is employers of Catholic, Church OWNED schools being consistent with what their experiences have given them every reason to believe is true.

    • Avatar
      Derek Walsh September 23, 2015

      Daniel, someone who really believes that Jesus is God is free to share that in their own time with anyone willing to listen. They should not be free to do so to a captive audience of children while being paid by the state.
      I doubt you would be willing to allow your children to be indoctrinated into someone else’s religion at your expense (even if those doing the indoctrination thought it was really really important), so I hope you understand why we do not want it.
      Follow your god all you wish, but the job of educating children is too important to be left to those who have an ulterior motive. You’re honest enough to admit you have such a motive. Perhaps a little reflection will allow you to see that such a motive is incompatible with a job as an educator in a state-funded school.