Don’t be fooled – Community National Schools reflect Catholic teaching
A school in Kerry is to re-open as a Community National School. The Bishop of Kerry is to transfer a primary school to the patronage of the local Education and Training Board.
The Catholic Church prefer the (ETB) Community National schools because these schools reflect their educational philosophy. When the Community National Schools were set up the Agreement was that they would have religious education and faith formation during the school day, that Agreement has not changed. The State are supporting the Community National Schools because the Catholic Church prefer them and won’t hand over any schools if they can’t continue their educational mission to evangelise.
The State will be renting the School building from the Bishop of Kerry. The State will now be paying the Catholic Church while taking responsibility to indoctrinate children from Catholic families into the Catholic faith. All the Bishop of Kerry has to do now is sit back and watch his bank balance get larger.
When the Community National Schools were announced it was stated by the then Minister for Education that:-
“Announcing details of the two new schools, Minister Hanafin said “the new schools will be open to children of all religions and none. They will be inter-denominational in character, aiming to provide for religious education and faith formation during the school day for each of the main faith groups represented A general ethics programme will also be available for children whose parents opt for that and the schools will operate through an ethos of inclusiveness and respect for all beliefs, both religious and non-religious.”
Interdenominational schools are Christian schools. The Community National Schools will have religious education and faith formation during the school day, that was the Agreement and that part has not changed. The only thing about the Agreement that has changed is that there is no General Ethics Course outside religious education or belief nurturing as they like to call it.
Eoin Daly in an article in the Irish Times in 2012 spells it out:-
“Thus, underlying the soothing language of diversity prevails a cruder reality of power relations. Already, there have been allegations (and sharp denials) of dark subterfuge – essentially, of attempts by Catholic authorities to subvert the pluralist ethos of the new model by seeking a special form of recognition within them. Indeed, the apparent receptiveness of certain figures in the last government, in particular, to Catholic bargaining demands echoes the supine clericalism of the past, on matters of religion and education.”
Remember that Church and State still claim that schools with a Catholic ethos are inclusive. In Ireland the words inclusive and respect are not legally defined. Schools can discriminate on religious grounds and still refer to themselves as inclusive. They can also evangelise your child into the Catholic faith while still claiming that they respect your religious or philosophical beliefs.
The Catholic Church requires state schools to reflect their educational philosophy as well as schools under their patronage. They believe that if schools don’t reflect their educational philosophy it will put “children’s faith in peril“. This is the reason why they prefer Community National Schools over Educate Together Schools.
Community National Schools will have to ask prospective teachers do they have the Catholic Certificate in Religious Studies. If you think that this is not an issue then read this.
The Catholic Church does not openly criticise Educate Together schools as they see them as a means of promoting ‘plurality of patronage’ instead of pluralism within the school environment. The church sees pluralism within the school environment as a direct challenge to the educational philosophy of Catholic religious education. Why would the Catholic Church agree to hand over schools to a body such as Educate Together that does not reflect their educational mission?
The thing to remember about the Community National Schools is that the original Agreement has not changed. The only thing that has changed is that the ETBs and the Minister for Education are manipulating the language used to describe the teaching of religion in these schools in an effort to make them acceptable. They want us to believe that these schools are something new when in fact they are just more of the same and we are now paying extra for it.
Catholic religious education and faith formation will continue in Community National Schools and the State will be funding that in full. In Kerry the ETB will be the Patron while at the same time we will be handing money over to the Bishop of Kerry to rent the school building.
Image Day 3 of the WTO’s Ministerial Conference, Bali, 3 December 2013. Author World Trade Organization from Switzerland