Catholic Bishop asks if Church should stop trying to convert secular society. They could start with schools.
Atheist Ireland welcomes the Pastoral Reflection by the Bishop of Clonfert, Michael Duignan, about changes in the Catholic Church, which Patsy McGarry reports on in today’s Irish Times.
Bishop Duignan says that in the past, the Church tried to “engage with and convert secular society” but perhaps it was now time to “seriously engage with and convert ourselves and the way we live as a Christian community within that secular society”.
He adds that the church should “muster the courage to free ourselves from many of the things we are currently doing that are no longer fruitful and that are, at times, counterproductive”.
One way of moving forward would be for Church and State to stop teaching the children of atheists and secularists to develop values to enable them to come to an understanding of religion to their lives and to become aware of different understanding of the divine.
Atheists don’t believe there is such a thing as the divine. This Religious Education course is an exam subject at Junior and Leaving Certificate level. Church and state claim it is suitable for all religions and none.
If your aim is to convert the children from atheist and secular families, then of course you would believe that such a course was suitable for their children.
The main aim of second level Religious Education is:
“Religious Education aims to develop knowledge, understanding, skills, attitudes and values to enable young people to come to an understanding of religion and its relevance to life, relationships, society and the wider world.”
If the main aim of any course was to develop knowledge, understanding, skills, attitudes and values to enable young people to come to an understanding of atheism and its relevance to life, relationships, society and the wider world, then it would immediately be seen as trying to convert children to atheism.
If the Catholic Church does decide to stop trying to convert atheists and secularists, then a good start would be to let their children opt out of attending Religious Education in schools that they currently run, and offer them another subject instead.