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Catholics need to protect religious ethos of schools

By Sean Ryan - 17 November, 2015

Without a conscious effort to maintain a distinctly Catholic ethos, it can dissolve into non-descript and vague spiritualism or disappear entirely.

Archbishop Charles BrownThe Papal Nuncio to Ireland has said Catholics need to protect the religious ethos of their school or risk the disappearance of that ethos completely.

Archbishop Charles Brown made his comments at a special conference held at Cistercian College in Roscrea in Co Tipperary on Friday to mark the 50th anniversary of the Declaration on Christian Education by the Second Vatican Council, Gravissimum Educationis.

Among the topics that the conference addressed were the present state of Catholic education provision in primary and post primary schools in Ireland, the challenges currently facing the provision of religious education.

The conference also investigated possible avenues which might lead to the renewal of the Catholic school’s mission and ethos.

Opening the conference, Archbishop Brown told delegates, “Schools have to be concerned about their Catholic character, and recognise that without a conscious effort to maintain their distinctly Catholic ethos, that ethos can dissolve to non-descript and vague spiritualism or even disappear entirely.”

The Nuncio said parents should have a right to choice when it came to choosing a school and Catholics should have nothing to fear from a growth in alternatives.

He added, “We should avoid a situation where students are unable to go to schools they want to go to, or are forced to go to schools they don’t want to. We need to provide as much as we possibly can a legitimate choice.”

“It was often the case that faced with alternatives the attractiveness of a distinct Catholic ethos became most evident for parents,” he said.

The conference also heard from nationally recognised speakers and commentators, among them Professor Eamonn Conway (Mary Immaculate College, Limerick), Rev Dr Niall Coll (St Mary’s University College, Belfast), David Quinn (Iona Institute), Dr Daire Keogh (St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra), Clive Byrne (NAPD), Professor Gerald Grace (University College, London) and Gemma Loughran.

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