By Sarah Mac Donald - 14 November, 2015
In the current debates about Catholic schools there is often so much emphasis on ownership and rights to ownership from the Church side.
The Catholic nature of a school is not guaranteed by title-deeds, but by the way of life and faith that is lived within its walls, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has said.
Addressing students attending a graduation Mass for Mater Dei Institute of Education in Holy Cross College chapel, the Archbishop said he was surprised in the current debates about Catholic schools that from the Church side there is often so much emphasis on ownership and rights to ownership.
These are important but they are worthless arguments if the Catholic school is not a place where faith in Jesus Christ is presented and lived and witnessed to as a way of living which opens and leads our hearts beyond the merely pragmatic and empirical, he said.
Referring to the importance of the way of life a Catholic school promotes and having a faith that is lived within its walls, Archbishop Martin said he was pleased to see that the new religious education curriculum is bringing that dimension more clearly into focus.
The place of faith within a Catholic school is not indoctrination, he warned and added that it is the opposite.
“It is about freeing and opening hearts and changing hearts and freeing hearts from fear to bring to our world a new and transforming notion focused on the person of Jesus Christ who cares and who brings interior peace and serenity into troubled hearts.”
Elsewhere in his homily, the Archbishop underlined that Catholic education is about helping hearts to enter into that logic of God and through that logic to lead people away from discouragement and pessimism.
“Sadly in many cases we have inherited from our past religious culture a false idea of God as a harsh judgmental God. If we cling to such an idea of God, then we will fall into and pass on to others only a deeper discouragement and pessimism and painful scrupulosity,” he said.
But he underlines that the God revealed in Jesus Christ is a God who shows himself above all in mercy and compassion.
Our God is a God like the Good Samaritan who sees and recognises suffering and responds, not through social commentary, but in embrace and carrying of the wounded and caring for them until they are finally restored to human fullness.
Archbishop Martin also described faith as something without which society would not function.
“We have faith in our motor mechanics and in our doctors and normally it works; we had faith in our banks and in many cases that faith was betrayed.”
“Married love is founded on faith. If I am seeking a spouse and wondering if this is the person I can really love and share my life with, then my judgement is made not just on the facts of the goodness and tenderness and dependability of the person, but also on a faith that I must put in that person in the face of so many unknowns.”