Catholic education under threat

AS highlighted in the Scottish Catholic Observer opinion leader this week, Catholic education is an area of great concern and importance, more so than ever in this General Election year.

The suggestion that Pope Benedict XVI may publicly address the topic of Catholic education during the Papal visit to Britain this year is telling.

During his visit to America in 2008 the Holy Father told educators they had a duty to ‘ensure that students receive instruction in Catholic doctrine and practice. This requires that public witness to the way of Christ, as found in the Gospel and upheld by the Church’s Magisterium, shapes all aspects of an institution’s life, both inside and outside the classroom. Divergence from this vision weakens Catholic identity…’

One of the reasons for the Pope’s visit to Britain is the beatification of Cardinal Newman, an exponent of the harmony of reason and faith in education.

“I want a laity not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it, who know so much of history that they can defend it,” Cardinal Newman wrote. “I want an intelligent, well-instructed laity—You ought to be able…to expose to the comprehension of others the fictions and fallacies of… the charges brought against the Church.”

Yet only today reports have come to light confirming fears that Catholic education is under pressure.

Archbishop Peter Smith of Cardiff has suggested that sixth-form closure plans could damage the Church’s partnership with national and local government.

In Ireland, Batt O’Keeffe, the Minister for Education, is today targeting 10 urban areas where the number of Catholic primary schools will be cut.

For more on the importance of Catholic education, visit


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