Statement from the Council for Education of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference
Bishops’ Council rejects the contention that the Community National Schools’ Programme to teach religion to pupils was proposed and designed by the Catholic Church
In relation to the report about teaching of religion in Community National Schools on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland today, Thursday 29 March, the Council for Education of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference rejects the contention that the Community National Schools’ Programme to teach religion to pupils was proposed and designed by the Catholic Church.
Representatives of the Commission* for Education of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference were invited to meet with officials of the Department of Education and Skills on 27 April 2007 as part of the consultation process concerning new Community National Schools.
Officials of the Department indicated that the Community National Schools would serve the whole community. The schools would serve parents who wish to have their children receive religious instruction and parents who do not wish their children to receive such. Provision for religious instruction would be made during the school day.
The representatives of the Bishops’ Commission proposed that teachers delivering religious instruction to Catholic students be duly qualified and that the curriculum dealing specifically with the religious instruction of Catholic children be in accordance with the provisions approved by the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference. The actual programme in religious education was not discussed.
When the new Community National Schools were finally announced by the Department of Education and Skills in December 2007, Bishop Leo O’Reilly, Chairman* of the Commission for Education, said: “These schools are being provided at a critical time and will assure a wide variety of access to primary education in accordance with the wishes of parents. The Catholic Church welcomes choice and diversity within the national education system. We believe that it is important to accommodate the rights and needs of people of different faith backgrounds, and of none, to an education which reflects, as far as possible, their sincerely held convictions and values.”
*The Commission for Education of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference changed its name to Council for Education of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference in 2010
* Bishop Leo O’Reilly was Chairman at the time. The current Chairman is Bishop Brendan Kelly, Bishop of Achonry
Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Brenda Drumm 00353 (0) 87 310 4444