The church’s official spokesman Peter Kearney said “secular humanist” schools may be needed to satisfy society’s desire to cater for all beliefs.
Writing in today’s Herald Mr Kearney also called for an expansion of faith-based schools, claiming there was a “scream for conformity” within Scottish education.
Criticising those who have described denominational schools as “educational apartheid”, he accused detractors of faith within education of “trashing the principle of plurality” and undermining freedom of belief.
Mr Kearney added: “Why should tax-paying parents who follow a secular humanist belief system be denied the opportunity to have their children educated in accordance with their beliefs?
“If demand exists and secular humanist schools were to be managed and regulated in accordance with national guidance and practice, as Catholic schools are, then good luck to them.”
The intervention by Mr Kearney comes on the back of a push by parents in Glasgow for the country’s first Muslim school, a plan supported by the Catholic Church.
The vast majority of Scotland’s schools are non-denominational but the Education (Scotland) Act 1918 gave the go-ahead to separate denominational state schools, all but four of which are Catholic.
Although there are huge localised differences around the role of faith within the non-denominational sector, most schools are culturally Christian. Religious education in all Scots schools is also compulsory and again leans towards the Christian tradition, with emphasis on major festivals such as Christmas and the New Testament. Non-denominational schools with a multi-ethnic mix often invite representatives of other faith groups in for religious observance.
Mr Kearney added: “From Australia and Canada to England and Wales diverse and varied societies seem perfectly comfortable with a diverse and varied education system.
“Schools can reflect the plurality of beliefs in society or ignore that reality and impose a single belief system on all, removing choice in this way, would be the height of intolerance.
“There is no reason why the Scottish education system shouldn’t flourish by increasing the diversity which Gaelic, Catholic, music and Jewish schools already bring to the sector.”
Professor Bob Davis, one of Scotland’s leading educationalists and an expert in the role of faith in schools, backed the calls for a more diverse system.
The former head of Glasgow University’s school of education said: “We can in Scotland have a successful combination of locally-rooted and governed schools that are nonetheless still open to more diversity of world view and philosophy that is currently experienced.
“It can be seen as an invitation to all kinds of groups, faith and non-faith, other churches and organisations which have distinctive philosophical approaches to education. This could be in full collaboration with local authorities and non-governmental bodies to diversify our system.
“We are a small enough country to do this within the state system.”
But vice-chair of the Scottish Secular Society Robert Canning said “champions of faith schooling” were merely seeking “the choice to use other people’s taxes…to promote a religion to their children”.
He added: “Those who do not wish their taxes to be used for the promotion of religion get no choice in the matter, while members of belief groups without sufficient numbers to gain their own schools are denied the choices they would prefer. The Scottish Secular Society support choice in the raising of children but hold that the state education system cannot be expected to supply whatever some parents might choose, while denying others.
“If all schools were neutral on religion and atheism, promoting and opposing neither, they could all reflect cultural diversity by accepting all pupils on equal terms. Whereas some want a diversity of schools, the Scottish Secular Society want schools of diversity.” Source
Now, don’t gimme “this isn’t the Bishops calling for atheist schools, this is Peter Kearney, the official spokesman…” Official smokescreen, in other words. If you think, for a nano-second, that Peter Kearney would be advocating schools for atheists if the Bishops didn’t want him to do so, then our blogger Leo knows of a bridge for sale in Dublin that might interest you. In fact, I could probably get you a good deal on the Forth Road Bridge myself, come to think of it. In the unlikely event that I’m wrong about this, all the Bishops have to do is contact us here at Catholic Truth and we will put in a correction. Gladly. However, don’t hold your breath, folks.
The front page headline in The Herald reads very differently from the online headline which is linked here. If you bought the paper on 29th December, 2015, the front page headline screaming at you reads: Catholic Church in call to set up schools for atheists: (sub-heading): Senior figure says all beliefs and none should be catered for in education. Billed as an “Exclusive” the report is attributed to Catholic journalist, Gerry Braiden. This is no stitch-up folks. This is what the Bishops think, and too bad about the First Commandment and those silly old catechism answers, including: “God made me to know, love and serve Him in this world, so that I may be happy with Him forever in the next.” Nope. If a body wants to deny God, that body must be given our help to teach their children the atheistic world view. We’ve come a long way, in Scotland, from “outside the Catholic Church no salvation”. We’ve reached Destination Nihilism – because that’s where relativism leads; we’ve played the ecumenism game now for years, where everything is true, relative to what the individual wants to believe. Now we don’t know right from wrong, and hey presto, we’re keen to pay for atheists to raise their children to hate, not love, God.
As if the above news report weren’t shocker enough for one day, the same reader who handed me (in person, shaking his head) the above Herald Scotland report, also gave me the bulletin from St Aloysius Jesuit church in Glasgow, dated Sunday 27 December, 2015, in which the following notice is published:
Christmas Mass in Arabic…
The Syrian Orthodox community will be celebrating a Christmas Mass in Arabic in our church on Thursday, 31st December, at 4.00 pm. Catholics are welcome to come to this Mass, but unfortunately we are not in full communion with this church. END.
I emailed the PP, Fr Tim Curtis SJ, to ask if it would be possible to advertise the Masses (in Latin) of the SSPX, Sundays, 9.45 am, at St Andrew’s church in Renfrew Street, a short walk from St Aloysius, adding that I thought it would be fair enough to note that the SSPX is in an “irregular canonical situation” while yet being in full communion with Rome, which, as he told his congregation, the Syrian Orthodox most certainly ain’t. If I receive a reply, I will pick myself up from the floor, dust myself down, and report back here…
Anyway, two remarks of Our Lord came to mind as I read both of the above items – the stark warning: “If you deny Me in the presence of men, I will deny YOU in the presence of My Father in Heaven…” And Our Lord’s sorrowful plea: “When the Son of Man comes, will He find any Faith on earth?”
Sweet Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us…