By | March 31, 2008

I turn down a lot of radio and tv stuff these days: I am just too busy and distracted. But there are some programmes I’m always happy to do including Spirit Moves on RTE Radio 1. This one hour long show gives contributors a chance to discuss issues in a reasonable fashion and without pigeon holing the guests.

Yesterday’s show was about religious involvement in primary schools and there was a great panel – David Quinn, the Indo columnist and Iona Institute director, Bishop Leo O’Reilly, John Carr, head of the INTO and Paul Roe, head of Educate Together.

We agreed that RC domination of primary education will begin to ease as new State Primary VEC/Community schools will be built. We also agreed that this will see the emergence of a two-tier system – the “good” catholic national primary schools and the lesser state VEC schools – just as the “tech’s” were seen as the poor relation (and therefore had to take the poorer student at secondary level).

We also agreed that the church won’t walk away from their existing schools. There’ll be no question of a handover.

Finally we agreed (there was a lot of agreement!) that the teaching of religion in the new community “multi-faith” schools is practically very difficult since all the teacher training colleges are denominational! We speculated that the system might operate along the line envisaged by the then Chief Secretary Stanley, who in 1831 set up the Board of Education. He planned that the schools would be secular and that religious teaching would be done at specified times by local clergy so that students could be separated at that stage. By the 1880’s the clergy on both sides had defeated him and set up their own denominational schools.

However, towards the end of the show I asked Bishop O’Reilly why he put up with parents who clearly had no interest in religion but showed up for the first communion just for the day out. “Would you not run them?” I asked.

He replied “Well I wouldn’t be as judgmental as that”.

Driving home later I was laughing to myself: ‘Gee, a bishop not being judgmental! Now there’s a turnaround. Sure, what’s religion without a bit of judgement? Isn’t that the whole point?”

But by this morning I had turned around. Here’s the thing: he genuinely meant it. He didn’t judge people. And our local priest who has every right to run me when I show up needing things signed or being a tourist at mass, despite my publicly proclaimed atheism honestly doesn’t judge either. I think they really believe in keeping the door open. Let everyone come in on their own terms and take whatever they want home. The most malevolent interpretation you could make is that they are arrogant because they have the kids so they don’t have to worry about the adults (the McDonalds approach). You could also claim that they know adults are like teenagers, they know we’ll have our little rebellions but we’ll all go through their doors at the end.
With the monopoly on schools and funerals, they hold all the aces.

But my real feeling is that O’Reilly, and our local men here, honestly don’t see it in those terms. I think they are happy to make themselves, and their services, available to anyone that wants them however selectively. I also know that if someone in this house dropped dead tomorrow I could call our local PP and he’d be up here straight away to offer practical help and words of comfort. No questions asked. Like Cromwell said, God will sort us out in the end 😉

11 thoughts on “Judgement

  1. brian t

    “You could also claim that they know adults are like teenagers, they know we’ll have our little rebellions but we’ll all go through their doors at the end. With the monopoly on schools and funerals, they hold all the aces.”
    If I have any say in the matter, I certainly will NOT be going through any church doors, even after I am dead! There’s a whole world outside Ireland where the Magisterium does not rule the roost, and if I have to leave the country to keep the vultures off me, that’s what I’ll do, or have done.

    You’ve all grown up with the Church insinuating itself into your lives, in large ways and small, so much that it looks to me as if you’re “swimming” in Catholicism. It seems the natural state of things to you, but (again) that’s only true in certain countries. Yes, I saw the smiley at the end, but still… ew! 8)

  2. Sarah Post author

    Not really. It gets the hair done. Between maybe E50-100 depending on the show.

    So I decided to do things based on:

    1. The quality of the show
    2. My interest in the topic
    3. How hassled I feel at the time
    4. My relationship with the researcher/producers (sometimes the need a dig-out)
    5. Time

  3. Sarah Post author

    And yes Brian I am swimming! Its rural Ireland – no escape. But I don’t mind. They’ll get me. They have me already sure….

  4. Electron

    If we abolish faith schools in Ireland, I think that our youth will descend further into a state of moral confusion. We don’t appear to have anything to replace the Churches in our civic society – we lack moral role models in our political classes and without some institution, holding up an aspirational moral bar there is little for them to latch onto. The Churches as institutions have difficulties, but their message is still pertinent to the formation of a civilised society. We may not like their methods or their failings, however, can’t deny that their teachings do set a high moral tone.

  5. Paddyanglican

    Having just finished Twenty Major’s wonderful first book (hopefully first of many) I am seriously wondering whether you have been brainwashed into the religious equivalent of Folkapalooza! 😉
    Load up some Death Metal on your ipod and all will be well :-)

  6. steve white

    so open they don’t want any other view being thought to children and have actively blocked others opening shcools lest the not be though values(christian values).
    how generous.

  7. Niall

    I imagine the whole not judging individuals is a pretty integral part of being a clergyman in the RCC. Almost all of the time, the role of the clergy is give people the church teaching then leave them to themselves. It’s the whole judge the sin, not the sinner thing. This was a point often brought up during the last American presidential campaign when some Catholics suggested that John Kerry should not be given communion because of his actions relating to the abortion issue, but the clergy tended to say that their job was not to stop him getting communion, but to make sure that he was familiar with the teachings regarding the issue so that if he was not eligible (a judgment only a psychic or Kerry could reach) he would not present himself for the sacrament.

    At any rate, I believe that, historically at least, those who have been excommunicated are still “obliged” to attend mass.

    That’s the great thing about Catholicism. It’s so vague and no one really knows what it’s about.

  8. steve white

    did jack lynch not have to get personally involved to make sure the dept of ed allowed the first et school to be started in dalkey, the church and dept of ed have hindered alternative schools opening for years havn’t you noticed.

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