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Irish bishops ready to discuss government school takeover; emphasize parental rights

Catholic World News - August 03, 2010

The Catholic bishops of Ireland have given a cautious welcome to a cabinet-level report proposing a government takeover of some schools now administered by the Church.

“Catholic Bishops have for some time stressed their willingness to cooperate in the process of ensuring a greater variety of patronage within the primary school system to respond to the needs of parents,” the Irish bishops pointed out. Recalling that the country’s constitution recognizes the rights of parents are the primary educators, the bishops say that the ultimate test of any new system will be its responsiveness to parents’ needs.

The bishops were reacting to a report from the Department of Education and Skills, suggesting certain regions where the government might assume control of primary schools. The bishops noted with satisfaction that no school would change hands “without a transparent process of consultation.”

“In looking to the future the Church has made clear the commitment of Catholic communities throughout Ireland to providing denominational Catholic education to parents who desire such for their children,” the bishops’ conference said. The statement added: “However, the Catholic Church in Ireland does not see itself in the future as the sole or dominant provider of schools.”

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