The Catholic Schools. Where are they?

No More Sacremental Preparation in Catholic Schools!
On the 3rd of December 2019, the Archbishop of Dublin, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, released a statement to the press which indicated that a “significant change is proposed in sacramental preparation” for the Dublin Archdiocese. The press release is very interesting to read and is available on the Dublin diocesan website.

We are told that an online survey was conducted to which there were 1800 respondents and that this “reflected the views of parents, parishioners, clergy, those in parish ministry, schoolteachers and principals.”

In 2016, the Archdiocese of Dublin had an estimated total of one point four million Catholics. At this rate, the respondents to Archbishop Martin’s survey represents just over point one percent, 0.13%, of the Catholics in the Archdiocese. This is a tiny fraction of the Catholics in the Archdiocese which shows up the general lack of interest Catholics have in what the Archbishop is doing, and there does not seem to have been any process by which to determine whether or not these people are fully conversant with and loyal to the teachings of the Catholic Church.

We are told that “in addition there were a number of focus groups with young parents who were not regular churchgoers, to hear their voice more clearly. Three assemblies were subsequently held across the Diocese, where the outcomes of the survey were presented and discussed.”

Shifting Sacramental Preparation Away from Catholic Schools.
The press release continues “Some key findings emerged from this process among them that the family has the primary responsibility for leading children in faith; that there is a desire for shifting the primary responsibility for sacramental preparation from school to parish. This was expressed strongly across the board and included the wish to continue involvement with schools.”

There are a few problems with this last statement. The Archdiocese of Dublin states that one of the key findings of their consultation process was that “the family has the primary responsibility for leading children in faith”. That this is presented as some new finding by the Archdiocese may go a long way to explaining why there is such a drastic decline in the practice of the faith within the Archdiocese of Dublin.

The Primacy of the Family in Education is Not New Teaching.
I don’t mean to sound trite, but the primacy of the family in handing on the Catholic faith to children has always been a core teaching of the Catholic Church. That this is presented as a ‘key finding’ from a survey in a Catholic Archdiocese borders on the bizarre. But I have long been saying, and it comes from personal experience of trying to raise eight children in the Catholic Faith, that in Ireland, the Catholic hierarchy does not respect this teaching in practice. It is the reason why my wife and I decided back in 2005 to home school our children, because we found that the Catholic Faith was not being taught properly in our Catholic schools.

Archbishop Martin’s press statement also indicates that the Dublin diocese will be “shifting the primary responsibility for sacramental preparation from school to parish.” To my mind, this indicates a loss of the supernatural viewpoint. The whole purpose of Catholic schools is to educate children in the Catholic Faith, of which sacramental preparation forms a crucial element, so that they will view the world from the supernatural perspective and so that they will live their lives according to the teachings of the Catholic Church. As Pope Pius XI says in ‘Divini Illius Magistri’:

Divini Illius Magistri.
“It is therefore as important to make no mistake in education, as it is to make no mistake in the pursuit of the last end, with which the whole work of education is intimately and necessarily connected. In fact, since education consists essentially in preparing man for what he must be and for what he must do here below, in order to attain the sublime end for which he was created, it is clear that there can be no true education which is not wholly directed to man’s last end, and that in the present order of Providence, since God has revealed Himself to us in the Person of His Only Begotten Son, who alone is “the way, the truth and the life,” there can be no ideally perfect education which is not Christian education.” (Divini Illius Magistri 7)

Making Concessions to the Secular State.
This latest move from Archbishop Diarmuid Martin is just another concession to the secular state and to secularism, which allows the secularists even greater control over our Catholic schools. These Catholic schools, contrary to popular opinion, are not funded by the government, for the government does not have any resources apart from those which belong to its citizens. The government governs what belongs to the people, it does not own the resources it governs. Catholic schools are funded from moneys which belong to the Irish people, 78.3% of whom, according to the 2016 census, are Catholics. Catholics should never accept the false notion that we are not entitled to have Catholic schools, or that religion should be kept separate from our schools, because it is we Catholics who pay for these schools, not the Irish government.

The reason that most of the schools in Ireland are Catholic is because most of the people in Ireland are Catholic. The reason why there are so few secular or atheistic schools in Ireland, is because less than ten percent of the population identify as having ‘no religion’ and this growth in those who identify as having ‘no religion’ is a recent phenomenon. Yet this minority group is seeking to remove religion from Irish schools and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin is assisting them. Removing sacramental preparation from our Catholic schools will only increase the demand to remove religion altogether from these schools leaving vulnerable children at the mercy of those who promote abortion, same-sex marriage, and hedonistic sexuality.

When will an Irish Bishop Stand up for Catholic Education.
What will it take for an Irish bishop to stand up to our government and to defend the right of Catholic parents to have a Catholic education for their children? What will it take for an Irish bishop to insist and to make sure, that nothing contrary to the Catholic Faith is to be taught in Catholic schools? What will it take for an Irish bishop to insist and to make sure, that those who teach in Catholic schools must firmly profess and defend the teachings of the Catholic Church?

Archbishop Fulton Sheen gives us the answer.

“Who’s going to save our Church? It’s not our bishops, it’s not our priests and it is not the religious. It is up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes and the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that the priests act like priests, your bishops act like bishops, and the religious act like religious.”

For too long Irish bishops have not been acting like Catholic bishops and many Catholic priests in Ireland have not been acting like Catholic priests ought to act. To some this will seem like a harsh statement but before reaching such a conclusion, I ask you to read what the duty of the bishop is in relation to Catholic schools and then ask yourself, are the Irish bishops carrying out their God given duty in relation to the Catholic schools in Ireland?

“Again it is the inalienable right as well as the indispensable duty of the Church, to watch over the entire education of her children, in all institutions, public or private, not merely in regard to the religious instruction there given, but in regard to every other branch of learning and every regulation in so far as religion and morality are concerned. (Divini Illius Magistri 23)

Catholic Schools Help Catholic Families to Pass on the Faith.
If Archbishop Diarmuid Martin really wants to help Catholic families in handing on the faith to their children, then he should begin by reforming the Catholic schools in his diocese and by insisting that these schools become truly Catholic once again. He should put in place a proper Catholic catechetical programme. He should publicly oppose the hedonistic ‘Relationships and Sexuality Education’ programmes that are operating within Catholic schools in his diocese. He should publicly oppose the LGBT abortion promoting organisation ‘Belong To’, which has been given access to Catholic schools and has been allowed to corrupt the minds of young Catholics in Catholic schools in his Dublin diocese.

But he will not do this unless faithful Catholic parents insist that he do it.

Political Correctness.
Many of the statements from Catholic bishop’s in Ireland these days can be quite revealing. They tend to be politically correct statements which oftentimes avoid addressing the real problems. Catholics in the Dublin Archdiocese are not falling away from the Catholic faith because sacramental preparation happens in our Catholic schools. They have fallen away from the Catholic faith precisely because the Catholic faith has not been taught properly in our Catholic schools for over fifty years. Removing sacramental preparation from these schools will further undermine the faith of those Catholic children who are being failed by parents who do not practice their Catholic faith.

Another Irish bishop recently issued a pastoral letter to his flock titled ‘Our Living Faith’. The letter was issued in order to let people know that, from the first Sunday in Advent this year, there will be fewer Masses celebrated within the diocese. It would be almost comical, if it were not so sad, to see how this bishop tries to put a positive ‘spin’ on this latest development in his diocese.

He refers to the Acts of the Apostles and the difficulties the young Catholic church was experiencing noting that “their growth had brought them to the point of questioning how best to engage with the situation in which they found themselves.” And he uses this to make this rather ambiguous point. “It is also wonderfully ordinary in that the Church then, as now, was continually changing and adapting.  This is how the Church actually is: never static, but continually responding to a changing world – the very world in which we live, are nourished, and come to life, the world though which God embraces us.”

He also says “This is the ordinary work of the Church – continually to renew, grow and change.  It is what people of faith have done since those days when Peter and the Apostles entrusted to others the care of the faith community.”

The Catholic Church is not Growing within the Diocese.
However, what this bishop fails to mention is the simple fact that the changes he is implementing are being implemented precisely because the Catholic Church is not growing within his diocese. This is the opposite to what was happening at the time of the Acts of the Apostles and ignoring the real problem, the decline of the Catholic faith in his diocese, means that the problem will not be addressed and will not be corrected. The Catholic Church does not adapt to a changing world, the Catholic Church changes the world so that the world adapts itself to Jesus Christ. The failure of our bishops to understand this is a huge part of our current problems. The Catholic Church should be like an anchor in the storm. It sometimes seems like the Irish bishops are acting like company receivers who are winding down a business and managing its decline rather than relying on Jesus Christ to build up His Catholic Church in Ireland and to reclaim the lost sheep.

I grew up in Dublin and went to school there from 1966 to 1979. Now that our children are home schooled, I can clearly see that I was not properly instructed in the Catholic faith during my time in school in Dublin. My father confirmed for me that he learned too late, that some of the teachers in the secondary Catholic schools we attended, undermined our Catholic faith.

The Bishop must ensure the Catholicity of the Schools.
This was not my father’s fault, because it is the duty of the diocesan bishop to make sure that the Catholic schools in his diocese are truly Catholic. My father’s fault was that he trusted the bishops too much, and he did not realise that they were failing his children because they were not policing the schools under their jurisdiction. It is my own belief, that it is this failure of the Irish bishops to insist on the Catholicity of Catholic schools and on the Catholicity of the school curriculum, that has primarily and directly led to the collapse of the Catholic faith in Ireland despite the best efforts of Catholic parents. Yes, there are other factors at play, but I believe it is the loss of the Catholic schools that has done most damage to the faith of Irish Catholics.

This is not to say that many Catholic parents are not also at fault. It is estimated that over eighty percent of Catholic couples now contracept and some put the figure as being higher than ninety percent. Which leads back to the supernatural outlook.

Pope Pius X, in his encyclical ‘Singulari Quadam’ – On Labor Organizations outlined the principles to be followed.

“These are fundamental principles: No matter what the Christian does, even in the realm of temporal goods, he cannot ignore the supernatural good. Rather, according to the dictates of Christian philosophy, he must order all things to the ultimate end, namely, the Highest Good. All his actions, insofar as they are morally either good or bad (that is to say, whether they agree or disagree with the natural and divine law), are subject to the judgment and judicial office of the Church.”

Catholic Workshops.
For this reason, next year, The Lumen Fidei Institute will launch a series of Catholic workshops to help Catholics to understand Catholic Church teaching regarding education so as to help them to live out their great supernatural calling as children of God.

The subject matter for these workshops is as follows.

The Catholic Family; Protecting Children from RSE; The Important Role of Women in the Catholic Church; Lay Catholic Action in Defence of the Faith.

We are also launching a Catholic RSE Resistance Movement with a conference sometime in late January to be followed by a nationwide tour of the country to alert parents to the dangers their children are facing on account of the growing presence of the sex education perverts.

If you want to get involved or would like us to visit your town, then please get in touch. We also need some generous benefactors to help finance this latest venture so that we can concentrate on the Gospel message that needs to be delivered to parents to enable them to protect their children from harm. If you are in a position to donate, then please use the form in this paper for our annual Lumen Fidei Financial appeal.

Catholic couples are called to have a supernatural outlook about how they live their lives as a married couple. They are called to a supernatural trust that God knows what He is doing when he creates each individual human soul; that He will never create too many children, an utter impossibility despite what the climate alarmists tell you; for how can you ever have too many images and likenesses of our infinite God? Rather we can never have too many children for there is no such thing as too many children of God.

May God bless you