Irish Catholic Bishops must stop relying on Catholic schools to form Catholic faith in Ireland.
That has become even more obvious with changes to enrolment criteria for Catholic primary schools in Dublin, a sign of what must soon follow elsewhere.
So argued a letter at the top of the Irish Times letters page on 16th Sept. 2020.
With primary schools in the Republic now unable to prioritise the admittance of siblings of existing pupils, the numbers of pupils who are either not from Catholic families or are from families tuned out from Catholic practice, must continue to increase. In any such class, Anthony O’Leary argues, faith formation is most unlikely to happen.
Irish bishops may deduce that the Irish Times has highlighted this letter to increase secularist public pressure for change in the management of Irish Catholic schools. However, for years the faith formation issues raised by Anthony O’Leary have been sidelined and long-fingered by the Irish hierarchy, and meanwhile a possible alternative plan launched by them in 2011 (‘Share the Good News’) has stalled completely.
With only one diocesan priest to be ordained in 2020, with the average age of serving priests now 70 and with a viral pandemic further depressing Catholic practice, the situation described by Anthony O’Leary adds another unavoidable item to the formidable in-tray of the Irish Bishops’ Conference, meeting next October 6&7, 2020.