Scottish Archbishop Defends Catholic Schools

Compares Criticism to Anti-Irish Campaign

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GLASGOW, Scotland, DEC. 15, 2002 ( Glasgow Archbishop Mario Conti has compared attacks on the Catholic school system to the racist and anti-Catholic campaigns to deport the Irish from Scotland in the 1920s.

In an article in the Herald newspaper, Archbishop Conti defended the Church’s record on ecumenical dialogue and the promotion of religious harmony, and criticized «those liberals who … purport to provide a place for everyone, and then refuse to some their legitimate aspirations to do things in their own way.»

Archbishop Conti went on to say that «to seek a solution … in the abolition or amalgamation of Catholic schools is tantamount to asking for the ‘repatriation of the Irish,’ and just as offensive,» and went on to ask if «the Catholic community [has] a place, its place, in today’s Scotland.»

Critics who blame Catholic schools for fostering Scotland’s sectarian violence have focused on recent remarks by Motherwell Bishop Joseph Devine that «Roman Catholic schooling is divisive,» but that «sometimes it’s a price worth paying.»

«The Catholic community believes that with denominational schooling comes the creation of a common set of values — a coherent system that has the academic curriculum and moral and spiritual life in tandem,» Bishop Devine went on to say, according to a BBC report.

Comments from parliamentarians, such as Liberal Democrat MSP Donald Gorrie, and from the sectors of the press, along with the Scottish Humanist Society and the National Secular Society, have assailed the multi-tier religious system, which divides students for purposes of schooling by religious background at the age of 5.

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