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Catholic Education in a New Ireland: Spring 2019

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Catholic Education in a New Ireland



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Has a commitment to recognising the pluralism of modern Ireland created an environment that is hostile to Catholic education?

In the spring issue of Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review, Feichin McDonagh ponders whether the religious liberties of the 1937 Constitution are under attack. He observes that while the constitution grants parents the right to provide for the religious education of their children, The Education Act of 2018 may single out Catholics as the only religious community in Ireland unable to focus on members of their own faith.

Paul Meany, examining the involvement of the Catholic Church in education argues that by international standards the level of Church involvement we see in Irish education is in line with that seen around the world.

Brian Flannery and Archbishop Michael Jackson examine what pluralism and ethos mean for Irish Catholic schools. If we understand pluralism properly contends Flannery, we can preserve, where desired, a Catholic ethos in education that is compatible with the pluralism of modern Ireland. Jackson, from the perspective of the Church of Ireland, exculpates those who want religious education for their children, positing that the religious ethos of a school is distinctive and important to the growth of the student.

Amalee Meehan shares a concern for the dissolution of Catholic ethos in Irish education – she argues persuasively that new government guidelines relating to Religious Education in the Junior Cycle will make it difficult if not impossible for Catholic schools to maintain their commitment to faith formation. There is an urgent need for those invested in Catholic education in Ireland – teachers, principals, parents and students – to respond, and Meehan turns to the USA for guidance.

Referencing the mixed cultural and religious communities of the North, former taoiseach John Bruton argues that Pluralism has always been a feature of Irish life. He discusses what the 1918 General Election can teach us about the Belfast Agreement and the future of Northern Ireland.

How can we make that fraught history of religious pluralism work today for the good of a diverse, modern Ireland? A must-read for Irish educators, Studies has the first word on the future of Catholic education in Ireland.

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  • A Locus of Dialogue: the Catholic School in a Pluralist World

    Brian Flannery

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    It is generally accepted that the levels of Catholic patronage in Irish education are out of kilter with the profile of Ireland’s new demographic.

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  • Catholic Education – the International Context

    Paul Meany

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    The Irish education system, like others around the world, has evolved from a combination of religious, political, philosophical and economic factors.

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  • Catholic Schools in Ireland Today – a Changing Sector in a Time of Change

    Marie Griffin

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    There is a popular narrative that sees Catholic education resting on the vestiges of a former hegemony, defending itself against all-comers and employing a siege mentality, resistant to change and totally out of line with the zeitgeist of a modern, pluralist Ireland.

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  • Faith-based Education and Religious Ethos – Some Reflections

    Michael Jackson

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    In addressing this broad area, I want to lay out a few pointers which may help in setting the context as it impacts on me.

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  • Is There a Future for Christian Religious Education in Irish Post-primary Schools?

    Amalee Meehan

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    The Irish state is committed to ensure that all children, in accordance with their abilities should have ‘formative experiences in moral, religious and spiritual education’, while maintaining due regard for the rights of the child and their parents to freedom of religion.

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  • Policy and Partnership

    Maire Céline Clegg IBVM

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    Educational policy choices made at any given time can tell us a great deal about the role of the state within a particular society and its attitude to diversity within a contemporary culture.

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  • The 1918 Election and its relevance to Modern Irish Politics

    John Bruton

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    In this article I will describe the campaign in the 1918 General Election in the part of Ireland I know best, County Meath, and draw from that local contest broader national themes that marked this election and its aftermath.

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  • The Challenge for Catholic Schools in Contemporary Ireland

    Damon McCaul

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    In St John’s gospel (Jn 18:37 – 38), at his trial, Jesus says, ‘Everyone on the side of truth listens to me’.

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  • The Importance of Laws for Whistleblowing

    William Kingston

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    Since Whistleblowing was first discussed in Studies in 2001, the focus on actions from within organisations to stop wrongdoing in them has intensified.

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  • What Constitutes a Catholic School in 2019? A Legal Perspective

    Feichín McDonagh

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    What, in law, is a Catholic school? How do the Irish Constitution and the Education act 1998 regard a ‘Catholic school’ or for that matter any school with a religious patron?…

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