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Archbishop: 'Baptising children simply to be able to attend a specific school is an abuse of baptism'

Former Minister for Education and current Labour TD Ruairí Quinn spoke this morning of the urgent need for reform in the area.

shutterstock_196678274 Source: Shutterstock/mylu

THE PHENOMENON IN Ireland of non-religious parents baptising their children in order to gain a school place for them has come under the microscope today.

Currently, the Catholic Church controls the vast majority of Irish primary schools, with limited places allocated to those who are baptised as a matter of preference.

Last night, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said that to baptise a child so they can attend a particular school is an “abuse” of the sacrament.

Martin, speaking at the annual Schools Mass in Dublin’s Pro-Cathedral, said: “Catholic education should be a realistic free choice and possibility for parents who genuinely wish it.”

Baptising children simply to be able to attend a specific school is an abuse of baptism.

Former Minister for Education and current Labour TD Ruairí Quinn spoke this morning of the urgent need for reform in the area on Newstalk Breakfast.

One listener had tweeted the show to say “I’m a sinner who’s baptising my child for education purposes as the alternative is to put my child’s education at risk as the number of non-denominational school places in our area is quite low”.

27/5/2014 Cabinet Meetings Ruairí Quinn Source: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

“I fully sympathise with any parent’s pragmatic decision to do the best for their child,” Quinn said.

They shouldn’t be forced into that position. Baptism trumps everything else if there are more people looking for places than there are places available.
People think that the church is an integrated authority with everyone thinking the same, it isn’t. Diarmuid Martin may be patron of 500 schools but while he can exhort them to do something, he can’t instruct them and that’s the problem.

Quinn says that pragmatic baptism is a “reality of life” in 20% of 4,000 primary and post-primary schools in Ireland.

“The increase in the building of new schools isn’t keeping up with the increase in population across the country,” he said.

He said that a new Schools Admissions Bill which is “ready to take off” will cater for the situation so that schools, while preserving their religious ethos, can make a specific number of places available to those pupils without religious denomination.

“Unfortunately, Catholic authorities don’t have the commitment to provide for pluralism that Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has,” he said.

Read: Irish priests are ignoring the Pope and calling for female clergy in churches

Read: The Archbishop of Dublin says parents who don’t want their kids to do religion have a point

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