Gavin Sheridan: Bishops should butt out of education

From the Attic Archives

Letter to (the then) Examiner (29 June, 1998).

Donal O’Driscoll calls for the return of Bishops to the governing body of UCC, a request I do not agree with (Bring Bishops back into UCC, The Examiner, June 24).

He goes on to make many points with which I would have difficulty.

Firstly, the involvement of Bishops in the University could not be considered crucial. Why should such people be automatically given the right to be a part of the governing body?

Are they somehow morally or intellectually superior, their knowledge of Church creed being beneficial?

Mr. O’Driscoll points out that the Church has made an “outstanding contribution to higher education”, this may be true, but today is it really necessary?

Secondly, Mr. O’Driscoll states that there is a “campaign to secularise our culture” and “dechristianise our laws”.

I would have to agree that Ireland is becoming more secular. I feel it is to the advantage of this country. The conclusion reached by Mr. O’Driscoll is that Ireland would be worse off, if the Church were not imposing its will, that we would be deprived of morality and spirituality in an increasingly secular state.

I see no connection between morality and the Church, and spirituality while less defined can be attained without the aid of this institution.

Laws should be made in the best interests of the entire population and not on the agenda of the Church based on faith, where faith is defined as belief without proof.

Education should be secular, in my opinion, with the doctrine of the Church being taught elsewhere, such as in Sunday school.

As the Church has most of its power in the primary education sector, children are brought up from an early age constantly in the shadow of the Church.

I believe in the right to religious belief, but I also consider that religion should remain at Mass or in the home, according to the wishes of the parents.

Perhaps there is a campaign to secularise Ireland. But I see no threat from this, as the influence of the Church decreases I do not think we shall see a spate of immoral actions with people becoming less moral once the Church has lost sway over the State.

This “blight of neo-liberalism” cannot be considered bad, but in the best interests of the State in which we live.

Gavin Sheridan