The true Catholic school

14th May 2004 at 01:00
As one who believes that contemporary Scotland has more need than ever of the alternative vision of living which Catholic education should provide, it was with great anticipation than I began reading your feature last week on Catholic schools.

However, this anticipation was quickly dissipated by what emerged. I don't doubt that the schools mentioned in your report do much work that is commendable. However, some aspects of the article need to be clarified for the benefit of non-Catholic readers.

Firstly, Kerry McLaren was described as "lay chaplain" of Holy Rood High in Edinburgh. The use of the term "chaplain" to refer to any lay person is against the teaching of the church. This teaching is contained in a document entitled Instruction on Certain Questions Regarding the Celebration on Non-Ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priests, which dates from 1997. This is intended to end the "clericalisation" of the laity and ensure that the lay vocation is seen as good and worthy in itself and not second-class.

We must deal also with the question of liturgy. We are told that "liturgy is the celebration, and putting to God, of the lived experience of our community". However, Church teaching is that the emphasis in liturgy must be on God coming to us and offering His grace freely via the sacraments. To suggest that liturgy is the celebration of our personal and communal experiences is to put the human person at the centre of what should be a divine mystery.

Another point at issue concerns the perceived dichotomy between what Mike Knox of Holy Rood calls "indoctrination" and "the process of religious formation". What does he mean by the term "indoctrination"? Is he really saying that we should not teach Catholic doctrine in Catholic schools? Would he, therefore, prevent other teachers from teaching the "facts" about their own subjects?

There can be no trade-off between instruction and religious formation.

Rather, the religious instruction (indoctrination?) available in Catholic schools should provide students with the moral and doctrinal formation to live a good upright life, make correct choices and, therefore, make a better world for all.

These are not my opinions but the actual teachings of the Church. I do not intend to denigrate the good name of the schools and personnel mentioned in the article, but the readers of The TES Scotland need to know what Catholics actually believe if they are to understand why Catholic education should be different from that inother schools.

Leonard Franchi

Burnbrae, Alexandria

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