herald

Friday 9 December 2016

Department rejects claim of impact on Catholic teaching in schools

Tánaiste Joan Burton canvassing with Kevin Humphries TD and a dog Oscar, at the Docklands Festival Grand Canal as the Marriage Equality campaign enters its final week and encouraging people to vote Yes.
Tánaiste Joan Burton canvassing with Kevin Humphries TD and a dog Oscar, at the Docklands Festival Grand Canal as the Marriage Equality campaign enters its final week and encouraging people to vote Yes.

The Department of Education has dismissed claims that Catholic teaching in schools will be effected if the referendum on same-sex marriage passes.

The country's bishops have warned teachers they could face lawsuits if they continue with traditional ideology.

In his pastoral statement, Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan, told mass goers that a 'Yes' majority would effect what schools will have to teach children.

"It will become increasingly difficult to speak or teach in public about marriage as being between a man and a woman," the bishop said.

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"What will we be expected to teach children in school about marriage or about homosexual acts?"

Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin also spoke of his concern over what teachers "might be expected to teach our children".

However, a spokesman for the Department of Education today insisted that this would not be the case in the event of a 'Yes' vote.

"It should also be noted that denomination schools currently reconcile church teaching with teaching of the law in relation to other areas of marital law, for example, legal provisions in relation to divorce," a Department representative said.

"This has not created issues for schools over the past 20 years."

Chairman of Referendum Commission, Kevin Cross, previously said that both doctrines could co-exist in the education systems, with schools entitled to teach the religious ethos alongside the civil law stance.

"The schools, if they teach civics, will have to tell their students what the law provides in relation to civil marriage," he said.

"If schools are teaching religious doctrine, then presumably Christian schools [will outline] that marriage has a particular meaning within Christianity or other religions.

"The school can teach its doctrine in relation to sexual behaviour between people even if those acts are condoned by civil law."

marriage

Children in religious schools are currently taught the religious meaning of marriage, as a permanent union between man and woman.

Communications Minister, Alex White, also refuted the bishops' statements saying it was "wrong" for the Church to say it would be restricted in any way.

"There is absolutely no basis whatsoever for any suggestion that the Catholic Church or any church would be constricted in any way," he said.

"A specific provision in the legislation we're going to bring in, if and when the referendum passed, would mean a Catholic priest, for example, will not be required to solemnise for example, the marriage of a same-sex couple," he added.

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