Nonetheless, it must also be acknowledged that the vast majority of priests and nuns are above question. Moreover, the Church has wielded a highly positive influence on this country’s social and educational development.
But modern Ireland is undergoing a dramatic transformation. Our many-layered society is multi-ethnic and multi-religious. Increasingly, parents are demanding greater choice in the education of their children.
It goes without saying that the debate sparked by Ms O’Donnell ranges far beyond the controversy currently engulfing the Church over the appalling sexual abuse of children by priests.
Arguably, given the rapid transformation of Irish society, an educational regime that puts 98% of primary schools under the managerial control of one Church is no longer feasible or desirable.
Amid mounting clamour for a radical overhaul of the Church’s involvement in the realm of primary education, a dispassionate and in-depth review of its role and of its special relationship with the State is not only warranted but long overdue.
Read the complete article Church and State - Review of clerical role is long overdue from Irish Examiner.com.
From the points made in the article, it would seem that the Catholic Church running the primary schools of Ireland is a bit outdated. It's just too bad that the debate of the role of the Church in education has to come about due to sex abuse reports and a backlash against the Church.
As the article noted, Ireland is becoming more and more multi-ethnic. Yet unlike other areas of Europe, this multi-ethnic society has come about due to a rapidly growing economy and not enough trained Irish to fill positions. This was also the case forty years ago, when guest workers were invited to come work. Such places tend to not be so stable socially when the economy slows down.
In bookstores, one often sees a title along the lines of 'how the Irish saved the West'. Perhaps they can do so again by being a model of how the Catholic Church can integrate society through education and a shared morality held by all citizens (even if they're not Catholic). The Catholic schools will have to prove their worth by providing quality education for the 21st century.