It’s nice to know that Ireland is keeping up with the times. The economy is in good shape; priests no longer sexually molest children; the right to abortion is recognised and defended; people hold politicians responsible and vote them out when they deserve it; money no longer talks; gay people can live lives free of fear and discrimination; and the Catholic church no longer runs the whole show.
Yeah right – in some other universe, maybe.
The truth is that the Irish national school system, for all kids between about 5 and 12, is controlled by the Irish Catholic church. And we’re not talking about just a few scattered wacko schools here, but the vast majority of them, 95% or more. My niece, now 11, explained it all to me on my recent visit to the old country. And when she showed me her religious text books, and passed on her anecdotes, I shook my head in dismay.
Could it really seriously be like this in a modern European country?
So here’s how it works. The Irish state collects taxes to fund its schools. The board in each school makes the major decisions regarding how that school is run. And the head of the school board, regardless of ability, experience or popular vote, is almost always the parish priest. Which means a Catholic priest, I should add, for people from other countries who might imagine that any other fairy-tale power structures than Catholicism get any say in Ireland.
The children’s’ parents and school rector have a few seats on the board, but the actual power rests with the Priest and the church, and it has done so for over a century.
The priest therefore has a veto right over any and all decisions affecting the school: the teachers hired, the areas pursued outside the standard curriculum, and the influence of religion on the day-to-day lives of Irish children.
The church also gains a free platform to twist the next generation to their archaic and frankly terrifying view of the universe, a chance to use taxpayers money to raise a new generation of priests, and in return they give back to the community – nothing. Nothing, that is, but fear, guilt, abuse and oppression.
The children are forced to perform all the “celebrations” of the Catholic church, such as the ritual cannibalism of communion, and the responsibility-avoidance of confession. These rituals have priority above their normal education – my niece told me stories of children missing math and language classes for church duty, such as altar service or choir singing. And the children really have no choice here – it is made clear to them from an early age that religion goes before all else.
It goes without saying that the Catholic faith is the only one on offer or, the majority of the time, the only one mentioned.
On top of this, the textbook (published by Veritas, Ireland’s premier publisher of Catholic propaganda) presents Catholic dogma not as theory or matters of faith, but as pure and unadulterated fact. There is no choice of textbook – only one is allowed, and the children must pay for it themselves, out of their own pockets, passing more money directly to the Irish Catholic machine.
I was under the impression that a modern democracy in a EU country would not support or allow compulsory religious indoctrination of children. And the Catholic church, with their undisputed track record of molesting and torturing children for decades, don’t seem the people to which we should be entrusting our childrens futures. It’s like hiring wolves to be shepherds.
To be honest, I hardly know where to start here. There are so many things in this story that make me fume. But here are a few links to get you started, if you think you need to fume a bit too:
- The recently published Irish report on widespread child abuse in church institutions.
- An excellent history of how the church came to control the Irish national school system.
- An Irish archbishop has second thoughts.
- Wikipedia on the Catholic church in Irish schools.
- A letter to Ireland’s main quality newspaper on this topic.
This looks like it will be a very extended rant, so I will have to split it into parts. But keep on reading, because I plan to do something about it – I plan to raise some hell.
You see, I bought a copy of the religious textbook and discovered a pretty obvious copyright violation. The Apple symbol is used when discussing the creation myth, since the bone-idle layouter couldn’t be btoehreds to draw his own apple. And so I plan to nail Veritas for this. I repeat – they shall be nailed. Or at least made very very sweaty.
I will return to the sick little textbook later. But this but for now let me list what I intednd to do about this whole situation:
- Find out if the current set up in Irish primary schools is in fact legal by EU law.
- Write to Veritas and ask them if they have permission to use the apple symbol (and hopefully make them shit themselves). And also write to Apple and start warming up the boiling pot.
- Ask the Irish Catholic church directly and simply why they believe they should have this level of power in a modern democracy.
Join me in a week or so for part 2 of this rant where I dissect and quote the horrendous little textbook, and pass on some more anecdotes from my niece about day to day life in a “democratic” Irish primary school.
In part 3 we will look at the mails I sent to the various players listed above, and the replies received.
And in part 4 we shall summarise and see if any relies to mails have been fortcoming, and if the Catholic church has bothered to give a coherent response, and what Veritas think about copyright (and about Apple’s numerous lawyers).
I don’t expect to do much damage here, other than inform, since this has been going on for 150 years, and better men than I have tried.
But I am pretty sure I can nail them on the Apple.
/ paddy (Catholic-free since 1983)