Source: The New York Times
By Ed O’Loughlin
DUBLIN — Last week, Ireland voted to repeal a constitutional ban on abortion. Almost before that epochal change can sink in, the government is taking steps to end another practice backed by the Catholic Church: a provision that gives preference in most of the country’s elementary schools to children who have been baptized.
Under a school admissions bill that passed the lower house of the Irish parliament this week, Catholic elementary schools would be barred from discriminating in favor of children of their own “religious ethos.” The bill still must pass the upper house this month, but most analysts expect it will be approved.
Under the existing system, the Roman Catholic Church controls 90 percent of Ireland’s public elementary schools, owning the property and appointing school boards and principals, even though the government pays the bills. Many non-Catholic parents, particularly in small towns and rural areas, find they have no choice but to send their children to local schools teaching Catholic faith formation.