When is a promise not a promise?
When a bishop makes it, of course. Education minister Ruairi Quinn is rapidly finding out that he can’t believe a word from the Catholic hierarchy in Ireland. They might have told him that they would support transfer of patronage away from clergy, but of course, as usual, they were practising that wonderful legerdemain beloved of old guys in dresses : mental reservation.
You remember mental reservation, don’t you? It was what allowed them to hide facts about child abusers from police investigations. It’s a fancy way of saying that they stay quiet about important stuff.
In this case, their mental reservation takes a subtle form. You see, while the bishops will of course help in every way with the transfer of control, yessirree, no question in the wide earthly world about it, unfortunately there’s another group who aren’t so keen on the idea. This is a group called the Catholic Schools Partnership, that wants patronage to be transferred only after a pilot study which, as you’ll recall, is the time-honoured way to kill any proposal. Set up a pilot study, appoint a task force and commission a report. The end.
The CSP was set up by the Conference of Religious in Ireland and the Irish Bishops’ Conference. Its 33-member council comprises bishops, teachers, priests, religious and one parent, also described as a pastoral worker.
Ah, right. The same people, in other words, who expressed support for a transfer of patronage.
The Catholic Communications Office says the CSP represents the grassroots opinion of those involved in Catholic education. In other words, the Catholic Communications Office completely, and deliberately, misses the point, since the entire process is not about Catholic education, but simply education, unencumbered by clergy.
These bishops would amaze you, wouldn’t they? Is there any limit to their dishonesty?
Catholic Schools Partnership, council members.
Fr Michael Drumm (brother of former HSE chief, Brendan Drumm), executive chairman; Drumm is the man who tells the council members what the bishops require them to think.
The other members are …
Kathleen Bradley, school principal, Derry;
PJ Callanan, CPSMA (Catholic Primary School Management Association);
Sr Marie Carroll, Irish Sisters of Charity;
Msgr Jim Cassin, Episcopal Education Commission;
Br Patrick Collier, De La Salle;
Fr David Corrigan, Marist order;
Maireád D’Arcy, parent and pastoral worker;
Fr Tom Deenihan, diocesan secretary, diocese of Cork;
Sr June Fennelly, Ursuline education office;
Sr Thomasina Finn, Sisters of Mercy;
Eileen Flynn, general secretary CPSMA;
Sr Maighréad Ní Ghallchobhair, Dominican Sisters;
John Hayden, former chief executive of the HEA;
Sr Margaret Mary Healy, CPSMA;
Dr Brendan Kelly, Bishop of Achonry;
Ferdia Kelly, general secretary AMCSS/JMB;
Gerry Lundy, Council of Catholic Maintained Schools, Northern Ireland;
Anne McDonagh, archdiocese of Dublin education secretary;
Br Mark McDonnell, Christian Brothers education office;
Bishop Donal McKeown, chairman of Northern Ireland Catholic Commission for Education;
Fr Denis McNelis, parish priest at Laytown;
Maeve Mahon, Kildare and Leighlin diocesan adviser;
Paul Meany, principal Marist College, Ballsbridge;
Noel Merrick, president of AMCSS/ JMB;
Msgr Lorcan O’Brien, moderator archdiocese of Dublin;
Brendan O’Reilly, national director of Catechetics;
Bishop Leo O’Reilly, chairman of Episcopal Commission for Education;
Sr Ena Quinlan, AMCSS/JMB;
Paul Scanlan, general secretary Presentation Brothers Schools’ Trust;
Fr PJ Sexton, lecturer Mater Dei;
Maria Spring, president CPSMA;
Anne Walsh, deputy principal CBS Kilkenny.