President Barack Obama is visiting Northern Ireland for G8 Summit at the Lough Erne resort in Enneskillen. On his short 2-day trip he managed to offend supporters of religious education in Northern Ireland and undermined a recent statement from the Vatican on Catholic education in Northern Ireland.
Ian Dunn of the Scottish Catholic Observer reports:
President Barack Obama, repeated the oft disproved claim that Catholic education increases division in front of an audience of 2000 young people, including many Catholics, at Belfast’s Waterfront hall when he arrived in the country this morning.
“If towns remain divided—if Catholics have their schools and buildings and Protestants have theirs, if we can’t see ourselves in one another and fear or resentment are allowed to harden—that too encourages division and discourages cooperation,” the US president said.
The US politician made the unfounded claim despite a top Vatican official spelling out the undeniable good done by Catholic education in a speech in Glasgow on Saturday and in his homily at Mass on Friday.
Archbishop Gerhard Müller (below), prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, told an audience in Scotland that Catholic education provided a rare place where ‘intellectual training, moral discipline and religious commitment would come together’ while giving the presitigous Cardinal Winning Lecture on Saturday to officially launch the St Andrews Foundation for Catholic teacher education at Glasgow University. During Mass at St Andrew’s Cathedral, Glasgow, on Friday night he said that ‘the Catholic school is vitally important … a critical component of the Church,’ adding that Catholic education provides young people with a wonderful opportunity to ‘grow up with Jesus.’
Well done Mr. President, this gives us an idea how he views private religious schools here as well.