St. Patricks Primary School, Burrenreagh, Northern Ireland

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.

Photo credit: Eric Jones via Geograph (CC-By-SA 2.0)

  1. Wow! The President’s true colors continue to emerge. It’s always been clear he’s an ignoramus, but this is ridiculous!

  2. True colors indeed. It is clear that he doesn’t have a clue about the beauty of diversity…or liberty itself. He obviously doesn’t get that liberty means being able to choose, but also allowing others to choose to.


  3. Please read his statement again. It amazes me how people will find negativity in everything. He said division is not good for Ireland, period. He didn’t single out Catholics or Protestants as he said both maintaining their own institutions makes the whole nation weaker. At the very least argue his actual statement, and not something made up.

    1. I was arguing his statement. If having a Catholic school (or a Protestant one) is not a good institution to maintain isn’t he saying we shouldn’t send kids there? What’s the difference?

      Isn’t it really none of his business? Also the Catholic Church over in the UK seems to have taken a different perspective than you and believe his comments were out of line.

      1. I’m sure you are aware of the recent history of sectarian conflict in NI. Your president is making the rather obvious observation that such sectarianism is difficult to overcome when the next generation continues to be educated separately from each other. Educating children together breaks down barriers and divisiveness and the concept of the ‘other’. Northern Ireland has not been doing itself any favours by not adopting the more inclusive educational style of the rest of the UK. Sunday schools can provide the separate Catholic or Protestant religious education required for each tradition.

  4. The Obamas sent their kids to an exclusive U of Chicago school. His wife had a sinecure job with the U of Chicago hospitals that included discouraging area hospitals from sending their often poor patients to U of Chicago hospitals, since it would cost U of Chicago hospitals money. The Obamas always opposed aid to non-government school. The Obamas sent their kids to the same exclusive Washington, D.C., school to which the Clintons sent their kids. Durbin, Duncan, and Obama got the Bush-Kennedy vouchers for those schools eliminated. Boehner brought some of the kids to a State of the Union Address. He got the vouchers restored.
    A reason Catholic school existed was that the government schools taught the Protestant faith.
    President Grant wanted non-government schools eliminated, especailly on the grounds that evangelical schools were thought by him to be divisive. Blaine tried to get a constitutional amendment to ban aid to non-government private schools; he failed; but he got various Blaine amendments passed in various states. Then because Blaine wanted to be President, he backed down on his amendments, partly as an effort to get the Catholic vote. States like Wisconsin and Indiana are leading the way with government support for either non-government schools or for parents to get vouchers to send their kids to such schools.
    Just this week there was a withering report on the ineffectiveness of American teachers, especially, one would think, in our government schools, including in Chicago–Sec. of Education Bennett once rated theirs the worst in the nation–and in Washington, D.C., which has some of the highest expenditures and worst educational product. Indeed the unions in Washington, D.C., got both the mayor and the education czar there thrown out for favoring reform. No wonder Blocker favors vouchers.

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