Religious education must change and the catechetical programme in schools will need to be reassessed in the light of cultural change, the Archbishop of Dublin has stated.
Speaking at the Schools Mass for the new term in the Church of the Holy Redeemer in Bray, Co. Wicklow Dr Martin said that one of the reasons why religious education must change is ''that we have at times inherited and preached a false God...a harsh judgmental God''. ''We need to recover the true sense of a God who is love.''
He added: ''Catholic education is about preparing people for life. It is about the bond between faith and life, between faith and culture. Our catechetical programme needs to be reassessed in this light.''
Dr Martin also called for a ''creative balance'' in educational planning between pragmatism and idealism and that ''we have to be especially cautious in ensuring that the talent of those young people, who find themselves today economically disadvantaged, is not held hostage to purely economic decisions in such a way as to create long term damage for them''.
While admitting that there are demographic changes he said, ''this does not mean that there is a automatically widespread demand for a totally secular form of education''.
He added: ''Freedom of religion in the educational field was a hard-fought-for right. Ireland is now more secularised but its religious heritage is still very much alive, even for those who are unhappy with it.''
The archbishop said these are challenging times for education.
''We are facing a ground-breaking rethink regarding the ethos-mix of schooling in Ireland and we have to ensure that we get it right, through carefully listening to the various stakeholders and fully respecting the various traditions present in society''.
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