Outrage Continues Over President’s Attack on Catholic Schools

catholic school childEven though the mainstream media in the U.S. has chosen to ignore a major gaffe made by the President in Ireland earlier this week, it hasn’t squelched the outrage of Catholics who were shocked at his assertion that having Catholic and Protestant schools “encourages division.”

Breitbart is reporting that Obama, who himself attended an elite private high school, made the offensive comments in Belfast on Monday.

“Because issues like segregated schools and housing, lack of jobs and opportunity — symbols of history that are a source of pride for some and pain for others — these are not tangential to peace; they’re essential to it.  If towns remain divided — if Catholics have their schools and buildings, and Protestants have theirs — if we can’t see ourselves in one another, if fear or resentment are allowed to harden, that encourages division.  It discourages cooperation,” the President said.

Catholic media has been humming all week with outrage over the insinuation that Catholic education is to blame for causing division in communities.

“Catholic education is not the source of ‘division’ in Northern Ireland, nor are they a source of division anywhere in the world,” said Brian Burch, President of CatholicVote.org.

“Catholic schools educate children without regard for race, class, sex, origin, or even religious faith. The work of Catholic education is a response to the Gospel call to serve, not divide.”

The comment did not sit well with Burch, who reminds that this insult came from the lips of the same man whose administration is about to force religious institutions in the U.S. to fund birth control for their employees.

“This smear in Northern Ireland constitutes a growing pattern of hostility on the part of this Administration toward Catholics,” Burch writes.

“The Obama administration has ruled that some Catholic colleges are no longer sufficiently Catholic enough to warrant a religious exemption from the HHS Mandate. Two years ago, the Obama Justice Department argued before the Supreme Court that religious institutions have no right to decide what type of persons will be allowed to minister to their parishes and schools. Beginning August 1, the Obamacare HHS Mandate will impose unprecedented threats to conscience and potentially millions of dollars in fines on Catholic schools who refuse to pay for abortion drugs, sterilizations, and other medical procedures inconsistent with Church teaching.”

He is demanding an apology from the President and is urging the Administration “to halt their ongoing attack on religious liberty which allows religious schools of all faiths to flourish.”

The Scottish Catholic Observer called the president’s claim “oft unfounded” and pointed out that he made the erroneous remark at nearly the same time that a Vatican official in Glasgow was spelling out the undeniable good done by Catholic education around the world.

Archbishop Gerhard Müller, 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”. During Mass at the Cathedral, he reiterated his point, calling the Catholic school “vitally important . . . a critical component of the Church . . . ” that provides young people with an opportunity to “grow up with Jesus.”

Deacon Nick Donnelly of the popular UK blog, Protectthepope.com, called the president’s attack on the Catholic schools “misguided”, saying that it “proves once again that he is definitely in the camp of those militant secularists who are seeking to constrain, marginalize and diminish the human rights of Catholics and the Catholic Church. The UN Human Rights Convention states that parents have the right to educate their children in their Faith. For Catholics this necessarily means  the Catholic Church have her own autonomous schools in order to create a Catholic ethos throughout the school. President Obama did the Peace Process a bad turn in Belfast by threatening our Catholic identity.”

Even the secular media was unimpressed with the president’s remarks.

“Of course, it’s ironic that the most divisive President in American history should go to Ireland and condemn division,” writes attorney Carol Platt Liebau for Townhall.com.  “But it also raises questions: Does this signal hostility to Catholic education in America — or hostility to religious education in general?”

She adds: “It’s clear — from his ObamaCare abortifacient/contraceptive mandate to his efforts to cut charitable deductions —  that the President sees government as the only really legitimate actor in civil society. But his willingness to characterize education by religious orders as enabling division and discord is an unpleasant reminder of his hostility to any social force with potential to check the power of Big Government.”

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