Speaking to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland today (Monday 27 May), Archbishop Keith O'Brien, in his capacity as official delegate from the Catholic Church, cautioned against the view that shared school campuses would inevitably bring an end to denominational education.
As official delegate, Archbishop O'Brien is able to intervene in debates but not to participate in voting.
In his intervention during the report of the Committee on Education, he pointed out that shared campuses had existed for over two decades and the Catholic Church had co-operated with such arrangements where necessary. He stressed however that such co-operation in no way signalled a weakening in the resolve of the Catholic Church in Scotland to retain and support self contained catholic schools.
Speaking after the Assembly business had concluded, Archbishop O'Brien added:
"The Catholic Church values greatly the role played by Catholic schools in Scotland. Our preferred option will always be for stand alone Catholic schools but where this option is unavailable, shared campus arrangements can be accommodated. We accept that demographic trends force local authorities to keep school provision under review. At the same time it is worth noting that only last week an opinion poll showed that a majority of Scots supported Catholic schools, while among Catholics 80% backed denominational education. Such levels of support mirror the clear and unequivocal backing given to denominational schools by the Catholic Bishops and people of Scotland."
Note: Archbishop O'Brien is President of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland
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