9 months ago
Irish parents require the sacraments (and the certificate, which comes with it) to get the school place for children and secure their first educational day. What’s covered under this statement? In this post, the Typical Student team will figure it out for you!
The story of Fiona’s family
Although Fiona’s family isn’t religious, they drive across the country at least twice per year. This family don’t take communications about Holy Rosary and don’t go to Mass but regularly visit families' community parishes. Why? To baptize their children before they go to school. The reason is unexpectable: that’s how Irish parents care about their kids’ future education.
Does Catholic background influence the way children are treated at Irish schools?
Basically, nearly 90% of Ireland schools have Catholic ethos. On the first hand, such background influences the way non-religious students are treated at school. On the second hand, in a crowded system, Catholic children always get priority enrollment over non-Catholics. The schools we are talking about are state-funded but they have Catholic Church patrons, who set the admission guidelines.
"There are people in her class who don't participate in religion but they just sit in the corner in the room," Fiona says. "It's like, 'Look at you guys in the corner.'"
Irish parliament passed the bill against ‘baptism barrier’
July 2018, the was a bill passed by the Irish parliament. It was meant to outlaw the so-called ‘baptism barrier’ and prioritizing Catholic students became illegal. This bill exempted minority faith schools but there are only 5% of primary schools accounted.
As expected, the bill was debated. That’s how Richard Bruton (the Education Minister) explains its importance:
“It is unfair that a local child of no religion is passed over in favor of a child of religion, living some distance away, for access to their local school. Parents should not feel pressured to baptize their child.”
Did the bill help?
Still, it looks like the bill doesn’t help. To secure her children future, Fiona, who is agnostic and her staunch atheist husband decided to baptize their kids. They came to the priest and h “prodded if we were doing it for school reasons.”
"I pretty much lied through my teeth," Fiona says.
She went through the motions of the service quietly and her husband remained silent. "We have to do this if we want the kids to have the best." the couple told each other.
What do statistics say?
Statistics show that over 10% of Ireland population (470,000!) say they have no religion at all, which means a rise of 74% in the same period of time. Talking about marriages, in 2017, there were only 50% of ceremonies held in Catholic churches. Other words, it’s a 31% decrease over the past 10 years. As a result, church attendance is declining. The main reasons are multiple scandals and the fact they include systematic child sexual abuse.
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