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Catholic commentators cry foul after Barack Obama slates ‘divisive’ sectarian schools

SHORTLY before the US President visited Northern Ireland for the G8 Conference, Catholics were basking in the warm glow of remarks made by Archbishop Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.

Müller told an audience in Scotland that Catholic education provided a rare place where:

Intellectual training, moral discipline and religious commitment would come together.

He was giving a Cardinal Winning Lecture to officially launch the St Andrews Foundation for Catholic teacher education at Glasgow University. During Mass at St Andrew’s Cathedral, Glasgow, 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.

President Obama in Belfast

President Obama in Belfast

Then along comes Obama and pisses on their parade. According to this report, he  “undermined” Müller by repeating the:

Oft disproved claim that Catholic education increases division.

Obama was addressing an audience of 2000 young people, including many Catholics, at Belfast’s Waterfront hall, and said:

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.

Benjamein Wiker, writing for the National Catholic Register, sourly commented:

I can see why Mr Obama is not very excited about Catholic education. It’s too … Catholic.

And he asked:

Was the president suggesting that only Catholic schools should be closed? Was he saying, in effect, something like this? ‘Irish Catholics — get over it! The tip of your island is owned by English Protestants living on the island to your east, and that island, Britain, has an established church. Catholic schools are cells of rebellion, whereas Protestant schools are cells of patriotism’.

Or was Obama saying that both Catholic schools and Protestant schools should be eliminated, because any such ‘sectarian’ institution ‘encourages division and discourages cooperation’. So … close them both and herd all the kids into purely secular schools where they can ‘see themselves in one another’?

But if ‘sectarian’ institutions are the problem, then why not close the churches as well? ‘If towns remain divided — if Catholics have their church buildings and Protestants have theirs … ‘

Hmmm. Very curious.

Wiker added:

Whatever he meant to say, Catholics should certainly be prepared to defend Catholic education against any notion that we’d all be better if education were purely secularized.

First of all, universal education was invented by the Catholic Church. The Church also invented the university. Before that, education was the preserve of the very few. But during the period from 1200 to 1500, the universities educated hundreds of thousands of students from all walks of life and from all over Europe. That universalizing of education on the upper level was the blueprint and inspiration for the universalizing of education reaching down to the pre-collegiate levels.

Catholics have a right to defend what they’ve invented.

He then demonstrates that Catholic education does in fact encourage division and discourage cooperation.

Just suppose, for example, that a secular state wants to affirm abortion and ‘gay marriage’ as both legal and moral and uses its public secular schools to teach kids accordingly. Then Catholic schools could act as independent moral institutions.

They could, in fact, contradict the government and teach that abortion is murder and that ‘gay marriage’ is a morally distorted form of the only morally licit form of marriage, marriage between one man and one woman.Catholic schools would then be — in the eyes of the liberal secular state — cells of rebellion, ‘encouraging division and discouraging cooperation’.

He concluded:

If we had only secular schools, schools entirely under the thumb of the government, our children would learn only what that secular government wants them to learn.

The right-wing Breitbart.com said Obama’s remark was a “gaffe”, and bemoaned the fact that it was not reported in the mainstream US media.

While gaffes are usually defined as extemporaneous, off-the-cuff errors or poorly judged statements, Obama’s remarks were planned in advance. The ‘gaffe’ in Obama’s Belfast remarks lies in the fact that Obama did not consider the sensitivities of his audience – or that he inadvertently revealed his own anti-religious prejudice.

To travel to a city troubled by conflict, and to then insult the members of at least one of the two communities, is not only a gaffe, but a serious diplomatic error.

Unless, of course, the speaker is President Barack Obama.

21 Responses to “Catholic commentators cry foul after Barack Obama slates ‘divisive’ sectarian schools”

  1. Religious institutions are a problem in a secular nation. We’d probably do better without them. I don’t agree that the sectarian schools and churches counterbalance the secular. Religion is not necessary for the existence of dissent, or resistance to governmental oppression. Religious institutions simply present a competing form of oppression.

    The catholic church didn’t invent universal education, but they certainly contributed to the techniques of brainwashing. Nevertheless, kids eventually crawl out of whatever bubble they were confined to for their childhoods. Then they look around and start making their own decisions — sometimes responsible ones!

  2. barriejohn says:

    Nevertheless, kids eventually crawl out of whatever bubble they were confined to for their childhoods. Then they look around and start making their own decisions — sometimes responsible ones!

    Only far too late in cases like mine, but then why should their thought processes be fucked up in the first place? Who has the right to do that?

  3. Broga says:

    The hyper anxiety of RCs about any politician who disagrees with their dictat demonstrates their sense that they are losing the argument. They must jump on any different views, not by the use of facts or reason, but by stating how wrong any contrary opinion must be.

  4. [...] Catholic commentators cry foul after Barack Obama slates 'divisive … Go to this article [...]

  5. TrickyDicky says:

    Broga

    It was so much simpler in the good old days when they
    could just burn any dissenters at the stake.

    I am sure many of them regret those days passing.

  6. Daz says:

    In other words, “Keep your hands off our grooming parlours.”

  7. barriejohn says:

    Mea Maxima Culpa is being shown again at 2.30am on BBC4 tomorrow. You can also watch here:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b02x9z7g

  8. L.Long says:

    Obama is one of those lucky few that no matter what he says or where he says it, it will be twisted to be insulting and wrong headed.
    What is reported here is is true but his delivery was very flawed. But still no matter how well he had worded it it would have been twisted by someone.

  9. Stuart H. says:

    Wiker’s view represents nothing but a problem I’ve seen from periods living in both Belfast and Israel. Loudmouthed cultural pimps who play to most Americans sense that their ‘roots’ are in other countries and so they should show some ‘solidarity’ with those places. In both cases this is mainly reduced to cheap emotional rants from the kind of folk my Belfast mates used to call ‘Plastic Paddies’ and I’m sure my Israeli friends also had some disparaging term for, though I don’t remember it. Rich ‘allies’ in the US with a cloud cuckoo view of ‘the old country’ whose ‘assistance’ came with more problems than it solved. Wiker wouldn’t have lasted a day in the Belfast of ‘the troubles’. Not because of sectarianism, but because such an outright cretin doesn’t have the sense or ability to adapt to communities where people live physically so close together that you have little choice but to find ways to adapt to other views. His remarks say everything about the problem of a country so large that people can make a comfortable living (indeed live their whole lives) in one religious or racial ghetto and nothing about much smaller countries where religious and non-religious alike recognise there are problems, but that racial or religious apartheid just isn’t physically possible.

  10. Canada Dave says:

    “But if ‘sectarian’ institutions are the problem, then why not close the churches as well?”

    When can we start …..tomorrow perhaps?

  11. Broga says:

    TrickyDicky: The good Christians loved satisfying their sanctity in the old days. The St Bartholomew’s Day massacres (1572) were triggered by religious conflict. A protestant leader called Coligny had his head cut off by a catholic mob. It was later embalmed and sent to Rome for the Pope to admire. A man called Lussault answered his door and had his throat slit. His wife jumped from an upstairs window and broke both her legs. A neighbour took her in but she was dragged into the street by the hair and both her hands were cut off.

    People were buried alive in dung, thrown into wells and ditches to die, nailed in boxes without air walled up in towers without food…. People were stretched in front of fires their feet “fricasseed in grease”, women raped, the pregnant aborted, children roasted alive in front of their parents.

    Pope Gregory X111 seems to have been pleased with the activities and struck a medal to commemorate them. I take this information from Sarah Bakewell’s brilliant “A Life of Montaigne” – a man whose essays I often read and admire.

  12. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    Benjamein Wiker….”that island, Britain,”

    Does he perchance mean the island that goes by the name of Great Britain? I only ask because I cannot find any island called Britain anywhere.

    If he can’t even get that correct, why should I pay any attention to anything else he says?

  13. Trevor Blake says:

    Perhaps we can put decisiveness behind us with this statement from President Obama: ‘The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam’.
    Yes, there is no place for Muslim mockers and Islam insulters like me in the future.

  14. AgentCormac says:

    You’d think the rcc in Scotland would be trying to keep its head down after the O’Brien scandal. On which topic, those who were abused by O’Brien aren’t best happy at who seems likely to be handling the inquiry into the shamed ex-head man’s conduct.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/23/vatican-obrien-sex-abuse-claims-inquiry

  15. JohnMWhite says:

    I can see why Mr Obama is not very excited about Catholic education. It’s too … Catholic.

    That’s not what he said, you lying piece of shit. He said keeping communities divided physically based on religion (and he mentioned both religions prevalent in Northern Ireland) perpetuates political and social division. That is fucking self evident and is nothing like the POTUS saying he doesn’t like stuff that’s Catholic.

    Are Catholic spokespeople capable of not lying for five seconds? I have no patience for the intellectually dishonest fascists of the pro-Catholic education crowd, who are determined to claim victimhood every time their zeal to harm children is pushed back against, and whose actions and inaction has left a trail of real victims across the planet.

    But if ‘sectarian’ institutions are the problem, then why not close the churches as well?

    Because a church isn’t a school, you idiot. But if you’re happy to admit that these violent, bigoted faiths encourage division in communities by their very presence in the form of different churches, we can have a very fruitful conversation about that.

    They [Catholic schools] could, in fact, contradict the government and teach that abortion is murder and that ‘gay marriage’ is a morally distorted form of the only morally licit form of marriage, marriage between one man and one woman.Catholic schools would then be — in the eyes of the liberal secular state — cells of rebellion, ‘encouraging division and discouraging cooperation’.

    They’re already not allowed to teach that gay marriage is morally distorted, so if they are doing that they are breaking the law (and naturally hurting gay students or students with gay friends or relations), and if they are teaching a medical procedure is murder they are utterly fucking up the biology curriculum. Abortion is as much murder as digging up an acorn is logging. All we’re getting here is more reasons the places should be shut down and taken into the mainstream education service.

    The ‘gaffe’ in Obama’s Belfast remarks lies in the fact that Obama did not consider the sensitivities of his audience – or that he inadvertently revealed his own anti-religious prejudice.

    The only gaffe here was that Obama thought he was talking to adults. To be fair, he has made that mistake repeatedly in his tenure, and probably should have got the message by now. Clearly these mental midgets cannot be told anything without throwing a tantrum. They are utterly pathetic, but they currently enjoy privilege and power, particularly over children, and they have demonstrated on the world stage that they are not fit to have young minds in their clutches.

  16. [...] View the original here: Catholic commentators cry foul after Barack Obama slates divisive sectarian schools [...]

  17. 1859 says:

    This Wikers is like someone who is blind shouting that he can in fact see.
    He’s like someone watching a tsunami approaching and shouting it’s a trick of the light.
    He’s like someone who dogmatically proclaims that the world is flat but we don’t fall off the edge because god’s angels lift us up and put us back.
    He’s like someone shouting that lies are in fact truth.
    He’s like someone who shouts he occupies the moral high ground because – well, he made it himself, even though he is standing in a deep hole in the ground of his own making.
    He’s like someone who shouts that dividing children into different groups and teaching them about different versions of the tooth fairy actually unites the children by bonds of brotherly love.
    He’s like someone who shouts that sexually fucking little boys in their care is really an act of religious love.
    He’s like someone who shouts that his name ‘Wiker’ is not a shortened form of ‘Wicked’ but means ‘bringer of peace, unity, understanding and tolerance’ – while children of different religious sects smash bottles over each other’s heads to show how much they love each other.
    ….He’s like someone they call a priest – master of rank hypocracy.

  18. AgentCormac says:

    JohnMWhite

    Excellent comment!

  19. barriejohn says:

    The Irish have “become pagan”, evidently.

    http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/religion-and-beliefs/irish-have-become-pagan-some-catholic-bishops-believe-1.1440835?

    There seems to be a substantial number of bishops, and some priests, who believe that the problems we are facing are not due to any difficulties in the Church or with the priesthood, but are caused by a lack of faith in the people.

    That’s absolutely hilarious; it reminded me of Adolf Hitler’s last will and testament, in which he stated that the German people had let him down. Anyway, whose fault is this catastrophe? Haven’t the clergy been doing their jobs properly, or didn’t the BVM carry enough clout in Heaven? I well remember “Mother Teresa” announcing to the world years ago that Mary “loves Ireland SO much”!

  20. Robster says:

    Well I’ll be stuffed! A politician telling the truth! Did someone get a photo?