BY Peter Diamond | August 2 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

edinburgh city

Catholics urged to lobby councillors over school reps in capital

Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews & Edinburgh has urged Catholics in the capital to contact their local councillors, as the Green Party proposes to remove the voting rights of Church representatives at the City of Edinburgh Council.

Archbishop Cushley encouraged the faithful to speak out against the motion, due to be discussed by Edinburgh Council on August 22, because he believes it poses a ‘serious threat’ to Catholic schools’ identity.

“Such a move, if passed, would effectively remove from the Church the ability to influence the running and direction of our Catholic schools,” the archbishop said in a July 24 letter distributed to Catholics at Mass.

“As such, this motion presents a serious threat to the identity and Catholicity of our schools in Edinburgh and is also, in all probability, just the first step in a process to remove Faith education from schools in Scotland altogether.

Casting doubts

“To deprive the Church’s representatives of voting rights on the Education Committee, where they sit on behalf of us and our children, casts into serious doubt the commitment of some of our elected representatives to the future of Catholic schools.

“The decision has not, however, been taken and there is still time for you to influence your elected representatives who are very sensitive to local opinion.

“If you care about our Catholic schools and if you want them to continue to flourish in the future, please write to your local councillor as a matter of urgency to ask him or her to vote against this motion.”

Parish pressure

Postcards accompanied by a draft letter are being issued to parishes in order to help people with contacting their local councillor, however parishioners are also being encouraged to write in their own words.

Director of the Scottish Catholic Education Service (SCES), Barbara Coupar, praised the efforts of local communities in Edinburgh, who have been contacting councillors over the issue, and is hopeful that the archbishop’s letter would prompt parents and parishioners to contact their local councillor.

“As we know there is a long-term Green Party policy to remove Catholic schools from the education system and hopefully the letter issued by Archbishop Cushley will allow parishioners and parents, who send their children to Catholic schools, to ask councillors to listen to them and vote accordingly,” Mrs Coupar told the SCO.

Catholic schools ‘at the heart of communities’

“Catholic schools are at the heart of communities and families are passionate about the value of Catholic education for their children.

“Church representatives play a vital role in ensuring those views are accurately represented and supported by the local authorities who manage schools on behalf of the Church.

“It will be interesting to see how the vote on August 22 plays out after the Catholic community have been in touch with their elected members and if the result of the vote shows that councillors are listening to the Catholic community.”

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