am convinced that the only sound reason for Catholic education is a negative one! Children of practising Catholics pass through the preschool stage of education in an environment which includes Catholic faith and practice. It is reasonable for them to enter school life in an environment in conformity with their family beliefs. It follows that if parents consider the atmosphere of a school to be hostile to those beliefs, they are entitled, as an act of "conscientious objection" not to use that school. The "religious instruction" argument is only a red herring. We do not send our children to Catholic schools to receive Catholic instruction, but to avoid a non-Catholic atmosphere, it being assumed that State schools are not only non-Catholic, but antiCatholic. A few generations ago this meant that the
Establishment was Protestant Establishment was Protestant
this applies today in Northern Ireland. In recent times in Great Britain the Establishment is increasingly humanist (the fact that humanists think the Establishment is Christian only emphasises the transitional nature of the situation). It is arguable that humanists are explicitly anti-Christian. and aim to create a school atmosphere hostile to any religious view of life. Humanists are not impartial about matters they really believe in. This, to my mind, means that it is still normally necessary for Catholics to withdraw their children from the State system on grounds of conscience not as Catholics, but as Christians. It follows that interdenominational Christian education is a worthwhile ecumenical project. Ecumenical progress demands that we should now be making forward plans to join with the Church of England and others in school building, and should very seriously consider not building any more exclusively Catholic schools. Obviously there is no need to destroy or abolish successful Catholic schools at any level, but the Catholic body might well realise that there are better things to do with' its money than satisfy an overriding obligation towards Catholic schools.