BY A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
THE question of combining Catholic schools with those of other Christian denominations should be considered in view of declining resources, said a Catholic lecturer at Liverpool University last week.
Dr. John O'Malley, Lecturer in Social Theory, who was addressing educationists at the university's Catholic chaplaincy, said: "There is no certainty that the laity will be able or willing steadily to fork up, as in the past. Many no longer consider it desirable or possible to have a separate Catholic school system for our expanding Catholic population.
"We must face up to our future problems now, not later, and find out how best to allocate our scarce resources. The staggering costs involved must make us think out a policy for the future and critically examine the results of our present system and expenditure.
"When it is not possible to pool our resources in some such way, we will have to allow even target numbers of our children than at present to attend non-Catholic schools and must seek now to ensure good quality religious education in them."
VALUES OF FAMILY
Dr. O'Malley reiterated the traditional view that the school should extend and express the values of the family. "The centre of Catholic education is undoubtedly the Catholic family and the problem in Catholic education is truly to supplement the family.
"But the family is changing, and we must begin to think now in terms of the family of the future." In his opinion we should be schooling Catholics for life in a community even though we could not fully foresee the shape of that cornmun ity.
"We do know that it will be a much wider community than the Catholic Church of today is, and we must therefore allow for ecumenism, This means we should be schooling our children for a deeper grasp of our Faith which should have grown in its passage through our hands." If we gave children the opportunity to ask questions, we must prepare ourselves to answer them. "This forces us to reinterpret our own understanding. Christian education is a continuous dialogue."
Dr. O'Malley said he saw a need for more catechetical centres involving parents, especially where our declining resources could not cater for an all-embracing Catholic schools system. "These centres must be considered urgently if we believe that it is the home that really educates the child in true religion.
"We have a vast catechetical job at every level. It is impossible to indoctrinate children with Christianity. What is essential is belief and example not an ideology or a set of rules."