my article of October 19, that I seem "to disagree with the principle of Catholic education". Nobody reading that article could find one shred of evidence to support this view.
As someone who was a pupil at a Catholic school, whose mother is a governor at a Catholic school, whose wife studied at Catholic schools, and whose parents-in-law devoted their professional lives to teaching and running Catholic schools, I take great exception to this kind of untruth being peddled in an attempt to discredit support for integrated schools.
Maura Fitzpatrick proceeds to claim that she disagrees with integrated education for various reasons, including "in a Catholic school my children will be instructed in their faith and given a respect for other faiths". This can only be an argument for disagreeing with integrated schools if she is implying that such schools do not instruct Catholic children in their faith and do not give them a respect for other faiths.
This implication is a calumny on the integrated schools.
Two further aspects of Maura Fitzpatrick's contribution to the debate worry me. First, has she ever spent any time in an integrated school? Perhaps any response could clarify this? If not, would she like to become acquainted with the schools she is criticising? I would be
delighted aildlige a visit. Letter-writers on this topic are often priests or teachers (or both — see the last correspondence on this). I always make a point of suggesting to them to visit an integrated school. So far none has taken up the offer but I live in hope.
Second, Maura Fitzpatrick gives a reason for disagreeing with integrated education, that the "duty of handing on the faith as a Catholic parent supercedes any political aspirations". Whatever she means about political aspirations, and however much I agree with her that the primary duty for handing on the faith rests with parents, this is not an argument against integrated schools. Even the affidavit by Bishop Cahal Daly in the legal case accepted that the family and the parish (in his the "faith community") have the primary responsibility for bringing children up in the faith. I agree with the bishop.
Finally, for reasons of space, you cut my article. If you were able to publish the original, Maura Fitzpatrick and others would see that I have some considerable sympathy for the bishops. My severest criticism is reserved for those clergy, teachers and others who have never been to an integrated school but choose to insult what they do not understand. In that context, it is important to stress that it is some (non-episcopal) advocates of segregated schools who disagree with the principle of the alternative integrated movement. Those of us who wish to see integrated schools flourish do not seek such hegemony over Catholic schools, nor do we seek to misrepresent or insult Catholic schools. Hence it is very important that you correct the misrepresentations you have published.
I hope that Maura Fitzpatrick and the Catholic Herald accept that part of the Catholic ethos is to correct mistakes promptly, generously and charitably.
Professor Simon Lee Queen's University, Belfast In publishing his several contributions to the Catholic Herald on the subject of integrated schools, we have never doubted Professor Lee's support for the principle of Catholic education. We apologise if this impression has been conveyed to him. Editor