"Roamin' in the gloamin'
With a shamrock in my hand,
Roamin' in the gloamin',
With St. Patrick's Fenian Band,
And when the music stops,
F*ck King Billy and John Knox
O, I want to die a Roman Catholic!" -
Playground song sung at St. Paul's RC Primary, Whiteinch, Glasgow c. 1978.
Catholic schools in the West of Scotland seem to have failed. Their existence has done nothing to stem the decline in vocations. Denominationally segregated schools are the greatest planks in the arguments in favour of the introduction of Muslim schools; for those of us who are neutral towards Muslims but think that Islam is a bad thing that shouldn't be encouraged, the prospect of Muslim schools is nothing less than a threat to civil society. They would present too many opportunities for radicalisation and later violence. However, for many Catholics, it seems to be the case that the right to attend a Catholic school is more important than attending Mass and the Sacraments. This is not faith - this is tribalism.
The use of expressions such as 'our schools' by Catholics is uncivic; it denies the fact that the taxes of non-Catholics fund Catholic schools. It is the mirror image of Catholic protests against the taxes they pay being used to fund abortions.
Anyone who has ever happened to be at Kinning Park underground station at 4.00 pm on a schoolday will see just how apparently unsuccessful some Catholic schools have been at converting non-Catholics. The Muslim abuse of the 'placing request' system to ensure that their daughters can attend the girls-only Notre Dame Secondary makes a mockery of the whole Catholic school system. One would be very interested to know just how many Muslims who have attended that school have become converts. One must have faith, but one would guess that the numbers would be few.
In conversation with a priest of the Archdiocese of Glasgow last year, I heard the argument advanced that a good reason for keeping Catholic schools was to ensure that those attending them were receiving at least some exposure to Catholicism. The priest later lamented that his pews were empty just a week after his First Communions. With the greatest respect to that clergyman, this is surely an inversion of what Catholic schooling should be about. It should complement what is being taught and practiced in the home in loco parentis; if the parentis are loco and can't be bothered bringing the wean to Mass after shelling out hundreds of pounds on a kilt or a Communion dress the week before, there might be better ways of spending Protestant taxes than fighting what is always going to be, but for the grace of God, the Mother of all losing battles.
It is the job of Catholic schools to produce vocations. These are not forthcoming. This is the acid test of whether or not Catholic schools have been successful, or are even a good idea in principle.
If Catholic schools are to continue, this is what I would like to see happen. This is an entirely personal view.
No child should be enrolled in a Catholic school unless their parents can be vouched for as faithful attenders of Mass and the Sacraments by a priest. This would help ensure that the weektime effort isn't wasted; if the kids are worshipping at the altar of 'High School Musical' or 'Hannah Montana' on a Sunday morning, what's the point of them being in a Catholic school?
One is not absolutely aware of what requirements those who teach in Catholic schools must satisfy; but suffice to say the ranks should not include atheists, homosexuals, and adulterers in any capacity. Those who are there, get them out - they have no business being involved in the formation of Catholic youth in any way until they repent.
All mention of the doings of Glasgow Celtic Football Club should be banned from Catholic schools. Celtic is a business dedicated to the pursuit of profit; by its very nature, it is ungodly. I have no interest in its doings, and think the West of Scotland would be a cleaner, more hygienic place without it.
Teachers in Catholic schools should attend Mass and the Sacraments. To this end, they should undergo a twice-yearly spiritual assessment. If they haven't attended Mass and the Sacraments, they're out of Catholic schools; any problems which they might have regarding pay and status as a consequence are their concern alone.
There's a world of difference between being a Catholic teacher and a teacher in a Catholic school. To emphasis the Catholic bit, all teachers in Catholic schools should be made to resign their union memberships. Their commitment is either to the formation of Catholics, or to the preservation of their own rights as guild labour. It's one or the other; at least that's how it works in the adult world they're supposed to be training people to enter. No strikes in Catholic schools.
Each Catholic school has a chaplain. In a Catholic school, the sacraments should be available to the students every minute of the school day. Is Mass said in Catholic schools on a daily basis? If not, why not? Are opportunities for Confession available to students at breaks and lunchtime? If not, why not? Might produce more vocations that way.
As I said, this is a personal view - opinions are welcome.