Teaching prayer in Catholic schools is not an extra feature, but rather an essential part of the institutions, which children have a right to receive, said Cardinal Sean Brady.
The archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland stated this today at a conference on the theme, "Catholic Schools: Envisioning a Future," near Kilkenny. The conference was organized by the Diocese of Ossory and will end Saturday.
He invited his listeners to renew their commitment to "respecting and promoting the right of children in our schools to be led and formed in authentic worship of God in the Catholic tradition."
"This is not some optional extra," the prelate asserted. "Children and their parents have a right to expect a Catholic school to provide children with a formation in prayer and worship."
He appealed to the leaders of the educational institutions "reflect seriously and with commitment on this essential part of our shared duty of stewardship."
"A Catholic school without worship and prayer is a contradiction in terms," the cardinal said. "It is also a school which is failing in its fundamental obligation to parents and children."
As people of faith, he said, "we should particularly cherish" the "right of a child to know and to love God."
The whole truth
"Children also have a right to know God's love for them," Cardinal Brady added.
He continued: "They have a right to receive the truth and life which God offers them in the Sacred Scriptures, in the sacraments and in prayer.
"If we really believe that Jesus Christ reveals the whole truth about the human person, then children have a right to receive that truth.
"If we really believe that the message of Jesus Christ is the key to a better world and the source of our eternal hope, then children have a right to be part of a school community in which Jesus and his message are lived, respected and promoted."
Image Source: Fr Seward at St. Gregory the Great School (Oxford)