Belfast, Ireland – Multiple media publications are saying that President Obama may have passively-aggressively insulted Catholic schools during a keynote address at the Waterfront Hall in Northern Ireland on Thursday.
These remarks, delivered to a group of teenagers during a townhall-style meet, seem to be sparking the most controversy:
“Because issues like segregated schools and housing, lack of jobs and opportunity — symbols of history that are a source of pride for some and pain for others — these are not tangential to peace; they’re essential to it. If towns remain divided — if Catholics have their schools and buildings, and Protestants have theirs — if we can’t see ourselves in one another, if fear or resentment are allowed to harden, that encourages division. It discourages cooperation.”
Ironically, the group he was addressing were a mix of Catholic and Protestant students.
President Obama’s Catholic School comments didn’t take right away, but a few opinion pieces have popped up slamming the POTUS for what is perceived as his sentiment that Catholic and Protestant education are, by their very nature, divisive.
For TownHall.com, Carol Platt Liebau wrote:
“Of course, it’s ironic that the most divisive president in American history should go to Ireland and condemn division. But it also raises questions: Does this signal hostility to Catholic education in America — or hostility to religious education in general? It’s clear — from his Obamacare abortifacient/contraceptive mandate to his efforts to cut charitable deductions – that the president sees government as the only really legitimate actor in civil society. But his willingness to characterize education by religious orders as enabling division and discord is an unpleasant reminder of his hostility to any social force with potential to check the power of Big Government.”
But for the L.A. Times, Michael McGough, an admitted “grateful product of 12 years of Catholic education,” poured cold water on the nerves made raw by Obama’s Catholic School comments.
“Context matters here. Northern Ireland is not the United States. Even in my childhood, when Catholic kids were encouraged to attend Catholic schools and there was an arguably Protestant ethos in many public schools, Catholics and Protestants weren’t as isolated from (or as distrustful of) one another in this country as they continue to be in Northern Ireland.”
He concludes, “As for the notion that Obama is hostile to private schools with a religious character, that seems unlikely. His own children attend the Sidwell Friends School, a Quaker institution.”
What do you make of Obama’s Catholic Schools comments?