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A Catholic on the Education Question.

At St Joseph's Cathedral, Dunedin, on Sunday evening, Bishop Moran, in the course of his discourse, referred to the education question, and in the course of his remarks said: —

There are some people to be still found in this country who hold that as Government has established a secular system of education of which Catholics may avail themselves if they please, Catholics have consequently no reason to complain of being obliged to contribute to the support of this system on the ground that they do not avail themselves of it. These gentlemen say the public'schools are as open to Catholics as to all others, and it is their own fault if they do not enter in as well as others. - This is one of the few secularist arguments of former days that still lives ; whilst other arguments, such as the police arguments, have' been long ago abandoned. This one too ought, •given up: it Is no more valid than the abandoned ones... In the old bad penal days the Protestant, churches, to the maintenance of which Catholics were compelled to contribute, were open to Catholics as well as to all others, and their not using them was entirely voluntary on their part, and for this reason many held that no injustice was done to Catholics in compelling them • to pay tithes to the Anglican parson. This species of reasoning has long since been given up, and is now regarded as the mere subterfuge of bigotry and tyranny. But what is the difference in the case of churches and that of schools? To compel men to pay for a church in which they do nob believe is regarded as an interference with religious liberty, and, therefore, not to be thought of. But in the eyes of Catholics t6 compel men .to pay for the maintenance of* a system of education which they believe to be dangerous to faith and morals is equally opposed to religious liberty. Catholics look upon the system of education in this country as an attack on their religious liberty, and as no less edious, and oppresive, and unjust, than the tithe system against which they so long and fiercely contended, and over which they in the end gained a complete victory. If Catholics could, with a safe conscience, avail themselves of the public schools, they would gladly do so. Does any man suppose that it is for mere opposition sake they annaally make great sacrifices of money, time, and labor in an effort to provide Catholic schools for their own children ? If such a man exists, he must be a curiosity indeed. Catholics can no more accept the public school system of this colony than they can accept the Anglican or Presbyterian Church system ; and consequently it is tyranny, injustice,' and an invasion of their religious liberty to compel them fco contribute to the maintenance of this system. For this reason it is that they demand, in the shape of a subsidy, an equitable equivalent ior -the sums abstracted from them in support of it. They have justice and equity and the principle of religious liberty on their side cirying out for the concession of what they ask, to say nothing of the policy of such a concession. These opponents,j3oncerning whose objection I have already spoken, ate not our only opponents. There are, it appears, some high-souled and comprehensive statesmen amongst us, who, realising the injustice done to Catholics by the puMic school system, nevertheless refuse us redress on the principle that an injustice may and ought to be done when the public good demands it. There is some extraordinary confusion of ideas here. The old and universally ac-. cepted principle formerly, and in less advanced times, recognised by. all publicists was fiat justitia ruat 'ccelum. Our idea is that no matter what the consequence, justice should in all cases and under all circumstances be done. Justice is an imperative and an inexorable virtue, a breach of which can never .be allowable ; s,nd we have yet to learn how the public good or any good can be promoted by injustice. On the contrary, there is nothing, and can be nothing, bo injurious and so destructive to the public good as injustice—nothing so fatal to order, contentment, good government, and prosperity. . Then,, again,; who» are. these ■gentlemen who set. up to pronounce infallibly as to what consti-. tutes the public goodi These gentlemen tell us in effect that the public good of New Zealand requires a system-of godless education, demands that in public schools children should be taught to ignore the existence of God, of Christ, of, the church, of the Ten Commandments; of even natural religion, and the history: of religion in all times and all countries. The public good of New Zealand must -be a strange thing—a comical requisite.!. I suppose there 1, are some statesmen in .England and Scotland—of course Ireland is not to be considered, —some few statesmen in Canada, Germany, and Austria, to say nothing of the secondry States of the Old Worid. But these statesmen do not think that in the systems of education in these countries—which are all based on religion and in which Catholic schools are recognised by the State and at least aided—there is anything detrimental to tlie public good. On the contrary, it is precisely because experience haa ■ taught them that the public good is best promoted by religious education and by doing even-handed justice to all on the education question that they are unanimous in upholding these systems. Is there anything in the atmosphere of New Zealand that so revolutionises human nature that what is found to be necessary elsewhere is positively injurious here ? So far as I can judge, the only difference is that there is less common sense and more blind, unmeaning bigotry here than elsewhere. But the third, and crowning objection is that if Catholic schools are treated justly and Catholic taxpayers get some value for their money the present public school system will be destroyed. I do not .think such a result wquld follow. The experience of England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, and the continental States before alluded to confirms me in this conTiction. But admitting for argument sake that such a result would follow, 'what of it ? Are the people of New Zealand ao poor in intellectual resources as to be unable to devise a just and equitable system of education 1 Is no other system but a godless one —a system full of injustice, and which requires^ according to the universal conviction, numerous amendments —possible to the people of New Zealand ? Are the people of this country content to be written down as stupids,' and incapable of devising any other system than that which now lies so heavily on the country 1

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Bibliographic details

A Catholic on the Education Question., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2440, 13 June 1890

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A Catholic on the Education Question. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2440, 13 June 1890

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