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Sunday, 22 September, 2002, 14:55 GMT 15:55 UK
Bishop admits sectarian problem
Bishop Joseph Devine
Bishop Devine said Catholic education is divisive
Catholic education is "divisive" and contributes to the problem of "sectarianism", according to a Scottish bishop.

But Joseph Devine, Bishop of Motherwell, told the Sunday Herald newspaper it was sometimes "a price worth paying".

Liberal Democrat MSP Donald Gorrie has said ending Catholic schooling would help ease sectarianism north of the border.

The Scottish Executive, police chiefs, racial equality campaigners and the Old Firm clubs have met this year to discuss the problem.

Donald Gorrie
Donald Gorrie: Suggested end to segregation

Bishop Devine said: "Denominational education is an enabler of sectarianism.

"Roman Catholic schooling is divisive - sometimes it's a price worth paying.

"The Catholic community believes that with denominational schooling comes the creation of a common set of values - a coherent system that has the academic curriculum and moral and spiritual life in tandem."

Mr Gorrie said in February that "society might be better" if the Catholic schools system in Scotland was ended.

Kirk challenge

However, he said such a move could not be materialise until Catholics agreed it was the right course of action.

His comments prompted an angry reaction from John Oates, of the Catholic Education Commission.

Mr Oates said Catholic schools were the antithesis of bigotry and sectarianism, and to suggest otherwise was "insulting".

Scottish Tory MSP Brian Monteith challenged the Church of Scotland to consider promoting its own denominational schools.

Mr Monteith in June used used England as an example of a society which provided faith-based schools without the "tribal warfare" that exists north of the border.

Chants plea

Where Muslim schools exist, the relationship between different ethnic groups is far more harmonious, he said.

Last week, Celtic chief executive Ian McLeod wrote to supporters of the Glasgow club to appeal for an end to IRA chants during games.

In his letter, Mr McLeod urges fans not to support or condone such actions.

The anti-sectarian group, Nil by Mouth, has welcomed the move but spokesman Peter McLean said the Old Firm could go further and ban the bigots.

See also:

17 Sep 02 | Scotland
21 Jun 02 | Scotland
06 Feb 02 | Scotland
08 Oct 01 | Scotland
02 May 01 | Scotland
08 Feb 01 | Scotland
29 Apr 00 | Scotland
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