Letter: Catholic schools founded on faith

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The Independent Online
Sir: Terry Marshall's claim (letter, 26 April) that "church schools, funded out of the public purse, are denying access to the children of secular parents" shows a misunderstanding of our 2,200 Catholic primary and secondary schools that are working within the state educational systems of England and Wales.

They succeed schools built and funded by poor parishioners to provide Catholic community education for their children, and later taken into the state system as standards had to be improved. Many of the original sites and buildings were wholly paid for by really poor people; many present- day buildings were built with substantial contributions from them. Ordinary parishioners still make substantial contributions towards the cost of new school buildings and of their continuous and expensive repairs.

These schools were built and are still being financed for Catholic education of about 750,000 children who would otherwise be a charge on the community. They inevitably cater for their share of pupils who would not be particularly welcome elsewhere. Our schools do admit children of other parents whenever they can but, if they did not maintain their Catholic community ambience, they would probably lose the foundation on which rests their academic success and their current attraction to other parents.

HUGH LINDSAY

(Bishop of Hexham

and Newcastle, 1974-1992)

Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria

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