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Lenten Pastoral: University Question And The Issue Of Alcohol |

Lenten Pastoral: University Question And The Issue Of Alcohol

The Most Rev Dr O’Dwyer, Lord Bishop, recently addressed the important topic of higher education, known as the University Question, in his Lenten Pastoral for the Diocese of Limerick. The pastoral was read at all the Masses in the churches last Sunday. The bishop expressed the belief that education should not be limited to a particular class but should be accessible to all, as it is crucial for national prosperity and intellectual growth. He lamented the government’s indifference to the educational needs of the country, particularly the Catholic population, and emphasized the discriminatory treatment faced by Catholics in terms of access to education.

Drawing comparisons with Scotland and England, the bishop highlighted the religious harmony present in universities there, which cater to the faiths of their respective populations. However, he pointed out that in Ireland, the religion of the people, Catholicism, is marginalized, leading to a lack of educational opportunities for Catholics. While Protestants have Trinity College in Dublin and Dissenters have the Queen’s Colleges, there is no equivalent institution for Catholics. This disparity in treatment is unjust and hinders progress for the Catholic community in Ireland.

The bishop expressed disappointment in certain leaders who, despite enjoying the benefits achieved through the sacrifices of the people, fail to stand up for the rights of Catholics. He warned that the unresolved University Question would undermine the support for Unionism among Irish Catholics. He acknowledged the need to bring awareness to the injustices faced by the Catholic population, as a united conviction would pave the way for rectifying these wrongs.

Shifting the focus to the issue of social evils, the bishop addressed the prevalence of alcoholism and the lack of condemnation and regulation surrounding it. He criticised the toleration of not only those who suffer from alcohol addiction but also the unscrupulous individuals who sell alcohol. This lenient approach, he believed, indicates a deficiency in the education and formation of public conscience. Similarly, the bishop highlighted the problem of perjury in courts of justice, which he attributed to a defective or flawed education system.

The bishop traced the origins of these social defects to Ireland’s history of oppression and the crushing effects of the land system. The combination of religious persecution enforced ignorance, and economic hardships resulted in the development of destructive habits such as alcoholism and idleness among the Irish population. To address these issues effectively, the bishop stressed the importance of education, particularly in schools, in shaping character and correcting harmful habits. He acknowledged the limitations of the current national education system and called for a deeper focus on moral and religious training.

The bishop emphasized that education should aim not only for intellectual development but also for the formation of character. True education, in his view, should prepare children to fulfil their responsibilities in life, including their duties to themselves, their dependents, their neighbours, their country, and God. He urged teachers to have a high sense of their mission and to be exemplary models for their students. By instilling values, discipline, and religious principles, teachers can help shape the character of their students and contribute to their holistic development.

In conclusion, the bishop called for a reevaluation of the current educational system and a renewed emphasis on moral and religious education. He highlighted the need for teachers to be true to their noble calling and for society to recognize the transformative power of education in addressing social issues. By investing in the education of future generations, the bishop believed that Ireland could overcome its challenges and achieve progress for all its citizens.

Limerick Echo – Tuesday 16 February 1904

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