President Obama undermines the Irish Peace Process by attacking Catholic schools

During his address in Belfast President Obama confirmed his reputation for being the most ant-Catholic US President in years when he gave priority to attacking Catholic schools by repeating the unfounded accusation that Catholic schools block the path to full reconciliation. (Obama also mentioned Protestant schools but in the secondary position). By so doing President Obama actually undermines the Irish Peace Process by attacking a central institution of the Catholic Church and an essential component of Catholic identity.

President Barak Hussein Obama said:

“If towns remain divided—if Catholics have their schools and buildings and Protestants have theirs, if we can’t see ourselves in one another and fear or resentment are allowed to harden—that too encourages division and discourages cooperation.”

President Obama’s antipathy towards Catholic schools is in marked contrast to that of David Cameron’s Education Minister, Michael Gove, who said of Catholic schools in 2011:

“Of course, what really makes Catholic schools stand out is their Catholicity … A key element of [Cardinal Manning’s] vision was that Catholic schools must be allowed sufficient autonomy to integrate the Catholic faith into every aspect of school life. A Catholic ethos is not something confined to RE lessons, but a pervasive set of values that find expression throughout the school day.”

Protect the Pope comment: President Obama’s misguided attack on Catholic schools proves once again that he is definitely in the camp of those militant secularists who are seeking to constrain, marginalize and diminish the human rights of Catholics and the Catholic Church. The UN Human Rights Convention states that parents have the right to educate their children in their Faith. For Catholics this necessarily means  the Catholic Church have her own autonomous schools in order to create a Catholic ethos throughout the school. President Obama did the Peace Process a bad turn in Belfast by threatening our Catholic identity.

61 comments to President Obama undermines the Irish Peace Process by attacking Catholic schools

  • Gee

    No. He wasn’t attacking Catholic schools. He was agreeing with Northern Ireland leaders who are starting the process of re-integrating the segregated Catholic and Protestant sections of Northern Ireland. You are aware of the Peace Walls, right?

  • Lynda

    He’s not the first American President to try to foist his ideology on other countries as well as his own.

  • He clearly hasn’t a clue about Northern Ireland. Above his pay grade perhaps?

  • Jonty

    I think NI is a special case. Peace will never be achieved if sectarian education continues.

  • John Dare

    He makes a fair point.

  • Matthew Booth

    This blog is generally guilty of twisting events to nurture a sense of persecution amongst British Catholics, but this is by far the most tortured example yet. He quite clearly gave equal billing to the Catholic and Protestant sides of the problem. It is, however, an innate feature of the serial nature of language that one or the other must be uttered first. How on earth is this persecution?

    It is quite clear from this post (see your entirely unnecessary use of ‘Hussein’) that you listened intently to his speech for anything which could be contorted to sound like an anti-Catholic bias. When there was none, you invented it. This is weak, and shabby.

    • Michael Petek

      Barack Hussein Obama bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia a while ago, so it appears that the USA is a fiefdom of Wahhabi Islam.

    • John Dare

      Got to say Matthew, the sense of persecution is limited to those who seek it in my experience.

      I’ve mentioned this site to quite a few catholics who I know, and all of them are pussy struck by the notion that it even exists.

    • Karla

      ‘Speaking to a crowd in Belfast, during a trip to Northern Ireland for a G8 summit meeting, Obama said that “segregated schools” block the path to full reconciliation. “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 co-operation,” he said. ‘

      When has Barack Obama on on a trip to the Middle East made a comment about separate Shiite and Sunni Muslim schools?

      Obama spoke out against separate faith education and tried to claim that was encouraging division. There are over 7000 faith schools in England and England does not have the long lasting divisions that exist in Northern Ireland so faith schools in Northern Ireland shouldn’t be used as a scapegoat for the divisions in Northern Ireland.

      • Matthew Booth

        He was not commenting on those other places. He was commenting on Northern Ireland, which has its own history and its own peculiar set of circumstances which is different to those other places.

        It’s perfectly reasonable to argue that faith schools are not part of the problem in Northern Ireland, although I would disagree with you. However, it’s nothing more than a persecution fantasy to suggest that this was an attack on the Church.

        • Karla

          If you are going to make an accusation that faith schools are part of the problem in Northern Ireland then you need to back it up with some evidence. Catholics do not have a persecution fantasy, we respond to what we see in the world, and Obama’s comment about faith schools in Ireland doesn’t address the REAL root of division in Ireland.

      • Tim

        faith schools can lead to segregation in England. It is just that in England, being a nation which is not especially interested in religion, this segregation is not usually along religious lines but rather on lines of social class which is something the average English person is much more interested, in.

        • Karla

          Those are just your words Tim, you have not presented any evidence to back up that faith schools lead to segregation.

          Study commissioned and by the Church of England and led by University of York professor David Jesson found that secondary faith schools were better at building community cohesion than non faith schools. The study analyzed Ofsted inspection data

          Where is the sectarianism caused by faith schools in America, Tim? By over 10 points, according to Gallup, people in America think religion is more important in their daily life compared to Ireland

          • Tim


            The only non-anedotial data in the C of E study is the percentage of different school categories that achive, good, outstanding etc. There is no data suggesting better community cohesion – simply a handful of stories about some good things done in some schools in that direction.

            Anyway the data you asked for is below. Sorry it is not very up to date. The DfE seems to have stopped collecting this data

            Percentage of pupils eligible for free school meals in maintained school by type of school (DfES figures for England, 2005)

            Church of England

            11.3 (12.2 in 2001) primary

            11.6 (11.8 in 2001) secondary

            Roman Catholic

            15.6 (17.2 in 2001) primary

            14.6 (16.5 in 2001) secondary


            15.2 primary


            Other Christian Faith

            12.7 primary

            6.8 secondary


            3.1 primary

            5.9 secondary


            31.5 primary

            34.1 secondary


            9.3 primary

            10.8 secondary


            9.8 primary

            23.2 secondary

            Non-religious schools

            20.1 (20.2 in 2001) primary

            15.4 (16.8 in 2001) secondary

            Percentage of children with special educational needs by type of school (DfES figures for England, 2005)

            Religious schools

            16.0 primary

            14.1 secondary

            Non-religious schools

            18.9 primary

            17.1 secondary

          • Tim

            and karla the USA doesn’t have any publically funded religious schools. They would be unconstituational. The US does have problems with segregated schooling however.

          • Sam Mace

            First of all that study is hardly going to not be biased and if the results didn’t match with what the church of england wanted to see then they wouldn’t publish it. Secondly unless that study is aimed at northern ireland it is worthless in this context, as others have mentioned northern ireland has a very specific set of circumstances different to england. I have read through the paper and it is a joke. The sample size is tiny with only 77 secular schools used and 130 odd community schools used with only 247 faith schools used. It fails to specify where these schools are, the median income of the area, the difference in faith, income etc They use 7 case studies to underline their point. The research is narrow inadequate and as a first year undergrad i could do a better job in researching schools given 2 months of being paid.

            Karla America is well known to be a unique case in the realm of religion because of the countries history and the value attached to religion in the people who came from countries to first settle. America isn’t sectarian because the country was populated by people who fled through religious persecution in other countries.

          • Karla

            Sam, do you think the ofsted inspection data in the study is made up?

            The comparison with England is worthy. The sectarianism in Ireland doesn’t exist in the UK even though there are over 7000 faith schools in England which leads to the conclusion that faith schools are not the key to sectarianism problems in Ireland.

          • Sam Mace

            karla did i say that it was? i am criticising the study as being too small a sample to make any comment on schools in general with no information of the groupings of the schools and the surrounding issues such as median incomes, pass rates, religious division. For all we know the sample could have been the community schools in the poorest areas in the UK and the faith schools in the richest parts of the UK which does have an affect. Your latter comment shows your ignorance of the subject, we are not saying faith schools are the cause of division but that sectarian schools in a sectarian community hardly helps to build bridges between the groups

          • Karla

            Can you find another study that looks at community cohesion and faith schools? Where are the studies showing a direct link because a lack of community cohesion and/or sectarianism and faith schools?

            Catholic schools exist in Ireland and in other places around the world, because there is a demand for them from parents, Catholic parents and non Catholic parents.

            Anti religious bigotry is the cause of sectarianism, not faith schools.

          • Karla

            Barack Obama spoke at Morehouse College last month, which is an all male historical Black college. No comment from Obama that it is a separated from other Colleges by race, and gender.

            I think Morehouse right has a right to exist, just as faith schools have a right to exist.

          • Karla

            Sorry not a Muslim school, but a school where Christian children and had their Christian education lessons and Muslim children had separate Islam classes.

          • Tim

            “I think Morehouse right has a right to exist, just as faith schools have a right to exist.”

            Obama didb’t say that faith schools had no right to exist did he. Just that in NI they limit the opportunity of children to see “the other” and recognise their shared humanity.

          • Sam Mace

            karla i am simply saying the study you sight is worthless unfortunately and is equal to my no studies i have picked out. I imagine there have been but i have been working and haven’t time to pick out studies on community cohesion and faith schools in northern ireland. It isn’t anti religious bigotry it is actually inter religious bigotry a lot of the time especially in Northern Ireland, faith schools don’t cause it as it comes from parents to children but it hardly helps in a volatile place if you separate children between catholic and protestant does it? it is well known if you get to know people from a young age and learn the differences aren’t so great kids will generally see through the propoganda.

        • ms Catholic state

          The roots of division in Northern Ireland are to be found in history….and have nothing to do with Catholic schools and so-called ‘segregation’!

        • Karla

          Tim, the analysis of ofsted inspection data looked at the grades for ‘community cohesion’ and faith secondary schools were found to do better overall on their ‘community cohesion’ grades than community schools overall.

          I am still waiting for you to present some evidence for your claim that faith schools can lead to segregation.

        • Karla

          BTW Obama went to a Muslim school. No mention of that being segregated.

  • Peter

    At its best catholic education is wonderful, but in my opinion and limited experience it can lead to segragation. In Engalnd we have our own segragation. The Ritchie and Cantle Reports into violence into the northern towns stated ‘faith schools can be part of the problem or part of the solution’. The Richie Report ended “in our view it is desirable in principle that as many schools as possible should have mixed intake so that children growing up can learn one another’s customs and cultural backgrounds and accept that stereotypes and racism are unacceptable.” I think that is a good starting point.
    It may be worth noting many catholic schools are only catholic in name. Very few members of the schools are practicing Catholics and many parents send their children to catholic schools for a decent education rather than a belief in Catholicism. If the schools really were communities of faith our churches would be overflowing on Sunday.
    It seems to me the Catholic Church has a lot to offer in the field of education , however it is time for a rethink by CES. Primarily the catholic faith should be handed down in the home and the parish.

    • ms Catholic state

      Some people call it segregation……but parents call it choice!

      • Matthew Booth

        Segregation by choice is still segregation.

        • peter

          A good point Matthew

          As a Christian i have to live in the real world, admit we as christians get things wrong at times, learn and do better. One of the faults of the pre vatican 2 church was our inability to admit we erred, John Paul 2 changed that perception somewhat and apologised for many of our wrongdoings. And for me, as a practicing catholic, that makes hin saintly.
          Apartheid was the choice of the the ruling class, endorsed by religion… and yet it was segregation. My own opinion is that we should abolish all faith schools and demand excellence for our young people whatever their background. As catholics we can educate our children in our homes and parishes to our own way of thinking/believing, we should have the courage to do this and not delegate this responsibility to a school.


          • ms Catholic state

            Sorry Peter….but enough of the hand wringing and breast beating. As a Catholic you are called to acknowledge your own sins….(not the sins of other Catholics) in the Confessional! Always handy to bleat on about the failings of the ‘Church’. But much more difficult to admit your own personal failings.

            And my opinion is we need more Catholic schools…..for all who want a place in them. That would end segregation without destroying choice don’t you think!

        • ms Catholic state

          I call it choice…as that is what it is. I don’t like to be forced into schools I don’t like by those with an agenda against my beliefs!

          If you rather call it segregation…..I prefer to call its opposite…coercion! No coercion please!

          • peter

            ms Catholic State
            As a sinner, I agree we should all use the Sacrament of Reconciliation often – and especially when linked to the daily examen.

            The pont i was making was simple, as a institution the church has made many mistakes, and I was echoing John Paul’s response to these historic events. John Paul publicly apologised for the errors of the church and when he did so he was re-stating what was said at the Council – we are a pilgrim church, always on the move never settling in one place. John 23rd described in in terms of Aggiornamento’ ‘a bringing up to date’, and you can’t do this without saying sorry.

            The parents of those who attend catholic schools are rarely practising catholics. The students are rarely practising catholic and neither are the teachers. So we have to ask the question, what is the purpose in catholic schools (this is different from a catholic education which can be undertaken in the parish and in the home)

          • ms Catholic state

            Peter, it is not for the sake of partens that Catholic schools exist…..but for children. All children have a right to know and love Jesus Christ. Christ Himself said this…..and woe betide anyone who comes between the children and Jesus. That is why I support Catholic schools. Often…as you said the parents arent religious….so the school is the only place children will ever learn of the love of God for them.

            This is lacking in a secular school. How on earth you can call yourself Catholic and not support Catholic schools is beyond me. It doesn’t add up.

      • Tim

        Have you been to Northern Ireland Ms CS?

    • Tim

      You also have to remember that even if all is rosy with Catholic schools in Northern Ireland and that they never teach hatred of the other and that they are absolutely certainly not part of the problem, then by calling for secregated Catholic Schools you are also by default supporting segregated protestant schools. The two go hand in hand just as you can’t have a significant number of separate schools for boys without producing de facto separate schools for girls too.

      Are you happy that protestant schools in NI are not doing anything to promote anti-catholic secarianism?

      • ms Catholic state

        I support Protestant Muslim Hindu atheist Jewish and Catholic schools. Secular one-size-fits all schools Im not so sure about. It seems they are taken over by Government to promote itself as ‘God’. As someone said…..let’s have separation of School and State. I’m all for that.

  • Joseph Matthew

    The real agenda is that Obama does not want Catholic or Protestant schools. when we study his links with Saul Alinsky, we see a man hell bent on promoting his rule for radicals.

  • ms Catholic state

    Just saw a great comment on Twitter asking when the President was going to call for an end to Islamic schools too! Rifleman will love this one.

  • ms Catholic state

    Good comments on Obama’s hypocrisy regarding Catholic versus Islamic education….

  • Karla

    Archbishop Gerhard L. Mueller’s comment about Catholic education days before Obama’s comments:

  • Karla

    NEWS RELEASE – to Obama: Catholic Schools Unite, Not ‘Divide’

  • [...] Nick Donnelly of the popular UK blog,, called the president’s attack on the Catholic schools “misguided”, saying that [...]

    • John Dare

      Just read this from the WOG

      ‘“Of course, it’s ironic that the most divisive President in American history should go to Ireland and condemn division,” writes attorney Carol Platt Liebau for  “But it also raises questions: Does this signal hostility to Catholic education in America — or hostility to religious education in general?’

      I mean, who can trust a black man who wants healthcare for everyone, just not on ol’ boy.

  • Strange, all this concern for the well-being of children from a President who never as much as blinks an eye at the butchery of abortion, at which his country has blazoned a bloody trail. What about the right of the unborn to integration in its own society? One has to wonder if the Catholic school children who were present during this appalling charade in the Waterfront Hall knew that this man’s hands were covered in the blood of the innocent? He the hero. He the wonder man, the great orator to whom the world bows and scrapes as before a demigod. But say nothing of this to Catholic pupils. ‘Come, children, let us praise him!’ And this is not even to mention his relentless campaign for so-called gay marriage and the destruction of the traditional family. Obama hates Catholicism. Period. Why? Abortion and homosexuality. Catholic children should know this.

    • John Dare

      No Brendan, those are not my concerns. My concern is that this site (aka Nick) has taken a fair comment in the context of the time and place where it was made, and turned somersaults to make it anti Catholic.

      I don’t know if Mr Obama ‘hates Catholicism’, but I suggest that you need to re-examine your premise. Perhaps it would be fairer to say that Pres. Obama has policies that some Catholics find repugnant. Thats fair enough, and if you stuck to that you would have my attention and some sympathy. But you seem to be turning reality on its head.

      I mean, do you really think that the president of the USA sits up of an evening plotting ways to p*ss Catholics off? Even on the most basic pragmatic level that won’t wash. Catholics have the vote. ;)

      Don’t add to Nicks slighlty crazed take on everything by adding sloppy (and possibly dishonourable) thinking. If you want to know if a man is decent, look at him, listen to him and consider his foes. And what a bunch they are, right wing red necks who hate ‘damn commies’, for which read anyone with a sense of fair play.

      • John, thank you for your reply. I think Our Lord summed up the Obamas of this world incisively when he said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” KGV, Matt.6.24. Obama is trying to have it both ways. He invokes God to bless his audiences and their countries and simultaneously gives the one fingered salute to His creation. Hatred, John, does not have to keep one awake at night; anger on the other hand does. I imagine this particular Prince sleeps well, knowing he has the support of so many badly catechised Catholics. Also, since you have referred to my thinking as “sloppy” would you kindly look at your last sentence: are all ‘his foes’…”right wing red necks’?

        God bless you and yours, John.

    • ms Catholic state

      Excellent speech here by a Catholic politician lamenting the mindless ‘slobbering’ over Obama’s visit to Ireland….with Michelle who hilariously called it her home!

  • Nicolas Bellord

    It seems to me that anyone who suggests that there should be no Catholic schools in NI demonstrates a remarkable ignorance of history! I would imagine that Catholics in NI would see such an idea as the final triumph of English domination.

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