President Barack Obama reportedly offended Catholics and Protestants during a speech he gave while in Northern Ireland for the G8 summit.
Speaking to about 2,000 young people, which included many Catholics, Obama seemingly argued that religious education can promote division and resentment.
“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,” Obama said, according to the Scottish Catholic Observer.
US President Barack Obama listens during a bilateral meeting with French President Francois Hollande on the sidelines of the G8 summit in the Lough Erne resort near Enniskillen, Northern Ireland on June 18, 2013. Russia and the US agreed at the G8 summit to push for Syria peace talks, but Presidents Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama made clear their deep differences over the conflict. Credit: AFP/Getty Images
The Catholic World News responded to Obama's comments:
Ironically, President Obama made his comments just as Archbishop Gerhard Müller, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told a crowd in Scotland that religious education upholds the dignity of the human person. Archbishop Müller said that Catholic schools should promote “all that is good in the philosophies of societies and human culture.”
Given Ireland's strong Catholic community, it would seem more controversial to suggest Catholic and Protestant schools can promote division in that country. Further, Fr. John Zuhlsdorf on his blog compared it to traveling to a Muslim nation and telling people they shouldn't have "madrasas" or going to Israel and telling the Jewish people they shouldn't have synagogue schools.
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