- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 20, 2013

President Obama suggested to a Northern Ireland crowd that gathered for the Group of Eight summit that parochial education leads to a divided community, irking some in the Catholic Church.

“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,” he said, the Scottish Catholic Observer reported.

About 2,000 were in attendance — many of whom were Catholic — and heard the remarks, The Blaze reported.

Catholic World News called the timing of the comments curious, given the recent address of one archbishop who touted the many benefits of religious eduction.

“Ironically, President Obama made his comments just as Archbishop Gerhard Muller, 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,” the organization stated, as reported by The Blaze. “Archbishop Muller said that Catholic schools should promote ‘all that is good in the philosophies of societies and human culture.’”

Friar John Zuhlsdorf weighed in with a harsher tone, The Blaze reported.

He wrote, on his blog, of the heavy Catholic population in Ireland and said Mr. Obama’s comments were akin to speaking in a Muslim nation and cautioning residents against attending a madrassa, or to visiting Israel and advising Jews to shy from schools tied to synagogues.