- In a Belfast townhall Monday, President Obama called on Catholics and Protestants to integrate, saying, "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 cooperation."
- Some observers, ranging from the Catholic press to American conservatives, interpreted the remarks as an attack on Catholic education, and even a call to end state funding for Catholic schools, in a region where deep divisions still see Catholic children primarily attending Catholic schools and Protestant children attend government-run schools.
- The American progressive group Catholics United, which isn't associated with the Vatican, defended the comments, noting Obama's previous honoring of Catholic education leaders at the White House and accusing conservatives of going out of their way to disparage the president.
From the article:
... “The US President has made an alarming call for an end to Catholic education in Northern Ireland,” wrote the Scottish Catholic Observer. The story moved in some foreign papers and was picked up in the Catholic press.
Some Protestant political leaders in Northern Ireland have called for an end to state funding for Catholic schools, and some American conservatives have read Obama’s remarks to mean support for that idea. ...