Parishioners and parents in Edinburgh are being asked to contact their councillors to prevent the removal of voting rights for Church Representatives.
Councillors at the City of Edinburgh Council will vote on a motion (addendum) which proposes the removal of voting rights of Church Representatives on its Education, Children and Families Committee later this month.
If this motion is carried it will pose a serious threat to the capacity of the Church to influence decisions regarding Catholic education and Catholic schools in Edinburgh.
Angela Campbell, the Church Rep for the Catholic Church in Edinburgh (third from right front row in below pic), said: "In my role I'm supporting and representing the parents who choose to send their children to the 18 schools in the city.
Archbishop Cushley (centre) with education reps for the Archdiocese.
"Having the vote on matters which impact young people in the Catholic schools in Edinburgh is very important as it allows me to make a democratic and positive contribution to the decision making process on educational matters."
We believe that the current setup is fair and reasonable and gives us a voice.
Archbishop Leo Cushley said: "Angela's role ensures that the faith community has a say in decisions which affect our schools.
"It's an important job, so to remove her right to vote means she can't do that job effectively.
"We believe that the current setup is fair and reasonable and gives us a voice.
"Our request to councillors is not to remove the voice of faith communities so that we can continue to work with Edinburgh City Council in a spirit of openness and transparency and friendship."
What to do
If you are based in the City of Edinburgh Council area please contact your councillor using the postcard that will be available at all parishes in Edinburgh this weekend. Please sign and post it before the council meeting on this issue on 22 June 2023.
Read Archbishop Cushley's letter on this issue here.
Here is the postcard that will be available at all parishes in Edinburgh this weekend.
Watch the video on this issue above or on YouTube.
Voting rights of religious representatives removed in Fife
Councillors at Fife Council today voted, by a margin of 36-32, to remove the voting rights of Church Representatives.
It means that the Catholic Representative Mary Caldwell will not have a vote in decisions affecting Catholic schools.
A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh said: "The Catholic community in Fife will be disappointed that Mary will no longer have a vote on decisions that impact our schools.
"It is estimated that around 2,000 people in Fife contacted councillors about this issue, asking them to support the Catholic community on this issue.”
Margaret Barton, Religious Advisor for the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh, spoke to councillors at the meeting ahead of the vote.
She said: “As it is with yourselves, the Church Representative is accountable to the parents and families who choose Catholic schools.
"Like yourselves, Mary Caldwell’s service to the community is at the core of her work.
"The representative for the Catholic Church speaks and votes on behalf of a significant community who, for various reasons, do not always get their views represented.”
Voting for religious reps were agreed by current Fife Council councillors a year ago (June 2022).
When the Catholic Church transferred its schools to state control in 1918, it was with the understanding that the state would work in partnership with the denomination in whose interest the schools were being run.
In 1929 the Churches were given statutory representation on education committees and that has remained to this day.
The Church Representative has been a key part of that historical, and present, legally mandated arrangement, ensuring that the trust which the Catholic Church placed in the state many years ago is reciprocated at local government level.
With 15 Catholic schools in Fife, they are educating a high percentage of the children and young people in this authority area and, therefore, impacting upon a significant percentage of those resident in Fife.
Thanks to the many people in Fife who contacted their councillors using our campaign postcards.