Pell believes Catholic school popularity 'a two-edged sword'
The increasing number of non-Catholics who want to attend Catholic schools is a two-edged sword, according to the Archbishop of Sydney, Dr George Pell.
He told a meeting of school principals in the archdiocese: "On one side, it provides us with an opportunity for evangelisation; an opportunity to explain the beauties of Christ to these youngsters.
"However, for those who aren't Catholics, there is a radical difference between those who come from a practising Christian background (overwhelmingly, they will make the religious task in our schools easier) and the many neo-pagans who want to come to our schools.
"A significant number of these students in our schools would make it much harder to get our religious message across."
Dr Pell said about 14% of students in Catholic schools are non-Catholic "and the pressure for that percentage to increase is growing".
Schools are now the main missionary arm of the Church, he said.
"You can be absolutely certain that you and your teachers are now the face of the Church to many youngsters who don't regularly go to Mass - who are not fanatically devoted to the 52-Sundays-of-the-year religious observance," Dr Pell said. "Their memory of Church in adult life will come mainly from their experiences in Catholic schools.
Catholic Education Office Sydney
"NSW Catholic Education Supplement in Sunday Telegraph - 4 May" (PDF)
Catholic Education Commission NSW
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