Or should they be open to all baptised Catholics?

The bitter and protracted row between the Diocese of Westminster and Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School started two years ago as a disagreement over admissions.

In January 2009, the diocese told the school – which, as the top Catholic comprehensive in the country, is massively over-subscribed – that it could only give preference to pupils on two grounds: 1) baptism 2) regular Mass-going. The school, therefore, could no longer select pupils on the basis of parish involvement – giving preference, say, to altar servers, or children who sang in the church choir.

The diocese insisted that the school was not allowed to make judgments about “who is a better Catholic”, and that it should be open to all Catholics. The school, meanwhile, protested that a watered down admissions code would wreck its strong Catholic character and lead it to becoming a school only for wealthy families who could afford to live in the area.

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So, should schools be allowed to give preference to more devout families? Or should they be open to all baptised Catholics, whether they are committed to their faith or lapsed?

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