The Church is open to the idea of creating new grammar schools, the Archbishop of Liverpool has said.

In an interview with the Guardian, Archbishop Malcolm McMahon said the Church was “not anti-grammar schools”, explaining that there were already seven Catholic grammars and the Church welcomed “diversity of provision that promotes parental choice”.

The archbishop, who is chairman of the Catholic Education Service, an agency of the bishops’ conference, said the decision to open grammar schools would be taken by dioceses.

Archbishop McMahon also defended the Church’s policy of favouring children from Catholic families, pointing out that canon law forbids schools from turning them away in favour of non-Catholics. “The Church of England runs schools for the wider community. Ours are different. They are for the Catholic community,” he said.

Defending parental choice and taxpayer funding of new Catholic free schools, he said it was “fundamental” that parents had the right to educate their children as they saw fit.

Last year, the Government said it would relax restrictions preventing Catholic schools from selecting more than half their intake on the basis of faith. The admissions cap had effectively stopped the Church opening new schools.

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