Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin has said he is prepared to divest some schools of their Catholic patronage to allow other patrons to take over where demand exists.
Speaking at a conference on the future of primary school governance, Dr Martin reiterated that he had no ambition to be in charge of Catholic schools where parents did not want that.
He said the delay in provision of alternative patronage models had made true choice for parents difficult.
He also said he would be unhappy if Catholic schools were to become elitist.
Minister for Education Batt O'Keeffe told the conference that the new model of community national school being piloted from next September would seek to meet the need for plurality of provision.