Saturday, August 26, 2017

WTF Department

     Sometimes, there’s nothing else to say:

     Removal of a number of statues and other smaller Catholic icons from the campus of San Domenico School in San Anselmo has raised concerns among some parents.

     In an email to the school’s board of directors, Dominican Sisters of San Rafael and the head of school, Shannon Fitzpatrick objected to the removal of the statues and other steps the school has taken in an effort to make the school more inclusive.

     “Articulating an inclusive foundation appears to mean letting go of San Domenico’s 167-year tradition as a Dominican Catholic school and being both afraid and ashamed to celebrate one’s heritage and beliefs,” wrote Fitzpatrick, whose 8-year-old son attends the school.

     She added, “In our time here, the word ‘Catholic’ has been removed from the mission statement, sacraments were removed from the curriculum, the lower school curriculum was changed to world religions, the logo and colors were changed to be ‘less Catholic,’ and the uniform was changed to be less Catholic.”

     Responding to follow-up questions Monday, Fitzpatrick wrote, “There are other families having the same concerns I do. Many parents feel if the school is heading in a different direction then the San Domenico community should have been notified before the signing of the enrollment for the following year.”

     “More inclusive” appears to mean “less Catholic.” It forces questions about what other aspects of the school will be altered or abandoned under the same justification.

     Yet this is far from an isolated incident.

     My wife works for a number of Catholic organizations, among which are several Catholic schools. When I mentioned the above to her, she characterized it as part of a trend. Enrollment at Catholic schools has been dropping precipitously, such that just to garner enough revenue to keep the doors open they’ve been accepting non-Catholic students. Apparently that’s resulted in other changes, such as the ones at San Domenico.

     There are threads of several colors running through this pattern. Perhaps the most obvious is the declining size of families of all denominations, including Catholic families. Whereas a Catholic couple of the Forties and Fifties might have produced three, four, or five children, contemporary Catholic couples, similarly to others, seldom produce more than two. Fewer Catholic kids imply lower enrollments at Catholic schools, regardless of all other considerations.

     Other considerations intrude as well. The Church in America has been severely weakened by several forces, including the embrace by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops of political progressivism that ever more closely approaches the Marxist “liberation theology” rampant in South America. Such politics makes frequent appearances at American pulpits, much to the dismay of many lay Catholics. For example, last week a priest of my parish dared to proclaim that for a man to own unused land is morally equivalent to stealing it from the homeless. It takes little imagination to envision what a Catholic of conservative disposition would think of that.

     The rot is most visible in Catholic higher education. Virtually all the venerable Catholic universities have departed from the faith as their fathers once knew it. Many of the best known ones have sacrificed Catholicism for success at some sport. What does it matter if Junior is a pagan, or a Muslim, if he can hit the three-point shot? Indeed, what does it matter if he can’t read? Ask the trustees at Notre Dame, Georgetown, Seton Hall, or DePaul.

     But not to be omitted is the extraordinary cost of American “public” education. An American family must pay for a government-run, government-corrupted grammar and high school system regardless of whether that family’s kids go to such or schools...indeed, regardless of whether that family has any kids at all. To pay for a second school system, often at rates made outrageous by government-imposed mandates and requirements, is beyond far too many budgets. If you’ve ever wondered about Catholic schools’ resort to Bingo Nights and other non-educational fundraising measures, that’s a great part of the reason.

     Scant wonder that Catholic grammar and high schools are under such pressure to accept non-Catholic students...and to make accommodations to them and to their parents that they would have rejected with prejudice fifty years ago.

     Catholic education has always been the target of hostile forces. The famous 1925 Supreme Court case Pierce v. Society of Sisters illustrates one thrust against it, mounted by the state of Oregon. After the highest Court had ruled that such a measure was unConstitutional, the enemies of American Catholicism resorted to other measures, including propagandistic, regulatory, and financial ones.

     The demonstrable superiority of Catholic grammar-school education to all other varieties gave this struggle a supremely ironic cast. But when the government is on one side of a contretemps – and ever since state governments permitted “public” school teachers to unionize, that has been the case – the playing field is tilted against the other.

     The government has often declared an “interest” in an educated citizenry. Considering how horribly the “public” schools function, the sincerity of such claims is open to doubt. If there’s a hierarchy of priorities in such things, it would appear that keeping the teachers unions happy is at the top thereof. As Catholic schools are not unionized, those unions’ interest in suppressing Catholic education by any expedient means is obvious.

     It’s time for Catholic parents to become far more involved in this matter. It’s also time for Catholics of charitable inclinations – hopefully, that means all of us – to put some thought into how we direct our charitable contributions. Perhaps a few dollars to the general fund of the local Catholic grammar school would not be amiss. I plan to amend my will with that in mind; your course is your own affair.


David said...

With you on this all the way Francis. I managed to put our daughter through parochial/religious schools K-12 on my dime, my entire income being my railroad job. In doing so I removed our daughter from the local public schools, saving them having to provide a seat there at 6K (and up) per year. For this service I have received no notice and certainly no thanks.

I often though it would be fun if all the Catholic parents in a heavily Catholic school district ALL showed up one day to register their children in the local government indoctrination center.. I mean.. school. Just to enjoy the panic.

Instead of vouchers, I've argued for twenty years that we should go for the 'Pay Them to Leave' Plan. In this, the local ISD recognizes the service done for them by parents who remove their children from the public school and pays them fifty percent of the average cost per student to that ISD. The ISD would save money, and paradoxically have more money remaining per student remaining. The money paid to the parents would be count as income to them, and it would be taxable. But best of all, it would be THEIR money to spend as they saw fit. They could spend it on books or whiskey. Their call. This would cut off at the knees the eternal LeftProg complaint that we are 'siphoning' 'government money' from the needy public schools to the religious parochials. It's not 'government money' once it is their income.
I can't see where any group here loses, except the teachers' unions.

And on to the subject of the USCCB and it's ongoing metamorphosis into a wholly owned unit of the Democrat Party. Our latest North Texas Catholic (a periodical newsletter)has a screed written by Bishop Olson (Fort Worth) in which I read the usual defence of illegal immigration, sanctuary cities and so forth. Absolute bilge. Plus, I am insulted every time I drive through the gates to church by a large sign prohibiting people with weapons entering the property. As if this stupid, stupid sign would stop any homicidal maniac for even a moment. This is such a slap in the face to me that for the entire time I am on the property my state of mind is such that I am in no way prepared to receive the Eucharist in a worthy manner. So I haven't even been to Mass for three months. Why go, just to be insulted? What do you suggest I do?

Francis W. Porretto said...

David, I can only tell you what I've done: I've told my pastor that unless the flood of political prescriptions from the pulpit were to end immediately, I, my money, and my service to the parish in other forms, would go elsewhere. I made it clear that the possibilities included the Methodists and the Episcopalians. It worked for me. Perhaps it would work for you.

MMinLamesa said...

My mom, waiting tables and coming home at 2:30 in the morning, who most of the time I wouldn't see all week, some how managed to put both my sister and me through Catholic K-12. God bless her. And God bless the Christian Brothers that ran St George HS. I wouldn't be the same man I am today, that's for sure.

I know the Catholic school here in Lamesa certainly could use a few dollars-thanks for the heads up. I'm going to kick some cash their way.

MMinLamesa said...

David's alternative to vouchers is...vouchers only you get to blow your kid's allotted education money on weaves & rims. And you can bet your ass there would be plenty of people who would do exactly that and then turn around and complain about their children going without an education.

With vouchers, the money stays with the child.

I believe Enemy Number 1 in this country are the teachers' unions and you need to look no further then any attempt at vouchers and their hysterical reactions to understand a system of competition & choice is a stake through the heart.

PS-if my example above "triggered" anyone, as we used to say, tough titties

CGHill said...

I am a long-time contributor to the Catholic high school I attended in the 1960s; I figure, if I have a lick of sense at all, I probably picked it up there.

David said...

LaMesa. Good point. And likely to happen if the payment is up front. I'd require proof that the child has been advanced a grade, or no payment would be forthcoming. There are lots of metrics to ascertain whether or not the child has learned anything in the past year.

Reg T said...

I know I'm repeating a rant that may find scant approval here, but this content:

The Church in America has been severely weakened by several forces, including the embrace by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops of political progressivism that ever more closely approaches the Marxist “liberation theology” rampant in South America.

should be expected when the Pope himself is a proponent of Marxist "liberation theology", possibly as a function of having embraced a pro-Marxist culture in South America himself.

When many of us were starting school (back in '55 for me), Catholic schools were the source of a good education, but so were many public schools at that time. In '67 I graduated from a high school in New York (Port Jefferson) that had excellent teachers who were more interested in teaching us to _think_ than in memorizing dates, numbers, or "facts", let alone the kind of worthless socialist crap I understand passes for an education these days.