October 7, 2009

Catholic Schools Can’t Have It Both Ways

Belmont Abbey College, like many if not most Catholic schools, wanted it both ways. Because so few Catholics really believe what the Church teaches and want to live it, Catholic schools present themselves as competitors with non-Catholic private and public schools. In the current EEOC decision, the college is in trouble for cutting employee benefits in conflict with Catholic teachings on contraception. If the college had hired only faithful Catholics as professors, no issue would have existed, but faithful Catholics are hard to find, as evidenced by Janette Blandford, an associate professor of philosophy, whom the article calls a “practicing Catholic” even though she considers the Church’s teaching “twisted” and does not accept it.

In marketing, we sometimes refer to a company “losing their DNA,” as in the case of Saturn, which went from innovation to keeping up with the Fords, and now the company will close. Catholic education has lost its DNA. At the high school level, we remember being shocked that our daughter was being given pornography as a homework assignment, that the religion teacher lived with his girlfriend and presented this as proof that the Church accepted premarital sex (because they knowingly hired him to teach the faith), and the drug, sex and pay-for-grades scandals at other local Catholic schools. From Curran at CUA to Notre Dame. While the management at Catholic University of America removed Curran from the faculty, it is significant that the other professors went on strike, showing that they either disagreed with Church teaching or valued academic freedom above the Gospel. Catholic education has lost its DNA, and has the EEOC points out in the Belmont case, no longer considers Catholic values part of its mission.

We can’t have it both ways. Either Catholic schools must be content with small numbers of students and faculty, low budgets and freedom, or else they must become fully secular and submit to majority rule and control by the State. If they aren’t going to teach Catholic values, shut them down or take away the Catholic label. It makes no sense for the Church to operate educational institutions where worldly values are put ahead of the Gospel as taught by the Catholic Church.

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