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Monday, January 21, 2008

That Good Night

Bishop Matthew Clark is closing thirteen schools in Rochester, New York, with several more to follow, and it couldn't happen to a nicer group of people.

As I pointed out in Designed to Fail: Catholic Education in America, the Catholic school system doesn't have much longer to live. Indeed, in the couple of years since I wrote that book, it has become clear that not only will the Catholic parochial school disappear, but that technology is even going to push most public schools to the brink of extinction within the next couple of decades.

The Catholic schools are just the canary in the coal mine.

Today, most major universities offer on-line courses (some for free), and now Michigan requires all high-school students to take at least one on-line learning course.

As sexual and homosexual rights advocates increase the "nasty" quotient at primary, middle and high schools across the nation, Christian families are bailing out of the public school system in droves. No school, not even a publicly-funded school, can stand the loss of one-quarter to one-half of its population. Just ask the Catholic parochial school systems.

But there is something fitting to the extinction of the Catholic school system - it has lost its reason for existence. Just talk to the principals of these schools:
"We felt (Catholic education) was the prime reason for the Catholic Church existing," said principal Michael Macaluso. "The school is necessary to evangelize and bring youngsters into the church."
Catholic schools were "the prime reason for the Catholic Church existing?"
The school is necessary to evangelize?

Silly me.

I thought the Catholic Church existed primarily in order to bring all men (including women and children) to salvation through participation in the sacramental life. Last time I checked, the school was not considered a sacrament, despite the way that same school is treated by some groups.

And if "the school is necessary to evangelize", how on earth did the Church get along for the 1.5 millennium in which she did not maintain any schools for children? Does the principal not realize that Martin Luther was the man who first insisted all children attend mandatory schools? Does he not recognize that parents are the primary educators of their own children when it comes to the Faith?

When even the people running the schools don't understand why they exist, it is time to go quietly into that good night.

1 comment:

Patrick said...

Though I completely agree, there are some historical differences that will affect the outcome. In the past, many countries actively supported the Catholic Church, leading to a larger population and at least a minimum christian culture. Today, it would at least appear that most countries are actively trying to disassociate with anything that is related to the church and that the culture (especially the news and entertainment media) actively try to disassemble any gains that the church may achieve culturally. Also, I would suggest that there is less understanding of the Catholic faith by church-going Catholics than at any time post printing press. Listening to Catholic radio in my area, nearly 10 minutes out of every hour I hear good faith talk show hosts state personal opinions as Catholic doctrine. With fewer and fewer parish priests to help interpret teachings to adults, we are left with public commentators that are often the only people with any semblance of authority for everyday adults in many areas. No wonder the adults are as confused as the kids. I hope I'm wrong, but I agree with the Pope that the modern Catholic Church must become much smaller before it can grow in well grounded faith. We are seeing just the beginning.