CultureWarNotes.com has a link to a New York Times story about the coming extinction of Catholic schools - something prophesied on this blog several times in the last three years, pointed out in my book in October, 2005. Just a few months ago, I pointed out that this process would speed up as a result of the huge economic downturn.
University of Notre Dame, always on the cutting edge, managed to pull together a task force report on this coming extinction just one short year after my book was published.
In the NY Times story, we see this marvelous quote from a Catholic parent, "The world can change, but if you got your school, your church, your sports all within a couple of blocks, you’re safe."
From a philosophical perspective, i.e., one lists items from the least important to the most important, this man got it exactly right. As I pointed out in my book, Designed to Fail: Catholic Education in America, the parish community is important primarily because it can field a sports team via the parish school.
If you lose the sports team, you've lost the raison d'etre for the school. Without a school, of what use is a parish church?
Yes, that's what I call the fullness of the Catholic Faith!
I also love the statement that starts page 2: "The goal set by the bishops in 1884 — “every Catholic child in a Catholic school” — was never quite met. But by 1965, roughly half of all Catholic children in America attended Catholic elementary schools, according to the National Catholic Educational Association."
Now, notice. In 1965 - well before the huge apostasy from religious orders in the early 70's - the school system managed to get 50% of Catholic children into its gaping maw. And that's when the schools were free to attend, mind you. Even for free, about 50% of Catholic parents weren't that interested.
But according to the article, what caused the loss? Well, loss of religious orders, increased costs, poorer parishioners - everything but the schools themselves.
And how will they fix the schools?
"What most proposals have in common is broadening the base of financial support. Some call for including all Catholics in the diocese; others focus on wealthy philanthropists; some use marketing campaigns aimed at filling empty seats with children, Catholic or not."
Here's a thought: how about filling the schools by implementing Magisterial documents on how a school is to be run, e.g., no non-Catholic teachers, baptized and unbaptized students separated from each other in the classroom, boys and girls separated from each other during class instruction, Catholic Faith suffusing every subject, not just the religion classes, etc.?
It's sheer craziness on my part, I'll admit, but - to repeat a question I raise in the book - of what use is it to run a school that isn't actually Catholic? If you wish to argue that it is a spiritual work of mercy to instruct the ignorant, I will not disagree, but I'm pretty sure the Church means we are to instruct those who are ignorant of the Faith.
It's not at all clear that the Church has anymore competence - or any more reason - to teach, say, chemistry, than any biological parent does, for instance. It's a lot easier to justify Catholic hospitals (care for the sick), clothing stores (clothe the naked), prison ministries, even a chain of diocesan Catholic restaurants, than it is to justify a charter school that doesn't even have a crucifix on the wall.
The Catholic school system is going away.
Only God can stop that, and I doubt He's that interested in supporting a school that only violates the teachings of His Church.