Brad Pitt for Mayor of New Orleans? He didn’t think he’d have a chance due to his stands for “Gay Marriage, No Religion and Legalization of Pot” but the fawning Mass Media Representative Anne Curry doesn’t seem to think this is problematic at all as she gushes all over the place. What exactly does he mean “no religion”? Does that mean only that he personally doesn’t have a religion or that he would like to abolish religion? Curry doesn’t seem to care to find out more- and I doubt that the liberal secularist would mind trying to crush traditional religion down into a tame little side show- in fact traditional Faith is the great enemy of liberal secularism- and vice versa.
No this isn’t a quote from Catholic Democrats or Obama Administration Catholics- but I suspect it represents the worldview of the typical secular liberal who is feeling his/her oats these days. With all the propaganda attacking traditional morality and the Hierarchical Catholic Church available in the mainstream media- it should hardly be surprising that an article like this can pass as intelligent commentary on the Church without a firestorm of protest from any corner of American society. If you don’t think that America is heading for a major push to drive the real Catholic Church underground- leaving behind a sort of patriotic catholic church as in China- consider that the Catholics aligned with Obama are probably in agreement with much of this Yahoo commentary- if they are speaking among themselves. It would be nice to find a journalist who would press the prominent Catholic Democrats into offering their honest critique of this Yahoo piece. I think everyone needs to just come clean and be direct on where they stand- so that we can get this debate out into the open where the Truth longs to be seen. Here is the article - http://news.yahoo.com/catholic-church-dangerous-outdated-dissolve-204000761.html [ Yahoo has apparently taken the link down for now- so here is the content of the piece]-
The Vatican (generally meaning “the Pope”) is angry with nuns for their behavior, and Cardinal Dolan from the New York Archdiocese is embroiled in yet another pedophile priest scandal. Let’s look at how the two situations prove the Catholic Church is on its last legs.
Starting close to home we have Cardinal Dolan’s little fiasco. It just came to light he might have been part of a plan to pay off child-molesting priests 20 grand each to leave the priesthood quietly, according to a CNN report.
The alleged reason was to hide the pedophiles’ actions and avoid lawsuits by paying them hush money. If it were anyone buy clergy committing these acts my guess is that mass arrests would have already been made.
Another CNN report talks about the Vatican’s recent attack on American nuns. The statement from Rome says they have gone rogue and have become radical feminists. The reason? The Pope thinks they should spend less time supporting social justice and more time opposing same-sex marriage, abortion, and euthanasia.
The Vatican is enforcing sanctions against the nuns, taking punitive action to get them back in line. The Pope is essentially telling each of these nuns, “Shut up and get back in the kitchen where you belong, woman.” Apparently in the mind of the Pope social justice just isn’t a big deal.
It’s possible that Dolan was trying to protect the institution of the Church with his actions. If so he and his Church are broken. I don’t care how loyal he is to the Church — it should be instantly obvious that the well-being of a child rape victim is more important than an organization. Normal people can’t stand the idea of letting child rapists off the hook.
It’s possible the Pope thinks he’s making the right decision biblically — and he might be correct. If so, his scripture is broken. It’s ancient mythology that treats women like property. It’s making him think social justice is irrelevant.
The Catholic Church is out of touch with reality and cares little for social justice and women’s rights. Any religion so broken should dissolve and give its adherents a chance to live better lives without it.
Andrew is a freelance writer living in New Hampshire. He is passionate about writing the way Mozart was passionate about music.
and here is one written by a Catholic Democrat over at NCR – “We are all Sinead O’Connor Now” http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/we%E2%80%99re-all-sinead-o%E2%80%99connor-now
The thing to remember is that for the secular/catholic liberal mindset- there is no difference between seeking administrative reform and accountability from our clergy and bishops and seeking to uproot official teachings/doctrines and replace them with ideas about morality which pass the mass media/Hollywood smell test. This is a huge distinction- and because Catholic Democrats tend to blur the lines – they threaten to do great damage to our Faith from within- using the ample powers of State and Media who are always ready to chop the Church up into controllable bits.
I would like some help in identifying the most active, passionate, orthodox American Catholic Bishops currently serving. It is a cultural thing that we seem to love rating everything- not a bad thing- and I have a personal interest in this topic because I want to offer my services to a Bishop who needs someone who gets the following Big Three Realities that I have been focusing on in my last three postings here at American Catholic.
1. The Obama Administration is threat #1 to the continuance of our Hierarchical Catholic Church- here in America and since we are a Superpower in worldly terms this could damage a big chunk of Christendom. I do not speak as an Obama-basher with Republican talking point tie-ins- I was a lifelong Democrat who only recently gave it up to become an Independent, not Republican. My realization about the Obama threat emerged slowly after being absorbed in a national Catholic Democrats listserve with some of the real heavyweights- like FOB (Friend of Barack) Vicki Kennedy. It was clear to me that Kennedy with her fellow travelers in Catholic universities, and liberal Catholic political organizations, have been intent on much much more than just getting more traction in American policies and legislation for a few political issues often neglected by the conservative-Right. There is blood in the water for the Church Hierarchy due to the notorious Minor Abuse Scandals. These prominent Catholic Dems seem intent on using whatever power they can muster to force changes in the Church to cut the Hierarchydown to size- replace the Teaching Authority with liberal Catholic college professors and liberal political activists who will “save” the Church from irrelevance among the youth. We have seen that President Obama has been systematically assisting in this process- not openly- but consider his choice of Joe Biden as VP with his pro-choice, pro-gay marriage beliefs, and Kathleen Sebelius as HHS Secretary who is pushing contraceptives down everyone’s throats, and I suspect we’ll see that Justice Sotomayor is pro-choice, pro-gay marriage eventually. The threat to religious liberties will hit the Catholic Church Hierarchy first, with the contraceptives mandates and then gay marriage will turn the Catholic Church Catechism into Hate Literature and every orthodox Catholic into a bigot along the lines of the old school racists back in the 60′s. No one wants to be a racist- so I’m sure that Vicki Kennedy et al are counting on most American Catholics to simply abandon their Bishops’ leadership and embrace her brand of progressive Catholicism which is Obama-cool. So- me thinks the Bishops need a few folks around who see this danger and are willing to stand with the Bishops and the Catechism. I’m here to help. Here’s a link to my piece on the Catholic Dems/Obama “conspiracy”- http://the-american-catholic.com/2012/05/31/obama-working-willfully-to-undermine-hierarchical-catholic-church/
2. Having this information about the Obama-Catholic Dem elite battleplan is useful- but I am also interested in assisting a good Bishop at the parish level with practical steps- all perfectly legal- for assisting the process of cultivating a new breed of orthodox Catholic political leaders. Pope B teaches us to free ourselves from ideologies in his last encyclical- the social doctrine of the Church is the stuff we need more of in America- the reason we keep swinging wildly from Republican to Democrat in the races for political power is that at the gut level most people get that each Party has got some things right and some things wrong. There is no Party of God- even if right now the mainstream Democratic Party represents the greater threat to the Church/Christ- we are still talking about lesser evils. The Catholic social doctrine is about building civilizations of love- this is the positive vision that is the corrective of narrow ideologies which feed on anger for the most part. The way to bring Christ’s Way into the marketplace of ideas in American political thought and debate is for more fully informed and inspired Catholic voices to emerge and assume the responsibilities of leadership at every level of our society. There is so much that we could do in every parish and school- here is my POA (Plan of Action) which I would love to bring into a parish in a diocese where the Bishop is aware and involved to guide the development- I’m not interested in being a lone ranger or riding against the wishes of the local Bishop. Here’s the Plan- http://the-american-catholic.com/2012/05/10/wanted-orthodox-catholic-political-leaders-time-to-get-serious/
3. Finally, my long experience in the trenches of Catholic high schools has left me with many thoughts on how to inculcate a genuine Catholic identity which has a chance of being transmitted to our very distracted youth. I would love to be part of an orthodox Bishop’s team to help select passionately orthodox Catholic administrators/teachers/staff to be in place to give life witness, along with instructional guidance, to budding disciples of Christ. You can’t give what you don’t have- so if we want Catholic students to come out the other side in love, or more in love with Christ and His Church- then you don’t load up the schools with adults who are full of dissenting views from the Catechetical teachings of the Church. I’m not saying everyone has to be some kind of a stepford-wife cheerleader type of Catholic- we all have our personalities- but if you are an adult working in a Catholic school you should be someone who is thirsty to know what the Church teaches and why- especially if it pertains to your particular discipline or area of responsibility. I get into a lot more detail beyond just the staffing issue in my article below. I am open to returning to the teaching field or entering new territory in administration under the right Bishop in a diocese that really wants to play it straight-up as a passionately Catholic institution -without being satisfied with a PR-level Catholic Identity which produces nice dog and pony shows for visiting bishops and parents- but scratch the surface and where is the love for the Church? If you fall in love with the Church you will just want to know more and more and to share more and more with the youth and everyone you meet- am I right? Here’s the last link- http://the-american-catholic.com/2012/04/16/a-vision-of-catholic-education-from-the-front-lines/
OK- if you are still with me- here is how you can help- write out up to 10 names(and email addresses if you have them!) of Dynamically Orthodox Catholic Bishops here in America- with the name of their Diocese. You can order them according to your own rating system. I want to follow the science here and the shortest distance between two points is a straight line- I want to begin a new mission in using whatever talents I possess for the sake of Christ and His Church- I have tried to use these talents to produce something helpful to preserve and protect the Hierarchical nature of our Catholic Church- If Christ didn’t desire a Hierarchy why bother with Apostles- He could have just had disciples with no leadership inherent in the Church- but He didn’t- evidence from Scripture, history and logic all persuaded me in my Truth Quest. I don’t want to just apply for jobs blind to the leadership in a given Diocese. Leadership matters, that’s why leaders get targeted all the time, and why assassinations are so unfortunately common throughout human history. I want a meaningful mission within the Church and short of that I will do whatever I can do to provide for my wife and four young children- this is my story and why I need our Reader’s Input. Brother (Sister) can you spare a moment and share what you know? God Bless you.
A few years ago I would have thought the title of my piece was too extreme- I bought into the charisma of Barack Obama- never publicly supported him- but I thought he was someone who could bridge some of the serious difficulties that pro-life Democrats faced within my political party. I read his books, I thought he respected the Catholic Church as much as a secular political liberal could be expected to. Around that time I was trying to work from the inside of the Democratic party- running for Florida State House as a pro-life Democrat, and later serving as Vice President for the Florida Democats for Life organization. This was also the time period where I was invited to become part of a national Catholic Democrats listserve which included such notaries as : Vicki Kennedy, Lisa Sowle Cahill of Boston College, Rev. William D’Antonio and Rev. Anthony Pogorel of the Catholic University of America, Peggy Steinfels of Fordham University, Rev. Thomas Reese of Georgetown, Vincent Miller of Georgetown/U. of Dayton, Dan Maguire of Marquette, Doug Kmeic of Pepperdine, Suzanne Morse of NCR, Chris Korzen of Catholics United, Alexia Kelly of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, Steve Callahan of the AFL-CIO, and others (Eric LeCompte, Nicholas Carfardi, James Salt, Morna Murray, Fred Rotondaro, Kari Lundgren). I never agreed to keep all that passed before my eyes confidential, but I never publicly revealed the basic content until now.
My reason for going public now is due to the recent event where the Worcester Bishop Robert McManus weighed in to prevent Vicki Kennedy from speaking at the Anna Maria College commencement. The press I read portrayed the Bishop as being overly vindictive and Kennedy milked the rejection, playing innocent, as though she is doing nothing to try to upend the Catholic Church as we know it- as a Hierarchical Institution. It was my experience on the Catholic Dem listserve that Vicki Kennedy was essentially my nemesis. I defended the Church as a Hierarchy, and the official teachings on abortion et al, and she took me to task almost every time I wrote pro-orthodox Catholic commentary- with plenty of Amens from her fellow travelers on the listserve. I did receive a few positive private emails from some on the listserve, but on the whole it was a very discouraging experience trying to defend the Church as a convert, who would be at a total loss if the Catholic Church put no stock in the teaching authority of the Pope and the Bishops, and taught that contraceptives, legal abortion, and gay marriage were just fine and dandy things. So Soon after posting this on the listserve-
“It is deeply troubling to me that this Catholic Democrats listserve membership seems more intent on finding reasons to pull some kind of palace coup against the Catholic Church Magisterium and Hierarchy in general, than to address specific issues related to the Catholic interests in American politics. I am a convert to Catholicism, I knew what I was signing up for in becoming a Catholic, I accepted the teachings and authority lines as prescribed by the latest Catechism. I simply cannot understand why those who seem to relish openly trashing the Apostolic successors retain membership in the Church- that is something that I can only address as an appeal to someone else’s good conscience. Most of my family is of the Protestant variety, I understand that thinking and worldview but reject it, but they are acting in good conscience- they don’t believe what the Catholic Church teaches about her role, so they don’t invest in the Catholic narrative and authority line. Maybe what I’m finding here at Catholic Democrats are many good protestants but not orthodox Catholics as I understand things?
You can remove me from your rolls if it displeases many here that I don’t conform to the groupthink on display here, otherwise I will continue to offer my two bits to challenge the establishment views of liberal, anti-Catholic Hierarchical voices which parallel the hard Catholic Right- in their wrongheadedness- in my humble opinion anyway. One is certainly free to criticize the clerical/Hierarchical handling of sexual abuse cases over the years- but how this all fits in with being a Democratic Party member is something I can’t fathom. Tim Shipe”
My offer to leave was accepted after Vicki Kennedy wrote a smack-down on me; and shortly thereafter I severed my own Democratic party membership and ended my leadership role with Florida Dems for Life- I took Archbishop Chaput route of becoming a political Independent and remain such today.
To come up to speed- back a couple of years ago- I knew that the most powerful and connected Catholic Democrats in our country were interested in more than just getting more traction on Catholic social justice issues in our American political system- I would describe the agenda/mind-set of Vicki Kennedy et al for the most part as the following:
1. Obama embodies the Catholic social tradition- he’s a better guide than the out-of-touch Pope/Bishops 2. Democrats for Life leaders were not welcome – despite my own inclusion for a time- Kennedy seemingly successfully squashed the idea of Kristen Day being invited to be part of the listserve 3. The Bishops who were outspoken for advocating the primacy of the right to life for the unborn were demonized, mocked, ridiculed, and at times the idea of trying to bring on an IRS investigation on these type of Bishops was being encouraged by some ( especially if they dared to consider withholding Communion from Pro-choice Dem leaders) 4. Bishops were described as “self-designated custodians of ‘the tradition’”. 5. Catholic Dems could aptly be self-described for the most part as “intra-Catholic warriors” 6. The Clergy Scandals were to be used to help bring the end of the Bishops line of authority- teaching and otherwise 7. This authority should pass to those who know best- the secular-minded Catholic professors and their liberal political activist friends- since there really can’t be such a thing as a Holy Spirit-guided Catholic Church with Popes and Bishops playing a key role- I suppose they could still hold onto ceremonial roles like the Kings in Europe.
I can see clearly now that President Obama has been very conscious of this war for control within the Church- and his choice of Vice President and HHS Secretary- Biden and Sebelius, respectively, was a conspicuous power move to set in place the acceptability of dissenting Catholic leaders and thought into the mainstream of American societal structures and popular imaginations. The fact that Obama “evolved” on Gay Marriage with help from his Catholic buddy Joe Biden, and his determination to mandate contraception as a must-have “medicine” through the offices of Catholic Kathleen Sebelius- all of this plays right into the larger goals of the Catholic Democratic party elite. There has been no such evolution in his comprehension and compassion for the thousands of unborn humans killed every day in abortions, and the threat to religious liberties is finely focused on the authority of Catholic Bishops and the official teachings of the Catholic Magisterium. I believe the Catholic Dems elite would like to re-make American Catholic Bishops in the image of the Anglican church in England- with Obama playing a kind of King Henry VIII role in forcing power transfers ( counting on public/Catholic lay apathy).
My conclusion is this- I am not in disagreement with the Catholic Dems elite on an across-the-board basis- I am not a conservative ideologue any more than I am a liberal one. There are political issues where I go left and others where I go right or down the middle- I make the honest effort to stay as close to the official social doctrine teachings of principles, and even the prudential judgment application of those principles as the Bishops and Vatican officials advise. I find that the same powers-that-be that are given Holy Spirit assistance to teach firm principles, are also pretty darn good at putting forth ideas for applying those principles into the real world of political legislation and the like- but I acknowledge it’s not an exact science with one formula fits all simplicities, however. That’s how I would describe my own efforts in being a wanna-be orthodox, faithful Catholic on matters of social doctrine. Others may disagree- I have no doubt that the Catholic Dem elites I list above are well-intentioned- but I believe they are threatening great harm to many souls and to the future of our Catholic Church as the Hierarchical Institution – founded by Jesus Christ. Reforms should be taken up in a spirit that respects the obedience of Faith. I don’t abide by clergy abuses and incompetent administrative decisions made by Catholic bishops- but you don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater- just as you don’t kill babies in the womb to solve the problems of women and their mates.
My adult conversion to Catholicism came about through many converging spiritual streams, but one of the things I remember that had perhaps, the biggest positive impact, was my introduction to the Papal Social Encyclicals. I was immediately impressed by the non-ideological, Biblically-consistent worldview expressed by the Catholic Magisterium. As my initial conversion led to graduate Theological studies, teaching in Catholic high schools around the world, and a run for Florida State House; I have remained an ardent admirer of the Social Doctrine of the Church.
It is one of my lifetime goals to find ways to promote the social teachings of our Catholic Magisterium, and to find practical ways to cultivate Catholic political leaders who are similarly dedicated to the work of building civilizations of love founded upon the principles of our complete corpus of social doctrine teachings. As a candidate I discovered that most parishes are ill-equipped to nurture future Catholic leaders or even assist in the process of educating and informing the laity of how they can better influence elections on the basis of the many important moral issues (which have specific Magisterial guidance). It is great to pray for Christian Justice in our world, and it is necessary to take up the responsibility of voting when given that opportunity. But grace builds upon nature, and there is so much more that we could be doing as Catholics to better organize ourselves to have more positive collective impact on our communities and American society.
I urge that we work on two fronts simultaneously-1. Educating the Catholic laity to the Catholic social teachings and the guidance given by our Pope and Bishops’ 2. Use our religious freedoms more effectively at the parish level. I often make use of the story of William Wilberforce, a Christian politician who fought tirelessly to stop the slave trade in Great Britain- he was eventually successful utilizing organizational tools which we could use today (as the Civil Rights Movement here in America demonstrated). I hope my practical advice will be of some use for all those interested in maximizing our public Catholic witness in the social (temporal) realm.
Here are some specific practical proposals:
1. Every parish should organize “Social Doctrine Nights” where specific issues are discussed in the context of the social doctrine, as taught in official sources like Papal Encyclicals, the Compendium of Social Doctrine, the Catechism, US Bishop Pastoral Letters, and so forth. The parish priest should be front and center publicizing the Nights from the pulpit and being present for the meetings to put teeth into the promotion.
2. It would also be good if every parish started a “Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church book club”. This would help to locate a core group of lay persons who are truly interested in fulfilling their responsibility to the Temporal Order, to reform the world according to Christ’s teachings and will, as revealed by our Church’s authoritative documents. These hardy souls will go far in sharing their knowledge on those Social Doctrine Nights. At the least, we will give the laity many chances to inform their consciences on public policy matters.
3. As the election cycle nears, every parish should start scheduling town hall meetings and Candidate Forum events. Political candidates should be held accountable before the election takes place. They need to go on record with their thoughts on the issues that our parishioners deem important. The only requirement for such forums is that all candidates are invited with no
obvious bias during the event. Town hall meetings should be convened on singular issues of great importance, and local leaders and potential leaders should be invited to participate or attend.
4. Documents from the U.S. Bishops’ Conferences should be distributed widely in every parish. These documents can easily be inserted into every Sunday Bulletin.
5. Questionnaires for candidates from Catholic Conferences and reputable Catholic Pro-Life organizations should be distributed with information on the issues providing the reader with a clear idea of what the official Church is advising/teaching on the political issue being raised. These questionnaire results should be widely distributed well in advance of the actual Election Day.
6. Potential Catholic political leaders need to be groomed and supported by the Church by all legal means. We cannot be hamstrung by laws that seem bent on keeping an artificial (and false) wall of separation between Church and State. Both the Church and State have particular functions in society, they are not the same, but they are not to be pitted against one another. One way to cope with the reality here, in the United States, is to help private Catholic action groups and organizations, to form apart from the official dioceses and Catholic conferences. These private Catholic organizations could form PACS and contribute directly to Catholic individuals who are seeking to serve the common good first and foremost. They should be committed to serving the official Church social doctrine.
7. Catholic schools should also do more to promote the social doctrine among the youth. I once organized a debate for all congressional candidates in the Catholic high school where I was teaching. The students wrote the questions and had a chance to mingle with the candidates afterwards. It was the only such debate for those candidates in the entire election cycle and many students were positively impacted by the experience. Another area of improvement would be in the development of textbooks with a Catholic perspective, and that covered such areas as Literature, History, Media, Social Studies and so forth. The Catholic worldview and social doctrine have been confined to religion classes, and this has contributed to the compartmentalization of Catholic understanding and expression. Catholic students, with rare exceptions, are not graduating and moving the public debate beyond the narrow partisan/ideological confines of Political Left/Right.
I offer these suggestions because I believe that, as Catholics, we have the blueprint for building a civilization of love at every level of human society. The blueprint is our social doctrine and the gift of our Magisterium in guiding the principles and teachings of Christ into our complex world. As a candidate for public office I discovered a huge void in our Catholic parishes for offering a
place of contact between budding political leaders and the Catholic laity. Nurturing orthodox Catholics to become political leaders in our society is something that also seems missing from the average parish. Having a unique Blueprint (our Social Doctrine) but not having sound organization to carry out the plan is a terrible waste of potential. It is time to go from the drawing phase to building and implementing- to make visible this civilization of love our beloved popes write about with such strong conviction. This is our potential, this is an essential part of our Catholic evangelization. There are a lot of Catholic groups and organizations who lobby politicians after the fact of their election, but we should be intervening in the process from the beginning- nurturing leaders, educating every generation of voter, and providing candidate forums and town hall meetings in our churches (all perfectly legal!).
Once again, these strategies involve the following precepts:
- social doctrine promotion
- town hall meetings
- candidate forums
- encouragement of private Catholic PACS
- Catholic youth mentoring
Pope John Paul II insisted that was necessary for Catholics “to seek the Kingdom of God in dealing with temporal realities and in ordering them in accordance with the divine will.” And he urged us to be courageous in giving witness to our faith in the public arena.
Quoting from “Lumen Gentium”, No.36, Pope John Paul II said that lay men and women, after receiving a sound catechesis and continuing formation, have a clear mission “to extend the Kingdom of God in and through their secular activity, so that ‘the world will be imbued with the Spirit of Christ and more effectively attain its purpose in justice, in love and in peace” (No.3). Hence, the faithful need to receive clear instructions on their duties as Christians, and on their obligation to act in accordance with the Church’s authoritative teachings, the Pope added. And to those who object that such instruction has overly political tones John Paul II stated clearly: “While fully respecting the legitimate separation of Church and state in American life, such a catechesis must also make clear that for the faithful Christian there can be no separation between the faith which is to be believed and put into practice and a commitment to full and responsible participation in professional, political and cultural life” (No.3).
There are many interesting parallels between military operations and the operations of the Church Militant. One such area where I have some personal experience is in the area of Catholic secondary education- with 6 years of National Guard experience giving me a taste of the military. One of the biggest issues that makes genuine reform difficult is the “dog and pony show” syndrome whereupon the politics of assessing the true situation and implementing the right reforms becomes corrupted and confusion and/or bitterness sets in. The foot soldier, those closest to the direct action often have excellent insight into the immediate problems, but the chain of command- which is set up to run a smooth line of good intel to the top levels of authority- may get bogged down or corrupted by those with imperfect motives or general incompetence.
On the subject of what is wrong with our Catholic schools- or framed positively what is a proper Catholic Education Vision- I have been on the front lines. For over a decade I have been a Catholic religion teacher in American Catholic high schools. I have also taught overseas in Catholic and secular teaching assignments. What I have put together is a short Vision of Catholic Education based upon my own study and direct experience in classrooms and professional meetings.
I am one of those orthodox Catholic adult converts, if it is taught in the Catholic Catechism I believe it, and I will teach it without objection. My own conversion came about after a heavy dose of study of Papal Encyclicals- it was essential for me to see how the thread of Scriptural wisdom continues operating to this very day. I buy into what my favorite professor, Dr. Scott Hahn, said about the Catholic Church being either True or a spiritual dictatorship- not much wiggle room in my estimation. With this understanding of my perspective as a Catholic, it is my contention that the Catholic Schools problems begin with the reality that these schools are often run and operated by individuals who are either lapsed, lukewarm or dissenting in their own Catholic beliefs. Unfortunately, religion departments are also often bastions of dissent- with views on the ordination of female priests and the Church’s teachings on homosexuality being two of the biggest fronts of opposition to orthodoxy. I understand what Mark Shea, noted Catholic author/blogger, says about the striking difference between many cradle and convert Catholics- for me, as a convert, I simply don’t get Catholicism without loving adherence to Doctrine. With that being said- here is my Vision:
I have recently been reading Yves Congar’s book, The Meaning of Tradition, and I ran across a couple of passages that seem to speak to the situation of Catholic education as well as to the idea of Sacred Tradition in the Church:
“Education does not consist in receiving a lesson from afar, which may be learned by heart and recited, thanks to a good memory, but in the daily contact and inviting example of adult life, which is mature, confident and sure of its foundations; which asserts itself simply by being what it is, and presents itself as an ideal; which someone still unsure and unformed, in search of fulfillment and in need of security, will progressively come to resemble, almost unconsciously and without effort. A child receives the life of the community into which he enters, together with the cultural riches of the preceding generations (tradition!), which are inculcated by the actions and habits of everyday life.” P.23
“But all teaching aims at reaching the ‘heart’ of those to whom it is given, that is, at going beyond an intellectual understanding of an academic or scientific explanation to reach the conscience- that level of intimate appreciation and feeling, inseparable from our moral personality itself. It is in this sense that a milieu is educative. It forms a certain spirit in us, or rather it forms us, starting with our most elementary reactions, and guides us in a definite direction.” P.24
My own thoughts on how to lead a Catholic school most effectively begin with the insight that “You can’t give what you don’t have”. I love teaching, and it is because I love to teach, that I feel that I may have some qualities of leadership. I also love my Catholic faith and the orthodox theology that articulates the love and truth collaboration that is our Church and her teachings/worldview.
I believe that the biggest task for any Catholic administrator is to assemble a team of teachers, administrative staff, support staff (even janitorial staff), that have that combination of specialty competence AND a genuine enthusiasm/passion/love for serving Christ and His Catholic Church. If one feels called to service in a Catholic school setting then it should be expected that they really and truly love the Church and young people. There should be no question that a professional Catholic teacher would already be interested in reading the latest Papal Encyclical for their own personal edification, and any insights that may be applicable to their classes.
Developing and enriching an authentic Catholic identity should be at the very top of any administrative agenda- I have thought of some ways to help achieve this goal and I will give you some short summations to consider:
• Catholic Identity is #1- Teachers and staff should see the school as their Catholic mission field, passing the torch of Christian discipleship to the “little ones”. I like to say that my being “in love” with my wife and kids makes it easy for me to talk about them all day long. And it is the same with God, Christ, and His Church- when you are in love, it just comes naturally to share and bear witness to that love in all kinds of ways. There are tough times, and dry patches in our spiritual lives, but love never quits. We have to have teachers and staff in place who will reinforce the ‘real love’ aspects of being truly and authentically Catholic. I would also lobby for textbooks that better reflect our Catholic identity across subject area curriculums. For example History texts could have elements of Church history embedded, and Literature texts could feature Catholic authors. We need to help our teachers who sincerely want to bring a Catholic identity/Worldview into their specialized disciplines.
• Spirituality- Attentiveness to the need for everyone on campus to be cultivating a personal call to holiness. Praise/worship must have a primary place in a Catholic school to re-energize the faith on a daily basis. I would like to pipe in contemporary Christian music between classes and during lunch to provide inspirational energy and counter some of the secular music that continues to pull teens in with dubious lyrics and messages. A Eucharistic-centered spirituality would be encouraged by bringing in guest speakers who can give personal testimony to the youth on the value of this great Sacrament. Theology of the Body instruction would be the cornerstone of our enabling Catholic youth to combat the negative pressures in the mainstream related to human sexuality and body image.
• Social Doctrine Promotion- Reading the Papal Social Encyclicals played a huge role in my own personal conversion, and it should be a major concern in a Catholic learning center. It is part of the evangelizing mission of the Church, and it should be appealing to young people to know that they can play a key role in building a “civilization of love” at every level of society. We should have a high-energy pro-life presence as a school, and a student body that comprehends even the intricate teachings relating to bioethics. We can invite Catholic Relief Services to bring their many Fair Trade opportunities to the entire school community and beyond. If we understand the social doctrine as an interconnected corpus of teachings and worldview, we can promote something better than the narrow human ideologies which presently dominate our American political landscape. Loving our neighbor is made much easier and more efficient when we draw upon our rich Catholic social teaching tradition. I would call upon the experts in social doctrine from the Diocese, Catholic Conference of Bishops, and Pro-Life leaders to be regular fixtures on campus.
• Catholic schools as economic/environmental models for community- Like the monasteries of old and new (see lasermonks.com), Catholic schools can do better at offsetting tuition increases by developing endowment funding, and also being creative in other pursuits. If we can develop consumer products for market, we can give our students real-life experiences in business rooted in our Catholic moral approach to economics. We can also look for individuals and companies to partner with us to bring renewable energies to our schools. We could find donors for solar roofing, wind, and other sources of safe, clean energies, and use these as laboratories for the students to learn more hands-on lessons in the scientific realms.
• All-Boy/All-Girl Schools- I have taught at all-boy schools in the past (American Samoa, Hungary). I think that this type of approach may be popular with parents who are properly concerned over the over-sexualized culture we live in. Distractions related to boys and girls are nothing new, but there are advantages to be considered as we look to market Catholic schools to Catholic parents, who are looking for the best ways to protect their beloved children. This concept of boy/girl separation could also take the form of classes being segregated by gender, as opposed to whole schools.
I’m not sure where all of this advice fits in with your current mission, but perhaps it can help in making longer term strategic plans. If you would like to discuss this in more detail, I am pleased to be at your service. I will add one last item- I am exploring the market for secondary religion teachers at present for next school year. If you or someone you know shares the Vision I present here and want to explore a professional collaboration in teaching, administration in-training, ministry or organizational work- please contact me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org. I have my M.A.’s in Education and Theology- Theology was studied at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.
I encourage my students (past and present) to ask questions and seek the truth, and sometimes some will take up the challenge. Last week we saw the challenge of prior Myths to our belief in the historical Jesus Christ. This week we have a Christian challenge to Christian religion. I would like to again tap into the collective genius that is American Catholic blogosphere to see what shakes out. I don’t think Christianity could have survived as a loose-knit band of solo believers/wanna-be disciples. Surely the Bible would never have been standardized. I see Jesus as one who puts all religious persons on notice- to not be hypocritical or without compassion. But in my read He doesn’t throw out the baby of religion with the bathwater of failing pharisees. I am pointing my students to this blog to consider your arguments and thoughts- so be polite and thoughtful regarding those who may be reading who are young questing souls- not sure of the spiritual landscape just yet.
I recently had a former student send me this video to seek my opinion. I am no expert on World Myths, I have read some of C.S. Lewis’ comments about the relationship between Myths and Christ. I was hoping to tap into the American Catholic readers’ collective genius.