Catholic Education

Sister Jane Tells It Like It Is

Sister Jane Dominic Laurel

In a testament to just how bad so much of what passes for Catholic education is today, note this reaction to Sister Jane Dominic Laurel preaching basic Catholic doctrine:

Charlotte Catholic High School has invited parents to a meeting Wednesday night to air concerns many of them – and their kids – had about a recent speaker’s comments about homosexuality, divorce and single parents.

Sister Jane Dominic Laurel, a Dominican nun based in Nashville, Tenn., addressed a student assembly on March 21. Days later, some students launched an online petition that called her comments “offensive and unnecessarily derogatory.”

A record of the comments  was not available. But students attending told their parents she criticized gays and lesbians and made inflammatory remarks about single and divorced parents.

The petition, which has drawn more than 2,000 supporters, listed 10 objections to her remarks, including this: “We resent the fact that a schoolwide assembly became a stage to blast the issue of homosexuality after Pope Francis said in an interview this past fall that ‘we can not insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods.’ We are angry that someone decided they knew better than our Holy Father and invited (this) speaker.”

Some students told their parents that a few teachers left the assembly in tears.

In addition, parents called for a letter-writing campaign, sending out emails that listed the addresses of the Diocese of Charlotte, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, even the pope in the Vatican.

Shelley Earnhardt, who is divorced and who sent one of the emails, wrote that “in my home, there was outrage, embarrassment, sadness, disbelief, and further reason for my 16-year-old to move as far away from her religion as possible and as soon as she can.”

Other parents faulted the school for not notifying them about the sensitive nature of Laurel’s planned remarks. “It’s too big of a topic for parents to be surprised,” said Casey Corser.

Diocese spokesman David Hains acknowledged parents were not told ahead of time that Laurel would speak. But he said she has spoken frequently in the diocese and has a doctoral degree in sacred theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome.

“We have seen the petitions, and we have gotten the emails,” Hains said. “And we really hope to be able to answer their questions and address their concerns” at the meeting, which he said will be closed to the media.

The Rev. Tim Reid, pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, sent an email lauding the nun, saying “she represented well the Catholic positions on marriage, sex, same-sex attraction and proper gender roles … The Church has already lost too many generations of Catholic schools students to … a very muddled and watered-down faith.” →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Whither Notre Dame?

Fathers Miscamble and Barron

 

 

Tom O’Toole has an interesting post up at Renew America on the future of Notre Dame:

 

 

After a stellar version of the standard salad, chicken and potatoes lunch, Fr. Miscamble began his talk, entitled, “What is the Future for Notre Dame?” Indeed, it was a sad tale I’ve both heard and written about many times before, yet there was something poignant about hearing it in person from the person perhaps most responsible for the University’s counter-reformation. Although I’m sure Miscamble realized that for the most part he was singing to the choir that day, he warned the rest that, “[i]f you’ve come to hear some carefully prepared PR fluff, you’ve come to the wrong place.”

Father began his lecture going from the general to the specific, noting that Notre Dame was part of an amazing push in the nineteenth and early twentieth century in which the Church built a massive Catholic culture of dioceses, schools and hospitals, “all at a time when Catholics had neither the wealth nor education they do today.” After that ironic statement, Father flashed forward to the subtly diabolical 1967 “Land O’Lakes” document, which promoted scholarly dialogue at the expense of magisterial obedience. “After a series of seemingly insignificant decisions, Notre Dame found itself both confused and lacking confidence in its Catholic identity,” so much that Notre Dame president, Fr. John Jenkins, and the ND Board of Trustees. could go against the directives of the bishops and forsake Truth for prestige by honoring the radically pro-abortion Obama.

While not denying that Notre Dame is at the crossroads of returning to its Catholic roots or becoming another Vanderbilt or Duke, former religious universities that are now almost completely secular, Miscamble, after acknowledging some positive steps the University has taken since the Obama disaster (not the least of these being “Notre Dame’s suing of the Obama Administration over clauses in the Affordable Heath Care Act”) offered four practical ways to return from Land O’Lakes to Ex Corde Ecclesiae, John Paul II’s “Magna Carta” on how a Catholic university should operate.

Although my one through four list of ways to save Notre Dame all involve naming Fr. Miscamble as Notre Dame’s president (an online petition, anyone?), barring that miracle, Father’s outline is the way to reform. First, Miscamble says you need a clear articulation of your mission statement. Noting that Notre Dame’s is actually pretty good, Father adds that a mission statement is “meaningless unless it shapes the University,” as was clearly not the case with honoring Obama and allowing annual campus performances of The Vagina Monologues, which, in Fr. Jenkins’ own words, includes “graphic descriptions of homosexual, extramarital…and auto-erotic [sex, including] the seduction of a sixteen year old girl by an adult woman,” or as Miscamble would add “reduces women to their body parts.”

Second, the Catholicity of the faculty is of utmost importance. Indeed, the hiring of faculty both “ambivalent” and “openly hostile” to Notre Dame’s mission may be the University’s gravest mistake to date. On the other hand, the hiring done during Miscamble’s brief five-year term as Chair of the History Department show it is far from impossible to turn a faculty around.

Thirdly, the curriculum must be re-examined. Of course, Father acknowledges that curriculum is intimately tied to the faculty, because even the finest selection of Catholic core courses (I myself am pushing Notre Dame to add one on the novels of Ralph McInerny) unless taught by the right teachers, could do students more harm than good.

Finally, Notre Dame needs to re-explore its choices regarding student life. While praising the great availability of the sacraments at Notre Dame, including daily Masses in all the dorms, Father says Notre Dame must do more to distance itself from the partying, hook-up culture of secular universities, and providing entertainment choices such as The Vagina Monologues, or bands such as the one that ended their concert my freshman year with a rousing rendition of “Let’s Get Drunk and Screw,” just isn’t cutting it.

After a  heartfelt round of applause, Miscamble gave way to his colleague, Fr. Robert Barron, narrator of the fine Catholicism TV documentaries and rector of Mundelein Seminary. Barron echoed many of Miscamble’s warnings, noting that between the “dumbed down, banners and balloons religion being taught in Catholic grade and high schools, and the Land O’Lakes Catholicism offered at many Catholic universities, Christ became just one of many options to follow, and Catholic theology was no longer at the center.” But “when Christ is no longer at the center, a center in which all other subjects find their meaning,” Barron noted that “something else will take His place.” Indeed, dialogue became god, and laws at many Catholic universities were no longer dictated by the Church but by the faculty or even the state, as Obama’s honorary degree of Law from Notre Dame sadly indicates. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Need Reader Input: Who Are The Top 10 Dynamically Orthodox Catholic Bishops?

 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.

Pope Benedict Asks for Forgiveness

Last week, Pope Benedict XVI told the annual gathering of his “Study Group” (some of his former students) to ask God’s forgiveness on behalf of generations of “cradle Catholics” who have failed to transmit the faith to others.

No doubt, evangelizing others is an important dimension of Catholic life, as Pope Paul VI reminded the Church in his 1975 apostolic exhortation, Evangelii nuntiandi:

…what matters is to evangelize man’s culture and cultures (not in a purely decorative way, as it were, by applying a thin veneer, but in a vital way, in depth and right to their very roots), in the wide and rich sense which these terms have in Gaudium et spes, always taking the person as one’s starting-point and always coming back to the relationships of people among themselves and with God. (#20)

Where evangelization first takes place is in the home as parents evangelize their children in the Roman Catholic faith and its practice.  Today, the most-often heard lament is that Roman Catholic parents, in general, are not evangelizing their children and, of those who do, they are not evangelizing their children in the Roman Catholic faith and its practice but in some generic form of Christianity that emphasizes democratic values and aspirations.

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Catholic Education & Same-Sex Parents: A Question of Truth and Tolerance

The Holy Father in his amazingly insightful and thorough work Truth and Tolerance outlines a way—though focusing primarily on religious matters—that Catholics may engage a pluralistic world in a spirit of peace and tolerance while adhering completely to the divine truths of the Catholic faith, to which Catholics are called to live in accordance with and call others to through evangelization.

The whole point of the work is to establish the principles by which Catholics should encounter and engage people of different faiths, worldviews, lifestyles, etc., in the modern situation with its emphasis on conscience, individual freedom, and self-determination that inevitably creates a diverse society. The obvious danger is relativism and therefore a lack of any real conviction and principle. The “balance” is a correct temperament and a prudential spirit to find the proper avenue to best evangelize the world.

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Faithful Catholic college faces lawsuit over refusal to provide contraception

The president of a small Catholic college said Friday he would rather close the school’s doors than violate the church’s teachings on contraception — Ben Conery of the Washington Times has the story:

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has determined that Belmont Abbey College violated discrimination laws because the school’s employee health insurance plan does not cover contraception, according to a letter the EEOC sent to the school.

“I hope it would never get this far,” college President William K. Thierfelder told The Washington Times, “but if it came down to it we would close the college before we ever provided that.”

The factual conclusion reached by the EEOC could be a precursor to the commission filing a federal discrimination lawsuit against the college. (More).

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Clout and Catholic Education

Too often, Catholic education, particularly at the high school level, seems to be valued not so much for its moral and religious content as for its prestige in the community, or for its ability to produce graduates who get into the “right” colleges and get higher-paying jobs later on.

In my experience, Catholic high schools tend to be known in their communities as 1) schools rich kids attend, 2) a way to escape poor-quality public schools, 3) athletic powerhouses, or 4) institutions whose graduates enjoy disproportionate wealth and influence — the quality Chicagoans famously call “clout.”

Just today, in fact, I heard someone refer to alumni of a local Catholic high school as a “Catholic mafia” that allegedly dominates local business and politics. Although this characterization is probably not entirely justified, many alums of this particular school do seem to end up in positions of influence in the community.
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