The Movement the Left Fears Most

Tuesday, October 7, AD 2014


The Left isn’t having kids, so they insist on stealing yours.

Dale Price

Kevin Williamson at National Review Online looks at the brazen attempt in Connecticut, go here to read my take on it, to use the Sandy Hook massacre to increase regulation of homeschooling.

Home-schoolers represent the only authentically radical social movement in the United States (Occupy Wall Street was a fashion statement) and so they must be suppressed, as a malevolent committee of leftist academics and union bosses under the direction of Governor Dannel Malloy is preparing to do in Connecticut, using the Sandy Hook massacre as a pretext. The ghouls invariably rush to the podium after every school massacre, issuing their insipid press releases before the bodies have even cooled, and normally they’re after your guns. But the Malloy gang is after your children.

Malloy’s committee on the Newtown shootings is recommending that Connecticut require home-schooling families to present their children to the local authorities periodically for inspection, to see to it that their psychological and social growth is proceeding in the desired direction. For anybody even passingly familiar with contemporary government schools, which are themselves a peerless source of social and emotional dysfunction, this development is bitterly ironic.

Adam Lanza was the product of madness, but he also was very much a product of the public schools and their allied institutions. He was briefly — very briefly — homeschooled after his parents had exhausted every other option. His mental troubles began long before he was home-schooled and were in fact well known to and documented by the various credentialed authorities under whose management he spent his youth, from his kindergarten therapists to the scholars at Yale’s Child Study Center. Far from being removed from the public system, Lanza was still attending student club meetings at Newtown’s high school just before the horrific events at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

As City Journal notes, the Malloy gang says that Lanza’s educational and medical records support its proposals, which is curious: Its members have no access to those records. But a government commission says that it is so, so it must be so.

If you have not followed the issue closely, it is probably impossible for you to understand how intensely the Left and the government-school monopoly hate, loathe, and distrust home-schooling and home-school families. Purportedly serious scholars such as Robin West of Georgetown denounce them as trailer trash living “on tarps in fields or parking lots” and write wistfully of the day when home-schooling was properly understood: “Parents who did so were criminals, and their kids were truants.” The implicit rationale for the heavy regulation of home-schooling — that your children are yours only at the sufferance of the state — is creepy enough; in fact, it is unambiguously totalitarian and reduces children to the status of chattel. That this is now being framed in mental-health terms, under the theory that Lanza might not have committed his crimes if he had had the benefit of the tender attentions of his local school authorities, is yet another reminder of the Left’s long and grotesque history of using corrupt psychiatry as a tool of politics.  

But take a moment to fully appreciate the absurdity of the Malloy gang’s assumption. Our public schools are dysfunctional, depressing, frequently dangerous places. Their architecture is generally penal, incorporating precisely the same sort of perimeter control as one sees in a low-security prison, with dogs, metal detectors, and the whole apparatus of control at hand. They are frequently run by nakedly corrupt, self-serving men and women who are not above rigging test scores to pad out their bonuses and who will fight to the end to keep pedophiles on the payroll if doing so serves their political interests, as in the case of California. They cannot even keep their teachers from raping their students, but they feel competent issuing orders that every family present its children for regular inspection in the name of the children’s “social and emotional learning needs.”

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19 Responses to The Movement the Left Fears Most

  • “What one must understand is that for the Left in this country the public school system is largely a success story.”
    Absolutely. This and every other social program of the last 100 years. Social security is working exactly as planned, for instance.

  • “The Left isn’t having kids, so they insist on stealing yours.
    Dale Price”
    Nothing less than kidnapping by the state. The person involved, the minor child, has civil rights held in trust for him by God, Whom the state denies and refutes; by his parents, whom the state relegates to a legal non-existence in a court of law, (see parental notification) and finally, by the state who oversees that both God, the child’s Creator, and the child’s parents are fulfilling their appointed roles. Then, and only then, when both God and the child’s parents can no longer fulfill their appointed roles, may the state step in and fulfill both God’s and the parents appointed roles, the state, acting in power of attorney for God and the parents. The state consists and is constituted by men equally created in Justice, love and God’s mercy. In these men, as the state, God operates as well.
    Therefore, in fulfilling God’s appointed rounds, the state acknowledges the presence of God in our midst. Atheism and all that is impure is forfeit in the state by the acknowledgement by the state of God, by the act in power of attorney of God and God-given unalienable civil rights and natural law confirming parental unalienable civil rights.
    In assuming the guardianship of the minor child, the state assumes the power of God and the child’s parents. Now, the state must be held accountable for fulfilling its appointed rounds in protecting the virtue and virginity, the absolute moral and legal innocence into which a child is newly begotten. Protecting the innocence and unalienable natural rights of the minor child is delivering Justice. Justice is the primary obligation of the state as government.
    Pornographers, abortionists, fornicators , liars, thieves and the like are not fulfilling their obligation to do God, the Creator’s work among men, nor fulfilling the state’s appointed rounds in protecting the unalienable civil rights of a minor child and therefore may be considered exiled by their actions.

  • All rapists consider their victims as “things”, “objects” for their abuse, abuse they consider “privilege” coming from them. The rapist’s victims are violated as subhuman, not worthy of their attention. “A life unworthy of life”. Tyrants believe their subjects to be things to be counted, numbered and despoiled of unalienable human rights, possessions and life.
    B4UACT a group of child psychiatrist’s sued in Baltimore court to legalize, rather decriminalize pedophilia, raping children, minor children, who have not yet reached the age of majority, cannot vote, drive a car or serve in the armed forces, but they can be violated in body and soul, despite their sovereign personhood.
    Ruth Bader Ginsburg believes that a fourteen year old girl ought to have informed sexual consent and a free abortion. Ginsburg is on the Supreme Court. How much Truth, Justice and the American Way can anyone believe will be delivered by a judge so wrong.
    The government has allowed ebola into the country and public schools and now demands that minor children attend such schools. The government has allowed abortion, pornography and rape and now demands that parents surrender their children to such criminal violation of their body and souls. The worst of it, though, is the indoctrination against freedom, the freedom bought and paid for in blood and taxes by the citizen. The indoctrination, programmed and well documented, against freedom by individuals who have sold their soul to the devil and the tyranny of the state as god and master against the taxpaying citizen is establishment of religion by the government.
    Serving the devil as religion is establishing the state as a state religion against the First Amendment.
    Amendment 9 – Construction of Constitution. Ratified 12/15/1791.
    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
    The people have a natural right without interference from the state, to educate their offspring.

  • Maria Montessori. on how to educate children.

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  • Homeschooled Catholics are the seeds of decency the renewal of religious life and the birth of a new springtime.

    In two parishes that I’ve attended, one in WI. and my home parish in MI., I am privileged to see this first hand.

  • The children I’ve met who are home schooled are well rounded, emotionally stable, well behaved, respectful, socially adapted, compassionate, able to interact with adults as well as with peers, often surpassing their grade level in reading, math, or science, in general a pleasure to be around. Home-schooled children must meet a certain criteria already established by the public school system, and their progress, or lack thereof, would be clearly visible to such system without automatic psychological testing which assumes all home-schooled children to somehow be impaired or deficient. I’ve heard and read enough to make me think that the Connecticut issue is one more attempt to wrest control over children from their parents, where it rightfully belongs, much like the Communist programming of children in the 1950’s, dangerous.

  • Jules Ferry, the founder of the modern French educational system (widely copied throughout Europe) was simply more candid than most, when he declared the purpose of public education – free, compulsory and lay – was “to cast the nation’s youth in the same mould and to stamp them, like the currency, with the image of the Republic.”

    Ferry, by the by, was no left-winger; quite the contrary. He was the minister of Thiers during the suppression of the Paris Commune and the architect of colonisation in Algeria. As Prime Minister, he was an implacable foe of organized labour and sent anarchists to the guillotine.

  • I forget who I was discussing “no salvation outside the church” but go to the website Catholicism .org click mission and then click outside the church. Also read the Athanasian Creed. I believe the person I was discussing this subject mentioned St. Augustine. He said, ” No man can find salvation save in the Catholic church. Outside the church he can find no salvation.” Of course, those who have never heard the teachings of the church or those who died for the faith but never had a chance to be baptized can be saved.

  • Having lived through how badly the state mangled rather simple education, we’re seeing if we can do better.
    Joe- I did not “mention” Saint Augustine. I linked to a tract on that quoted him, at length, and several other Church fathers, all disagreeing with your rather special view of salvation.
    You refused to read it.
    It’s very rude to hijack a thread and misrepresent a conversation.

  • On topic:
    There is a major reason that my husband agreed with the notion to home school, even though he was a lot more social than I was; there’s an obligation to take care of yourself as much as possible, and our schools not only don’t support that– they violently oppose that by treating self defense as worse than an unprovoked attack.
    That aspect of “socialization,” along with “actually speak to those not the same age,” are not workable with the current public school system.

  • Foxfier.

    This one is for your family.
    From St. John Leonardi: “Children should be entrusted only to good and God fearing teachers.”

    You and your husband’s notions are gifts from your guardian angels, as well as your intellect.

  • Foxflier, I’m sorry if I misunderstood you. The infallible doctrines are not my view, it is the view of several popes who issued the infallible doctrines.
    Secondly, the church fathers’ writings that you mentioned are not infallible church doctrines. As I said, go to click mission and then click “outside the church”

  • Joe, I do not appreciate thread hijackings. Do not bring your Unam Sanctam hobby horse into unrelated threads. I will not tolerate it, and it will result in your banning from this blog. First and last warning.

  • I apologize Mr McClarey, You are right. This is not the thread for that.

  • You and your husband’s notions are gifts from your guardian angels, as well as your intellect.

    I hope and pray. Part of the appeal of gov’t education is that you can blame someone else if something goes wrong.

  • Foxfier.
    Good point.
    Blame game is todays new theology.

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  • Read An Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto. While I don’t agree with him on everything that book is eye-opening.

    I think it’s a good point that “they” think schools are a success and that’s exactly why the schools never improve even with all the money and mindless homage we pay to public schooling.

    Most of us went to public schools and so we know all this stuff they say about their “concerns” over homeschooling is ridiculous even if we haven’t homeschooled or know anyone who has. We know that public schools are much worse!

    I’m tired of the mindless, lockstep accolades we are expected to heap onto the people who run the schools and supposedly educate our kids. The stories are endless about teachers molesting students, kids failing but passing to the next grade, etc, etc, etc. Compare ACT or SAT scores of homeschooled kids with those of the “schooled” kids. Always higher. At 5th grade my homeschooled child had test scores better than half the graduating seniors in our state.

    I know a number of teachers none of whom were education majors in college. They became teachers because they loved their subjects and wanted to share it with others. They are terrific teachers. Several of them had to take education classes to be certified to teach and they readily admit the education classes do not teach one how to teach but how to manage groups of children and to make lesson plans.

    I remember in college how many of my friends who weren’t doing well in their chosen major would switch their major to education. We all understood it was because they couldn’t cut it in their chosen subject. But funny how when we all have children we are lavishing praise on these same people for educating our children! LOL (Oh, I “forgot”–the teacher my child has is wonderful–it’s all the other teachers who aren’t! LOL)

    It’s a rare person who actually knows how to teach.

    I can’t tell you how many people I know who pay for private lessons in some sport where I live and not one of these instructors/coaches has an education degree! That’s right they aren’t certified teachers yet these parents fork over $30-75 per hour to these coaches and instructors. Try having someone like that teach in a public school!! Would never happen because you have to be certified! LOL

    Why anyone would want to institutionalize their child for years and call it education I don’t understand.

Sandy Hook Blame Game

Monday, September 29, AD 2014

13 Responses to Sandy Hook Blame Game

  • This is one (of ten million) reason we cannot trust these people with any more than severely-limited powers. Every tragedy and catastrophe is subverted to advance the agenda. The modus is universal deceit and coersion.
    And so, everything they attempt both is a failure and an addition to our woes.

  • “Every tragedy and catastrophe is subverted to advance the agenda. The modus is universal deceit and coercion.”
    Usurping more power to dictate. Sounds like the state of communism.

  • Governor Dannel Malloy, a Democrat. But of course!

  • Connecticut…..a good place to leave.

  • Lovely.
    I’ve have two children with dyslexia, diagnosed by a neuropsych who was paid by us, not the local school district. At the time of the diagnosis of DS#1, the neuropsych also noticed (by testing) he was anxious and depressed. No surprises. People with learning disorders or differences are often anxious and depressed, (especially once they get to those early teen years and realize their non-dyslexic/non-LD buddies are zooming past them academically.) It was no surprise either when DS#3 was also found to be depressed and anxious when he was tested for dyslexia
    DS#1 managed to “get over it” as he got older and achieved in other areas (a job for which he became a certified professional by the age of 16 helps a lot. Seriously, how many other 16 year old boys get to put letters after their signature? Even their father doesn’t have that one!)
    DS#3 is coming along, but has much more severe dyslexia. Public schooling in our town is simply not an option. He has made progress (documented by the neuropsycho) but probably not enough for the school bureaucrats. I have friends in the local public school system. Very unlikely they would be able to do anything for him. A local private school lets him attend part time, and that has been of useful for “socialization” purposes and confidence building.

  • Oops! “Neuropsycho” should read “neuropsych” 🙂

  • I recall DJ some three years running when my son Larry was in grammar school when at a meeting, his teacher for the year, a different one each year, would opine that Larry couldn’t read. Each year I would have Larry brought from his class, given a book at random and he would read. This of course would be with my wife constantly advising his teachers that Larry, even though autistic, could read, something I taught him to do when he was four, and which I practiced with him every morning until his death. There are good teachers out there, but there are many who simply fill up space.

  • The Lanzas had separated and divorced, and he had remarried, before their son committed his terrible crime. Perhaps the state could pass laws ensuring at-risk children enjoy the benefit of both parents living in the home and cooperating in the care of the child, in order to prevent further loss of life.

  • Homeschooling should be seen as a civil right. On the other hand, it is understandable that society needs to be protected from the small minority of mentally ill persons who show a tendency toward violence. This need has nothing to do with homeschooling – other means need to be found to achieve this.

    So, the law requires “adequate progress” to an educational plan? What does that have to do with anything? Here is a disclosure for you: a godson of mine and my son’s confirmation sponsor both socialized with Adam Lanza on a few occasions. They told me he was one of the smartest people they had ever met. I’d bet he would have done fine progress with his educational plan.

    Also, I believe CT law still allows people to just drop out at 16. Why not just do that, and thus escape the oversight? Heck, many who do drop out engage in shootings too. Unlike Adam Lanza their victims are on agerage older and less white.

  • Tom D.: “Homeschooling should be seen as a civil right.”
    Homeschooling is a civil right, a natural God-given parental right, assumed by the government. Homeschooling ought to be seen as a civil right. The money and power involved has caused government to take a strong arm power trip.

  • Every tragedy and catastrophe is subverted to advance the agenda.

    Yeah, I am recalling that the Congressional Democratic caucus responded to 9/11 by insisting that all baggage screeners had to be unionized federal employees. It’s a racket.

  • “Don’t let a good crisis go to waste.”

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Diocese of Austin: Homeschoolers Need Not Apply

Wednesday, April 20, AD 2011

Twenty years ago, when my parents began homeschooling first my younger brother (who had some non-standard learning needs) and later all of us, homeschooling was still very much a fringe phenomenon. It was not unusual for people to predict, on hearing that children were homeschooled, that they would not be able to get into college, or for neighbors to harass homeschoolers by repeatedly calling the truancy officers on them. The extent to which homeschooling has become mainstream since that time has been quite extraordinary, and due in no small part to the academic and personal successes that homeschooled students have shown themselves capable of. Many states’ public education systems are now actively friendly towards homeschoolers, and make state curricula available free of charge to homeschoolers who wish to use them at home.

Sadly, one area where this increasing social acceptance of homeschooling has often been lagging is in Catholic circles at the parish and diocesan level. Homeschoolers are sometimes seen as a threat by parochial school systems — this despite the Church’s teaching that parents bear the primary responsibility as first educators of their children.

Such a situation has recently reared its head back in our old home diocese of Austin, Texas. A local Catholic homeschooling group, Holy Family Homeschoolers, sent an invitation to their annual Homeschoolers Blessing Mass to newly appointed Bishop Vásquez. In past years, an invitation had always been sent to the bishop. Bishop Aymond had officiated at the Blessing Mass when he first came to the diocese and had allowed a certain degree of openness in dealing with Catholic homeschoolers at the parish and diocesan levels.

Given the many demands on Bishop Vásquez’s time, it is hardly surprising that he was unable to attend this year. What is, however, both surprising and distressing is that the response to the invitation sent to Bishop Vásquez’s office came not from the Chancery but from the Catholic Schools Office, and in a tone which was decidedly dismissive:

> Bishop Vásquez received your invitation to celebrate a Eucharistic liturgy for the fall homeschooling blessing Mass.
> Bishop Vásquez believes Catholic education, and in particular Catholic school education, is an essential part of the life of the Diocese of Austin. As you know, Catholic schools are at the heart of the mission of the church.
> Bishop’s presence at the homeschooling Mass would convey a contradictory message equating the importance of Catholic school education with Catholic homeschooling; therefore, Bishop Vásquez must respectfully decline the invitation.
> Sincerely in Christ,
> Ned F. Vanders, Ed.D.

Ned Vanders is the diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Schools, and I think that the above email pretty clearly backs up the complaint I have heard that he is “openly hostile to homeschooling”.

Again, let me be clear: I think it is quite reasonable and understandable that Bishop Vásquez is unable to attend. A note from his office to that effect would in no sense be offensive. However, I think that the response that was received by the Holy Family Homeschoolers is worrisome in two senses.

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101 Responses to Diocese of Austin: Homeschoolers Need Not Apply

  • “Politeness is something which costs very little.’

    And in my experience slaps in the face tend to be very expensive. Did the Bishop really want to go to war with Catholic homeschoolers in his diocese, because I think that is what that petulant little note just did. Stupidity on stilts!

  • That this fellow Vanders was willing to slum it in teachers’ colleges for seven years or so in order to place the initials “Ed.D” after his name should have been a red flag to whomever hired him.

  • I think the homeschooling phenomenon is a complete travesty. What on earth is wrong with being part of your community, whether in a Catholic or public school? Bishop Vasquez is right – a “Catholic education” will not be gotten solely by parents and Catholic schools ARE at the heart of the mission of the Church.

    Homeschooling began originally in the South as a way for whites to avoid having their children associate with black children. Today, it’s a way for holier-than-thou Catholic to avoid having their children associate with lesser Catholics. Many “Catholic” bloggers act as though homeschooling is the only option if you’re a real Catholic. It’s a load of _____.

  • As an editor, I debated with myself whether to let the above comment by “PDQ” (full of prejudice and falsehood as it is) out of the moderation queue, especially as it was posted anonymously by an IP address which has in the past always posted on the site under different names and has always sought to spread heat rather than light.

    On consideration, I’ll allow it through, as I think our readers are capable of seeing falsehood for what it is. I will, however, note that having looked up the IP address of the commenter I find that it is and comes from a user at the NATIONAL CATHOLIC EDUCATIONAL ASSOC (NCEA) in Washington DC. Make of that what you will.

  • Looks like Vanders needs a learning experience.

  • DarwinCatholic mentiones early on that his parents started homeschooling do to “non-standard” learning needs. That wasn’t the reason I started homeschooling, but that is the reason we continue. The Catholic Schools here do not have the curriculum available to meet my kids’ needs. This was also a complaint of one parent who eventually had to pull her child and put her in public school. Another parent of a Down’s child was rejected by the Dio. schools because they either could not or did not want to teach him.

    Homeschooling will allow one of my children to go to a special tutor this fall during regular school hours when the tutor has time to fit him in. (The after school hours are already taken up with public school kids who can’t get out during regular hours.)

    And then there is the expense issue…

    As for Catholic “schools” being a the heart of the Church’s mission…why didn’t Christ found any? The system as we have it was a response to to the compulsory education laws we have in this country at a time of strong Protestant dislike for Catholics.

    I find myself wondering if the Bishop ever really got the invitation or if his secretary just passed it on to the Super for follow-up, and the Bishop never actually read the Super’s letter himself to make sure it really conveyed what he (woud have) wanted to say.

  • PDQ,

    This is 2011. Catholic homeschoolers are not homeschooling because they have examined and rejected the Catholic schools. I live in the Diocese of Austin, and I assure you that you are completely wrong about the motivations of homeschoolers here, and about our attitudes toward and involvement with our parishes and the other Catholics therein.

    But I don’t hope to convince you of this. What I want to know is what you think was gained by the gratuitous slap by the bishop. Homeschoolers here under Bishop Aymond felt welcome and involved, and their attitude toward the new bishop was unreservedly enthusiastic and welcoming. We are all staggered by this unprovoked attack. Goodwill was overflowing; and now it’s been squandered. And why?

    There’s a saying in Texas: Kicking the dog won’t make him come lick your hand. Homeschoolers aren’t going to respond by signing up their children in the diocese’s schools. Other than a venting of spleen, what was gained?

  • Thanks, Don, for reinforcing Darwin’s point by letting PDQ’s comment get posted. The racist card–how…refreshing. To paraphrase Andy Warhol, in the future everyone will be racist for fifteen minutes. And note that he/she made that observation right before indicting his/her opponents for being “holier than thou.” Apparently, working for the NCEA erodes one’s sense of irony.

    My only response to PDQ–put your money where your mouth is. If the schools “ARE at the heart of the mission of the Church,” then make them tuition free to all baptized Catholics.


  • Back to the post: David Carlin, in his “Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America,” pointed out that the episcopate is remarkable for one destructive trait: the ability to consistently alienate those who are their most naturally loyal constituency.

    I suspect that a couple weeks of bursting mailbags, jammed telephone lines and overloaded servers will teach Bishop Vasquez about the dangers of forwarding his correspondence to others to answer.

  • Grimmace. That letter is an unprovoked and gratuitous slap in the face to people who homeschool in Austin. And it seems to reflect obliviousness regarding the primacy of parent’s roles in their children’s education. See, e.g. the Catechism, which indicates 1. That parent’s have the primary responsibility for the education of their children; 2. That “the home is well suited for the education of the virtues…” and “the natural environment for initiating a human being into solidarity and communal responsibilities,” as well as catechesis; and 3. That parents have a fundamental right to choose the form of their education. Dr. Vanders view, which denigrates the education in the home as less important than the Catholic school system, seem to be in tension with the Church, which states (as any sensible person would agree) that what happens in the home is far more important.

    Additionally, I think the basic socioeconomic message (given the cost of sending kids to Catholic schools and that public school quality is closely linked to housing values) is basically that only the education of upper middle class children is “important” to the Diocese of Austin, which is pretty appalling.

    Given some recent experiences, I sympathize with administrators who deal with homeschooling parents – like most people, they can be demanding and difficult, and by definition they may have less appreciation for the work of Catholic schools. But Dr. Vanders serves his dioces very poorly with these types of communications.

  • especially as it was posted anonymously by an IP address which has in the past always posted on the site under different names and has always sought to spread heat rather than light.

    Oh, wait a minute. Are you saying this may have been an act of anarchic street theatre? Emphasis on “anarchic.”

    If so, I’m no longer irritated–I’m amused.

  • John Henry,

    I have to correct you on one point. Bishop Aymond, despite pressure to establish a diocesan high school for the Catholic middle class, made it his priority instead to establish St. Juan Diego High School, to serve primarily the needs of the poorer and more numerous kids from east Austin. It’s been a massive success. Google for it; you’ll be impressed. Bp. Aymond may have wished that we all had our kids in Catholic brick-and-mortar schools, but he knew that the important thing was Catholic education, and that the Catholics with their children in public school (and often enough, in private Protestant schools with high academic standards–we have quite a few of these) far outnumber the Catholic homeschoolers.

  • Dale,

    No, this is not our West Virginia friend 🙂 — unless he now works at the NCEA in DC. But when I ran the IP address a found a few scattered comments over the last three months which all basically amounted to, “People who disagree with me are bad. Nya, nya.”

    John Henry,

    I definitely agree with your last graph:

    Given some recent experiences, I sympathize with administrators who deal with homeschooling parents – like most people, they can be demanding and difficult, and by definition they may have less appreciation for the work of Catholic schools. But Dr. Vanders serves his dioces very poorly with these types of communications.

    Indeed, I think that, given the tensions within parish Catholicism where it is at this time and place it’s important that Catholic homeschoolers not allow themselves to fall into seeing the parish (or the diocese) as “the enemy” when it comes to raising their children in the faith. So I can certainly see why someone in a diocesan office that deals with homeschooling would hear the word “homeschoolers” and roll his eyes a bit.

    The problem is that this was allowed to turn into actively insulting a group of active Catholic parents for no very good reason — that’s the sort of thing which only serves to make things worse.

  • A hearty “Amen” to Dale’s point about the dangers of bishops handing off correspondence replies to others. Were I in Austin, I would make sure that Bishop Vásquez was informed of the nature of the response by Dr. Vanders.

  • Am I the only one amused that this man’s name is one letter removed from being Ned FLanders? Definitely not as nice, though perhaps he does share a mean passive aggressive streak.

  • The actions of the Chancery official in Austin and PDQ’s mean-spirited comment that you traced to a similar body in D. C. both serve to illustrate a serious problem at the core of the U. S. Church: a legion of modernist spies in the employ of the Church (whether or not as volunteers). These are lay people who, since V II, have taken over too many functions of Priests and Religious. Most of them know only a protestantized, community-oriented, immanentist kind of Catholicism. Even the most orthodox of Bishops and Priests are encumbered with them. I don’t think there’s any solution until we reach the point of a smaller, openly persecuted Church.

  • Given some recent experiences, I sympathize with administrators who deal with homeschooling parents – like most people, they can be demanding and difficult, and by definition they may have less appreciation for the work of Catholic schools.

    Yes, homeschoolers run the gamut from soup to nuts (metaphor chosen deliberately). Even I find them irritating at times, and we homeschool. There is a skeptical, sometimes antagonistic mindset toward the local diocese–but there’s also appreciation. Back when Archbishop Daniel Flores was an auxillary bishop in Detroit, he gladly celebrated Mass for the Michigan Catholic Homeschoolers’ Conference in Lansing. I can’t tell you what a great impression that made on all present. And Bishop Mengeling sent a supportive note which was incorporated into the program.

    Which makes wholly gratuitous slaps like this extremely destructive. I’m sure it was cathartic for Dr. Vanders, being bishop for a day, but this one is going to take some doing to repair.

    I have to think the Bishop is going to do something to make amends on this one.

  • I have to correct you on one point. Bishop Aymond, despite pressure to establish a diocesan high school for the Catholic middle class, made it his priority instead to establish St. Juan Diego High School, to serve primarily the needs of the poorer and more numerous kids from east Austin. It’s been a massive success.

    I think that’s great. And I wasn’t criticizing Bishop Aymond. But I think the broader point still stands; only a small minority of all Catholic children attend Catholic schools, and an even smaller percentage of less wealthy children are able to attend (despite the laudible efforts of schools like St. Juan Diego HS). The upshot of Dr. Vanders’ statement still suggests that the real important Catholic education will be primarily (with a few exceptions) available to the upper middle class.

  • “I will, however, note that having looked up the IP address of the commenter I find that it is and comes from a user at the NATIONAL CATHOLIC EDUCATIONAL ASSOC (NCEA) in Washington DC. Make of that what you will.”

    My wife having taught for years in Catholic schools notes that there are more than a few Catholic school administrators that are little different from their public school counterparts. Also some that are very good. Looks like Vanders and the NCEA fall in the former category.

  • Homeschooling is a joy sometimes, but also a sacrifice; it is undergone as an act of conviction by parents.

    It also is not ideal for every child.

    But for those children for whom it is ideal, it produces superior results even to good private schooling (albeit not by particularly large margins) and vastly superior results to typical government-run schooling (though only slightly superior to the best government schools).

    I said that it produces superior results, “for those children for whom it is ideal.” I suppose that’s a truism: If another option were able to produce better results, it wouldn’t be the ideal, now would it? But I phrased it that way to indicate that children differ from one another, and also parents differ: There is no one-size-fits-all education.

    Still, I suspect that homeschooling is the ideal — that is, the option which is best for the child and even for that child’s family as a whole — for a far larger number children than the number who are actually homeschooled.

    I wouldn’t be surprised at all if, given some opportunity for making a valid comparisons, we found that a society in which the majority of children were homeschooled for the majority of their childhood was healthier and happier and more productive than an otherwise-identical society in which our current mix of mostly-government, occasionally-private, and rarely-parental schooling was used.

    Anyway, prejudice against (or ignorance about) the practice remains common. And when one knows no homeschoolers personally — when one has not seen the thing being successfully done — it takes a great deal of courage and entrepreneurial verve to get going.

    It is therefore a good thing — a corrective to the existing prejudices and ignorance — when prominent Catholics (both clergy and laity, in apostolates and diocesan administrative roles and elsewhere) encourage homeschooling. And it is counterproductive when homeschoolers get the cold shoulder and are treated as the proverbial “red-headed stepchild.”

    Allow me to add that I have only one child old enough to be in school, and she is not quite home-schooled, nor is she quite private-schooled. For this child, we use University Model Schooling. She is at school two days a week, where she turns in assignments and receives new ones; she is at home the remaining three days, working on the assignments under the supervision of my wife. The result is much like really excellent private schooling (but for only about $1500 a semester), mixed with homeschooling (but in which my wife gets a break two days a week) and we like it quite a lot.

  • Seems much ado. Since I’m avoiding real work at the moment, I’ll go to the trouble of a fisk.

    Bishop Vásquez received your invitation to celebrate a Eucharistic liturgy for the fall homeschooling blessing Mass. Notes purpose behind letter.

    Bishop Vásquez believes Catholic education, and in particular Catholic school education, is an essential part of the life of the Diocese of Austin. States bishop’s opinion. It should be noted that this statement needn’t be taken as a criticism of homeschooling or any schooling. As you know, Catholic schools are at the heart of the mission of the church. Notes purpose of schools. I’m not seeing anything facially for anyone to disagree.

    Bishop’s presence at the homeschooling Mass would convey a contradictory message equating the importance of Catholic school education with Catholic homeschooling; I’m not much in the message department, but all this is saying is that a Catholic school education and homeschooling are not coequal. While I wouldn’t go so far as to claim officiating a mass is encouragement of homeschooling, I think it is a legitimate claim to make. I think people are reading between the lines and seeing a claim that homeschooling is illegitimate rather than the more modest claim. therefore, Bishop Vásquez must respectfully decline the invitation. A polite end to the letter.

    As far as the claim of parents being the primary educators of children, I think a partisan interpretation is being offered as a normative one. I would hazard to say that there are few if any church officials that see church education programs as being in opposition to parents being primary educators of their children.

  • What a shame. I do hope an apology is issued, a sincere one, and not an “I’m sorry you misread this” as MZ seems to indicate. I am morally certain that this note did not originate from the Bishop, and it should be brought to his attention.

    I was educated in Catholic Schools my entire life, in a total of four different dioceses. My parents sacrificed dearly to pay for our tuition. I can tell you from experience that they are great at times, and at other times they are less-than-ideal. I now homeschool. That should give you an idea of my current opinion.

    We have a son with autism. Two years ago he could barely say full sentences. Now he’s reading C.S. Lewis and other childrens’ literature at the age of seven. One school official gave my wife the best insult/compliment ever, when he told her, “There is no way you brought him this far. You had help.” She wasn’t being flattering, she was being accusative.

    My children know the faith. They have high academic achievement, AND, they have MANY friends, who are all well-behaved and polite. I don’t have to worry about my children being picked upon. I don’t have to worry about them feeling left-out, or picking up nasty habits. As great as Catholic schools can be, a dedicated homeschooling curriculum will always be superior. A great teacher can never be a substitute for a loving parent.

  • “a Catholic school education and homeschooling are not coequal”

    What did you have in mind, MZ?

  • “As you know, Catholic schools are at the heart of the mission of the church.”

    Actually, I disagree. If it is at the heart of the mission of the Church, educating only 5000 students suggests it badly underserves the people of the Diocese in that vital mission.

    Perhaps the bishop is going to roll out a massive expansion, opening a lot more schools. If so, then I withdraw my objection.

  • As far as the claim of parents being the primary educators of children, I think a partisan interpretation is being offered as a normative one. I would hazard to say that there are few if any church officials that see church education programs as being in opposition to parents being primary educators of their children.

    Agreed, and I think it would be wrong to suggest that parochial schools are wrong or inferior to homeschooling for this reason. That said, it seems rather strained to suggest that parents are the primary educators of their children — and yet somehow parents educating their children is at odds with the church’s emphasis on Catholic education.

    As for the fisk — well, all I can say is that I think it takes straining beyond the bounds of credibility to suggest that the email was meant as anything other than a “we are doing the Church’s work and you are at odds with it” message.

  • I’ll go to the trouble of a fisk.

    Why? Your point is contrived.

  • I’m with Darwin about the fisk. We can analyze each word, what it says and what it doesn’t say. But at the end of the day, it is hard to see this as anything other than adversarial to Catholic homeschooling.

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  • Whew! The whole Catholic homeschooling phenomenon is a two-edged sword. Out here in California, land of fruit and nuts, we have been blessed with many energetic and devoted homeschooling parents–mostly moms– and with brick-and-mortar Catholic schools all up and down the State. However, our so-called Catholic schools are mostly populated by non-Catholic children and their parents. Very few schools can boast more than 51-percent Catholic populations. School administrators–lay or religious–have to cave to the demands of the majority of the parents. As a group, most of these parents favour a more secular orientation and do not vigorously stand up for ALL of Catholic teaching on social and moral issues. Like any parents, they want their kids to be well educated and leave these schools able to compete with the best. Yet, our kids are not leading the pack academically. They are barely aware of Church teaching on so many issues which impact our youth, and their liturgical understanding is stunted and ‘Protestant-ized’. Our brick-and-mortar schools are a joke that used to be private, but is now known to all: especially the kids.
    Homeschool parents are circling the wagons in the face of this decline. But, with that circling comes a retreat. Instead of staying on the barricades and demanding that Catholic schools be Catholic and strive for excellence, the departure of these families leaves a vacuum which is filled with the same stuff that fills a Hoover. Once their own, and banding together, homeschool families become a church unto themselves only reflecting the needs, desires, and hopes of their own circle. These parents come to see the parish as an annex of their homeschool and their domestic church. The family becomes an idol. That is not healthy, and it’s not Catholic.
    It is the unambiguous duty of the Bishop to correct this and bring back balance to our families and our schools. If he does not, he will answer to the top ‘Bishop’: Our Lord, the greatest and best teacher.

  • Magistra Bona,

    This point keeps coming up in various forms or another … that some homeschoolers see themselves as the church and the parish as an extension. Certainly if such an error exists, then it should be corrected by the Bishop. The question is to what extent is such an attitude prevalent. Further, if it is prevalent, then why is that the case? Before a message such as that from Mr. Vanders comes out, it seems to me that a case should be made the there is a need of correction.

    Further, the comment keeps coming up about whether or not a parent should see homeschooling as “better” than the parish school. I think that a blanket statement either way is patently false, but I also think it is false to think that the case can’t be made in specific, individual cases. The very reason one chooses the homeschool should in fact be that the education (academic and moral) is better. Whether or not this is true depends entirely on both the school and the parents.

  • Magistra,

    I think the question you bring up is important, but perhaps a bit more complex than you’re giving it credit for here. It is true that in many parts of the country (Austin is not one of them — there there is actually more demand for Catholic schools than there are seats in said schools or funds to build more) there are not enough Catholics interested or able to attend Catholic schools to fill all the seats, and so the identity of Catholic schools gets diluted as they become generic private schools subsidized by the Church.

    Such a situation becomes self perpetuating after a while, with the increasing secularization of the schools driving away more Catholic parents and thus feeding into the secularization.

    However, in such a situation, I think it’s at least as worthwhile to ask: Are there perhaps too many Catholic schools, or are they being administered according to the wrong principles if they do not seem desirable or affordable to the majority of Catholic parents?

    I think that you are right to point out the dangers of Catholic homeschoolers retreating into their own world and ceasing to see themselves as members of their parish and their diocese. However, if that is in fact not healthy, as you say, I would think that would make it all the more desirable for the diocese and the bishop to seek a close relationship with homeschooling organizations which draws those families into the diocese and the parish, not to intentionally push those people away, thus effectively forcing Catholic homeschooling families to “go it alone”.

    Also, forgive me, but I can’t see it as very realistic to imagine that Christ is going to ask bishops at their final judgment, “And did you make sure to give it to those homeschooling families in the jaw so that they’d understand the importance of enrolling in parish schools?” There are a lot of responsibilities bishops have towards their flocks, but it’s hard to see browbeating people for not enrolling in the diocesan schools as being one of the top responsibilities which Peter and the disciples were commissioned with.

  • Phillip,

    The NCEA, National Catholic Education Association, seems to have a problem with homeschooling.

    To be fair, someone within that organization has a personal animus towards practicing Catholic ‘practices’.

    If this person is the same one trolling around the Catholic Blogosphere, it may be safe to say that he is what Pope Benedict XVI calls a “professional” Catholic (in name only).

  • I would hazard to say that there are few if any church officials that see church education programs as being in opposition to parents being primary educators of their children.

    Let’s hope so! But what on earth was Dr. Vickers saying when he wrote the following:

    the Bishop’s presence at the homeschooling Mass would convey a contradictory message equating the importance of Catholic school education with Catholic homeschooling

    Your ‘fisk’ (deliberate scare quotes) doesn’t really help much here, which is too bad since this was the main point under discussion. Why should homeschooling be considered less important than Catholic schools? Catholic schools exist to help parents educate their children; they are a means to an end, and parents (rather than Dr. Vickers) are tasked with determining the best way to achieve that end.

  • I work for a Catholic school in the diocese of Austin and, now having attended countless meetings and workshops led by Dr. Vanders, I remain positively baffled as to a) why Archbishop Aymond hired him, b) why he was not fired within his first year of service, and c) why Bishop Vasquez has not fired him yet. The email he sent does not surprise me at all.

  • The young folk I’ve met and have taught who have been home-schooled are an impressive lot. They are, typically: virtuous, academically capable, creative, responsible and compassionate toward others. To put it succinctly, they are model Catholics.

    By contrast, too many kids I’ve tutored from Catholic schools are not much different than kids educated in the public school system. Typically, they exhibit a strong sense of entitlement, lack focus, excuse their irresponsibility and lack of motivation and routinely put themselves before and above others. They grow up to be Catholics in name only.

    If I had children, given what I see on a daily basis, I’d want my kids home-schooled.

  • Perhaps Bishop Vasquez was unable to attend due to a schedule conflict, asked Mr. Vanders to send his regrets, and Mr. Vanders embellished the response with his own opinions of Catholic homeschooling. Apparently Mr. Vanders’ feelings about homeschooling are well-known. Is the same true of Bishop Vasquez’s views on the subject?

  • Let me step in just briefly and say, as the author: I do not want this threat to become an attack on parish or diocesan schools. They have their place, and they do very important work. As someone who went to parish schools for six years and was homeschooled for the remaining six (and who now homeschools his children) I certainly do not think that homeschooling is the only good choice for parents or that “all good Catholic parents” homeschool.

    I think the major problem with Superintendent Vanders’ email is that it suggests that homeschooling and Catholic schools are in some sort of competition in which one must win out over the other. In reality, the important thing is that children be educated and formed in their faith. Institutional Catholic schools and Catholic homeschooling are both means to that end, and one may be more appropriate than the other in specific circumstances or for specific parents.

    So I want to make sure that the thread does not turn into a venue for bashing the good work that Catholic schools do.

  • DC,

    Your post is very prudent.

    I think Dr. Vanders is the one coming around as the one who has a problem with homeschooling.

    I normally (try) to wait a year or two before ascribing responsibility to a new bishop so as to give him an opportunity to correct problems within his new diocese.

    I think Bishop Vasquez has barely been there a year (For What It’s Worth).

  • To better exemplify, rather than a homeschooling group, take this to be an independent Catholic school. (It could be any private association for that matter.) If a diocesan official were to decline to participate for the reason that the independent school was not part of the diocese’s mission, I imagine there would be a lot of the same complaints and hurt feelings. Declining doesn’t make independent Catholic schools wrong or make them 2nd class schools. Regardless of how laudatory their efforts, they would still not be part of the diocesan goals.

  • So, are we all agreed that there’s a problem? Since your bishop in Austin hired the problem, let him fix it. You don’t need a homeschool or a parochial school education to figure this one out. Easy A.

  • I plead ignorant to the fact that Catholic schools are at the heart of the mission of the Church. My understanding is that the salvation of souls through the sacraments and preaching of the Gospel were at the heart of the mission. Not sure what that says about me or Mr. Vanders knowledge or worldview, but seeing as the Apostles set out preaching and bringing the sacraments to the faithful rather than setting up K-12 schools, I’m tempted to feel comfortable with my understanding.

  • Our Catholic school has a homeschooling association. (I have no idea what it does.) It would seem that both Catholic schools and homeschoolers could work together to fulfill the Church’s mission.

    A good family friend normally homeschooled but was unable to for a few years due to illness so her kids then attend Catholic school until she could again. I am sure there is more of this type of cross-over going on but I cannot cite anything to support my opinion.

    I think providing more options to parents is a good thing (as long as it adheres to Catholic teaching and orthodoxy).

  • I’m curious as to what specific objections the superintendent has to homeschooling. Is it that homeschoolers are not as well-catechized as Catholic school kids? Surely not. I would assert that the average Catholic homeschooler is much better catechized than a Catholic school student. Is it academic objections? Again, homeschoolers do very well academically as compared to brick-and-mortar students. They also rank higher on social maturity and being psychologically well-adjusted versus their peers. I would love to hear a concrete argument about how the average Catholic homeschooler would be better off in Catholic school than he or she is right now.

    So, what is Dr. Vanders’ objection? The only thing I can figure is that either 1) he feels threatened by the homeschoolers excelling over the parochial students in most every area, or 2) he resents the lost revenue. If it’s #1, that’s not very Christian of him, and I would certainly hope that Bishop Vasquez does not agree with, or condone, such an attitude. If it’s #2, I suggest he take a look at your average Catholic homeschooling family. A large majority would never be able to afford tuition for one or two kids, let alone the large families that many have. We’re talking single-income families, most of whom I know scrimp and save as it is. No cash cow here, I’m afraid.

    I won’t even get into the many issues of so many of our Catholic schools being Catholic in name only, or only on some issues. But I would suggest to Dr. Vanders not to trouble himself with the supposed specks in the homeschoolers’ eyes, and rather to turn his gaze to the mirror.

    As far as the homeschoolers removing themselves from their parish and diocesan community, from what I’ve observed, it tends to be the opposite–that they are highly involved members of the church. Not only the parents, as RE teachers/aides, committee members, etc., but also the children, as altar servers, volunteers, active participants in non-Mass activities, etc. I know that at our parish, our RE classes would be in unbelievably desperate straits, and our VBS would probably not even happen, were it not for the homeschooling moms and teens who volunteer. And at least one or two homeschoolers seem to be altar servers at every Mass, too.

    Just daydreaming here, but if Catholic schools would be willing to allow students to take classes on an a la carte basis, now *that* would be awesome.

  • Magistra Bona said:

    Instead of staying on the barricades and demanding that Catholic schools be Catholic and strive for excellence, the departure of these families leaves a vacuum which is filled with the same stuff that fills a Hoover.

    This is a rather haphazard assessment.

    Are you suggesting that parents continue to send their children to schools you claim to be inferior, so that by doing so they can make the schools better at the expense of their childrens’ education and Catholic upbringing? Would you also recommend that your child marry a non-Catholic spouse, vs. the Catholic spouse he or she loves, just so your child can make the non-Catholic a Catholic? The idea that we should enroll our children in schools to improve the schools, which are supposed to be about the business of improving our children is the stuff of nonsense.

    You then wrote:

    Once their own, and banding together, homeschool families become a church unto themselves only reflecting the needs, desires, and hopes of their own circle.

    Accusing Faithful Catholics of being a “church unto themselves” is rather ironic coming from a person I suppose is not the Pope. If you are the Pope, then I offer you my sincerest apologies. But if not, then by doing so you have committed the error you accuse homeschoolers of doing. You have made yourself the magisterial authority on who is and who is not a part of the real Church, vs. a church unto themselves.

  • Regarding Catholic schools being the heart of the mission of the Church… I suppose the argument can be made as this is one medium by which the Gospel can be transmitted to the faithful. However, the general rule seems to be that children pick up their parents’ religious practices (or lack thereof) despite the best efforts of the parochial school, youth ministry, or the RE/CCD program. There are exceptions to this generality, but the general trend stands.

    This is most likely why homeschoolers as a set, seem to out perform their peers in the public schools, and to a lesser degree, the private schools.

    That said, the hostility from Vanders and PDQ are unnecessary. Volumes could be written refuting their specious claims.

  • Doesn’t surprise me at all…they’re afraid that students taught outside their system might actually believe in God or something.

  • Dr. Vanders’ makes an error in his thining that is far too wide spread, that the term ‘Catholic schools’ does not include homeschools. I guarantee that my children attend a Catholic school, it just happens to be run in our home! I would also ask, in Dr. Vander’s opion, what makes a school a Catholic school? Do a few prayers before and after school (and maybe before meals), a religion class thrown in once a day and maybe a Mass once a week or so make a school a Catholic school? We choose to homeschool for many reasons, one being that both the curriculum and enviroment at most parochial schools is not very Catholic.

  • Watch what you say about the Bishop if you are Catholic. As Church Father St. Ignatius of Antioch teaches us, the Bishop is the link the faithful have to our Faith in whatever area we live in:

    “Wheresoever the bishop appears, there let the people be, even as wheresoever Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.”

    With that said, it is clear Austin homeschoolers have too distant a relationship wih the Bishop. You can blame the Bishop all you want (which will get you nowhere), but he is just one man. If you want to improve that relationship, homeschoolers need to be more positively visible to the Bishop. Participate in more diocesan functions that impress the Bishop. And yeah, it is a political game, and politics have always been the scourge of the Church. But it only has to be a scourge if you let it be. This isn’t a humongous campaign I’m talking about. It’s simply letting the Bishop know the homeschoolers in his diocese are a blessing to him. Sorry to put it all on you guys, but that’s just the way it is! By the way, I’m also an Austin homeschooling parent, so I’ve now committed myself to the same cause. 😀 But we can do it if we have a positive attitude and work together!

  • I don’t know, Magistra Bona, what you say doesn’t square with the homeschoolers I have known. I am not homeschooling. But I am considering it. I don’t know anything about Catholic schools in either Austin or in CA for that matter. I do know that where I am there is no support for homeschoolers from Catholic leadership. But Catholic homeschoolers do quite a lot in the parishes, including teaching religious ed and myriad other things. As well they are active in the wider community. It just isn’t the way it is, this “annex” as you say — I think that they see themselves cooperating with local parish.

    Since where I am the Catholic world does not recognize them at all, they do a lot also socially with Protestants. In some places Catholic homeschoolers get together with unschoolers of all faiths or no faiths. All of which, the contribution in the parish, the social interaction with other faith outlooks, well I would say it’s all VERY Catholic. That is what we are all about as Catholics, being in the world.

    And then you say that in your Catholic schools in CA that half of the kids are not Catholic, and the ones that are haven’t formation and the schools then refuse to emphasize a basic Catholic formation. That to me, strikes as you say, “not Catholic”.

    The Church itself deems the vocation of parents to educate their children in the faith as a domestic church, the Church uses that term, and since it does it certainly does not correlate that people who homeschool “make the family an idol”. Society as well as the Catholic world benefit in innumerable ways from these Catholic families and the fact they are what they are supposed to be, what they are called to be, a family. How one chooses to educate their children in the faith, it could be Catholic school, it could be homeschool, it could be religious education at parish, and it could be all of those depending on the child, the time and the circumstances. But all parents regardless of which option still have the responsibility to educate their children. It is a vocation. All Catholic families are domestic churches and the parishes and dioceses have to recognize and find better ways to support them right now.

    I suppose that overall it’s a small drawback that a local diocese treats homeschoolers like dirt. But it’s not everything, to get the nod of the local Bishop. That’s the thing about Catholic homeschooling, you can really do quite a lot, quite creatively, with very little to go on.

  • Dear Darwin, that letter was most regretable. I’ve many friends who homeschool their children – all of whom do quite well.

    I am intrigued that you were able to look up the ip address and determine that it came from the NCEA. I have my own blog and the tools therein also allow me to record the ip addresses of commenters. However, there must be something additional that detects the owners of the ip addresses. What might that be? I’ve had some nasty comments in the past, even some borderline threats. If you’d point me in the right direction to obtaining that took, I’d be grateful. Thank you.

  • Janet, you may want to try sitemeter. Here’s a link to this site’s sitemeter so you can browse around.

    Some people like to use the potential anonymity of the Internet as a free pass to remind us of how fallen we are as creatures. Tools like sitemeter at least lets you make it more challenging for them to beat you over the head with it.

  • Janet,

    If you have the IP address of a commenter, you can feed it into an IP lookup site such as:

    This will provide you with the city and the domain in which the commenter originates. If the person is posting from home, it will often just say “Road Runner” or “Cox Communications” or some such, but if the person is posting from a school or place of business it will state what network the person is using.

    Now, in my opinion, it’s a bit aggressive to out someone’s place of work in response to the comment. The only reason I did it in this case was that the comment itself was somewhat offensive and the commenter was clearly abusing anonymity by both using fake email addresses and using multiple different online handles. That, combined with an accusation of racism, rubbed me the wrong way — especially given that someone working for an upstanding organization like the National Catholic Education Association should know better than to troll against Catholic homeschoolers.

  • The author is absolutely correct — I’m an Austin Catholic whose daughter has been added to a long waitlist at our local Catholic elementary school. I don’t see why Dr. Vanders has to criticize my next best alternative when Catholic school isn’t even available for me. Very poor leadership skills!

  • Steve,

    I certainly agree that Catholic homeschoolers, if they want any recognition, should be active in their parishes and in the diocese — though I think we (if I can still call myself that after having moved out of state six months ago) have done a pretty good job of that. After all, one of the priests ordained last year had been homeschooled, and came from a large homeschooling family. And I know a lot of other homeschoolers who, like me, were very actively involved in multiple activities around their parish.

    That said, I certainly don’t think that the bishop is in any way obligated to notice homeschooling or attend homeschooling events. It strikes me as totally understandable to decline the invitation to the Blessing Mass. My only beef is with the implication in the response sent out by the Superintendent that homeschoolers are acting in a way contrary to the “heart of the mission” of the diocese, and thus actively should not be noticed because it would be bad for the Church.

  • I can’t imagine that Bishop Vasquez’s mind on the matter is expressed in that letter.

    This Darth Vanders took some liberties with his response, thinking, I’m sure, that no one of import (to his mind) would ever hear or see it.

  • When we were starting with the education of our children we interviewed the nun that was the head of the schools in the diocese. Funny, no matter what “brand” of schools she was head of I would not allow her to be responsible for my childrens education. It sounds like this administrator is of the same ilk.
    The difference between many catholic home educators and their local catholic schools is that they are Catholic first and educators second compared to educators first and maybe catholic if they have to be.

  • “I don’t see why Dr. Vanders has to criticize my next best alternative when Catholic school isn’t even available for me.”

    Catholic school also isn’t available to many children with autism or other special needs. I have inquired about enrolling my daughter, who is autistic, in Catholic schools several times and have always been turned away. We homeschooled her for several years but had to give it up due to a change in our employment circumstances, so now we are stuck with public schools. Catholic school tuition would also be prohibitively expensive in any event.

    The problem with education bureaucrats of any stripe — public or parochial — is their tendency to forget that schools exist to assist the parents in fulfilling THEIR duty to be the primary educators of their children… not the other way around.

  • I’m in complete agreement with Elaine Krewer…

    A Catholic school education is simply not available for our daughter with Down Syndrome. Several years ago, my husband and I inquired about enrolling her in ANY of the Catholic schools in our large city. We were repeatedly told that our Diocesan schools offered “college preparatory” curriculums, and there was no place for a student with special needs.

    We ended up home-schooling her, and countless graces and blessings have flowed from this decision.

    However, I am extremely disappointed in the mixed message that the Catholic schools in our Diocese are sending. The Church teaches that all life is sacred — and this, of course, includes all children with special needs. But ironically, a parochial education for these same children is unavailable. The message is clear: “Parents of special children, you’re on your own.”

    How tragic.

  • As a Houstonian( Bishop Vasquze’s former Residence) and Home Schooler of 5 children, I would just like to say that the Bishop from time to time did say Mass for our Home Schooling Group at the beginning of the year as well as at our Home Schooling Conference. We had 3 bishops, so I would imagine he took his turn because of their schedules.

    Suz, you hit the nail on the head. At this point in our lives, my husband works 2 jobs so that I can stay at home and teach our children, (ironically, his second job is DRE for elementary education at our parish and I substitute for him because we can’t get enough volunteers). The only Catholic School near me is new and adding a grade every year at 5K/child and only 1 child eligible to attend at this point, it would be difficult to send my child there. My children are well educated in their academics as well as the faith. I have my oldest ,16yo son, considering the priesthood. My children are altar servers and volunteer with the various age levels that they can work with throughout our parish. As well as the annual Bazzaar and other events that we attened as a family at church and in our community. In short, we don’t live under a rock.

    We don’t hide from our parish we embrace it, we don’t hide from the world either and we are not the exception to that rule, it’s the ones who do hide that are the exceptions.

    Home Schooling is NOT so stigmatized as it once was in the 80’s and we no longer have to worry about the truant officer at our door, especially in the state of Texas.

  • “This Darth Vanders took some liberties with his response, thinking, I’m sure, that no one of import (to his mind) would ever hear or see it.”

    That may be. I know in my diocese, the diocesen paper routinely does not publish letters that are critical of the one-sided presentation of social issues. (These written by myself and others.) Only occasionally is a letter published which is usually poorly worded or doesn’t well present CST and its openness to a variety of solutions. Immediately following will be a rebuttal with cherry-picked lines from CST. The most notable recent example was the Wisconsin Teacher’s Union. They presented Bishop Listecki’s letter but conveniently omitted Bishop Morlino. Of course then began to declare that Catholics must support the Wisc. Union.

  • In response to Vander’s statement of the bishops belief that “Catholic schools are at the heart of the mission of the church,” Dale Price said

    “Actually, I disagree. If it is at the heart of the mission of the Church, educating only 5000 students suggests it badly under-serves the people of the Diocese in that vital mission. “

    Dale is exactly right. Educating Catholics children should be one of the items at the heart of a Diocese (along with educating adult Catholics and evangelizing non-Catholics, and spreading the Gospel in general). But that just isn’t the case. I send my kids to Catholic school, and am on my Parish’s school board. I am seriously considering homeschooling – not because I don’t like Catholic schools, but because I can’t afford them. If these were a priority – then there the Diocese’s in this country would find a way to make them affordable to Catholics.

    But the truth is that in most places, people are afraid to even say that sending your child to public school is dangerous to their spiritual development – but it is. We may homeschool one or more of our kids, but it will be because we cannot afford a truly Catholic school (as opposed to CINO schools), and we do not wish to send our children into the lion’s den of public education. I wish the Bishops really did see Catholic education as central to the Church. But their actions speak far louder than words written by flunkies attacking the faithful.

  • The villains in this drama are Catholics who beggar their co-religionists by sending children to government schools. They are the greatest enemies of Catholic schools, I’ve found in my 61 years. And the greatest enemies of homneschoolers. As long as the majority of Catholics send their children to be schooled in government schools, no finger pointing between Catholic school and home school families will bear much fruit.

  • I find this letter very disturbing.

    We sent our first two children to a Catholic School for the first 2 or 3 years of elementary school. We had some issues with inappropriate discipline from a teacher and decided to homeschool after our oldest completed 2nd grade.

    We discovered at the time that the same social issues we wished to avoid by not sending our children to public school were appearing at the Catholic School. With a very active Catholic Homeschooling Association in Austin, we felt fortunate to be able to Homeschool and remain within a Community of Catholics.

    Now, with a large family, sending the children to Catholic schools would not be financially possible anyway.

    I find Mr. Vander’s apparent attitude toward homeschooling disturbing and oddly self-serving.

    I truly hope this does not reflect our Bishop’s attitude towards homeschooling.

  • “The villains in this drama are Catholics who beggar their co-religionists by sending children to government schools.”

    Give me a break. With what many Catholic schools charge many Catholic parents simply cannot afford to send their kids to Catholic schools. In many areas of the country there are simply no Catholic schools to go to in any case within a reasonable driving distance. Additionally, considering the religious instruction that I am aware of in some Catholic schools, I can completely support parents who decide that they can do a better job of passing on the Faith themselves.

  • Although this is a difficult and somewhat unfair situation for the homeschoolers, the way to think of it is as an opportunity, not just as a defeat. I mean that one ought to keep in mind that a deeper pastoral understanding of this homeschooling movement eludes many bishops, simply because they are often unfamiliar with it. The history of homeschooling is rife though with stories of excellent pastors who at first were hostile to the idea of homeschooling only to change their thinking when seeing the example and witness of holy Catholic families and their parents’ perspectives and experiences. The lay people simply put have way too much control and de facto authority in diocesan schools in general. Many of these bishops too, if they’re very young, are not completely familiar with the educational distortions present in their own parochial school systems, trusting too much as they often do the parochial and diocesan educational beurocrats with insufficient critical oversight. With 97% of Catholic mainstream parents contracepting, and teachers largely drawn from this larger group, most dioceses unfortunately still don’t require their teachers to take any oath of fidelity or anything remotely like it (an exception might be Bishop Vasa in Oregon), so there will inevitably be problems and parents naturally learn about it first. But patient and persevering witness can overcome these roadblocks, and the perceived hurt to families in this case likely will open doors with this bishop — an opportunity!

    I’d suggest reaching out patiently and persistently to the bishop and asking for a dialogue or series of informal meetings, where info can be exchanged not only about homeschooling but also about the growing and ever-more-successful private Catholic school movements where fine and experienced catholic educators have begun independent schools, represented by movements such as NAPCIS (nat. association of private catholic independent schools). Don’t let the response of a diocesan beurocrat shut down the correspondence on such a key issue touching also on local Catholic unity.

    Praise God for the vocation of holy Catholic marriage and parenting, and even for the difficulties it brings!

    Dominic M. Pedulla MD
    Catholic homeschooling father of 9
    Catechist, cardiologist, family planning specialist

  • Homeschooling attracts people for many reasons — some educational excellence, some family closeness, and some have no other affordable option. I have found that there are a number of families where I live that must homeschool because Catholic education is not affordable to them. Dr. Vanders should be ashamed for humiliating the poor in this way.

  • The villains in this drama are government school patrons. Refund to Catholic school parents their taxes to the school district and to the state and state sales taxes used to support government schools. The cash in Catholic parents’ pockets rises dramatically. Their ability to patronize or even to create Catholic schools rises accordingly. And the ability of government school Catholics to beggar their co-religionists effectively evaporates.

    The Wichita Diocese provides tuition-free Catholic education for K-12. They ask for a tithe of 5% of net income. It’s a much better bargain than ever rising taxes to fund morally bankrupt government schools.

    The strongest enemies of Catholic schools I’ve found in 25 years as a parent of Catholic school and university students, the most energetic enemies are government school Catholics who resent the example of Catholic schools. Fights to support Catholic schools often pit Catholic school parents against those who partonize, and not rarely are employed by, government schools. I take it as a simple fact of life. Both Catholic schools and home schools are far preferable to government schools. No child’s faith will be enhanced by attending government schools. We will never evangelize this society by sending our children to government schools. The villains of this drama are those who beggar their fellow Catholics and patronize government schools.

  • Patience, folks. Homeschooled Catholics (my wife and I have three – wish we had more) are as a group very young. Where do you think our future bishops are going to come from, homeschoolers or parochial schools?

    Also, no one has yet commented on the schooling our Lord received. Isn’t the school of Nazareth the original Catholic homeschool?

  • “Refund to Catholic school parents their taxes to the school district and to the state and state sales taxes used to support government schools.”

    I have long supported school vouchers but that is simply not the case today in almost the entire nation. Without such assistance the elementary tuition of 3,383 per year and secondary tuition per year of 8,787, these are averages from the National Catholic Education Association, is simply out of reach of most Catholic parents.

  • Wow! Ouch! What a gratuitous slap. I pray that this gentleman will familiarize himself with the concept of subsidiarity. It’s a doctrine of the church, and JPII commented on it quite a bit.

    I think that he might also be (pleasantly) surprised to meet the many families I know who homeschool and also have some of their kids in Catholic or public school. People homeschool for all sorts of reasons, and those reasons change over time. Many large families begin homeschooling because Catholic school is financially out of reach. Some homeschool for academic excellence, or because their kids have special needs or special talents. Most, if not all, have chosen to homeschool after prayerful discernment. The high number of vocations coming out of homeschooling families also speaks for itself.

    I also found the post-er who accused homeschoolers of racism to be uninformed to the point of being comical. That individual would be surprised to meet my family, and many of the other families with whom we homeschool. Let’s just say we don’t fit the picture.

    One final thought: would he be as hostile to a similar request from public school families, I wonder….

  • I am a Catholic (by God’s Amazing Grace).
    I am a homeschool parent (who sees the truth in the pros and cons that exist in all teaching environments).
    AND I am seeing the HIDDEN GIFT in the rejection received:

    Does Christ not invite us/you to suffer with Him?
    Does He not ask us to turn the other cheek?
    Does He not show us how to wear a crown of thorns?

    It is Lent…Holy Week…the letter a gift…an invitation to you, to us, the homeschool community to take up the cross and to walk with Christ. Accept it graciously and unite “the sting of this bite” with God’s suffering…so many of our children are in need…Columbine comes to mind…the children who do not live with the love and grace of God can use our prayers.

    Peace be with all…

  • P.S.
    The Divine Mercy Novena begins tomorrow…Good Friday.
    My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, let us forgive us our trespasses and pray for one another in a spirit of love and mercy. JESUS, I TRUST IN YOU!

  • Kiernan what a great point!

  • One of the unspoken facts of government schools is that the gentry patronize them. Open your yellow pages and look at the rosters of doctors, lawyers, real estate developers, stock brokers, bank presidents, corporate presidents, and so on. In each city where we’ve lived, a clear majority of these folks patronize the government school system. A clear minority of these gentry partonize Catholic schools. Warren Buffet is a strong patron of government schools in Omaha; his kids went on the public subsidy to OPS. Every supervisor I’ve ever had sent their children to government schools, and they all earned more than I did.

    As high as Catholic school tuition is, and my wife and I find it barely affordable, how much more a burden it is to us when we have to cough up how many thousands yearly to subsidize government schools. That or be evicted from our homes. Catholic school tuition is too high, but the additional freight of supporting government school families is insult upon injury. Catholic school tuition is high but worth it; government school taxes are high and not worth it. Per student cost in government schools here where we live is north of $10,000 per child per year. Talk about expensive, and talk about holding my head under water to subsidize someone else’s choices.

    When a government school parent complains that they can’t afford Catholic school tuition, they saddle me with additional burdens to subsidize their choices. And I have never so much as heard a thankyou from any of the government school Catholics who burn through our tax dollars.

    More students in Catholic schools, all else being equal, brings down the cost per child. More parents with tax dollars returned to them are able to afford and to found more Catholic schools and lower the costs.

    The villains in this drama are government school Catholics. Give me either a home schooled child or a Catholic school child, but spare me the government school child and the thankless burdens they bring. And spare me any stories about what wretches those Catholic school kids are.

    Vatican II produced a document titled, if I recall correctly, Instruction on Christian Education. It forbids states from discriminating among the choices parents make in educating their children. Our government clearly does discriminate, and I am among those who find government monopoly schools morraly unjustified.

  • I am very impressed by many of the new comments, which I’ve been reading since I posted a few minutes ago. I especially appreciate the woman who asked that we all pray for each other and keep Holy Week in mind.
    The poster who said that she is on the wait-list for a Catholic school jogged my memory about something I’d like to share. It might help those who think that we (homeschoolers) are freaks. I used to think that too. As it turns out, most of us aren’t — the freak-to-nonfreak proportions in the HS community seem to be surprisingly similar to the general and Catholic-school population, IMHO.
    My husband and I assumed that we’d send out kids to Catholic schools. The first time that homeschooling EVER crossed my mind was when I was expecting my second child. I was standing at the office of our parish school with my one-year-old, trying to put her on the waiting list. The woman laughed and pointed at my belly and said, “I hope you mean THAT one, because you are waaay too late for THIS one (pointing to my daughter in the stroller).” I still figured that we’d find a way, but my husband and I decided that we should at least get to know some homeschoolers as a backup.
    Suffice it to say that the amazing parents and kids that we met won us over. That was seven years ago, we we pray, discuss, and think very diligently over our educational decisions for each kid and for each year. If some or all of my kids spend some time in Catholic schools at some point, I hope that they will have good experiences and be a blessing there.

  • Replying to this part of MZ’s fisk:


    I don’t think the fisk holds. Substitute out any two other groups of catholics, and you see the clear meaning of the message. Can’t say mass for Legion of Mary because it would somehow take away from pivotal role of the Franciscan sisters? Can’t say mass for Knights of Columbus, because the Seminarians are the future of the church? Can’t say mass for the knitting club, because doing so somehow undermines the makers of religious vestments?

    That would be nonsense. Saying mass for one (legitimate) group within the church in no way undermines the standing of some other group.

    I think Darwin inferred correctly, as to the plain meaning of the letter.

  • Adding: apparently I punctuated my reply in a way that made my quote of MZ disappear. If anyone is unclear which part I am referring to, I’ll re-post.

  • To Janine McDonald:

    I believe your sentiments, expressed at 12:36 this afternoon, while sincere, are seriously and perhaps fatally misguided. There are indeed times when one may “turn the other cheek” – when that person is the only one being harmed by the injury proffered. When others, such as our children, our Church and our culture at large are being harmed, we may NOT “accept it graciously” if that means assuming a passive and silent stance. If that sort of stance is what you mean by your series of questions about Christ is asking of us, the answer is a resounding NO! I might go a step further and say that such silence, when others beside us are being harmed, is sinful (and sanctimonious) cowardice. Sometimes we really do have to take a strong stand as did Deborah, as did Joan of Arc, as did the Crusaders, the soldiers who actually fought at Loretto, etc did. We are the Church Militant, not the “Church Meek and Mild”.

    While I do see that others are not responding, I need to rebut these errors lest others be unduly influenced by them. Have a TRULY blessed Easter.

  • Perhaps ask Cardinal DiNardo or someone from his office (have heard he has a few fans of homeschoolers in his inner circles) to work these issues out between either Ned & Bishop Vasquez and homeschoolers in his diocese or find a way to let it go. The law in Texas is on your side and you couldn’t ask for a more lax state than Texas for homeschooling. If Ned Vander has a prejudice, he answers first to God for his lack of charity, his lack of professionalism and his intolerance/lack of temperance (I’m somewhat referencing things he wrote on the diocesean website that would be good for someone who did decide to have a pow-wow with him and an omsbudsman—perhaps an unbiased priest). But I did bring this to Our Lord tonight in the Blessed Sacrament. Don’t be too troubled when you find yourself falling into various trials, right? “count it all a joy for the testing of your faith produces patience. Patience produces perserverance and perserverance produces character and character produces hope.”—paraphrasing James a good bit, but the gist of it. “My hope is in the Lord.” when it is in anything else, I find myself getting more discouraged and disappointed than I ought. He’ll help you and give you the people to help.
    I kind of like the gutsy nature of this article though. Grabs one’s attention, that’s for sure! Now just if it will give reconcilliation, right? God bless and best wishes to the Austin Catholic homeschoolers. Maybe even ask St. Catherine Drexel’s help. She founded a lot of Catholic schools in these parts of the country;)

  • In response to Janet’s perspective…

    I sincerely understand where you are coming from. You have moved me to look deeper for I do not want to lead anyone astray. If I may share more reflections of what my heart has pondered and seen since this afternoon:

    Jesus washes their feet…
    1 Corinthians 13
    St. Genevieve calling upon her community to have faith, fast and pray…
    Matthew 8:26

    Martin Luther King –
    The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
    Somehow we must be able to stand up before our most bitter opponents and say: “We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will and we will still love you…But be assured that we’ll wear you down by our capacity to suffer, and one day we will win our freedom. We will not only win freedom for ourselves; we will so appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory.” (For me, these words – and MLK’s meek and mild actions in the fight for justice- are a great example of the CHURCH MILITANT!)

    Then there are the lessons taught by Mother Teresa –
    Humility is truth.
    Only humility will lead us to unity, and unity to peace.
    Be kind to each other – I prefer you to make mistakes in kindness, than that you work miracles in unkindness.
    We know that if we really want to love we must learn to forgive.
    Intense love does not measure – it just gives.
    The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for, and deserted by everybody. The greatest evil is the lack of love and charity, the terrible indiffernce toward one’s neighbor…

    I believe the plight of Austin’s Catholic Homeschool Community can understand the disease which Mother speaks of intimately. I see pain and angst because people are feeling unwanted, uncared for and deserted…denied the Greatest of Gifts by their Bishop and Brother…
    My eyes turn to the clock…it is 11:38 pm…my heart turns to THE AGONY IN THE GARDEN…so much blood flowing, His heart broken – THE PAIN OF REJECTION. But one bite does not deserve another. We must look to Christ on the Cross and continue to love in the spirit of charity – we must unite our pain with His and PRAY! Father, Forgive them…we must give in this way so we may receive true grace. We must have hope and believe and thank God for this opportunity to be Soldiers worthy of His Name. As DarwinCatholic points out, “this is a regrettably provocative opening in the relationship between homeschooling families and the Austin Diocese.” But this open wound was allowed by God; HE HAS NOT ABANDONED YOU! Stay focused on HIM, vigilant in virtue, faithful in prayer and Our Father in Heaven will resurrect and heal all members of the Church in the BODY OF CHRIST.

    And then there is Our Blessed Mother…what more do we need?

    A glorious EASTER blessing for you, too.
    Peace and Love

  • I agree that one must offer this up. But the Catholic in the world must also seek truth and justice. So the pursuit of truth and justice in this situation also calls for a correction of the wrong (which I believe is truly present) as well as an offering.

    To do otherwise is to abandon one’s vocation in the world.

    “And then there is Our Blessed Mother…what more do we need?”

    Nothing more. We offer up the wrong and with our Mother’s help work to correct it.

  • How about everyone here write the Bishop directly and make your feelings respectfully known?

  • I coached Little League for a very long time. I comment now that the only problem with kids in Little League is that they come with parents. I served on a Catholic school Board of Education for 10 years…same problem. It seems to me that the Bishop gave the invitation a truthful answer…people just don’t like the answer. The Bishop is right, “To teach the children of Jesus Christ and His Church” should be at the heart of the ministry of the Catholic Church. The best medium to do this is the Catholic schools. Unfortunately, not many Bishops stand for this commitment and the closings of an incredible history of development over 150 years is in dramatic jeapordy.

    The government school catholics, with their rousing commitment of an hour or so on Wenesday nights to train their children in the faith are part of the problem. Parents decide that curriculum is better elsewhere; or they want their children to have more diversity; or they are not going to subject their children to what they went through in a Catholic school; or; you name it…I have heard many more excuses de jour on why their darling children are better served at the government school. The real reason is generally found in their purses and billfolds. They do not want to make the sacrifices financially to send their children to the Catholic schools. Are you kidding me? Do these parents really believe their children will absorb the lessons of character development and integrity of person that happen each day in the Catholic school?

    Homeschool catholic parents, much of the same. Let me see, take 100 home schooled Catholic children and lets let the teaching interpretations of the Magisterium of the Roman Church filter through 100 parent groups that have decided that they can do it better than a faith based curriculum in their Catholic school? Right! And if you think that religioun curriculum is faulty, get out of your lazy-boy and get to your school board meetings and improve it. And if you think the social development of your home based child will be as well rounded sitting at the kitchen counter at your home every day than interacting with their Catholic schools student-body over 9 months per year-every day, not going to happen. Selfish decisions by parents to homeschool Catholic kids, with miniscule exceptions.

    And like the government school catholic (small c) parents, homeschoolers join in slapping the face of those that came before you to provide your children this Catholic school. Both parent group show lack of support by refusing participation in their local Catholic school when they make these alternative choices.

    You might review the social conduct going on in the government schools today. Should all the Catholic schools be gone someday, and the goverment is the only teacher of children…we will have a different world.

    Daniel M. Malone

  • Daniel is probably right that homeschoolers represent a diverse group and that not all of them homeschool for faith motivation. But it is true beyond any doubt that the main reason for the birth of the Catholic homeschool movement and for its flourishing over the years, however annoying for some to watch, was the existence — ongoing even today unfortunately in many cases — of corrupt sex ed programs and distortions/watering down the Catholic faith education which to a great extent still plague Catholic parochial schools. All one has to do to prove this is read the introduction to the vatican document The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality written, as the vatican says, in response to numerous pleas from all over the western world regarding deviant sex ed indoctrination in, among others and not excluding, Catholic schools. Or read what american bishop Donald Wuerl has recently written regarding the deficient state of Catholic catechesis over the last 40 years. Now Austin may be very different from OKC but I doubt it is different in the most fundamental essentials.

    And even though admittedly the financial and economic perspectives offer at best a partial or limited viewpoint, even here one should be respectful of the fact that homeschooling is certainly no economic windfall. Homeschoolers lose any benefit from tax dollars, and in most states have no right to any participation in extracurricular activities so must pay for these which have to be externally created (not sure about Texas but I believe it’s the same since the homeschool basketball programs I am familiar with in Houston, Dallas, and Austin and elsewhere in Texas all had to “go it alone” 100%). Hardly a boon when analyzed even solely from the materialist perspective. I have done both — sending my kids to parochial secondary schools as well as home-educating, and I can’t tell you for sure that the parochial institutions — despite steep tuitions — are any more expensive all in all. And one at the end of the day still has to ask if one got what was paid for — a true catholic education! And what about socialization? Jeez, is this still being brought up? I mean really? My main experience in OKC was that OKC homeschooling provided too many, not too few, opportunities for socialization. And I’m sure others will report the same.

    But more important than this is that the Church considers first of all the souls of the children and their formation/edification. This is the more important reason to choose homeschooling or any other method of schooling, because the first role of parents is to protect against ideologies — still rampant within Catholic institutions unfortunately — that would rob them of the faith and of their eternal salvation. For this none of us will escape the millstones discussed in Matthew 18, if we fail to protect our children’s souls. And it is often unfortunately too the negative socialization in the Catholic schools — this must be said however sadly — that provide a de facto distortion in Catholic attitudes which then must be corrected in the home. Sorry but it’s the truth.The parochial schools we still have to guard, protect, and convert. After all they are “ours” according to a certain concept of canon law. However they (the schools) have succeeded in many cases in distancing themselves from the oversight of watchful faithful Catholic parents, because a de facto schism exists in many dioceses and Catholic communities. Some will doubtless say this is too strong. But ask yourself how much success you’ve had lately in addressing liturgical abuses, for example, or teaching (the lack thereof mainly) about contraception, for another. I remember when in the 1990s we and numerous other parents complained about the secular hedonist sex ed programs in our oldest daughter’s schooling only to have all of us parents told “you are the only parents complaining bout this”. All of us were the only ones?

    So to return to address the main issue…homeschooling Catholics in this group in Austin who love the Church, love their bishop, love the Church’s institutions, should foster a dialogue with the bishop that will succeed in a mutually beneficial exchange and mutual deepening of understanding, without being unduly discouraged by beurocrats or any others interposed between Catholics and their bishop. This will benefit all.

  • Some of the later commenters are missing the point as to why Austin Catholic homeschoolers were surprised and offended by the e-mail.

    We don’t insist that we’re better than the diocesan and parish schools. We don’t mind if the bishop seems his first duty as to support the church schools–actually we expect it. We don’t demand that we be acknowledged and stroked and cooed over and told what a good job we’re doing.

    But we did expect that, GIVEN a decade of good relations between this diocese and its homeschoolers, without the antagonism characterizing so many dioceses; and GIVEN the high levels of parish involvement and orthodoxy on the part of homeschoolers that characterize this diocese; and GIVEN the friendliness, enthusiasm, and open support with which Austin homeschoolers greeted Bp. Vasquez … given all that, we expected that AT LEAST we would not be slapped in the face with an unprovoked rebuke when we invited, as every year, the bishop to our annual Mass.

    For Pete’s sake. Even my unsocialized homeschooled children know that, if you don’t want to accept someone’s invitation, you don’t go tell them that it’s because you don’t like them, you don’t approve of what they do, and there’s somewhere else you’d much rather be. You just RSVP with “Thanks, but I can’t make it that day.”

  • Mr. Malone, the Magisterium has always recognized that the education of children is primarily the responsibility and perogative of the parents. Not even the Holy Father may usurp natural law here – much less a parochial school. And no, I do NOT trust blindly any “faith-based curriculum” in parish schools more than parents.

    I’m a bit “long in tooth”. When I went to parish schools, the report cards always had this nice note to the parents, that said “parents are the primary educators of the children, schools are there to assist”. Sadly, that has waned; the fault lies as much with parental abdication as well as school arrogation.

    I salute those parents who take on homeschooling in obedience to their God-given duties and with the graces embued by the Sacrament of Matrimony.

  • “The family therefore holds directly from the Creator the mission and hence the right to educate the offspring, a right inalienable because inseparably joined to a strict obligation, a right anterior to any right whatever of civil society and of the state, and therefore inviolable on the part of any power on earth.”

    This is from Pope Pius X! encyclical “On Christian Education of Youth,” 1929.

    Nuf Said.

  • As the Second Vatican Council recalled, “Since parents have conferred life on their children, they have a most solemn obligation to educate their offspring. Hence, parents must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children. Their role as educators is so decisive that scarcely anything can compensate for their failure in it.”

    –Pope John Paul II, “The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World”

  • Suz, thank you. The two quotes we have copied here show at LEAST 30 years of prevailing thought of the Magisterium of the Church telling of the parent’s primary obligation. No where does it state that it is to be in a Diocesan Parish School.

    Epic Fail Dr. Ned. Have you read Papal Encyclicals?

  • There’s no merit to “Doctor” Vander’s implied criticisms of home education. Our homeschooled (grades 1-12) kids have been accepted at the most prestigious colleges and universities, including those in the Ivy League. And they are devout Catholics.

    Like his counterparts in the government schools, “Doctor” Vander wants a monolopoly on the power and money (to the extent that it exists) in keeping all Catholic students under his control.

    And that’s exactly why so many parents choose home education. We don’t trust bureaucrats with our kids’ educations!

  • Your new Bishop would not have seen the invitation, I suspect. If your diocesan offices are the same as mine, a clerk would have opened the invitation and, taking note that it was to do with ‘schooling’. sent it to the local Catholic Education Office. The surest way to get a letter to the Bishop is to send it certified post, or hand deliver it to him personally.
    Where I live, the absence of truly Catholic religious education in Catholic schools, and the presence of materials that are damaging to a student’s Faith and general well-being, are the reasons that most homeschooling parents give for their heroic decision.

  • I would love to, and could afford to, send my five children to a Catholic school, if only I could find one that was truly Catholic. It is a growing trend, but has not spread far enough yet. As a military family who moves every few years, I can tell you that it only takes about ten minutes on a Catholic school website to tell if it is truly Catholic or not. If you haven’t figured it out in five minutes, just look at their reading lists. If none are on a saint or any other Catholic topic, don’t give it a second thought.
    When our local Catholic school system was in trouble, I attended a meeting to review a survey about the vitality of the school system. In a breakout session, I asked our pastor, who had graduated from that school system, when was the last time it produced a priest, brother, nun or sister. He could not recall the last time. I asked him if he was the only one produced from his time in school, and he could recall several others. Interestingly enough, that was nowhere in the survey about the vitality of the local Catholic schools. A few months later, my family attended the Mass at the regional Catholic homeschool conference. the Bishop said in his homily that he knew home schoolers were where his diocese’s vocations would come from. If the diocesan schools reform soon enough, great. We will be happy to contribute more of our charity, and our children to them. If not, we will continue to protect our children’s faith, and our home school produced religious will ensure future home school families are better treated. This is already happening in places around the country with strong parish-based home school groups, including onsite co-ops. Dr. Ned is simply behind the times and just doesn’t know it. I wonder how many religious his school system has produced under his care?

  • Bishop Aymond when he was in Austin also established St. Dominic Savio high school in the north west side of town for middle class Catholics. So Austin has the wealthy St. Michael’s Catholic Academy in the rich part of town, St. Juan Diego in the poorer part of town, and St. Dominic Savio.

    In any case, Catholic schools in Austin are expensive, even for tithing parishioners. When Catholic elementary school costs thousands to tens of thousands of dollars every year, some people cannot afford it.

    I cringe at the statement he made–probably thought no one but the small homeschooling group would ever see it–but he’s learned now that news can spread like wildfire through social media.

  • Offtopic (mostly):

    Hi all, my wife and I will possibly be moving to the Austin greater area within a couple years and have some flexibility as far as what area.

    One thing I would like to do is find a good solid parish and move close to that. Could anyone recommend a solid traditional and orthodox Catholic parish in the outskirts of Austin? I don’t want to be in the city; we want to have some space for our kids.

    Can anybody recommend a solid traditional Catholic Parish in a nice area of the outskirts of Austin for families?

  • Howdy “some guy”,

    I have heard good things about St. William in Round Rock. Round Rock is a satellite of Austin, about 30 minutes north of downtown. Plenty of families live up there and commute down.

    Here’s St. William’s website:

  • some guy,

    St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish in Pflugerville (about 15 miles north of downtown Austin) is the parish we were members of, and we were certainly very happy there. It was also a parish where there were a number of large, orthodox Catholic families who were very active in the parish.

  • My wife and I will gladly put our 7 kids in the “Catholic” schools as soon as they (1) embrace a truly Catholic identity and curriculum; and (2) make tuition affordable for us Catholics who have more than 2.1 kids because, unlike the vast majority of the families in these schools, we actually follow Church teaching against artificial contraception.

  • My wife and I will be homeschooling our children here in Austin as well. We only very recently got married, so I don’t know the full state of the homeschool community or anything like that. When reading this letter, I highly doubted that Bishop Vasquez had anything to do with the rudeness or even stating that as his reason he could not go. Additionally, perhaps Vanders just simply chose his words foolishly, and didn’t realize how that statement would sound to the recipient. Nonetheless, it was certainly out of line. If you haven’t already, I would recommend some clarification from the Diocese about it, because I think it would be inappropriate for somebody to speak for the Bishop in such a way.

    @some guy
    Depending on which side of Austin you plan on living, I know both St Elizabeth in Pflugerville (first suburb north of Austin) and St William in Round Rock (2nd suburb north) are both wonderful parishes. I have been to a number of churches throughout Austin, and I can very certainly say that as a diocese we are extremely blessed to have a plethora of very holy, wise, and passionate priests serving in a variety of parishes. My wife works as St William where we both attend, it is a very large and beautiful church with wonderfully loving and wise priests. It is also a very very active parish.

  • I wrote a letter to the Bishop shortly after this article appeared asking if he would clarify his position and haven’t heard anything back yet. We’re in College Station and the community here would be interested in knowing. If anyone has had his position on Catholic Home Schooling clarified, would you please post?

  • Let me ask, as an outsider, something about Austin parishes. Are the priests regularly preaching on the immorality of contraception and sterilization? Has the bishop done so? Is it a noticeable pastoral priority in the diocese?

First Graders and History

Saturday, February 12, AD 2011

As we have learned, there was much hatred of Catholics by English Protestants in Maryland. One great Catholic man was able to overcome this hatred and he is one of our great patriotic heroes. His name was Charles Carroll. Charles Carroll was born in Maryland. His parents sent him to a Catholic school in France where Catholics were respected…Charles Carroll said that his greatest accomplishment was that he “practiced the duties of my religion.” Many Protestants began to realize that their prejudice against Catholics was unjustified.

The sentences above begin and conclude a typical lesson in a Catholic homeschooling course on American History intended for first graders.  This is not a genre with which I have much familiarity (we’re homeschooling for a few months to finish out the school year after a move), and so I thought it might be interesting to offer some comments as an outsider on the homeschooling materials we’ve received.

The most obvious (if superficial) feature of the homeschooling materials is that they are drenched in religious art, regardless of subject. As an alum of a mixture of public and parochial schools, I was surprised to find Spelling and Math textbooks adorned with (often very beautiful) religious art work. I don’t think there is anything right or wrong with decorating textbooks in this manner, per se, but it takes some getting used to.

As the passage quoted above suggests, the next thing that I noticed is that the history narratives tend to be awash in a type of Catholic triumphalism. I like a small dosage of triumphalism as much as the next guy, but it seems to me it should used (at most) as cream or sugar in coffee; the tendency with this particular textbook is instead to include a few (uniformly favorable) facts in the ongoing account of noble-Catholics-doing-good-things.

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10 Responses to First Graders and History

  • Now, now, John. I’m not sure that French Revolution professor was homeschooled… 😉

    But seriously. Where did you find this curriculum? Though to be fair, I can think of a few where this would probably not stand out a whole lot.

    We do homeschool all the kids, and as you know, MrsD and I were homeschooled through middle school and high school. I’d say this is fairly typical of a certain type of packaged Catholic homeschool curriculum. The would be the same sort of folks who would use Christ The King, Lord Of History in high school. One of the things about homeschooling, however, is that you have far more latitude than public or parochial school teachers in picking your own books, and thus there’s room for a lot more range. Some of the packaged Catholic curriculums use reprints of old 30s through 50s era Catholic school textbooks — and some of those are, in fact, overly triumphalistic IMHO. (Others are quite solid. Publishing was not as consolidated back then, and there appear to have been a wider range of materials.)

    Overall, I’d say it’s okay to have a history textbook for first graders which has a bit of a good guys/bad guys approach to some issues, but it needs to be done carefully. I certainly wouldn’t have a problem with a kids textbook talking about persecution of the Catholics in England, and how that was eventually put aside in the United States, but obviously I’d expect there to be some discussion of Catholics persecuting Protestants and Protestants persecuting each other as well. I think it’s a bad idea if a history textbook sets kids up to be surprised by that kind of revelation later. (What, you mean Catholic sometimes persecuted people as well? I never knew that! I thought they were the good guys!)

    Right now I’m reading the girls (primarily our 3rd and 2nd graders) E. H. Gombrich’s A Little History of the World. Gombrich was, I believe, Jewish, but he wrote the book for a mainstream children’s audience in 1920s Austria, and it’s since become available in English. It generally treats the Catholic Church very fairly (perhaps no surprise, being written for an Austrian audience at that time) and I like it’s story-telling without hyperventilating approach. But there are an awful lot of good things out there.

    I’d say the key, with homeschooling, is that it primarily makes sense for people who have an active interest in spending a fair amount of time searching out good materials themselves. There are packaged curriculums out there, but as you’ve found they all have their own particular flavor, and it’s important to decide whether or not you think it’s the right one. (We take a “build our own” approach to curriculum, ourselves.)

  • (Guest comment from Don’s wife Cathy): We did history unit studies with the kids every summer before our oldest graduated from the local public high school, as well as reading aloud daily from children’s history books & biographies after (public) school. I used what Catholic materials I could find (TAN Books titles such as “Christ the King, Lord of History,” old parochial school textbooks, Vision Books biographies, and some adult books from Don’s personal collection) as supplements to Protestant homeschool materials and secular children’s books (& public-school theme unit books). I think the mix of materials from various viewpoints provided balanced coverage of the periods and individuals we read about, without boring the kids.

    Don’s wide reading background in history and common-sense “reality checks” were also a good safeguard against any nonsense which might have cropped up in our choice of history reading material. One pair of books Don particularly recommends is “The History of the Ancient World” and “The History of the Medieval World” by Susan Wise Bauer. These 2 volumes are both published by Norton and written for adults, but make extensive use of any written material available from the period being discussed, and are much less dry as read-alouds for children & teenagers than most adult history books would be. (NB: These should not be confused with her “The Story of the World” series (published by Peace Hill Press), a Protestant homeschool history curriculum (I believe) which we have not used (and therefore are unable to comment on with any knowledge).)

  • “I like a small dosage of triumphalism as much as the next guy, but it seems to me it should used (at most) as cream or sugar in coffee”

    That’s a good way to put it. Same with political or religious satire or parody — if it is used as an occasional “flavoring” to an otherwise bland public discourse or course of historical study, it’s fine; when it becomes the dominant or main course it rapidly becomes indigestible.

    Also Don and Cathy point out something that may be overlooked in the St. Blogs arena: homeschooling doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Really, ALL parents homeschool to some extent, the only difference is whether they do it full time or part time. A family that is not prepared or able to homeschool full time can still use homeschooling materials to supplement what their child receives at a public or Catholic school. Every little bit helps even if it’s just during the summer, or on weekends or in the evenings.

  • This seems to be a deficit with the textbook approach to teaching full stop. The older approach would have been more comprehensive references and instruction dependent more on lecture. The advantage of the former is that it has democratized instruction, enabling more to do it. The big disadvantage is there is no clear point to transition to mastery of a topic. As a professor of mine put it, at some point you have to stop taking survey courses and actually learn something.

    Personally, I don’t see much value in a first grader knowing about Carroll. I can understand giving a kid cocktail answers (the year the US entered WWI, the allied powers of WWII, the axis powers of WWII), but giving a kid cocktail opinions just seems silly. Even were the opinion of Carroll not difficult to defend, the child still would have no real ability to defend it and have no real understanding of the opinion. I’ve come to the opinion that it is better to teach children mastery of a few things than to give them a little knowledge of a lot of things.

  • The statement is true, it is pitched at 1st graders who, presumptively, are being brought up in the Catholic faith…in such a situation, you keep it simple and you provide abundant reasons for loving what should be loved…you can explain why the beloved object did some hateful things later, then the kid is older and fully grounded in the faith.

  • Interesting. I’ve never thought about home school curricula before.

    Agreed about a 1st grader not needing to know about an oversimplified version of Carroll. But I could see maybe having your child read about him in later high school, and maybe even reading The American Cicero by Birzer.

    That’s what I see as the great home school advantage. The ability to utilize great works on a particular issue that actually inspire and generate interest. 1776 or John Adams by McCullough, e.g., for the war of independence. I’d also recommend Bill Bennett’s American history books for high school level (maybe junior high, as well) called America: the last best hope; I think it comes in two volumes. He wrote it with the intention that it be used by students as an inspiring, narrative-oriented alternative to the dry, sterile, p.c. account we find in most textbooks. It even has a sprinkling of Catholic anecdotes.

  • Thanks for the comments, all. As Darwin, Cathy, and M.Z. point out, it looks like we made a rookie mistake in approaching homeschooling. We were just looking for something to fill in a few months prior to the next school year and so we have not spent much time figuring out what materials to use. For now, I think we will probably just selectively use the pre-packaged curriculum we have (how bad can the Math book be?) with some supplemental materials for subjects like history.

    Mark – to the extent we disagree on the merits of the lesson quoted above, I’ll note that my problem with the lesson is not primarily that it presents a rosy view of Catholics; it’s that it denigrates Protestants as full of “prejudice” and “hatred” while at the same time presenting Catholics as heroes. Any time a history book starts resembling a New York Times Op-ed, I get a little uneasy. Tribalism is tribalism, whether it’s religious or political.

  • Hmmm, not sure I see the problem with the cited passage, which seems simply factual to me.

    Of course, all history comes with a viewpoint. Why should Catholics feel compelled to give their children the supposedly “neutral” viewpoint (which in fact imports a secularist viewpoint).

    Of all the viewpoint-laden history out there, it seems to me perfectly natural that Catholics would select a history that highlights the accomplishments of our co-religionists, and attempts to correct some of the “black legend” so prevalent in American history texts.

    Of course, when students reach higher levels of study, the simple grade school narrations give way to a more comprehensive study, which will be more nuanced.

    But for grade school, history has to be a fairly simple narrative. Better one like the sample above than what passes for history in the government schools.

  • Oh, and some of the “prejudice” and “hatred” for Catholics in the New World is touched on here: and includes violent persecution.

    After all, we’re talking about an English colony during a time when the Penal laws were in effect, and martyrdoms were occuring, yes, even in the colonies.

    I don’t think it’s mere tribalism to re-cover some basic truths about this period of history: the dominant English Protestant culture was not a welcoming environment for Catholics, and not just in New England.

  • John,

    Well, I wish it were a reasonable assumption that one could simply pick up on of the standard Catholic curriculums and expect it to be good without reservation, but at least as of when I’ve looked I’ve always had a few issues with their choices in history and science (though the latter shouldn’t affect first grade much.) On the other hand, there’s no reason not to mix and match, so it’s easily remedied.

    For the record, if someone does want to pick up a boxed curriculum and not have to worry about any of the content, my strong recommendation for a Catholic family would actually be to pick up the secular (but certainly not hostile to Christianity) curriculum from Calvert, which is the curriculum which is often used by kids of parents in the diplomatic core, etc. Pair that with the Faith & Life religious ed books from Ignatius and some bible stories and saints lives and you’re pretty much all set. (Not like I’d be advocating doing a sudden switch in your situation.) Calvert is not cheap, though it’s less than parochial school tuition, but they’re been pretty universally good in all the grades I’ve seen. I’d tend to say this is an example where a well done secular approach to curriculum development is sometimes better than an overly religiously-motivated one.

German Family Receives Policital Asylum in US

Tuesday, February 9, AD 2010

In a story those in homeschooling stories may already have heard about, Federal Judge Lawrence Burman issued a ruling in late January granting political asylum to a family of Evangelical Christians from Germany, on the basis that they faced religious persecution in Germany over their belief that they needed to homeschool their children in order to provide them with proper religious formation. With a number of writers, both American and European, pursuing a narrative in which Europe is far more civilized and tolerant than the US, this event provides an interesting example of how European laws are often, in practice, far more restrictive than people in the US would be comfortable with.

The family in question had suffered repeated fines for homeschooling their children, and had been threatened with jail time or loss of custody.

Uwe and Hannelore Romeike, who are evangelical Christians, say they were forced to go the the US because they wanted to educate their five children at home, something that is illegal in Germany….

In October 2006, police came to the Romeike home and took the children to school. In November 2007 Germany’s highest appellate court ruled that in severe cases of non-compliance, social services could even remove children from home.

Uwe Romeike told the Associated Press that the 2007 ruling convinced him and his wife that “we had to leave the country.” The curriculum in public schools over the past few decades has been “more and more against Christian values,” he said.

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One Response to German Family Receives Policital Asylum in US

  • There are many more German families that have had the parents either imprisoned or children taken away or both.

    Very sad.

    I hope the homeschooling movement here in the United States is organized enough to prevent such laws from ever being passed or enacted.

A Perfect Post

Wednesday, December 9, AD 2009

Occasionally one runs across a post that’s particularly nicely done. I think Matthew Boudway’s recent reflections on a column by Clifford Longley on the new atheists comes dangerously close to perfect. It’s brief, highlights an interesting article, and adds a thoughtful perspective that provides more depth to the article it cites. Here’s a snippet:

[In response to Richard Dawkins’s claim that it is wrong to “indoctrinate tiny children in the religion of their parents, and to slap religious labels on them,”]

“There is no such thing as value-free parenting,” Longley writes…Longley proposes this as an argument about parenting, but it is hard to see why it wouldn’t also apply to education. If the argument doesn’t apply to education, why doesn’t it? If it does — and if it is a good argument — then people of faith have a compelling reason not to send their children to schools where the subject of religion qua religion is carefully avoided. One could, I suppose, argue that the tacit message of such schools is that religion is too important to get mixed up with the tedious but necessary stuff of primary education, but of course public schools approach important matters all the time, and cannot avoid doing so.

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Res et Explicatio for AD 8-24-2009

Monday, August 24, AD 2009

Salvete AC readers!

Buckle Up! Because here are today’s Top Picks in Catholicism:

1. The Reform of the Reform project continues as the Congregation for Divine Worship recommended the following:

  • Voted almost unanimously in favor of a greater sacrality of the [Latin] rite.
  • The recovery of the sense of Eucharistic worship.
  • The recovery of the Latin language in the celebration.
  • The remaking of the introductory parts of the Missal in order to put a stop to abuses, wild experimentation’s, and inappropriate creativity.

In addition they declared the reaffirmation of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue.

Pope Benedict XVI continues in correcting the abuses and misinterpretations of Vatican II with these rectifications and tweaks.

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5 Responses to Res et Explicatio for AD 8-24-2009

  • Quote: “According to an interview featuring E. Michael Jones, who knew several prelates close to Medjugorje explained the contrasts on how both popes approached the issue. It seems that JP2 wanted to believe in the Marian apparitions but was hesitant due to the evidence to the contrary while Papa Bene isn’t hesitating to begin to make a ruling against the validity of these questionable apparitions.”

    Unfortunately, Mr. Jones takes wide liberty in making statements that cannot be supported. The entire piece written by Jones is a sham and an embarrassment to him and others who promote his books and articles. Jones lacks any direct quotes and is thus left to fabricate the truth based on his skewed view of Medjugorje. Cardinal Ratzinger was involved from the beginning in removing judgement of Medjguorje from the local Bishop to the Yugoslavia Conference of Bishops and more recently to the Vatican. A more full rebuttal to Jones can be found here:

  • Timothy,

    We all struggle do discern God’s will, for some it’s easier than others.

    But when the Virgin Mary tells her Medjugorje seers to join the priesthood and convent and you refuse, that is enough for me to believe that the Marian apparitions are a sham and nothing more than the devil playing these poor kids (no adults) for all their worth.

  • Please Taco; there’s more than just that which would lead one to doubt the sham that is Medjugorje.

    Our Lady of Fatima it certainly is not.

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Res & Explicatio for A.D. 4-29-2009

Wednesday, April 29, AD 2009

Salvete AC readers!

Here are today’s Top Picks in the Catholic world:

1. Since the passing of Father Richard John Neuhaus, the FIRST THINGS journal has gone through some changes that have enhanced their image.  The mysterious Spengler joined FIRST THINGS as Associate Editor and outed himself in his Asia Times column as David P. Goldman.  Then Elizabeth Scalia, who was once as mysterious as Spengler, with her popular political-Catholic blog The Anchoress joined FIRST THINGS as well.  Not to mention that prior to these two fine additions FIRST THINGS also initiated their very own blog a few months back.

2. David P. Goldman, a.k.a. Spengler, writes an intriguing article on how Israel can reconcile it’s Jewishness with a liberal democracy and how this correlates with the West and its march towards secularism.  Mr. Goldman has this prescient conclusion to this article:

Defenders of the West democracies should take a deep interest in the outcome of what might seem to be arcane legal matters in Israel. Pushed to its extreme conclusion, the secular liberal model will exclude the sacred and the traditional from public life. Of all the things sacred in the thousands of years of pre-history and history that inform Western Civilization, surely Judaism and the Jewish people are the oldest and arguably the most pertinent to the character of the West. Eroding the Jewish character of Israel is an obsession of the secular project, precisely because the Jewish people in their Third Commonwealth in the Land of Israel have such profound importance for the Christian West.

For the article click here.

3. A very disturbing story coming from the Diocese of Savannah where Bishop John Kevin Boland is preventing an orthodox Catholic, Robert Kumpel of the very well written St. John’s Valdosta Blog, from attending any Mass in his diocese.  Bishop John Kevin Boland is doing so in conjunction with a lawsuit leveled against by another layperson to Mr. Kumpel so as to prevent him from investigating allegations of multiple abuses by diocesan officials.  In other words it seems that Bishop Boland is frantically covering something up, but we don’t know what that is because of a restraining order on Mr. Kumpel who was attempting to investigate this.

Bishop John Kevin Boland is the ecclesiastical equivalent of a Catholic politician who is personally opposed to abortion but publicly for it.  For example, Bishop John Kevin Boland is personally orthodox, but ecclesiastically heterodox in his application of Church teaching.  Such as Archbishop Donald Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington where he is known for his personal orthodoxy but is lacking in applying it in his pastoral and management style.

For the article click here.

For more background information click herehere,  here, and here.

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26 Responses to Res & Explicatio for A.D. 4-29-2009

  • Does anyone know if Elizabeth Scalia is related to THE Scalia?

  • S.B.,

    I’ve been wondering that myself. I can only “assume” she isn’t since I haven’t casually come across any mention of this, but there could still be a connection.

  • Does anyone know if Elizabeth Scalia is related to THE Scalia?

    None of Scalia’s kids are named Elizabeth, so while’s it’s possible, the relation would have to be more distant.

  • It seems inappropriate to report the Savannah story without hearing the bishop’s side. Your source is the disgruntled party.

  • Zak,

    I understand your concern, but if the bishop is forbidding a layperson from attending Mass anywhere in his diocese, that is news to me. Especially knowing the upstanding character of Mr. Kumpel.

  • Mr. DeFrancisis,

    Discussions that deviate from the topic will not be tolerated. Please address the post or don’t comment at all.

  • Mr. Henry Karlson,

    Discussions that deviate from the topic will not be tolerated. Please address the post or don’t comment at all.

  • Zak,

    the letter from the bishop’s lawyer states explicitly the reason he is violating his office by denying the sacraments to a Catholic. It is because of pending litigation. This is completely contrary to canon law:

    Can. 843 §1. Sacred ministers cannot deny the sacraments to those who seek them at appropriate times, are properly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them.

  • B.A.,

    Thanks for clearing that on Elizabeth Scalia. It would have been a neat story if she were a sister of the Supreme Court Justice though.

  • VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican newspaper said President Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office have not confirmed the Catholic Church’s worst fears about radical policy changes in ethical areas.

    The comments came in a front-page article April 29 in L’Osservatore Romano, under the headline, “The 100 days that did not shake the world.” It said the new president has operated with more caution than predicted in most areas, including economics and international relations.

    “On ethical questions, too — which from the time of the electoral campaign have been the subject of strong worries by the Catholic bishops — Obama does not seem to have confirmed the radical innovations that he had discussed,” it said.

    So much for “the most extreme” — the Vatican doesn’t think so.

  • Number 3 is very upsetting, and I encourage those who are also upset to contact both the Bishop, and his attorney.

  • Well, the CNS article quotes a whole 120 words from the original article, so it’s difficult to say what kind of judgment is involved. If it were me, I’d prefer to see the actual article before making ultramontanist declarations about what “the Vatican” thinks, but de gustibus.

    Just 2 notes: First, the moderate ESCR guidelines are simply draft regulations subject to comment and modification. I’d reserve judgment on that point until they become finalized, and after the intensive lobbying by ESCR proponents is finished. Moreover, even in draft form, they authorize solicitation of embryos for research from those who avail themselves of IVF. That’s a non-negligible moral problem, and potentially large loophole for mischief.

    Second, the excellent pregnancy support legislation is the laudable creation of pro-life Democrats, not the President.

  • “None of Scalia’s kids are named Elizabeth.”

    Scalia is Elizabeth Scalia’s married name – she’s of Irish descent. If she is related to the Supreme Court justice (I’ve read her blog for quite a while now, and she’s never mentioned a connection), it would be by marriage, not blood.

  • Well, if she had indeed married into the Scalia family, I can well imagine that she might not be bragging about the connection . . . Justice Scalia no doubt wouldn’t want the usual nasty leftists digging around her blog for something with which to discredit him by association.

  • So actually, now that I think about it, never mind.

  • Ah yes, the Anchoress, the noble defender of Rudy Gulianni and apologist for his pro-abortion and pro-gay stands, at least when he was heir apparent to the Republican nomination.

    Another we must put our Republicanism above our Catholicism Catholic.

  • Another wonderful pro-Rudy article by the Anchoress:

    A wonderful addition to First Things.

  • Another we must put our Republicanism above our Catholicism Catholic.


  • Michael I.,

    On this point I completely agree.

    Elizabeth Scalia defending the pro-abort Rudy Giuliani is inexcusable. I don’t have any time to waste reading her Repulicanist propaganda.

  • Michael — someone who uses the word “heterosexism” to describe the Church’s position on marriage is living in a glass house . . . .

    Ah yes, the Anchoress, the noble defender of Rudy Gulianni and apologist for his pro-abortion and pro-gay stands, at least when he was heir apparent to the Republican nomination.

    Learn to look at dates. That blog posting was from April 29, 2008. Giuliani was not the “heir apparent,” he had dropped out 3 months earlier. And she defended Giuliani only in the sense that she thought he could still take communion.

  • Anyway, it’s funny seeing guys who voted for Obama pretending to be upset that “the Anchoress” might have endorsed a personally pro-choice candidate.

  • Inexcusable.

    Voting for Obama is simply inexcusable and reveals the depth of his Catholicism which is shallow.

  • SB:

    Who I voted for or whether I voted at all is my business. . .suffice it to say I did not vote for Obama.

    Secondly, please do not embarrass yourself by stating the Achoress was not a rabid supporter of Rudy Gulianni just on the Rudy G. link on the left side of her website. The woman salavates over him so much its embarassing.

  • OK, I was just talking about Michael Iafrate, who did vote for Obama.

  • In the 13th century, the Pope placed an interdict on England forbidding any sacraments (except, I believe, baptism and annointing of the sick) there. Bishops may apply an interdict to individual persons as well, which is like an excommunication in terms of access to sacraments but without expulsion from the Catholic community. The bishop’s actions may have been justified under Canon 1373.

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