The Failure of Modern Catholic Education

News: Commentary
by Paul Brock III  •  •  September 16, 2022   

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The vast majority of America's Catholic schools have become secularized. As such, they are too often spiritually dangerous places for a child, adolescent or young adult.

Christ carrying His Cross

"Public schools are much worse," the Catholic parent might say. Perhaps, but public schools don't claim the One True Faith.

It is scandalous that Catholic schools dilute the Faith, because children who attend such schools develop a warped idea of what it means to be a follower of Christ. Instead of swimming upstream and dying to self, students are wrongly taught living the Faith is not very different from living in and of the world.

Christ commands His followers to "deny themselves and take up their cross daily." He adds, "Blessed are those who are persecuted." But the typical Catholic-school teacher treats public sin like a normal part of development. "That's just the way people are" is the rationalization, which is why moral correction is uncommon. Ultimately, the students learn nothing about the cross and self-denial, instead becoming exponents of indifference.

Obviously, the teachers' failures to correct their students' morals come from the fact that they, generally speaking, do not correct their own. Such teachers fail in their duty to be "outstanding in correct doctrine and integrity of life," as the Church mandates (CIC, can. 803, §2).

The removal of faithful teachers who do adhere to Church doctrine and present it to their students is equally scandalous. 

"About a year ago, I was fired for quoting a saint," according to Kyle Kopy, former theology department chairman at a large all-boys Catholic high school. "My experience has taught me that most run-of-the-mill Catholic schools are basically expensive public schools with poorly taught religion classes. Unfortunately, the Faith is not the most important thing to these schools."

Catholic schools are basically expensive public schools with poorly taught religion classes.

Scandal is not merely a product of something somebody did. It's more commonly a product of something somebody did not do. This latter sin of omission is embodied by too many Catholic schools.

The aim of these corrupt schools is not the teaching of the fullness of the Faith as it should be. Rather, they seek the heterodox alloying of the Faith with the world. As always, this approach is cloaked under the mantle of tolerance, acceptance and compassion.

"They're more concerned with things like sports, bowing to the idol of critical race theory, trying to hold on to their once-deserved prestigious status and imitating the failing godless progressive model of education," Kopy said.

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Conservatives often complain about their children being exposed to evil ideologies in public schools. We hear the same complaints about Catholic schools. While evil must be confronted everywhere, the circumstances are entirely different. In public schools, evil ideologies are expected and inevitable. In Catholic schools, they are unacceptable in every circumstance.

The public school system swears allegiance to the State. Thus, conservatives should not be surprised that their children are learning about the so-called mortal sin of being White. In contrast, parents should have a righteous anger — much like Our Lord's, in the Temple (John 2:15) — if the same occurs in a Catholic school. 

In other words, a secular and godless State will have a secular and godless curriculum. No one should expect otherwise. But any institution bearing the name "Catholic" is obliged to honor that claim and should be held to it. 

If students' minds are twisted in Catholic middle schools or high schools, Catholic colleges represent the last bastion of hope to repair the damage — or not.

Jeremy Tate

Jeremy Tate, CEO of the Classical Learning Test, believes most "Catholic" colleges are not authentically Catholic. A few that are include Wyoming Catholic College, Thomas Aquinas College, Ave Maria University, Benedictine College, Franciscan University and the University of Dallas, Tate added.

"All of these faithfully Catholic colleges have set enrollment records, while the vast majority of Catholic colleges are seeing declining enrollment," Tate said.

People seem to be slowly awakening to the dehumanizing effects of secular "Catholic" education. "The passionate Catholic colleges are campuses of joy and levity," Tate said. "They are places any parent would want their child to spend four years."

Conversely, the insincerely Catholic colleges function much like their secular counterparts. "The Catholic-in-name-only campuses are sterile and lifeless, with kids going through the motions to earn a degree that carries less and less weight," Tate said.

Ralph Frasca, who spent 13 years as a professor and department chairman at inauthentically Catholic universities, concurred. "The vast majority of CINO colleges are led by non-Catholic or insincerely Catholic administrators and professors," he said. "They ignore and dismiss fundamental tenets of the Catholic faith and reject Pope John Paul II's masterful Ex Corde Ecclesiae. They stubbornly refuse to allow the Faith or official Church teachings to influence how they perform their highly secularized duties." 

A theology professor at one inauthentic Catholic university where Frasca worked actively taught students that Mary did not conceive Jesus by the Holy Spirit but rather by an unknown human father, the Annunciation was fictitious and Mary's perpetual virginity was a sham. "The university's president named this theology professor 'Teacher of the Year,'" Frasca added. 

It would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

CINO colleges and universities also routinely bring speakers to their campuses who advocate causes and positions that directly contradict the Faith. Their presidents and boards of trustees routinely justify these invitations with appeals to tolerance, diversity and inclusivity.

A lifeless education is to be expected from a system derived from a spiritually dead State. But this dehumanization cannot and should not come from a system claiming to adhere to Christ's teachings.

However, it does.

Our Lord might say to the young victims of this scandal, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." And to each of their educators and administrators, the King of Kings might declare, "It would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea."

Ven. Abp. Fulton Sheen

The 1972 words of Ven. Abp. Fulton Sheen represent wise advice for any Catholic parent: "I recommend that my relatives send their college-bound children to secular colleges where they will have to fight for their faith, rather than to Catholic colleges where it will be stolen from them."

Education is always a challenge, but for the Christian, it's a supernatural effort. Virtuous education is always a supernatural effort, for "it cannot be severed from morality and religion," English philosopher Frederic Harrison once noted. 

Pope Pius XI conveyed the same message in his 1929 encyclical On Christian Education: "It is clear that there can be no true education which is not wholly directed to man's last end."

Most modern Catholic schools ignore this basic reality of education. Instead of embracing the Catholic spirit of beauty, modesty and reverence, the typical Catholic school uses the world's blueprint. 

"The Catholic school system in America is in shambles," according to David Gordon, another former Catholic school teacher spurned for adhering to basic Catholic teachings. "If you aren't 100% positive that your kid's school is orthodox, then it's 100% not orthodox. Heterodoxy and scandal are the rule in modern Catholic education — faithfulness the exception."

To learn more about the failure of modern Catholic education, watch this week's Mic'd Up.

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