Since faith is one, it must be professed in all its purity and integrity". Pope Francis/Pope Benedict

Wednesday, 13 November 2013


The Catholic Church has always placed great emphasis and regard on education. There still are, and will always continue to be outstanding Catholic schools. Unfortunately, far, far too many have collapsed. More puzzling, at least initially, is the collapse of seemingly "orthodox" schools. That is, schools that have "strict" rules, "the Rosary", a "Catholic environment", copious "daily prayers", and so on.

It becomes even more mysterious - or does it ? - when one considers schools that are parochial, exclusive, elite; children are - so we are told - selected carefully; coming from "devout" families....

A relative of mine on a number of occasions told me that she is not interested in the result of the "education" of the child upon graduation, but rather 10 years down the road: this space of time allows one to see if their is lasting quality and true results.  One can then judge a school more correctly. Mysterious it seems, when one sees youth after youth from an ostensibly superior Catholic education turn out completely rotten. 

However, this seeming mystery can be unraveled with the help of St. Theresa of Avila. As with every organization, including a school, the fish rots from the head down. The curtain of mystery is parted once one begins to explore the motivations, actions, decisions, formation (or lack thereof) of those in authority. 

The collapse of the state-sponsored Catholic school system here in Ontario, was inevitable, once the official Catholic school system took on board authority figures from the Ministry of Education. The secular rot would immediately penetrate into the system, exacerbating an already troubled school system that was top heavy with nominal Catholic teachers and head Staff. 

The late, great Cardinal Ambrozic had, for years, gathered a dossier on corruption and deviance within the school system when he was a bishop. Yet, upon reaching the position of Cardinal Archbishop, the "case" of reforming the Catholic system disappeared. This is not surprising given the support the Cardinal would have needed, and would not have received. The best of generals cannot conduct any type of campaign without certain necessities. Consider Field Marshall Rommel's lack of petrol in north Africa and you begin to understand that even a genius can be quickly curtailed and defeated. Cardinal Ambrozic, without support, without "petrol" etc. knew he was unable to fight an offensive "war" against the secular infiltrators, and corrupted parents. A defensive "war" was also out of the question, and from the days of the agreement between Cardinal Carter and Premier Davis, local Catholic parents have been fighting a "partisan" war with officialdom ever since; the most recent exchange being the issue of the so-called Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs). 

Against such a backdrop, efforts were made to establish truly separate Catholic schools. But something has gone wrong: the fruits are the same as from any school. St. Theresa would suggest to us that the downfall of a good, even highly virtuous undertaking invariably involves a lack of humility. I believe that the us versus them mentality, the sense of feeling religiously superior (this will not happen to us), aloof, different "better", has created a quasi-gnostic perspective, opening up the situation for a nearly quietistic and rigoristic approach to religious ritual, ironically being more a focus on the teachers and administrators need for feeling good, then an actual assessment of what is being done now and for the future of the youth. We have spiritual pride. 

It becomes even more tragic when clergy are involved with parochial schools gone bad. That over-zealous and simple-minded individuals blunder, and badly, one can perhaps understand: but when a school shows every sign of imploding, and clergy are unable to read the signs, we have a problem. When young Catholics are seduced with seeming ease after years of a Catholic education, it is time to reassess what they were actually learning. By their fruits ye shall know them. Too many - far, far, far too many young Catholic people leave "Catholic" schools no different than the rest of their generation. But one does not truly learn the faith from a textbook; facts of a religion may be learnt by anyone, with no faith. The faith is learnt through a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, and constantly nurtured. The faith is also sustained by living in community, within the Body of Christ. Looking around, it is quite evident that our Catholic community is decimated. 

More on community in further posts...


Freyr said...

You cannot life a Christian life without a community. Unfortunately our parishes are quite dysfunctional offering little in the way of mutual support and a sense of belonging. Is it any wonder that our children look elsewhere to fill this basic human need.

Anonymous said...


And men cannot have a Christian life without fratres.

Lawrence and Susan Fox said...

This was an excellent article pointing out the difficulties that Catholic schools face today. Unfortunately, a lot of Catholic institutions let the fish rot from the head down. And if something is rotten like that, usually God lets it die. Think of the religious orders with no new vocations. The orders faithful to the Church are growing.

But just so we don't get too depressed: I went to St. Joseph's Catholic School in Placentia, Calif., in the 1960s. None of the problems our Catholic schools are having now existed then. It was a perfect Catholic education. My only complaint is they made me work too hard. I needed to play more. I was a very serious child. We had Franciscan nuns in full habit of Mexican extraction. They were very fervent, and they passed their love of Jesus and Mary to me quite effectively. But we pulled our son out of a Catholic grade school in another state in the 1990s because they were using the New Creation Sex Education program in first grade. It was disordered. Jesus was an idiot with sexual desires, who discovered He was God on the cross. It's sad that the same perversion that destroyed some seminaries destroyed some Catholic Schools. I now live in a very orthodox Catholic diocese, and we have sometimes several hundred school children all in their crisp red uniforms at Mass on a weekday. And knowing my pastor I doubt sincerely they are learning sex ed. The week day liturgy they attend is run by the students themselves. And these liturgies are wonderful and uplifting! I'm sorry for Toronto that you lost your good Catholic schools as we did in many parts of the United States. I am reminded of Jesus in the Passion of Christ movie. He was joyfully picking up His cross right after He fell down, and He told His mother, "MOther, I make all things new."