My concerns over our Catholic schools are increasing as we are seeing a perfect storm developing which could cost our schools dearly in terms of treasure and reputation. I have written previously here at Catholic Stand about the general failure of our Catholic schools to be saint-producing factories, instead churning out lukewarm young Catholics for the most part. I pointed out that the primary cause is the home life- the domestic church is not functioning well on the whole. I postulated that divorce was a principal cause for the lack of fervor or interest in the Faith. Of course, there are multiple causes, many related to the Sexual Revolution’s success in bringing to the mainstream: divorce, promiscuity, pornography, contraception, and a type of feminism which is seemingly hardwired to abortion on-demand. Homosexual “marriage” is just the latest and greatest hit to the traditional morality as relates to sexual activity and the family life where children are supposed to be nurtured in the saintly art of living as lifelong Christian disciples. In short, too many parents are failing to provide the kind of saint-nurturing our Catholic youth deserve, but this is no reason for the Catholic schools to fail to do their best since they are institutions under the direct gaze of the local Bishop. And this is where my article really begins.
One of the most depressing features to teaching the Faith in a typical Catholic high school is the reality that most of the faculty are not enthusiastic, orthodox Catholics. They sit in the meetings with the Diocesan brass who make nice speeches, saying that “All teachers in our Catholic schools are religion teachers”. But the sad fact is that this is a throwaway line- no one takes it seriously. Some teachers are not Catholic, so they obviously don’t celebrate a Eucharist-centered spirituality. Some will dutifully sit through the school Masses, some will stand in the back and chat with other disinterested teachers if they have a big enough venue. This is bad enough, but you should not be too surprised that a non-Catholic is not too-interested in Catholic worship or theology in general. The real kicker is the professed Catholic teacher who has deep reservations about the Faith, and is even in relative or obvious dissent on important Catholic doctrines- all-male priesthood, contraception, premarital sex, divorce, homosexuality, even abortion are common hot button teachings where dissent is common. The rule-of-thumb to try to address this embarrassment is to try and prevent all teachers from being religion teachers. You see teachers are like everyone else- they don’t like being hypocrites in teaching one thing and living and believing something else entirely.
In the day-to-day world of the classroom, many moral and/or Church-involvement issues come up in all kinds of disciplines- especially in Literature, History, Social Studies, and even some Science courses. The issue may come from the official text, or just some random question from a student who really wants to know a teacher’s opinion on something (or just wants to divert attention or stir something up). Problem #1 is that most Catholic schools have textbooks (outside of religion classes) that do not even pretend to engender a proper and true Catholic worldview. I have seen Anatomy texts in a Catholic
School that gave positive approval of condoms and ridiculed Natural Family Planning as the unreliable rhythm method. In Literature courses, the readings are the same as in public schools, with all the embedded lessons about how annoying and dangerous overly religious people are. The second problem is the teacher himself is often inclined to go against the orthodox Catholic perspective, and this comes across either openly or more discreetly.
So, the beat goes on in our Catholic schools. The dissenting Catholic or openly non-Catholic faculty are doing what they do- most do not seem to come in with a real agenda to secretly undermine the orthodox Catholic faith in our young. But even without bad intent, there are the effects of simply not believing and feeling the Catholic Way. The effects make for an uncomfortable situation for the few true blue orthodox Catholics, and if they are in the Religion department, the sense in the religion classroom is that what is taught there- stays there- it isn’t likely to be repeated or reinforced in other classes. You could write up the catch phrase, “What Happens in Religion Class, Stays in Religion Class” and put that on the door to indicate the compartmentalization of the real Catholic theology and worldview happening in many or most Catholic schools. This presupposes you have orthodox believing and loving religion teachers!
Now it is time to discuss the Perfect Storm approaching, and already upon some dioceses. We are seeing the rapid rise of the Homosexual Agenda; we are a heartbeat away from Homosexual “Marriage” being the Law of the Land. When this occurs we will not only have our Disney/Pixar movies for kids going hog wild with same sex couples and families in order to cement the propaganda already drilled into every other age group. This would be bad enough news, but with the legalization comes the sanction for going after the Catholic faith and Church organizations full tilt, as a racist thing to be challenged in every imaginable way. Think law suits, think money. Here they come!
Our schools are filled with these faculty landmines — folks who have been hired to teach in a Catholic school, but have zero interest in living or otherwise witnessing to the complete Catholic vision. These teachers may be active in a homosexual relationship, premarital sexual relationships, they may be using contraception, they may be promoting political agendas which go contrary to core Catholic teachings. If someone “outs” these folks and they refuse to see the light, they are not going to go quietly into that good night. They are going to sue. It is not that any of us would like to see some kind of witch hunt for those living outside the bounds of Catholic decency. It is the fact that these lifestyle choices can become known through all manner of means- read the first article where the lesbian teacher was outed by her mother’s obit- ugh. Of course, many private lives are just that, and should be, but what should be troubling all of us is the fact that there has not been a serious effort made by all the Bishops in America to lay down the law for all school administrators to do everything they can to hire in competent, enthusiastic orthodox Catholic faculty. The Bishops are respected because everyone wants to keep their job, the Bishop says “jump”, and everyone jumps. The USCCB could help out as well by getting textbook companies together who will authentically embed the Catholic worldview in the gamut of different courses. Make it easier for the well-meaning teachers and harder for the dissenters to pass through a non or anti-Catholic worldview.
Finally, it is time for a more airtight contract for all personnel in our Catholic schools. It is not enough to just make a pretty speech at a diocesan convention that “all teachers are religion teachers”. The stakeholders in a Catholic school need more assurance, and more protection from costly lawsuits. We are embarking on a new phase of intense anti-Catholic attacks in America. The Church is almost alone in holding the line on contraception, abortion, traditional marriage and teachings on the nature of homosexual acts. Think that the schools where we teach our young about such things are going to be safe zones much longer? The smart thing is also the right thing here. Let’s look at having every school in every diocese do something along the lines of what the Bishop in Santa Rosa did.
We need these contracts to give all Catholic school teachers the chance to check their conscience before signing on for the next school year. These are not necessarily bad teachers or bad persons; they just came in without any real sense that the Catholic schools are profoundly serious about Catholic identity, Catholic worship, Catholic theology, and Catholic worldview. We see that the domestic church is in really bad shape, this makes the Catholic schools that much more important for these saints-in-the-making. I’m not writing a hit piece on our school leaders and Bishops, I am writing a wake up piece, I am writing out of love for the Church and for all those young kids who deserve our very best. If they fail, I don’t ever want it to be due, even in part, to an uninspiring, contradictory Catholic school education. Send this article to your Bishop!