Sunday, May 30, 2010

US Catholic schools: Should they go it alone?

Here in the US it's a pretty good bet that a kid entering the Catholic school system has a better than average chance of turning out to be a decent adult.  It isn't a 100% guarantee (there are plenty of good Catholic kids who get side tracked by drugs and other temptations) but, for the most part, a Catholic school education can be counted on.  Moreover, it's such a good system that if the system itself doesn't toss a monkey wrench in the way of a developing child, and I'm speaking here of institutional child abuse and the degree to which Catholic priests have been implicated, the chances for just about every Catholic school child to go from kindergarten all the way through post graduate studies and on to receive an advanced degree and become one of our nation's success stories are, in fact, very good.  And that good news leads us to a dilemma.  What should US Catholics do to guard against losing such a great school system because the church is failing top down?

The Catholic church is currently investing heavily into some rather new and very risky expansion in Africa and other third world nations and all its trying to do this even as it faces costly problems of legal suits and decreased membership from its failing churches in Europe, other developed nations and even in some parts of the US.  If this continues, the Catholic school system in the US will begin to feel the lost dollars and cents pain of sharing in the risk and it may see itself begin to fall financially apart at the seams.  What to do?

Perhaps it's time for US Catholics to make a bold new plan and back away from their support for Rome...  (and from church leaders here the US as well.)  Perhaps it's time to demand a formal separation of US Catholic schools from all involvements with the church.  This may be a good time to go 100% private by forming a secular corporation that stands completely on its own and (for very good reason) at more than arms length from the church.  The schools, after all, have grown up entirely on donations and tuition fees paid directly by Americans.  It hasn't been as though Rome was sending money here to develop schools.  Oh no... Rome's place was skimming from the top - it's been doing that right from the get-go.

I wonder how well (in fact, I wonder how much better yet) a privately run (formerly Catholic) school system might work out if it was tried...  The idea is good food for thought, anyhow.  And I hope a few forward thinking Catholics, like principals and teachers, take up the ball. I'll hate seeing what happens if they don't.

.US Catholic schools: Should they go it alone?  

UPDATE: Good news. I've learned through private conversation that some US Catholic schools are already somewhat insulated from the Vatican.  Some are "owned privately" by orders of nuns such as The Sisters of Mercy, and by such special efforts and planning have been moved to put these US Catholic schools in a much better position to survive any failings of Rome.  

Upon learning this, I was very pleased to hear myself respond "Hurray for the Sisters of Mercy."  Imagine those words falling from my mouth - unbelievable, but it's true. I sincerely hope every US Catholic school will follow suit. 

Thanks to Lana Coelho of Little Rock for this update information.

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