Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Danger of Bringing Church Dogma to Catholic Schools

De LaSalle High School in Minneapolis, a Catholic high school,  is at the center of a controversy that magnifies the problem that Western Catholics are just beginning to realize:  We have at least two generations of Catholics who have no clue what the Church teaches, cannot support or defend the Church and are actually willing to attack their own Church to conform to the popular culture.

De LaSalle hosted an assembly where archdiocesan representatives presented the Church's position on marriage.  However, students took offense at several points made by the archdiocese.  Among the points that offended these :

1)  Being raised by two parents is generally better for children than being raised by one parent.

2)  Marriage is a sacrament that takes place between a man and a woman and excludes homosexual couples.

3)  Homosexuality is unnatural and disordered.

High school students, being what they are, spoke up for what they believed in, and in this case, they didn't believe in Catholic teaching.   It is painfully obvious that the messages of secular society resonate far more deeply with these kids than what the Church teaches.

Of course, this IS Minnesota, which has given us Walter Mondale, St. John's Abbey and a plethora of embarrassingly bad bishops throughout the 70's and 80's, so no one should be surprised that the students "formed" by a school in an archdiocese that is still cleaning itself up (thanks be to God and Archbishop Nienstedt).  But some of the remarks made by students and parents are so troubling that they cry out to be addressed, and address them I will.

•  Student Matt Bliss took offense at the "implication" that adopted kids are "less than kids with two parents of the opposite sex."

But that's not what they said.  Children with only one parent simply don't have the same level of opportunity that children with two parents have.  It wasn't a put-down.  It was a statement that recognized that two parents bring more to a child than one does.  Two complimentary personalities working together, under normal circumstances, cannot help but offer more to a child than one person.  The complimentary contributions of two parents of the opposite sex broaden the world view and the emotional space that a child lives in.  Many single people generously adopt children and they are to be commended for doing so.  That doesn't change the fact that the best scenario is a two-parent home.

•  Lydia Hannah, another student, took offense that homosexuality was compared with bestiality.

If we can put our emotions away for a few moments and look at the two "lifestyles" with cold rationality, homosexuality and bestiality are both disorders and perversions of the sex act.

The sex act is procreative and unitive.  It creates life and brings two people of the opposite sex closer together into "one flesh"--which becomes a literal fact when a new life is created. Homosexuality does not create new life.  It is focused on pleasure, not the self-giving of the marriage vocation.  Bestiality is what it is.  If homosexuality is "liberated" and becomes a societal norm, what is to stop us from moving "forward" and mainstreaming other deviations from the human norm such a polygamy, bestiality and pedophilia?  According to the terms of the modern liberal, to outlaw such sexualities would be an unjust violation of one's civil rights.

But what can one expect from students when their own parents feed them the gospel of anything goes?   Miss Hannah's father, Paul, said that he was "very proud" of his daughter and the other kids who spoke out against the diocese.  Which begs the question:  Why are parents like Mr. Hannah shelling out their hard-earned money for Catholic school tuition when they refuse to accept the Catholic Church's position on morality?

The Minnesota paper that ran the story also ran hundreds of comments from readers.  Again, this is Minnesota, so it is no surprise that the majority of comments support the dissenting students and denounce the diocese.  Among them are accusations of attempting to brainwash students and calls to stop supporting the Church financially.

Brainwashing?  Really?
If a married couple (or single parent--we musn't offend anyone who is the exception) sends their children to a Catholic school, isn't it reasonable to expect that such a school would actually TEACH the Catholic Church's position on moral issues?  As offensive as that may sound to the enlightened PBS donors of Minneapolis, I think it is safe to say that the students are not being brainwashed by the archdiocese.  The story itself makes it quite clear that they have developed a reactionary resistance to any message that contradicts a world view formed by a pop culture of celebrity spokespersons, MTV, crude movies and television and sexual licentiousness.  How could the Church possibly compete with all of these other forces?

The only way the Church could possibly compete for the hearts and minds of young people against such an overwhelming zeitgeist is by having parents willing to radically impart the faith in a completely sacrificial way and protect them from the REAL brainwashing that our culture of entertainment and self-seeking pleasure imparts.

If people disagree with the Church's position on homosexuality (or anything else) they are certainly free to withhold money.  However, I would suggest to any dissenting Catholics who think their financial blackmailing would work to consider this:  The Catholic Church has endured 2,000 years of persecution. Emperors, kings and dictators have all vowed to stamp out the Church and failed.  Corrupt bishops and priests have stained the Church's reputation and hurt it from within, but the Church stands unchanged in Her positions on eternal truths.  

Jesus Christ promised St. Peter that the gates of Hell would not prevail against His Church.  Angry social elites, homosexual lobbies and bureaucrats will not prevail against Her either.

As for the kids in this drama?  It's not their fault.  We can join Jesus this Holy Week in praying, "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do."  And please pray for Archbishop Neinstadt too.  He has a long, hard road ahead of him and a lot of skulls full of mush to set straight.


  1. Another excellent and much-needed post.

    Public schools, with their embrace of Marcusian nihilism are hopeless. Their private-school counterparts are somewhat better in degree, albeit not in kind. And it is a scandal and a disgrace that, with only a handful of exceptions, Catholic schools have imbibed from the same sewer-sourced trough.

    For those Catholic parents fortunate enough to live within reasonable proximity of a genuinely Catholic school -- Holy Name of Jesus Academy or Immaculate Heart of Mary School, to mention only a couple -- fine and dandy. For most, however, the only alternative to subjecting their children to a daily heaping helping of dunderheadism, vulgarity, and the foulest pathologies is to homeschool.

  2. you think Minnesota is bad? Try southern California.
    I question what if any thing besides the social issues of "help the poor", be tolerant, "love everyone" my children learned in 12 years of private Catholic education here in our suburb of Los Angeles- Pasadena.
    I realize too late in the game that my children have not learned much if at all church teaching.
    While the Private schools offer a safe haven from the drugs, crime and low reading scores, overcrowded classrooms that the Public schools here have- when one chooses to send thier children to a Catholic school it should be unapologetically true to magisterial teaching. My generation learned little to nothing in our CCD and Catholic school education- in the 70s and 80s. Our children deserve better- they deserve the truth.

  3. Credit is due where credit is due. We're reaping the seeds of destruction sown by a generation of neurotic, anti-authority and self-centered Catholics which has willfully avoided a responsibility to provide authentic catechesis to children.

    Instead of seizing the opportunity for renewal which the Second Vatican Council presented, a weak and self indulgent generation which cared more about societal approval than handing on the Faith relished their dissent and pushed for acceptance by the secular establishment. They sold their souls. The national debt is nothing compared to the spiritual impoverishment the Church will be saddled with for generations.

    We now have a bunch of ill-formed, pastorally-sensitive-politically-correct Catholics-in-name-only who are indistinguishable from pagans and are more likely to worship themselves than Almighty God.

    Doom and gloom? - you bet. This is reality. The sooner we confront the disease the sooner the cure will take effect.

    Catholic schools must be rigorously Catholic, exuberantly Catholic, unapologetically Catholic, which means only faithful, mission minded Catholics who think and act with the Church (sentire cum ecclesia) should be hired to teach in Catholic schools.

  4. What they fail to teach (among other things) is Faith & Reason. Click my name for more.

  5. Completely agree with you. We have excellent public schools in my area so, for the life of me, I can't understand why parents who don't agree with the Church's teachings (and I know many of them) are spending thousands each year for a Catholic education.

    I also think that perhaps schools fear that if they stopped with the water-downed "love everyone, be a good person" catecesim and actually taught the THE FAITH, these liberal parents might actually pull thier kids and take their $ with them.

  6. What do you think would be the reaction of La Salle to the following posts? Dissent?


    Are you called to change your religious community ?