The editorial, of the recent copy of The Southern Cross, is about Catholic schools in South Africa. The editorial expresses the valuable role that Catholic schools play in society. The editorial acknowledges that the majority, apparently 73%, of those who attend Catholics schools are not Catholic, but defends the need to retain Catholic schools by saying that:
“The concept of the Catholic school has altered over time. It is not simply to provide religious and academic education for its pupils, as it once was, but to open its doors and guide young people of all backgrounds to appreciate fundamental human values so that they can share the future with hope.”
Why is it that today, in order to retain our Catholic identity, so many Catholics feel that it is necessary for us to morph into something that is a blend of the broader society, rather than just standing up and defending our Catholic identity, as it is? I simply do not agree with this concept of diluting the Catholic aspects of a school, in order to ensure continued “existence”. This does more harm than if we were to simply not have any Catholic schools.
This was the comment that I posted on this editorial:
Mr Shackleton writes: “The concept of the Catholic school has altered over time.”
That is certainly true.
I sent my son to a Catholic school and, in the five years that he was there, the only thing that distinguished it as a Catholic School was the fact that it was named after a saint and that it charged (fees) like a wounded buffalo.
There may be rare exceptions, but I think we are fooling ourselves if we believe that there are many truly Catholic Schools left in South Africa. I also think Mr Shackleton is sadly naive about the realities of our Catholic Schools.
I certainly do not believe that they are teaching our “young people the art of peaceful coexistence, mutual respect, dialogue and understanding”. At least not in anyway that differentiates them from any other school in South Africa.
Mr Shackleton fails to mention that these same Catholic Schools also teach young Catholics that it is okay to compromise on their Catholic Faith in order to conform with the majority opinion in the school, which just so happens, as Mr Shackleton rightly says, to not be Catholic.
Even Mass is reserved for only the very special occasions, to avoid offending the non-Catholics. Better to offend our Lord, than the majority in the school who are a source of huge sums of money for the school!
There is no Catholic ethos in most of these schools and quite frankly all this talk about the continued value of Catholic Schools is a load of drivel. We sold out the Catholic Schools a long time ago and now we are seeking to justifying there continued identity as Catholic, when they are not.
Today “Protect the Pope”, one of the Blogs that I follow, had a post about the editorial of another Catholic newspaper, which ran a story about the Catholic school system in the UK. The writer, Deacon Nick Donnelly, seems to share my views and so I thought I would share his post with you. You can read it here.
I particularly enjoyed this closing comment by Deacon Nick:
“It is to be hoped that the discussion … will now move beyond expressions of hurt and outrage or a breezy dismissal of these fundamental questions, and will actually begin to be an honest and frank exchange about the fact that’s staring us all in the face –that things are not well in our parishes and schools. In fact we are witnessing … what Pope Benedict warned us about last week – the Faith is being snuffed out due to a lack of sustenance.”[i]
I hope that in South Africa we too will begin to take a bold stand about our Catholic schools. Let’s decide whether they are or are not Catholic by their actions, not the promises and insincere mission statements. If they are not, then stop them calling themselves Catholic. If they are, insist that our Catholic faith is practiced to the full.
I found this, which I think sums up the dangers of our current Catholic schools beautifully.