Vatican Cardinal Criticises US for Not Funding Catholic Schools

A key Vatican official has called the lack of public funding for Catholic schools in the US "a disaster." Zenon Cardinal Grocholewski, head of the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education, which includes seminaries, told a Vatican news conference that the US government should do more to allow parents to choose the educational option they desire for their children.
The cardinal, while presenting a new document, "Educating Together in Catholic Schools," criticized the US system saying, "The state does not recognize full democracy for Catholic schools." In America, Grocholewski said, the financial strain on the Church, "makes it difficult to achieve the same economic conditions as the state schools."
Writing for the National Catholic Reporter, John Allan Jr. said the cardinal made the same criticism of Italy. The new document, Allan writes, points to a global trend toward reliance on laity in Catholic education. Following the vocations fallout after the Second Vatican Council, the number of priests and sisters serving in Catholic schools dropped dramatically and has been replaced by lay teachers, mainly women. In 1965, there were 104,000 teaching sisters in the US. Today, there are 8,200, a decline of 94 per cent since the end of Vatican II.
The takeover of Catholic education systems by lay people may have been a major contributing factor to the rapid secularization of the schools noted by many parents and Catholic organisations. In Canada and Britain where faith-based schools receive at least some government funding, they have suffered a significant loss of Catholic identity as a result.
As many families and faithful have observed, Catholic schools in Canada have been severely compromised and in the US, the loss of Catholic identity has helped the burgeoning of the Catholic homeschooling movement.
Fr. Timothy Finigan, a London Catholic priest and founder of the Association of Priests for the Gospel of Life, explained, "It's a good idea in principle, but you have to be careful about accepting public money."
Catholic schools in England have had public funding since an agreement was reached in 1944 in which the Church would provide the buildings and the government would pay for staff and running costs. Since then, however, there has been more government help with building costs and the advent of government inspectors from the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED).
Fr. Finigan said, "OFSTED is at the heart of the problem. It is not an independent body but is part of the government. Which means they enforce government policy." Fr. Finigan said that Catholic educators fear that the five-point agenda followed by OFSTED can be interpreted to promote the government's pro-homosexual and abortion and contraception promoting policies.
"In principle," Fr. Finigan said, "Government funding is very sensible, but practically speaking when you've got a secular government, you'd be better not touching it with a bargepole."
"It worked very well in England for about 50 years, but I think we're in a very dangerous position now."
The Vatican's new document on education cites "lack of interest for the fundamental truths of human life," and "individualism, moral relativism and utilitarianism" as challenges to Catholic education. These have also been widely identified as the philosophical foundation of the abortion movement.  

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  • Guest

    Fr. Finigan is absolutely right. When you take government money, the legislature always, ALWAYS has the option of attaching strings to it later, and pulling them so you must dance at their command.

    I've long maintained that separation of church and state is appropriate for the safety of the state, but it is far more important for the safety and independence of the Church.

  • Guest

    Well, direct govenment funding to the schools with strings attached is not necessarily how one has to interpret the call for more parental contol in education.  A voucher system that gave the parents control over which school got the money that the state has allocated to the education of their children would do the trick. It should apply to homeschoolers too!

  • Guest

    Definitely!  Parents who pay school taxes but educate their children outside the public school system deserve vouchers.

  • Guest

    Our neighbors lived in Australia for a few years and told us this story. I don't know if it is true.

    Back in the 1950s or 1960s, despite the protests of the significant number of Australians that use the Catholics schools (about 25%), the parliment passed a budget that did not include funding for the Australian Catholic schools.  The Australian bishops directed every Catholic school to close its doors and told the parents to register their children at the nearest government school.  The overwhelmed schools quickly casued the legislature to fund the Catholic schools and have done so ever since. If the US Catholic bishops ever got their stuff together, they could wield more influence here.

    In the current atmosphere of political correctness and litigation, though, I agree that if you take Caesar's coin, you must obey Caesar's rules. If the US Catholic laity ever got their stuff together, we could fund Catholic schools without needing a penny from Caesar.

  • Guest

    It's a cruel trick that the gov't uses to get our money first of all, secondly not provide any service for it. And finally frame the whole structure in such a way that we're blackmailed into accepting their doctrine along with the dough.

    Zenon Cardinal Grocholewski is right in demanding a return for OUR money. The provision for schools should be part of the social infrastructure. Nobody checks my affiliation when I use parks and rec.

    To say we won't take the money (bait) because we don't want gov't dictums is to fight a loosing battle. We have accepted the role of second class citizens. The gov't subsidizes illegals without strings, also with our money. The separation of church and state is farce defined by the state for the sole benefit of the state.

  • Guest

    To those who agree with Cardinal Grocholewski, turn this argument on its ear and then see what you think.

    Suppose the U.S. did provide money for religious ed.  Suppose that money went to Islamic schools.  Now are we happy campers?  I thought not.

    With all due respect to Cardinal Grocholewski, one size does not fit all.  Please don't make pronouncements about a situation you don't understand.


  • Guest

    O.K. Cooky, I will "turn the argument on its ear". If the Islamists are paying school taxes as everyone does then they should get the money back for their schools. The same goes for the Jews and the Hindus. Isn't that what freedom of religion is about?

    "Suppose the U.S. did provide money for religious ed." is your next statement. The gov't does provide money for religious ed. Here is a sample of the secular doctrines: Mother Earth environmental studies. Diversity and alternate lifestyles studies. Sex education ala contraception and abortion studies. There are many others. All of this is funded by us and we have nothing to say about it. Give us our tax dollars back and don't stick your nose into our religion. Actually it would be far better if those taxes were not taken in the first place. Furthermore it would be far better still if the state got out of education all together because that is the source of the problem.

    Cardinal Zenon speaks for the Universal Church. The principles are the same everywhere. The State must respect the authority of the Church over its faith, doctrine and education if it wants the faithful to respect the authority of the State over its matters. This respect is conveyed through funding when tax dollars are involved. Did we not say that "taxation without representation is tyranny?" Where is the representation of Catholics in the halls of gov't? Where are our lobbyists making sure that we get our fair share of the public largesse? Nowhere! We can't keep our parochial schools open due to lack of funds yet we can keep the public schools open with those funds. That is freedom of religion turned on its ear.

    Here are more pronouncements I don't understand:

    It defies imagination how most Americans have bought into this separation of church and state notion. This is now also dogma to most Catholics. It has it's beginnings in the Protestant experience. Because the king illegitimately usurped power and created an illegitimate church those who came to our shores were protecting themselves from that arrangement. This is not the case with the Catholic Church. We are not Separatists; we're looking for reciprocity between a legitimate church and legitimate gov't. And I would add that our separated brethren would rather that public schools flourished than to see Catholic education in its former glorious state. Protestant thinking is what's keeping the separation of church and state notion alive.

    Start thinking like Catholics or get prepared to be on your knees praying to Gov't.  

  • Guest

    Goral, I basically agree with you in the "taxation without representation" argument.  I also agree, unfortunately,with your argument on the Protestant mind-set between Catholic education and public education.

    On the other hand, when have we ever gotten our "fair share of public largess"?  To be honest, it makes me quite happy that they keep their "largess" to themselves: I don't want its corrupting influence.  I have to agree with Anakbar and PTR, here.

    This is exactly my point in opposing (vehemently!) the idea of putting prayer back in schools.  This is a multi-cultural country.  Who says that the prayer that is "taught" in public schools will be Christian prayer???!  In fact, I'd guarantee that it won't be! 

    I'm all for the uninformed-but-not-misguided dictum of "separation of Church and state" that is so popular: anything to keep the government's nose out of my faith!  My "mantra" has become the line from Fiddler On the Roof: "God keep the Czar…….far away from us"!

  • Guest

    I'm not a huge fan of prayer in public schools either. That would open-up a big can of worms. The debate on the separation clause is always a hot topic with various interpretations. We wouldn't come to an agreement even on this website. Which is why we won't get what we want. Until we Catholics agree on how the gov't is suppose to help us fund "no strings" Catholic education, because they're using our money, we will get back nothing.

    Maybe Cardinal Grocholewski should be scolding U.S. Catholics for not having their act together when requesting assistance for education.

  • Guest

    There you go: what we need is a Catholic "Martin Luther King, Jr." to lead us to unity against government policy.  Got anybody in mind?

  • Guest

    I don't want any assistance; just let me keep my own money and I'll assist myself, thank you.

  • Guest

    It is in the best interest of this country and the people that its children be educated.  But who said that the government must be the sole provider of that education?  Ideally, the government would monitor the various schools (including homeschool) to make sure standards are being met, but would allow parents to choose schools.  The idea that because my child chooses a private school he/she is no longer entitled to state $$ that has been set aside for him/her just makes no sense.  No-one is asking states to get out of the education business.  Just stop forcing their schools on us.

  • Guest

    Let's see… someone charismatic, energetic, conservative, Catholic and preferably minority. I got it! – Alan Keyes! He'd probably fight for mkochan's request and that would be the best way out. Personally I think it's easier getting a bone out of the jaws of a pit bull than our money from the taxman.

    So do we all back him? Hmm… I can almost see the promised land.

  • Guest

    Goral, you're brilliant!!!  Congratulations!

    Mary, I'm frankly with you.  The older I get, the more I see Big Gov't trying to "save" us from ourselves.  That's not the premise this country was founded on, and it's already brought us to the edge of being a "welfare state".  But, if we're going to work together, we have to work together!

  • Guest

    I'm not well-versed in politics and government….well versed in not trusting either ;)…so, would vouchers for education truly keep governement out of my Catholic school–both homeschool-Catholic and institutional Catholic school?  I see "strings" in that theory too.

    Is it "working" in Wisconsin?  Is it happening anywhere else? 


    Jesus, I Trust in You!

  • Guest

    YES! Alan Keyes!  He'd have our vote….again!


    Jesus, I Trust in You!

  • Guest

    I would like to know people who are specialized in English literature and to be friends inorder to supply me with papers in this topic,because I need for more information as an Iraqi student want to be specalized in English literature.

    Fadi Butrus  

  • Crw9006

    We need to punish students who do not recite the Pledge of Allegiance in our public schools, never mind the funding for any private schools. If you don’t believe in GOD, then you can’t be a US Citizen. It’s that simple, all US citizens must salute the flag, listen to the National Anthem, recite the pledge, and observe grief and a moment of silence properly. That is standing up with your right hand over your heart.

  • mkochan

    They already tried that with Jehovah’s Witness children years ago and the Supreme court ruled against the school. It is ridiculous to try to punish chldren for doing what their parents tell them to do.