Catholic Schools: Toeing the Party Line

Robbed of much of their vitality by the violent implosion in religious orders, especially those devoted to teaching the young, over the past fifty years, our Catholic schools have struggled to stay alive – and many have closed their doors forever. Those that remain retain but a shell of their former orthodoxy.

Prior to 1960 it was a Catechetical Director under the authority of the bishop who directed catechetical teaching in every school, college and university. He approved all curricula in religious studies in primary and secondary schools including all texts and programs. He interviewed publishers and authors of new texts being considered to ensure that there was nothing in them contrary to faith and morals. In consultation with the Archbishop, priests were designated to lecture on Catechetics to all Catholic teachers. Pastors and nuns of pious practice who had a sound knowledge of doctrine were given the responsibility of teaching religion to students. With the full cooperation of all principles annual uniform tests were held throughout the various dioceses.

Today, almost disregarded in most Catholic schools is the supervisory role of the Catholic priest. They no longer make frequent visits to schools in their parishes or submit annual reports on their condition, with any necessary recommendations. The priest is more or less a resource person who is infrequently consulted. Sometimes he is more tolerated than welcome in our Catholic schools. In general Bishops no longer issue rules and regulations. Schools are run by school boards according to pedagogical principles, and under union control, which determines what is taught and how. Lay teachers are the norm. A considerable number of them do not practice their faith and this by their own admission.

In the 1960’s, schools and seminaries began to introduce what is known as the “open concept” method of teaching – often referred to as “sensitivity training” or “encounter therapy”. This technique, made popular by psychologists Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers, was originally designed to help neurotics and returning GI’’s who were having trouble re-adapting to civilian life after the war. It was not meant for “normal” people. In practice, the technique provides a climate of maximum freedom for personal expression, exploration of feelings and interpersonal communication. Emphasis is placed upon the interactions among the group members in an atmosphere which encourages each to drop his defenses and his facades thus enabling him to relate directly and openly to other members of the group – the basic encounter. The goal is to achieve greater personal independence, fewer hidden feelings, more willingness to innovate and more opposition to institutional rigidities. Michael Weber, in his book Psychotechniken: Die Neuen Verfuehrer, saw the rise of Encounter Group techniques in German seminary training as a Trojan Horse whose purpose was the deliberate destruction of religious vocations and the subsequent triumph of the secular point of view.

Another educational technique used by many schools and parishes after Vatican II is “values clarification”. With this approach students are encouraged to perceive Church teachings as a reflection of their own personal choice. Strongly stressed is the idea that there is no right or wrong answers only answers which are compatible with one’’s own life experiences. One is motivated to cultivate a certain sense of creativity and autonomy with respect to the issues under discussion based on his or her own personal feelings. While this often leads to a liberating, exhilarating experience, it also leads the individual away from the truth and onto paths where one starts to build their own world. Not surprisingly, the Catholic Church has condemned “values clarification” in “The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality: Guidelines for Education within the family”, as being “closely linked with moral relativism”.

Another tragedy with our schools is the introduction of sex-education. Today priests and bishops are telling us that mandatory sex education in schools is good and necessary for children to keep up with the times – even those who have not even reached the age of puberty. The result has been disastrous. There is an extremely high incidence of teenage pregnancy, of abortions obtained by teenagers, and of sexually transmitted diseases. Sex education has been the instrument used in our schools to advance everything from contraception and abortion to the acceptance of homosexuality.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, sex-education should be left to parents because they know their children well and can impart the proper knowledge to them at the proper time. Parents are also able to educate their children better than teachers can, because they are more able to pay attention to the complete education of their children which involves a well rounded schooling in the virtues of chastity, good judgement, justice, courage and self-control. It is in the family primarily that children acquire, or fail to acquire, the virtues.

Bishops who countenance sex education in schools quite probably tell themselves that if the instruction is given under Catholic auspices, it will be given “the right way.” But there is no right way to give explicit sex instruction to children who are mentally and emotionally unready for it. There is no right way to give information in groups that should be given privately. There is no right way for an outsider to assume a role which belongs particularly to the parents. This is why Pope Pius XII, in an address on September 23, 1951, insisted that only parents should give sex education. More recently Pope John Paul II, in his Apostolic Exhortation on the Role of the Christian Family (in 1981) said that the right and duty of parents to give education is essential, original and primary.

In addition to teaching sex, our schools are also now offering “comparative religion” courses which work to soften the importance of Catholicism and eliminate the differences in religion. If nothing is sacred, then nothing is evil, and so we are spared the embarrassment of being “judgmental”.

Religious instruction has also shifted from “rote learning” to “spiritual motivation”, emphasizing community and social justice while setting aside knowledge of tradition and the institutional church. Not surprisingly, most graduates of our Catholic schools systems are religiously illiterate. They do not know the faith, cannot defend it. Do not realize that it is their most precious possession and are not motivated to explore it more deeply or even go to Mass or frequent the Sacraments. One study found that at least 42 per-cent of students thought that each individual decides the content of his or her beliefs. Other surveys show that nearly two-thirds of our Catholic students do not even believe that Christ founded His Church.

Learning is no longer an appropriation of the truth but has become a search for the truth based on the strength of evidence rather than on respect for God. Catholic schools used to require their teachers to leave their personal opinions behind when they crossed the threshold of the school and to adjust their teaching to the common sense of natural morality. Schools were a relation between persons, that is between a Catholic teacher and learner. The church use to say that it is a relation of both to the world of values. It is not the teacher that the pupil has to know; both have to know the world of values and direct their common attention towards it. But just as one man’’s face is turned towards another in the reformed liturgy, so it is in the reformed pedagogy. This conversion of pupils into teachers and vice versa parallels and compliments the post-Vatican II secularization of the clergy and the clericalization of the laity.

The demise of our Catholic schools have been marked by closures, laicization and doctrinal scandals. Since Vatican II there has been a progressive loss of originality in Catholic schools, which now model themselves deliberately on state schools as regards their structure, syllabuses, calendar and everything else. As for their culture, they have largely given up a specifically Catholic view of history and have adopted instead points of view that in the past century were typical of the Church’’s enemies. Examples are the rehabilitation of heretics like Martin Luther and the aggrandizement of Presidents and Prime Ministers like Canada’s Pierre Trudeau who deride the objective moral order of things with their nihilistic laws and policies.

Good schools are ultimately the result of good teachers, teachers who are thoroughly prepared and well-grounded in the matter they have to teach; who possess the intellectual and moral qualifications required by their important office; who cherish a pure and holy love for the youths confided to them, because they love Jesus Christ and His Church, of which these are the children of predilection; and who have therefore sincerely at heart the true good of family and country.

The desperately needed reform of our Catholic schools will find the Bishop once more in full charge of the teaching of religion in his Diocese. He will supervise and set curricula and texts and teacher requirements through his Catechetical Office. The pastor will be the local spiritual director and guide and teacher in the parochial school. Teachers, School Boards and Teachers’ Associations will find their true nobility, freedom and fulfillment in being “in medio ecclesiae,” in and with and under Christ’s Church.

By

Mr. Paul Kokoski holds a BA in philosophy from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. His articles have been published in several journals including, Homiletic and Pastoral Review, New Oxford Review, and Catholic Insight.

  • Deacon Ed Peitler

    Catholic schools should be schools of evangelization.  By this I mean that, beginning in 1st grade where children are catechized, they should advance toward instruction in evangelization-  meaning that, once catechized, they are now prepared to comfortably go out into society to proclaim the Gospel – proclaim Jesus Christ to those who do not know him and need to.

    If Catholic schools are not schools of evangelization, then close them, as this is the primary reason for them to exist (NOT the ONLY reason – just the primary reason.).  Bishops have the RESPONSIBILITY to see that schools in their diocese are measured accordingly.

    • You have touched on a very serious issue.  In the Catholic HS where I teach (and two of my children lost their faith) it is considered offensive to evangelize the non-Catholic.  Tolerance for the “many paths to Jesus”  you see!!

  • Little Red Hen

    A school’s Catholic identity is also damaged by the presence of students from non-Catholic families, whose parents send their children to the school only because it’s private and a less expensive alternative to a pricier private academy.

    • Scottshie

      As a former
      publishing sales rep for a Catholic publisher I worked with many parochial
      K-8th schools in the mid west and am a parent of three who attended both public
      and parochial schools. While there are very seriously committed Catholic schools,
      teachers and parish priests, there is always the ever constant budget and
      enrollment challenges. And it is very disheartening to see the secularization
      of many Catholic schools that appear to be competing with the over blown
      budgets of the public systems, where we spend the most but have the worst
      results compared to most other major nations. Where, for half or two/thirds
      3rds the price of the public system per student, the Catholic school hands
      down, offers better education, moral ground works, parent participation and
      successful outcomes compared the public schools. This was the ORIGNAL education
      structure in the USA: home/ family, religious/private, small local rural
      schools for the first 200 years before the federally subsidized
      “public” system.

      Catholic schools
      are a tremendous faith based resource, with mostly committed staff that many
      parents want to take advantage of for their children but the cost is too
      prohibitive. (I cite the example of the City of Milwaukee a few years ago
      offered vouchers tuition credit for inner city families and Catholic school
      attendance INCREASED.) Families must pay twice, publicly and privately and in
      the great economic melt- down of the last decade families are even more
      challenged by the costs of Catholic schools. Consequentially  the lower enrollments and uncertain future,  even though parents know the sound merits of
      our faith based schools.

      Not until we
      offer school choice to families, offering their tax dollars to the Catholic (or
      non- public) school of choice, will the Catholic school ever be revived. In
      this effort there is a political component;  the primarily Democratic Party’s anti-
      Catholic/religion, pro federal government control mind set. Then the  favored teachers’ unions’ publically funded
      systems, and their politician counterparts  will never favor family school choice, because
      it’s direct competition to their  currently
      dysfunctional  system, (1/3 to half of
      kids don’t finish high school in this country based on your location, even
      worse in some inner cities). In a school choice nation, the good schools and teachers
      will thrive and the bad schools, public or parochial, will disappear. So if you
      believe in the merits of a Catholic based education, that is also a religious freedom like that we must retain, be careful who you vote
      for.

      As a former
      publishing sales rep for a Catholic publisher I worked with many parochial
      K-8th schools in the mid west and am a parent of three who attended both public
      and parochial schools. While there are very seriously committed Catholic schools,
      teachers and parish priests, there is always the ever constant budget and
      enrollment challenges. And it is very disheartening to see the secularization
      of many Catholic schools that appear to be competing with the over blown
      budgets of the public systems, where we spend the most but have the worst
      results compared to most other major nations. Where, for half or two/thirds
      3rds the price of the public system per student, the Catholic school hands
      down, offers better education, moral ground works, parent participation and
      successful outcomes compared the public schools. This was the ORIGNAL education
      structure in the USA: home/ family, religious/private, small local rural
      schools for the first 200 years before the federally subsidized
      “public” system.

      Catholic schools
      are a tremendous faith based resource, with mostly committed staff that many
      parents want to take advantage of for their children but the cost is too
      prohibitive. (I cite the example of the City of Milwaukee a few years ago
      offered vouchers tuition credit for inner city families and Catholic school
      attendance INCREASED.) Families must pay twice, publicly and privately and in
      the great economic melt- down of the last decade families are even more
      challenged by the costs of Catholic schools. Consequentially  the lower enrollments and uncertain future,  even though parents know the sound merits of
      our faith based schools.

      Not until we
      offer school choice to families, offering their tax dollars to the Catholic (or
      non- public) school of choice, will the Catholic school ever be revived. In
      this effort there is a political component;  the primarily Democratic Party’s anti-
      Catholic/religion, pro federal government control mind set. Then the  favored teachers’ unions’ publically funded
      systems, and their politician counterparts  will never favor family school choice, because
      it’s direct competition to their  currently
      dysfunctional  system, (1/3 to half of
      kids don’t finish high school in this country based on your location, even
      worse in some inner cities). In a school choice nation, the good schools and teachers
      will thrive and the bad schools, public or parochial, will disappear. So if you
      believe in the merits of a Catholic based education, that is also a religious freedom like that we must retain, be careful who you vote
      for.

  • Caswrite

    Truthfully, it doesn’t start with the school or the religious education office of any parish. It starts with the parents.  If a parent knows and loves his/her Catholic faith and shares it (truly shares it) with his/her children, the children will also grow to love their Catholic faith and also share it.   Schools can never begin to do what a parent could do.  But in today’s society, parents  have become so busy with their jobs that they are too exhausted on the weekends and in the evenings to spend time teaching/living their faith with their children.  Mass goes by the wayside, too, because so many adults don’t understand their faith and don’t feel they are being “fed” by it.  So I guess what I’m saying is that the transformation first needs to begin with the parents, making sure they know their faith and helping them understand their important role in passing on the faith.  Then a school model should be developed that integrates faith at home within the curriculum.

    • Peter Freeman

      This is a huge point. I would add that young parents (and even teachers) today are also the products of the failed Catholic education. They probably couldn’t explain doctrine to their kids if they wanted to.

      Not only do parents often not have the time, they now no longer have the knowledge either. Within only a few generations, we’ve managed to divorce ourselves from our heritage.

    • Feeneyja

      This is the reason behind the new evangelization.

  • Deacon Ed Peitler

    Perhaps Catholic schools – both elementary and high school should be transformed into institutions where PARENTS are educated in religious pedagogy i.e. much like continuing education, the parents attend classes where they themselves are instructed in how to teach THEIR OWN CHILDREN in matters of the faith. 

    This would be a great cost saving and place the responsibility for educating in the faith squarely on the shoulders of the parents where it belongs.  And if parents don’t want to go along with this, they should be asked why they are sending their children to a Catholic school.   These classes in religious education can be offered in the evening so working parents can be accommodated.   And because the parents will, at the same time, be receiving the education in the faith that they themselves likely missed out on, both parents AND children will benefit.

    • Bob

      Amen. Catholicism begins at home.

    • Feeneyja

      The religious education program at my church includes a meeting/education session with the parents before each sacrament. It’s some attempt at educating the parents.

    • Send_us_Doves

       I would attend that class in a heartbeat.
      I’m a newly baptised mother of 2 and I have little idea how to go about teaching my children the faith. I could talk all day about God, but honestly I know so little of the ‘rules’ that I’m half afraid I’m going to teach them the wrong thing.
      Then to go back and say.. ‘no wait, remember that? yeah I was wrong, it’s this’. Well I’ll quickly lose their attention and respect doing that, won’t I?

      • kjd

        Get yourself a copy of Catechism of the Catholic Church.  It would be a tremendous resource for you.  When you aren’t sure, you can say to your children “Let’s check that out” and look it up together.  It will teach them where many of the answers are.  Your two resources: the Bible and the Catechism.

    • sparrowhawk58

      This is a GREAT idea. A lot of parents grew up during the era of warm-fuzzy religion classes that were all about having fun and did little to present actual catechism.  I know. I spent 1st and 2nd grade at a very traditional Catholic school run by SSND’s. We moved and joined a much more liberal parish. Until I reached adulthood and pursued Catholic teachings on my own (after attending a Cath. high school AND university AND majoring in religion)I believe I had scant instruction beyond 2nd grade.

  • guest

    We’ve removed our youngest children from a Catholic school due to several reasons–some of them listed above.  The religion curriculum is sickeningly watered down; the teachers are young, basically clueless to the faith they profess to teach, and don’t hold Catholic principals.  My husband served on the school board for four years and between the two of us, we felt like we were beating our heads against a brick wall to get any other parents on board with making the school truly Catholic.  Oh, everyone is so very nice and wonderful and comfortable and giving…..just clueless to their faith, what their children are being taught and not willing to change the way things are….

    Happily homeschooling now…

    • Mschroeder

      Our Catholic schools are rigorous in their Faith education. I know maybe they’re in the minority, but I am very glad they are there for my four children.
      We would not send them anywhere else, especially since they (both grade school and high school) also offer a bonus–besides the great faith education, they have stellar academics and my children have been involved in and won regional and national science and history competitions through their catholic schools. As noted, this is “icing on the cake”–the faith is the most important, and it’s been there .

      • Little Red Hen

        What diocese do you live in?

  • Bill

    Mr. Kokoski you are so right. “Catholic” schools need to be Catholic. Parents and Catholic schools need to work together, however, today’s Catholic parents do not understand the Catholic faith. Teaching the next generations needs to be done in the seminaries, then the pulpits, and subsequently the classroom then the home. Perhaps in two generations those parents will then have the knowledge to pass on to their children. I see many good signs of these beginnings.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    Bl John Henry Newman stresses the primary importance of good teachers: “It is the living voice, the breathing form, the expressive countenance, which preaches, which catechises. Truth, a subtle, invisible, manifold spirit, is poured into the mind of the scholar by his eyes and ears, through his affections, imagination, and reason; it is poured into his mind and is sealed up there in perpetuity, by propounding and repeating it, by questioning and requestioning, by correcting and explaining, by progressing and then  recurring to first principles, by all those ways which are implied in the word “catechising.” ”

    Elsewhere, he observes, “Persons influence us, voices melt us, looks subdue us, deeds inflame us. Many a man will live and die upon a dogma: no man will be a martyr for a conclusion.”

  • In order to reform Catholic schools, I would think that the first requirement would be the desire to have Catholic schools. In the 2002 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Zelman v. Harris, it was decided that Cleveland, Ohio school vouchers did not violate the U.S. Constitution as long as they were given to parents to be used for their children at the schools of the parents’ choice, including religiously affiliated. To be constitutional, the vouchers must first be given to the parents, not directly to a religiously affiliated school. If the Catholic Bishops, as well as the Parish Pastors, and the Catholic parents, want Catholic schools, vouchers are the answer. Presently, vouchers are available in certain places in the U.S. in a very limited manner, subject to restrictions, such as the receipient must be a member of a low income family. Why? Why not for everyone regardless of any other considerations? The voucher amount should be for the same as it costs to educate a child in a public school. Why would it be for less? With full vouchers for everyone, the only remaining impediment would be what are know as Blaine Amendments in approximately thirty-five states. These must be either repealed or challenged as being unconstitutional. It would be foolish to settle for crumbs such as partial tuition tax credits or tax deductions for tuition paid. After the right to life, parental choice in the education of their children is the second greatest civil rights issue in the United States at the present time. A Jewish economist, Dr. Milton Friedman, introduced the voucher concept in the 1950’s. In the 1960’s there were 5.6 million kids in Catholic schools. In 2012, we have twice as many Catholic kids and only 2.1 million kids in American Catholic schools. Do we actually want Catholic schools in America? If so, what are we waiting for?

  • MJL

    I find it interesting that Mr. Kokoski cites no evidence for his summary condemnation of today’s Catholic schools. We professional educators are used to similar comparisons to a mythical, bygone “golden age” when all was right with the world and schools taught the way they should. As a lay theology teacher (along with English and journalism–it’s all-hands-on-deck to keep our schools open and solvent) at an Augustinian school, I challenge Mr. Kokoski to spend some time in real Catholic school classrooms with real Catholic school teachers and students and thus to use actual observation, rather than hearsay and assumption, in his analyses.

    • Peter Freeman

      This isn’t my personal field of expertise, but it seems that a lot of parishes like to compare themselves to the ACRE standards. The national average for these scores tends to hover around 70% or lower…which suggests to me that the average Catholic school kid is getting a low C or high D when it comes to understanding their faith. That’s not exactly a comforting thought.

    • Scott W

      The fact that you refer to yourself as a “professional educator” makes me nauseous…  You might be the only person who reads orthodox Catholic material online who is not aware of the failures of catechesis of the last forty years.  If you want proof, please drop by every single catholic school in the diocese of Portland , Oregon.

      • MJL

        If there is so much evidence, why did the author not cite ANY?

      • MJL

        Also, Scott W, why does that make you nauseous?

  • WRBaker

    As a Catholic school teacher, I have seen many things, some that will just make you speechless.
    Hiring non-Catholic school teachers only gives students less of a chance to know the Faith.
    A principal who knows little about her own religion and browbeats teachers who do and try to impart this knowledge to their students.
    Another principal who lectured me about not using the Baltimore Catechism.
    A superintendent’s office that chooses its principal candidates from only one school.
    The priests (plural) who rarely visit their schools. Some are hostile to even having a school to deal with.

    It is amazing to see how set the minds of middle school students are beginning to be and we need to provide a religious base for them before they reach this time in their lives.  Unfortunately, the religious textbooks are so “touchy-feely” that they don’t get the instruction they need and want.  I would introduce Aquinas’ Quinqua Viae to 8th grade and they asked more.  Many high school students would return to tell me they coasted their first year of high school religion.
    We need to capture student imagination – try telling middle schoolers about the Golden Legend, for instance, and they will stay right with you in learning about it.
    I would tell my students that my job was to teach them to defend their Faith and, in order to do so, they must know their Faith.
    This is all important.

  • Sibyl

    As a former teacher and the mom of kids both in school and homeschooled, I can say I have seen first-hand some of the problems that Mr. Kokoski writes about. When there was a bullying incident at the parish school, the school principal gave the perpetrators a stern talk about “sexual harassment.” (This by the way was at a grade school.)  The school board got into an uproar, and a multi-page memorandum was issued, discussing the dangers and problems of bullying. It referenced some popular book about the topic. But in no place did the discussion center on sin, repentence, restitution, or amendation of life. Bullying IS serious, but this was dealt with in a purely secular, worldly way. I could cite other examples.

    My own opinion is that the moment the Catholic schools decided to take on secular standards — to compete with public schools — that was the moment that the whole system began to go wrong. And now, for example, in our diocese, soon all Catholic school teachers will have to be licensed by the state teaching board. OK, now that may or may not be desirable. But nowhere does it say, for example, that all teachers must also be living according to Catholic sexual morality, publicly declare their obedience to the Magisterium, and demonstrate a firm grip on basic Catholic teaching.

    Certainly Catholic education begins with the parents. That is why, in my opinion, traditional Catholic schooling is hollow and will continue to wither, and in its place new and vibrant educational options are springing up. So, for example, there is a large and flourishing Catholic homeschool co-op which uses the entire vacant building of an old Catholic school two times per month — all the classrooms are filled, as well as the gym. For another example, my son’s school was a closed Catholic parish school that was re-organized on the classical educational model  — by the parents. It is now 10 years old and bursting at the seams. The kids attend daily Mass, and every teacher exudes a love for Holy Church. So there is hope, and there is true change — this is Catholic schooling for the 21st century!

  • RMB

    Agreed. I went to Catholic school all my life, Jesuit High school,  and Catholic University.  The theology standards that exist in our high school classrooms are new from the Bishops and our Diocese has done a great job implementing them.  I have two degrees in theology from university, one of which is from Francisan Univ. 
     
      
     I have to say, that the quality of the education today is better than ever.  The students I teach in my courses are better informed, more active in their faith, and are exposed to deeper theology than I ever was in High school.  Much of what I learned in college is now part of the high school curriculum.  Thus, the high school students my colleagues and I are turning out are some of the best informed, and transformed students in the country.  They certainly know far more than most of their parents. 
     
    You can say that things are terrible, but even if they were, it is more a symptom of a systemic problem with the Church in general and America specifically, than it is with Catholic Schools per se. 

    • RMB

      This was in response to MJL. I agreed with HIS post. I just didnt reply there. I should have.

      • MJL

        Thank you, RMB. As is almost always the case, those most vocal are always those who are complaining. We need to hear from the many (I would claim a majority) of Catholic school parents, students, alums, and teachers who would sing the praises of their experiences.

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  • Francis Ribeiro

    On 19 April one of the blog sites ( First Thoughts ) on First Things magazine carried a short article by R R Reno called “The Nuns We Need”.

    I joined the thread with some comments which I repeat and append below because they seem even more apt to this excellent article.

    My fervent prayer is that the experts will help and guide us to delve more deeply into the dangers described above by Paul Kokoski and in the book referred to by me below.

        

    Francis Ribeiro
    April 20th, 2012 |
    12:22 am

    An astute Catholic psychologist, William Kirk
    Kilpatrick, long ago wrote a penetrating book ( a collection of his essays),
    called “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.

    In it, he describes the destructive work of Carl
    Rogers and his devotees and how Catholics imported their poisonous “values
    clarification” approaches into schools, parishes, seminaries and convents.

    The other thing eagerly imported into seminaries
    and convents was even more toxic and destructive ; it was the technique of
    encounter groups.

    I understand that both of these techniques are
    still in use in many schools, universities, seminaries and convents.

    Carl Rogers is also the father of “outcomes based
    education” which has been the curse of education ( rather than training ) in
    the Western World for so long now that I fear there can be no recovery from its
    ill effects.

    Kirkpatrick’s book is well worth a read. His
    preciously dry wit cuts to the bone as he reveals the strange philosophical
    foundations and twisted psychology of these techniques.

    Our Lord said that the gates of hell would not
    prevail against his Church. Rogers and his followers came about as close as
    anyone could to such destruction. But the greater fault surely lies with those
    Catholic wolves who opened the gates, inviting these psychologists in for
    slaughter of the innocents.

    Most of the wolves soon left the Church behind a
    long trail of wounded members of the flock. But quite a few wolves stayed in
    the Church and continue their destruction, now as less visible white ants.

    As Tiny Tim said : God bless us, every one !

  • hombre111

    This is a huge strawman, a description of a school system that never existed, at least not in my part of the world.  “Sensitivity training?  Values clarification?  Encounter therapy?”  They were buzz words that came up in summer schools, but nobody really understood what they were talking about and the teachers attending were more interested in learning theology and updating their knowledge of scripture. 

    I think the Church made a huge mistake by putting all its eggs in the parochial school basket.  There is no money for anything else:   For teaching kids not in the parochial school, for reaching out to young adults, to young marrieds, to the single, and on and on. 

    Yes, adults are religiously illiterate today.   We need a massive effort of evangelization for Catholic adults.   But how?   Some of my relatives have become Protestant and they put huge energy into learning about the Bible and on and on.   But Catholic adults notoriously are not interested.   They have never really had a conversion experience, where they take personal responsibility for growing in their faith.   This needs a huge discussion, but it quickly becomes polarized and so there is no energy left to solve anything. 

    • Sibyl

      You know, I don’t agree with your first paragraph. I’ve just experienced too much of the truth of it. However, your second point is an excellent one. Catholic schooling is one aspect of evangelization, but not the only one. (I’ve heard it argued that it is the primary one, and certainly our grandparents and their predecessors thought so.) If the parishes were to think about allocating money generously towards the adults of the parish, it might make a HUGE difference. Including, the children not being so illiterate that their entry into public schooling virtually ensures that they lose their faith.

      Thanks for making this point. It made me envision a very different sort of parish life…

  • GENVIEW1936

     

    This commentator, steeped in the
    traditions and religious practices of a first-generation Irish Catholic family
    dedicated to the Blessed Mother and the Sacred Heart, was theologically reared
    with the help of the Baltimore Catechism.
    We studied it hard – if for no other reason than to avoid the wrath of Sr. Mary
    Watchout when her inevitable call came in class to recite from it. Poor
    motivation? You bet. A reality of our then life? No doubt about it. Effective?
    You better believe it! Did we learn the purpose of life . . . why God made us .
    . . the Works of Mercy . . . the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes?
    Absolutely!

     

    The foregoing having been said,
    permit me to focus on the adults in the dialogue by suggesting that, from a
    very broad perspective of the Catholic Church in America (of which each parish
    is but a microcosm), much has changed since the referenced “olden
    days” when the then regimen of post-secondary education entailed the rigorous
    disciplines incident to the study of Christian apologetics, eschatology and
    Thomistic philosophy which, undoubtedly, were most demanding, magnificently
    enlightening and rewarding. Reduced to one simple concept, what has changed during
    the span of multiple decades is simply “focus”.

     

    With this change in focus, we – as
    a culture of confused souls – have exchanged principle for politics, relegated
    the eternal lessons of the Baltimore Catechism to the back shelf and
    replaced them with our own set of self-centered egregiously flawed rules and
    procedures.    

     

    We have embraced expediency at
    the expense of eternity. In a most disturbing fashion, we have forgotten the
    core response to the one simple and elementary question – “why did God make
    me?” – a basic question, the answer to which we once so well knew and proudly
    heralded.

     

    As a predominantly Christian
    nation, we have permitted the Father, Son and Holy Ghost to be replaced by the
    “Pro-Abortion” tripartite alliance of Beelzebub, the NARAL crowd and Americans United for Separation of Church
    and State. Playboy magazine outsells Our Sunday Visitor while “God
    Bless America”
    has become a treasonous epithet.

     

    We have permitted the prenatally
    lobotomized relativist thinkers du jour to supplant the Magisterium
    of the Roman Catholic Church in our thought processes. We have embraced a style
    of expedient manipulation in lieu of forceful frontal confrontation with the
    patently absurd and fatally flawed egalitarian carpe diem doctrines of
    the times.

     

    Lest anyone is offended or has
    their sensitivities bruised or feelings hurt upon being confronted by the
    reality of theological veritas, we
    genuflect at the altar of contorted ecclesiastical Political Correctness to
    such a degree that it has replaced the Promise of Fatima. The once simple and
    humble concept of public prayer is now as feared as a diagnosis of diphtheria
    was a century ago. The writings of the likes of John Henry Newman, St. Thomas
    More, Fulton J Sheen, Joseph Fessio, S.J. and Daniel Lord, S.J. have been
    supplanted by the blather of the social engineers of the day a la ‘Bill
    & Hill’, Kim Gandy and Gloria Stinem.

     

    Theology classrooms of the
    esteemed academe known as institutions
    of Catholic higher education have
    been commandeered with elastic theologians of the elite progressive higher education cabal. This while their
    university president, notwithstanding exhortations from the local Ordinary not
    to proceed, boldly markets his institution’s proud “Catholic
    traditions” by bestowing honoraria
    on the globally recognized and “esteemed” pro-abortionist – Barack Hussein
    Obama. (Might it be postulated that: one surely never wants to miss the
    opportunity to fill the alumni giving coffers notwithstanding that it may
    entail a brief dance with the devil. Obviously, as the rationalization is
    glibly unfolded, we are assured that such conduct need not be of concern as
    same is merely an “unintended consequence” flowing from the attainment of a
    greater good and, therefore, a morally permissible course of action.)

     

    In short, as a culture – a
    culture within which our parishes must operate – our society has surrendered
    its core principles by crafting a Faustian pact with the devil himself; a
    “pact” through which economic and political advantage trumps the Ten
    Commandments and the Natural Law and all of the once “good news” we gleaned from
    that now out-dated and long forgotten Baltimore Catechism.

     

    The “surrender” of which we speak
    has most assuredly visited upon us the urgent issues that demand our attention
    as believers: abortion; immigration; our obligations to the poor, the elderly
    and the disabled; questions of war and peace; our national confusion about
    sexual identity and human nature, and the attacks on marriage and family life
    that flow from this confusion; the growing disconnection of our science and technology
    from real moral reflection; the erosion of freedom of conscience in our
    national health-care debates; the content and quality of the schools that form
    our children.

     

    What, it may be inquired, has any
    of this to do with Mr. Kokoski’s insightful analysis of the current state of
    affairs infecting our parochial schools? Simply put, hopefully it will focus
    the spotlight of increased attention on the reality that, as a spiritual family
    within the Greater Family, we need to wake up and acknowledge that we are by no
    means immune from the impact of any of these contemporary societal maladaptive American
    cultural realities. They have infected one of our most precious institutions;
    our primary schools.

     

    We need leadership from within
    our ranks – both clerical as well as lay (hereinafter for convenience referred
    to as “Leadership”) –  that is qualified
    to, and will, forcefully confront each such extant challenge in direct,
    unequivocal and immutably firm fashion; Leadership which understands and
    embraces the exhortations and corresponding lessons to be taken from Ezekiel
    3:16-21; Leadership that can and will lay it out as it is – warts and all – and
    lead all of us comprising our individual parish families out of the wilderness
    of complacency and abject – if not culpable – theological ignorance.

     

    We need Leadership that clearly
    understands and will readily acknowledge that what is desirable in principle
    cannot always be accomplished in fact – such being the difference between
    philosophy and politics. Such Leadership must be capable of recognizing that
    while politics must be guided by a proper understanding of man’s moral end,
    there is rarely a one-to-one correlation between what is right simply and the
    ability to get it done. It must be alert to the reality that this effectuation
    in politics calls for prudence, which is rightly called one of the moral
    virtues.

     

    It must understand that not every
    disagreement over tactics and timing, after all, can be considered a compromise
    with the devil but that sexual abuse of minors, open and active homosexuality,
    “same-sex marriage”, premarital co-habitation, embryonic stem-cell research,
    abortion, in any of its forms, euthanasia, and the near universal practices of
    “catholic” governmental officials (both appointed as well as elected)
    openly, notoriously and defiantly disregarding (on a substantially unchallenged
    basis) the teachings of Holy
    Mother Church
    are all matters not about “tactics” or “timing”. Rather, they are about
    absolutes – eternal good vs. mortal evil.

     

    Our Leadership must recognize
    each of the foregoing for what they are and openly and vigorously address them
    directly disregarding with a vengeance any form of timidity predicated on the faux construct of ‘separation of church
    and state’; a pernicious nostrum conveniently invoked to avoid the tough calls
    on substantive matters centered in socio-political issues of grave moral
    consequence to the individual as well as the collective soul of society.

     

    We need Leadership which is legitimately steeped in the formal “teachings”
    of Holy Mother Church and is unabashedly determined that such are passed
    clearly and readily from the pulpit side of the Communion rail down into the
    pews no matter how painful or uncomfortable such may be.

     

    We need Leadership which unhesitatingly, yet thoughtfully, embraces the
    “teachings” of the Magisterium as articulated through such as the
    official position statements of the Congregation For the Doctrine of Faith as
    other than purely aspirational musings or as mere suggestions or negotiable
    trial balloons floated to “test the waters” on an idea or an approach to the
    management of a moral issue.

     

    We need Leadership which recognizes the “teachings” as having
    the moral force of ecclesiastical mandate and, therefore, serve as irrefutably
    binding through the exercise of a correct conscience on all who opt to conduct
    their affairs in full conformity with the wisdom and guidance of Holy Mother Church.

     

    Our Bishops and parishes surely possess the Leadership required to
    substantially ignite the untapped resources/talents latent within our Church
    family; talent necessary to initiate a serious challenge to the theological
    malaise currently operating as a diriment impediment to rudimentary Catholic
    faith formation.

     

    It is suggested that serious
    consideration be given to the formation of a co-partnered lay-cleric amalgam
    charged with the responsibility of effectively championing the design and
    implementation of parish programs directed at affecting an honest and sincere rededication
    by all of its family members to the concepts and tenets so clearly and
    basically outlined in the Baltimore Catechism, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Doctrinal Notes issued
    by The Congregation For
    The Doctrine Of The Faith, etc. — a return, to be very specific,
    for those from among us who comprise the social engineers and influential
    individuals who have and continue to work, whether knowingly or inadvertently,
    contrary to the best true meaning of fealty and family.

               

    Perhaps, having accomplished such a goal, someday we will be spared (or,
    hopefully, more easily recognize) misleading and confusing canards such as “the
    Catholic Church opposes the death penalty” as if such statement actually bears
    the conscience binding mandate of the Magisterium or is otherwise an ex cathedra pronouncement emanating from
    the Holy Father rather than the mere recitation of an aspirational statement in
    opposition to the death penalty rendered by well-intended individual members of
    the laity and hierarchy.

     

    Perhaps, having
    accomplished such a goal, someday we will be spared (or, hopefully, more easily
    recognize) misdirected and confusing – albeit well intended – USCCB sponsored
    programs such as “The Catholic Campaign for
    Human Development”, the charitable grant program designed to support community
    organizing and economic development which has been contaminated by some of the
    grantees unabashedly supporting same-sex marriage, artificial
    contraception and pro-abortion rights.

     

    Perhaps, having
    accomplished such a goal, someday we will hopefully more easily recognize and
    come to enthusiastically accept the infallibility of Holy Mother Church’s
    teachings on the intrinsic evil inherent in homosexual practices, embryonic
    stem cell research, contraception, pre-marital cohabitation, same-sex marriage
    and the like.

     

    Perhaps, having
    accomplished such a goal, someday we will hopefully more easily recognize and
    come to enthusiastically accept the infallibility of Holy Mother Church’s
    teachings on the intrinsic evil inherent in supporting any legislator who
    openly and actively espouses or supports any governmental actions (or inaction)
    which interfere, in the least, with her pro-life teachings.

     

    Perhaps, having
    accomplished such a goal, someday we will hopefully more easily recognize and
    come to openly champion within the social order of our cultural community a
    meaningfully viable application of the principle of subsidiarity in the
    management of the interrelationship of government and the populace.

     

    The foregoing
    having been accomplished, our primary schools will surely benefit immeasurably.

     

     

     

  • J17ghs

    Reads like most any analysis of our “education” system, whether parochial or public. Only the characters and titles are different.  John Dewey who is hailed as a hero created a lot of the socialist, hedonistic and athestic dysfunction of our day along with his disciple and another socialist hero Lucy Sprague Mitchell (whose husband, Wesley, a Chicago University economics professor did the same thing to statistical analysis). The greatest mass murderer of the last century, Vladimir Lenin, said, “Give me a child at 4 and I will give you a good socialist.” The latter is the primary reason we have so many mothers in the workplace; so that an education system can dupe them of their individualism and liberty.

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  • YES PRIMARILY IT DOES BUT THE PARENTS TODAY WERE  IN THE VATICAN 2 SYSTEM AND DID NOT LEARN THE ROMAN CATHOLIC FAITH EITHER, SO THEY CAN NOT TEACH  THEIR CHILDREN. WE GRANDPARENTS WHO WERE TAUGHT  THE REAL CATHOLICISM, ARE AT A DISADA==VANTAGE AS WE ARE NOT WITH OUR GRANDCHILDREN  VERY MUCH- ATND  MOST FAMILIES THESE DAYS ARE NOT LIVING IN HE SAME CITY. THERE IS NOT THE OPPORTUNITY TO  TEACH OUR FAITH TO  OUR GRANDCHILDRE, AS WE ONLY SEE THEM A HANDFUL OF TIMES DURING ANY GIVEN PERIOD.  THE LONG DISTANCE  ROUTES OF FAMILYS  IS AN OBSTACLE.  WE NEED TO TOTALLY REASSES LIVE  AAND THIS  LIVING ACROSS THE COUNTRY  THING -IN TH  VIEWPOINT OF HOW IT DAMAGES  THE GRANDCHILDREN AND THE IR PARENTS ALSO. AND ALSO THE GRANDPARENTS – ALL THE DISCONNECT FROM EACH OTHER- NEEDS REVALUING TO THE TENTH DEGREE.
     IT NEEDS TO RETURN TO THE WAY OF THEIR GREAT-GRANDPARENTS- WHEN FAMILIES DID NOT MOVE AWAY FROM EACH OTHER- BUT LIVED IN THE SAME NEOGHBORHOOD AND THEIR CHILDREN GREW UP EXACTLY WHERE THEY GREW UP, AND THE GENERATIONS OF FAMILY WERE ALL IN THAT NEIGHBORHOOD. WHERE  TRATIONS  FAMILY HISTORY, AND OUR CATHOLIC TEACHINGS, OUR CATHOLIC TRATIONS, OUR TRUE FAITH ANND PRACTICES CAN BE HANDED  DOWN DAY BY DAY TO EACH GENERATIONS’ CHILDREN.

  •  Actually, you are wrong on comparative religion and sex education. In my country, they teach sex education, at around the age of 12 or 13 in schools, and it actually works. Sex education plus christian morality is a great combination, because kids get to know about sex and procreation and at the same time know why pre-marital sex can be dangerous and why it is better to keep your virginity. It works wonders with the girls in the place where I live. As for comparative religion, first of all, we need to respect all faiths, second, all faiths have very similar morality, even if theology is not that similar. All teach the values of love, abstinence from earthly pleasures and peace. Remember also that Vatican II declared freedom of religion a basic human right, so catholic schools teaching other religions can actually increase your faith.
    However, I do agree with you on some points. I think sex education works wonders where I live because 1) we are a very christian country 2) they don’t encourage sex or any kind of sexual deviation, they just teach about sex. When I learned about sex education, they talked to me about anal and oral sex, masturbation and contraception, but they didn’t encourage any of it, they just taught it. The way you make it sound, it looks like in the USA sex educators want their students to have sex and respect sexual deviations. You are right in that this is a huge mistake. As for comparative religion, they should compare other religions with catholicism and keep catholicism’s supremacy, since this is not a secular school but a religious one that is catholic. If a hindu school teaches religion, it would make sense they would compare other religions to hinduism.

  • Philopus

    Catholic schools that don’t teach the faith rigorously and
    live by the Church’s precepts are committing fraud. So many Catholic schools happily
    solicit and take money from the faithful parishioners only to squander it with
    CINO (Catholic In Name Only) policies and curriculum. Many parents are fooling
    themselves by thinking they are doing something worthwhile in sending their
    children to these schools.

    The bishops need to reassert their authority and get very involved
    in the few schools that remain. If the school doesn’t conform then it should be
    required to disassociate from the church and remove Catholic from its name.  Some bishops are part of the problem so it
    can be an uphill battle to be sure. We don’t have the current mess in this
    country, where Christian values are on a steady decline, by accident.

  • Ron

    I am a confirmed Atheist, a Jewish kid brought up Church of England in anti-semitic, racist post WWII Canada.

    For 10 years in the 80’s and 90’s I directed a multi-media technology centre for 6 school boards, 3 of which were Catholic.

    While I am generally anti-religion, when asked by parents which school board I would recommend, I would often suggest that the Catholic schools were better due to their greater warmth, better behaved students and staff and their general cohesiveness. 

    Many of the criticisms in this article are accurate

     “One study found that at least 42 per-cent of students thought that each individual decides the content of his or her beliefs. Other surveys show that nearly two-thirds of our Catholic students do not even believe that Christ founded His Church.”

    The question I propose to your readers is, do you wish to have blind faith or reason on the part of the members of your Church community?

    Another note, Prime Minister Trudeau, although hopeless in the economic sphere is venerated by the Canadian population for maintaining the separation of church and state in a highly functional multi-ethnic state.  Just because you are a good Catholic doesn’t mean that the rest of us – approximately 80% – need to follow the doctrines of a faith we don’t believe in.

    Understand though, that I would defend to the death, as my father did in WW II, your right to practise your religion.

  • sparrowhawk58

    Great article.

    My husband and I put our three kids through Catholic high schools. I can’t say enough about the firm foundation my daughter received. The school my sons attended, however, was a different story.

    One year, an elective theo course was offered on “Christian Muslim Dialogue.” The course catalogue contained a clearly propgandist description. It was all one-sided: having Muslim speakers visit (to talk about their post-9/11 trauma), learning phrases in Arabic from the Qur’an, etc. There was no “dialogue” involved. These were all Catholic boys who were going to be fed a one-sided and sanitized version of a highly complex religiopolitical system WITHOUT once hearing from former Muslims or Christians who fled persecution.  I questioned the teacher and the administration on this and I was treated like an Islamophobic whack-job. I was advised to read St. Augustine. (Yes, the author of “City of God Against the Pagans.”) Eventually the elective was cancelled, due to lack of interest, although I believe I brought up a lot of issues the school hadn’t considered when they green-lighted the teacher’s proposal.

    I never had a problem with learning about other religions, but a little less bias would have been nice.

    The following year, my then-11th grader had to take a morals class. Their text was the widely-used “Catholic Social Teaching” by Michael Pennock. I was shocked at the politically correct moral relativism. The War on Terror addressed 9/11 without mentioning Islam, jihad, Muslims, Osama bin Ladin, or al-Qaeda. Apparently anonymous “extremists” randomly banded together and successfully carried off a logistically complex global operation without ever articulating a reason why.

    This is typical of religion texts. The book I use with my 8th grade CCD class also addresses actual historic events, among them 9/11, without ever naming names. Why don’t we just use history books that edit out all references to the Japanese and Germans in the chapters on WWII?

    All three of my children have a strong sense of ethics–they don’t lie or cheat, they speak up for the weak, they are conscientious and kind young adults. I am proud of them. But of the three, only my daughter remains a practicing Catholic. My sons both self-identify as atheists. I recognize my responsibility in this. My husband and I, naively, handed over two idealistic and impressionable boys to a school that claimed to, but did not, promote a strong foundation in our faith. We thought they would get a deeper appreciation of what it means to be a Christian adult, and how rich our faith really is. Instead, they received four years of watered-down, inoffensive and weak “Catholicism Lite.” 

    Parents, beware. You may spend a lot of money doing more harm than good.

  • ED

    I would like to see some data supporting Mr. Kokoski’s claims here. This is a very long list of grievances without a single concrete example backing it up. 

    Would have been better on his personal blog.

  • Jorgecerra

    My daughter goes to a Catholic school, and is true that at least there they don’t go directly against Christian values. That is an advantage, but the truth is that its religious coolness builds up a very poor concept before the children about what being a Christian is. And together with their politicaly correct way of teaching, they are making insipid personalities, what at the end is the objective of the socialist-feminist-nihilist law of education: Flat citicens without strong moral anchors.

    In Spain I see that many people in the Catholic Church, mainly in religious Orders, have accommodated to some point to the political power and they aren’t really compromised with their spiritual vocation. Is also true that many, if not all, Parish Priests continue giving themselves to their communities.

    I have asked several times at the School for they giving more doctrine to the children, and they told me (once: that the Bishop had told them not to enter in that kind of things!!!  and (another time: that the children have enough religious activity; that they have a Mass per month –what on the other hand is only a desideratum, because not every month they have that Mass–.

    Now I’m considering applying for her to a Secular Institute, where the children know that they aren’t at a Catholic center, but where they have the possibility to go to Mass in the Chapel every Friday; that will be their decision, and can be more fruitful.

    Our society is ill, we all know that, but I think the negligence and adaptation to the times of part of the Church has gone too far, and they have enormous responsibility in the present situation.

    Jorge Cerra    

  • Galena56

    Very thorough representation of the demise of Catholic schools over the past few decades.  This article really helped me to understand just how the culture and society in the 60’s drastically changed religion and schools, and family life.

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