In a Church that is still struggling to find its footing after decades of scandal and assault from the American Left, the performance of Catholic schools during the pandemic has been a rare bright spot.
Diocesan school districts that have been closing schools for years now have waiting lists. Parents in minority communities are increasingly recognizing that parochial education is a better way to empower their children. More conservative states are pushing hard for school choice measures to help parents afford the transition.
In the leafy suburbs, COVID-19 finally exposed government-run schools for not only their Leftist anti-Catholic agendas but their fidelity to placing union demands over student needs at all costs.
For decades, Catholic education has undeniably yielded better academic results at lower costs, as well as a discipline and a moral foundation that have all but vanished from government schools.
Diocesan school districts made a commitment to get back to in-person learning, working overtime to develop and execute plans for their buildings that ensured as safe an environment as possible. The effort has left egg on the faces of their publicly-funded competitors, many of whom failed to get students back into classrooms full time for the entire 2020-2021 school year.
Enrollment in the Archdiocese of Boston schools is up more than 5,000 since the pandemic. Many of New York’s Catholic schools now have waiting lists. Efforts by Leftist Mayor Bill de Blasio to scrap “gifted and talented” schools have also been responsible for a surge. In Chicago, they’re up seven percent over pre-pandemic levels. The list goes on.
It’s a sign of life for the once-powerhouse Church. But one thing can stop it in its tracks.
Catholic school parents are growing increasingly concerned that the Church will not fight liberal politicians and the medical establishment who wish to force-vaccinate children.
The science is becoming increasingly clear, even to the vaccinated and those who supported some measure of COVID-19 mandates, that the 0-18 cohort of the population are not at risk from COVID-19, including its variants, and schools are not vectors for infection.
According to the CDC’s own data, children have a 0.00016 mortality rate. An extensive study in The Lancet, released in October, demonstrated what we’re all beginning to realize: the vaccines that we were told would stop the spread and would “keep other people safe” are not effective at reducing transmission. They also don’t prevent acquisition of the virus.
But concerns are rising for parents that have watched the USCCB kowtow to President Biden and other “Catholic” officials like Governors Kathy Hochul and Gavin Newsom, thereby abandoning hundreds of thousands of Catholic cops, healthcare workers, and members of our military by not forcefully standing against vaccine mandates that strip away religious freedom.
Parents have also watched as the bishops in conference in Baltimore recently equivocated, for purely political purposes, on the issue of public officials who promote abortion, euthanasia, and other policies that run counter to Church doctrine.
When it came to vaccines and religious liberty, all the USCCB and diocesan ordinaries needed to do was support both vaccination (particularly for high-risk individuals) and the right of all Americans to apply for religious exemptions. So far, they haven’t, and government has run amuck.
When it comes to vaccine mandates for Catholic schoolchildren, they must be unequivocal. Catholic school parents and the political class alike need to hear loud and clear that should government attempt to force-vaccinate children, the Church will stand with parents who request exemptions based on rights of conscience.
In the New York Archdiocese, Superintendent Michael Deegan recently was compelled to release a strong statement on the issue to a growing group of hundreds of Catholic school parents who have organized to oppose vaccine mandates.
He said, in part, that the diocese “[has] a history of pushing back against government overreach…to protect the students and teachers successfully…. The Catholic Elementary Schools within the Archdiocese will not mandate vaccinations for our students…[we] will use every tool and resources we have…to ensure parents remain the primary health care advocates and decision-makers for their children and government stays out of our schools.”
Other diocese should follow suit, making it clear to parents, the politicians, and the medical bureaucracy in their localities that if they pick a fight with Catholic schools over vaccines, they’ll get one; not a press release from the local bishop.
To put it in more practical terms for the administrators and chancellors out there—it’s simply not smart to declare war on the parents who are paying the tuition, donating to scholarships, and putting money in the collection plates.
Bishops and diocesan school officials need to let those parents know they have their back now. Not doing so risks bringing a welcome Catholic-school boom to a nasty end.
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