Why We Bother To Have A Catholic School

A news story from Boulder, Colorado involving Archbishop Chaput, a Catholic school, and a lesbian couple highlights the main reason for Catholic schools.  The archbishop explains why the child of a lesbian couple would not be enrolled in the Catholic elementary school.  He explains:

“If parents don’t respect the beliefs of the Church, or live in a manner that openly rejects those beliefs, then partnering with those parents becomes very difficult, if not impossible.”

As the archbishop states, the school “partners” with parents in the Catholic upbringing of their children.  In this partnership between home and school, what is taught at school has to harmonize with what is taught at home.  As you could imagine, Archbishop Chaput of Denver was  pilloried in the press, which gave him the opportunity to teach publically about the reason for Catholic schools.    He states:

“The main purpose of Catholic schools is religious; in other words, to form students in Catholic faith, Catholic morality and Catholic social values. … Many of our schools also accept students of other faiths and no faith, and from single parents and divorced parent families. These students are always welcome so long as (my emphasis)  their parents support the Catholic mission of the school and do not offer a serious counter-witness to that mission in their actions. …”  Therefore, the “idea that Catholic schools should require support for Catholic teaching for admission, and a serious effort from school families to live their Catholic identity faithfully, is reasonable and just.”

“Church never looks for reasons to turn anyone away from a Catholic education. But the Church can’t change her moral beliefs without undermining her mission and failing to serve the many families who believe in that mission.”

Because a same sex couple is involved, the issue becomes emotionally charged.  The archbishop explains the Church’s teaching on this matter:

“Church does not claim that people with a homosexual orientation are ‘bad,’ or that their children are less loved by God. Quite the opposite. But what the Church does teach is that sexual intimacy by anyone outside marriage is wrong; that marriage is a sacramental covenant; and that marriage can only occur between a man and a woman. … These beliefs are central to a Catholic understanding of human nature, family and happiness, and the organization of society,” and “The Church cannot change these teachings because, in the faith of Catholics, they are the teachings of Jesus Christ.”

Sending this child to a school where the values between the home and the school are clearly at loggerheads is not fair to the child.  What a position to put a young child into.  The school teaches one morality and the home another.  Will the teachers of the school have to refrain from teaching the whole Catholic faith in order not to hurt the feelings of the child or upset the parents of that child?  What about the other parents who choose the Catholic school because they want the whole and authentic teachings of the Faith for their children?

The archbishop is right.  The partnership between the school and the same-sex couple will not work.  The couple is expecting the school to provide something it just cannot – support for their lifestyle.  They may demand  respect for their way of life, but what about respect for the mission of the Catholic school and the other parents who send their students to that school precisely for its Catholic mission of handing on the Faith whole and entire.  I am sure there are many other schools, public or private, in Boulder where this child can have a good education.  He or she is not being denied an education.  However, in this situation, it is the poor child who is the victim, being denied something far greater – a stable family with both a mom and a dad.

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About Didobonaparte

A Roman Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Vancouver, I am the parish priest of Saint Joseph's Catholic Church, Langley.
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