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Confessions of a Wanna-Be Orthodox Catholic High School Teacher

March 20, AD2013


Have you ever felt like a nobody in the world? To be in the world but not of the world is surely a frustrating reality in the normative workplace environment. But in the Catholic Education world? I never thought it would be such lonely, difficult work to teach, preach, and witness an orthodox Catholic message as a theology teacher in the typical American Catholic High School. Where to begin? The dark stuff.

The problems begin as always in the home. When we went to the other children’s birthday parties and I chatted with the other parents, I noticed in the Catholic elementary schools my own children attended it seemed like more than half were living with the complexity of divorce. I have read that Catholics on the whole have statistical rates for most societal vices on par with non-Catholics. We aren’t leading (morally speaking) even though we have plenty of Catholic “leaders” in our communities and nation.

I also find the divorce phenomena in my high school classrooms, and try to share my own damage assessment from growing up in a divorced home and not being raised a Christian even though I was baptized as a child. The problem is for the kids today, like for me back then, you don’t realize how the divorce thing is harming you on the inside and affecting all kinds of relationships- starting with God the Father and working down to preparing for your own Marital Vocation. “Everyone’s Fine” is the theme for the “Love, American Style” post sexual revolution. Awareness that everyone isn’t just fine is the first step- and for many of the sons and daughters of divorce that awareness doesn’t come until much adulthood has already passed and cycles of dysfunctional relationships continue on until one finally is awakened. The fact is that parents who have divorced have a vested interest in perpetuating the false myth that “the kids are alright.” Few people like to admit fault and fewer still will entertain thoughts that they have harmed their own children.

I would list Divorce as the first cause of the diminished faith of the Catholic school students I have encountered in my decade and a half of teaching experience. The causes of Divorce of course go back to the unorthodox treatment of Catholic teachings on matters to do with sexuality. The litany of anti-Catholic influences and abuses is legion- pornography exposure from early ages, masturbation addictions, premarital sex, same-sex exploration and experimentation, ‘my body my choice’ hardened feminism. These are the diseases that plague marriages from before they even begin. If you add other spiritual sicknesses like general hedonistic life philosophies “Seize the Day!” “If it feels good, do it!”, along with consumerism/materialism, sports and entertainment obsessions and so forth, you really have to wonder how anyone is supposed to live as a typical American and find their way Home to Rome!

If Catholic schools were factories, the end product would be lukewarm Catholics. The Catholic school is already disadvantaged by all of the home and cultural realities that are doing the primary shaping of the young American Catholic mind and spirit. I still believe we could do a heck of a lot more to raise the odds that more of these young Catholics/Christians/Other would find the shortcut to the Way of Christ if only we had our act together as Catholic Education Centers. I could recount many nightmarish stories of how most of the Catholic school educators and administrators I have encountered have been men and women of little or no faith in Christ and Church. Even in the religion departments it is common to encounter ex-nuns who feel the Church is in sin because they can’t be priests, homosexual men who are more interested in defending the lifestyle than in teaching the straight Catholic faith, and a range of those who are in dissent on some or another important Catholic doctrine.

If there are problems of personnel inside the Religion departments, the other disciplines are almost completely immersed in doing exactly what they would be doing in a public school. I have often wondered what small percentage of Catholic high school teachers actually like the Catholic Church. It is obvious that in hiring these folks, the biggest unspoken question is not “Are you enthusiastic about your Catholic faith?” but “Can you tolerate pretending to be on board with the Catholic stuff you will encounter from time to time here?” For the most part, average Catholic school teachers are solid as dispensers of information and want to bond with their students, but there is no real faith present in their hearts, and certainly not in the worldview presented in their classrooms.

Faithless teachers would not be so rampant if those charged with responsibility for the school’s Catholic mission were sincerely focused on a “Faith First” approach and philosophy. I have been at schools where I have spoken directly to administrators about this and to my face I was told that \”only one-third of the parents of Catholic school kids are there for the religious education, another one-third are there for sports, and the other one-third for the safety and academics.\” So, the piecemeal system of making a show of the faith for P.R. purposes becomes the smart strategy for keeping things appearing Catholic-enough for the one-third of parents primarily interested in the faith dimension, but for the two-thirds who are not, there is a wink-wink given that the real show is the academic and sports achievements.

And, now after a brief flurry of pressure coming from the Bishops for re-establishing a “Catholic Identity” in our Catholic schools, the primary focus around the country is on getting technology into the classrooms at breakneck speed. There is even a strange development whereupon in Communist China, the buzz is that Catholic schools are the best schools in America, and for the children of the elite who do not do well on their placement tests, they are coming to American Catholic schools so they can go to American universities and bypass the more difficult to get into Chinese universities. The Chinese students come here never hearing the name Jesus Christ before. This could be an excellent opportunity for evangelization, but evangelizing was never spoken of as part of any serious plan. Just drop them into religion classes with everyone else, and they end up being exposed to a very lukewarm variety of Catholicity- makes them probably wonder what the big fuss is back home, the faith doesn’t seem to alter the lifestyle of typical American Catholic students.

I have tried to make noise about all that I have written above. I’ve sent my letters to Superintendents and invited Bishops to dinner, but all I have received has been either polite thanks, or direct negative consequences. But here are my recommendations anyway:

1. Catholic identity is #1- hire right. Seek and find enthusiastic wanna-be orthodox Catholics to fill in the ranks of at least 90% of the faculty and staff positions. Help the teachers out by getting serious about locating textbooks that include positive Catholic worldview even in non-religion subject areas. As it stands now, the textbooks outside of religion classes are the same one would see in public schools, with all the problems of the culture seeping in.

2. Praise and worship should be given primary place in school activities. The mainstream music that is played throughout Catholic school sporting events, dances, gym classes etc. is the same junk that is being played everywhere, songs full of obscenity, sexual immorality, violence and despair. Why can’t Catholic schools be bastions for Christian music promotion? One only has to attend a sporting event, a dance or a school play to assess the strength of an actual Catholic influence and identity.

3. Catholic schools should be centers for Eucharistic Adoration. They could offer Theology of the Body classes, Pro-life activism, Catholic Relief Services, Fair Trade marketing, nurturing future community and political leaders with our full Catholic social doctrine and sexual ethics. Wow!

4. I have seen that the male-female interactions of the current generation are just not very healthy. One of the sad results of the Sexual Revolution is the pressure on young girls to get involved in sexual relationships, and even regard themselves as sex objects to match the mainstream culture. With divorce comes along a lot of girls who are going without a daily dose of a father’s affectionate love. They turn to the boys who often are addicted to pornography and don’t comprehend chastity. To combat this we need return to more traditional schools of all-boys and all-girls, or at least have classes separated into boy and girl classrooms with teachers best suited as role-models teaching one gender or the other.

© 2013. Francis. All Rights Reserved.

Photography: See our Photographers page.

About the Author:

I am an adult convert to Catholicism. I take on the name of Francis to honor Pope Francis I, and to acknowledge my place of theological studies. St. Francis is a Saint who inspires so many of us, and in all of my travels, Assisi is one place I felt such incredible peace. I am now a Catholic school educator with a wonderful wife, and adorable children. I am keenly interested in promoting the Social Doctrine of the Church, having some experience on the campaign trail, and some leadership background with a pro-life organization. As an educator who is trying to assist in the reform of Catholic education, I find it necessary to conceal my name so that I can be as honest as possible without jeopardizing my professional career. I am focused on issues relating to family, to education/evangelization, and to political activity with the goal of promoting the universal common good.

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  • Children are images of God. It is our secular society who is obsessed with sex. In the name of so-called freedom for women, the pill and contraception, children are the ones who have paid. Nobody has become freer by going away from traditional Catholic teaching.

  • You are so right. I just completed my first year as a fourth grade Catholic school teacher. This is a difficult age to talk about divorce, but I was actually glad to see the topic in our new text book, Images of God. How do you talk to kids who already have divorced parents? It’s a sensitive issue, but I felt it was so important to convey the message and gospel of Jesus Christ. This is not what he wanted.

  • NDXUFan

    Good point, JT.

  • NDXUFan

    One of the reasons for divorce is current obsession of one parent or both parents with children. Yes, I like children. Yet, too many couples do not work to make the marriage healthy to prevent divorce, which hurts “The children” more than anything. In fact, the vast majority of people in jail, did not have a father.

  • NDXUFan

    John: You need to start taking care of an individual in that condition. Then, you would not run your mouth. Yes, I did the job for many years, it is 24/7. Jesus said, “As you do to the very least of my brothers, you have done unto me.” I will go with the Son of God.

  • NDXUFan

    Fr. J, outstanding post, I have seen what you are talking about for many years, sadly.

  • NDXUFan

    I am glad that you have a wonderful wife, good for you. However, many are not as lucky as you happen to be. As a former county officer, most women seem to be interested in losers, bums, or jerks. Yes, I have seen that in 30 years of experience. Yes, I do agree with many of your points. Yet, before moralizing, please walk the same road that you are asking us to walk, it will open your eyes.

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  • JQ Tomanek

    JD, wow lots of love for you here. Isn’t it wonderful that the internet can draw so many people together to encourage brothers and sisters? It reminds me of St. Paul’s letters encouraging the different churches.

    I have experienced some of the things you mention as well. I have also seen faith lived out among my brothers and sisters in Christ and these events continue to inspire me and give me hope. I still have many faults and sins that I personally struggle with and with the grace of God and His Sacraments, especially Confession and the Eucharist, He beckons me to come closer to Him.

  • Francis

    JD- absolute wrong move to make in protest of the lukewarmers. If you have accepted the church as Mother then you know you can’t allow the bad behavior and attitudes of your siblings to adversely affect your own relationship with your Ma. She needs you even more- if you walk it breaks her heart. Jesus has one Bride- you can’t get closer to Jesus by storming away from His Bride. The problem you have is with your siblings- if your problem is with the official teachings of the Church- then you have a big big problem- I don’t get the impression that you are an unorthodox dissenter. You are just going to have to deal with your rebellious siblings- that’s family- can’t just walk out on family like a dead-beat and pretend Jesus wants that. That would be like a man taking a powder on his wife for his young secretary and blaming “love”. Keep working on your relationship within the family- not outside. Go ahead and vent but never leave.

  • What you describe as your predicament reminds me of the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life,” which I would guess you have seen.

    From a philosophical perspective, not a theological one or religious one, a corrective is offered in that movie. It’s a “what-if” sort of approach. What if you do leave? Who will they get to replace you? Who will the few students you are, even unknowingly, touching turn to?

    I have found rejection of my Catholicism in many circumstances, including in a Catholic hospital. In one of the worst rejections, I felt pain like never before. Then I got it. Jesus himself was rejected — big time — by the powers that be when he was teaching.

    Of course, we all have different missions and we can’t save others in the way Jesus does. We may step off the beaten path for a time. I did for a variety of reasons for a time. But at a crucial juncture, I stepped back on the path and realized how much stepping off helped me value what I came back to.

    For God’s sake, the “lost years of Jesus” could literally mean he was lost to others, though not to himself, as he developed his human ways of expressing the truths and the Truth he later gave unto our trust.

    Given the depth and breadth of your concerns, I wonder if your “leaving” might not take the form of a silent retreat of some extraordinary length. I took an 8-day silent retreat at the Jesuit Retreat Center at Grand Coteau, Louisiana. The experience changed my life. I had gone there to face my loneliness and see if that was all there was in the midst of the confusion around me.

    To my surprise, I discovered that I was indeed not alone.

    In terms of the movie, going on the retreat was my way of jumping off the bridge and having Clarence Hardbody (the angel) pull me out of the waters.

    Dare you risk such a retreat? Is it time to “look before you leap” or to heed the opposite advice: “He who hesitates is lost”?

    In matters so significant at the one you present, it’s not a simple choice, nor a hypothetical judgment (“What-if”) in the end. You are facing an issue that calls for a decision.

    Since I am writing about decision-making for Catholic Stand, I offer you the opportunity to contact me directly via email or phone to discuss this further when you want to:; 214-395-6145.

    Meanwhile, God be with you, always!

  • JD

    The drinking, the gambling, the sex scandals (Catholics living with non-Catholics, out of marriage and taking communion), the social justice agenda…..that of the devil. Yet, the Catholics love it. Every parish, in my diocese, has drinking contest at every parish festival and event. It’s to the point I am afraid to bring a non-Catholic, let alone an unbeliever. The Bishop refuses to do anything about it.

    If I leave the church, it is because of my love for Christ, so I can grow and mature in Him. Will it be perfect? No. But, I believe I will lose my soul if I remain in the Church.

    • Mary Ann

      JD, the things you mentioned are external to yourself. They are the sins of others. While it may be disheartening to watch the bad behavior of those who call themselves Catholic, even the bad behavior of some priests and bishops, it’s important to remember that their sins should not cause you to lose hope in the entire institution of the Church that Jesus formed! Jesus does ask the question that when He returns, will He find faith on earth? Each of us is responsible for our own commitment to the Faith. No one is perfect, and although other denominations appear to have it all together as far as the “externals” they lack the most important gift that we could ever receive on this side of heaven… the authentic Body of Christ in the Eucharist. Spend a lot of time contemplating such a dramatic, life changing choice.

    • JD – – – – thank you for the courage to expression your opinion here. This is what Catholic Stand is all about.

      First, let me share that leaving your Catholic faith, because of a parish, or group of people is sad. Your first and foremost priority should be that you are Catholic for a reason. A Catholic by conviction not convenience. Sadly, not all parishes are equal. If your parish is lack luster or falls short of Catholic doctrine, you should leave and find another parish. Even if you have to drive an hour to get there. But if you will recognize that God has placed you in a place for a greater purpose….and you have the courage to accept the challenge….with Christ all things are possible.

      Stay with me on this for a moment. I have traveled your journey. – – – –

      When I worked with Catholic Online, my family belonged to an outstanding 150 year-old parish with a vibrant community that was Magisterium-based….you walked into the sanctuary and felt the Holy Spirit. You could hear a pin drop when the church was full. No one even coughed. Then – – -we moved out of state and joined the only parish in town that the local Dioceses referred to as the “Protestant-ized Catholic Church.” Too lengthy to share all the details here….but the sanctuary was being used as a meeting hall with dances on the altar….no crucifix in the sanctuary…..the tabernacle was placed in the chapel where the assembly had their backs to the tabernacle during Mass….the music was very contemporary, using secular tunes like songs by John Lennon (atheist) and show tunes from Broadway musicals (Wicked). I didn’t want to join this Church. The priests at Catholic Online advised me to leave and find another church for fear that I would be corrupted. – – – – – I prayed. God spoke. We stayed.

      And I continued to pray that this parish would become an accurate image of the Catholic Church. Let me be perfectly honest with you here… was HELL! I wanted to leave. Didn’t enjoy attending Mass there. I often attended Mass at other parishes, just to retain my focus…until I changed my focus. The Eucharist was my inspiration and focus. Nothing else.

      I put on my spiritual armor and launched a Reformation of my own. And trust me….I was not alone. I kept praying that God would bring us a strong Catholic priest who would respect the Magisterium….Catholic Tradition and Doctrine and bring this Church back to where Christ wanted this parish to be. Sadly, and certainly NOT because of my prayers….the pastor died from cancer…..and a temporary pastor was assigned. Immediately, I formed the Respect Life Ministry…..members chastised me for being insensitive to the Pro-Choice members………I became a choir director and changed the music….I was treated horribly….choir members talked horribly about me in email messages and quit, saying that I was too Catholic…..….a compliment, I think….there was NO YOUTH MINISTRY….I started the Life Teen Ministry. We had 300 kids the first night! I taught the WOMEN OF GRACE series for 4 years….and was criticized again for being TOO CATHOLIC! Yes….Christ was using me to get their attention. Meanwhile, I was raising children and working. I kept praying that God would bring a vibrant Catholic priest who was strong enough to stand up against the parishioners who felt that they controlled the money and the clergy. Enter Father “M.” Prayers said. Prayers heard. Prayers answered. This is not the same parish we joined 12 years ago. Praise God! He is an Amazing God! Great song, by the way!

      My advice to you in this —-you don’t leave your faith, because of what you don’t like about in a particular parish. You stand firm in conviction and work to do God’s work DESPITE the adversity. I did not see that at the time of my conflict, but I see it clearly now. As Father “M” recently reminded me….“Thomas Kempis once wrote in his great spiritual masterpiece The Imitation of Christ — -“Don’t care much about who is with you and who is against you; but make it your greatest care that God is with you in everything you do.” We must remember that in the end…what others think about us doesn’t really matter. We will not stand before them at the final Judgment. What God thinks about us does matter, and matters greatly, because we will all stand before Him…and He is sure to get it right.” – – – –

      JD, embrace your Catholic faith. Be a Catholic of CONVICTION not CONVENIENCE! Find a parish where you feel the Holy Spirit. If you can’t find one, ask God to help you bring the Holy Spirit to them. Remember, the disciples were not welcomed into every community. You are here to do God’s work…..even if those who are in the same parish don’t recognize God’s work anymore.

      Peace be with you, my friend. P.D. ^i^

    • JD….had to come back and say…..God is using you. Please be open to His Will and abandon your own and watch what happens. “I consider that our present suffering is not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Paul’s Letter to the Romans 8:18

      Need some inspiration. Listen. Help Me Find It (Sidewalk Prophets)

  • JD…Remember the words of Jesus as He turned to his apostles and asked, “Will you leave me too?” And Peter said, “To whom shall we go, Lord?”… Don’t fall for the devil’s trap. Find a holy parish if the one you are going to is not giving you the fullness of our beautiful Catholic faith! I did this and found everything that you described above but are missing out on – and I was filled with peace and an abundance of grace. Stay strong…not sure where you are located but if you email me I will find you a good parish! Email

  • Mary Ann

    JD, don’t leave the Church. I know it’s frustrating, but don’t ever let the sins or apathy of others convince you to abandon the Church that Christ founded! There is so much at stake here, and nothing on earth should make you choose to give up receiving the very body of Christ in the Eucharist… it’s vital for spiritual survival.

    That being said, always remember that evangelization is an uphill battle; people are distracted and tempted to resist the message you are offering every step of the way. But fight the good fight and keep trying to change hearts in your own sphere of influence – just like you are doing! You are most definitely having a positive influence. And even if the results of some of your efforts are not be immediately apparent, remember that God sees it all and His Holy Spirit can pick up where you left off.

    Lastly, remember that people resisted Jesus’ efforts to change hearts even when He walked the earth. And if He, being God, could not convince everyone, we should not be discouraged either. God bless!

  • JD

    I have tried to get two jobs in Catholic schools as a religion teacher, outside of my diocese. Let’s say they just didn’t pan out, and interview process has left me to seriously wondering if I should leave the church. Why would I leave the Church? 1. There is no passion. People are not passion about Christ! Simply. 2. No evangelization. I have numerous experiences of bringing Muslims to Christ, and I share this my Catholic church members, and I am chastized. 3. Prayer and Bible studies. There are none, unless, you don’t have a job or are a popular person in the church. 4. The number of divorced people, people who promote abortion, homosexuality, etc. and are honored for their work in the church. 5. The priest who care more about raising money for computers to take state testing then telling people how to live. I throw me hands up, and I quit!

    • St Donatus

      Don’t quit. I have experienced the same thing. I left the church for thirty years. I had joined a very evangelical group but sad to say, they didn’t have the truth. I think what you are experiencing is similar to what the apostles had to experience. When I came back, I started to go to a parish run by the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter. They use the 1962 missal and thus say the Extraordinary form of mass.
      1. PASSION: There is lots of passion, some times too much in fact. When we are involved in anything, at least half the parish turns out. I witnessed this at a Abortion demonstration where our parish alone had more than the rest of the city and we weren’t even the organizers.
      2. EVANGELIZATION: We do a lot of evangelizing. In fact, there are multiple conversions every year, about half are converted by friends from work. At this point, about half the congregation were raised in some other religion.
      3. STUDY: We have mens and ladies groups for extra Bible study that meets once a month or more. There are also smaller studies available.
      4. No one who is living in mortal sin is allowed to receive communion or volunteer fro work in the church.
      5. The priests are paid a minimum amount. The only time I remember a request for money is when the Sewer line to the street broke and they needed $10,000 to have it repaired. Almost all the maintenance and remodeling is done by volunteer church members.

      Otherwise, it is just like the Catholic church was for almost 2000 years until the last 50 years or so.

      I drive an hour each way for mass and other activities. The Masses are holy and reverent. The priests are all holy men. The parishioners generally arrive 15 minutes or more prior to mass and 15 minutes or more after mass to pray. Everyone genuflects, no talking in the Nave, kneeling for Communion, long Confession lines, and on and on.

      While the ‘liberal’ parishes are dying out, the conservative and reverent parishes are booming. Try to find a good Latin mass church or a good and reverent English parish. God will give you what you need for a parish. As far as the school, sometimes I think the Catholic School system is lost but I have heard of some that are very good but they are in more traditional diocese like Lincoln Nebraska and places like that. Some people have moved to be close to my parish because they felt their faith was at jeopardy at their old parish. For God we must be willing to do anything.

    • Howard Duncan


      Before I converted from agnosticism to Catholicism, aside from reading about the faith and listening to Catholic radio and TV, I had conversations with a relative and cradle Catholic who worked for the diocese in order to find out more about the church. One conversation was by cell phone from this person who was speaking during a break while visiting someone in a Catholic hospital. The subject of abortion came up and this person asked me why I would object to abortion under certain circumstances such as rape. “But why should a woman suffer in this case?”

      I was driven further towards the Church by this comment. The truth of something can be illustrated to me very forcefully when we listen to the counter-truth expressed with nothing to back it up but vague feelings, ignorance, and willful disregard.

      Not being as strong as St. Paul when dealing with the Corinthians, for strength I gravitated towards others in the Church that shared my devotion. It also helps to understand that patience is also an expression of trust in God.

  • Francis

    Take notice of the news-

    Here we see the chickens coming home to roost- I have noted that Catholic schools tend to make no effort to hire enthusiastic, orthodox teachers – so here you have an openly lesbian Methodist teaching gym for almost 20 years in a Catholic high school- a bomb waiting to explode- I can tell you there are many, many more scandals to come- and the beat goes on..there is no organized effort by the bishops to ensure that the administrators follow a common protocol in asking the tough faith and lifestyle questions up front in interviews. We are disorganized, haphazard, and there is no reason for it if we truly believe the mission statements of the schools. It is way past time for the bishops to step in as a collective body and sort this mess out.

  • Francis

    JD- I encourage you to be a CAtholic with evangelical zeal! I’m curious why you cannot teach theology or religion in a Catholic school if you have an undergraduate degree in theology from a Catholic university? You don’t need certification in another subject area and the state doesn’t certify theology teachers- separation of church and state…

    • JD

      In my diocese, high school religion teachers must have a Masters in Theology, I don’t have it. I have a graduate courses in another field, which makes me a good catch for a school. (I will not say, as I don’t want to be outted.) For the middle schools, they want someone with a math/science degree as our schools normally have 60-90 middle school students, and so the teacher teachers math or science and religion. Yes, a math degree is favored over religion. I was told by a principal, I could hire an atheist to teach religion as it is a scripted program. The principal hired an engineer with no back ground in theology. The person goes to my parish and can’t even tell me why one should go to confession.

  • Brian A.

    Hi JD…from your comments above it sounds as though you regained your Catholicity some time ago…nevertheless, please allow me to Welcome you back brother!

    I’m sorry to hear about the situation in your diocese/parish. While I am not trying to choose the “other-side,” I must wonder if your diocese is concerned about its parochial students meeting certain federal and state statutory requirements regarding educational benchmarks/standards. Perhaps another concern for the diocese may be a drop in enrollment should the student’s parents learn the diocese employs non-certified teachers.

    Regardless of the reason(s) for these diocesan policies, I would like to encourage you not to give up! Did you ever consider/inquire about facilitating a CCD class with your parishes non-parochial school students? That is what I do throughout the school year. I facilitate religion class for my parishes 5th grade public school students, and I love doing it!!!

    I choose to call myself a “facilitator” instead of “teacher” because I feel I am not the “teacher” in religion class. The Holy Spirit, our Lord Jesus, and God our Almighty Father are, in my opinion, the Only True Teachers of the Faith! I merely provide a safe environment for the class to learn from and listen to our Lord…He does ALL of the teaching, if you know what I mean. 🙂

    I would now like to share a truthful story with you JD. Before I began facilitating my parish’s 5th grade CCD classes, I prayed and asked our Lord to let me know if I should pursue submitting my name for any open positions in the CCD program. Well, I believe all of 1-day passed (at most 2-days) before I received a telephone call from our Deacon’s wife.

    While she and I certainly recognized each other by sight, our families didn’t exactly hang out together or anything like that. Also, please keep in mind that prior to her calling me, I didn’t share the substance of my prayer to God with anyone just yet.

    The Deacon’s wife was calling to ask if I might be interested in “teaching” a CCD class. Well, perhaps needless to say, I believe I received a very direct answer to my prayer…and having heard said answer, you probably could have knocked me over with a feather afterward!

    My answer to our Lord’s question of me was “Absolutely, Yes!” I have been facilitating this class ever since that initial phone call. I love serving our Lord in this manner!!!!

    So, I guess my point in telling you all of this JD is an effort to ask you to do the same thing. Don’t give up on your dream. Ask God if this is something He wants you to do…and ask Him to let you know somehow whether or not He is calling you to do this. If Jesus wants you to teach His children, He will let you know. If He has something else in mind for you, ask Him to let you know what that may be as well. Either way, God’s will is always done. All good things come from God as He is THE Source of all goodness.

    He has a plan for you JD, as I know you know…and I too will pray that He will show you what it is He wants you to do at this point in your life. Just keep the faith JD. Mother Teresa once said, “God does not expect us to be successful. But He does want us to be faithful!”

    May the peace and love of our Lord Jesus fill your heart and be upon you and your family!

  • JD

    I left Catholicism as a teen for evangelicalism. The reason was simple: My Catholic parish offered a youth group that met for socialization. I tried another parishes’ group, and I was disappointed. A friend asked me to join their youth group. From the first night I was hooked. The youth group time started with worship, moved to prayer then to giving, a sermon and then prayer. I loved the praise and worship, it deepened my relationship with Christ. I attended an evangelical school, where I learned scriptures. I then, spent time in a few other churches, and now I am back in a Catholic pew. While I struggle with a few of the Catholic beliefs, I can defend them intellectually. However, my faith is alive and I am challenged to be an evangelical, Catholic. I want all to know Christ.
    As a Catholic, I struggle with the fact that my parish is in a very multi-ethnic area. We have several students from other countries, living just blocks away, from our school. These students who don’t know about Christ, could not only have a strong academic education, they could learn how to be Christians. And, our parish could have full pews on Sundays.
    I struggle as I have asked to teach at a Catholic school. I have an undergraduate degree in theology and ministry, including 18 hours of Catholic theology. (I finished my undergraduate degree at a Catholic college.) I would love to start religion class with prayer, a worship song, and authentic teachings. I would love to work with other teachers to incorporate authentic Catholic, Christian teachings. But, I have been told no, principals would rather have a licensed teacher, even an atheist, who can teach math/science/social studies with a bit of theology. For me I will not be sending my kids to Catholic school in my diocese. I want my kids to love Christ and lead others to him.

  • Francis

    I think we just have to go all out in every possible circumstance to try to part of the process of winning hearts for Christ and His Church. I don’t want to sound defeatist about having no chance of at miniumum laying the groundwork for conversion in our youth- no matter what they bring in as a family background. I am living proof that you can come from a divorced home environment, with the added proviso that neither of my parents even attempted to raise me in the Faith beyond infant baptism- no small thing that though! The Catholic Church was not on the radar whatsoever and I never so much as entered a Catholic school building. But guess what- God is good- opportunity came knocking later in life and with some fits and starts- I found my home in the Faith and am raising my own children to be strong little warriors for Christ and Church. So, lets not end this post pessimistically- my goal is to alert all solid Catholics of the honest situation (as far as I have witnessed and directly experienced) of our Catholic schools, and to shout out “Hey we can do so much more!”. We can plant more and better seeds among those in our schools- we have the freedom still- we just need to be smarter and have more resolve. We must organized a better strategy of following something along the lines of what Fr. Mike Scanlon did when he turned the University of Steubenville completely around. You can read his story in the book- Let the Fire Fall- this book should be part of every Catholic administrator’s required reading- if you have the financial means please purchase copies and give them to your area Catholic school administrators with friendly words of encouragement. Tell the Bishop about the book as well when you meet with him. If you want to really help wanna-be orthodox Catholic teachers like myself and many others- pray for us and our students, pray for their parents, and schedule meetings with your Bishop to discuss the realities that contribute to our Catholic schools seemingly churning out classes of lukewarm or dissenting young Catholics as the norm. Until we turn around the situation of young Catholics being just like everybody else their age when it comes to their moral and spiritual lives- we cannot rest, and we cannot just identify the bad guys and the negative influences- we must move on with the hard labor in the fields of young souls. We have the advantage in that we know the Truth, we have Good News to share, we just have to keep being creative and smart all the while relying upon the Holy Spirit to work through our good intentions and concrete efforts!

  • Erik

    Good post and interesting discussion. For anyone interested in a very compelling study on the effect of divorce, I would suggest a law review article by Lynn Wardle “THE POTENTIAL IMPACT OF HOMOSEXUAL PARENTING ON CHILDREN” 1997 University of Illinois Law Review 833. Though the article is focused on homosexual parenting, it contains a lot of information on the effect of divorce. I may be using the wrong terminology, but it is a sort of “meta analysis” that synthesizes numerous studies and statistics. It very much underscores what is said in the article above.

  • Francis

    Note to all those who took their precious time to add commentary- thank you so much for the words of challenge and encouragement! I have had to go deeper in my identity cover to ensure that I can be frank about a situation that troubles me greatly without putting my ability to provide for my family in jeopardy- my openness in the past was a little naive and we already paid the price once. Thanks be to God all has worked out- I’m in a better teaching space now- I work for a principal I truly respect. I am trying to move the school in the directions I have mentioned in the article- baby steps, seed planting. Pray that the love of our Faith wins out and the Catholic schools will wake up to recognize that they have to do a few things very differently starting yesterday. #1 Start with the new hires- find the smart teachers with passionate orthodox faith lives- ask the direct questions about faith in the interviews- perfectly legal, we are private entities. Assist the teachers by developing Catholic-worldview textbooks for all subject areas. I have already put forth the specific Catholic history/social studies textbook suggestion made by one of the commentators above to my principal! #2 We do need to evangelize and re-evangelize the current crop of parents and faculty much more vigorously- before we start firing folks and before we can expect a mass conversion of heart among the student body, the parents need to be targeted for solid catechetical upgrading. If we are agreed that everything good or bad really starts in the home- then we would be terribly amiss if we miss the opportunity to bring the parents in for inspirational guest speakers with follow-up opportunities to grow in the knowledge and practice of the Faith. I have put forth this idea elsewhere- didn’t mention it in my article but someone else did- and it is so true. #3 got to lobby the Bishops directly and repeatedly- I have been working from the trenches, the bottom-up approach is really difficult in a hierarchical institution- we rely heavily on the Bishop just like the military relies on the generals- think Lincoln and all the subpar generals he went through and almost lost the Civil War. Parents need to schedule meetings with the Bishop- as it stands now it is practically professional suicide for a lowly religion teacher to reach beyond the school administration to try to break up the lukewarm Catholic school culture. A strong, orthodox Bishop can change things in a day that could take 20 years or never when you are just one or a couple of teachers trying to make a difference. God bless all the commentators, and may God bless and transform the Catholic schools to make them all orthodox-friendly, passionate about a true Catholic worldview on every front, and affordable for all!

    • St Donatus

      God Bless Francis, Todd, and all the other Catholic School teachers that try so hard to improve Catholic Schools. Let us all pray for them and the Bishops to make the changes to Orthodox Catholic teaching in our schools.

  • Todd

    As one who has also taught in a Catholic high school, I can relate to much of what Francis mentioned in his article. I am happy to see someone speak out on this issue as it is very disturbing to say the least. (Unfortunately, it only gets worse when one looks at many of our Catholic colleges & universities.) I am optimistic however, because when the Church has ever gone through trying times, God has always raised up GREAT SAINTS! We know this from our history, ‘Salvation History’.

    Lastly, let us all keep Phil in our prayers. God bless!

  • Richard E

    Phil: I have hunted high and low on the internet for some information on what you wrote:
    “I know that there have been 30 born of virgins, crucified on a cross or tree, […] where did you find it at?

    Then you wrote: I will happily enter into polite discourse; vitriol, name calling and abusive language…no! I haven’t seen any of this,

    BTW, here are the references you requested, and you give a link which I read. In relation to the link’s story on the Pope’s girlfriend – In the Popes biography – The Jesuit (El Jesuit – available on life free read) he relates to the girlfriend he had a kid growing up: “If I don’t marry you, I’m going to be a priest.” And In his youth, he enjoyed dancing the tango with a girlfriend before discovering a “religious vocation.” this girl lived just down the street with her parents from where the future Pope lived with his parents. Later his parents moved. He would later enter college studying chemistry before he saw his vocation for the priesthood. – when it comes to the background on the Pope don’t always rely on what the secular media writes and more accurate info on him comes from his own writings.
    In relation to the book “On Heaven and Earth” (not avaliable in a on-live Spanish version or english but will be published in English in a couple of months) he co-wrote the book with Rabbi Abraham Skorka, rector of the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary in Buenos Aires, as a series of conversations. Their exchanges cover topics such as God, atheism, abortion, the Holocaust, same-sex marriage, fundamentalism and globalization among other topics. He speaks of the struggles he had after meeting a young lady at his uncles wedding and forced him to consider what others go through. I do not see him ever endorsing marred clergy in the future – as he does relate back to scripture (paraphrasing here) some are called to married life, some to single life of serving.

  • Marthe Lépine

    What a blessing parents here in Canada do have. Catholic schools have their own identity but are covered by government financing. The way it is done, at least in Ontario, is that homeowners choose to which school system their school taxes will be going. It does not mean that all is well in our system, I heard a high school teacher in my parish once complaining that the principal of his school was “New Age”! But at least those schools do not cost a fortune, and the parents can bring their objections to parents-teachers meetings.
    Of course, we often hear calls from secularists to put an end to this system; however it is part of our Constitution…

  • Abigail Benjamin

    I noticed another problem in Catholic education, and that is the isolation that cost places on large families.

    I am now the mother of 5 children. (God willing we may have more). I started homeschooling because my parish school offered a ridiculous family cap for large families. For Catholic elementary school in Washington DC tuition cost between $4,000 and $5,000. The way it worked for large families is that you paid for 4 kids in a single school ($20,000) and then you got one kid in “free.”

    I started homeschooling my kindergartener because by the time she was 5, we had three kids. I knew I couldn’t ever pay $15,000 a year for elementary education–even with some type of financial aid.

    So what happened in our community of Washington DC is that there were vibrant Orthodox Catholic families, but they all homeschool. Homeschooling is a unique art. It’s cool. I’m glad I’m doing it.

    It just makes me think that if your Orthodox, you hopefully follow the Church’s teaching to be welcoming to children in your marriage. If you’re not infertile, (which is a heavy cross for some families), you most likely will have a larger than average family.

    So if you make Catholic High School education impossible to pay for for families with more than 2 kids, you automatically lose a large chunk of your “Orthodox” Catholic families. That changes the flavor of the school.

    I’ve been in very Orthodox parishes, with lovely Catholics who were young and single, elderly and retired, or married with large families. The school attached to these parishes were a different “flavor.” They were radically less Catholic and more secular. Its because the people who were at Daily Mass, and singing in the choir on Sunday, weren’t sending their children to Catholic School.

    They didn’t send their children to Catholic School because of the problems you mentioned, but also because of the high cost.

  • Abigail Benjamin

    Francis, Thank you for writing this article–especially for mentioning divorce.

    I’m an adult convert to the Faith. Before converting I worked for 4 years as a Divorce Attorney. I went to Law School with the idea that good, kind hearted attorneys could make life better for kids during a divorce. Wow! I was wrong. I watched my clients (mostly mothers) fall apart in front of my eyes. It didn’t matter what the process looked like–you could have mediation, special meetings, parent education. The divorce process left bitter, bitter divides in a family.

    The hard part was that it was always papered over like “Oh, we’re working together for the kids! We’re great co-parents.”

    I’ve been in court cases where an otherwise rational Father and Mother got into screaming matches over a $3 Washington Redskin key chain. “Who gets the key chain after the divorce” that problem could take 3 weeks for the parties to resolve.

    I’m really happy someone is talking honestly about the problems of divorce. Of course, a parents divorce is going to erode a child’s trust in God the Father.

    Talking about a spiritual reality doesn’t mean that God can’t still work in a difficult situation. We can’t judge. Sometimes a divorce might be a “spiritual good.” For example, in a domestic violence situation. The catechism says that divorce could be permissible for some limited reasons–and its important to recognize that its remarriage without an annulment that is a mortal sin in our faith, not simply “divorce.”

    Even understanding that an individual family’s situation is unique–it doesn’t mean that as a whole we as a church can’t talk about the problems of divorce.

    I think the children of divorce need a special place in their local parish priest’s heart as a child who has a potential wound on their heart. They need prayer, love, and concern.

    • Marthe Lépine

      Your comment brings to mind something I have read in the news soon after the tragedy in Newtown. The article mentioned the divorce of the young man who did the shooting. Apparently the divorce was relatively non-oppositional and the parents remained “friends”. What struck me was that the father was quoted as “willing to do everything for their son”, who did have some problems, I am not sure if they were related to autism or something else. At the time the thought crosses my mind: “sure, everything except giving up, for the sake of his son, the idea of divorcing the mother…”

  • Now I am going away to do my breakfast, when having my breakfast coming over again to read additional news.

  • Francis

    mtmom- I was not aware- I am now- will look into it and if they are good all-around then we need to promote the heck of them to all the pertinent Catholic school stakeholders- like I said before- if the bishop says jump- the diocesan and school administrators will jump- they are like everyone else- they want to hold onto their jobs. Ideally everyone would be motivated by the Faith First enthusiasm but Catholic Education is in such disarray it really requires the orthodox bishops to start issuing marching orders and draw upon the hierarchical structure of our Church

  • Francis

    this is the author- note to some of the commentators

    To Lizzie et al: I should say that my primary point to make with this article is to cry out from the wilderness to those who have actual power to change the paradigm that is dominating Catholic Education at this time. This would include parents who have their children in Catholic schools- you have a lot more potential influence than a singular religion teacher- in America we operate under the mantra “the customer is always right!”. If enough orthodox Catholic parents weighed in at the schools and in face-to-face meetings with their Bishops- I think the critical mass could be achieved. I would appeal to orthodox priests to lobby their Bishop to do more about setting clear guidelines as to how to “Hire Right” up and down the Catholic Educational food chain. We must get “Faith First” enthusiasts into the classrooms- they also need to be smart and have the wherewithal to bring an authentic Catholic worldview into their subject areas. The USCCB should be lobbied to get started on building upon the Bishops’ Curriculum Framework for Theology – to get cross-curricular experts together to get going with the creation of textbooks in all disciplines that reflect the Catholic worldview- embedded in the texts in a way that assists ‘faith first’ teachers to do that which they truly wish to do but may be hamstrung by the typical textbooks that are found in Catholic schools- which are really the same text that are used in public schools- with all the lackings that that would suggest.

    As for Divorce- I agree Lizzie that I may have overreached with trying to diagnose the cause of the problem of so many of the Catholic school students coming in with lukewarm or non-existent faith lives. I put the onus on the parents- but to be fair- the problems that lead to divorce are problems that create circular paths of faith damage. The sexual revolution- all the baggage of rampant porn, ubiquitous premarital sex patterns, poor selection of priest and religious candidates and formation (which is at the heart of the explosive priestly sex scandals), which of course bleeds into marriages with contraceptive mentalities- which leads to divorce or at minimum ruptured/strained marriages. The poorly formed priests failure to prioritize Church teachings on sexuality and embrace Theology of the Body and NFP, this has damaged greatly the Faith of the parents of Catholic school students. My larger consideration is not whether divorce alone is the primary reason for why the kids are not alright and turning up in our Catholic schools with damaged faith lives. I am sure that the combination effect of the Sexual Revolution which didn’t really reform prudishness and sexism but did literally throw out the baby with the bathwater. Combine the Sexual Revolution with the lack of solid orthodox priests and religious taking command of parishes and allowing the schools to become bastions for lukewarm and/or dissenting Catholic educators- and you have the crux of the problem. Divorce shows up as one obvious dead-end for the true faith, but like lizzie reports many intact marriages exist but are spiritually dying or dead and so do nothing to inspire an enthusiastic faith in the children. The solution is not more lukewarmness, more dissent that would lead to Unitarianism or Episcopal liberalism ( and certainly not pantheism). No matter the exact placement in the hall of shame of the negative faith effects of divorce- the fact remains that we are in crisis- and firm, tough-loving orthodox Catholic leadership is needed (like yesterday!). I am Catholic and I am also American, so I believe in the Catholic doctrines and I believe in that American “can-do” attitude. I’ve listed my complaints, but I have provided several proposals to correct course and help push back against the damaging general culture for the sake of all the students still in our Catholic schools at this very moment.

    • Lizzie

      Ironically, I belong to a homeschool support group comprised of over 100 families which is an official ministry of a local Catholic Parish, a parish with a pretty large K -8 Catholic School. The same problems that you write about exist in this school in no small degree. Many many families in the Parish and a few other neighboring parishes opted out of the education offered through the Parish school to become homeschoolers. The priests have embraced our movement because our faith is an intrinsic part of our lives and we teach our children within the context of this faith every single day. We are a thriving example of what real Catholic education is, and it shows in our children’s involvement in the life of the Church. It is not found in the school, but in our homes. If you want to fix Catholic Schools, you must catechize parents. It doesn’t matter how many orthodox Catholics you hire to put into your schools if 16 hours a day those children are living with people who have, in effect, abandoned the faith. Sure there will always be children who will be graced with the inspiration to embrace the teaching, and I absolutely agree that faithful Catholics should occupy the positions within Catholic schools. But for most children, it truly does begin, and end, at home.

  • MtMama

    Are you aware of the Catholic Schools Textbook Project: and the blog:
    They are producing solidly Catholic history books, well written, engaging and beautifully designed. The tricky part is getting Catholic schools to dump the secular books and buy Catholic.

  • Brian A.

    “And the dragon was angry against the woman: and went to make war with the rest of her seed, who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:17).

    “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them. And power was given him over every tribe, and people, and tongue, and nation” (Revelation 13:7).

    “Here is the patience of the saints, who keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12).

    Brothers and Sisters…be patient, loving, and truthful in what we do and say, especially in our Father’s name…and as our Father in heaven is patient with us.

    As we prepare to enter into Holy Week, we must ask, how many times has our Lord Jesus been patient with each of us?

    On my own account, in my own life, I must say countless times. For me, the old proverb holds true: But for the grace of Almighty God go I…and I daresay any of us.

    So, remember…What God permits will be. What God does not permit, will not be. Hold true! Be faithful, steadfast, and hold to the path! And let us all pray we are not put to the test…St. Peter himself stumbled when put to the test.

    May we all meet our Lord this week and be crucified with Him at Calvary, and may His peace and love be upon us all and give us strength.

    Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto, sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

    • Brian A.

      I should have been more direct with my comments from above.

      What I was trying to say was, let’s all try to be more patient with our brother Phil. I know I have never walked a mile in his shoes…I’m guessing none of us here have.

      The problems Francis discussed above are the result of our own societal failures…and God permits these failures, because to do otherwise would be to remove His tremendous gift of free-will. God does not want slaves. The enemy wants us to be slaves to him and sin. God wants us to choose to follow Him of our own volition, which is why His call to every soul never ends until we pass from here to our reward, or conversely, to our judgment.

      Here’s a hypothetical…what if God was leading Phil, or someone else, to this internet site for the purpose of trying to find a foothold in their lives?

      While I understand how righteous indignation may “well-up” within us from time to time, it is in these moments we must be most patient. Just as God is endlessly patient with us the countless times we each stumble or fall, we are called to be endlessly patient with each other.

      We are called to be reflections of Jesus in all we do. Yet, given some of the comments I read that were directed at Phil, I’m not so sure we’ve done anything that would have helped our Lord in any attempt on His behalf to reestablish a presence in Phil’s, or anyone else’s soul/life.

      Yet, we should all take heart, and remember…all things are possible with God…regardless of our failures. God’s will is always accomplished.

      So, to close, perhaps the hypothetical I presented above is something we might think about, or reflect upon, as we enter into the holiest week of the liturgical year.

      Let us all pray that God will allow us to see Jesus in Phil and in everyone we meet, just as we are called to do with each other.

      Thanks for the opportunity to clarify. God bless!

  • Lizzie

    Forgive me if this was already discussed, because I haven’t read all the thread, but it seems to me a major point is being missed. Young people aren’t leaving the faith because their parents get divorced. Young people are leaving the faith because their parents are leaving the faith. Except for those for whom divorce is forced upon them, the very act of divorce is an abandonment of the Faith. I would guess that a majority of children of divorce were not being reared in the faith to begin with. The divorce is merely one indication of this loss of faith.

    So the relevant question seems to be, why have ADULTS abandoned the faith? I believe the best answer is the secularization of society. And it is for THIS reason more than any other, that children do not identify with the church. Add to this the scientism that is rampant in intellectual circles and you have the recipe for widespread dismissal of Church doctrine. Western secular culture rejects metaphysical belief in all forms. The problem isn’t just that kids’ parents are getting divorced. The problem is that the kids’ parents are witnessing disbelief to their children in a million other ways from birth long before their parents ever get divorced.

    • Lizzie, that was so well said.

    • Cathy Harrell


      You are exactly on point. I think one of the reasons they are leaving the Church is not only secularization but inadequate catechism. A LOT of Americans in the 30 – 50 age bracket don’t really know or understand what the Church teaches. Post Vatican II in the US was a confusing time.

    • Baronius

      I think that somewhere in this discussion we got confused. The problem for kids isn’t their intellectual decision to abandon the Faith; it’s that they aren’t being raised properly in the Faith to start with or are entering it so damaged as to not be able to grow in it. That’s where I think divorce is such an important factor.

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  • Marthe Lépine

    I have not had the time to read all of the comments, but as I did read some I began to feel extremely thankful that I was homeschooled almost all through primary school. It was rare in the 40’s, but it happened for health reasons (not my health but my mom’s and my brother’s), and on top of that my mom was actually qualified to teach the primary grades. Nowadays when I read some blogs I have been surprised to realize that many teachings about my Catholic religion that I just assumed were “part and parcel” of who I am were not that common, and that they came from my mom’s deep knowledge of religion and Catholic faith. I guess I was very very lucky. Too bad that I never had children of my own to raise…

  • Sandy

    @Francis, the author – I am glad you are strong in your faith and I pray you will work as hard as you can to be a positive role model for other teachers who may not be where you are yet. Please don’t toss your hands up in defeat. It’s possible other teachers would step up if only they had the privilege of the same level of formation you have received in your life (whether you were raised well or simply sought out adult formation on your own) I am a mom in my 40s, and even though I was raised Catholic, I had almost no formation. If I had embarked on a teaching career, I would have chosen to teach in Catholic schools, because I am Catholic and I sincerely would have believed I was fulfilling some sort of higher calling, and I would have been as ineffective as you describe. What would work? Maybe begin by bringing some light formation into the workplace. I don’t mean watered down, but accessible. I have seen many people work wonders with Rediscovering Catholicism by Matthew Kelly. May God bless your efforts!!

  • Richard E

    Fred, If I’m not mistaken this quote “to those who believe, no explanation is necessary, to those who do not, no explanation is possible.” is attributed to Saint Thomas Aquinas

    Phil, when you said you were a pantheist had to look that up to be sure: 1. A doctrine identifying the Deity with the universe and its phenomena. 2. Belief in and worship of all gods. The false theory according to which God and the world are one. (these come from the Catholic Encyclopedia) these are if not mistaken what the New Age religion grew out of.

    • Pantheism is the religious belief that God is not merely omnipresent, but that God is the universe…the Source of all energy, the summation of all physical laws. Much more could be written to explain.

      I have no doubt that a Catholic encyclopedia would categorize it as a false system of belief.

      Actually, it’s not new age but stems from GAIA and also from the mystery religions of ancient Egypt..all of which pre-date Judeo-Christian tradition.

    • “I SHALL show hereafter how the preponderant taste of a democratic people for very general ideas manifests itself in politics, but I wish to point out at present its principal effect on philosophy.

      It cannot be denied that pantheism has made great progress in our age. The writings of a part of Europe bear visible marks of it: the Germans introduce it into philosophy, and the French into literature. Most of the works of imagination published in France contain some opinions or some tinge caught from pantheistic doctrines or they disclose some tendency to such doctrines in their authors. This appears to me not to proceed only from an accidental, but from a permanent cause.

      When the conditions of society are becoming more equal and each individual man becomes more like all the rest, more weak and insignificant, a habit grows up of ceasing to notice the citizens and considering only the people, of overlooking individuals to think only of their kind. At such times the human mind seeks to embrace a multitude of different objects at once, and it constantly strives to connect a variety of consequences with a single cause. The idea of unity so possesses man and is sought by him so generally that if he thinks he has found it, he readily yields himself to repose in that belief. Not content with the discovery that there is nothing in the world but a creation and a Creator, he is still embarrassed by this primary division of things and seeks to expand and simplify his conception by including God and the universe in one great whole.

      If there is a philosophical system which teaches that all things material and immaterial, visible and invisible, which the world contains are to be considered only as the several parts of an immense Being, who alone remains eternal amidst the continual change and ceaseless transformation of all that constitutes him, we may readily infer that such a system, although it destroy the individuality of man, or rather because it destroys that individuality, will have secret charms for men living in democracies. All their habits of thought prepare them to conceive it and predispose them to adopt it. It naturally attracts and fixes their imagination; it fosters the pride while it soothes the indolence of their minds.

      Among the different systems by whose aid philosophy endeavors to explain the universe I believe pantheism to be one of those most fitted to seduce the human mind in democratic times. Against it all who abide in their attachment to the true greatness of man should combine and struggle.” — Alexis De Tocqueville, 1835

      The mystery religions of “Egypt” do not predate Christianity, Phil. They were attempts to strengthen Roman civic religion by reviving the use of old gods as new symbols, partially to counteract Roman citizen’s fascination with far Eastern religions and other foreign belief systems like Judaism and Christianity. The religion of ancient Egypt, on the other hand, was thoroughly polytheistic with occasional hints of henotheism. Pantheism came from the Greeks, because their democratic system was well-suited for it. The Hindus and most other oriental people were not pantheistic until about 1500 years ago, and then only somewhat. Pantheism thrives in cultures where the people are exalted above the individual. It facilitates government control of a populous quite well by devaluing the individual and emphasizing sameness and uniformity.

    • Pyramid texts ca. the 25th century BC describe the nature of the Pharaoh in different characters as both Horus and Osiris.

    • Gail Finke

      Phil, you seem to have been employed by a Catholic school some time ago, so perhaps your thoughts about what affects Catholic student belief today are a bit outdated. Also, as you are now a pantheist (yes, the Catholic Church — and all other faiths that are not pantheistic — would say you are wrong) it seems to me that your view may explain why you are no longer a Catholic more than it explains anything else. I find that very sad, but as I’m sure you don’t, I’ll leave it at that.

    • “Pyramid texts ca. the 25th century BC describe the nature of the Pharaoh in different characters as both Horus and Osiris.”

      Yeah, but you can’t read the theories of the nineteenth century back into ancient Egypt. Identifying the Pharaoh with certain gods wasn’t about Pantheism.

  • dan tracy

    “The RC Church’s obsession with sex. ”

    It seems that it is the media and the Church’s critics that are obsessed. The Church speaks out regularly and clearly about the rights of the oppressed, the plight of the poor, etc., yet if any announcement is made about abortion or contraception the media and critics readily pick it up and make it a front-page item. I chuckled when I heard the head of “Catholics for Choice” recently state that the Vatican is obsessed with the pelvic region. Actually, Catholics for Choice sole being for existence is the pelvic region.

    The Church needs to be a voice speaking out against so-called modern values and “rights.” Yes, many in the Church, in the US and the West, have quit attending Mass, yet how aligned are they really to the Gospel?
    Looking around, I have to say very limited…just look at the huge disparity in the West between the rich and poor, and the middle class consumer and the poor. Many in the West are bankrupt, at the family level, at the civic level, state level, and national level. Westerners are dealing with obesity and over-consumption at many levels.

    Consumerism and materialism are easier and seemingly more comfortable than the Gospel and than what the Church teaches. This is why Mass attendance has declined…modernity has offered an easier and less demanding path.

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  • Karyn

    I know a priest who was visiting a school and told the staff that they should be educating their students and forming them to be good Catholics. The staffs response was basically that it was enough to make them good people. A lot of people send their kids to Catholic school in order to get a “values” education. They want their child instilled with good values, but not necessarily religious ones.

    I find that many teachers are good and faithful Catholics, but weakly catechized. They don’t always know how to address their student’s questions or how to present the faith in a compelling and interesting way.

  • Francis, where are you teaching, and how can I sign my kids up?
    Thanks for this. I went to a pretty good Catholic all girls school growing up (my choice) and the same issues were definitely there as well. I loved my time there, but there is always room for improvement. I was a great minority, being enthusiastic about my faith, in a school of 800 other young women.

  • Francis

    Phil- the book is more about the positive fruits of Christianity and as an Orthodox Christian he isn’t trying to make a defense of the Catholic Church

    • Ok, like I say I will read & get it off amazon very soon. It will be an interesting comparison to Hitchens and DS Murdock, both whose scholarship I have come to admire.

  • Francis

    For Phil et al here is a book recommendation I thoroughly enjoyed-

    From David Bentley Hart-

    • Thank you, I will read as I am a voracious reader but I am not an atheist who denies god, rather a pantheist who who sees and unites with source in all.

  • Francis

    Mary ann- I tend to agree that Catholic elementary schools do a better job than high schools at cultivating the faith- but as you alluded- once the more controversial aspects of the faith emerge there is a lot of dissent among the faculty- too often including in the religion department. Also- I have a heck of a time trying to lobby at the elementary school level to try and get Catholic literature into the library and classes- there has been zero interest in even trying to bring in specifically Catholic literature- I’ve found websites like catholicfiction with some young adult fiction but in the schools all they could find were some old lives of the Saints type books. So the problem of Catholic schools ignoring the Catholic worldview as applies to disciplines other than religion class starts early and stays throughout the school experience. The other problem I’ve noted at the elementary level is the lack of desire to separate the genders for sports or anything else- no interest in having separate classrooms even for girls and boys- and I’m not sure how widespread it is- but the whole 6th grade inclusion in the middle school phenomena is not one I like- there is a big developmental difference between 6th and 8th graders- and the exposure to the corruption in language and romantic coupling has been a real hardship for my child. We all know our culture is off the charts inappropriate with profanity, and relations between the sexes- so why not push back with some commonsensical distinctions that are possible in private Catholic schools? Again- it seems that the leaders in CAtholic schools are trying to be like charter schools focused on P.R. more than getting back to the Gospel- maybe Pope Francis will start a trend back to more earnest effort on the part of the Bishops who seem to hire superintendants who are more worldly and numbers driven than the Faith First that actually works over the long term. But Catholic schools have somehow been put on the corporate path and like the modern day corporation the focus is always on the next quarter’s earnings- very short term thinking- and principals know they need to keep the numbers up or they are gone straight away- not much room for someone who is trying to shore up a really strong Catholic identity which risks losing some students in the short run.

  • Mary Ann

    Great article! First I want to thank you for being so committed and passionate about transmitting the faith to high school students in your corner of the world. It’s amazing that often converts to the Catholic faith are much more enthusiastic and uninhibited in living out their beliefs.

    We have three children who have all gone through Catholic elementary and (almost all through)co-ed Catholic high school, with the oldest two moving on to New York’s public university system. Our experience with Catholic teachers is mixed. I think on the elementary level the faith is more emphatically taught because those are the formative years for receiving the sacraments. Unfortunately, when the students need the most guidance in navigating a secular world (high school years) the passion in teaching seems to dwindle. At least on Long Island, many Catholic high schools are run more like businesses; competing to attract the best athletes and brightest academic students, to maintain national notoriety. Tuition is high and parental expectations are often more concerned with the high school grooming their children for future college scholarships rather than forming them into adults with a strong moral compass. Because of many of the points you brought up in your article, most parents are satisfied when the school system doesn’t push too hard on controversial moral topics.

    We have discovered that it takes a tremendous amount of parental example and engaging our kids in conversation to make sure they were being correctly spiritually formed! We couldn’t just take for granted they were getting all the facts in theology class. It’s sad but true that most teachers don’t want to rock the boat, and worry more about being politically correct and encouraging tolerance, even in a Catholic HS environment. Kudos to you for being brave enough to actually teach your students the faith beyond the minimum requirement!


  • The priority of praise and worship speaks strongly to me. Almost every prayer that I say each day was first taught to me at school. Almost every liturgical service I can remember (and there are many) was a part of my school activities.
    Christianity is not just a philosophy, it is the revealed Truth.

  • Francis

    By the way I totally endorse the step taken by the Bishop in Santa Rosa- I have thrown out the idea of having all Catholic Theology teachers in the Dioceses sign a special Oath of Fidelity to at least put every theology teacher on the spot of his or her conscience- to be honest that teaching dissent knowingly is in violation of their job expectation. It would be a great step forward in bringing unity to those who just want to see Catholic schools teach the straight-up Catholic catechetical deal. It is what it is, and I love it so I know I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.

  • Francis

    Thanks Jeff for the assist on that- I was hoping to find if my experiences are as common as I suspected.

    For st. D. You mentioned you disagreed with my point about marriages sometimes “work” and sometimes don’t. I wasn’t agreeing with the point I made I was listed it as a common attitude that negatively affects the institution of marriage- I believe that true Marriage is an unbreakable Sacramental bond- naturally separations may become necessary in cases of abuse and so forth- but I believe the Catholic teachings on the indissolvibility of Marriage

    • St Donatus

      Actually, I thought you did, I just wanted to make sure that point was made. Of course, we can control ourselves but not our mate. We can be a good example, and do anything we can to keep our spouse but sometimes they leave sometimes they abuse etc. But again, that is the reason to train our children well about finding a mate. Also, the only relationship that will bring us true happiness is that with God. I think our ancestors understood that much better than we today and that is a major reason why vocations to the priesthood were so much greater back then.

  • Jeff McLeod

    A study by Lawton & Bures (2001) in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion indicated that one of the sequelae of parental divorce is indeed “religious disaffiliation” — particularly among Catholics and conservative Protestants.

    The sample was drawn from the 1987 National Survey of Families and Households (compiled by the University of Wisconsin, Madison) and it includes a sizable sub-sample of 3,461 Catholics and 3,782 conservative Protestants.

    Their analysis found that for Catholics, parental divorce more than doubles the likelihood of abandoning faith altogether. An even stronger effect was found for conservative Protestants.

    • Jeff,

      I did take your comment seriously and researched the study you referred to. Truth be known I read the abstract. I would concur that divorce is one of the factors that contribute to the separation. disaffiliation or change of faith. However, the premise of the post written by the author was that divorce was a main or prime factor to disaffiliation.
      In 2010-12, two researchers from St Joseph University and the other from Villanova’s Center for the Study of Church Management conducted an anecdotal study at the request of the bishop of Trenton, NJ. He asked them to study why people were leaving the RC Church. The results were similar to my stated reasons much earlier in this blog. They discovered 7 reasons..divorce did not make the list, but I am sure it is a factor.

  • Francis

    Some quick points- since you know I am busy teaching all day! My divorce hypothesis has been germinating for some time based upon my awareness of the power of the domestic church- the role of home life and parents in the instruction on morals and faith life for the young. As an adult convert I was taken aback by the many lukewarm and/or cafeteria cradle Catholics I encountered. One school says that the fault is Catholic doctrine- it is old and wrongheaded- out of touch with modern realities. OK- but my own attraction to Catholicism was that I came to see the Church as the Church Christ founded and guaranteed a protective function at the doctrinal level to prevent serious errors on matters of faith and morals to seep into believer’s hearts and minds. So, for me doctrine wasn’t the problem- giving proper witness of the Catholic doctrines was the problem. I noticed that many of the Catholic school kids had a divorced home situation- like I grew up with- and I know firsthand how those undercurrents can really deeply influence many things about a person as they move from youth to adulthood- those studies are commonplace- I simply extrapolated these obvious findings along with my own direct experience and indirect student observations and put together a hypothesis that unorthodoxy and lukewarmness in our Catholic youth can be encouraged by children being affected by their divorced parent home life situations.

    If what we do as Catholic educators is really ‘clean up’ work or secondary helps for parents on the moral and faith fronts- then it is no wonder that we are being stymied by the lack of enthusiastic orthodox CAtholic faith witness at the home level. My beef is with my profession- that we could be doing so very much more to provide additional helps for the youth to become invigorated as faith-filled CAtholics despite not having that foundation at home. I know that I did transcend the lack of faith that my parents witnessed at home. I wish that the Catholic schools were staffed by enthusiastic Catholic role-models who were Faith first focused and doing all the smart things like bringing in Catholic worldview textbooks, music, culture to the school- backing up what is supposed to be happening in the theology classrooms. Alas this isn’t happening largely. I do put first responsibility on the bishops shoulders- if the bishop says “boo!” things happen- people fear for their jobs- but the bishops aren’t seeking or allowing the reports of orthodox teachers like myself to come into their decision making – they seem to be trusting the degrees of the superintendents instead of going down the ranks to the foot soldiers. The buck has to stop with the bishop- he is the ceo- he has the clout in the diocesan schools- I have been trying to get through but the school culture is thick with dissent and self-deception about the underlying spiritual problems.

    • Susie

      Hi Francis,

      I really appreciate your article. I am coming at all of this from a different perspective than yours. I was raised in a very Catholic home where my father was sure we knew the faith and my mother was sure we said the rosary. I know that that is a huge blessing and that my parents have a great reward waiting for them in heaven. As it is now, they have 9 children who still practice the faith, which is nearly unheard of among families raised in the 60’s through 80’s. Among the nine siblings, I am the only one who is divorced, so I am experiencing a divorce history that comes from the opposite side of yours. I do see the effect that divorce has had on my children’s faith. Four of my children are currently either hostile to the faith or severely apathetic. I have to say, though, that while they obviously have found friends who reflect their attitudes, most of these friends are not from divorced families. This is especially true for my daughter who is a senior at a Catholic high school. Her friends’ parents are married, yet they have no more use for the faith than she does. That makes me think that there is more to it than just divorce.

      My belief is that contraception also has had a tremendously bad effect on the life of faith in Catholic homes. What percent of parents who enroll their children in Catholic high schools use birth control? What percent of Catholic high school teachers use birth control? How many teachers in those schools lived or are living with their boyfriend or girlfriend? How can we expect these people, who are objectively in grave sin, to be able to teach the faith to our children? I am not judging these people, I am only observing that we can’t play games with sexual morality and think we can somehow raise children who aren’t fair game for the culture that has so influenced the parents and teachers. And it is one heck of a sick culture. Any thoughts on the effect that birth control has on the parents, educators and therefor the students of Catholic schools?

      (The quote featured above your article makes me so sad because I wonder the same thing, yet I can see how being in a state of sin through the use of bc would make one less fond of the Church!)

  • Joel

    I have worked as a faculty member at a Catholic high school for several years, and find this article to be spot on; I have also served as a music director at a Catholic parish for eight years.

    My own observation is that the current Catholic high school is only different from a public high school in that one is allowed to mention the name of God without fear of the ACLU; beyond that there is – sadly – little that is ‘Catholic’ anymore in most ‘Catholic high schools. I can say the same for most ‘Catholic’ universities as well.

    Anybody that has read St. Thomas Aquinas, G.K. Chesterton, St. Augustine and other Catholic writers should realize that Catholicism is not a religion which only sustains itself on the ‘uneducated.’

    In regard to Catholic teaching on sexuality – if one truly studies it – one finds a beautiful call to total self-giving, true love, and an obedience to the innate law of our own biology; we have forgotten natural law so that entire concept seems foreign to modern society.

    My prayers for Francis and all those who continue to work in the field of Catholic education as orthodox Catholics.

  • St Donatus

    What is really sad, is that Phil Dzialo proves Francis’ point perfectly. Why is a man who obviously doesn’t or didn’t have a solid footing in his faith in God, doing as a ‘VP in a Catholic High School…1974-1979 in MA’.

    What do we think that the effect on his students were? Very very scary.

    • Dear Saint Donatus

      I love the way you judge with no facts. 33 years I was as orthodox and believing and conforming as a cradle RC can be…never deviated from the party line and held everyone to it. 30 years later I am thankfully not the same person as I saw my error many years later. You did not know me 33+ years ago…

      BTW, I really am offput by people who hide behind a pseudonym or an anonymous identity. Something about hiding your light under a bushel basket bothers me….

    • John O

      So phil you are 63 with a 27 year old son who you’ve been taking crae of 24/7 for 15 years. That leaves you 36 years of life into which you crammed 30 years as a principle!! You started at 6 years of age!! WOW

      Let me ask a question if I may. Were your parents divorced?

    • No my parents were NEVER divorced, neither was I…again I’d be happy to give you a breakdown of my life and send you the book my wife wrote…email me at
      Perhaps I could also assist you with your math

  • St Donatus

    Well Phil, I don’t think taking care of a loved one is an excuse for abusing God and his organization on Earth. I too have spent the lasts 25 years caring for sick and disabled relatives. But I don’t wear it as a badge or use it as an excuse. In fact, most of my friends and co-workers don’t even know about these trials. I have found that the best thing to do is offer these trials up to God as an sacrifice, as penance, as a display of my love for him.

    Thus far I have been caring for my wife’s 92 year old father which involves 200 mile weekly trips to the hospital, we took care of her mother until she died of cancer, we took care of her ‘mentally disabled’ niece, and I have a severely ‘mentally disabled’ sister. We also helped care for my own mother and father. We haven’t had a break in 20 years. On top of this, I work full time and my wife works part time (so she can care for her father every couple of hours.)

    Otherwise, I understand the pain and hardship of caring for loved ones, changing their diapers, cleaning their beds, trying to give them baths, feeding them and many more challenges. But part of that time I went without God and became resentful of these obligations. Once I came back to the Catholic Church, I started understanding that these things could be both a blessing and a lesson. I have learned that by staying busy all the time, there is no time to fulfill selfish desires. No recreation, no shopping, no vacations, no getting rich, but there is always enough time to pray to God and ask for his help.

    I will pray that you find your way back to Gods church and that you find relief in his Grace.

    • Please DO NOT pray for me…my reference to my care for my son was not to brag but to assert that I do not need a god or a religion to do good. Praying for me is akin to Mormons who create lists of dead people and baptize them. I would totally resent someone praying for me to a person whom I do not believe in…thanks for the offer, anyway!

  • JQ Tomanek

    Parents are the primary educators of children. This is not just a prescriptive for parents to follow, it is also a fact of life. Regardless of a parent’s belief that they are primary educators, they are still primary; in general, they influence children and teach them even if they intend to not teach them anything for that is still teaching something. There is plenty of studies that deal with the problem of divorce’s effects on children and regarding their education in particular (if you want evidence, look it up, I simply typed into google and found scholarly peer reviewed journals, there are plenty to choose from). If the Catholic faith is primarily passed on via the family because they are primary, then I would suspect that the family’s breakdown will impact keeping the faith negatively.

    The priestly scandal, horrible no doubt, really shouldn’t shake a person’s Faith because our Faith teaches to place our trust in Jesus Christ and that as humans we are fallen and so have a tendency to sin. I would suspect that if a person’s faith was shaken by the scandals, it is because they placed their trust too much in a sinful person rather than in Christ. Whether or not those shaken in their faith understand this teaching regarding concupiscence is another question. If a person thinks that all priests must be perfect and those priests show signs of sin, my faith would be shaken too. The problem is that is not the teaching of the Church.

    • Ryan

      Amen. Well-said.

    • P.D. Yoko

      JQ said: “The priestly scandal, horrible no doubt, really shouldn’t shake a person’s Faith because our Faith teaches to place our trust in Jesus Christ and that as humans we are fallen and so have a tendency to sin. I would suspect that if a person’s faith was shaken by the scandals, it is because they placed their trust too much in a sinful person rather than in Christ.”

      Amen! I say to you, Amen! I am so pleased to hear someone articulate this point so well. Thank you.

    • Cathy Harrell


  • Deacon Ed Peitler

    It is time for bishops to clean house and restore Catholicism to church sponsored entities like education and charities. These are arms of the mission of the Church and hence ought to be staffed by people who believe AND practice the Catholic faith. We need to restore Catholic identity – meaning we are that which is contained in the catechism of the Catholic Church. What and who deviates from it do NOT represent the Catholic faith and need to be expunged.

    When the bishops begin once again to see their role as defenders of the faith and what is truth in terms of the teachings of Jesus Christ and His Church, things will begin to improve. And we won’t need to be concerned about numbers since people will ALWAYS be attracted to the truth where it is unequivocably proclaimed.

    If you want an example of a bishop who clearly understands his ministry, check into Bishop Robert Vasa of Santa Rosa CA. You’ll see an example of what I am referring to.

  • Francis,
    If the data on divorce and the decline of faith-participation is evident and accepted, please provide the data. I presented a recent meta study to the contrary.
    I have 30 years of experience as a principal in a 7-12 school and I do not see the evidence of anecdotes you claim. You can not makes claims about what affects the faith of young based on anecdotes…if there is data please present it. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

    • Ryan

      You have experience as a principal in a Catholic school?

    • Only 2 years and 3 years as a VP in a Catholic High School…1974-1979 in MA

    • John O


      1. Taking care of your son does NOT make you a good person. You could be just as big a jerk as anyone else and you are just as big of a sinner as anyone else. The Bible tells us that there is no one who is good but God (Jesus)

      2. How do you have 30 years experience as a principle if your son is 27 and you’ve been caring for him 24/7 for the last 15 years? Seems that you’d have to have had him when you were quite aged already. Assuming you were a principle for the twelve years you weren’t caring for him (as a disabled person that is) then you would have had to have been a principle for 18 years prior to his birth. I have never heard of someone coming straight out of school into a principleship, or being a principle without at least a bachelors degree.

      So. 22 years old out of college. roughly 15 years as a teacher or other school admin staff until principle. That makes you 37 at the barest minimum. 18 years as principle before your son was born. makes you 55 at the time of his birth. Kind of old to be a daddy.

      3. With the exception of the homosexual priest issue, all the concerns you raised are evidences that someone has already left the church rather than reasons for them to leave.

      For example. The church teaches sexual purity. If someone disagrees with that they have already disagreed with the church demonstrating diminished faith.

      It’s important to not confuse the symptoms of the problem with the cause of the problem.

    • Thank you for your kind words….give me an e-mail and I’ll chronologically give you my life story: and send you a copy of a book my wife wrote about our lives.

  • Francis

    thanks for all the commentary- I think the data on the divorce effect for kids is pretty much established- I am only extrapolating that the negatives go deeper into regions of the spirit where it is difficult to find empirical data- but having more than a decade in classrooms with teens gives me something more than casual anecdotal evidence. The fact that I have my own background with being raised in a divorce situation also helps me to have confidence in some of the conclusions I draw above.

    Divorce is an unnatural state of affairs- it divides parents and oftentimes siblings. It puts parents into good guy v. bad guy encampments with loads of hidden baggage. It also seems to encourage parents to be more lenient, indulgent of their kids when clear lines and lessons should be the order of the day. At least one of the parents typically feels the need to justify their dubious choices- and this leads to a latent teaching of “tolerance” of any choice we feel inclined to make to create more personal “happiness”. As teenagers this lesson in “tolerance” is a recipe for all sorts of moral confusion- both personal and doctrinal. I see this show up when I ask my teen students the question: “If there was one issue that would see yourself standing up and doing something about to help make the world better- what would it be?” The answers range- but interestingly there is a small percentage that say “marriage and family issues” and in that small percentage among my current classes all of those students are standing for same sex marriage not traditional marriage as the way to ‘save the world’. I think it is obvious that a lot of teens carry a very subjective meaning to sexuality and marriage- where does this come from? I would suggest that the culture can only do so much to shift reality- the home environment is the front line of reality check. When there is a divorce there is a sense that romantice love is the be it and have all of marriage- and when that romantic love wavers then all bets are off for the “marriage”. The fact that annulments are seemingly easy to obtain given the state of immaturity for most Americans getting “married” only leads many Catholics to question how the Catholic comprehension of Marriage is different from everyone elses.

    The bottom-line is that there seems to be an unconscious casualness in many cradle Catholics when it comes to the Faith. It is something they can slip in and slip out of when the mood fits. Faith is personal, sexual ethics is subjective, marriage sometimes “works” and sometimes doesn’t work out. Doctrinal orthodoxy is one of the first casualties of this popular attitude/mindset.

    • St Donatus


      I really enjoyed your article. So very true. I have a hard time understanding why the Catholic School system doesn’t do more to address its own shortcomings with so many educators not believing Church teaching. I know the Church tries to be loving to these teachers, but please, not at the expense of our children’s everlasting life. They must learn the truth and be helped to believe it. They will get all the anti-God propaganda in the world without our Catholic school contributing.

      I would have to disagree on one point you made, you said ‘marriage sometimes “works” and sometimes doesn’t work out’. Marriages don’t ‘not work out’, they are contaminated by selfishness, sometimes by one spouse, sometimes by both.

      Sad to say, I am divorced and selfishness got me into the marriage, and it got me out of the marriage. Now I have a daughter that has a real problem dealing with relationships, God, and life. I think I am a good person, I thought I was a good person then. Our society has taken GOOD to a whole new low. Sad to say, our society doesn’t even want to acknowledge the damage we are doing to our children.

      My God, I wasn’t only not good, I was bad, a student of Satan. Yes, young people ‘fall in love’ and don’t listen to reason. (And when a product of a broken home as I was, become codependent.) But if they don’t have high standards to start out with, how can they make good judgements about a spouse. We Catholics have taken the idea of loving and not judging beyond what Jesus meant. We don’t need to teach our children to have evil people as close friends and not to judge when someones actions are against God. They need standards to go by when finding a spouse.

      We can’t end divorce for Catholics until we start teaching our kids to have standards, to understand that marriage is forever so pick wisely. It can be a life sentence or a life of happiness, it is their decision. There is NO ‘Get out of Marriage’ free card in a Catholic life.

    • Cathy Harrell

      The problem with blanket statements is that “sometimes” they aren’t accurate. Statistically divorce is detrimental to children and relationships. Incidentally, that is not always the case. In my case, my children are MORE Catholic because I divorced their non-Catholic, non-practicing christian father and married a man who supports my beliefs and education of my children.

      That being said, I do agree that despite the fact that there are many non-Catholic children in Catholic schools, the quality of catechism is sorely lacking. And the mistakes that many Catholics themselves make about the Church’s “position” on hot button issues is directly a result of inadequate catechism.

      How can you support something if you don’t really understand it? But the truth is, catechism starts in the domestic church. If parents don’t support the teachings, its hard to get kids to do the same no matter how you try.

      I understand your loneliness in the world because of your faith. It is very hard being in the minority because of your faith. Good luck.

  • Kim Kroll

    Hmmm … I teach in a public high school. Exact same things Francis has observed are 100 fold found in the public schools. Not rocket science, Phil. Sometimes common sense sees the Truth without the help of “data”. Don’t let the worship of “facts” drive everything. Our “fact-based” society has devolved into a country of which I am none too fond –the sins we’ve put on the pedestal of Reason seem none too reasonable; hence, our navel gazing has descended to the genitalia. There are times I feel I have to shower the vomit from my person when the school day is over AND the District wants to train me in how to carry and use a gun. The degeneration has amazed me when I do a comparison/contrast from just even 20 years ago.

  • I wrote a book about this a couple of years ago.

    While your solution is interesting, it won’t work.
    As I point out in the book, there is no Catholic University that trains teachers to be Catholic. Even if the principals wanted them (and they don’t), the teachers cannot be located in sufficient quantity to staff the schools that exist.

    As I point out in the book, the solutions will require bishops to change their relationships with, and their understanding of, Catholic education.

    The whole point will be moot within our lifetime. Schools, whether private or public, are designed to be warehouses to hold children while the parents work. For a variety of reasons, that whole model cannot continue. Now it’s just a question of how long it takes the bishops to realize this.

  • Fred

    Having taught in several Catholic school settings (6-12th grades) I can relate completely with Francis’ message. I have experienced the frustration of being Catholic in a nominal Catholic school setting. My last job criticized me for being “too Catholic” even though I had described myself as a Catholic strongly influenced by JohnPaul II. I even told them not to hire me of they were not looking for a solid Catholic. As to Phil’s comments, I am reminded of a quote fom the Song of Bernadette “to those who believe, no explanation is necessary, to those who do not, no explanation is possible.” He is not well informed but rather disgruntled. He is obviously not willing to listen to sound reason so no attempt is needed. His comment on the LCRW clearly shows that he has not read the document produced by the Church nor tried to understand the issue.
    Thanks or your post Francis

  • “Divorce” as the first cause of diminished faith in Catholic students? You have to be kidding…what empirical data do you have to support this assertion. Here are the major reasons for diminished faith, supported by the fact that of all self-identified Catholics in the US only 20-24% attend mass.
    (1) The poor, criminal handling of the clergy sex abuse crises. Criminals like Bernie Law and Roger Mahoney, who covered up abuse and transferred pedophiles around we rewarded and not defrocked. Bishops like Dupree who molested kids were sent on retreat. Few priests were defrocked and no bishop or cardinal was defrocked. The handling of the abuse turned many away.
    (2) The RC Church’s obsession with sex. No psychologist or psychiatrist would agree that masturbation is unnatural. All primates masturbate and no one is hurt. The vast majority ofCatholic women disavow the position on contraception. And 63% of self-identified catholics in the US disagree with the church’s position on gay marriage.
    (3) The church’s position on women, i.e. the LCRW (picking on poor nuns who are on the firing line), misogyny (women cannot be priests, even though the first pope (ST Peter) was a married man, and the outright lie that a male priesthood cannot be changed.
    (4)An educated public: they are aware that since about 1000 BCE there were at least 30 born of virgins, dying on a cross/tree and rising gods. The RC Church thrived on poor, uneducated people who had no tools to question those statements about life which were said to be infallible. You notice growth of Christianity is among the poor and the illiterate.

    The loss of faith is the result of a church not in the trenches, one that has lost it sense of mission and out of touch with society and the common man.

    I believe this loss of faith and credibility of the RC Church is the work of the Holy Spirit…deconstructing the church so that it can begin again and be what it should be. Amen!

    • Micha Elyi

      The “obsession with sex” is clearly yours, Phil Dzialo. And it has led you astray.

      I agree with Francis that the widespread acceptance of divorce has led to widespread social pathologies, especially pathologies that damage children. The empirical data for this is everywhere. And the scandal of America’s divorce culture has been around a lot longer than the one you tried to obscure the plain facts of experience with, Phil Dzialo. People who have chosen to leave the Church are often cowardly, they typically grab onto any excuse that doesn’t require them to examine their own conscience rather than be honest why they got lazy about their own personal sinfulness.

    • Micha, Thank you for your very judgmental, condemnatory response wrapped in an absence of data and logic. I have taken care of a 27 year old son who is non-mobile, non-verbal, non everything for 24/7 for the past 15 years…that makes me a good person. I do not judge people; but I make judgments about data driven facts.
      But, really, it’s nice to know that there are people out there who cast judgments about people “being obsessed with sex” when you know nothing of their lives. I judge institutions and ideas, not people. Apology, please….Oh, you didn’t address any of my issues…

    • Fr. J

      Most youth don’t leave because of Phil’s reasons. The scandals only affect most them through the media’s use of them to tar the entire Church. To say that it is the Church that is obsessed with sex is simply insane. Watch TV for a few days, listen to the music, watch a few movies…our culture is obsessed with perversity. Certainly many disagree with Catholic teachings, but look at the results. Women are treated as objects to be used, millions of children killed before they are born, and yes a divorce rate through the roof. If you don’t think divorce hurts than you are also nuts. Look at the children. Likewise most know as little as Phil does about why it is impossible for women to be ordained. The whole concept he illustrates is that gender means nothing, a fallacy of our sick culture. Men and women are not the same. 25% of our population is functionally illiterate. Most others have only a shallow education. Phil is among them as he seems to have no idea that the Church has a response to his claims. In fact the Church founded the university system and preserved culture in the monasteries. I would say that Phil does certainly wish to “deconstruct” the Church, much in the manner that Lucifer would prefer. No apologies necessary Phil, I would prefer you to do some profound rethinking of the propaganda points you have offered us.

    • Fr. J
      I assume you are a priest…Best listen to the words of Benedict 16, emeritus because he spoke the truth:

      “Today we see in a truly terrifying way that the greatest persecution of the Church does not come from enemies on the outside, but is born of the sin within the Church” May 11, 2010

      BTW, I have difficulty with bloggers who use pseudonyms or hide behind the cloak of anonymity. Care to share you identity…

    • Ryan

      ““Divorce” as the first cause of diminished faith in Catholic students? You have to be kidding…what empirical data do you have to support this assertion.”

      Ye olde ‘it must be empirically proven or it’s out-of-bounds” demand. I thought the explanation for the divorce connection was an excellent one (you did not refute it, either, but just dismissed the section based on the headline). I see this with my students. It works this way…parents are role models of the faith (and everything else) and images of God, especially the father (see the work of psychologist Paul Vitz on this). When the parents not only do not practice the faith but alienate themselves because they mistakenly believe they cannot receive sacraments if they are divorced, they stop attending mass and so the kids don’t attend mass. Attending mass also reminds parents of the nature of self-sacrificial love and may even make them feel guilty for having not remained faithful to the vows they made on their wedding day. Most children of divorced parents are shuffled back and forth on weekends or alternating weekends or whatever and so who has time for mass? That’s how it works…

      “Here are the major reasons for diminished faith, supported by the fact that of all self-identified Catholics in the US only 20-24% attend mass. (1) The poor, criminal handling of the clergy sex abuse crises. Criminals like Bernie Law and Roger Mahoney, who covered up abuse and transferred pedophiles around we rewarded and not defrocked. Bishops like Dupree who molested kids were sent on retreat. Few priests were defrocked and no bishop or cardinal was defrocked. The handling of the abuse turned many away.”

      Perhaps, but most likely those who left were looking for an excuse or a scapegoat anyway. Why would a few Judases negate Jesus? Does the fact that a small percentage of the Church’s priests acted in gravely sinful ways mean that Jesus is not truly risen from the dead or that the Church is not His Bride? Of course not. It does not logically follow. Non-sequitor.

      “(2) The RC Church’s obsession with sex. No psychologist or psychiatrist would agree that masturbation is unnatural. All primates masturbate and no one is hurt. The vast majority ofCatholic women disavow the position on contraception. And 63% of self-identified catholics in the US disagree with the church’s position on gay marriage.”

      It seems to me that it’s the culture that’s obsessed with sex. The reason we hear more about sexual morality from the Church today is because it’s the area of conflict with the culture. No one really takes issue with the Church’s social teaching on the poor or on forgiveness. But on sex and family are the places the culture needs the most conversion, so naturally we hear more about this. ‘I did not come for the well but for the sick…’ Your use of the term ‘natural’ regarding masturbation shows a lack of understanding which is most likely why you hate the Church. When the Church uses the term “unnatural’ with regard to masturbation it means ‘not in accord with the nature of” the sexual faculty. Clearly our sexual faculty is for sexual intercourse and sex is for procreation. No one can honestly deny this. Even the couple who uses contraception knows sex is for procreation…that’s why they use contraception. Your statistics about the number of people who struggle to understand Catholic teaching is irrelevant. Truth is not determined by counting noses. If the Church simply went along with whatever people “wanted”, She would be useless and certainly not a “city set on a hill”.

      “(3) The church’s position on women, i.e. the LCRW (picking on poor nuns who are on the firing line), misogyny (women cannot be priests, even though the first pope (ST Peter) was a married man, and the outright lie that a male priesthood cannot be changed.”

      The Church did not “pick on” the LCWR. Did you even read the visitation report? It affirmed the good work the vast majority of women religious do every day. The LCWR is a small group (relatively speaking) of women religious who have willfully and in their own words stepped outside the bounds of the Church and the Catholic faith. The document simply acknowledged that and observed it as a problem. It is not “misogyny” to believe that woman cannot be priests anymore than it is misanthropy to say that men cannot be mothers. What does the fact that Peter was married (maybe not when he was a disciple though) have to do with anything? The nature of the priesthood cannot change. Pope John Paul II spoke clearly about this in Ordinatio sacerdotalis. If you do not recognize his right and ability to speak authoritatively in this way means the Church is something radically different even from what She Herself professes to be!

      “(4)An educated public: they are aware that since about 1000 BCE there were at least 30 born of virgins, dying on a cross/tree and rising gods.”

      This is just historically silly. Even if it were true (which it is not), it would not follow that Jesus was not God in the flesh or that the Church is the one He founded on Peter. Logic! Sheesh…what do they teach in schools these days…

      “The RC Church thrived on poor, uneducated people who had no tools to question those statements about life which were said to be infallible. You notice growth of Christianity is among the poor and the illiterate.”

      The Church has always been at the forefront of the sciences and fostered the growth of culture and learning. It is a modern myth to say otherwise. Someone apparently thought Dan Brown was writing history books…?

      “The loss of faith is the result of a church not in the trenches, one that has lost it sense of mission and out of touch with society and the common man.”

      The loss of faith it the result of people who have stepped out of the trenches and been mowed down by the secular, relativistic, nihilistic, selfish, anti-human culture. The Church is “out of touch”, agreed…and thank God for it. Only if the light is not like the darkness, only if it is “out of touch” with turning off the lights can it be a beacon of truth and hope.

      “I believe this loss of faith and credibility of the RC Church is the work of the Holy Spirit…deconstructing the church so that it can begin again and be what it should be. Amen!”

      You have been handed an image of the Church that is not the true one…Brother, return to Christ with all your heart…He is waiting for you in the Eucharist. And remember, “Upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”

    • Ryan,
      Respectfully, before allowing the assertion that divorce is the most significant factor in the decline of “faith” among the young, it is important to look at the research not personal anecdotes…data drives decisions.

      I am willing to accept the reality that my reasoning for the decline of faith among the young is wrong if data, research and objective standards refute my reasoning. Personal anecdotes get us nowhere, nor does blaming society, media and culture. If we want to examine the failures of an institution, we must first look to the institution itself, then to forces outside the institution.
      Unless I am wrong B16 spoke about the greatest enemies of the Church that lie within: “Today we see in a truly terrifying way that the greatest persecution of the Church does not come from enemies on the outside, but is born of the sin within the Church” B16

    • Ryan

      BTW Phil, your love for your son is a profound witness. Thank you for your example of self-sacrificial love.

    • I do what I do because it is right….it is not self-sacrifice; it is the moral and ethical obligation of a father to a son…unconditional love. This is not heroic, it is simply the right thing to do.

    • Fr. J


      Having been stalked on the net I don’t care to share my identity. I notice that you did not respond to my responses to you. The persecutors of the Church are those who hold your opinions. You agree with them not with the Church. So who is really doing the persecuting? The Church offers you the truth that comes from God. You quote Pope Benedict and that is good. Why not read what he says about sexuality, women’s ordination, and the other issues you bring up. Do you agree with him?

    • Fr J
      Sorry, I did not answer your question. I will try with utmost honesty. I too have been stalked on my blog for I post about disability issues. I do not stalk anyone and I am always upfront about who I am. A number of people don’t like that I speak the truth as I perceive it. But my integrity demands that I stand.
      To attempt to answer your questions. I have no problems with people’s beliefs; I have many problems with institutional actions. As B16 stated, the most terrifying enemies of the church are within: a lack of transparency, power, wealth, pretense, abuse, misogyny. Here are specifics: I do not believe that the RC Church is a respository of THE truth, nor that the Bible is revealed by a deity. We all know no original manuscripts exist. We know that a fragment from John exist from about 100 CE and that the emperor Constantine in the 300’s CE ordered the first complete codex. The word has been revised, translated, mistranslated and the gnostic gospels left out. We know that the only external references to Jesus are a paragraph by Josephus and words by Pliny (both believed insertions). So what may have been inspired and revealed doesn’t exist and tradition had been changed and re-written hundreds of times.
      I know that there have been 30 born of virgins, crucified on a cross or tree, and risen from the dead gods begining with Horus and Isis in the Egyptian mystery schools. The Bible story and the Christ story has been seen historically in many religious variants.
      So, I do not believe in a personal deity, I do not believe in the infallibility of the Pope, I believe that the RC Church relegated women to an inferior role and establish a patriarchy in the era from 700-1300. Remember that the goddess Gaia was displaced by a male god. Even Pope Francis will say that women are excluded from the priesthood, but has used the words “at this time” and “presently.” Celibacy and the exclusion of women from the priesthood, I believe are, are matters of church practice and discipline and not dogma. We know that Peter, the first pope, was a married man…why would his successors be celibate?
      I read much about the RC Church and an quite familiar with early fathers. Things are fluid, like Aquinas’ theory of ensoulment which everyone avoids discussing.
      I am a panthiest and believe that god is all, a powerful energy of pure love and that our mission in life is to join with the source and to be good people. I believe the source is our guide and that we have spiritual guides that I have met with help. I believe that none of the prophets of many sacred texts wanted to create institutions or formal religions…just to lay out a path to righteousness. As Tielhard de Chardin said “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” The Phenomenon of Man, 1955, a Jesuit paleontologist.
      I could go on and on and bore the shit out of anyone but suffice it to say I reject most of the tenets of Catholicism and see myself as a challenge to make people look deeper and not just take that which is given on a platter. This answer is irrelevant to the blog topic, but I did want to graciously answer your question.
      I’m an old man with many experiences and still search…I may be wrong and I maybe in error, but I try to do good and the right thing. If you want to know more about me and my background, I have little to hide…email me at I do not stalk, I love discourse. If I failed to answer your questions, please hit me over the head with a Red Sox bat and ask again.

    • Phil, just a quick gut check for you about your assertion that you never judge people. On the transgender thread elsewhere on this site, you called me and the other commenters who disagree with you (and agree with the Church) “oppressors”. Simply for stating our Catholic beliefs, we are “oppressors”. Is that indicative of someone who does not judge others? It sort of dampened the otherwise interesting and important conversation we were having.

    • Leila,

      Oppression is an action or a behavior which is which is perceived by the victim as devaluing his or her humanity. Good people can be oppressors. I do not judge the intent of anyone to purposefully hurt another; I am saying clearly that I judge actions which do hurt others as oppressive… hurt is in the eye of the beholder.It’s akin to your Catholic version of love the sinner, but hate the sin.

    • Fr. J

      Phil, so basically you are not a Catholic or even a Christian. In fact the Bible is the most known of all ancient texts. We have all the scriptures long before Constantine. In fact all of them were written before 100 AD, which is why the gnostic gospels were left out. Gnostics were not Christians and came much later. Your equating other figures with Jesus has been refuted many times. If Christians were just another form of pagan then why did the pagans not notice it and stop persecuting them? Read the stories you mention, do they sound like Jesus and or anything remotely Jewish? I don’t think Catholics can be accused of avoiding St. Thomas lol. That is ridiculous and you don’t know the Fathers as well as you might think. Unfortunately, as is often the case in these debates, you throw up a series of accusations that would take a book to refute. But everything that you claim has been answered and can be answered. Visit Yet the question that remains is why you bother to post here? You are not a teacher in a Catholic school nor even a Catholic. What do you care? You seem to have lost the faith, assuming you were Catholic, due to buying into secular propaganda. I have heard everything you claimed before from others or on the “history” channel. You say you might be in error. Yes, you are. Take a step back. Actually read what Catholic Answers offers in response to these claims or even write them with your questions. Find out the truth. Cheers.

    • I’d be happy to respond to you in full privately with much greater detail..I did give you my e-mail and I will give you an explanation about why I blog here and also more data about me so you understand
      Cheers, back at you

    • Phil said: “I believe this loss of faith and credibility of the RC Church is the work of the Holy Spirit…deconstructing the church so that it can begin again and be what it should be. Amen!”

      Phil also said: “I know that there have been 30 born of virgins, crucified on a cross or tree, and risen from the dead gods begining with Horus and Isis in the Egyptian mystery schools. The Bible story and the Christ story has been seen historically in many religious variants. So, I do not believe in a personal deity, I do not believe in the infallibility of the Pope, I believe that the RC Church relegated women to an inferior role and establish a patriarchy in the era from 700-1300. Remember that the goddess Gaia was displaced by a male god.”

      Does anybody else see a contradiction here? Anyone at all?

      Phil, you are one confused, messed up whack-a-doodle. Just be honest with yourself. You can’t have it both ways. And has it ever occurred to you that Christianity is patriarchal because Judaism is patriarchal? As were almost all ancient societies? There’s evolutionary and biological reasons for this arrangement. It didn’t just pop up in the lower middle ages. It’s always been there, except for brief, periodic interruptions, like what we as a civilization are going through right now.

      Phil further said: “Even Pope Francis will say that women are excluded from the priesthood, but has used the words “at this time” and “presently.” Celibacy and the exclusion of women from the priesthood, I believe are, are matters of church practice and discipline and not dogma. We know that Peter, the first pope, was a married man…why would his successors be celibate?”

      That is total and complete bullshit and you know it. When did Pope Francis ever say that? Document your sources. Moreover, if you had been that knowledgable of a Catholic, you would have known, and would still know, that the Church has always had married priests. The west started instituting mandatory celibacy around the 11th century, but bishops, both east and west, have been taken from celibates, widowers, and monastics from the second century onward for practical reasons.

      And regarding the exclusion of women from the ordained priesthood, that’s dogma. In the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox, and Nestorian Churches, and in all apostolic Churches for that matter. And as Pope John Paul II of blessed memory reiterated…just read his letter.

      And on a personal note: Phil, I don’t like beating around the bush, and I’m the kind of guy who shoots straight from the hip and aims for the heart. Thus, I mean full offense when I say that you have no right, as a guy outside the Church, to tell Catholics how to live, just as I have no right to tell Jews to eat bacon. It’s none of my damn business. I’m not a Jew. And you don’t even believe in a personal God, so how the hell do you get off telling us that we’re not doing the will of the Mystic Life Principle or whatever you believe in? Newsflash: the Mystic Life Principle is impersonal, and impersonal things don’t give a crap about what we do or what we believe. They can’t. Because they’re impersonal. Do you understand, or is your logic that damaged and tied up with emotionalism?

      Also, you said you weren’t bragging or using your story about taking care of your son as a shield against criticism in your discussions. If that were true, you would not have mentioned it at all. Look, I’m in a wheelchair, everybody’s got the same freaking problems, and everybody has made the same sort of freaking heroic sacrifices. You aren’t special. What you do doesn’t make you a good person. It’s more about how you do it. As Jesus said, “For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt. 5:46-48).

      An old man such as yourself should know better. The elderly are supposed to be fountains of wisdom, not leaky faucets of folly. I have no respect for you, and you have no respect for me or my fellow Catholics. You came to this post only to make trouble and to cause controversy so that you could delight in our reactions. Let’s just be honest with each other. Christian charity demands truth, and truth isn’t all snuggle bunnies and sugar pops.

    • Gail Finke

      Typical “shoot the messenger” response. The gentleman, who actually TEACHES in Catholic schools, tells you what he thinks the main problem is based on his experience. At least concede that he might have a point. Years ago, when my kids were young and in urban “magnet” public schools, I had numerous teachers tell me that the biggest different they saw between their students who succeeded was not income, but family life. Those with married parents whose mothers didn’t work, they told me, did hte best — even if the family was wealthy with two married, high-earning working parents. Now granted, that was anecdotal. But it seems to me that when professionals tell you an anecdote, you ought to at least think about it.

    • Phil, we agree on the married priest issue. What you did not cite, and what I asked for, was Pope Francis saying that women could become priests in the future. All your sources were irrelevant to that.

    • jacobum

      It is clear that you have absolutely no idea of what you are talking about as it relates to the orthodox One True Faith. It is clear that you have been selectively feeding on the cafeteria style Catholicism so prevalent today. May I suggest you learn the Faith or practice the adage to wit: “It is better to keep ones mouth shut and let people suspect you are a dolt rather than open it and confirm your stupidity.” Translation? Either learn the Faith or Button you mouth. You are embarrassing yourself.

    • Joejoe

      Society is obsessed with sex. The Church only addresses it because it needs to.

      Moreover, the LCWR is not a group of “poor nuns.” They are sisters who have moved “beyond Jesus” by their own declaration. This is bad. Very bad.

    • Phil, you have reached a bunch of broadly-based, popular mainstream conclusions based on misperceptions of the Church. For over 2,000 years, the world has tried to change the church. It won’t happen. The gates of hell will never prevail. I invite you to look into the Theology of the Body. Look into Christopher West’s book, Theology of the Body for Beginners for a starting place in the whole truth.

      The Catholic Church is the last place you can accuse of being “obsessed with sex”. We live in a society that has done that.

      Also, look into the truthful statistics on sexual abuse in America. The abuse in public schools and home occurs at 10 times the rate at a Catholic Church. Abuse in the Church is a little less than most protestant churches. Either way it’s bad, but it’s not a problem that has anything to do with Catholicism.
      Double Standard: Abuse Scandals and the Attack on the Catholic Church by, David F. Pierre Jr.

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  • JQ Tomanek

    I think you speak very accurately on the current state of education. Many whole Catholics are leaving the Catholic schools because their domestic church is having to compete with the schools on teaching Catholicism.

    It boggles my mind why Catholic schools have two classes like history and Church history. Why not use Catholic history books like the ones by Dr. Anne Carroll? Why not use Catholic business books? Why not teach CST in the same class as economics? Why not read classics more often like Dante in English departments? Why force service hours?

    Lots of work, best of luck.

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