In late January, the Roman Catholic hierarchy celebrated “Catholic Schools Week.” To mark this event, the bishops issued a statement lauding Catholic schools for leading “the New Evangelization.”
“Catholic schools have a rich history in supporting the work of on-going evangelization of the Catholic community in the United States,” observed Bishop Joseph P. McFadden of Harrisburg, Pa., in a media statement. He praised the role of parochial schools in “offering the life-giving Word of the Gospel” and “a challenging education in an atmosphere where Jesus Christ is the center.”
That same week, the National Catholic Educational Association was participating in “National School Choice Week,” a thinly disguised propaganda exercise to try to get taxpayer subsidies for private schools.
The two concepts make for a jarring juxtaposition. No one would dispute the right of Catholic schools to engage in evangelization, and no one would deny parents’ right to send their children to religious schools.
What we do oppose is forcing taxpayers to pick up the tuition tab. McFadden is making it clear that the primary purpose of Catholic schools in America is “on-going evangelization.” Again, that is unobjectionable. But why does he expect taxpayers to subsidize such a sectarian goal?
Yet that is exactly what voucher plans and other forms of taxpayer aid to sectarian schools do – they pass the bill for religious education and evangelization to everyone.
The bishops insist that all Americans, Catholic and non-Catholic, should be required to prop up their school system – a network that boasts that it is infused with Catholic dogma and that spearheads the “New Evangelization.”
There are logical candidates to pay for that evangelism. They are not the taxpayers at large. They are the men and women sitting in the pews of the nation’s Catholic churches.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State