The Catholic Educational Crisis

The Obama Administration’s “compromise” – an accounting trick to hide the payments for contraceptives – was soundly rejected by the US Catholic Bishops. And rightfully so – claiming that religious providers would not have to pay for contraceptives, but that all insurance providers would have to cover them is an insultingly thin smokescreen. Nothing has changed. The Catholic leadership clearly recognizes this and is rallying. Many conservative Catholics have happily and publicly opposed this latest overreach of the administration, and even some stalwart Catholic supporters of Obama have decided that this is too much – Chris Matthews among them. Protestants, too, have closed ranks with the Catholic Faithful in opposition to this grievous crime. Sadly enough, these Protestants show a greater grasp of the issue at hand than some of our own.

In defense of the contraception mandate in health care, a misguided young Catholic wrote this response. The author is a student at the Catholic University of America, was baptized and confirmed in the Church, and “attended weekly catechism classes and received a Jesuit education.” And yet she says “[n]ever once did the opinion of the church on a person’s use of contraceptives surface.” The only conclusion I can draw is that the weekly catechism classes never made it to CCC2360-2400, and that Jesuit education never even gave a summary of Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae. My much-less-impressive education in Catholic teaching was no better – none of my confirmation classes touched on the subject, and the fundamentalist Protestant Christian school I attended certainly had no use for Paul VI or the rest of the Catholic magisterium. My mother was Catholic and my father Protestant, so the compromise on theology at home seemed to be “lay out basic Christianity, and let him figure out the rest” – which actually strikes me as the best possible under the circumstances. In fact, my years-long adventures in Protestantism (fundamentalist/pseudo-Catholic->confused->Calvinist) laid a better foundation for me than any previous teaching. It was more through the questions of close Protestant friends (and my ensuing research) than the teaching of Catholics that I came by my own scant knowledge of Catholic teaching, and eventually reverted to Catholicism.

Pia de Solenni has it exactly right: we have a failure of Catholic eduction. The author of the article shows deep ignorance of Catholic teaching – as well as the contraceptive mandate issue at hand – in nearly every sentence of the article. And I fear this sort of shortcoming is endemic. Political correctness should never keep the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church from teaching the full and authentic truth at any level, no matter how low. It doesn’t matter if the uncomfortable topic is Hell or sex: teachers, parents, and priests need to inculcate their charges with the full truth of Catholic teaching. It’s an evil and nasty world, a world at war, and we send in young Catholics (myself included) who don’t know which end of the Sword of the Spirit to hold (not the pointy end). Needlessly sending untrained men to battle is akin to murder; tossing untrained souls into spiritual war is far worse.

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