Peace, Justice and Catholic Education

Back in the early 1980’s, I was involved in a Catholic Charismatic prayer group.  We were under a great deal of pressure, some of which was of our own making and some of which came from a Church which didn’t really care much for what we were doing.  It was also the days of "if you want peace, work for justice," the nuclear freeze, and other left-wing emphases which tended to deflect hierarchy and faithful alike from their relationship with God.

A major turning point for me took place on day when, while discussing things with one of our prayer group leaders, she mentioned that, because of the high tuition, she could not afford to send her eight children to Catholic school.  So they went to public school.

That revelation was the beginning of the end of me as a Roman Catholic.  I concluded that any church that was too bourgeois and self-satisfied not to subsidise its own needful children to attend the schools it wanted them to attend was too bourgeois to be an advocate for social justice.  So I took my leave on a course that’s best encapsulated in The Preferential Option of the Poor.

Now, a quarter of a century later, the Aussies are starting to realise that this is a problem in Australian Catholic schools: a preferential option for the wealthy?

The only hitch is that they’re looking at government funding for the schools.  And government funding brings government control, which will in the long run forces the schools to teach things the Church cannot support.  But at least the problem is recognised.

Hopefully someone on this side of the Pacific will tackle this problem as well.

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