REPORT CARD: Fed Board Exposes Secular Boston College; Schools for Salvation; Dissent Down Under

Labor board (unconstitutionally) calls a spade, a spade

In yet another blow to religious freedom—and yet also a refreshingly honest declaration of the secularization of Boston College—the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ordered the Jesuit institution in May to allow graduate students to unionize. The university is now appealing the ruling, according to Campus Reform.

The Supreme Court ruled in 1979 that it is a violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause for the NLRB to assert jurisdiction over labor relations in religious education. Nevertheless, the Board has unconstitutionally mandated union elections at Catholic and other religious colleges for many years.

More recently, the NLRB has sought to avoid constitutional issues by not challenging a college’s claim to be religious, yet it continues to claim the authority to decide whether the duties of individual employees is sufficiently religious to be exempt from union bargaining.

The irony is that while that process is still unconstitutional and a violation of religious freedom, it produces eye-opening reports about the shocking degree of secularization and lack of simple religious expectations for employees at many Catholic universities.

At Boston College, the NLRB’s regional director said she could not find sufficient “evidence showing that faculty members are required to integrate the institution’s religious tenets into coursework, serve as religious advisors to students, propagate those tenets, engage in religious training, or conform to the tenets in a manner specifically linked to their job duties.”

And that, dear friends, is why The Cardinal Newman Society exists.

There is some hope that Boston College can prevail in its appeal. A Democrat-appointed board member has resigned, leaving the NLRB split evenly between Republican and Democrat appointees, with a replacement nominee from President Trump awaiting Senate confirmation.

Why build a new Catholic high school? Salvation!

Bishop James Johnston offered a simple explanation why the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph recently opened the new Saint Michael the Archangel Catholic High School.

“For the love of God and the salvation of souls; it is what we are charged to do as the Church,” Bishop Johnston wrote at The Catholic Key. “We have a sacred duty to hand on the truth to the next generations.

“I often say we invest in Catholic schools because we don’t simply want our children to be smart and successful, we want them to be wise and good,” he added. “We want to do all we can to help them serve God and others in this life and get to heaven.”

Read the whole thing. Definitely worth it.

Trickle-down secularism at Catholic schools

Catholic schools were late to the secularization game compared to once-Christian colleges like Harvard and Yale, but they’re making up for lost time, according to Nicholas Frankovich of National Review.

And now we’re seeing what he calls a “trickle-down” weakening of Catholic identity from universities like Georgetown to Catholic grammar schools and high schools.

San Domenico School in California recently removed a number of Catholic artworks—including a statue of Mary and Jesus—for fear of alienating non-Catholics. But that school is not alone. And Catholics need to decide how to respond, Frankovich wrote.

“San Domenico is a picture of a general decline,” he said. “The school will go the way that it will go. No one has to follow. If it withdraws what you need to practice your religion with exuberance, say so, but then let it be, and leave. Seek elsewhere for supports to your faith and you will find them. If you don’t, build them yourself.”

Father Matthew Pittam, a Catholic school chaplain, said we may be looking at a future with fewer, more faithful schools.

“Often there can seem to be a watering down of Catholic life and practice in many of our schools, which is of growing worry,” he wrote in The National Catholic Register, adding that many parents no longer trust their local Catholic schools.

But his suggested solution might startle many Catholics—what if the Church has “too many schools?”

“Fewer, but healthier schools with a clear Catholic identity might just be the answer,” he said. “If we do not grasp the nettle, we risk having more and more schools (and many other Catholic institutions) where the expression of Catholicism is only skin deep.”

Baltimore educators focused on faith

More than 1,000 Catholic leaders—including school principals, teachers and administrators—crowded into the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore to prepare themselves spiritually for the coming school year, according to WBAL.

Archbishop William Lori led prayers “for the success and the well-being of our individual schools.”

Ken Pipkin, principal of St. Joseph’s Fullerton, said the service “really gives us a chance to think about why we’re here, what we are here for and what we are here to evangelize with our kids.”

Said one teacher: “We hope to make disciples of everybody, our students in particular.”

A worthwhile mission!

What differentiates Catholic education?

Catholic schools should embrace their role in the Church’s mission of saving souls with every course, activity, and everything they do, Sister John Mary Fleming, OP, told hundreds of Catholic school teachers and administrators at the fourth annual Archdiocese of Detroit Teachers and Administrators Conference.

“What makes Catholicism, of all the competing philosophies in the world, distinctive?” she asked educators, according to the Michigan Catholic.

“What is the primary saving work of the Church?” asked Sr. Fleming, executive director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Catholic Education. “It’s redemption, salvation and holiness. That’s a major, major task. The work of Catholic schools is to introduce young people to the saving, redeeming nature of Jesus Christ.”

Catholic University of America marks school year with Cardinal Wuerl

To mark the beginning of the academic year at The Catholic University of America, Cardinal Donald Wuerl celebrated the annual Mass of the Holy Spirit in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

Cardinal Wuerl reminded students, faculty and staff that the mission of the university is to pursue “the time-honored exploration of the truth” with a strong focus on Catholic identity, The Catholic Standard reported.

“It is in the light of faith that we try to understand the human condition,” he said, adding that our faith must be “recognized in actions more than in words.”

The cardinal authorized a number of new faculty members in the schools of philosophy, theology and religious studies to teach in the name of the Church through the Conferral of Canonical Mission.

After Mass, CUA President John Garvey reflected upon the “values that hold us together,” especially at a time when “contemporary culture has forgotten the meaning of a civil discourse.”

What’s up Down Under?

A Catholic school in Australia is allowing two students to dress in school uniforms that fit their chosen gender identity—but not their sex. Teachers at Trinity Catholic College have been instructed to speak to those students by their preferred names.

School principal Brother John Hilet was quoted in The Northern Star saying that “things seem to be going okay.”

Brother Hilet made the decision after discussing it with Bishop Greg Homeming and the local Catholic education commission. “Their view was exactly as mine that the appropriate response… should be pastoral and for the student’s well-being,” he said.

See the Newman Society’s Human Sexuality Policies for a helpful understanding of Catholic pastoral practices in Catholic education that do not embrace gender ideology and clearly uphold the Church’s teachings.

Brother Hilet also said Trinity was also considering gender-neutral uniforms and unisex toilets.

Australian Catholic schools dissent on marriage

Contrary to Church teaching, two Australian Catholic schools have sown confusion about same-sex marriage in messages to parents, according to SMH.com.

Saint Ignatius College in Sydney and Xavier College in Melbourne (both Jesuit schools) referenced Pope Francis’ teachings on being non-judgmental.

Father Chris Middleton of Xavier College said same-sex marriage is popular with young people.

“In my experience, there is almost total unanimity amongst the young in favor of same-sex marriage, and arguments against it have almost no impact on them,” Fr. Middleton wrote. “They are driven by a strong emotional commitment to equality, and this is surely something to respect and admire. They are idealistic in the value they ascribe to love, the primary gospel value.”

Fr. Middleton urged parents to consider whether opposing same-sex marriage was “unjust discrimination.”

St. Ignatius’ Father Ross Jones said same-sex couples wish to marry “for the same reasons as their opposite-sex counterparts” and that Catholic couples could, “in good conscience,” engage in sexual relationships for reasons other than procreation.

Perhaps we need to get back to teaching Catechism—to our teachers?

SLU to host Land O’Lakes symposium

Saint Louis University and the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities have announced a symposium entitled, “A Distinctive Vision? Catholic Higher Education 50 Years After Land O’Lakes.”

Saint Louis University President Fred Pestello and Holy Cross Fr. John Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame, will speak at the event later this month. Fr. Jenkins has come out strongly in favor of the Land O’Lakes statement despite the devastation that ensued in Catholic higher education.

The symposium’s call for papers on the subject said some consider the document “a revolutionary roadmap for Catholic education,” while others say it kicked off “a half-century of devastation.” Guess where the Newman Society falls?

The symposium will surely focus on Land O’ Lakes’ misguided assertion that “the Catholic university must have a true autonomy and academic freedom in the face of authority of whatever kind, lay or clerical, external to the academic community itself.”

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