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Grant Official Threatens Catholic Schools over Lesbian Case

Monday, May 17, 2010 5:00 PM Comments (85)

Since Lord Alfred Douglas’s 1894 poem “Two Loves,” which was used at Oscar Wilde’s trial, homosexuality has been referred to as “the love that dare not speak its name.”

But that’s so 19th century.

We’re living in the 21st century now, so that was . . . like . . . 200 years ago, right?

Why, then, can’t Michael Reardon—executive director of the Catholic Schools Foundation—just come out and state the facts about a recent incident in the Archdiocese of Boston’s Catholic schools?

In a statement on the Catholic Schools Foundation website (.pdf), Reardon writes:

Dear School Administrators:

You may be aware from recent publicity about an exclusionary admissions practice at St. Paul School in Hingham, which does not receive support from the Catholic Schools Foundation. In light of those media reports, we thought it important to clarify the position of the Catholic Schools Foundation - - namely, that no school that promotes an exclusionary admissions policy or practice will be considered for support.

We believe a policy or practice that denies admission to students in such a manner as occurred at St. Paul’s is at odds with our values as a Foundation, the intentions of our donors, and ultimately with Gospel teaching. Our concern is the education of young people. We will not fund any school that that treats students and families in such a manner. This policy has been unchanged since our founding in 1983.

We are proud that Catholic schools are known for being welcoming communities for all students. So although this incident is disturbing, we know that it is isolated, not a policy of the Archdiocese, or indicative generally of the Catholic schools of the Archdiocese. Know that we appreciate all you do to make your schools places where all feel welcome.

Please contact me at 617-778-5981 if you have any questions or if I can be of any assistance to you.

With hope for the students we serve and the future of Catholic education, I am

Sincerely yours,

Michael B. Reardon
Executive Director

From Reardon’s letter, you’d have no idea whatsoever was at issue in the St. Paul School case. He vaguely refers to “an exclusionary admissions practice” and ominously warns that “no school that promotes an exclusionary admissions policy or practice will be considered for support.” He speaks opaquely of “a policy or practice that denies admission to students in such a manner as occurred at St. Paul’s.” He uses lofty rhetoric about the values of the foundation, its donors, and “Gospel teaching.” He warns that they will not fund “any school that treats students and families in such a manner.” He uses touchie-feelie language about Catholic schools being “welcoming communities,” “where all feel welcome.” And he says that the St. Paul School incident “disturbing.”

So disturbing, apparently, that he can’t even speak forthrightly about the subject. The whole thing has to be shrouded with indirectness, shielded from frank discussion, and wrapped in comforting PC rhetoric.

It certainly isn’t the case that Reardon would want Catholic schools to accept any student whatsoever. If Catholic schools set no limits whatsoever on enrollment, the sheer volume of potential students would overtax the schools’ resources to the point that they couldn’t fulfill their mission. Schools must for economic reasons alone have “exclusionary admissions practices.” Similarly, some students are so disruptive that they cannot function in a normal classroom environment. Some students, frankly, belong in the juvenile justice system. So it isn’t a question of whether Catholic schools should have “exclusionary admissions practices.” The question is which exclusionary admissions practices they should have, and Reardon knows that full well. He just isn’t being forthright about the kind of exclusionary policy he has in mind.

Mr. Reardon may not understand the importance of being earnest, but let’s look at what he might have said had he chosen to be frank.

Dear School Administrators:

You may be aware from recent publicity that St. Paul School in Hingham has declined to enroll an eight-year old boy who has two lesbian “mothers.” St. Paul’s School does not receive support from the Catholic Schools Foundation, so we have no leverage over them, the way we do you. In light of the media reports, we thought it important to clarify the position of the Catholic Schools Foundation so that none of you get the idea of copying St. Paul’s example. Consider this letter a shot across your bow. Our policy is that no school will be considered for support if it either by policy or in practice declines enrollment for students with same-sex “parents.”

It does not matter how disruptive a situation such enrollments would create. It does not matter how difficult a position it would put the thus-enrolled children in. It does not matter how it would put pressure on teachers not to fully and vigorously proclaim Church’s teaching about marriage. It does not matter what other parents in the school might say about the way their children should be educated. None of these things count. What matters is that these children be admitted. This is the sine qua non.

We believe a policy or practice that denies admission to students with openly homosexual parents is at odds with our values as a Foundation, the intentions of our donors, and ultimately with Gospel teaching. Gospel teaching requires that we turn a blind eye to all the concerns named in the previous paragraph. The necessity of admitting children with openly homosexual parents trumps them all. There can be no rational disagreement on this point, and if you do disagree, you are opposing Gospel teaching.

Our concern is the education of young people. We will not fund any school that that treats students and families (note that I am classifying two homosexuals and a child as a family without qualification) in such a manner. You heard me right. We are so concerned with the education of young people that we will deny funding to all the other students in your school if even one child is not enrolled because he has openly homosexual parents. The need of the one outweighs the needs of the many. We care more about providing a Catholic education for this one student more than providing Catholic education for all the other students we would otherwise provide assistance to. This tells you what our values are. We will use financial scorched-earth tactics against any school that disagrees with us, even at the urging of the parents whose children attend the school. This policy has been unchanged since our founding in 1983. [Really? They would have yanked funds in 1983 over this issue?—ja]

We are proud that Catholic schools are known for being welcoming communities for all students except the ones who must be denied enrollment for various rational reasons that I am ignoring here. So although this incident is disturbing to politically correct sensibilities, we are thankful that it is isolated, not a policy of the Archdiocese, or indicative generally of the Catholic schools of the Archdiocese. Know that we appreciate all you do to make your schools places where all, including open and active homosexual partners but not including parents who would disagree with us, will feel welcome. And remember that if you fail in such efforts, we will withdraw all financial support from your school and the other students it has. Consider them financial hostages to this issue.

Please contact me at 617-778-5981 if you have any questions or if I can be of any assistance to you.

With hope for the students we serve and the future of Catholic education, I am

Sincerely yours,

Michael B. Reardon
Executive Director

Ahhhhhhhh.

Isn’t a little forthrightness refreshing?

What do you think?

Filed under catholic schools, enrollment, homosexual "marriage", homosexuality, lesbian, school, student

About Jimmy Akin

Jimmy Akin
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Jimmy was born in Texas, grew up nominally Protestant, but at age 20 experienced a profound conversion to Christ. Planning on becoming a Protestant pastor or seminary professor, he started an intensive study of the Bible. But the more he immersed himself in Scripture the more he found to support the Catholic faith. Eventually, he entered the Catholic Church. His conversion story, "A Triumph and a Tragedy," is published in Surprised by Truth. Besides being an author, Jimmy is a Senior Apologist at Catholic Answers, a contributing editor to This Rock magazine, and a weekly guest on "Catholic Answers Live."