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Catholic education leader rips ‘faux Catholic schools’ started by homeschoolers

May 11, 2010

Citing the example of Pope John Paul II Academy-- an independent school that offers a classical college-preparatory curriculum and is faithful to the Magisterium-- the new executive director of the Center for Catholic Education at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education blasted what she called “faux Catholic schools.”

“What [Patricia] Weitzel-O'Neill termed ‘faux Catholic schools’ are springing up, led by those who have been in the Catholic home-schooling movement,” Catholic News Service reported. “She showed the home page to a website for a Pope John Paul II Academy in a suburban section of the Archdiocese of Washington, which has no connection with the archdiocese, despite entreaties by archdiocesan officials that the school seek some sort of connection. ‘They're teaching the Catholic faith, but they're not approved by any bishop,’ she added.”

Pope John Paul II Academy’s web page makes clear that

the school is not an Archdiocesan school. This means that we are challenged to find financial support from our community, and that we cannot, under canon law, lay claim to the title “Catholic.” Rather that title must be given to the school by the Archbishop. Since the Archdiocese has struggled for many years with failing schools, it continues to consider new schools with caution. Our view is that our students, teachers and parents must not hide their faith or treat it as a private matter, but we must let it permeate all that we do, as Pope Benedict XVI has called us to do.

Ms. Weitzel-O’Neill, who has served as the Archdiocese of Washington’s superintendent of schools under Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and Archbishop Donald Wuerl, also criticized the Archdiocese of Denver’s decision not to re-enroll a Catholic school student who is being raised by a lesbian couple.

Ms. Wetzel-O’Neill made her remarks at the “Washington Briefing for the Nation's Catholic Community,” an event sponsored by the National Catholic Reporter and Trinity Washington University. The National Catholic Reporter had advertised the event as one characterized by the spirit of irenic dialogue: “Between the ranting of the tea party crowd and the fractious debate in the Halls of Congress, is it possible for people of good will and different opinions (even different political parties) to learn from and with each other?”


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Show 11 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - May. 15, 2010 9:42 PM ET USA

    Well, Ms. Wetzel-O’Neill, it does not bode well for respectful dialog when you characterize the desire for a smaller government and less federal spending as "the ranting of the tea party crowd". The need for such "independent" schools arose from the failure of the bishop's own to teach the Catholic faith. If you can take a break from closing the bishop's schools, cite a example of the failure of these new schools to be faithful to the Catholic Church, and what is that "diocesan" connection for

  • Posted by: Defender - May. 12, 2010 7:51 PM ET USA

    Another irony: a Catholic school superintendent criticizing an archbishop's decision in upholding the Magisterium of the Church. This foretells a lot of what to expect from BC in the future, doesn't it? Also, if parents are the prime teachers of their children, then she shouldn't be so afraid of their teaching The Faith to their own children (if you quiz most students about "things Catholic" today, you'll also see why).

  • Posted by: Anselm - May. 12, 2010 11:09 AM ET USA

    Actually, the irony is this: If the Archdiocese of Washington does not endorse the school, why was it allowed for Pope Benedict XVI to bless some items for the school during his visit in 2008? I believe it occurred during the Papal Mass.

  • Posted by: Defender - May. 12, 2010 3:09 AM ET USA

    Things won't change as long as we have pastors who either don't want or don't support their parish schools, bishops who do likewise and a diocesan school administration that fills the ranks with principals and teachers who are mere "yes men/women." Going independent sounds like a reasonable way to offer a solid grounding in The Faith. We need to have a serious discussion about the future of Catholic education in this country.

  • Posted by: v.nagle - May. 12, 2010 2:37 AM ET USA

    Well, it has to be written down as a bright moment in the history of Irony that an official of Boston College starts to complain about 'faux Catholic schools." Well, that is a sign of the times. There is not one shred of recognizable Catholic faith that one hears in the statements emanating from that institution, but it is officially, institutionally Catholic. I prefer a place that has faith and no institutional recognition by far. Is it the state or the people that matter? The question!

  • Posted by: Athelstan - May. 11, 2010 8:05 PM ET USA

    "Irenic dialogue"? I don't think so.

  • Posted by: - May. 11, 2010 2:16 PM ET USA

    Having taught at diocesan schools--reputed to be "good"--I have seen the horrors of "Catholicism" in name ONLY. The students often yearn for direction but graduate befuddled and aimless as a result of theology according to mush. Relativity reigns supreme and serves as minion to man's baser desires. I would never send my children to any diocesan school I have known. All of the really Catholic schools I have known were non-diocesan. Diocesan schools are too often the "Faux Catholic" schools.

  • Posted by: - May. 11, 2010 2:13 PM ET USA

    Anyone who is Catholic has to home school because "Catholic" schools are unaffordable and public schools are a hazard. What Patty Weitzel-O’Neill proposed for Catholic D.C.: "The new policies also dispense with multiple-children discounts". Schools for the poor close, while Dematha & Georgetown Prep spend millions on new gyms & pizza ovens.

  • Posted by: Saved by Grace - May. 11, 2010 9:16 AM ET USA

    "the Archdiocese struggling with failing schools"... Of course they rant that the solution must come from within the same failing club that has steered many Catholic schools completely into the sandbanks of secular society. So please do not come up with an alternate plan for our children. They may actually learn the faith and do something radical - like becoming priest and nuns and faithful married people practicing NFP and having more than 2.1 children. (The .1 being aborted!)

  • Posted by: - May. 11, 2010 8:14 AM ET USA

    "is it possible for people of good will and different opinions (even different political parties) to learn from and with each other?" How can do people of good will learn from one another when one party seeks to impose its will through government mandates upon every aspect of human life? And when that party also appears most often on the side of what is traditionally seen as sinful, degenerate, and disgraceful?

  • Posted by: DrJazz - May. 11, 2010 7:18 AM ET USA

    "Is it possible for people of good will and different opinions (even different political parties) to learn from and with each other?” Well, let's see, your crew has indoctrinated US for the last 40+ years, so . . . as soon as YOU start learning about Catholicism, and most especially the application of subsidiarity to education, we'll be learning from each other! Why don't you get started right now and let us know how it turns out?