The Holy Father’s remarks to Notre Dame strike to the core mission of all Catholic Universities. I hope that they are listening.
According to news stories, Eastside Catholic High School in Seattle dismissed its vice principal because he was a gay man, ‘married’ to another gay man. This action resulted in what news stories have characterized as a walk-out by students of the school.
I looked on the school’s website and found that tuition at this school is almost $19,000/year. The motto, Discover You, is emblazoned on the web site. That motto would seem to fit in with the overall sense of entitlement that goes with privileged kids, whose parents pay high tuition to buy them an education that shapes them to fit into a narcissistic secular world.
It also points to a failed Catholic school. Based on the behavior of its students, this school appears to have failed in what most people think is the real mission of a Catholic school, which is raising up young people who can stand for the faith.
We live in a post Christian America and we need Catholic schools to equip our young people to follow Christ in a hostile world. From the behavior of these students, I would guess that this school has been equipping young people to follow the world within the Church. It would appear that it has succeeded so well that their first loyalty is not to the Church, but to the trendy morality of the larger culture. That equals a failed Catholic school in my books.
This post ties in rather nicely with an earlier one about the Vatican’s call for Catholic schools to maintain their Christian identity. Based solely on the behavior of its students, along with photos and verbiage on its website, I’m guessing that Eastside Catholic has fallen rather short of this. Their website portrays a glitzy school with high tuition and white bread students who are being prepared to fit in with the secularized Christian-bashing post Christian larger society.
I wonder if any of these students at this school are being prepared to follow Christ and be the leaven that actually converts the world?
The students who have walked out should be dismissed from the school. If that means temporarily closing the school, or maybe even lowering the tuition a bit so that a less entitled group of young people can study there, so be it.
According to Eastside Catholic attorney and spokesperson Mike Patterson, Mark Zmuda has violated a signed contract that states he would follow the official teachings of the church. Patterson maintains that gay marriage is against the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.
After meeting with Patterson, Zmuda resigned his position – for personal reasons – with the school, effective Friday, Dece. 20, 2013.
Zmuda was a good administrator says Patterson, and they plan to give him a good reference.
Students are outraged, and have protested the resignation by walking out of school on Thursday.
“We are standing outside the school protesting for equality in the church, and equality everywhere,” high school senior Alex Kovar said.
The students say Zmuda is a great man and a great faculty member.
“We’re all here because we love him and we want to feel like we can accept people for who they are here at Eastside, and I think by firing him because he’s gay is not portraying that message,” Eastside Catholic senior Julia Troy said.
The students say it is widely known that Zmuda is gay, and they aren’t sure why the school has decided to act now.
“What a lot of us are questioning is why it took them this long to decide to fire him, because this man has, and continues to make a really big impact on our school,” Troy added.
All grade levels are reflected as dozens of students currently stand outside the school, and voice support for Zmuda.
“I’ll accept you, but only if you leave your identity aside.”
This statement sums up the challenge a lot of Christians are facing in their walk with Christ. The Vatican’s answer is that Catholic schools must retain their Catholic identity in the face of it.
I’ve written posts recently that I said were “man bites dog” stories. I suppose that makes this one a “dog bites self” story.
According to the Cardinal Newman Society, Gonzaga University which bills itself as a Catholic university and whose mascot is the bulldog, banned the Knights of Columbus from their campus. This evidently came after a year of stone-walling by the University administration.
The reason this dog decided to bite itself?
Because the Knights of Columbus is a Catholic organization. Dr Sue Weitz, Gonzaga Vice President for Student Life, wrote (emphasis mine):
So. Does this mean that if I went to Gonzaga, my all-mom (which, by definition, makes us all female) rosary group could not be recognized by the university? What about an all-girl lamaze class? Of course, the all-male part of this letter, coming from a school with a winning basketball team, which, if I’m not mistaken, is all-male, is ridiculous on its face. It’s just puffery.
The thing that really strikes home is the “dog bites self” action of a Catholic university banning a Catholic organization because it’s Catholic. Dr Weitz commented in the letter that she “believes strongly in the university’s policy of non-discrimination and inclusiveness.”
I would guess that she probably believes what she wrote, but it’s nonsense. In truth, schools like Gonzaga that are so self-consciously “inclusive” and committed to “nondiscrimination” are the elite training grounds for a new upper class. Wealthy parents prepare their children from infancy to go to schools like Gonzaga because they are a funnel for targeting certain people into the privileged zip codes and plumb positions that rule the rest of us.
Harvard, Princeton, Yale are the premiere examples of this. A diploma from one of these schools is a ticket to entry into that other world of easy connections the rest of the country knows nothing about. Gonzaga students have to push a bit more to get there, but for a vice president of this school to call it “inclusive” and “nondiscriminatory” is an oxymoron.
In truth, these upper tier schools, including those on the second and third tiers like Gonzaga, are no more inclusive and nondiscriminatory than the old “400” of East Coast high society.
Money is the new discrimination. Wealth is the new prejudice. And the attitudes of the moneyed class control and corrupt higher education from top to bottom. Based on this action banning the Knights of Columbus from their Catholic school, I would say that these attitudes of exclusiveness and discrimination rule absolutely at Gonzaga.
I don’t find it surprising at all that a school which has veered so far from Catholic teaching as it regards wealth and power would be embarrassed by an unashamedly Catholic organization like the Knights of Columbus. Catholicism, if it is practiced as a faith and not a social delimiter, is the antithesis of what all these upper tier schools have become.
There was a time when education was considered a leaven to our whole society. The principle behind public education is that we will provide a free, equal education for all our citizens so that every single one of them has a chance to live their life to its fullest.
What has happened instead is that our schools have become, as I said earlier, funnels for discrimination. From the horrible slum schools we foist on large segments of the population, to the country club public schools we provide to other segments of the population, and on into the university level, education in this country has become a method and a means of creating and perpetuating a moneyed elite and a limited citizenry.
Gonzaga is part of that.
The last thing a school of this nature would want is a genuine Christian influence on its campus. Christianity has a way of turning this elitist nonsense on its head and demanding in the name of a God of justice and mercy that we do better.
I am not saying that this bizarre little letter with its facile self-righteousness that banned the Knights of Columbus from Gonzaga’s campus said any of this. I am not even saying that the Vice President who wrote it or the administrative board that backed it are thinking in these precise terms. I am saying that this is what they are doing.
These upper tier schools appear to be so self-congratulatory that it would never occur to them to challenge their own moral assumptions. They are bubbles of group-think and like-thinking and they have become increasingly aggressive about keeping anyone who is not “our kind” off their premises.
The Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Church which preaches the beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount are definitely not “our kind” in these schools.
Upper tier schools talk a good game about their inclusive, nondiscriminatory values. But in practice they are the instruments by which we have created and are perpetuating an isolated and privileged new upper class.
Gonzaga still claims it’s Catholic identity. In fact, it’s rather self-conscious about it. But I think Gonzaga lost its true Catholic identity long before it sent this letter banning the Knights of Columbus from its campus. True Catholic identity means identifying with the least, the lost, the poor and the weak. Gonzaga has evidently become the kind of school where that Gospel challenge to true inclusiveness and non-discrimination is a bridge too far.