In his weekly column published on CatholicPhilly.com Thursday — the day reviews of any petitions against closing schools on archdiocese much-debated closure list were to begin — Archbishop Charles Chaput chided parents for not lobbying elected officials harder for school vouchers.
“It’s useful to wonder how many of our schools might have been saved if, over the last decade, Catholics had fought for vouchers as loudly and vigorously as they now grieve about school closings.
Some Catholics — too many — seem to find it easier to criticize their own leaders than to face the fact that they’re discriminated against every day of the year,” Chaput wrote.
He acknowledged, however, that parents, students and alumni have the right to be upset about the closings, saying, “It’s no surprise that, while quite a few e-mails have expressed support, many more have been filled with confusion, anger and grief. This is natural. In fact, it would be abnormal and very troubling if people didn’t vent their feelings on a matter so close to the heart of Philadelphia Catholics.”
While some have argued the archdiocese is too focused on money, Chaput insisted the closings are a practical matter.
“No family can run on nostalgia and red ink. Every parent knows this from experience. And so it is with the church.
“If we haven’t always done that in the past, then we need to start now,” he concluded.
Vouchers issue not going away
Members of the Blue Ribbon Commission expressed that the drastic cuts were necessary due to years of inaction by archdiocese officials. They emphasized that the plan is not just about cuts, but about stabilizing the future of Catholic education and making it sustainable.
The voucher issue, for its part, is one that is sure not to go away. Commission members said they will continue to advocate for what they consider a social justice issue. A proposal last year that would have provided taxpayer-funded vouchers for students at the lowest-performing schools died in the state Senate.