Archbishop Charles Chaput today fired back at parents, alumni and others who have criticized the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's decision to close 49 schools.
In his weekly column published on CatholicPhilly.com, 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 said.
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 emails 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.
"We have a moral duty to use our resources wisely, not just in education, but in every aspect of our life as a believing community. If we haven't always done that in the past, then we need to start now," he continued.
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Members of the Blue Ribbon Commission last week 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 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 House.
To read the full text of Chaput's column, click here.