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SOME WEAK POINTS IN THE CATHOLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM





SOME parents claim that their children do not learn anything in the
Catholic school. It is good policy always to accept this statement as
true in all its parts; it may be true, and it is never good to deny the
truth. All are not equally endowed with brains in this world. If a
child has it dinned into his ears that the school he attends is
inferior, he will come to be convinced of the fact; and being
convinced, he will set to work verifying it, in his case, at least.
Heredity may have something to do with it; children are sometimes
"chips of the old block,"--a great misfortune in many cases,
handicapping them in the race of life. It is well, therefore, not to
claim too much for our schools. We concede the point.

Another parent thinks that because he went through the public schools
and kept the faith in his day, his children may be trusted to do the
same. This objection has a serious front to it. It does seem strange
that children should not walk in the footsteps of their worthy parents;
but the fact is, and facts are stubborn things, the fact is that they
do not always act thus. And they might tell you, to justify their
unseemly conduct, that the conditions that obtained in life in olden
days are not the same as at present; that there were no parochial
schools then to offer a choice in matters of education and that kind
Providence might have taken this into consideration: that it was the
custom in those days for children to imitate the rugged virtues of
their parents struggling against necessity on one hand and bigotry on
the other; but that through the powerful influence of money, the
progeny of the persecuted may now hobnob with the progeny of the bigot,
and the association is not always the best thing in the world for the
faith and religious convictions of the former, unless these convictions
are well grounded in youth. The parent therefore who kept the faith
with less had a very considerable advantage over his child who
apparently has more privileges, but also more temptations and dangers.
The objection does not look so serious now.

Of course there is the question of social standing--a very important
matter with some parents of the "nouveau riche" type. A fop will gauge
a man's worth by the size of his purse or the style and cut of the coat
he wears. There are parents who would not mind their children's sitting
beside a little darkey, but who do object most strenuously to their
occupying the same bench with a dirty little Irish child. A calico
dress or a coat frayed at the edges are certainly not badges of high
social standing, but they are not incompatible with honesty, purity,
industry and respect for God, which things create a wholesome
atmosphere to live in and make the world better in every sense of the
word. There is no refinement in these little ones, to speak of, not
even the refinement of vice. There is something in the air they breathe
that kills the germ of vice. The discipline considers sin a worse evil
than ignorance of social amenities, and virtue and goodness as far
superior to etiquette and distinction of manners. If a different
appreciation of things is entertained, we grant the inferiority of our
schools.

"But then, it is so very un-American, you know, to maintain separate
schools in opposition to an institution so intensely American as our
public school system. This state of affairs fosters creed prejudices
that it is the duty of every true American to help destroy. The age of
religious differences is past, and the parochial school is a perpetual
reminder of things of the past that were best forgotten."

We deny that the system that stands for no religious or moral training
is intensely American. This is a Christian land. If our denial cannot
be sustained, we consider such a system radically wrong and detrimental
to the best interests of the country; and we protest against it, just
as some of us protest against imperialism, high tariff and
monometalism. It is wrong, bad, therefore un-American.

We also claim that the Protestant propaganda that is being carried on
under the guise of non-sectarian education is unspeakably unjust and
outrageous. Protestantism is not a State institution in this country. A
stranger might think so by the way public shekels are made to serve the
purposes of proselytism; but to make the claim, in theory, or in
practise, is to go counter to the laws of this land, and is un-American
to a degree. That is another un-Americanism we protest against.

We teach truth, not creed prejudices; we train our children to have and
always maintain a strong prejudice for religious truth, and that kind
of prejudice is the rock-bed of all that is good and holy and worth
living for. We teach dogma. We do not believe in religion without
dogma, any more than religion without truth. "That kind of religion has
not been invented, but it will come in when we have good men without
convictions, parties without principles and geometry without theories."

If there is anything un-American in all this, it is because the term is
misunderstood and misapplied. We are sorry if others find us at odds on
religious grounds. The fact of our existence will always be a reminder
of our differences with them in the past. But we are not willing to
cease to exist on that account.





Next: CORRECTION

Previous: CATHOLIC SCHOOLS



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