REPORT CARD: Catholic Schools Pray for Safety; Vermont Discriminates Against Religious Schools; Walsh Univ. Center Highlights Catholic Identity

Catholic schools opt to pray instead of allowing walkout

While school students around the country planned to walk out of school on March 14 as a way of marking the one-month anniversary of a tragic Florida school shooting, many Catholic schools opted for prayer services instead.

The Diocese of Peoria directed its schools to prohibit students from walking out, because “some of the sponsors of the National School Walkout advocate for positions that are contrary to the Church’s teachings on the sanctity of human life in all of its stages.”

EMPOWER, which originated the idea for the walkout, is the youth branch of the Women’s March, which advocates for abortion.

“Our Catholic schools stand in solidarity with those who seek change and conversion in a culture of violence that is destroying innocent life,” the diocese said. “However, a walkout is not the best course of action for the students entrusted to our care.”

Instead, it suggested that students “demonstrate the power of prayer and faith in action.”

Many Catholic schools held a prayer service, offered a Rosary, or attended Mass for the victims of school shootings, according to the Journal Star.

The Diocese of Harrisburg, according to Lancaster Online, decided to mark the day with prayer services as “a positive way to respond to the concerns of students” rather than having students leave the school and go outside.

The focus is in “keeping with who we are as people of faith and a community of believers,” said Dominican Sister John Mary Fleming, executive director of the Secretariat of Catholic Education of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Sister John Mary, a member of the Dominicans’ St. Cecilia Congregation in Nashville, Tennessee, told The Catholic Courier that Catholic schools are teaching their students to pray for a situation in dire need of a remedy.

Vermont discriminates against Catholic school students

The state of Vermont has barred Catholic school students from a program that provides state-funded vouchers for high school juniors and seniors to take classes at Vermont colleges and universities.

Some are calling for the legislature to halt the discrimination and open the program to all Vermont students. Others defended the exclusion by citing concerns about the “separation of church and state.”

But Bishop Christopher Coyne told America Magazine, “There’s no good argument against it in terms of the separation of church and state.”

Rick Garnett, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame, said he believed the Vermont law would be found unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The ‘separation of church and state’ is an important aspect of the American tradition, but this distinction does not require and should not even permit blatant discrimination against students simply because they and their families choose qualified religious schools for their education,” he said. “This is not a debate about whether public funds in Vermont should be used to pay for religious instruction or to support religious schools. It is, instead, about whether a generally available and entirely ‘secular’ benefit should be withheld simply as a penalty for exercising the constitutional right to choose a faith-based school.”

Thankfully, three state senators have sponsored a piece of legislation that would allow private schools, including Catholic schools, to participate in the program.

We will keep you posted.

Walsh University’s new hi-tech center proudly displays its faith

Walsh University’s new $11 million high-tech state-of-the-art academic building, the Marlene and Joe Toot Global Learning Center, honors its Catholic faith by including the Mother Angelica Video Production Lab and Saint Gabriel Media Center.

Prominently displayed on the exterior wall of the center is a two-story tile mosaic of the University’s official crest and the University’s motto, “Sed Deus Dat Incrementum,” which means “God Gives the Increase.” Walsh is recommended for its Catholic identity in The Newman Guide.

Inside the facility, classrooms, computer labs and digital production studios have been given apropos names such as the Saint Gabriel Media Center, under the patron saint of communications; the Saint Maximilian Kolbe Recording Studio, under the patron saint of journalists; and the Mother Angelica Video Production Lab, named for the foundress of EWTN.

The center will also be home to a Saint Mother Teresa chapel for adoration and prayer. Mother Teresa visited the campus in the 1980s and was given an honorary degree.

Ontario Catholic school trustees attacked for defending life

The trustees of Catholic schools in Ontario who voted to prohibit Catholic schools from donating money to organizations that undermine the sacredness of life are coming under fire, according to LifeSiteNews.

The Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) strongly opposed the policy and even pushed for it to be re-voted on, only to lose again. But now, some vocal parents and students are railing against the trustees with the media helping to publicize their protests.

An upcoming board meeting promises a continuation of the rancor against the trustees voting to support Catholic teaching. Keep them in your prayers.

Catholic University reflects on 50 Years of Humanae Vitae

While some Catholic colleges openly offer contraceptive coverage in their insurance plans or allow student groups to distribute condoms on campus, The Catholic University of America will host a three-day symposium to analyze and celebrate the legacy of Humanae Vitae on its 50th anniversary.

The event will feature experts from many branches of knowledge including the sciences and theology discussing Pope Paul VI’s document, which beautifully affirmed the Church’s teachings on human sexuality in a turbulent time.

John Grabowski, associate professor of moral theology at Catholic University and one of the scheduled presenters, said of Humanae Vitae that “to a culture such as ours, deeply wounded by the Sexual Revolution, it charts a path toward encountering God’s mercy and His healing love.”

Additional speakers and presenters for the conference include Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., of Philadelphia; Janet Smith, Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in the Archdiocese of Detroit; Patrick Lee, professor of philosophy and the John N. and Jamie D. McAleer Chair in Bioethics at Franciscan University of Steubenville; Teresa Stanton Collett, professor and director of the Pro-Life Center at the University of St. Thomas School of Law; and Christopher Kaczor, professor of philosophy at Loyola Marymount University.

CFO of St. Thomas U. resigns over affiliation with gun manufacturer

The Chief Financial Officer of St. Thomas University in Miami, Fla., resigned her post after being issued an ultimatum by University President Monsignor Frank Casale, after it came to light that she served on the board of a gun manufacturer, according to the Miami Herald.

Former CFO Anita Britt serves on the board of American Outdoor Brands, which is the parent company of Smith & Wesson.

Initially, when her affiliation with American Outdoors was brought to light by a number of students, Msgr. Casale defended Britt by saying her role with American Outdoor Brands didn’t go against the university’s Catholic teachings. But after some faculty members protested, including one who compared the gun manufacturer to Planned Parenthood, the media seized on the story. Msgr. Casale reportedly told Britt that she must quit the board or resign as CFO. Britt opted to resign from St. Thomas.

Msgr. Casale said, “I came to the conclusion that St. Thomas was being associated with gun violence and that was not an image I thought was good for the university.”

Catholic school asks coach to resign over same-sex marriage plans

A softball coach for a Michigan Catholic school was asked to resign, after it was learned that she intended to marry her same-sex partner.

After being told that if she married her same-sex partner she wouldn’t be able to continue working at the school, Kristen Nelson resigned, saying on Facebook, “I hope you can understand that I simply cannot continue to work in an environment that refuses to support me.”

West Catholic High also posted a message, saying, “When someone is living outside of Church teaching or participating in behavior not in line with Church teaching and makes it known publicly, they cannot fulfill their primary mission to lead by example.”

The administrators said it was Nelson’s planned “public act of same-sex marriage” and not her “same-sex attraction” that conflicted with Church teaching.

According to the Huffington Post, Bishop David Walkowiak was “grateful” to the school for standing up for the Church’s teaching.

“As a mission of the Catholic Church, Catholic schools are places where students come to learn and know the Church’s teachings, one of which is the definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman,” the diocese said in a statement. “For this reason, Catholic school administrators, teachers, or staff members that persist in public acts that are contrary to Catholic teachings disqualify themselves from the opportunity to continue in their leadership role within a Catholic school.”

Catholic school fires teacher who married same-sex partner

Despite protests from some parents and teachers, Saints Peter and Paul School in Miami, Fla., fired a first-grade teacher just days after she married her same-sex partner.

“I consider her the Mother Teresa of teachers,” said one confused parent, according to the New York Times.

“This weekend I married the love of my life, and unfortunately I was terminated from my job as a result,” Morffi wrote on Instagram. “In their eyes I’m not the right kind of Catholic for my choice in partner.”

Mary Ross Agosta, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Miami, said in an email that Morffi was fired because she violated a contract which mandates that teachers abide by Catholic teaching.

Four teachers who reportedly attended the wedding ceremony were warned against posting pictures or attending events that would be considered supportive of same-sex marriage.

New Theology of the Body program for Ontario

Sister Helena Burns, the vocations director of the Daughters of St. Paul in Toronto, is launching a Theology of the Body certificate program through Sacred Heart College in Peterborough, Ontario, that will be available both in-class and online, according to the Catholic Register.

During the eight-week course, students will receive comprehensive training in theological and philosophical concepts taught by St. Pope John Paul II.

Burns said she believes the Theology of the Body isn’t taught often enough and that its teachings offer answers to some of the most pressing questions of our day. “The Catholic Church has this treasure that we need to unpack,” she said. “It’s a Bible study of the body.”

Bishops’ chairmen urge support for First Amendment Defense Act

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, came out strongly in support of the newly reintroduced First Amendment Defense Act, a religious liberty protection bill that would prevent the federal government from discriminating against religious schools, businesses and individuals holding to the truth that marriage is a union of one man and one woman.

“FADA is a modest and important measure that protects the rights of faith-based organizations and people of all faiths and of no faith who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman,” the bishops said. “For example, in a pluralistic society, faith-based charitable agencies, and schools should not be excluded from participation in public life by loss of licenses, accreditation, or tax-exempt status because they hold reasonable views on marriage that differ from the federal government’s view.”

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