Tag: bishop

Catholicism’s Impact on the History of Education

In today’s day and age, when it is easy to both take a Catholic education for granted, and, at the same time, potentially harbor feelings of persecution of faith in education, it is important to remember and appreciate the tumultuous history of public education and Catholic education.

While learning and passing on knowledge is intrinsically wired into the brain of all humankind, and there have been teachers and students as long as man has walked on this Earth, the history of formal education in the Western world is much shorter than the history of man, and it is firmly grounded, from the beginning, in Christianity.

Even in Ancient Rome, long considered the intellectual empire of education the pre-Middle Ages world, there is little record of anything indicating free and available education. Only the elite of Roman wealth and society could expect a complete education, and education in this time was seen as more of a status symbol of wealth and leisure time than it was as a practical concern. For a large portion of the Ancient World, literacy was reserved for religious scholars and scribes, and classes or schooling were largely absent. For years, those without wealth and status in cultures from from Israel to China primarily educated themselves by apprenticing in a trade or devoting themselves to religion. Prior to the Middle Ages, India had the most developed and publicly-available education from around 1500 BC to 600 BC, but as the caste system developed it became far more discriminatory.

It wasn’t until during the early Middle Ages that the monasteries of the Roman Catholic Church  became the centres of education and literacy. Evidence of classes and schools in monasteries as the forerunners to the later idea university can be found dated as far back as the early 6th century, a full century before Islam created The University of al-Qarawiyyin which is the oldest existing continually operated university in the world in the latter part of the 7th century.

Free education for the poor was officially mandated by the Church in 1179 when it decreed that every cathedral must assign a master to teach boys too poor to pay the regular fee; parishes and monasteries also established free schools teaching at least basic literacy skills. This was the basis from which all of modern education has sprung, world-wide.

The first American schools founded by the colonists in the 17th century are not actually the first American schools, as the history of Catholic education in the United States is actually older than the United States itself. Religious education was brought to these shores by Spanish missionaries accompanying explorers and conquistadors, and were followed shortly thereafter by French compeers.

Even though English Catholics founded Maryland as a Catholic colony in 1634, and most colonies were founded by Christians and Catholics seeking religious freedoms from the Anglican church, it took some time for Catholic education to take root widely. The end of the Revolutionary War saw the real growth of Catholic schools in America, with Georgetown University being founded in 1789, just a few short years later.

The Catholic education established in the United States saw hard times hard times and a simultaneous boom in the 1840’s when Horace Mann worked to create a statewide system of professional teachers and “common schools” rather than the private schools that had existed before. Mann believed that education should be available to all, and the movement quickly gained strength. Many states began passing “compulsory attendance” laws. No one person did more for public education in the minds of the American people.

However, Horace Mann was also a Presbyterian minister, was also establishing curriculum and ideology for these public schools that drastically shifted education towards a Protestant one, and required that the King James Bible be used in schools. Catholic teachers who refused to participating in the reading of the King James Bible were often dismissed from their teaching positions, and Catholic children in public schools were often bullied and shunned, Tensions built so high in the 1840’s that they began causing riots and violence, with the most severe being the May 3, 1844 riot in Philadelphia that destroyed dozens of Irish Catholic immigrant homes, with Catholic schools and churches being burned to the ground.

This tension against Catholicism in public education created a demand for private Catholic schools, and in 1852 the First Plenary Council of Baltimore urged every Catholic parish in the country to establish it’s own Catholic school for that very reason.

Growth of the Catholic school system grew until 1920, and then the growth became explosive, with an all-time high in the mid 60’s. The mid 1960’s saw 4.5 million elementary school students enrolled in private Catholic schools, with a further million in high-schools, which began a blossoming need for Catholic universities.

Though we are seeing a decline recently from the years that were the peak of enrollment, it is no doubt that Catholicism, and the drive to educate the world in faith and higher learning for centuries, has made our culture what it is today.

His Holiness Pope Francis on Family, Education, and the Catholic Faith

His Holiness Pope Francis has finally finished his Apostolic Post-Synod Exhortation, after a year and a half of work. The document was requested by Synod fathers, is expected to be published on April 8th, and is greatly anticipated by many. It’s an educational address regarding the family’s role in the Catholic faith.

There is a lot of discussion about what the tone of the writings will be, as he has been recognized for some of his unconventional practices and been dubbed “the modern-day pontiff”, so some of what we may read in this forthcoming document may make some waves in the faith, although he has also been very outspoken on the role of the family in non-secular education, amongst other beliefs, so we may not read anything new, it may be an official word on things he has said and written before. There is a great expectancy surrounding this document, and a fair share of speculation as well.

According to quotes from Catholic Online: “This the most important test for this pope to show us how he deals with dissent in the Church, how he deals with divided issues,” said Massimo Faggioli, a Church historian who directs the Institute for Catholicism and Citizenship at the University of St. Thomas, a Catholic school in St. Paul. According to the National Catholic Reporter, “That document notably recommended a significant softening of the church’s practice toward those who have divorced and remarried.”

At the end of the Synod on the Family in the fall of 2015, the attending bishops wrote a summary document with the intention of advising him, and this document will be based on the synod’s final report, as in past synods. “We humbly ask the Holy Father to evaluate the opportunity of offering a document on the family, so that in it, the domestic church may ever more shine Christ, the light of the world,” the Oct. 24 report stated.

This document may just be a restating of the ideas and thoughts of the Bishops in his own words, or it may turn out to be a completely new document of his own writing. “The document will identify the current stresses on family life from poverty, migration, and war, as well as the hostile legal and cultural framework of contemporary Western society, which Francis calls ‘ideological colonization,'” stated Francis’ biographer Austen Ivereigh to ‘Our Sunday Visitor.’ “The exhortation will be an uplifting tribute to the enduring power and beauty of family life, offering support and consolation to those struggling against fierce contemporary headwinds to hold families together.”

In Pope Francis’ three years since having been elected to the papacy, he has been very outspoken on the role of Catholic education in the world and in the Church, and has particularly emphasised parent’s proper role as the primary educators of their children. He has been outspoken in the fact that non-secular schooling alone is not enough for children, that parents need to educate the children in the ways of the Catholic faith at home, as well. “It is your right to request an appropriate education for your children, an integral education open to the most authentic human and Christian values. As parents, you are the depositories of the duty and the primary and inalienable right to educate your children, thus helping in a positive and constant way the task of the school.” Said Pope Francis.

“Taken as a whole, his statements centered on rebuilding a more ‘human’ education — relax the ‘rigidity’ of schools, reach out to the margins of society, decrease the emphasis on intellectual ‘selectivity’ that tends to exclude rather than invite participation, and open young hearts and minds to God,” wrote Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick Reilly. He added that the comments by Pope Francis to the Vatican Congress “should not be construed as pulling the reins on evangelization in schools. Instead, we should celebrate Catholic education as the Church’s key means of evangelization, in human formation that invites the student to know, love and serve God.”

“The message you bring will take root all the more firmly in people’s hearts if you are not only a teacher but also a witness,” the Holy Father said when speaking to catechists and teachers in Uganda last December. “You teach what Jesus taught, you instruct adults and help parents to raise their children in the faith.” He also does not limit this role to teachers, but also faculty and coaches who are in the lives of the children as well. “How important it is that a coach be an example of integrity, of coherence, of good judgment, of impartiality, but also of joy of living, of patience, of capacity to esteem and of benevolence to all, especially the most disadvantaged!” Said Pope Francis in May. “And how important it is that he be an example of faith! All of us, in life, are in need of educators; mature, wise and balanced persons that help us grow in the family, in study, in work, in the faith,” he added.

Questions about the leniency of divorced and remarried families receiving Holy Communion is expected to be addressed, as well as how the LGBT should be addressed, and during the Synods there had been a clear division of opinions in that regard. There was, however, a unified idea that families need to have an increased and renewed focus on the church from all involved at the Synods.

“I expect the papal document to be a typical Bergoglio combination of challenge and encouragement,” said Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, Australia, using Francis’ family name, according to National Catholic Reporter. “This pope has a strange ability to say things which can be quite searing but end up being heartening.”

“If the pope can get the mix of encouragement and challenge right, he’ll be the unifier that Peter is meant to be, leading us beyond ideological dogfights and confirming us in the faith.”

Pope Francis’ addressing of the topics of divorced and remarried Catholics has become “the most important moment in the Church in the last 50 years. This was the biggest sign of hope that in the Catholic Church there are ideas, and we can talk about it. No one before Francis ever had the courage to think about that,” according to Faggioli.

Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman

This month would have been the 215th birthday Of Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman. One of the first teachers to tackle the modern and utilitarian problems facing Catholic Education, Cardinal Newman was originally an evangelical Oxford University academic and priest in the Church of England. He became later drawn to the high-church of Anglicanism. “Newman provides a much-needed educational vision today as an attractive alternative to the shapeless, relativistic and uninspiring alternatives of so many contemporary universities,” said Paul Shrimpton, who teaches at Magdalen College School, Oxford, and specializes in the history of education. “His practice and example will appeal to those who value the idea of a liberal [arts] education, those interested in the education of the whole person and those with an interest in the idea of a faith-based college or university.”

 

While it may be hyperbole to say that he foresaw most of the problems that are facing Catholic colleges and universities today, there is a reason and insight in Newman’s writing that is still applicable to this day. While there are many who are aware of his writings, not as many know about the true devotion he had to the vision of an authentic Catholic education.  He was instrumental in the founding of the Catholic University of Ireland, which has evolved into the University College of Dublin, the largest university in Ireland.

 

Anti-Catholicism was central to British culture at the time, ever since the Protestant Reformation. In order to educated the public, Newman took the initiative and booked the Birmingham Corn Exchange for a series of public lectures. He decided to make their tone popular and provide cheap off-prints to those who attended. These lectures were his Lectures on the Present Position of Catholics in England and they were delivered weekly, beginning on 30 June and finishing on 1 September 1851.

 

In total there were nine lectures:

 

  • Protestant view of the Catholic Church
  • Tradition the sustaining power of the Protestant view
  • Fable the basis of the Protestant view
  • True testimony insufficient for the Protestant view
  • Logical inconsistency of the Protestant view
  • Prejudice the life of the Protestant view
  • Assumed principles of the intellectual ground of the Protestant view
  • Ignorance concerning Catholics the protection of the Protestant view
  • Duties of Catholics towards the Protestant view

 

-which form the nine chapters of the published book.

 

Andrew Nash describes the Lectures as: “an analysis of this [anti-Catholic] ideology, satirising it, demonstrating the false traditions on which it was based and advising Catholics how they should respond to it. They were the first of their kind in English literature.”

 

John Wolffe assesses the Lectures as: “an interesting treatment of the problem of anti-Catholicism from an observer whose partisan commitment did not cause him to slide into mere polemic and who had the advantage of viewing the religious battlefield from both sides of the tortured no man’s land of Littlemore.”

 

The poet Aubrey de Vere was, at the time, another lecturer appointed by Newman. De Vere stated, “I was pained by the very humble labours to which Newman seemed so willingly to subject himself. It appeared strange that he should carve for thirty hungry youths, or sit listening to the eloquent visitors. Such work should have fallen on subordinates, but their salaries it was impossible to provide.”

 

Much of his work focused on the importance of Catholic education and the importance it plays on the health of the Church itself. Many Catholic institutions today owe their practices to Newman, as do the Popes, and how they guide education throughout the years.

 

Catholic Leaders Appeal on Climate Change

osvald-graciasCatholic leaders from around the world met yesterday to discuss climate change and come to a conclusion on what to do. As we all know climate change is a very sensitive issue and a very real problem. The Catholic Church is very much invested in becoming a part of the solution and aiding where they can. Catholic leaders also aren’t afraid to speak their mind on the recent proceedings. The Church aims to approve a “fair, legally binding and truly transformational climate agreement” when they all meet at a United Nations conference in Paris, France sometime next month.

The representatives of the Church met in Vatican City to sign the appeal. They represented 5 contingents and where all on the same mission that they said Pope Francis inspired them to push for. The demands of the Catholic Church are designed to put the common good ahead of national interests and curtail environmental destruction and climate change. The main points of the Catholic Church’s vested interest in this issue comes at the foundation of social injustice from around the world as they have compiled solid evidence that people everywhere are affected by these changes.

The Church’s proposal includes putting “an end to the fossil fuel era” by cutting out the harmful emissions that loom over cities in towns and darken the skies. The Church urges the world to allocate their efforts to research and provide “affordable, reliable and safe renewable energy access for all.”

Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the Archbishop of Mumbai, India was quoted at the conference yesterday in saying, “It’s not a wish or a recommendation but something that is going to tie the hands of governments, we hope.” Cardinal Gracias went on to say that the Church has a strong duty and there are “ethical considerations” to confront with a united group. Cardinal Gracias was extremely pleased that for the first time in history the Catholic leaders from all regional and national bishops conferences presented a joint appeal.

Catholic leaders from around the world added to the appeal that their very way of life is being threatened. Rising oceans, air pollution, and unsanitary conditions have plagued different regions for far too long and now is the time for change.

Jean-Pascal van Ypersele of the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, a former vice president of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was also quoted at the conference with his own thoughts on the urgent matter. He exclaimed, “It’s very important to have a variety of actors like the church who take a stance, because the changes that are required involve much more than decisions at the political and economic level. They involve a cultural change everywhere around the planet. The church can be a very important player in that context.” Professor van Ypersele went on to address the people most affected in the world with this touching sentiment, “a common rule is that the poor are the most vulnerable, while they are also the least responsible for the greenhouse-gas emissions.” He would describe this as a “double injustice”.

This is our world, our one world, and things need to change or we are destined for the same fate.

 

Thank you for reading!

Steve Virgadamo

Bishop Encourages Men to Stay Connected to Church

bishop-hyingIn many areas the Catholic faith is well practiced and there’s a strong sense of religious involvement among the entire community. There are also many area where the Catholic faith has fallen short and is not practiced as regularly unfortunately. The Catholic Church does spend a considerable amount of time trying to reach out to as many people as they can in order to bestow the gifts of the Catholic faith upon those willing to receive it. The Church as a whole tries its very hardest to encourage communities and individuals to stay connected with the Church but recently Bishop Donald Hying is targeting men specifically.

Bishop Hying preaches to his Catholic community that it’s a wonderful time to be Catholic and follow the faith as well as challenge spiritual leaders to develop specialized spiritual plans to really know and understand Jesus Christ. Bishop Hying reminded the spiritual leaders about the importance of becoming role models and suggesting men increase their efforts and get children more excited about the Church community. He was recently interviewed about his lessons and said, “We have to go back to the beginning and preach about Jesus Christ as if nobody has ever heard of him. We have to re-energize the world. We have to do it through engagement.”

Bishop Hying went on in the interview to point out the disconnect college age students and other young adults have with the Church. He wants the spiritual direction of today’s youth to be corrected and brought back to a place of faith. Bishop Hying wants the Catholic Church to “intentionally live our faith” and stresses the need to be “dynamically engaged” so that the communities of faith don’t lose integral members.

I find it very interesting what Bishop Hying is doing. I agree with his view on keeping men interested and engaged with the Catholic faith and the communities that practice Catholicism. His encouragement and commitment to serving others and the faith as a whole stand testament to his love for Jesus Christ.

 

Thank you for reading!

Steve Virgadamo

LA Gets 3 Auxiliary Bishops

steve-virgadamo-father-barronPope Francis has officially appointed 3 auxiliary bishops or the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Father barron is among the 3 new auxiliary bishops being relocated to Los Angeles. Father Barron is well known for his strong and unbreakable commitment to evangelisation. Father Barron is also the founder of the Global Media Ministry known as World on Fire. World on Fire produces programmes for WGN America, EWTN, Relevant Radio/YouTube, and is currently the rector of University of St Mary and Mundelein Seminary located in Chicago.

Father Barron has humbly accepted his new position and said that it was an enormous surprise. He is so excited to become a member of the Los Angeles religious community  and was quoted in saying, “The Church of Los Angeles—the most populous in the United States—is energetic, diverse, and creative.” Father Barron went on to say, “The late Francis Cardinal George—the spiritual grandfather of Word on Fire—was a mentor and friend to me. The mission closest to his heart was the evangelisation of the culture, bringing Christ to the arenas of media, politics, law, education, the arts, etc. I can’t think of a more exciting field for this sort of work than Los Angeles, which is certainly one of the great cultural centers of our time.”

The other two auxiliary bishops will include Mgr Joseph Brennan and Mgr David O’Connell. Mgr Brennan is the vicar general and moderator of the Curia of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Mgr O’Connell is the pastor of Saint Michael Parish in Los Angeles

 

Thank you for reading!

-Steve Virgadamo