Catholic Education's 'Mission Confusion'

Catholic education is in a state of “mission confusion,” according to Patricia Weitzel-O’Neill, the outgoing superintendent of schools in the Archdiocese of Washington. More and more schools in city centers are closing their doors, shutting out a potential immigrant and non-Catholic student body, as affluent families elsewhere are targeted to enroll their children in expensive Catholic schools. Weitzel-O’Neill said vigorous support for Catholic education is lacking from both parents and pastors. Parents, she said, believe their children get a satisfactory education in suburban public school districts, while a growing number of pastors never attended Catholic schools themselves. Nationwide 5,645 fewer Catholic schools are operating now than in 1960. Meanwhile, what Weitzel-O’Neill termed “faux Catholic schools” are springing up, led by those who have been in the Catholic home-school movement. “They’re teaching the Catholic faith, but they’re not approved by any bishop,” she said.

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