As the year of Catholic schools draws to a close, Rev. Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, weighs in on the challenges facing inner-city Catholic schools. His take is noteworthy because only last year he shocked the Catholic community by announcing that seven D.C. parochial schools would be converted to charters. The case he makes in this article is that in D.C., Pittsburgh, and other cities where he's served, he has tried to save as many Catholic schools as possible. But it's a losing battle so long as costs far outstrip what poor families can pay. Ultimately, concludes Wuerl, "The Catholic Church cannot be expected--out of the free-will offerings of the faithful and other donors--to continue to provide such a wide-serving system of successful schools all by itself." He calls for "partnerships" with the business community and the public--in other words, privately or publicly funded scholarship programs. We, too, support these sorts of "partnerships," but we're not quite ready to absolve the Church's leadership of its responsibility here. If Catholics don't stand up for Catholic schools, no one else will either.
"How to Save Catholic Schools," by Donald W. Wuerl, America, December 22, 2008