On account of some hostilities towards Catholic schools that have become increasingly evident, I offer the following reply:
1. Schools and universities are inventions of the Catholic Church. Today’s educational institutions began with bishops’ households and grew into monastic and cathedral schools and ultimately into universities. Moreover, the curriculum of the seven liberal arts was invented by a Christian monk, Cassiodorus, to be used in the schools; academic degrees originally carried the weight of papal authority (and in many cases still do). For Catholics to be deprived of our schools would effectively be to be deprived of our intellectual property.
2. That having been said, the Church cannot be expected to make use of its intellectual property for contrary purposes. The Church established schools to foster learning and virtue by way of the seven liberal arts; the history of the twentieth century suffices to show that secularist schools inevitably devolve to socio-political indoctrination and the diminishing of liberal education. The Church cannot be party to such a distortion of the school’s purpose.
3. Catholicity teaches that the human person possesses infinite and inalienable worth and dignity on account of having been created in God’s image and likeness, a doctrine not shared by non-believers. Thus, Catholic schools are, by dogmatic necessity, ‘safe places’ for even sexual minorities. It seems that secularists assert human dignity upon the force of changeable law or common sentiment. Forgive me, but I fail to see how the assertion of human dignity upon insufficient grounds can make secular schools safe places for everyone.
4. The religious component of taxpayer-funded education can be, understandably, unsettling. I would propose that, upon closer inspection, the issue isn’t so much about ‘religion’ as it is about ‘belief.’ For example, how many of us hold certain beliefs without having arrived at them by way of rigorous examination? I would propose that what Christians are accused of doing in terms of ‘religion’ is exactly what our accusers do in holding to certain ethical, political, or social beliefs. This strikes me as a probable case of the pot calling the kettle black.
5. On the topic of paying taxes, let us not forget that Catholics, too, are taxpaying citizens and, account of our citizenship, our voices are equal to others. We do not dispute the right of people to divert their taxes to secular schools and to send their children there. We simply ask to be afforded the same right as those who choose and pay to send their children to non-Catholic schools.