The high-and-mitery bishops should be ashamed of themselves for abandoning a long tradition of Catholic social teaching. They need to be pastors again and escape their captivity to lawyers, technocrats and public-relations consultants. The episcopate's union-busting activities are especially galling in Scranton, Pennsylvania, long a proud union town. When I was a student in that diocese's parochial school system in the 1950s and 1960s, the nuns taught us that the two great commandments were to stay in a state of grace and never cross a picket line. We were proud of the fact that Scranton's Bishop Hoban joined with Theodore Roosevelt to support the United Mine Workers during the great anthracite coal strike of 1902. Though I and my classmates were a bunch of feckless coal-crackers in a depressed mining area of Appalachia, the nuns made sure to drill into our memories the Latin names of the three great Papal encyclicals on behalf of organized labor: Rerum Novarum (1891), Quadrigesimo Anno (1931) and Mater et Magistra (1961)--no dumbing-down here, Deo gratias. Yet, as always, the Roman Catholic church seems unable to cast out the beam in its own eye: hasn't the church always maintained its vaunted parochial school system on the backs of a large pool of cheap labor--laywomen today and nuns in the past? In my day, we had fifty and sixty students in a single classroom, with one nun. Control of the parochial schools should be taken away from the dioceses and put in the hands of the religious orders whose core mission is education, not spin doctoring.
Apr 16 2008 - 11:43pm