Friday, March 16, 2018

More on Catholic Schools and National Walkout: "Unfortunately, Some of the Sponsors of the National School Walkout Advocate for Positions That Are Contrary to the Church’s Teachings"

I'm grateful to Betty and Sarasi for pointing me to additional news coverage of how Catholic schools responded to the National School Walkout protesting gun violence and advocating for gun control as a solution to gun violence. Betty points us to an article in National Catholic Reporter which suggests that there was wide buy-in among Catholic schools nationwide supporting the walkout. 

Meanwhile, Sarasi cites a statement made by the diocese of Peoria, which barred students in its Catholic schools from participating in the walkout, claiming,

"Unfortunately, some of the sponsors of the National School Walkout advocate for positions that are contrary to the Church’s teachings on the sanctity of human life in all of its stages," states a letter from the Office of Catholic Schools to pastors and principals of area Catholic schools.

Catholic News Agency circulated that statement, as did a Knights of Columbus chapter in Georgia. Here are some points I'd like to make by way of a gloss or clarification of the primary points I wanted to make in my posting about this story a few days ago:

1. The Fox News report I featurend in the tweet at the head of my posting, with the heading "Two PA Catholic Schools to Pray Instead of Protest in Walkout Over Gun Violence" and a photo of Father Scott Jabo of Erie, Pennsylvania: this was plastered all over Twitter during the walkout. (I've provided it for you again, above.)

2. What message do Catholic officials give to the U.S. public when they allow media outlets like Fox News to represent the Catholic church as opposed to or ambivalent about student protests advocating for gun control?

3. How does that message in any shape, form, or fashion communicate the pro-life values that the so-called pro-life movement claims to advocate?

4. On what ground can any Catholic officials credibly claim that "unfortunately, some of the sponsors of the National School Walkout advocate for positions that are contrary to the Church's teachings on the sanctity of human life in all of its stages"? And to use that claim to bar Catholic students from taking part in a nationwide protest against gun violence?!

5. What does pro-life theology or pro-life politics mean when Catholic officials can make such a claim? What does it mean when Fox News is allowed to plaster a photo of a Catholic priest all over Twitter with a headline implying that Catholic officials oppose protests of gun violence which advocate for gun control?

6. How is so-called pro-life theology/politics being used to steer Catholics to vote for political leaders whose entire agenda is, in fact, in one respect after another ruthlessly anti-life?

7. That annual "pro-life" march on D.C. that Catholic schools have no problem gathering busloads of students to engage in: does it, too, advocate for positions contrary to the church's teachings on the sanctity of human life in all of its stages? What does it actually advocate, politically?

8. Where, in the middle of that annual "pro-life" brouhaha in D.C. richly attended by Catholic school students, are there protests against capital punishment, abuse of immigrants, denial of healthcare to those on the margins of society — all issues with the most radically important pro-life implications imaginable?

9. When all is said and done, precisely why did six in ten white Catholics vote for Donald Trump, claiming "pro-life" reasons for having done so?

10. And how does the both-sidesism, the carefully controlled conversation of centrist Catholic journals like National Catholic Reporter, which deliberately and ruthlessly excludes many members of the U.S. Catholic community from its conversation (but never those of the hard right): how has this centrism with its pretend balance contributed to shaping a white Catholic culture that was ripe for Donald Trump to pluck in the 2016 elections?

Just asking. Because these questions need to be asked.

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