ILLEGAL CATHOLICS

  In August this column pointed out that immigration to the US increased more than 400% in the 5 years after the 1965 passage of Celler/Hart/Kennedy Immigration and Naturalization Act. By the '90's the percentage of Europeans in the US population had dropped down to 16% (from 50% in the 1950's). By 2012 not one of the top ten countries of origin was European. In 1990 Ted Kennedy introduced yet another Immigration Act which boosted legal immigration to 700,000 and increased "diversity" by favoring “underrepresented” countries. By Obama’s election in 2008 the US population was 1/3 minority. Notably, legal immigration from Ireland (the whole island) one of the countries that "made America great", was just 96 people in 2016.

  Illegal Irish immigrants? Yes, there are some; outnumbered a whopping 240 to 1 by illegals from other regions of the globe. This year 4501 legal immigrants entered from Iran. The most favored South American countries were Communist Cuba and Socialist Venezuela (2526).

  In 2004 'Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature 2004' was published. It is a detailed and shocking scientific study by the US government of sexual abuse in schools. Its author, Charol Shakeshaft concluded: "the physical sexual abuse of students in (public) schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests". The study was studiously ignored; not only by the US Department of Education that commissioned it, but by the entire US press corps, along with the entire US educational establishment. A traditional Anglo witch hunt was already in full swing, and no scientific studies pointing to clear but unwelcome conclusions that the witches are rampant in ALL institutions which contact and care for children was going to deflect the hunters from their traditional quarry: Catholics and their Church.

  Meanwhile the mighty Catholic school system, begun at the height of Know-Nothing persecution in America, is dying. Funding is denied by a failed and discredited public education system that cannot educate American children no matter how much wealth is poured into it. Yet that system rebuffs competition from successful private and religious schools by denying them any and all public funding, waving the bogus red flag of "church and state"- a valid stance in the UK, and valid at one time here, when the Episcopal Church was  a true state religion. Ironically, suppression of religious freedom is the reason Catholic schools were founded in the first place.

  Other factors are also working against traditional Catholic schools. In that year 1965, more than 13,000 Catholic elementary and secondary schools enrolled twelve percent of U.S. school children. The decline from that peak has been precipitous. By 2012 less than 7,000 Catholic schools enrolled about five percent of U.S. school-aged children. At a time when Hispanic population is rising, Catholic education would be especially important. But traditional Catholic instructors, the nuns, are gone. At the 1965 peak more than 100,000 sisters worked in schools. Only about 6,500 are now at work; less than one per remaining Catholic school. And new staffers who replace them, though paid far less than teachers in public schools, have driven up costs dramatically, since nuns seldom required additional salaries or benefits. By 2010 average tuition for the traditionally poor families served by the Church was about $4000 at a Catholic elementary school and around $8000 for a high school. Today elementary education averages about $5,500.

  Since the 1965 peak, fully half of US Catholic elementary schools have closed, and the number of students attending the schools remaining has dropped by nearly 70% percent.  Much of the Catholic population has left neighborhoods where the Catholic schools were built and the schools are increasingly educating children of non-parishioners. Yet the Church educates their children in the tradition that "though they are not Catholic, we are".

  Serious maintenance issues are also a big drag on the budget of Catholic schools in older cities. And though the U.S. Catholic population has grown by 44 percent since 1965, Catholic marriages have decreased by 52 percent over those 50 years, paced by a drop of 46% in infant baptisms.

  But studies demonstrate that parents will use vouchers at relatively less expensive Catholic schools, rather than pony up more at more costly private schools.

  Knowing these facts, it's hard to fathom the "Solid South" type mentality of many in the Irish community who cling to a fossilized Democratic philosophy when offered a candidate who stands not only on a platform of immigration reform, but one that promises school vouchers for educational "choice".

  There's an insightful, tongue-in-cheek Jewish tale about a schlemiel. This is a person so inept even inanimate objects pick on them. "Don't let that schlemiel touch anything. If it doesn't break he will hurt himself, or both."

  So Schlomo the schlemiel is at shul one day and amazes all the other students when while having a snack of bread and butter. He naturally drops it; but it hits the floor butter side up! Schlomo simply dusts it off and proceeds to eat it while his companions wonder: 'How could this be?'

  For a long while they debated, speculated and argued before finally taking the question to the chief Rabbi. He was also puzzled, but promised to take the problem under consideration. And after a long period of deep thought, he assembled the students and addressed them. The rabbi declared that the only reason the bread dropped by Schlomo the schlimiel could have landed buttered side up must be that: Schlomo had buttered his bread on the wrong side.

  Catholics might want to spend some time thinking on which side of their bread to spread their butter.



©Mike Morley 2016

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