Thursday, November 03, 2005

A Catholic Parish and School Promote Foolishness

I wondered yesterday whether or not Fools should continue to support Catholic schools. In the light of the Loretto/Sills controversy, I saw little reason to continue doing so.

CNS has this story, which may change my mind

St. Luke's Parish of Brooksfield, Wisconsin takes the Foolishness of Christ, witnessed through the Catholic Church's teaching, seriously. Father Francis Malloy refuses to profit from an organization that advocates abortion. May other Parishes--and schools--follow his lead.

Behold, the good news!
Saying that "the pursuit of funds can't come at the cost of our integrity," the pastor of St. Luke Parish in Brookfield, Wis., has canceled an American Girl school fundraiser set for May because of the doll company's ties to a nonprofit group that supports keeping abortion legal.

The American Girl's connection to Girls Inc. through the "I Can" bracelet project -- which promotes girls' self-esteem and service -- also has prompted criticism of the company by at least three organizations -- Pro-Life Wisconsin, Pro-Life Action League and American Family Association. The latter two organizations urged a boycott of American Girl, which produces a line of popular collectable dolls.

"We are asking people who care about little girls, and about the value of human life, to refrain from purchasing products and visiting American Girl Place during the entire Christmas shopping season," said Ann Scheidler, executive director of the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League, in a Nov. 1 statement.

The head of Girls Inc. said, however, that the controversy resulted from "false, inflammatory statements from people who are pursuing a narrow political agenda."

Representatives of American Girl did not respond to Catholic News Service requests for comment on the controversy Nov. 2, but spokeswoman Julie Parks told The Associated Press earlier that some groups "have chosen to misconstrue American Girl's purely altruistic efforts."

Writing in the Oct. 30 St. Luke's parish bulletin, Father Francis X. Malloy, St. Luke's pastor, said the parish school had planned an American Girl fashion show for May. The company sells dolls, related books and doll accessories through its Web site and catalog and at stores in Chicago and New York.

"It seemed like a match made in heaven, a motivated Catholic school and an all-American icon," Father Malloy wrote in the bulletin. "We seemed poised to raise enough funds for a new playground and a remake of the school library. Perhaps there would be enough for a rainy day."

But following a special meeting of the Home and School Association at St. Luke's, the pastor canceled the fundraiser, forfeiting a $1,000 deposit. Although the parish hopes to get the deposit returned, "even if we don't it probably won't matter," Father Malloy said. "The real lesson is one of integrity."

"We are a Catholic school and we do have core values of faith and tradition," he added. "These we pass on to our young people -- it's why we have a school. We do believe in preparing our daughters to be strong women of principle -- we just happen to disagree with Girls Inc."
Fr. Malloy refused to sell his integrity--or his parishioners'--for the sake of his mission. The Parish could have benefitted from the fashion show. Many Catholic schools drain their host parishes of precious financial resources; more than a few in my county run in the red on account of their schools. The Archdiocese of New York even ordered one Parish in Nyack--St. Ann's--to close it's school on account of low enrollment and high costs. I therefore don't take Fr. Malloy's sacrifice lightly.

Fidelity to Christ and his Church remains more important than any financial benefit any besieged institution requires. May more Pastors--and religious orders--throughout the Roman Catholic Church in America demonstrate they understand this by their example.