The Magisterium of Sophomores: another High School explosion

A little gift in time for World Youth Day.

Once again we have an example of the Magisterium of Sophomores.

Another ‘c’atholic High School blows up when they hear the truth about Catholic teaching.

Yah… I want to be part of a Church in which high school students determine our morality.

First, look at The Prout School.

From IndependentRI:

Prout principal will not resign after controversial assembly

SOUTH KINGSTOWN — Kathleen Schlenz of Peace Dale knew something was wrong when her daughter, Anna, arrived home from school Friday.

The Rev. Francis “Rocky” Hoffman, a priest of Opus Dei, [I know him.] an orthodox division of the Roman Catholic Church, and executive director and radio host of Relevant Radio, a Catholic radio network that broadcasts on 33 stations in 13 states and online, had spoken to a school-wide assembly at The Prout School, where Anna is a junior. The speech was being taped to be broadcast on Relevant Radio at a later date.
“She was most upset about the divisive and offensive language regarding divorce, homosexuality and even adoption,” Kathleen Schlenz [Follow her doings all through the piece.  She’s really something.] said. “None of the parents or faculty knew it was being taped to be aired. They were essentially held hostage and told to clap after this man’s responses to questions, even when they didn’t agree with them.”
Father Hoffman was on retreat and unavailable for comment before the Independent went to press Wednesday.
On April 10, parents received a letter of apology from Principal David Carradini since Friday. [sigh] In the new letter, Carradini announced he would not resign.


“Many have questioned why I did not stop Fr. Hoffman when I sensed things were going badly,” Carradini wrote. “I have offered three explanations to various audiences; the truth is I do not know why I did not stop him:. Though I sensed, and shared, the distress of your daughters and sons, and of the faculty, [and Gaia] I did not see its depth, as I was in the front of the auditorium. I desperately hoped that things might right-end themselves, [?!? Really? Who writes public letters like that?  ] and in that hope I did not stop him. [‘Cause that wouldn’t have added chum to the waters.] Parents who are crisis management professionals have instructed me after the fact in what I ought to have done. I am grateful for their guidance.” [He makes this sound like a school shooting.  Were psychologists called into the school to help students deal with the trauma?]

Students discussed staging protests and pickets in response to the speech. On Monday, fliers that read “Homosexuals are bullied because of apathy. [Good grief.  WHO’S being bullied?] Divorced people are bullied because of apathy. Adoptive children are bullied because of apathy. Are you apathetic?” appeared around the school.  [What the heck did my old friend Fr. Hoffman say?  Did he use… I can hardly bring myself to type this… The ‘S’ Word™?]
Several Prout students and alumni tweeted about the matter.
Prout is now an unvibrant uncatholic community,” one said. [They are figuring that out?]
“All the good things built up by The Prout School today just came crashing down around us with that assembly,” read another.  [The party’s over, it seems.  It all came crashing down.  Was what Fr. Hoffman said as divisive and as bullying as this?  Rom. 1:26-28, “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper.”]
Posts to Hoffman’s Facebook page appeared briefly, but were removed.
In an email to Carradini, Kathleen Schlenz characterized Hoffman’s comments as “cruel, condemnatory, and wholly un-Christian.” [Could he have been harsher than the Bible? Lev 20:13: “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.”  I’m just saying…] Beginning Friday, a number of parents, including Schlenz, went to Carradini with questions: Why was Hoffman asked to speak? Who approved it? Was he paid? Would the speech be aired?  [Could his talk have been more challenging than Matthew 5:32 “But I say to you that every one who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”]
Carradini referred a request for comment to the Diocese of Providence. [This is Bp. Tobin’s diocese, thanks be to God.]
Friday evening, parents received an email from the school.
My intention in inviting him here was to have a priest articulate Church teaching in a manner that was pastorally appropriate, doctrinally sound, and deeply respectful of the trust the students showed in bringing these questions forward for answer. My prior knowledge of Fr. Hoffman and his program gave every reason to expect this outcome,” Carradini wrote. “My expectations, and those of the faculty and staff, were not met, and for that I am deeply sorry. Several of the answers provided were not entirely representative of the full breadth of Church teaching on a number of complex and sensitive issues. [Oh?  What did he omit?] Several members of the student body, faculty, and staff – including me – were personally offended by his manner of presentation.”  [It may be that the little darlings heard it for the first time and had a reaction.]
In the email, Carradini said he would “address these matters with the entire school and to apologize for the offenses caused.”  [What did Fr. Hoffman say that was so horrible?  Was it anything like what St. Paul said?  1 Cor 6:9-10: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts,  nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.”]
That occurred Monday, in another school-wide assembly, during which school chaplain Rev. Joseph Upton, offered an address with a more welcoming message. [?]
“You can imagine how very upset I was on Friday morning as I watched and heard Fr. Rocky’s presentation unfold,” [I am still waiting for a quote… in or out of context… so that we can know what happened.] Upton said, according to an email regarding Hoffman’s address sent to parents. “We know that many young people in particular struggle with participation in the life of the Church. And now a presentation seemed to provide more of a reason to give up on the Church? I was angry and I was sad.” [Oooooo.]
Approximately 50 parents appeared at the assembly uninvited and met with Carradini after it finished. Schlenz was among them.
When she reached Carradini by phone Saturday, she asked what he was doing to ensure the speech would not be broadcast and was told he had spoken to a board member of Relevant Radio.  [So that no one can know what Father really said?  What does that sound like to you?  She doesn’t want people to know the truth.]


Read the rest of this train wreck over there.

Is this it now?  Is this how it is to be?  Do we now have an inquisition made up of High School students and soccer moms?

I think I should now offer my services to be a speaker nationwide at Catholic High Schools.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Our Catholic Identity, Religious Liberty, The Campus Telephone Pole, The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices, The Last Acceptable Prejudice, You must be joking! and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. robtbrown says:

    A few years ago I read that Rhode Island had the highest percentage of Catholics of any US state. It also had the highest percentage of those who were pro abortion.

  2. Bosco says:

    Dear Father Z.,

    I followed your link to The Prout School and note they are fashioned…”The Crusaders”! Most offensive, most uncool, most brutal of monikers these days. Mayhaps they’d be truer to form re-branding as “The Gelatins”.

    Is this not behaviour more akin to Mao’s Barefoot Peasant Army?

    Strap-up folks. You don’t have to be a weatherman, etc.

  3. Mike says:

    “Do we now have an inquisition made up of High School students and soccer moms?”

    What else should one expect after generations of evisceration of the Faith by its avowed defenders?

    Let us storm Heaven with prayers of contrition, and in petition that the grace to be willing to hear Truth might penetrate these hardened hearts.

  4. THREEHEARTS says:

    Well at least he did not say, “You should not buy a dog at the Temple”. Numbers or Deuteronomy. Nor did He say, “All souls are mine the soul of the father etc., and the souls that sin die”. Both Douai Rheims by the way. What a fuss we would have had then. The doctrine of grace by Fr Joyce says, “Grace gives us and intellect and free will. Free will must be informed not opinionated. Look what the Jesuits way back used to preach. We have free will, an informed conscience and the BURDEN of choice. Not much chance in the church today of the second one is there?

  5. rosaryarmy says:

    A few weeks ago, I presented the Church’s teaching on homosexuality to some of my students. After explaining why homosexual actions are grave matter and sinful, I remarked, “You know, there are certain countries in which I could be arrested for saying that.” Judging from the events of the last week or two, we’re not that far off in this country.

  6. louder says:

    And yet these parents see nothing wrong is letting their little darlings watch the raunchiest R rated junk that comes to their local moviehouse. I had to deal with parents like this when I was a pastor, and they don’t want to hear truth because their lives are such a mess, plus they have no backbone, so their kids run the show.

    Fr. Matt

  7. Deus Vult says:

    I hope someone like this comes to my high school. It might finally demonstrate how bad my high school actually teaches the Catholic faith.

  8. aquinasdad says:

    “Kathleen Schlenz characterized Hoffman’s comments as “cruel, condemnatory, and wholly un-Christian.””
    Ah, Americanism; the belief that a layman with no formal education can condemn a priest as ‘un-Christian’ because she disagrees with him. No sense of authority, legitimacy, respect, or humility.
    The children are steeped in it as well, obviously. Adults say something they don’t like? A priest repeats truth they disagree with? OF COURSE 17 year olds with no responsibility have the right to determine who leads them, who teaches them, and what they should believe! After all, this is a Democracy!
    Pope Leo XIII please pray for us.

  9. NoraLee9 says:

    Over the past two years, I have read many things on this blog which have upset me. However this article came as close to giving me a stroke is anything I have yet read. Magisterium of teenagers. Can you say anything more frightening? Ack. Heaven and Saints preserve us.

  10. Michael says:

    I think every generation is becoming less and less accepting of different types of prejudice especially those that are based solely on a bronze age holy book.

  11. Mike says:

    The Headmaster of the Prout School is a good friend of mine. I know him quite well, and can offer this: he is a thoroughly orthodox, devout Catholic who loves Our Lord and His Church. While anyone can disagree with his position on this unfortunate event, as Fr. Z rightly says, we still don’t know what the speaker said, and so really lack a lot of material to make a fair judgment.

    [Is that so? First, the reaction speaks for itself. Second, I know Fr. Hoffman.]

  12. chantgirl says:

    Every seminarian should have to go on a “take a whiny toddler to the grocery store” field trip. When the child begins screaming for something that he isn’t supposed to have, the seminarian says no. When the child throws himself on the ground and starts kicking, and people throughout the store are staring, the seminarian ignores the stares and still says no. It’s practical preparation for what the seminarian will have to deal with when he is a Pastor or teacher or principal. These students and parents are behaving like toddlers, who can’t see the danger in what they want. They don’t understand that “no” can be a loving thing.

  13. Magpie says:

    You Americans are so crazy. I write this from Ireland, where we have singing priests.

  14. Andreas says:

    As we continue this descent into madness, the question remains as to why the ‘culture of acquiescence, apology and withdrawal’ seems to have taken precedence over that of standing your ground and defending the cherished sacred ideals in which one so deeply believes and wishes to impart. It is indeed a time of martyrs, but (as per the beloved Mother Angelica), are we not also called upon to be saints?

  15. Pingback: Another Martyr: Prout principal will not resign after controversial assembly | Catholic Canada

  16. Ben Kenobi says:

    Thanks for posting this Father. This is what we teachers are up against.

  17. This time, unlike with Sr. Jane Dominic, it WAS recorded. Now let’s see how deftly that recording is either kept from anyone’s hearing or destroyed.
    I’m praying someone quickly posts it.

  18. Lutgardis says:

    Ok, so these students and their parents feel that Father Hoffman wronged them. I don’t remember the part in the Bible where it says if your brother wrongs you, you immediately take your grievance to the public press, Facebook, and Twitter, while also posting fliers, starting petitions, and planning to stage protests and pickets. I guess throwing a big dramatic hissy-fit is the Christian way now.

    We prayed for Father Hoffman this morning, and I hope Relevant Radio does air this taped talk soon. Ridiculous.

  19. rcg says:

    Why did she not speak and stop the presentation? Quailing before the truth?

    He holds him with his glittering eye—
    The Wedding-Guest stood still,
    And listens like a three years’ child:
    The Mariner hath his will.

  20. Margaret says:

    As noted above, this has the virtue of being recorded. That will eliminate accounts that selectively remember and distort what was said. I really hope a video and *complete* transcript start circulating fast.

  21. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    Let’s hope that the tape comes out and is posted. Let’s also hope Bishop Tobin lives up to his (solid) reputation and counters what may easily turn into a smear campaign against this speaker. And if Relevant Radio does in fact air the tape, Fr. Z, could you link to it?

  22. OrthodoxChick says:

    As a RI native, I did not attend Trout (our nickname for it), but I did attend their rival high school. I don’t know this Fr. Hoffman, so I’ll be interested to hear the recording, if it is published. I did meet Fr. Upton though and he’s pretty orthodox. I’m having a hard time figuring out how he ended up being an apologist in this way. Fr. Upton said a funeral mass for my aunt a year or two ago and I have family members who are “c”atholic, as well as some who have left the Church, and one or two through marriage who have never been Catholic. Fr. Upton was nice, but also firm about not allowing any shenanigans at the funeral. No eulogies allowed in Church and no funny business of any sort. Father Upton celebrated a very nice Norvus Ordo Mass. I corresponded with him by email regarding the arrangements and he had no problem making clear to me nicely, politely, but also firmly what he would and would not allow at Mass. I was the go-between passing such info to my other kin who were not apt to understand, nor appreciate Father’s position in such a circumstance. I would have expected Father Upton to back up Fr. Hoffman based on my dealings with Fr. Upton, so now I’m trying to figure out what could have taken place.

  23. HyacinthClare says:

    THIS one was recorded! Let’s hear it! Where do we go to hear it? We are going to have to start documenting everything.

  24. Siculum says:

    Yes, absolutely, Father Z should start offering his services to students, parents, faculty, and administration of the high schools. Absolutely. ASAP.

    Maybe title one of the talks, “What Does it Mean to Be Catholic?” Somewhat vague and middle-of-the-road, then go in for the kill.

  25. Siculum says:

    @HyacinthClare: Yes.

  26. wmeyer says:

    I am greatly disturbed by the first sin, that these children have not been taught what the Church teaches. And by the second, which is that their parents are clearly equally ignorant. But the third sin is the apology delivered for inflicting (at last) the truth on these children. Finally she school has (inadvertently) delivered truth, and then they wish to back away from it.

    Disgusting, really.

  27. celpar says:

    I love the description of Opus Dei as ‘an orthodox division of the Roman Catholic Church’. Fancy inviting an ‘orthodox’ priest to talk about Catholic moral teaching. Presumably the ‘ thoroughly orthodox, devout Catholic’ principal knew who the priest, who broadcasts regularly, was and where a member of Opus Dei was likely to stand on any aspect of the Church’s teaching. So why the grovelling apology?
    Not as bad as this in England yet (though I can’t imagine anyone from Opus Dei being invited into a school anyway), but no doubt we’ll get there a decade or so after you as usual.

  28. chantgirl says:

    I think it’s time for a “Going to the Zoo” meter or Richter scale.

  29. yes,chantgirl, a going to the zoo meter.

  30. Lavrans says:

    Fr. Hoffman came to our school and did a similar presentation and it was excellent. I am thinking it is exactly the same as ours, so there should be nothing in it objectionable to actual Catholics. Our school is different in that it actually is Catholic and prides itself on its mission to teach and uphold the teachings of Jesus Christ through His Body, the Church. On a daily basis, I teach the fact that same sex “marriage” does not exist and that homosexual acts (along with any sexual activity outside of the unitive/procreative theater of marriage) is gravely sinful. I have no intention of stopping.

    Perhaps this may sound unusual, but I am happy to see the outcry of this school and other catholyc schools like it because it is exposing the truth: They are no longer Catholic. Pray for Bishop Tobin to do the correct and honorable thing and support Fr. Rocky and unequivocally condemn the actions of these parents, administrators, and chaplain.

  31. Fr. Bryan says:

    Quoted from earlier:

    “And yet these parents see nothing wrong is letting their little darlings watch the raunchiest R rated junk that comes to their local moviehouse. I had to deal with parents like this when I was a pastor, and they don’t want to hear truth because their lives are such a mess, plus they have no backbone, so their kids run the show.”

    Pretty much the same experience here. Many do not (some do) want to hear the Truth if it challenges their chosen lifestyle, and then it’s “shoot the messenger”. We are going to see allot more of this as time goes on.

  32. Trinitarian Dad says:

    Reading this account and the one about Sr. Jane’s presentation, the thought occurs that the offended parties have a skewed perception, along the lines of “We don’t have to obey the law, the law ought to obey us.”

  33. acardnal says:

    I listen frequently to Relevant Radio. Fr Rocky is the CEO and gives talks to students at Catholic schools all over the country and they are usually Live broadcasts. His talks are always orthodox. He is also the editor or a writer of OSV’s “The Catholic Answers” magazine.

  34. Lavrans says:

    I would guess than less than 10% of all Catholic high schools are actually Catholic nowadays. Perhaps that is too generous. Maybe less than 5%.

  35. acardnal says:

    Here’s a sample of one of Fr Rocky’s talks/Q&A with H.S. students.

  36. Mike says:

    Fr. Z: I said as much: anyone can disagree with the statement made by the Headmaster. I was just providing information as I know him and know he is not a heretic. I have no doubt that Fr. Hoffman is an orthodox priest. Perhaps an audio of his talk will be released. I suspect the parents overreacted, and this is pretty much as you describe.

  37. benedetta says:

    Really Father Z.? Banning a Catholic talk from Catholic radio from a person who chairs said radio, and, posters put up in school hallways, and letters of apology and a meeting with parents, because all of, SEVERAL people were personally offended? No! I guess these, er, several, must have been, rather, loud, and intimidating, and, bullying, and, threatening in order to conjure such a dramatic show of force and harmed feelings and threats to leave the faith finally and I mean it this time even though if I do I will not be able to threaten others as I have become accustomed?

  38. benedetta says:

    I am certainly glad and relieved that these several parents and impressionable youth have the Headmaster and Chaplain’s shoulders to wail on. Not all Catholic school parents have places where they may go to vent an episode of hysteria. It’s good they dealt with the incident appropriately. He did the right thing by deploying crisis counselors. As one above referenced, disconnecting from the prevailing culture of death mainline can provoke raging fits of withdrawal that only those properly trained can attend to.

  39. Frank H says:

    Fr. Hoffman’s page at Relevant Radio has some talks of his which are probably similar in content and tone to what he delivered. He has a pleasant delivery, and tells the truth straight up. What is wrong with those students and parents?

  40. OrthodoxChick says:

    I still can’t figure out why the principal and Fr. Upton threw Fr. Hoffman under the bus. Maybe they were unprepared for the backlash and felt they had to backpedal to soften the blow. I would have preferred if they would publicly back Fr. Hoffman, but knowing the school and the area parishes (I used to live 25 minutes away from Prout), I’m not surprised by the parents’ and students’ reactions in the least, sadly. I have a (mostly) catholic family and none of them have a problem with gay marriage. When I ask them how they can support gay marriage when it violates Church teaching, I get answers like, “Well, they just haven’t caught up with modern times yet. When they do, they’ll change their teaching”, or “Just because the Church says it’s wrong, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. I know what’s right and what’s wrong. What’s wrong is discrimination against anyone for any reason – that is always wrong,” or “Jesus would never discriminate. He loves everyone.”

    If Bishop Tobin ever asked the students and parents at Prout (and every other Catholic H.S. in RI) to complete a survey, I predict he would recoil in horror to discover that most of the high school kids are sexually active and already either on the pill or using condoms. Many are openly gay or have parents who are gay. Many describe themselves not as Catholic, but as atheists. They go to Catholic school because the education is better than in the public schools. They don’t go there to be Catholic. Who does that anymore? Heck, I have a close relative who is a cradle Catholic. She was married in a Catholic parish in RI. She also rarely goes to Mass (usually just weddings, funerals, Sacraments of relatives’ kids), contracepts, and just became an ordained minister. But she sends her son to a Diocesan Catholic school and weekly CCD classes because that’s what Catholics do. They live how they want to live, and as long as they self-identify as Catholic, then they’re Catholic. That’s the rationale that people like Fr. Hoffman and Sr. Jane are confronting, and when they explain the Church’s teaching to people such as I’ve just described, well yeah, all hell’s gonna break loose in a hurry.

    I’m praying for Sr. Jane, Fr. Hoffman and Bishop Tobin and every other faithful priest and religious who has the courage to stand with the Magisterial teaching of Holy Mother Church.

    [That first paragraph deserves recognition. It is a dense summary of exactly what we are up against. First, there is the notion that the Church has to “catch up” with modern times. That thought has to be debunked. It reveals a great deal what ‘c’atholics simply DO NOT UNDERSTAND about Church teaching, i.e., that it comes from Christ, not from popes or bishops centuries ago. Secondly, there is the notion that the GREATEST sin today is discrimination. In this conviction lies a fundamental confusion about what constitutes morally right discrimination and morally wrong discrimination.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  41. benedetta says:

    Curious also that the M.O. is to go around demanding, of all things, that “notice” be given in advance that the catechism of the Catholic Church will be taught. In a Catholic school. Did their registration with their tuition somehow give them an indication that it would never be taught? Sounds like these parents are getting a little help in how to agitate from…somewhere. And yet, the catechism is not up for silencing through means such as this, or any worldly means at all really.

  42. Bosco says:


    You said: “You Americans are so crazy. I write this from Ireland, where we have singing priests.”

    I live near Bantry in the West of the County Cork. And while we are blessed with our share of ‘singing priests’ here in Ireland, we are cursed with mute Bishops.

  43. Fr_Sotelo says:

    I thought that Catholic schools now take pride in “academic freedom” and independent thinking that pushes the envelope! That’s the party line when talks are filled with dissent or they want to put on the “V. Monologues.”. But for Tradition, they clamor for the return of the inquisition!

  44. OrthodoxChick says:


    Advanced notice is how most public schools in the area do things so that parents can opt their kid out of this or that assembly or activity if they want to. Since many Catholic school students have been in the public school system as well, the parents expect the same advanced notice and will demand it if it is not routinely provided by the Catholic school too. But I agree with you that this should not be the case. It should be made clear to parents during the Admissions process that their child is going to receive solid Catholic teaching and will not be opted out. Then give the family a complimentary copy of the CCC. If that’s not agreeable to the parents, then kindly choose another school for your child. That will never happen however, unless it comes down as a directive from the Bishop and superintendent of Catholic schools. Trust me, I know. I used to be an Admissions & Guidance counselor for a Catholic H.S. in the Diocese of Providence (not Prout). The most pressing reason why Catholic schools accept any and every student is two-fold: a.) they are concerned with being found in non-compliance with discrimination laws and, b.) they are struggling to keep their doors open and can’t afford to turn away the tuition. IOW, they aren’t negotiating with prospective students/parents from a position of strength. And as we all know, it is rarely a good idea to negotiate from a position of weakness.

  45. Urs says:

    Yes, Fr Z! You should offer your services as a speaker….and include being a high school speaker!
    This IS the homofascist agenda! (This is also a preview of the Antichurch!)
    And it is coming to a Catholic high school near you.
    (HOMOFASCIST- that is my new word and I am sticking to it)
    Homofascism-n. a way of organizing a society in which homosexualists impose their agenda with which no one is allowed to disagree or have any appeal to the contrary without being subjected to severe consequences of ridicule, slander, libel, fines, public demonstrations, distortions, denial of free speech rights, loss of employment, and having the word ‘hate’ attached to you is some form
    (Word and definition courtesy of ChurchMilitantTV)

  46. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    @Magpie, I’d be careful about saying “you Americans are so XYZ” when you mean “some Americans are so XYZ.” Unless you wanna start trading comments.

  47. Alba says:

    This is chickens coming home to roost. This is clearly the result of many years of failing to teach real Catholicism. How else can these school pupils and their parents have got the idea that Fr Hoffman was not being faithful to Catholic doctrine? Might I also suggest that it is the result of little or nothing being done about the scandal of so-called Catholic clergy, theologians, catechists, whatever, proclaiming the exact opposite of what the Catholic Church teaches. Until priests start proclaiming loud and clear from the pulpits the true doctrine of the Catholic Church on these matters we can expect the kind of perverse reaction seen here and at Charlotte High School to continue with ever-increasing rapidity.

  48. Vecchio di Londra says:

    Dr Caiaphas, the Judaean Head Shul Co-ordinator, apologized today for the unfortunate course the seminar had taken. “It was entirely unforseen. This speaker has a motivational track record, with his popular message of peace and love, and his relaxed and forgiving attitude to multi-choice personal lifestyles. But today mid-lecture he astonished us all with a stream of irrelevant social theory about divorce and remarriage, repeatedly using judgmental words such as ‘fornication’ and ‘sin’ and ‘adultery’: then he came out with that obscure remark about ‘making oneself a eunuch for the kingdom of heaven’ which was of course deeply offensive to all our many, many transgendered and undecided-gender students…

    I should have stopped him when I sensed things were going badly, after his initial non-inclusive reference to ‘male and female’. It was all most un-Christian. I even had some students coming up to me afterwards asking me to explain what fornication was – obviously, they’d never heard of it before, and why should they: ‘Sin’ is an optional senior course at this college.

    Many of our sophomores were in floods of tears, some were utterly traumatized. We have requested Jesus of Nazareth to take a sabbatical while we sort out his future speaking engagements. I’m sorry to say he has refused, rather intemperately flinging around terms such as ‘vipers’, ‘whited’ and ‘sepulchres’. We take particular objection to the word ‘whited’, as in this college we are proud that everyone may, regardless of race, as well as of sexual orientation or gender identification or indeed none at all, may expect an education that is supportive and above all totally without any tendency to discriminate… “

  49. robtbrown says:

    I have to wonder whether the reactions were somehow a consequence of the “Why am I to judge” comment.

  50. Pingback: Standing Alone | The American Catholic

  51. ChrisRawlings says:

    No, Rob, it is more likely the result of a lot of people shrugging off the teachings of the Church because it contravenes the contemporary zeitgeist. It is nothing new in the history if the Churvh, and it would be a shame to put any if this baloney on our Holy Father, who has articulated himself as a “son of the Church” often enough to make things clear.

  52. Mike says:

    Perhaps the Head of the school was trying to mend fences, and reach people who–rightly or wrongly–were upset over the talk. It’s easy enough in a combox to tell people how tough others should be when Catholics don’t want to be Catholic. There can be orthodox doctrine and gentleness together. I suggest reading some St. Philip Neri, for example. And praying to him!

  53. Rachel K says:

    Is anyone else wondering if this “campaign” of “outing” Catholic speakers is organised by some group behind the scenes??
    I don’t want to come across as a nutty conspiracy theorist, but it looks like a planned series of acts of intimidation designed to scare off those willing presently to present the truth in all its glory.
    In both cases, the sister and the priest, the authorities in each school should have straight away backed them up and then the local bishops should have done the same and seconded the response of the school.
    Just what is going on here?
    An excellent doctor I knew here (sadly she passed away some years ago) who was a stalwart of the prolife cause, used to speak to me about “the line of least resistance”. She believed there had been a deliberate campaign of low level intimidation of prolife doctors here in the UK which had driven them out of obstetric jobs over many years until there were only doctors left in this speciality who were thoroughly antilife. This doesn’t happen by accident.
    Any Opus Dei priest will give a clear and orthodox line in any talk he gives. And they all read from the same song sheet, so what they present will not vary much as they are all thoroughly formed in the same way. I have never heard anything in the least condemnatory in any of the many talks I have heard from Opus Dei priests over several years.
    Time to pray for this particular persecution.

  54. amenamen says:

    So much complaining about what was said, without ever quoting what was said.

    It is very interesting that the speech was being taped for broadcasting at a later date. And it is especially interesting that efforts are being made to prevent the speech from being aired in public.

    Why not let the speech be “aired”, and everyone can hear exactly what the problem is, if there is a problem. This has the potential to be very embarrassing for those who are trying to suppress the broadcast. Who owns the recording, I wonder.

  55. dominic1955 says:

    We really need to start excommunicating people again. I don’t say that as a Catholic version of a ‘Murican “nuke em all” response but rather on the observation that we’ve let silliness rule the roost for way too long. To start to try to fix things is going to have to hurt-there is no way around that. There is going to be no kissy face happy slap “convincing” these people that they hold fundamentally erroneous views on Catholic teaching and need to change their ways. Nope, that isn’t going to do anything. Smaller more faithful Church is exactly what we need.

  56. RomeontheRange says:

    This happened in 2017 at St. Cino Sinsinawa High School. The local bishop hired robust private security and called a meeting of all parents in the school’s auditorium. He announced that St. Cino’s would be closed at the end of the academic year, and a new high school formed for those who were willing to sign a pledge of support for the Magisterium and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. His Excellency then directed all parents to the school gymnasium. There, admissions representatives and registrars of area public and secular private schools — invited by His Excellency for that purpose — were waiting at information tables. In the course of the next 3 hours, %65 of the former St. Cino’s students were enrolled at other schools; while the remaining %35 went on to become, in September, the inaugural class of the new Holy Spirit High.
    Just a little historical perspective.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  57. Brooklyn says:

    amenamen, I would have to agree with you. Everyone seems to be pronouncing judgments, and none of us know exactly what was said. Many here have made judgments about the parents and kids of this school without knowing any of them. It could very well be that those complaining do not accept orthodox Catholic teaching, but we do not know that for a fact. None of us know precisely what Father Hoffman said that set off this firestorm Shouldn’t we wait to hear that before making such condemnatory statements?

    Maybe we would all do good to watch the movie, “The Oxbow Incident.” Mob rule is never a good thing, and I have to say, sadly, that is what I see here.

  58. Scott Woltze says:

    I blame the adults. A few years ago our parish was forming a youth group, and the parish had wisely placed two responsible teenagers in charge of putting together the inaugural meeting. The teens asked me if I would share my conversion story since it’s the kind of juicy story that teenagers find compelling. A few days later I ran into the parish priest while delivering StVdePaul food, and he generously thanked me for agreeing to do it. As the priest was about to walk away, I found myself saying–to my surprise–the following: “Just so you know Father, I can’t tell my story without talking about the fact of demons, and some parents might complain. I just wanted to give you a heads-up.” I think the Holy Spirit prompted me to say it, but I digress… He looked troubled, hemmed and hawed, and said he’d have to get back to me.

    I never heard from him or anyone else again. There was a large turn-out for the first meeting, but the second meeting was much smaller and there was no third meeting. The pizza and pop didn’t keep the kids coming–I guess they were hungry for something else…

  59. Hibernian Faitfhful says:

    I have got to get some downloads of Fr. Hoffman for when my son is a teenager. Truth is truth.

  60. prairiecatholic88 says:

    This seems to be a problem everywhere. Homeschooling is the only option left. I work in the maintenance department at my alma mater (graduated in 2006) in rural southern MN (I’m in it to help keep up our nice original church building. Working in the school is secondary to me.) There is no way in hell that I would pay to send my kids to any “Catholic” high school in this day and age. They’re basically public schools where religion is taught. All the smut and garbage that the kids are exposed to at home comes to school with them, and it rubs off on all the other students. I know. I was there once. They’re not getting any better.

  61. Lutgardis says:

    Brooklyn, any judgments I might make about this matter would be based on two pieces of information that we do all have in our possession at the present:

    1.) We are aware of this conflict.
    2.) We know the means by which we have been made aware of this conflict.

    “But if thy brother shall offend against thee, go, and rebuke him between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother. And if he will not hear thee, take with thee one or two more: that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may stand. And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican.”

    As far as making condemnatory statements goes, I don’t see “tweet publicly about how someone has wounded your community” and “post on the offender’s public Facebook page” listed in these verses.

  62. TomD says:

    Young people today, including many Catholic youth, have been much more successfully “evangelized” by the secular culture than they have been by the teachings of the Church. What occurred at The Prout School is but one more example of this modern trend and it must be directly addressed and corrected if the Church is to remain influential and vibrant within the world.

    When the youth of the Church are more influenced by the secular culture than by the teachings of the Church, the Church is hampered in her mission to the world.

  63. Montenegro says:

    I have long thought that the affluent lily-white suburbs are in fact the root moral decay and error in America. If they are nominally (c)atholic, they are often badly catechized to begin with. Then they come into some affluence, start watching Oprah and Ellen, start listening to Joel Osteen, and it’s all over. The only people who have commented to me on Facebook that maybe I should keep my opinions to myself are white suburban moms. Didn’t we used to have the phrase “middle-class morality” to describe this utter laziness, flabby thinking, and error? Isn’t that what this is?

  64. Montenegro says:

    @RomeontheRange totally 100% agree – it’s what I have thought these bishops should do. Then watch Holy Spirit High take off!!!

  65. BLB Oregon says:

    Let us remember that many of these parents were given the self-identity and self-esteem of a Catholic education while students for twelve years of Catholic schools, but were denied the actual facts of the faith. Those with facts may not have been taught the necessity of believing the facts. Some people were not even taught that to believe the truth is a duty!

    Many were raised without confession, without being catechized, without any moral law save the maxim, “How would you feel if you were in that place and someone did that to you?” When the answer is, “I think I would feel bad,” then they believe there has been an offense against Christian charity! How this can be believed, when it is as obvious on the nose on anyone’s face that Our Lord offended many when he told them the truth, is not easy to see. Yet so it is.

  66. KylieP says:

    Father Z, you’d make a GREAT speaker at high schools!!
    I would love to hear the assembly; too bad it won’t be broadcast. Anyone find a link to it or any way to know what he said?

  67. OrthodoxChick says:


    I pray for the day we see more of that in our Catholic schools. We so desperately need it! All around me there are closed down Catholic schools sitting empty and/or schools about to be closed or hanging by a thread. What happened in your area would be a welcomed solution in my neck of the woods. I’d enroll my kids there in a heartbeat if I had to work 3 jobs to make it happen.

  68. Woody79 says:

    It is gratifying to read such things on a Saturday evening. This way, I can pour a nice glass of single malt scotch, light up a good cigar, and ponder the problem. Of course, this will not occur until after the hockey game is over, wherein, at this moment, the rodents are up 1-0 on the Union guys. Priorities, you know. Whoops! Just before I was to hit the post button, the Union guys tie it up, 1-1. Don’t get discouraged Father. It’s only the first period.

  69. tcreek says:

    RomeontheRange, I wonder where they found the staff to teach at —“…a new high school formed for those who were willing to sign a pledge of support for the Magisterium and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.”

  70. Kathleen10 says:

    My son attended Prout. I remember nothing of the school since at that time I was only just beginning to realize there was a growing difference between Catholicism and catholicism. But Orthodox Chick knows the culture well and so do I. Our area is Liberal, in every sense. It is just how it IS. Rhode Island is incredibly liberal for all the usual reasons. That it is so “Catholic” in population is disturbing but predictable. Massachusetts is a nightmare of leftist “progressivism”, I mean, radical, but also extremely “Catholic”. People have made Catholicism what they want, rejected what they don’t, and many have stopped participating altogether. Teaching on the “tougher” parts of Catholicism is rarely heard in the church or culture, almost never. In twenty years or so I have heard exactly one homily that touched on abortion or homosexuality that I recall. I would notice. Combine homofascism with secular drama queens, add the constant drumbeat of leftist secular media and you get what happened at Prout. Has no one else noticed the politicization of children that has been ramped up in the past five or so years? Note how many times you see children championed for this or that activist endeavor, it is all the rage and I find it disturbing. Any time there is a trend like this one needs to sit up and notice, because something is behind it. I’m all for community giving, but children need a childhood, and if they are worrying about the rainforest, global warming, or this or that cause, they can’t enjoy a childhood and likely they are being manipulated. I’m suspicious of liberal’s promotion of child activists. This is a liberal tool, and maybe the thinking is that adults cannot say “no” to children or young people so if THEY ask for it, one has to give in to their demands. So when I see little Charlotte raised $100.00 for some cause I don’t feel altogether good about it. Anyway, kids are being “empowered”, encouraged by public schools to be activists, and here are our “empowered” kids acting like what they are encouraged to act like, mini-tyrants who have no apparent understanding that this is Catholic teaching and that, freedom of speech actually MEANS freedom of speech.
    I also agree people send their kids to Catholic schools to get them college-ready and to get them away from the behavioral problems that are occurring in our public schools. They want to escape that. I wouldn’t know the statistic on how many send them to get Catholic teaching, but, my guess is it’s a tiny fragment. I don’t know any Catholics who are really and truly, interested in authentic Catholic teaching. None. It doesn’t mean they aren’t out there, but I’ve lived here all my life.
    The principal’s statement is nauseatingly weak and cowardly. Eww.
    It will be interesting to see the reaction to what Bishop Tobin says or does.
    I love RomeontheRange’s 2017 prediction. Oh let it happen!!

  71. Bob B. says:

    Of course, the local ordinary and his relationship with the school, especially if the school is not diocesan. There are other organizations that need to be addressed in these types of issues – the certification commissions/associations that certify a school as Catholic (e.g., the Western Catholic Educational Association -WCEA). This is often done in conjunction with the academic visits for recertification.

    Factor 1: The Catholic Identity of the School

    The school is Catholic, approved by the Local Ordinary (Canon 803), providing authentic Catholic teaching, opportunities for community worship and participation in the Sacraments, and promoting evangelization and service to the community.

    The Standards are:
    ?A Mission Statement and a Philosophy Statement which indicate the integration of the Roman Catholic Faith into all aspects of school life. (Documents)
    ?Provision of regular opportunities for the school community to experience prayer and the Sacraments. (Observation, Interviews)
    ?A Religion curriculum and instruction that is faithful to Roman Catholic Church teachings and meets the requirements set forth by the USCCB. (Documents, Observation, Interviews)
    ?The local Ordinary approves those who teach the Catholic Faith (Canon 805,) and their formation for catechetical and instructional competence is ongoing. (Records, Interviews)
    ?Maintenance of an active partnership with parents whose fundamental concern is the spiritual and academic education of their children. (Interviews, Observation, Constitutions/By-Laws, Canon 796
    ?A service-oriented outreach to Church and the civic community after the example of Jesus Christ who said, “I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you.”(John 13:15) (Programs, Observation)
    ?The use of signs, sacramentals, traditions, and rituals of the Roman Catholic Church. (Observation)
    ?All school personnel are actively engaged in bringing the Good News of Jesus into the total educational experience. ( Interviews, Observation)

    The requirements don’t seem terribly stringent, do they?

  72. benedetta says:

    @ Brooklyn, so you don’t think the secular news report above is factual and accurate? No one here asserts that they were at the chair of Relevant Radio’s board member’s (heavy target like Sr Jane I take it?) presentation. The news report says that “several” people were enraged and had a public conniption to shame Catholics essentially. That’s all we are discussing here. Aren’t we entitled to discuss this very similar incident with a very similar m.o. as the one that happened in Charlotte?

  73. robtbrown says:


    A similar thing happened some years ago at a seminary in Australia (Sydney, I think). The “theologians” there complained that the bishop was insisting on something new and revolutionary: Teaching Catholic theology. They threatened to quit. The bishop–Pell, I think–said OK and closed the seminary. Then later he reopened it with Catholic theologians.

    One of the libs I knew in Rome. He had a 3 or 4 year Roman Holiday on someone else’s money, eating out, traveling, and drinking. Never came close to writing a thesis. A few years ago I heard he left the priesthood.

  74. Thank you, OrthodoxChick, for your neat summary of the situation – why people who are Catholic in name only use the ‘Catholic’ school system.

    In Australia, where I am, the Catholic schools are the ‘cheap private schools’, so they are very popular. Catholic Education Offices across the country have seized on the demand and pretended that this is ‘evangelisation’, and that this justifies having large enrolements of people who aren’t even Catholic to begin with. And the ‘evangelisation’ is so effective that by the time they all graduate, precisely no one is going to Mass and the sacraments.

    robtbrown – the Australian seminary was Corpus Christi, in Melbourne. It was when George Pell was first made Archbishop there. They resigned en masse [no pun intended], and Pell simply accepted their resignations, and that was all she wrote.

  75. OrthodoxChick says:

    Bob B.,

    Prout is a Diocesan school and has been since sometime in the 1980’s, if my memory serves. I don’t know this for sure, but would assume that Prout is accredited by the same accrediting body that my alma mater is (also D. of Prov.) and that is the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Last I knew, most of the Diocesan schools in RI were accredited by the same entity, but that’s going back a few years.

    Taking a glance at the NEASC website might give another indication of part of the problem. I doubt that the type of Catholic school that most of Fr. Z.’s readers (myself included) would like to see would be able to receive accreditation from NEASC. That would be due more to politics than academic rigor. In New England, or at least in Southern New England (which is the area with which I’m most familiar), the “better” schools in terms of academic reputation receive their accreditation from NEASC. Although, that was back in the day. Today’s parents may not look for that as much as in days gone by. But from an Admissions/recruiter standpoint, if the school you’re trying to market is NEASC accredited, you make it a point to tout it. So, to answer part of your question, in order to run the sort of school that is hard-identity Catholic in Southern New England, the school administration would most likely need to pursue alternative accreditation such as NAPCIS.

  76. OrthodoxChick says:

    Bob B.

    Just checked. Prout, like most of the Diocesan schools in the D. of Providence, is accredited by NEASC. I figured as much. Most parents, if they are aware of accrediting of their child’s school and using that as part of their criteria when shopping for a school, would take it for granted that the school is accredited by NEASC. Therein lies part of the problem with regard to Hard-identity Catholicism in Diocesan schools in New England, IMHO.

  77. Charles E Flynn says:

    It would be interesting to compare the contents of the libraries of the Catholic high schools that adhere to the Magisterium to the libraries of their competitors.

  78. Peg Demetris says:

    I was walking through my daughters school (Catholic Grade School) one day after taking care of some things for the Sacristy. One of the teachers (not a Nun) was taking a class to lunch and they were discussing what to be when they grow up. I stopped and said to them, in front of the teacher, you should strive to be a Saint when you grown up. The teacher, in front of the class of 5th graders said back to me, in front of the children, a Saint? Why would anyone want to be that?? I was FLOORED! I reported the incident to the Principal (A Nun) the very next day and the response to me was QUOTE: “Not all our teachers are Catholic”. My children will be attending a NEW Catholic School next fall. The problem is not only lack of PIETY in the Teaching, but lack of PIETY in the Home! Also in our current school, Religion Class is taught only ONCE a week. Our New Catholic School, its taught DAILY. The Current School is run by Nuns, the new school is not. Its a complicated issue that definitely stems from lack of faith. Period.

  79. Eugene says:

    I pray that Bishop Tobin will issue a very supportive statement of Fr. Hoffman not like the thoroughly unsupportive statement by Bishop Jugis in regards to Sister Laurel’s talk. No mention of personal support for her and her work and commitment to teaching the faith. This angered me so much that I contacted the Nashville Dominicans and left a message of support and sent in a donation for their work.

  80. Susie says:

    RomeontheRange, I tried to find Holy Spirit High School. Is Sinsinawa in Wisconsin? The school is probably too small to need a website. I’d be interested in learning more about the school, how it’s doing, etc. Can you give an update? A local deacon is working to open a Chesterton Academy high school in our area. Thank God for truly Catholic education.

    [You might go back and re-read that comment more carefully.]

  81. Chon says:

    tcreek: Staff for Holy Spirit High School could be recruited by searching out the many people like me, who quit teaching because of the mess the schools are in. There are so many orthodox teachers who, because they cannot justify supporting what goes on in these “catholic” schools, have moved on to other jobs when they would really prefer to teach.

  82. Sonshine135 says:

    Well, as more comes out about the Charlotte Catholic incident, it appears that a parent or parents have ties into PFLAG Charlotte. I believe it safe to assume that little Johnny or Janey are not having solid talks around the dinner table about the risk factors, either here or in Rhode Island, about homosexuality or living as a single/divorced parent. This would require obedience to God’s church, humility, and truth, especially from said single or divorced parents. Those that find themselves in PFLAG don’t give a rip what the church says any way. They already created God in their likeness and image, and they continue to worship their Golden Calf.

    The best thing these schools could do is have the parents and students sign a paper and take an oath that they are aware of the Deposit of Faith and they fully understand it will be taught to their munchkins entirely- so help me God. That way, no legal recourse can be taken. Parents who complain should be refunded their remaining school tuition balance and be shown the door. Furthermore, all parents should be forced to disclose any associations with organizations like those noted above.

  83. Bob B. says:

    Orthodox Chick:
    It seems that NEASC is an purely academic accreditation organization and not one that includes Catholic accreditation.
    This is unlike the WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) (for the academic side) and WCEA (Western Catholic Education Association) (for the Catholic side) in the West. All of California and other (arch-)dioceses in the Western U. S., use this method in accrediting all the elementary and secondary schools. This accrediting procedure occurs at the same time (WASC and WCEA). Accreditation can range from 2-6 years.
    I found Catholic School Accreditation Association (CSAA) that may be doing something similar in NY, but that was all (I did a quick survey). This leads me to believe that each diocese, then, has some method of creating and supervising the teaching of Religion in their schools on some sort of schedule.
    Prout is also an IB school. IB has continued to be viewed as Anti-American & Anti-Christian among many.
    As a teacher, I often found that, while the parents often showed their lack of Catholic knowledge (and, hence, their children), it was worse with the faculty and staff (in one place, one of the major administrators was Baptist and brought shame on the school more that once – but nothing was done though it was brought to the president of the school’s immediate attention).
    We have met the enemy and they are us!

  84. Pingback: Caiaphas Apologizes For Christ | The American Catholic

  85. frjim4321 says:

    Absent a copy of his text, audio or video evidence, there is really nothing to say here, no basis for evaluation.

  86. MacBride says:

    So Fr Z, what’s next? Are we going to see an “editing” of the Catholic Holy Bible to take out passages that are “offensive” to today’s “c”atholics? Things are going down hill at light speed.

  87. Susie says:

    I did notice that RomeontheRange used the year 2017 but I was hoping it was a typo. The truth is, we can’t depend on our bishops to act this heroically in defending truly Catholic education. While the lack of leadership from our bishops is heartbreaking, there are things the laity and ordained ministers such as our local deacon can do. It is a lot of work but schools like Chesterton Academy use Catholic materials instead of using “free” books provided by public schools, and Catholicism infuses the education. You can’t say that of very many Catholic high schools anymore. It is true that they are just expensive versions of public school, only more scandalous.

  88. benedetta says:

    It’s certainly fine to discuss the tactics employed by a tiny few against someone who proclaims the truth, here, there, everywhere, anywhere, frjim4321 and anyone else. We certainly may feel most free to discuss it. And when the text is released we can discuss further. Since when are we not entitled to discuss until a tiny minority says “when” we may? What we are obviously discussing here is the secular news article Fr. Z posted above. Are we now not allowed to discuss msm articles openly? We are most free to exercise our right to discuss any topic we wish.

  89. tcreek says:

    My pastor sometimes walks on dangerous ground at the weekday school Mass. During his homily he sometimes relates back to the last Sunday readings and asks the students to raise their hands if they attended that Mass. At most 25% raise their hands and he goes no farther. Imagine the outcry from some parents if Father had dared mentioned that it was a grave sin for Catholic parents not to take their children to Sunday Mass.

    [Raise hands?!? NOT good. Not good at all. Should NOT do that]

  90. OrthodoxChick says:

    The issue as to why U.S. bishops can’t just come out and insist on Catholic teaching in our schools is not always as cut and dry as we might think, at least not in the area of the U.S. with which I am most familiar (which again, is southern New England). And I suspect that any hard-identity bishops in New England and other liberally governed areas of the U.S. are facing the same situation (ie., NY, NJ, and CA) The reason as to why taps into what Bob B. and I have been discussing on the side. See my reply to him below.

  91. Kerry says:

    If times change, and one day the church will “catch up”, I ask, how does the passage of time alter (altar) what is true? And to those who believe the passage of time ‘ketchup’, will what they themselves believe also become outdated, by the passage of time.
    “I believe you know Master Rich?”.
    “Oh yes, he and I are old friends. That’s a nice gown Richard”.

  92. Mike says:

    Of course we are “free” to discuss this issue. But freedom always implies responsibility, ie, following the rules for gracious, civilized discussion per this blog, not committing sins of detraction and rash judgment as well. I am not saying anyone here has crossed these lines, but just want to underscore what freedom means…

  93. JustaSinner says:

    Please tell the little darlings at Prout HS that their school nickname is offensive to Muslims and that they should, no, MUST change it immediately! How dare they use such a racist and inflaming moniker!
    They should repent IMMEDIATELY, and then change it to something else, something less incitful.
    I have a list of suggestions:

  94. OrthodoxChick says:

    Bob B.,

    You said, “It seems that NEASC is an purely academic accreditation organization and not one that includes Catholic accreditation.”

    I would say ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Yes, you are correct in that NEASC accreditation has absolutely nothing to do with Catholic accreditation. But no, I would not say that the NEASC is a “purely” academic accreditation organization. Not by a long shot. Politics and political control of the U.S. educational system definitely come into play here.

    If a group of parents from Fr. Z.’s blog living in RI (for example) wanted to get together and found a new Catholic school that is hard-identity Catholic, we’d be lucky to get the doors open within the current governance structure of both the state of RI and the federal government. Even if the bishop is fully supportive, expect the state and the feds to be anything but.

    Any and all private schools in RI (as in just about every state in the U.S.) has to be granted permission by the state dept. of education to operate. No state approval, not legal to operate as a “real” school. Legal to operate as a homeschool co-op, but not a school. RI, like CT, & Mass. have adopted the Common Core standards, so any new private school we might wish to found will have to prove that they can meet or exceed those standards – and do so in a way that does not thumb its nose at the state & federal powers that be (at least not as stated on the application for licensure documents). In addition to that, each of the departments of education in these 3 states requires that the school must be accredited by an approved accrediting agency. Who approves the accrediting agencies in the U.S., you ask? Well, that would be the U.S. Dept. of Ed. and the Council for Higher Education. If you look over their rolls of approved accrediting agencies, NEASC is there, but NAPCIS is not. Nor is The Classical Latin School Association, which is not specifically Catholic, to the best of my knowledge. However, it does accredit schools that pursue a classical curriculum and not common core.

    What this means is that any school that is not accredited is not eligible for any federal funding. Now, most of us probably count that as a big bonus; no fed $$ means no strings. But for Diocesan schools competing for students with public schools and public charter schools, that means that any prospective public school students who might wish to attend our new hard-identity school will lose their free lunch program because that is federally funded. The local public school district would also no longer be under any legal obligation to provide bus transportation, nor special education services. Not too many Catholic schools in this area tap into the special ed. departments at their local public school district; my children’s school does. Special ed students can attend my children’s Diocesan Catholic school and receive services from the public school district where the Catholic school is located, even if the students are not residents of that town. That increases the potential pool of students that a Catholic school can draw from. It would be just as important for our new hard-identity school we theoretically wish to found because hard-identity families tend to have more kids and less money. If they’re paying tuition for 5+ kids, free hot lunch can help them stretch their budget. If these same families have special needs students, this is a student population that is generally not served in most Catholic schools, but should be included. There are already state and federal laws on the books that mandate full accommodations for special needs students that do not seem to be a target for enforcement at the moment. But stricter enforcement of laws such as the IDEA could be used to shut down more Catholic schools in the future.

    So, the chain of regulation is pretty clear-cut. Want to open a private school in New England? Must be licensed to operate by the state. Want to be licensed by the state? Must be accredited by a federally approved agency. Want to be a federally approved accrediting agency? Must be granted permission to operate as such by the federal government. Oddly enough, accrediting agencies that do not comply with Race to the Top and common core don’t seem to appear on the U.S. Dept. of Ed.’s approved list.

    Even if a private, hard-identity school could obtain an exemption from the state to open and operate without being accredited by a state and federally approved agency, it would be no easy task to attract students and remain financially viable when you’re competing against secular schools and non-Catholic private schools that have all the bells and whistles that parents expect and demand, and that federal funding provides. I’m sure that a crafty enough person could spot the loopholes and get the doors open legally, but then the challenge would be how to keep it open with creative fundraising and crowd sourcing and the like. Just check out the NAPCIS website. There’s a reason why there are so few NAPCIS accredited schools in New England. There are none in RI and none in Mass. There is 1 in CT and it has to openly state it’s commitment to a green agenda.

  95. frjim4321 says:

    [Raise hands?!? NOT good. Not good at all. Should NOT do that]

    That is indeed the proper response.

    What is he trying to do, shame the kids whose parent’s neglect their children?

    Of the many dumb things that I’ve heard priests say and do this ranks up there at the top.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

    [I think a priest who does this is probably feeling zealous. But he hasn’t thought through that he is asking, actually with students, requiring them to reveal sinful behavior, of others, of parents no less, in a public venue. VERY bad idea. I hope this gets out to priests who do that.]

  96. tcreek says:

    Would it be proper for a priest at a catholic high school retreat to quote Catechism 2181 in his homily?

    2181 The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor. Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.

    [There is nothing wrong with teaching and preaching about our obligations.]

  97. acardnal says:

    I see nothing wrong with quoting an article of the Catechism to high school students or to use it in a homily. The faithful have to be educated in matters of faith and morals.

    BUT . . . the incident you referred to at your entry of “13 April 2014 at 8:02 am” is wrong because it asks individuals to publicly identify themselves. It would be like a priest asking everyone who committed adultery last week to raise their hands! That’s not right as both Fr. Z and frjim4321 stated above.

  98. frjim4321 says:

    … It would be like a priest asking everyone who committed adultery last week to raise their hands! …

    I witness great sloppiness in this regard.

    Priests in confession asking kids what their last name is … [?!? GRRRRRRR… were I the diocesan bishop and that got back to me…. ohhhhhh….] priests repeating at brunch stuff they heard from school kids confessions … it’s very discouraging …

    I used to think that mental health people really “got” confidentiality, but I don’t think that any more.

    Just like I used to think spiritual directors in the seminary respected confidentiality; now I learn they are expected to “report back” to some extent.

    What a ripoff.

    [That said, 99.99999% of all priests are diligent in preserving the Seal. Friends, don’t worry about that.]

  99. Sonshine135 says:


    I would answer yes to your question, but I do think one thing is overlooked in these debates, and it came to me the night of the parents meeting at Charlotte Catholic High School. Is it right to teach everything from the Catechism of the Catholic Church? Yes, of course. The next question though is not as clear: Is it right and proper to teach everything in the Catechism in the same setting? I have to say no. Some subjects demand a more intimate setting. I fear that until the broader issue of adult catechisis is addressed, whole school settings on the teachings of the church on sexuality may be more detrimental than helpful. How many of the kids that did understand church teaching on human sexuality went to these events and will now refuse to speak about it for fear of chastisement? This is at least worthy of consideration before holding these assemblies.

    As Father Kauth at Charlotte Catholic reiterated, the talk would have been more appropriate for a more intimate setting where students had time to pose questions and receive answers.

  100. Vecchio di Londra says:

    We were clearly, crisply and sternly taught at primary school (at the age of seven, when we made our first Confession and Communion) that it was a mortal sin to miss Sunday Mass. And that if we died in a state of mortal sin, we would go to hell. Which would definitely not be a good thing at all, and we should aim at getting to heaven instead, through frequent confession and Communion.
    This all seemed crucially important and extremely useful and helpful information, and it all seemed to make a lot of sense at the time. I don’t recall it causing a deep psychological trauma.
    But now, several decades later, I realize I must have been completely traumatized, and have probably never recovered. Apart from anything else, this stubborn belief in the reality of Heaven and Hell and the importance of Confession has remained with me, and who knows how it must have stunted my life!!
    Ah well, it’s never too late to look round for a lawyer to help me sue that teacher. :-)

  101. acardnal says:

    Vecchio, your teacher did the right thing: he taught you the correct Catholic teaching regarding attending Sunday Mass. Now….if he would have asked all the students in the class to raise their hands if they missed Mass last Sunday, that would have been wrong!

  102. OrthodoxChick says:


    But where is that intimate setting? Does it even exist and could it be reasonably created? Really, the domestic church should be that intimate setting, but so few families operate as a domestic church that we realize it must be done elsewhere. It can and should be done in the parish catechism classes, but we all know there is no consistency from one parish to the next on that level. Plus, we miss some of the kids in the area who attend public and Catholic school but are not part of families that are weekly mass goers. Can’t do it in the public schools. So that leaves the Catholic schools. But honestly, if you have even a handful of students that are struggling with gender identity issues, unless every Catholic high school establishes a chapter of the Courage ministry on campus, I’m not sure how else such issues can be addressed. Some schools and some dioceses are mandating Theology of the Body as part of the religion curriculum for upper grades. My kids’ preK-8 Diocesan school has to use a Diocesan approved curriculum from TOB for a specified portion of the religion curriculum in grades 7 & 8. It isn’t enough to counter the culture and the lack of sound catechesis at home though. Many of the parents don’t reinforce what’s being taught because they feel they are free to disagree; cafeteria-catholic style. The religion teacher doesn’t want to be the bad guy so she agrees with them (the parents) one-on-one outside of class.

    Really, when you combine the ingredients of decades worth of watered down catechesis, drop-off in weekly Mass attendance, Catholic schools operating as barely more than glorified public schools, catholic parents who like it that way, and the state and federal regulatory burdens mentioned above that hinder both reform of existing Catholic school curriculum (so that the existing schools could have their accreditation yanked), and those same regulatory burdens that hinder new, more orthodox Catholic schools from getting off the ground – toss all of those ingredients together and what you have is the perfect recipe for a giant batch of crazy sauce.

  103. Okay… we have had enough now about the “raise your hands” issue. This rabbit hole is officially declared closed.

  104. LauraL says:

    What gets me is how stupid … I’m sorry, but I’ve got to say it. It sounds to me as if the principal and chaplain were blindsided by the controversy when they should have anticipated it and prepared for it. Stupid, stupid, stupid!!! This is the modus operandi of the gay lobby. If the Church hasn’t wised up to that, it’s a disgrace.

  105. cdet1997 says:

    Silly priests. Don’t they know that only the rich are supposed to be challenged and confronted by the Gospel? Everyone else can just go on doing what feels right.

  106. Athelstan says:

    “Prout is now an unvibrant uncatholic community,” one said.

    After reading this story, it’s hard to disagree with that conclusion.

  107. benedetta says:

    It’s certainly a good and healthy aspect of Catholic school life to invite speakers in. However, I wonder whether schools like this then avoid solid catechesis the rest of the year. It kind of would explain why students and their parents who are unable to appreciate the wisdom of the Church’s teachings on the “hot button issues” as the msm is fond of naming their own obsession, also seem completely unable to have a grown up, charitable, Christian heart to heart conversation from one human being to another in their own school community. Students who are primed to throw a public fit every time they encounter something they do not comprehend are not going to be very well equipped to deal with life after graduation. The Christian way to raise concerns about something or inquire are very different from the expectations of the angry mob. If these kids never hear the Church teachings on these subjects, I guess one can also look to their pastors, their confirmation programs, their youth ministers, and their parents. And, they will always be free to look into it. But if they are learning that it is perfectly ok to blast off on other students, parents, families, teachers, chaplain, administrator, guest speaker, that threats and tantrums are the way to go, then, Catholic education has failed them in a much bigger way.

  108. benedetta says:

    @LauraL, how do you propose that the “church” is supposed to “anticipate and prepare”? I’m sorry but I find your allegation that the “church” work according to anyone’s m.o. laughable.

  109. Charles E Flynn says:

    To follow up on robtbrown’s opening comment in this thread, it appears that Rhode Island is back in “first place”. I had read within the last year or so that Massachusetts had briefly enjoyed being #1:

    The Most Catholic States In The U.S., Roughly A Quarter Of The Country’s Population.

    Some of the people in Rhode Island self-identify as “cultural Catholics”, a status that places no religious demands upon them while allowing them to feel superior to people who adhere to a religion, to take a random example, founded by a morbidly-obese serial wife murderer.

    The person who introduced me to the expression “cultural Catholic” informed me years ago that nobody was going to tell her how to live her life. She will be lucky if she escapes being murdered by the enraged wife of a married man with whom she has had an affair. There is something seriously wrong with combining an Ivy League degree with ignoring the most basic things the nuns taught you in your childhood.

  110. Sonshine135 says:


    I think you answered your own question. Does such a place exist? Yes, it is called the home, but as you well point out, the Primary Religious educators are falling down on the job. Forget about the Catechism for a second. How many homes even have a Bible that isn’t covered in dust? These people are not even aware of what the Bible itself says much less the catechism. If you try to teach the child the right thing and are only going to be usurped by the parent’s own agenda, is it even possible to teach the truth? Maybe the parents need these talks first.

  111. Bob B. says:

    Teaching the Faith should be easy but parents and principals make it hard.
    At the beginning of each school year when the teachers and parents meet, I would always explain what we would be doing in Religion that year. After a few years of teaching, I had a fairly good idea what was the norm in the classroom and I would tell them that I would teach what the Church teaches using the textbook (including “Family Life”) and the other things I would discuss in class. I would specifically ask them if they had any problems with what was likely to be discussed in class.
    It was never a problem for 5th grade – the kids still needed to know the basics and I would throw in things like the Cardinal (Deadly) Sins, a little basic Latin, etc.
    Moving on to 7th and 8th grade is where things changed. Students still needed basics, but they were better able to articulate ideas and concepts and questions became more direct and you could “see” opinions beginning to solidify. Though it always seems that your own kids disagree with you all the time (my four did), they take on their parents’ attitude on subjects such as SSM, female priests, etc, and they want to know why things are as they are in the Church.
    My experience has been that priests run away from these subjects, principals don’t want them subjects to be talked about and teachers gloss over or ignore student questions (which, then, only reinforces their views that the Church is wrong).
    Almost always, no one has told these students what the Church exactly says and WHY. Of course, this is not all the would students learn (e.g., a little St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, canonical hours, etc) (they would return later and tell me that their first year in high school Religion was a snap). I am convinced that these are the important years in student appreciation in our Faith, but “the powers that be” always seem focused on high school.
    Spending only a little time in a Catholic high school (though not teaching Religion, but taking the attitude that Catholicism is “cross curricular” to heart), it was appalling to discover how much students didn’t know of our Faith – and I mean seriously appalling! I bought and hung a Holy Water font in my classroom (which I did in all of my previous classrooms and there were many who didn’t know what it was for!). The, mostly young, teachers were unconcerned because they were going to learn about “social justice” issues and the school administration seemed offended that anyone would say anything – another generation lost.
    Maybe NAPCIS schools are the way out of the tragedy that have prevailed upon Catholic education, but it seems a down-top (and not vice versa approach is needed to salvage teaching and defending the true Faith.

  112. Imrahil says:

    clap after this man’s responses to questions, even when they didn’t agree with them

    I don’t, of course, know whether that actually happened. But things like that should never happen in a school. You clap to what you find worth clapping, and nothing else.

    A military superior might command subordinates shout “what-a-pity!” after his “end-of-service!” announcal, because all are grown up and know that it is a joke and not to be taken as a serious statement. But apart from that…

    (But then, I’m the kind of person who checks, at general prayer, what they are praying for and then decides whether to say “te rogamus audi nos” [don’t know in English] or not.)

  113. OrthodoxChick says:

    Bob B.,
    “Maybe NAPCIS schools are the way out of the tragedy that have prevailed upon Catholic education, but it seems a down-top (and not vice versa approach is needed to salvage teaching and defending the true Faith.”

    I think you may be on to something there, but I also think that the present method of establishing and maintaining Diocesan schools has to be amended in order for that to happen – at least in New England. Given what we discussed above regarding the accreditation process and state and federal regulations, any new NAPCIS school in this area would have to be founded and accredited as an independent school (independent of the diocese, that is) just to be able to navigate the accreditation process legally. But that would mean that such a school would remain outside of the Diocesan system, unless bishops and their diocesan superintendents initiate some process to sub-contract some portion of diocesan Catholic education out to Catholic independent schools. There would need to be some sort of marriage between the concept and function of a diocesan school and the concept and function of an independent Catholic school such that you end up with a semi-independent/semi-Diocesan school. I’m struggling to explain myself properly in this regard, but what I’m trying to get at is that such a school would need to have an independent aspect legally in order to get up and running. But then it would also need a diocesan aspect in order to be properly Catholic and under the umbrella of the Vatican and the local ecclesiastical authority and in union with Holy Mother Church. The situation at Prout illustrates one significant problem (though certainly not the only one) for Bishop Tobin and whomever is to follow after him. The problem is that all of the diocesan Catholic schools in RI have been allowed to keep their accreditation by conforming to the liberal, secular culture; playing up social justice issues and downplaying social issues until recently. They’ve been doing this at least since I began attending them in the late 70’s. Fast forward to 2014 when we see a principal and campus minister bring in a speaker to try to provide sound Church teaching regarding social issues to a ‘c’atholic culture sorely in need of it, and a protest and calls for the principal’s resignation breaks out. Aside from the spiritual and catechetical problems this obviously highlights, it also potentially puts a diocesan school on the radar of the government and the accrediting body. In other words, if a bishop tries to restore ‘certain aspects’ of Catholic doctrine to a diocesan school at this point, and the government gets wind of it and declares that the school can’t do that because it is discrimination against the LGBT community, the school could be fined, put on some sort of probationary status regarding accreditation, or find themselves in a situation where the accreditation simply isn’t renewed. A newly formed independent religious school in the Catholic tradition, operating independently of the Diocese, but with the bishop’s consent and blessing, if and when it comes under fire for the same reason, may be held responsible by the state/feds, but the diocese will not because the school is not owned, (partially) subsidized, operated, and controlled by the diocese. If the school is allowed to be formed (by the government) as an independent Catholic school in the first place, it won’t come under fire at all, while a diocesan school trying to instill the exact same teaching will.

    I guess this is all my long-winded way of saying that as difficult as it is to get a new NAPCIS school off the ground in RI and southern New England, it is actually easier to do that than to try to reform a diocesan school that is in line with the culture (in direct opposition to Church teaching) in terms of social issues. Just as in the example that RomeontheRange mentioned above, the new independent school will be smaller at first, but the parents and students who choose to attend it are far less apt to be “culturally catholic”.

  114. Del says:

    There is an answer to this problem of CINO catholyc schools. Certainly bishops and pastors and school administrators have parts to play, which they may or may not attempt or accomplish.

    But there is a real solution to the problem of CINOS schools: US.

    Sweetheart commentor Susie (above, 13 April 2014 at 7:40 am) is excited about a new Chesterton Academy that is forming in her area (Dale Ahlquist and the American Chesterton Society are launching two new schools this fall, building on their highly successful experience in Minneapolis).

    In Madison, WI, a group of home-schooling parents launched a faithful Catholic high school for our children and posterity. Our Academy is thriving, and our good Bishop even asked is he could be on our faculty as a regular guest lecturer and teach religion to our kids! (Madison also has an established Sinsinawa high school, much like the Prout School, only they did not throw a nutty when Fr. Rocky did his Q&A show here. Students always ask Fr. Rocky the same questions: The natural law is in their hearts, and they instinctively know when they are not being taught the truth.)

    But I digress…. WE, the parents and primary educators of our children, have the ability to homeschool and to start schools when authentic Catholic education is not available. This is already happening. There is a movement. There are good schools that need your support.

    Perhaps you know a home-schooling family whose children would benefit from some generous assistance. Or a start-up Academy near you. Or you could help the Chesterton Society launch their new schools with a little bit of money. You can reach out to the new schools in Highland Park (Chicago) and Buffalo, NY, by calling the flagship school in Minneapolis.

    We don’t need to be whiners. We can be the New Evangelization by being part of Catholic education.

  115. ChristianO says:

    Look for this phenomenon to spread domestically and throughout the West. In the past few days, a similar controversy has blown up at an exclusive Catholic school in Paris, France:
    ( — link in French only, unfortunately)

    In the new French case, Opus Dei infiltration is being cited as a possible reason for why the school was suddenly discovered to be a “fundamentalist” hotbed. Students at the school apparently heard (according to some student reports) a speaker suggest that intentionally procured abortion is a “form of voluntary homicide”. The Magisterium of Sophomores (and their parents) went ballistic, and the local and national French media have now gleefully picked up the story.

  116. JimCT says:

    Fr. Z,
    I have a good friend who is on the faculty at Prout and has a child who is a student. She is not some wild liberal by any means. But her report on Fr Rocky’s presentation was highly critical. Not on his position on Church teachings, but on some of the “off the cuff” remarks, which in her view were not consistent with traditional Catholic teaching. Example: People get divorced because they don’t love their children. Huh? Where is that in the Catechism? Likewise some of his comments on gays went over the line. Being gay isn’t a sin. Committing homosexual acts is the sin. He didn’t make that distinction, which is clearly one that is made in the Catechism. My friend’s take was that Fr. Rocky was trying to be a little “controversial” to spice up his radio show. She wasn’t particularly offended but did think he made some remarks that he weren’t really appropriate. And he went over the top given the age of his audience. It can happen. Maybe he had a bad day, maybe he forgot he was speaking to young kids. Maybe he just messed up and used comments that his adult radio following would understand but wasn’t clear to his teenage “studio audience.” How many of us who have made public presentations, and I do fairly regularly in my job, hasn’t at one time or another made comments we wish we could have back? Even long time professionals occasionally say things they wish they had said differently. My guess is that even you, Fr Z, have given a homily or two you wish you could have re-worded in hind sight. Knowing what I know about the Prout School, I am inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt in this case. I’m also willing to give Fr Rocky the benefit of the doubt.

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