Archdiocese to Announce Massive School Closings

By Susan Matthews
Philly Catholic Post
January 3, 2012

Philadelphia's Saint John Neumann is credited with establishing the first diocesan school system in the country back the mid 1800s. His feast day is this Thursday, Jan. 5. One day later, Philadelphia Catholic education will certainly need his intercession.

Archbishop Chaput has the unpleasant task of announcing what is expected to be massive school closings across the Archdiocese. The press conference is scheduled for 4 p.m., Friday, Jan. 6 at Archdiocesan headquarters at 222 North 17th Street. Principals and pastors will be given the news in a private meeting at Neumann University earlier in the day. There are sure to be leaks in between. According to sources, the Archdiocese will debut a Web site dedicated to dealing with the issue.

The decision to close schools will be a devastating blow to the morale of Philadelphia Catholics still reeling from the clergy sex abuse cover up revealed in last February's grand jury report and the related ongoing trials and investigations.

There have been no million-dollar lawsuit payouts to victims in the diocese that could have contributed to closures. There is no public data on the amount of money the diocese spent on legal consultation and defense fees regarding clergy sex abuse. In general, fiscal transparency could help Catholics better understand the decision-making process. If the rumored sale of the Archbishop's residence on City Line Avenue were to be true, that might also help with healing.

Philadelphia-area Catholics, regardless of their level of religious practice, demonstrate an intense identification and pride in their parishes and schools. In the past, parish and school closings under Cardinals Krol, Bevilacqua and Rigali, have been marked by emotional protests.

There is fall out for non-Catholics, too. The Catholic school system is the largest non-public school system in the U.S. Closures will impact local tax payers as those students enter already fiscally burdened public school systems. This provides ample argument for proponents of school vouchers.


Any original material on these pages is copyright 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.