When the San Domenico School in San Francisco grabbed national headlines in 2017 for cutting its ties to the Catholic Church, the move may have stunned some in the Bay Area but it came as no surprise to Bishop Thomas Daly of Spokane, Washington, who’d spent almost 20 years in archdiocesan schools and said he’d watched San Domenico “moving in that direction for a long time.”
The situation, Daly said, shows what happens when a Catholic school begins to concede its mission.
“The loss of Catholic identity, the loss of a mission, is not like a blown-out tire, it’s like a slow leak,” said Daly, the U.S. bishops’ conference’s education committee chair. “You begin to compromise – the teaching, the classes offered, hiring practices, leadership of your board – and more and more the mission becomes not even secondary, and then you cease to really be Catholic.”
Daly made the comments in a recent conversation with Crux on gender policies being implemented for educational settings – both in diocesan schools and Catholic universities – as the conversation around gender has become more prominent and debated nationwide, both in secular and religious circles.
Last month, the Archdioceses of Omaha, Nebraska, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota published policies that promote the church’s teaching on sexual identity. In part, the policies require students to identify and behave in accordance with their biological sex.
The policies are similar to those published by the dioceses of Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Lafayette, Louisiana in July, along with those of a number of other dioceses in recent years.
Meanwhile, some Catholic universities have gone the other way, issuing gender policies that contradict church teaching. The most recent is Villanova University, which published a “Gender Inclusive Practices Guide” earlier this month to promote gender inclusivity and encourage the use of people’s preferred pronouns in the classroom.
In a statement to Crux, The Augustinians of Saint Thomas of Villanova Province, the religious order that runs the university, said, “Villanova University seeks to be a welcoming and inclusive community that respects members of all backgrounds and faiths,” further noting that “calling someone by their name and pronouns is a show of respect for them as a person, a fellow Villanovan and child of God.”
The archdiocese of Philadelphia, where the university is located, declined a Crux request to comment on the policy, citing the university’s independence.
Crux: What do you think of the gender policies that dioceses are issuing?
Daly: Certainly, not all dioceses have issued a statement. Some are waiting to see what happens in other dioceses. Others, it’s not a big issue so they’re dealing with it one on one. But my experience here in Spokane and dealing with other dioceses – Arlington, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee are some examples – we felt it was important that we had a policy.
I think it’s important for us to know that we have to always be compassionate towards the student and their families who might be experiencing what is not an easy thing. However, the approach that’s being taken in certain medical circles, certain public schools, we believe is contrary to Christian anthropology.
I would say that dioceses are addressing this in a standardized policy. Not every diocese, but many dioceses are doing so, most of the time it comes from basic issues raised by the schools.
How concerned are you that these policies can divide and steer people away from Catholic schools?
It’s a pastoral line that has to be clear that we are concerned about the students who may experience gender confusion, but we can’t lose sight of the fact that there are certain non-negotiables in Catholic schools. I think this is an important thing that often gets forgotten: People don’t have to go to our schools, and this is not something that is a minor issue. It’s something we can’t shy away from. I think we try to understand, but when it’s all said and done we as Catholic schools have a mission that is given to us by the church and we have to be faithful to it.
My experience, whether it’s Catholic education, or health care, or social services, and I often say this, when there is a parallel in the secular world, parallel to the sacred, we have to be very careful that the attitudes and the teachings and the trends of the secular don’t influence, overcome, and overwhelm the sacred.
We’re clear on our mission because we’re not for everybody. And yes we are called to be compassionate, but we’re also called to the truth and people don’t have to come to our schools. That may sound harsh, but I think when we’re clear at the very beginning it ends up eliminating a lot of future conflicts.
There are also gender inclusive policies implemented by some Catholic universities. What are your thoughts on Catholic universities and their decision to go the other way on this in some cases?
It creates a huge contradiction.
When universities adopt what you find in a secular school I think they have clearly moved away from their Catholic mission. In a pluralistic country and pluralistic society you can remain faithful to your Catholic mission without this adaptation and adoption of what you would find [in a secular institution].
We’ve seen, unfortunately, Catholic universities, and they’re not the only institutions but it seems to be more prevalent in higher education, where under the guise of being inclusive they go in a direction that is really contrary to what their mission is. It makes it difficult for the bishop. We’re supposed to be the teachers of the church in the diocese….
The above comes from a Sept. 3 article in Crux.
Totally agree with Bishop Daly. Please pray that he will remain steadfast in the battle.
Catholic identity has been not so much lost but stolen from us. Most Catholic schools are no longer the beacon of hope for parents eager to shield their children from the corrupt social experimentaton in public schools. The same rot has also seeped into religious schools by way of recreant pastors and school administrators. Soon, we will have no one left to fight for the Faith because the serpents of the night stole it.
When will Archbishop Mitty High School disaffiliate from the Catholic Church?
When… they can no longer call themselves Catholic, are not supported financially or in any other way by the diocese and when no sacraments are permitted there.
Then, they can also rebrand themselves and rid themselves of the association with the outspoken anti-Communist John Joseph Mitty. A win-win.
Alumni and donors can suggest new names for the school, more in line with its mission.
Cantu can’t use the convenient “well, it’s an “independent” Catholic school” excuse
…and University of San Diego (USD), University of San Francisco (USF), Loyola Marymount (LMU), Santa Clara University, Notre Dame…
Thomas Daly was auxiliary bishop in San Jose about a decade ago. He attended one of Archbishop Mitty High School’s weekend overnight colloquiums, which was a teacher retreat supposedly focused on school identity. He advocated strongly for a hard Catholic identity. Administrators and teachers didn’t like what they heard from him because they realized he wanted to make Mitty truly Catholic. Tim Brosnan, principal at the time, put the call in to Bishop PJ McGrath, and no wonder Daly didn’t last long in San Jose. Daly is the Bishop San Jose should have had. He should have been named coadjutor to succeed McGrath. No way would Daly allow what Cantu is allowing to go on at Mitty. Daly is 100% right about Catholic schools not really being Catholic.
And, remember he was given a full-time job as pastor of a parish at a far end of the diocese. It seems they didn’t want him at the San Jose chancery much. And, as auxiliary, like other auxiliary bishops, he was made vicar for clergy. Some didn’t like that and so a new “Vicar for Priests” was created so priests could, in essence, “go around” Bishop Daly. Can anyone name any other diocese that has a “vicar for priests?” It seems that after Bishop Daly left, they returned to having simply a “vicar for clergy.”
Saint Joseph and Saint Clare, pray for us.
Do a novena for the school and make a sacrifice. Do not waste all those little opportunities that come with each day.
God bless and protect, Bishop Daly. I still remember the only time I meant him, young with the sun shining on him and his crosier.
St. Patrick pray for him and us.
I think it was autumn, and he had a golden crosier, so the whole scene gave him a golden glow.
More Bishops need to stand with Bishop Daly. When Covid was here, it gave some Catholics the reason not to Attend Mass and many have not returned to their faith. With teachings of some Bishops no wonder parishoners have not returned. When Bishops have allowed non catholic politicians to receive the Eucharist, allowing married men to give a homily. Sad
I think you meant allowing gay married men to give a homily. That happened in Chicago.
That’s right, also mayor Lightfoot was given communion in Chicago.
Correction to first line of my first post: when I “met him”, not “meant him”.
I think it is helpful when a diocese has a policy and everybody knows it.
Our experience at two Newman’s List colleges is that the policy is ‘don’t talk about it.”
There were gay and transgender students at the two colleges that we had children in and it was very obvious in some cases. Don’t know about the ones that it was not obvious. Sometimes, if asked, the kids would say “Yes, I am gay but I conform to the Church’s teaching.”
Then, after they graduate, you can see how conformed they really were.
And when your straight kids graduate, they work with gay and transgender people who are really nice and hope the subject never comes up because they will lose their jobs if they say anything.
I don’t know what two Newman Guide colleges you attended. But, many same-sex attracted graduates are living chastely. I don’t know of any school that has a policy that states, “Don’t talk about it.” And, at least at Franciscan University, these issues are being addressed. In fact, later this month, Franciscan is giving an award to Anna Carter, a graduate who is the founder of Eden Invitation, a Catholic ministry for those struggling with any of the LGBTQ issues. Failing to address any “elephants in the room” of the Church, in a truly Catholic manner, is not helpful. I encourage people to check out the links below, to verify what I’m posting.
And, you’re right, faithful Catholics do fear for their jobs (academic opportunities and more) in the society in which we currently find ourselves.
At graduation this year, two female students went up to get their diplomas with PRIDE flags. They were removed from the graduation video.
Not Franciscan, but, at one of the colleges there was an obviously gay male who lived chastely, intended to enter an order and attempted to. Now, is married to a transgender person and does gay ministry at a non-Catholic Christian church where they were accepted.
So what if they give an award to a graduate?
How many of there straight graduates live chastely or do not use birth control?
Not everybody that goes to these colleges is Catholic.
We passed on one of the Newman’s List colleges because more than half of the students were not Catholic and the school’s representative told us “You will have to evangelize here.”
I was looking for a reply from “don’t talk.” Yet, to you and “removed,” of course, not everyone who attends any Catholic college is Catholic. Many straight graduates live chastely and when married do not use birth control. My wife and I, other family members and friends are among those. The award to Anna Carter is due to her being a relatively young graduate who is working to advance Catholic teaching and life in the area of LGBTQ issues (not ignoring, denying or “not talking about it”). And, if the women graduates with the “pride” flags were at the Franciscan University graduation this year, it’s apparent that the university edited that out because they do not endorse that agenda. (Since silence implies consent, do you think they should have left that in?) Believe it or not, there are many millenials and GenZers who live chastely and do not practice artificial contraception when married. And, a significantly higher percentage of those come from Newman Guide schools (we know some others from a couple of other colleges as well) than come from Loyola Marymount, USD, USF or Santa Clara.
You kind of completely pivoted from my point.
In order to address my point, you would have to know gay or trans students in Newman List Colleges (there probably are not many) and how they behave when on campus, in class, off campus, after graduation.
It is irrelevant if the school gives an award to someone.
I think you may have mis-interpreted what I wrote. I did not mean that the school does not talk about the issue in general or as a matter of faith, but that individual students that are gay or transgender would at least feel that they should not talk about it.
The reason the two graduates used the gay flag in the graduation ceremony was not to support PRIDE but simply to show that they exist there at Franciscan.
Editing them out of the video was dishonest. I think they should have left it in because it makes the school look deceitful.
Frannie, this is from a few years ago…
Within one day, Franciscan changed its policies in response to public pressure. That may have something to do with why they whitewashed to rainbow flag graduates.
don’t talk, I actually know two individuals well and of others. I’m not trying to avoid your point. While on campus, off campus and now alumni, they continue to live chastely. And, individual students, now alumni, like Anna Carter, believe that their struggles should be talked about. They don’t need to suffer in silence and usually alone. As Eden Invitation invites, “Come out of hiding.” Help and support in living the Catholic life exist. Anna Carter’s receiving public recognition for her work is not “irrelevant.”
Let’s keep this a secret from the public. Don’t want to ruin our image.
What could possibly go wrong?
Frannie, they are in. They have bought the package. They are trying to live the Catholic Faith as chaste gay people and I assume that they are successful. I am glad that they are supporting others and maybe even convincing some.
Heterosexual Catholics who obey the Church’s teaching are in the minority. I assume homosexual Catholics who accept the Church’s teaching are too, Maybe not those who go to Newman’s List schools. We won’t ever really know because we are not their confessors..
It is kind of like pointing to St. Francis and saying ‘this is a typical Catholic.” Nobody lives like that. Not even the Franciscans.
Friars have even done really, really naughty things. What percentage? We will never know. I assume the friars do but they won’t be telling us.
There are homosexual and heterosexual Catholic who put their spiritual life first.
We have a gay married Catholic who posts here. He has no compunction. We have had two gay Catholics who live the Church’s teaching, one who never lived the life; one who did and converted. I do not know how many members COURAGE has.
I am not sure why you are having such a problem with my posts.
Michael Voris is a gay who lived the life and reverted. Joseph Scambia is a gay who lived the life even doing gay porn and converted. Milo Yiannopolis converted and still lives with his husband. Last I heard he was not entirely successful at living chastely.
We are all sinners. I am not even sure how this got here.
I feel like you were maybe defensive or something.
This is a good article on the EdenInvitation ministry that you talked about. There are others. It may be age or that I am not questioning but the website to me is confusing.
Thank you for making the clear distinction between truth and allowing heretical teaching promoting licenses to be sexually immoral
I’ve always admired Bishop Thomas Daly. A true, faithful Catholic bishop. One of the very few outstanding clerics from SF. The Pope should have given prelates like Bp. Daly the Red Hat– not McElroy. McElroy was the lone American prelate to get his Red Hat– what a shame he was the one to be chosen. All our very best, true and faithful Catholic prelates are always passed over in this modernist post-Conciliar age.
What is Catholic Identity?
Believing, living and teaching the Scriptures, the Nicene Creed and the Catechism of the Catholic would be a good start.
When I sent mine to Newman List schools it was because I wanted them to be taught the Truth of the Catholic Faith, not watered down and not dissent.
I have some problems with what was taught. There is always something.
The campus culture was better at one than the other.
The kids conform to whatever the rules are. When they were at a strict school, they obeyed the rules and had no problem with it.
When they got to a school that allowed drinking in dorm rooms and members of the opposite sex in dorm rooms, they did those things, even though they knew their parents would not approve, because now they think it’s OK because this Catholic college said it was.