I debated with myself for quite awhile before I decided to post this; it’s on the edge of being a little too personal. But it illustrates my own feelings on compromise.
Today I gave a donation to my Catholic high school. Yes, I was raised Catholic, and attended Catholic schools through senior high (though that was more because our local public schools were so bad than because my parents were concerned about my religious education). My high school was/is for girls only. But I haven’t darkened the door of that school since 1976. I’m currently an atheist humanist, and my opinion of the Catholic Church as an institution is so low it can’t be adequately expressed in a family blog. So why give money to a Catholic high school?
Feminism and social justice.
First of all, the school is training young women to be doctors, lawyers, scientists, engineers, artists, or anything they want to be; they encourage young women to reach as high as they possibly can in their personal goals for life. Oh, they give adequate lip service to the Church’s teachings on limiting women’s reproductive rights, but I know high schoolers can and do make up their own minds on the validity of those teachings. So it may be Catholic feminism, but by golly it’s feminism. By graduation every young woman has been taught that yes, she can do professionally whatever a man can do. That’s a powerful message to take to college, to trade school, or anywhere in life.
Then, while the Church is fussing over abortion and birth control and other stuff they should keep their noses out of, the subversive nuns and their fellow instructors are teaching about how the poor need not only food but medical care, housing, child care, etc. The school is educating future lawyers who will do pro-bono work, future doctors who will volunteer at low-cost inner-city clinics, and future workers of every stripe who will organize food drives for the local food bank, volunteer for their favorite local charities, and give what they can to make life a little better for those in need.
How do I know this? How do I know the school hasn’t changed since I left? Because I get their newsletter, and the number of charitable projects the students are doing is breathtaking, especially when you realize it’s a small school. If anything, they’re getting a better education in social justice than I did.
But Catholic schools are expensive, and lots of promising young women couldn’t attend this one if there were no scholarship program. So, while we have some theological differences of opinion, I think supporting my old high school is a damned good investment in the future I want to see.