There could be many variations on the theme for this title but I chose this combination as it best expresses both the cause and outcome at the same time.
Another choice of a title could have been:
The Catholic Church as a Fascist Institution and The dead and decaying corpses of a long-corrupted institution.
This is a true story that continues to this day. It is the story of a dear friend and colleague, Paul who has been a high-school physics teacher for the last 10 years, 4 of those years at a catholic high school.
With the later choice of a title, there is no inference to the why or how behind the corruption. The church was corrupted almost from its inception – this history is the subject of many books and Ph.D dissertations.
At the risk of sounding like a cliche, the names and places have been changed to protect the innocent, the identity of the particular institution and all involved. The institution is a catholic high school in a diocese that is one of the largest in the US Northeast. This is a story of what happens inside an institution whose foundations are corrupt, subsisting inside a larger, corrupt economic infrastructure. Why is “Capitalism” mentioned in the title? When it comes to protecting their money, the church will stop at nothing! As an example, the teachers in this particular high school have just successfully negotiated a new contract after languishing under a 4-year-old austerity contract. The “process” was replete with lies, false promises and misrepresentations by the diocese to forestall any meaningful contract negotiations. Given the situation, the teachers have remained steadfast and dedicated to their mission to teach and inspire.
Socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor
NeoLiberalism, as envisaged by its progenitors, Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman see government as an encumbrance, an obstacle to financial growth – this mantra was often touted by Ronald Reagan, one of the worst presidents this country ever had. NeoLiberalism, as an instrument of late-stage capitalism, attempts to remove public ownership of all aspects of public life instead, putting it into the hands of private corporations. This “privatization” has been the source of much misery and the siphoning off of trillions of dollars of the public treasure, the “peoples” money into the hands of private, for-profit corporations, “Socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor” as it’s often been said. Profits never go to the people, only to the corporation (“trickle-down” economics, the way the actor-comedian become president, Ronald Reagan used to gaslight the unwitting and ignorant masses when he and Margaret Thatcher bamboozeld an entire continent in the early 1980s into accepting NeoLiberalism).
In the currenct scheme of things, when a business fails, public money bails it out. The 2008 housing crash was a great example of this. The banks were bailed out by the Obama administration 9 years after President Bill Clinton in 1999 repealed Glass-Steagal, the 1933 act of congress that, for almost 70 years, protected the pensions and deposits of millions from the inherent dishonesty and malfeasance of the banking sector. Repealing Glass-Steagall was the nail in the coffin. It’s no surprise that, at the beginning of NeoLiberalism on this continent, the 1982 Garn-St. Germaine Depository Institution Act deregulated the Savings and Loan industry, leading to speculation and risky investment with other people’s money – the banks got away with using depositors’ money for their risky and often ill-advised investments. When these investments failed, the resulting crisis would ultimately cost the taxpayer $201 billion. It should be noted that Obama and Clinton were both Democrats and the billions in life-savings, deposits and pensions of the people were not restored by Obama’s Treasury Department, only the banks were made whole.
Why do I mention all this here, in an article about a catholic high school?
To answer that question, let’s take a look at the long-standing debate between public and private schools. A private school, a catholic school and now “Charter” schools depend on enrollment to survive. Not so for a public school, where the institution is mandated by public law, the district is operated with public funds, the budget is voted on in a public referendum, and all students have equal standing.
Since enrollment is a factor for a private institution, academic outcomes would necessarily be a consideration for anyone contemplating sending their son or daughter to such an institution. In the case of this particular catholic school, it is considered a “college preparatory school” – the understanding here is that, once you’re admitted, you’ll have all you need to get into college – all bought and paid for with your parent’s hefty tuition checks. This understanding is, of course, with a (large) tuition check, a certain academic outcome is expected, placing an undue burden and conflict of interest on the teacher – and therein lies the answer to the question above.
Misguided Expectations of a “Catholic” School
Many parents send their poorly behaving sons or daughters to a catholic school in the hopes that the school will reform them. What ends up happening, the students successfully disrupt the class, very little learning is accomplished, those students who do want to learn are disenfranchised, no reform is achieved and the teacher is blamed for “poor classroom management“. This happens because of the inherent conflict of interest between academic integrity and the administration’s profit motive. The administration’s primary job is to maintain the flow of cash into the school’s coffers. They can’t fault the students or the parents — without them, the money would dry up — so they tend to turn a blind eye to the problem and, more often than not, blame the teacher. Paul tells me that the school does provide the teacher with some disiplinary tools but that they’re largely inadequate. He had exhausted all that were availalbe with little to no improvement in the outcomes.
Three outcomes await a good teacher in such a situation: they will ultimately resign, remain and become disgusted, depressed and disillusioned or they will be fired before they can gain tenure. A poor teacher will fit in and feel right at home – beause they’re part of the problem! The enrollment and admissions model – the operating model for these schools is, at its core, corrupt. In its essence, it is a “for profit” model. A “for profit” model for school enrollment is a walking conflict of interest. You can not, at the same time, depend on enrollment to support the institution when that enrollment, in large part, depends on academic outcomes. To maintain academic integrity and objectivity, no such “for profit” aspect of enrollment can exist. In all of this, no mention is made of the results from the entrance exam required for admission to this school. Paul tells me that with some of these students, they would never have passed any meaningful entrance exam.
How much Power Does the Church Actually Have?
Ask yourself: how much power does the catholic church have? You’ll have your answer when you realize that their army of attorneys have been able to shield pedophiles and child-molesters from justice for a century – and it continues to this day. It should be noted -and this action has provided a modicum of relief for the victims: Pope Francis has removed the shield of secrecy protecting these predators from justice.
More broadly, the institution is the Catholic Church on the American Continent, the Catholic Church in the United States, since the United States occupies the northern part of the continent along with Canada. The story of the church in Canada is separate, similar in some ways, different in others. When set against the backdrop of what has now been reported regarding the “Residential Schools” in Canada -the unmarked graves, the torture, abuse and death of native children in that country – it can been seen in a broader context as another manifestation of the church’s fascist roots on this continent.
This story describes what happens inside a corrupt institution as a manifestation of who and what the colonial-settlers were, those who first came to this continent over 500 years ago. It is another malignant tumor on a larger, festering, cancerous body. I’m not speaking of the British or Dutch settlers who landed in what is today Massachusetts or New York as they were not Catholic -they were mainly Protestant with some professing to be “Deists”.
I’m speaking of the Spanish who settled -and colonized- what is today modern Mexico, Central and Latin America and the Caribbean (Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Islands of the Caribbean). The institution of the Catholic Church here -and how it is practiced here- has its origins with the European Fascists who settled here. The catholic church on this continent -many of it’s practices and rituals- have their roots in 16th century Spain and, more broadly, in fascist Europe. The eminently catholic character of much of Mexico and Latin America, an aspect that eclipses much of the original, indigenous cultures of this region, has its roots in Cathoic Spain. These roots were planted during the genocide committed on this continent by Hernan Cortez and Christopher Columbus, centuries before WW-II and the fascist dictator Francisco Franco of Spain.
Christopher Columbus was a monster, not a nobleman as the propagandists, many of them his Catholic defenders, would have us believe. To be clear, he was not a Spaniard but an Italian sailing under the Spanish flag. He slaughtered the Taino Indians of Puerto Rico on his fourth trip back here from Spain. He and Hernan Cortez committed a genocide on this continent and they’re both hailed as statesmen and heroes in the history books, lionized in the church and its schools as reformers who civilized the ignorant, pagan masses of Mexico, central and South America. The church has even institutionalized his name under the banner “The Knights of Columbus”, a cutout whose real mission is to provide life insurance and other financial instruments to catholic men. I know, I used to belong to it.
It’s no surprise that we have a national holiday set aside for Columbus in the United States. He and Cortez represent the Catholic Church and its fascist roots on this continent. This story isn’t about Columbus or Cortez but what they brought here and what has persisted on this continent for over 500 years.
This institution, the Catholic Church on the American continent (understood to be the entire continent from northern Canada to the Southern tip of Argentina) is corrupt. Why? Because its founders were corrupt. They weren’t noblemen, they were common traders with no more high ideals than to take what they could and leave death and misery in their wake. They were emissaries of the Spanish Crown, Europeans sent by the crown to expand the Spanish Empire to the American continent. What they stole, what they did to the indigenous here, how they destroyed the thriving civilization here, is the topic of a multi-volume encyclopedia or a Ph.D dissertation.
After all, what should we expect from an institution who protects pedophiles?
Public vs. Private Schools
A benefit of public schools as an institution (Neoliberals see public schools as an extension of the state) is how it’s funded. A public school board proposes a budget that is held up for a public vote. If the taxpayers support the institution, its teachers and educational programs, the budget will pass. It is funded by public money, an aspect of the system as an institution, that is the great equalizer – there are no favorites, no rich or poor families, no students with undue privilege – everyone is equal.
With a private school such as a catholic high school, parents often believe they get to dictate grading policy, most of the time blaming the teacher for the poor academic performance of their sons or daughters. A phone call to administration regarding their son or daughter’s grade is often made, complaining that their grades are dropping or the behavior of the students in the classroom is disrupting their education. Only in the rarest of cases is this even remotely true.
Horror Stories of Violence Towards Teachers and Administrative Corruption
My friend has recounted to me numerous horror stories of being called down to the office to “explain himself”, and why the class average has dropped. It was never his fault but the fault of the privileged little monsters sent to a “Catholic School” to be taught how to behave in a civilized society, to be reformed as it were. The parents offload their responsibility of teaching their children right from wrong and how to behave on to the teachers or administrators. The corruption at this particular institution is breathtaking. Paul tells me that he was instructed to delete an entire quarterly final exam from the digital grade book because some of the grades dropped – as they should have based on what he described as their appalling behavior and academic performance!
In another instance, his wallet was stolen “from his classroom desk drawer“! Subsequent to that, he was the victim of attempted credit card fraud in the amount of $6,000 (at the end, all credit card charges were reversed and no criminal case was mounted against the 3 students involved).
In another instance, a student emptied the contents of the classroom trash can on to his desk! This same troubled young man, a student of Paul’s -and this story was reported in the local papers- was caught having sex with his girlfriend in the school parking lot. According to Paul (and his account was corroborated by the local press) the police were called, the student was asked to leave and the matter was quickly swept under the rug. These things actually happened in a “catholic” school! Regarding the personal attacks against Paul, one of the school’s primary teachers, what did the administration do? He tells me they did nothing, not so much as even a note of sympathy regarding the abuse and personal attacks he suffered at the hands of these juvenile delinquents. That question can best be answered by what they didn’t do. They didn’t renew his contract in the fall with no real explanation as to why. It should be pointed out that he would have been entitled to tenure at the completion of one more year at that school.
Obviously, this “catholic” school claims to adhere to the church’s social doctrines but merely pays them lip service. They run the school like a corporation, like a business without any aspect of the church’s social doctrine visible in the operation of the school. The way they treat their teachers is appalling, the below standard salaries, the expectation that the teachers -and all workers- “sacrifice for the good of the instituion” (paraphrased from the school’s principal in his welcoming remarks to new teachers).
Paul is rather candid and tells me that some of these students belong in prison or reform school. He predicts that at least 10% of them will wind up in prison within 4 years of graduation.
This particular institution is a “College Preparatory School”. Based on what Paul tells me, very few of these students are even remotely prepared for college at the end of 4 years and the $48,000 spent on a compromised education where that money could have been better spent elsewhere.
Note: this article was written by a human, not an AI bot.