Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 13.djvu/622

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SCHOOLS


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SCHOOLS


the vigilance and devotedness of the Irish clergy that they have gradually evolved from the original Na- tional system which was "thoroughly dangerous", a system "which at the present time is "a help rather than a hindrance to the Church".

G. In the United States. — "The greatest religious fact in the United States to-day", writes Archbishop Spalding, "is the Catholic School sj'stem, maintained without any aid by the people who love it". The vastness of the system may be gauged by the fact that it comprises over 20, OCX) teachers, over 1,000,000 pu- pils, represents S100,000,000 worth of property; and costs over §15,000,000 annually. This system grew up from humble beginnings. Its growth has kept pace with the growth of the Church. The oldest schools in the present territory of the United States are the Catholic schools founded about 1600 in the Spanish colonies. The French colonies, too, had their schools as a regular part of the civil and re- hgious scheme of colonization and civilization. Cath- olic educational work in the Thirteen Colonies dates from the arrival of the Catholic colony in Maryland. The first regularly established school in Maryland dates from 1640. As the condition changed from that of a missionary country to that of a country regularly provided with a fixed ecclesiastical organiza- tion, the schools came to be recognized as a function of organized parish work. In the Spanish and P'rench colonies the school, like the Church, looked to the State for support. In the English colonies there was also State support of denominational education, but whether the Catholics could or could not secure a share of the pubhc funds depended on local conditions. When the States adopted their constitutions, they did not introduce any change in this respect. It was "the gradual rise of dissentient rehgious bodies in the col- onies and States due to the influx of emigrants and other cau.ses, that brought about important changes which led to the establishment of a 'non-sectarian' system of schools" (Burns, "The Catholic School Sys- tem in the United States", p. 3.59). We know that in man}- instances Cathohcs in the West and even in Massachusetts and New York obtained funds from the State for the support of their schools, as the Epis- copalians and Presbyterians did for theirs.

The unsucce.ssful attempt of Father Richard of De- troit in 1808 to obtain for the Cathohc schools of that city a share of the public funds, was followed in 1830 by a more successful plan at Lowell, Mass. At that time the population of Lowell included many Irish Cathohc immigrants. In 1830 at the annual town meeting a committee was appointed to consider the expediency of "estabhshing a separate school for the benefit of the Irish population", and the following year the sum of fifty dollars annually was appropri- ated for that purpo.se. In 1855 there were two Cath- ohc schools at Lfjwcll; both were recognized as part of the school system of the town, and both were sup- ported out of the public funds. After sixteen years of successful trial the arrangement was discontinued in 1852, owing to the wave of bigotry known as the Knownothing Movement that swept over New Eng- land. In New York, as early as 1806, St. Peter's School applied for and received State aid. A similar arrangement was made for St. Patrick's School in 1816. In 1824 this support was withdrawn by the State, owing to the activity of the Public School So- ciety. To this society was committed the entire school fund for distribution, and, as we learn from the protcHts of New York Catholics, the activity of the Bfjciety was directed towards making the public schools not strictly non-sectarian but offensively Prot- estant. In 1840 the School O-mtroversy in New York was precipitated by the petition of the Catholics to be allowed a share of the public funds for their schools. The petition was rejf cted by the Common Council; but the fight was not, on that account, dis-


continued. With remarkable zeal, eloquence, and eru- dition. Bishop Hughes, supported not only by all his Catholic people, but also by some of the non-Catholic congregations of the city, urged the claims of religious education. He laid stress on the contention that Catholics have a right to "a fair and just proportion of the funds appropriated for the common schools, provided the Catholics will do with it the same thing that is done in the common schools". He claimed no special privilege, but contended for the "constitu- tional rights" of his people. He was opposed, not only by the Public School Society, but also by rep- resentatives of the Methodist, Episcopal, and Presbj^- terian Churches. The claims of the Cathohcs went before the legislature; but there also sectarian hatred was injected into the discussion and bigotry gained the day. The controver.sj', however, had one good re- sult. It showed the imminent danger to faith and morals existing in the public school system as influ- enced by the so-called non-sectarians of that day, and as a consequence Catholics set to work to build up, at a tremendous cost, a sj^stem of parochial schools un- supported by the State.

In theory it is still maintained that injustice is be- ing done to Catholics. If the "secular branches" are taught in the parochial schools to the satisfaction of the State authorities, the schools should be compen- sated for doing that portion of the task which the State has assumed. On the other hand, there are many Catholics who are convinced that if State aid were accepted it could be done only at the cost of in- dependence, that State aid would be the price of admitting State supervision to the extent of partial de-Catholicization. There have, nevertheless, been individual instances in which a compromise has been reached, e. g. Savannah, Georgia; St. Augustine, Flor- ida; Poughkeepsie, New York; and Faribault and Still- water, Minnesota. The last-mentioned instance gave ri.se to the celebrated School Controversy of 1891-92. The P'aribault plan consisted in setting aside a cer- tain time for religious instruction, to be given gratis by the Catholic teachers, and a time for secular in- struction, to be given also by Catholic teachers. The secular instruction was to be paid for by the State, and in respect to that portion of its work the school was to be under State supervision; it was, in fact, to be recognized as a "pubhc school". The question was finally carried to the Congregation of the Propa- ganda, which rendered its deci.sion on 21 April, 1892, to the effect that "considering the peculiar circum- stances and* character of the arrangement, and the agreement by which the plan was inaugurated, it may be tolerated ". In the discussion of the Faribault plan certain fundamental questions were touched, as for in- stance in Dr. Bouquillon's "Education, to whom does it belong?" (Baltimore, 1891), "A Rejoinder to the Civilta Cattolica" (Baltimore, 1892), "AKcjoinderto Critics" (Baltimore, 1892), Hollaind,S.J.,"l"lu> Parents First" (New York, 1891), Conway, S.J. , " The State Last " (New York, 1892), Brandi, S.J. , in "Civilta Cattolica", 2 Jan., 1892, tr. as a pamphlet (New York, 1892). It should be added that, owing to some local diflS- culty the agreement at Faribault and Stillwater was later discontinued, but a similar agreement is in force to-day in not a few places in Minnesota.

The attitude of the hierarchy of the United States towards the problem of elementary education has been consistent from the beginning. At first Bishop Car- roll, in the days immediately following the Revolu- tion, entertained the hope that Catholics miglil unite with their non-Catholic fcillow-citizeiiK in building up a system of erlucation that would he mutually satisfac- tory from the rehgious point of view. Soon, how- ever, he realized that that hope was futile. After the First Catholic Svnod he addressed (1792) a pastoral letter to the Catholics of the country, in which he em- phasized the necessity of a "pious and Catholic edu-