U.S. bishops renew commitment to Catholic schools

.- The United States bishops have renewed their commitment to supporting Catholic schools across the country into the new millennium. They issued a statement to that effect June 16, during their spring meeting in Chicago last week.

The statement, titled Renewing Our Commitment to Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools in the Third Millennium affirms: “Catholic schools are a vital part of the teaching mission of the Church.”

The statement says Catholic schools must remain available and accessible in all areas of a diocese for children of all faiths and all economic backgrounds.

"This has been a proud part of the history of Catholic schools in the 19th and 20th centuries,” the statement reads. “We must continue this outreach in the new millennium."

The statement stresses the need to open schools where there is a large Hispanic immigration, as a way to "reach out and welcome Hispanics and Latinos into the Catholic faith communities in the United States."

Students must be offered “an academically rigorous and doctrinally sound program of education and faith formation designed to strengthen their union with Christ and his Church,” says the statement. They must receive “sound Church teaching through a broad-based curriculum, where faith and culture are intertwined in all areas of a school’s life.” Administrators and teachers must be professionally prepared and formed in matters of the Catholic faith. Teachers and administrators must also receive just wages, they bishops said.

The statement also calls on the entire Catholic community “to assist in addressing the critical financial questions that continue to face our Catholic schools.” The bishops expressed their commitment to launch funding initiatives, but they also invited all people to put their talents together and find creative ways to fund Catholic education.

There are currently 7,799 Catholic elementary and secondary schools in the United States, with more than 2.4 million students.

The full document is posted on the USCCB Web site at: http://www.usccb.org/bishops/schools.pdf

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