Political Theology Today A Forum for inter-disciplinary and inter-religious dialogue among clergy, scholars, students, and activists

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Political Theology is devoted to studying the intersection between religion, politics and culture.  It is an international journal with editors and board members from different parts of the world, who approach the subject from a variety of disciplines, perspectives, and faith traditions.  Published six times per year, PT is a peer-reviewed publication committed to furthering the study of the theological and the political.

Political Theology Today was created as a forum for talking about such issues in a more timely fashion than an academic journal can provide. In a world dominated by 24-hour news cycles, we hope this can be place for the political theology community. We welcome passion, but as a community of inquiry there is an expectation of mutual respect when commenting on one another’s work.

  • William Horan

    Catholic Education in Solidarity with the Poor

    Recent popes have declared that the “rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer”. This same criticism could be applied to catholic education: catholic schools and colleges are serving more the rich; and less the middle class and poor.
    When my grandparents immigrated from Ireland in the early 1900s, the Catholic Church in the United States already had in place a parochial school system designed primarily for immigrants. However, these schools are now too expensive for today’s immigrants.
    St. Ignatius of Loyola, when he established Jesuit schools and colleges in the sixteenth century, insisted that no tuition fees be charged to the students in order that the poor might participate with the rich. Today, student fees in some of our Catholic Colleges are exceeding $50,000 a year.
    Should Catholic Education include, as part of its mission, the goal of reducing the gap between the rich and poor? Can Catholic Education encourage what Cardinal Claudio Hummes calls “solidarity with the poor”?
    “A servant church must have as its priority solidarity with the poor,” he said. “The faith must express itself in charity and in solidarity, which is the civil form of charity,” Hummes said.
    “Today more than ever, the church faces this challenge. In fact, effective solidarity with the poor, both individual persons and entire nations, is indispensable for the construction of peace. Solidarity corrects injustices, reestablishes the fundamental rights of persons and of nations, overcomes poverty and even resists the revolt that injustice provokes, eliminating the violence that is born with revolt and constructing peace.”
    My thesis deals with the question: Can the poor be included as participants in Catholic Education in order to encourage “Solidarity”?
    First, I consider the thesis of Mary Perkins Ryan in her book: Are Parochial Schools the Answer?
    “In trying to provide a total Catholic Education for as many of our young people as possible, we have been neglecting to provide anything like an adequate religious formation for all those not in Catholic Schools, and we have been neglecting the religious formation of adults.” Mrs. Ryan suggests that the resources of the Church could be better used where the public schools provide for general education.
    I then modify Mrs. Ryan’s thesis to establish my own which I summarize as follows:
    “A preferential option for the poor” should be maintained in our Catholic Schools. If we find that we cannot afford to keep our schools open to the poor, the Church should be ready to use its resources for something else which can be kept open to the poor. We cannot allow our Church to become a church primarily for the middle-class and rich while throwing a bone to the poor. The priority should be given to the poor even if we have to let the middle-class and rich fend for themselves.
    Practically speaking, the Catholic Schools must give up general education in those countries where the State is providing it. The resources of the Church could then be focused on “Confraternity of Christian Doctrine” and other programs which can be kept open to the poor. These resources could then be used to help society become more human in solidarity with the poor. Remember, the Church managed without Catholic Schools for centuries. It can get along without them today. The essential factor from the Christian point of view is to cultivate enough Faith to act in the Gospel Tradition, namely, THE POOR GET PRIORITY. The rich and middle-class are welcome too. But the poor come first.

    William Horan
    214 Bell St.
    Manchester, NH 03103
    w.horan@myfairpoint.net