Committee to Save Black Catholic Schools Asks Pope Benedict XVI to Prevent Closure...
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Committee to Save Black Catholic Schools Asks Pope Benedict XVI to Prevent Closure of DC Catholic Schools Parents, Community Leaders Ask Papal Nuncio to Enlist Pope Benedict XVI's Support for Schools WASHINGTON, April 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An organization fighting to keep Catholic schools open in the District of Columbia has asked Pope Benedict XVI to intervene in the Washington Archdiocese's decision to close seven schools and take specific steps to keep the schools open in the District, and help Catholic schools across the country continue to educate minority students in urban areas. In a letter to Apostolic Nuncio, who is the Pope's highest representative in the United States, the Committee to Save Black Catholic Schools encouraged the Holy Father to support an annual national collection for urban Catholic education. The letter also requested that Papal Nuncio ask Pope Benedict XVI to require Archbishop Wuerl to take steps to keep the schools open. "Out of respect for the Holy Father and because of your demonstrated willingness to work with us, we did not organize a formal demonstration about Catholic education in the black community to coincide with the Holy Father's visit," said the letter to Papal Nuncio. "Instead we request...that you inform the Holy Father about the situation in the Archdiocese of Washington Catholic schools in the black community." The organization wrote that Archbishop Wuerl is setting "an unfortunate precedent" for the American Church by closing the schools, noting that the Archdiocese of Washington led the integration of Catholic schools even before desegregation of public schools was the law of the land. Further, it noted that in 1948 Archbishop O'Boyle's integration efforts were studied by the U.S. Supreme Court and helped to shape the landmark Brown vs. The Board of Education decision in 1954 that integrated public schools in the U.S. "Sadly, we believe Archbishop Wuerl is setting a new precedent in reducing the presence of Catholic education in the Nation's Capital," the letter said. "Rather than pioneering methods to keep Catholic schools open, Catholic and affordable -- as is being done in the Dioceses of Wichita, Kansas and Memphis, Tennessee -- Archbishop Wuerl is closing high performing, 80% capacity filled, inner-city Catholic schools." In September, Archbishop Wuerl proposed that eight Catholic Schools with predominantly black enrollments be closed or turned into public charter schools, contending that the Archdiocese of Washington had run out of money to sustain them. Even though, parents, alumni and parishioners across the region joined together to find ways to help the institutions continue as Catholic Schools, the Archdiocese decided to convert or close seven of the schools. In the letter to Papal Nuncio, the organization asked that he outline the problem to Pope Benedict XVI and request that the Holy Father instruct Archbishop Wuerl to: -- Pull together a group of black and white leaders to raise funds to close the annual gap for these schools. -- Replicate models of success such as the methods used by the Bishop of Wichita and the Bishop of Memphis -- both of these Dioceses turned a situation of school closings into a situation where new schools are opening in the inner cities. -- Encourage the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops to build on an emerging university model. The University of Notre Dame took to heart the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops 2005 pastoral letter advocating support for Catholic schools. The University put its School of Education to work in the inner cities. Members of the Committee to Save Black Catholic Schools are working with the University of Notre Dame and Holy Redeemer School, here in D.C. We would like to see Catholic universities in Washington -- Georgetown University, Catholic University and Trinity College -- providing teaching assistance. -- Work with lay Catholics to develop partnerships with labor unions and enlightened corporations that understand the value of a trained and trainable labor force. The Services Employees International Union (SEIU) may be a natural starting point. (For a copy of the letter please email Mike@FrisbyAssociates.com) Contact: Joe McKenzie 301-455-6631 Michael K. Frisby 202-625-4328 SOURCE Committee to Save Black Catholic Schools Joe McKenzie of the Committee to Save Black Catholic Schools, +1-301-455-6631; or Michael K. Frisby, +1-202-625-4328, for the Committee to Save Black Catholic Schools
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