Today a leading Catholic educator expressed exasperation with the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) for its willingness to feature high-profile, left-wing speakers at its national convention. On the heels of last year's keynote speaker, pro-abortion media icon Garrison Keillor, the NCEA has invited controversial Sr. Helen Prejean to serve in the same capacity this year.
"This overt lurching to the extreme left-wing of American politics by the NCEA means the organization no longer represents all Catholic schools," said Dr. Kevin Roberts, who is leading an effort to start an alternative organization to the NCEA. "In fact, considering Helen Prejean's participation in the Democratic Convention in 2008, it politicizes an event that has no business being politicized."
Roberts expounded on that point, saying that lay Catholics who might be described as politically conservative are constantly reminded by bishops not to be "political" or "partisan." He says, "this double standard, for many of us, is very frustrating. I don't know why the Church's sacrosanct non-profit status is not threatened by Prejean, whose public involvement has been so partisan."
"The NCEA's decision to invite Keillor and Prejean is reflective of an organization that has become irrelevant--if not harmful--to the promotion of authentic Catholicism in Catholic schools," Roberts concluded. "The organization sees 'social justice' as the full extent of Church teaching, when, in fact, it is but one component. Of course, the liberals in the Church ignore that fact."
"Unfortunately, the NCEA has taken the wrong side of this debate. Our authentically Catholic schools need an appropriate networking, accreditation, and professional development organization, so there will be many of us working tirelessly to build that group."
Roberts pointed to the success of the Cardinal Newman Society, which has highlighted the Catholic identity problems of many Catholic universities nationwide. "The Cardinal Newman Society has changed the conversation about Catholic higher education," Roberts said. "We aim to do the same with Catholic secondary education."
An extended analysis of the problem, and more information on the effort to start a new Catholic schools organization, can be found at the website of Roberts' regular internet radio show,Capitol Hill Catholic.
Roberts has founded and heads a Roman Catholic school, and is considered a leading voice nationally among Roman Catholics who are concerned about the leftist lurch of some major voices in the Church. His regular internet radio show, Capitol Hill Catholic, has thousands of followers nationwide, and he is regularly invited to speak on topics of Catholic education, John Paul II's New Evangelization, and the principle of subsidiarity in the ever-growing welfare state.