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The Remedy for “Canceling” and Division: Catholic Education

In the present moment, much of the popular culture is taken up with concerns about race, gender, and equity. But these questions are unfortunately complicated by radical ideologies and an intolerant “cancel culture,” a type of religion that separates the woke from the un-woke, the privileged from the oppressed.

The cancel culture surrounds us and now threatens to infect Catholic schools, colleges, and homeschooling. But we should not yield to it.

Authentic Catholic education does not cancel culture; it elevates, redeems, and transmits culture. It seeks out and celebrates truth, beauty, and goodness, wherever they are found – and if they are missing, Catholic education points that out as well. The transcendentals are not bound by culture, time, race, or gender. They do not flourish equally at all times, among all members of all cultures, but can always be celebrated in God’s Creation and the best human works.

The Catholic pursuit of truth, beauty, and goodness and the Catholic understanding of human dignity and the common good provide a framework for dealing with perennial challenges facing humanity, including the current cultural crises concerning race and gender.

Catholic education serves the common good. Unjust discrimination based on race or gender is an affront to the common good, and therefore Catholic education should respond to these evils with the fullness of a Catholic worldview and morality. Catholic educators should bring the joy of the Gospel and the wisdom of the Church to bear on social justice issues, instead of duplicating or amplifying already loud and divisive secular voices.

The Catholic worldview is based in the dignity of all people and their universal call to holiness and salvation in Christ, in whom we are all are one. (Gal. 3:28). In Catholic education, “there is no longer any distinction between Gentiles and Jews, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarians, savages, slaves and free, but Christ is all, Christ is in all.” (Col. 3:7)

This worldview has no room for unjust discrimination. In Catholic education, all men and women and people of all nationalities, races, and creeds are treated with their inherent dignity as children of God. Catholic education seeks to overcome division, not to create it. The answer to the division caused by the sins of racism and discrimination is the unity brought about by fundamental human fraternity and forgiveness.

There are key things that Catholic educators should – and should not – do to address hot-button topics like race, gender, and equity. The following is a partial list of some central things that can help Catholic educators avoid the pitfalls of ideology and division: 

Catholic educators have a unique and powerful message to bring to a fallen world – a message of honesty, compassion, unity, and forgiveness. But we must beware of race and gender ideologies that do not lend themselves to the higher and inspired ends of Catholic education.

 

*Image: Christ Blessing the Children [1] by Nicolaes Maes, 1652-3 [National Gallery, London]

Dr. Daniel Guernsey, a new contributor to The Catholic Thing, is a senior fellow at The Cardinal Newman Society and principal of a K-12 Catholic school in Ave Maria, Fla.