At Least Twelve Problems
with the "Pledge of Solidarity"
and Its Supporters
It came to KIC's attention on Wednesday, July 29, 1998 that a "Solidarity Pledge" was distributed to Catholic homeschool boards and email lists.
It is clear that the originators of this pledge are not aware there are many errors and misconceptions in it, including expressions that are incorrect (for example, the words of St. Augustine, which were translated imprecisely and which are also being used in such a way as to "proof-text" them). Since this Latin to English translation problem has already been addressed by Mary Ann Shapiro's response, (see Pledge page on this site), KIC will turn its attention to at least twelve other concerns with the Pledge of Solidarity. We will add more as time permits. They are not listed in order of importance.
1.) The Pledge displays, albeit unintentionally, a religiously liberal mindset, as illustrated in its choice of words and phrases, like "unity" and "context of the community," and a belief in its own authority, which does not exist in reality.
In reply to this, KIC refers to the the encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis, in which the Church exposed modernist errors that had already infected certain segments of the Church -- over 90 years ago. This is a serious problem to the faith that all of us must carefully guard against because the Church herself has warned against modernism (which is an insidious synthesis of all the heresies.)
Here KIC particularly quotes the Pope where he outlines the "modernist" modus operandi in the quest for their own self-defined "unity." Let it be noted that KIC is not accusing anyone of being a modernist but is simply acknowledging that modernism is affecting all branches of understanding pertaining to matters of faith and morals. Pascendi states:
"No religious society, they say, can be a real unit unless the religious conscience of its members be one, and also the formula which they adopt. But this double unity requires a kind of common mind whose office is to find and determine the formula that corresponds best with the common conscience; and it must have, moreover, an authority sufficient to enable it to impose on the community the formula which has been decided upon."
Admittedly, the Pope was exposing a modernist agenda which has, most tragically, influenced members of the Church profoundly in our time.
However, one must ask: Does not the Pledge itself - though, again, unintentionally - appear to be following the modernist's modus operandi, as expressed by the Holy Father in his words above?
The Pope also wrote that modernists will influence well-intentioned Catholics to defend a right to disagree by raising the "question of finding a way of reconciling the full rights of authority on one hand and those of liberty on the other." Is this not what appeared to happen in the Pledge, especially in its use of St. Augustine's maxim?
2) The Pledge states its Goal #5 in the following manner:
"To emphasize the virtue of prudence as the sure guide for parents as they discern between influences which may threaten or enhance the faith formation of their children."
First, the Holy Catholic Church teaches and guides us in every avenue of life. When it comes to education, the Church also teaches of what an authentic Catholic faith and academic formation consists.
These teachings are provided in two ways - Tradition and Scripture. Tradition is upheld via the Ordinary Magisterium in encyclicals, papal allocutions, officially promulgated catechisms, etc.
The Baltimore Catechism states that the moral virtue of prudence "disposes us in all circumstances to form right judgments about what we must do or not do."
The Pledge mentions "prudence" but does not mention the Catholic Church's teachings on this virtue (or any others that it mentions). Rather, the Pledge either implicitly or explicitly provides its own definitions of the virtues (as well as other matters).
The Pledge, however, seems to decide that prudence alone "is the sure sign for parents as they decide" what will be best for their children. At the same time, the Pledge recognizes, allegedly on behalf of homeschool parents, that there are "influences which may threaten or enhance the faith formation of their children." This means the Pledge acknowledges there are dangerous influences to our children's faith, as well as "influences" that will assist them in learning and living the Faith.
The real questions are the following: Is the Pledge really concerned about parental rights - given by God and upheld by the Church - to discern "influences" or educational materials? Or is the Pledge just circumventing a truth its authors do not want to hear (i.e, via articles circulated by Keeping It Catholic which has documented that there is a spreading phenomenon called "Catholic homeschooling-Protestant style?" or, to phrase it even better, "Protestant homeschooling - Catholic style"?)
KIC wishes to also mention the moral virtue of fortitude which "disposes us to do what is good in spite of any difficulty." This means pointing to the truth and living it, even when it is difficult, even when others disagree and especially when we know others will persecute us for doing so. KIC maintains that the Pledge has not done this but is rather covering the very issues to which it is clearly responding.
3.) The Pledge states "that we are morally obliged to maintain Christian unity..."
Unity is neither listed among the theological or cardinal virtues nor among the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost.
Our Lord did not instruct that all matters pertaining to faith and morals should be sacrificed for false unity's sake. Nor did He teach that His laws should be put in second place in order to honor any man (or woman, or organization, or movement).
That is, "unity" and "charity" should not be falsely defined in order to give our neighbor first consideration. The Two Great Commandments teach us that, first, we are to "love God with your whole heart, mind and soul" and, secondly, we are to "love your neighbor as yourself."
Thusly, we can love our neighbor even when we disagree with him or when we oppose him, especially if we do so for love of God, for our neighbor's good and/or the good of others.
When we, as parents, correct (and even discipline) our children, it is truly for "their own good." Our children, of course, do not believe this.
Similarly, when we, in the collective sense, correct a public error in a public way by referring to Church teaching, we are doing so for "love of God." We are acting in perfect charity because of the order in which we are to love - first God, and then, for love of God who created us all, our neighbor. For that same love of God (the First Commandment) and because we hope to deliver our neighbor from a serious hurt or error (the Second Great Commandment), we are to admonish and reprove in charity and love.
4) Next, in his NACHE workshop entitled, "The Pittsburgh Story: Working WITH Your Diocese," Fr. Stubna, Secretary of Education for the Pittsburgh Diocese, repeatedly used the words "context of the community." This same phrase was used in the Pledge, which is endorsed by TORCH, an organization affiliated with NACHE (though the organizations are two separate legal entities, TORCH leaders and NACHE leaders work closely together.) (To read a copy of Fr. Stubna's speech, see the TORCH website at www.catholic-homeschool.com - KIC notes that, incidentally, TORCH does not include on its website the Question and Answer session between Fr. Stubna and Catholic homeschoolers in the audience. The Question and Answer session is included on NACHE's tape of the speech and, say homeschoolers who were there, it was cut short by Kimberly Hahn for "reasons of time." KIC will be adding that eye-opening Question and Answer session to our website shortly.)
Is the use of this same phrase "working within the context of the community," used in both the Pledge and Fr. Stubna's speech a few weeks before the Pledge was written a mere coincidence?
5) The pledge is set up similarly to the TORCH statement of philosophy, with headings like "goals, mission, statement." (Again, see the TORCH website at www.catholic-homeschool.com)
It appears a coordinated effort is being made by TORCH headquarters to propagate this pledge, which allegedly was created by homeschoolers not affiliated with TORCH.
Why, then, was TORCH the first to know of it?
6) Please note that Mrs. Fogassy and Mrs. Eames introduced the pledge with these words - "SUBMITTED BY .'' They did not use the words WRITTEN BY which is curious if they wrote the paper.
The question is, then - did these two ladies really write this pledge by themselves? Whether they did or not, the next question is - to whose benefit?
Since no other national homeschool group or network was contacted previous to the pledge's release, it would seem that TORCH - the group which has publicly endorsed it - has played a key role in the pledge's development.
Even further, Julia Fogassy's ready admission of discussing the translation of St. Augustine's maxim with Kimberly Hahn implies that NACHE was aware of the Pledge before its publication, or was at least invited to make commentary upon it at some juncture.
However, Keeping It Catholic was never consulted about the Pledge. Since it is clear that the articles by Keeping It Catholic's founder were the catalyst for the Pledge, and since the Pledge itself basically claims those who wrote it and sign it will ensure to contact others, address issues and not attack individuals, its author and those who endorsed it (namely, TORCH) have not kept to its intention.
7.) There are coy accusations provided in the letter introducing the pledge itself - accusations about "slander," about "rhetoric" appearing in print, and about "accusations" made against homeschool leaders. However, there are no facts to back up the claims of "rhetoric" and "slander"- which appear to be the sole reason the pledge was constructed.
8) To whom are homeschoolers making the pledge? To each other? To those who submitted the Pledge or to a group - namely, TORCH - that endorses it? Where will it go from their hands? (Mary Ann Shapiro also asked this question. The answer from Julia Fogassy was, to say the least, unsatisfactory. Note that NACHE and TORCH did not reply to her request for clarification at all. See KIC's page on the Pledge for public responses by leaders.)
The only "pledge" married Catholics make that is binding under pain of sin are their marital vows. Marriage is a sacrament. As practicing Catholics, the married couple would also obey the Magisterium, the Ten Commandments, the precepts of the Church, etc.
9.) Additionally, the Pledge of Solidarity also appears to be very "Protestant" in nature and similar to those "statements" Protestant groups ask homeschoolers to sign.
There is no mention of the Magisterium, of what it consists, of the Holy Trinity, of the Virgin Mary, the Ten Commandments, a papal encyclical or even the explicit need to know what Catholic education is, the need for purely Catholic materials for Catholic homeschoolers, etc.
Instead, homeschoolers are asked to sign some kind of "pabulum tonic" in an effort to foster some kind of "unity in community." Are we, as adult Catholics, capable of addressing issues factually, forthrightly, guided by the teachings of the Church on the definitions of true love and charity, or do we need to sign an agreement on how we will all behave in private and public discourse? The Pledge itself is a sign of distrust among us because it asks people to sign a "contract" of sorts - and that is a very sad statement in itself.
10) There is a serious concern about collecting names and addresses.
As an experienced publisher, editor, and advocate of * Catholic * homeschooling, who is also knowledgeable about "mailing lists," Keeping It Catholic's Marianna Bartold would caution anyone when it comes to sending in names, addresses, and your "position" in any group to ANYONE. Lists of this type are ultimately used by someone, somewhere, at some time.
11) Since the Pledge was endorsed by TORCH and publicly distributed in its newsletter, it is likely to conclude, therefore, a good number of signatures will be those of TORCH chapter leaders and/or members, as well as those who do not know why the Pledge was constructed.
The most obvious sign that the Pledge is an attempt at "damage control" is TORCH's quick endorsement of it.
In every other circumstance known to date, TORCH's s usual reply to any request or contact is that it will "refer such matters to its board." The usual waiting period for a reply - if any comes at all - is months.
12) The Pledge says:
"...charity means following the scriptural mandate to communicate directly to the person, assuming the best motives, and confining the discussion to examining issues, not attacking persons."
The true definition of the theological virtue of charity, according to the Baltimore Catechism, is the following:
"Charity is the virtue by which we love God above all things for His own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God."
12) Last but not least - Who decides who has kept the intentions of the Pledge and who has not?
A few more problems with the Pledge
[or the views of its author(s)]:
Added October 15, 1998
13. It is clear that at least one author of the pledge (Julia Fogassy) believes that "silence is not an option" but it is equally clear that she does not understand the Church's definition and/or teachings concerning slander, calumny or detraction.
It could be noted that the articles she objects to (namely, those by KIC's Marianna Bartold) were written because the same articles' writer knows that "silence is an not an option" when something wrong is afoot that could harm others on a wide scale.
Our Church teaches that we, to the best of our abilities, are to act or speak out against error and/or injustice when we know something could be hurtful to others spirtually or physically.
If we do not, we are morally culpable. In all these particular instances, it is a spiritual work of mercy (to instruct the ignorant; to counsel the doubtful) by helping others" in one way or another to learn the truths they need to known to save their souls" and "to be certain about what they should do to love and serve God." (Baltimore Catechism, Lesson 15.)
14. Mrs. Fogassy wrote in reply to Mrs. Shapiro's objections:
"After reading your responses (see below) we invite you to add, subtract or rewrite whatever parts of the Pledge you wish, suggesting a wording that would be acceptable to you. We know this will take more of your time, but we think the matter is serious enough to warrant your input."
How many times will the Pledge be re-written? Will only a select few be "allowed" to offer change suggestions on a case-by-case basis? Will those who had previously signed it before the changes were made have to sign again? Or do their signatures always stand, no matter how many revisions are made of the Pledge? Will those who do not sign be subject to all sorts of marginilization, a different kind of scrutiny, or be seen as "bad" Catholics? Is that not in itself a "kind of pressure" put upon others - all in the name of "unity"?
15. Back to the "slander, calumny, and detraction" charges.
These three things pertain to the Eighth Commandment, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor."
There has been no false witness in any reports made by KIC.
The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism No. 2 states in Lesson 20:
"The eight commandments forbids lies, rash judgment, detraction, calumny, and the telling of secrets we are bound to keep."
"A person commits the sin of rash judgment when, without sufficient reason, he believes something harmful to another's character."
"A person commits the sin of calumny or slander when by lying he injures the good name of another."
"A person commits the sins of detraction when, without good reason, he makes known the hidden faults of another."
None of KIC's reports have consisted of lies or of revealing anyone's personal faults. KIC's reports have focused on the actions of certain homeschooling organizations and/or of those who represent those same organizations, their misunderstandings in certain areas of Church teaching, etc. because these problems will have (and are having) a nationwide and international impact. Namely, the impact comes from two issues - sacramental guidelines for homeschoolers and NACHE's intention to acquire official status as a juridic personality between homeschoolers and the hierarchy.
There have been no accusations of sin, slander, or schism made by KIC toward any person or organization at any time.
Can the same be said of those who objected to the three articles written by Keeping It Catholic's president?
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