June 1998 issue
Catholic Family News
Catholic Family News
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© 1998 KIC
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Into the Homeschool Parlor -
So Who Cleans Up the Mess?
Keeping It Catholic firmly believes that Catholic homeschooling parents have the right to be fully informed.
Not one leader (including Mrs. Bartold herself) is a duly elected representative for the entire Catholic homeschooling movement. As such, leaders should remember they are servants of God and not of any lay organization.
Because other homeschool leaders have been asking, Marianna Bartold, the originator and founder of CHSNA (Catholic Home School Network of America), feels she must acknowledge she is deeply disappointed that CHSNA has not completely addressed recent issues pertinent to homeschooling in a an open, honest and forthright way.
Mrs. Bartold first and privately conveyed her disappointment to Katie Moran, current president of CHSNA, via email and in a private phone conversation. (Mrs. Bartold has also recently initiated contact with Kimberly Hahn and Mary Hasson, but no replies have been forthcoming except acknowledgement of the contact by Mrs. Hasson.)
The summer/fall issue of the CHSNA newsletter, Domestic Church, contained two articles which focused on the two issues of an "international association" for/of Catholic homeschoolers and the sacrament/homeschoolers/guidelines debate.
Domestic Church featured an article entitled, "A Call for Civility" (written by Virginia "Ginny" Seuffert) which specifically mentioned and quoted both Mrs. Bartold of KIC and Mrs. Hasson of NACHE/TORCH in their recent, respective articles.
"Call for Civility" claimed, "No matter what one's opinion may be concerning the topics raised in the three articles, they have clearly accomplished one goal. They have firmed placed the five-hundred pound elephant in the parlor of the Catholic homeschooling community."
(As Mrs. Bartold quipped to Mrs. Seuffert this past spring when the latter made a similar comment, "Do you realize the mess an elephant can make - and in the parlor, no less?")
All joking aside, KIC's official reply is: The elephant was already in the house - it simply moved into the parlor because nobody was willing to admit publicly it was alive and well. All KIC did, through Mrs. Bartold's articles, was let everyone know the elephant really existed and it was in the house.
While "Call for Civility" made neither of the "two sides" of the debate on sacramental guidelines happy, it did make many wonder, "What's up with CHSNA?"
Mrs. Seuffert's article did say that "this sad division is not healthy," that "Christ did not mince words, nor compromise the truth," suggested we all refrain from "insisting that a person's actions are sinful or schismatic" and it also reminded readers that "He [Jesus] encouraged us to follow a path of charity and forgiveness." KIC heartily concurs, but (there's always a "but," correct?)...
All this should be a given. The fact that CHSNA had to remind anyone to be charitable, civil, refrain from "excommunicating" others or or drop to their knees in prayer should alert Catholic families that the debate has reached a crisis.
The fact of the matter is - there never should have been a debate if the issues were viewed in the brilliant light of Church teaching. (See our sidebar for the three articles written by Mrs. Bartold that brought the private debates into the public arena.)
CHSNA's Virginia Seuffert also wrote, "There has been precious little conversation between the two factions, and far too much rumor and innuendo. Nothing has been resolved."
Well...Perhaps nothing has been resolved yet - but issues cannot be resolved if they are not put on the table in the first place. It was Keeping It Catholic that brought "homeschoolers in the trenches" the background info on these important issues.
For many reasons and here are just a few:
These issues do not just belong to "leadership."
Our children should not be denied the sacraments simply because they are homeschooled.
Guidelines are not necessary.
Neither is a "nationally approved curriculum" for Catholic homeschoolers. (See our News page for more info.)
Parental subsidiarity, legitimate Church authority and the Magisterium are the heart of all these issues - the problem is individual or collective interpretation of those teachings.
Additionally, Domestic Church failed to note that CHSNA itself attempted throughout the early spring and summer of 1998 to "dialogue" with Kimberly Hahn (NACHE) and Mary Hasson (TORCH/NACHE) - with results that were less than satisfactory.
Domestic Church also failed to mention a letter written two years before by Mrs. Seuffert with the assistance of Fr. Charles Fiore, FSSP and Marianna Bartold, in the name of the Round Table to NACHE. The Round Table's letter of inquiry was over a published letter from NACHE to the NCEA (National Catholic Education Association) in late 1995.
Nor did Domestic Church mention NACHE's letter dismissing the Round Table's inquiry. Under the pretense that it was not NACHE's policy to "answer" anonymous letters, NACHE faxed a curt reply to the Round Table contact in Chicago, IL. This fact was reported in Mrs. Bartold's article published in the Spring 1998 Mothers Watch issue entitled Homeschoolers: A House Divided. As a matter of note, Mrs. Bartold still retains copies of these letters.
So - while it is true there has been "precious little" communication between the various individuals/groups - it should have been mentioned that leaders from the Round Table (namely Mrs. Seuffert, Fr. Fiore and Mrs. Bartold) attempted communications with NACHE and TORCH board members in a few instances - all which were rebuffed in a most uncharitable manner.
(Mrs. Bartold herself, in the summer of 1996, also attempted communications over the two issues of "chastity"/sex education and the Pittsburgh guidelines with TORCH leader, Joan Stromberg on a private email loop of homeschoolers. Mrs. Stromberg reacted negatively and left an online email board, claiming "life was too short" to further any more attempts at "dialogue.") It was TORCH and NACHE who closed the lines of communication, not other homeschool leaders or organizations.
Further, Domestic Church's recent lead story merely outlined the idea of an international association. Not once did CHSNA denounce the idea publicly as CHSNA President Katie Moran did in private communications with KIC President Mrs. Bartold and a few other homeschool leaders.
Domestic Church also did not mention CHSNA's objections concerning the purpose of an international group or the fact that CHSNA opposed Cardinal Keeler's involvement, based on his past record of favoring "horizontal inclusive language" and dismissing parental concerns over sex education in Baltimore's parochial schools.
CHSNA privately claims it made these concerns clear to NACHE during a one day meeting in Steubenville, June 1998. The few people who attended were Kimberly Hahn (NACHE), Mary Hasson (NACHE), Katie Moran (CHSNA), Virginia Sueffert (CHSNA), Phil Gray (CUF) and Paul Brazier (St. Joseph's Foundation, Australia chapter).
Why did CHSNA not make its objections to an international association (especially one under the direction of Cardinal Keeler of Baltimore) publicly clear in its newsletter, Domestic Church?
And why did NACHE's consistent urgings focus on CHSNA board members using their personal influence to silence their founder ( Marianna Bartold ) or to publicly denounce her? And why didn't CHSNA also make this publicly known?
Keeping It Catholic can come to no other conclusion that CHSNA has allowed a golden opportunity to assist homeschoolers pass them by by not fully reporting the facts to its contacts and subscribers. In doing so, CHSNA has not kept to Mrs. Bartold's original intentions for the organization which were the following:
- to openly network with other Catholic hs support groups
- to truthfully, honestly, and forthrightly disseminate information pertinent to Catholic home education, especially through fax alerts and a newsletter (entitled "The Domestic Church").
- to consistently point to the Church's teachings which define authentic Catholic education, especially as taught in the 1929 encyclical, Christian Education of Youth.
CHSNA has followed the outline personally prepared by Mrs. Bartold over two years ago when it comes to establishing state contacts, issuing a newsletter, and addressing issues pertinent to homeschooling, which accounts for much of the organization's success. By saying this, Mrs. Bartold in no way denigrates the personal hard work of the each member of current CHSNA board.
However, the big question homeschoolers have been asking Mrs. Bartold is the following and which she must now answer in a public way:
"Why did Ginny Seuffert of CHSNA describe Mary Hasson as a board member of both TORCH and NACHE, and the co-author of Homeward Bound, while she only labelled Mrs. Bartold as a "homeschooling activist from Michigan?" Didn't Ginny Seuffert write for Mrs. Bartold in Magnificat? Didn't they work together at the Round Table?"
Yes, it is true Mrs. Bartold conceived both the concept and name of CHSNA, introduced the idea to two of its current board members (Fr. Fiore and Ginny Seuffert), and founded it with their assistance. Mrs. Moran joined CHSNA as its VP shortly afterward.
Due to personal circumstances following the death of a beloved infant son at birth and her difficulties in publishing a Catholic homeschool magazine, Mrs. Bartold passed the presidency of CHSNA to her VP, Catherine (Katie) Moran. Within six months afterward, Marianna Bartold became the Home School Editor of Sursum Corda - a continuation of her previous work with The Catholic Family's Magnificat Magazine.
Yes, it is true that Ginny Seuffert wrote for Magnificat, which was published by Marianna Bartold; namely, Ginny Seuffert wrote the column entitled "Ask Ginny."
And it is true that Ginny Seuffert represented Marianna Bartold of Magnificat! Magazine during the Round Table trip to Rome in November 1995.
Mrs. Bartold also wrote letters to the Holy Father and various pontifical councils, as well as the document she personally wrote especially for presentation to the Holy Father and Vatican officials. Ginny Seuffert brought those personal salutions and copies of Magnificat Magazine, as Mrs. Bartold's personal representative.
Mrs. Bartold was unable to fly to Rome with the Round Table delegates due to her pregnancy with her fifth child, the dear baby son Matthew who was stillborn a few months later.
Now, in 1998, the issues that came to leaders' attention a few short years ago are looming larger, splitting into tangents, and in some cases, getting extremely personal. There have been all sorts of accusations of "rhetoric," "scandal," "calumny," "detraction," "uncharitableness," and the worst one yet - the inference of schism directed toward those leaders who sadly acknowledge there are problems with a goodly number of the hierarchy who are lax or even disobedient to the Holy Catholic Church while demanding obedience unto themselves!
Let's get to business and address the issues of sacramental guidelines, NACHE's pursuit of juridic status, NACHE's endorsement of Catholic Vision of Love by allowing an ad for it in their newsleter and then defending that decision rather than apologizing for a mistake, and the fact that all guidelines, including the Pittsburgh guidelines were never necessary and remain to be unnecessary.
Homeschoolers should also ask Mrs. Hasson of TORCH/NACHE why she felt she had the right to singlehandedly excommunicate a great number of Catholics with her comments in the May 1998 TORCH newsletter - to wit,
"As for me, I stand with the Church and invite those who have chosen to be adversaries of the Bishops and priests of our Church to make a step for unity and come back to the fold."
Strong words they were since they carried the implied charge of schism and showed an alarming ignorance of legitimate Church authority vs. the abuse of that authority.
It is difficult to address real issues when "liberal" tactics of outrage, demands for false charity and unity, and unfounded, serious charges toward the faithful abound - in order to cover those important issues.
It is high past time that communications become real. KIC has made the overtures to both TORCH, NACHE and even CHSNA.
We still await their replies.
As for all Catholic homeschool groups, Keeping It Catholic would like to quote one pro-homeschooling priest (Fr. Constantine Belisarius) who, when writing about our hopes in homeschooling our children, provided these words:
"We wish to be living, praying defenders of the faith, not just barnacles stuck to the hull of the Barque of Peter."
If you would like to join the Keeping It Catholic Faith, Family and Home Education Network, which has brought you these reports, please email us at