Cardinal Mooney Bulletin for January 10, 2021
From The President’s Desk
Virtue in Cardinal Mooney’s mission is more important than ever
Happy New Year.
Five months ago, we were planning and hoping to open school in-person.
And after the first semester, we only had to go remote for seven days. Quarantining throughout the first semester has been a challenge for all — the students, their instructors, parents, administrators, and coaches. However, I believe our investment in our technology infrastructure, professional development, and partnership with our Health Dept. has made remote learning an effective response under COVID. Imagine education under COVID without the option of remote technologies.
A photo and caption of the New Year as a trial subscription was shared with me. Seven days into the new year it went something like this: “Thank you for the trial subscription, please cancel it. Looking forward to 2022.” We started off the new year mourning the loss of Mooney Family members and friends. We returned to contact tracing and quarantining, and happily we also received clearer interpretations of the new guidelines. And we all watched the sad affair at the Capitol building.
On Friday, I attended the funeral service for Jim Golladay. He was remembered in terms of his virtues.
His virtues are in stark contrast to the incivility we witness throughout our nation, which is threatening our liberty. I’m not going to presume to lecture, yet simply wish to make the case, once again, why Cardinal Mooney is an important institution and vital to our community.
There is no quicker way of raising a skeptical eye in some circles than to announce that one believes in both liberty and virtue. Both are under assault today, and neither will survive without the other. Freedom and morality are complementary. The right to exercise choice, free from coercion, is a necessary precondition for virtue. And virtue is necessary for the survival of liberty.
I’m reminded of a famous quote from Benjamin Franklin. In reply to a woman who asked as he departed Constitutional Hall, “…what kind of government do we have?” He replied, “A republic.” He paused and added this: “if you can keep it.”
Anyone interested in building a good society should desire to live in a community that cherishes both.
In a couple of weeks, we will celebrate Catholic Schools Week. This year, let us be reminded why our schools are important: Catholic schools teach that virtue cannot exist without freedom. I applaud our church for advocating for “free exercise.”
Schools teach virtue and the importance of making moral choices.
We instruct and walk alongside students as they become the best version of themselves. This implies they are made in the image of God and have a free will.
Schools teach that virtue must be exercised voluntarily and thus instruction is designed to facilitate and enable their actions.
Government has shown that it is not a particularly good teacher of virtue. Indeed, it makes society less virtuous in several ways. First, people lose the opportunity to exercise it voluntarily. As I’ve noted in other bulletins, our faith has a positive anthropology. It sees man as inherently good yet can choose otherwise. This is why redemption is important. Secondly, vesting government with the responsibility of making us virtuous undermines the more effective teachers: family and church. In our schools, we teach students to choose the “harder right” — voluntarily choosing to go beyond simple compliance with policies, laws, etc. Finally, as we are witnessing firsthand, making government a moral enforcer encourages abuse by majorities. In the Federalist Papers, Madison noted that “..if men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.” The Framers understood man isn’t perfect and thus created a republican (Constitutional democracy) form of government. Catholic schools teach self-government, i.e. the obligation to be knowledgeable, to participate, and to be responsible.
I’ve observed on other occasions, our school can be seen as counter cultural. It seems altogether possible that if our schools did not exist, no one would start them today. We remain standing athwart to culture, yelling stop and think. This Catholic Schools Week reminds us of why Cardinal Mooney is vital to the health and virtue of our community. Thank you for supporting it and for your confidence.
Please join me and the Cardinal Mooney faculty and staff in welcoming The Most Reverend David Bonnar, Bishop of Youngstown.