How Catholic are our Catholic schools?
READERS' VIEWS (The Freeman) - February 22, 2020 - 12:00am

This line kept me thinking when a priest speaker in a Philippine Catholic Standard Schools (PCSS) seminar asked us, educators, to reflect. He said that the Philippines as a Catholic country has renowned schools or universities that give importance to the charism of congregations and the teachings of the Catholic Church. But look, which school Napoles graduated from? What school do corrupt officials come from? Most come from these schools, he said.

The goal of the PCSS is to make Catholic schools in the Philippines distinguished by defining characteristics, guided by standards and operated through the corresponding benchmarks. From a school’s philosophy, mission, vision, and core values, for example, each must reflect on any program or curricular activities stipulated in school documents given to form students to become Gospel-value oriented individuals in society.

But how Catholic are our Catholic schools? We are considered to be the most religious country yet the most corrupt one. Can schools and its teachers, heads, and deans be blamed for these officials who achieved their dreams in life yet also become wise-corrupt professionals?

I once told my students that intentions are not enough to make an immoral act good nor give you happiness. You’ll become great ones soon. Some doctors, some religious leaders, lawyers, businessmen, and even some of you will become lawmakers. Once in power or responsibility, will your intentions still be directed for the common good? How common is that good?

Students are trained and formed to become great and morally good in their own development soon. However, after school, freedom still plays a role in all the choices they are facing in all situations. Early pregnancy, drug involvement, violence, as such, are not far away from their control to choose to do or to do away, so much more when it comes to corruption.

The whole villain in this country for me must not be blamed on the schools or to the teachers. Catholic schools are trying to give out everything to the students every year while stepping on a need for progress and sustainability. But considering today's political context, killing, and territorial disputes, for example, I’m afraid I may call it the intersection of virtues like Love and Justice or Prudence and Courage. Being in authority, you may love your country and want a big change but your ways could be in contrast with justice that other people are seeking. You may have the courage to fight for your rights but you are impeded by the prudence of those who are in high positions.

These things are maybe implications of personalizing God or gods; seeing good things in a different way or as Pope Benedict would say, the culture of relativism. It’s true that we should not get tired and stop seeking the truth. Let’s not waste our time in school seeking for new trends, asking for attention by posting your daily Tiktoks, or killing loneliness by playing online games. Let’s listen to ourselves while hearing our teachers sharing the basic instructions in life though we believe that they are also struggling to fight the demons inside them.

How Catholic are our Catholic schools? Or how true is the truth you know after school?

Edmer John Caballes

Cebu City

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