HARRISBURG, PA, January 23, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In the midst of a raging battle in Pennsylvania over school vouchers, Harrisburg Bishop Joseph McFadden had some tough words about the nation’s public school system.
“In totalitarian governments, they would love our system,” he told an ABC affiliate. “This is what Hitler and Mussolini and all those tried to establish - a monolith so all the children would be educated in one set of beliefs and one way of doing things.”
Bishop McFadden is a longtime advocate of school vouchers, which would enable parents to apply some of their tax money towards a private school education for their children.
The Pennsylvania state legislature voted against a school voucher program this past December, but the Church hierarchy in the state is hoping to keep the issue alive.
“All parents should be allowed to use their tax dollars to send their child to a school of their choice,” Bishop McFadden wrote in an Op-Ed printed in the Patriot-News this past November. “To say that only public schools have a claim on educational tax dollars or that allowing a monopoly in education is the best way to use these funds flies in the face of the American ideal of freedom of expression and ideas.”
His words have drawn the ire of the American Civil Liberties Union, which opposes school choice.
“I don’t think Hitler would appreciate children learning about free speech or freedom of religion. He also wouldn’t appreciate Jewish children being educated,” Andy Hoover, Legislative Director for ACLU of Pennsylvania, told the Scranton Atheism Examiner.
Hoover also claimed, in an interview with ABC, that Catholic schools should not receive taxpayer money since they could “deny admission to kids based on religion, disability, ethnicity, and language skills, sexual orientation, and sexual gender identity.”
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput, widely considered a pro-life champion, has also been a vocal supporter of school choice.
In a recent statement, he blamed the failure of the voucher program for Catholic school closings in Philadelphia.
“It’s useful to wonder how many of our schools might have been saved if, over the last decade, Catholics had fought for vouchers as loudly and vigorously as they now grieve about school closings,” he wrote.
The archbishop added: “Some Catholics, too many, seem to find it easier to criticize their own leaders than to face the fact that they’re discriminated against every day of the year. They pay once for public schools; then they pay again for the Catholic schools.”