Five additional pledges $1,625 additional pledged.
By Steven Spearie, Correspondent
Posted Aug. 21, 2015 at 10:00 PM
Updated Aug 21, 2015 at 10:22 PM
The Springfield Catholic Diocese's new school policy could call into question parents' lifestyles, especially if they go against Catholic teaching, and takes a new approach toward a more Protestant tradition of tithing.
The Family School Agreement would also require that non-Catholic families to attend Mass weekly and contribute to Catholic parishes, even while in most instances paying higher tuition rates at those schools.
The agreement, modeled after a Wichita, Kansas, plan, was issued by Springfield Bishop Thomas John Paprocki on July 20, but some Springfield schools haven't made parents or legal guardians sign it.
In a letter to pastors and principals, obtained by The State Journal-Register, Paprocki acknowledged that the agreement was initiated in part when a same-sex married couple tried to enroll their adopted children at a Springfield elementary school, later identified as Christ the King.
One of the points of the agreement — which was recommended by the diocese's Presbyteral Council, a 20-member senate of the bishop that acts in a consultative nature, and approved by Paprocki — is the expectation that parents, adoptive parents or legal guardians of children enrolled in Catholic schools meet with their parish pastor if they are "not living in accord with church teaching."
That would take in persons who are divorced and remarried but haven't been granted an annulment, unmarried couples living together, and people who are in same-sex marriages or partnerships.
Although recognized by civil law, same-sex marriages are not recognized by the Catholic Church.
According to the National Catholic Education Association in Alexandria, Virginia, the total Catholic school enrollment for 2014-15 in the U.S. was nearly 1.94 million students, with 1.36 million in elementary and middle schools and 579,605 in high schools.
The association reported steep drops in enrollment in the 1970s and '80s, and by 1990, enrollment stood at 2.5 million students.
The Springfield Diocese's numbers "have mirrored the decline in Catholic school enrollment across the country," said Jonathan Sullivan, the diocese's director of catechetical services, whose office covers Catholic schools.
Nationally, non-Catholic enrollment in all schools is 16.9 percent. In the Springfield Diocese, which is made up of 29 counties in a band across central Illinois, the non-Catholic enrollment is 16 percent in high schools and 13.7 in elementary and middle schools.
The discipleship and stewardship components of the Family School Agreement mandate that the entire family, even if some members aren't Catholic, participate in weekly Mass and on holy days of obligation, and it "obliges" families to try to tithe at least 8 percent of their income to the parish church in addition to paying school tuition.
Sullivan said it will be up to parishes to monitor both Mass attendance and tithing.
The agreement includes all elementary schools, Sacred Heart-Griffin High School in Springfield, Routt Catholic High School in Jacksonville, and St. Patrick Catholic School, a not-for-profit corporation that operates under the jurisdiction of the bishop and the diocese and is guided by a board of directors. SHG is sponsored by the Springfield Dominican order of sisters. Routt is an independent Catholic high school governed by a board.
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