The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle has an apologist for Bishop Matthew Clark on its payroll who has just come out with his second defense of the bishop's decision to close 13 Monroe County Catholic Schools.
In an opinion piece published today columnist Mark Hare writes that “downsizing the school system by more than 50 percent ... is necessary.” He then parrots back a bunch of financial and enrollment data lifted from DOR press releases that supposedly demonstrates that the MCCS system costs too much and benefits too few – and this from a man who wrote only 5 weeks ago that he hoped people would “stop interpreting the decision as proof that nothing matters but money – even in the church” [emphasis in the original]. An interesting reversal, to say the least.
Hare then goes on to cite a Nazareth College professor to make the point that “the population of upstate New York has been declining,” with the inference being that the number of Catholics in the diocese is declining as well. However, Hare knows for a fact – since I informed him of it in an email follow-up to his previous column – that US Census Bureau data shows that the overall population of the 12 counties that comprise DOR has remained essentially unchanged for at least the last 7 years. I'm sure I'm not the only one who believes that one who uses a quote from someone else to perpetuate what one knows to be a myth is guilty of dishonesty.
But by far the most interesting portion of Hare's column is the part about Noelle D'Amico and other parents who two years ago recognized the impending financial crisis in Catholic education and “tried to organize parents from around the county to plan for the future.” However, their letters to the diocese seeking permission for their efforts were met with stony silence.
The truth finally seems to be coming to light. Matthew Clark had already made up his mind some time ago about what needed to be done with the Catholic schools and he wasn't about to let a bunch of meddlesome parents stand in his way. All he needed to bring his plan to fruition was another year or two of declining financial and enrollment data and the appointment of a hand-picked committee of tame experts who would then dispassionately discern the only “reasonable” solution to the problem.
Shame on you, Matthew Clark.