Catholic School Matters

February 15, 2021

Fraternity of All

Love, then, is more than just a series of benevolent actions. Those actions have their source in a union increasingly directed towards, others, considering them of value, worthy, pleasing and beautiful apart from their physical or moral appearances. Our love for others, for who they are, moves us to seek the best for their lives. Only by cultivating this way of relating to one another will we make possible a social friendship that excludes no one and a fraternity that is open to call. Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti, paragraph 94

In Chapters 3-4 of Fratelli Tutti, it becomes obvious that the pandemic is shaping Pope Francis’s message of fraternity. I explored this section on this week’s Catholic School Matters podcast with CTU theologian and former Catholic high school theology teacher, Dr. Carmen Nanko-Fernández. Francis speaks of the marginalized in our society, including the elderly and those with disability who are given a status as less than human.

When it became obvious last spring that COVID was disproportionately impacting the elderly and those with preexisting conditions as well the economy, do you remember the voices calling for sacrifices from our elderly/vulnerable to benefit the economy? Pope Francis is speaking directly to that horror by focusing on the dignity of all. We cannot allow economic prosperity to shape our life and death decisions; we cannot privilege the value of human beings.

In the same way, he connects this degradation of the elderly and the disabled with our treatment of immigrants by also echoing the parable of the Good Samaritan in the previous chapter. There is no one better to speak to about this than Nanko-Fernández, a Latina theologian. Francis writes, “Every brother or sister in need, when abandoned or ignored by society in which I live, becomes an existential foreigner, even though born in the same country” (97). Francis calls out the xenophobia that has gripped our Christian nation (as well as European Catholic countries). If we truly believe in the dignity of every person, then we wouldn’t treat migrants as enemies. “If every human being possesses an inalienable dignity, if all people are my brothers and sisters, and if the world truly belongs to everyone, then it matters little whether my neighbor was born in my country or elsewhere” (125).

The source of this treatment is not simply xenophobia. “Radical individualism is a virus that is extremely difficult to eliminate, for it is clever. It makes us believe that everything consists in giving free rein to our ambitions, as if by pursuing even greater ambitions and creating safety nets we would somehow by serving the common good” (105). Our American celebration of independence and individualism conflicts with the belief in the common good.

I heard echoes of this debate last week as our governor rescinded the state-wide mask mandate. Now mask mandates are local mandates and the voices calling for sacrifice, herd immunity, and the unconstitutionality of restrictions are louder. We need to continue to elevate the concerns for the most vulnerable populations and the common good.

I invite you to carve out some time to read this section of Fratelli and join the discussion on the podcast and look over the various materials here.

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Dr. Tim Uhl

Black Catholic History Links

  1. Aquinas College has curated a great list of Black Catholic history resources
  2. Kaye Crawford has developed a Black Catholic curriculum & resources at
  3. Tia Noelle Pratt has a number of great resources on her website
  4. 8 free resources on Black History Month from DA
  5. 7 new resources on Black History Month from Larry Ferlazzo

Catholic Schools Closing & Opening

  1. New Green Bay Catholic high school to open
  2. 4 Pittsburgh Catholic schools to merge into 2
  3. Burke Catholic HS (Goshen) to open new middle school in fall

Here is the curated list of Catholic schools closing at the end of the 2021 school year and new schools opening for the 2021-22 year.

Catholic School Links

Leadership Links

Teaching & Learning


Amanda Gorman Performs at Super Bowl LV

Catholic School Matters podcast

Check out the past episodes from this season:

What I'm Reading

    The Last 5 Books:

    1. Jesus & John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation (2020) by Kristin Kobes de Mez
    2. Being Mercy: The Path to Being Fully Alive (2019) by Joseph V. Corpora, CSC

    3. A Pilgrimage to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search of a Faith (2020) by Timothy Egan

    4. Doing Mercy: A Path to Contemplation (2020) by Joseph V. Corpora, CSC

    5. The Church's Best-Kept Secret: A Primer on Catholic Social Teaching (2020) by Mark P. Shea

            Click this link for a full list of my professional reading

            Past Issues of Catholic School Matters

            Feb 8, 2021 "Mercy"

            Feb 1, 2021 "Fratelli Tutti"

            Jan 25, 2021 "The Common Good"

            Jan 18, 2021 "School Boundaries"

            Jan 11, 2021 "Reading List on Racism"

            Jan 4, 2021 12 Days of Christmas Podcasts

            Nov 9, 2020 "God in Disguise"

            Nov 2, 2020 "Sharks and Survival"

            Oct 26, 2020 "Mt. Rushmore Controversy"

            Oct 19, 2020 "The Cleveland Partnership"

            Oct 5, 2020 "Governance Reform"

            Sep 28, 2020 "Autonomy & Radar"

            Sep 21, 2020 "Learning While Doing"

            Sep 14, 2020 "Connecting the Disconnected"

            Aug 31, 2020 "Racial Injustice"

            Aug 24, 2020 "Figuring it Out"

            Aug 17, 2020 Serenity Prayer

            May 24, 2020 Value Proposition During Uncertain Times

            For previous newsletters, click this link

            Orchestrating Conflict

            A couple of years ago I set out to write a book which would explore the challenges of Catholic school leadership. My premise that there are no easy answers and that we have to learn from our (and other's) mistakes in order to form a mindset appropriate for orchestrating conflict proved prescient as we all faced completely new and unexpected challenges in 2020. The book,Orchestrating Conflict: Case Studies in Catholic Leadership is now available on Amazon or on the Barnes & Noble site in print or e-book formats. The book explores issues in Catholic school leadership and the tensions between building community and following Church policies and introduces deliberate practice as a method for leadership formation.