Bishops Ask Congress for Emergency Aid for Catholic Schools

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released a letter Thursday outlining their request to the United States Congress to include Catholic Schools in their upcoming emergency relief package. The letter was cosigned by Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles (USCCB president), Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston, Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, and Bishop Michael Barber of Oakland (chairman of USCCB Committee on Catholic Education).

The struggle faced by Catholic school families, teachers, and administrators is tremendous. The economic toll has been widespread, threatening the future of Catholic schools. In their letter, the bishops call on Congressional leaders to ensure that children in Catholic and other private schools are supported by emergency aid from the federal government.

“The economic devastation that has hit so many of America’s families has made it impossible for many struggling families to continue paying tuition. As a result, already 140 Catholic schools have permanently closed their doors, and hundreds more are in danger of being unable to open in the fall. The closure of schools that serve urban areas are disproportionately harmful to low-income and black children served by these schools,” they wrote.

According to the USCCB and National Catholic Educational Association, “Catholic school student enrollment for the current academic year is 1,737,297 across 6,183 schools. 21.8% of students represent racial minorities and 19.1% of the total enrollment in non-Catholic.”

The bishops outlined the benefits that Catholic education brings to the country, highlighting savings for taxpayers and providing education to a diverse student body.

“For every student educated in a Catholic or non-public school, taxpayers save thousands of dollars. Nationwide, Catholic schools save state and local governments more than $20 billion annually,” states the letter.

They specifically asked for 10% of the aid that is provided to public schools, proportionate with the 10% of the nation’s K-12 children that are educated in Catholic and other private schools.

It’s a difficult situation for all, but by God’s grace, Congress will agree to support Catholic schools so they can survive the pandemic and students may continue to receive a high-quality Catholic education for years to come.

Read the full letter.

Listen to Patrick Madrid and callers discuss Catholic school tuition and a compromise for schools and families.