The Review article related the story as follows:
Cultural leadership group opens students' eyes to social justice, civil rights
by Joseph Kenny
Applause and horn-honking greeted 31 high school students and their chaperones as they returned to St. Louis after an eye-opening 23-day, cross-country trip meeting people and visiting sites key to the fight for civil rights and social justice.
The teens are participants in Cultural Leadership, a local nonprofit leadership development organization that focuses on fighting discrimination and making the community a more inclusive place to live, work and go to school. The June 8-July1 trip was part of a yearlong program for high school students to recognize and resolve issues of prejudice and bigotry and learn how they can make a difference.
Eight of the students attend Catholic high schools. The group included a mix of races and religions.
Sounds great. But let's take a closer look at what this organization is, what it stands for, and who is behind it. First of all, here is the purpose of the group, according to its own website:
Cultural Leadership trains high-school students to be community organizers, social justice activists, and "troublemakers of the best kind."
In another paragraph, the site states:
Examples of mistrust, intolerance, misunderstanding and inequality are everywhere and we saw the need for a future generation of leaders, activists and change agents who would fight for social justice, inclusion and an end to discrimination. Using the lens of the African American and Jewish experience, we train our students to do just that. Over the course of the year, our student participants become “troublemakers of the best kind.”
Fighting racial discrimination is of course an excellent thing to do. Why Catholic students should be trained to become community organizers and nifty-type troublemakers using the lens of African American and Jewish experience is less clear to me. I mean, really-- community organizer? What does that mean? Why would this non-Catholic organization teach Catholic students how to live Catholic social teaching in adherence to the Catholic Faith?
But I am sure you may think I am jumping to conclusions. What reason do I have to think this group might be hostile to Catholic truth? Didn't many brave priests, nuns and laymen fight for civil rights in this country?
Well, let's take a look at the leadership of this group. Among the Honorary Board Members are at least two local leaders who have opposed the Church in recent years-- William Danforth and Susan Talve.
Dr. Danforth helped lead the effort to amend the Missouri constitution to enshrine into law the public funding of cloning and killing babies on the pretense of scientific research. His and this friends' ample riches and misleading campaign bought them the victory, despite the vigorous opposition of the Church and other pro-life groups.
Rabbi Talve is the head of the Central Reform Congregation. She hosted the abomination that was the pretend priestess sorta-nation of 2007. She defied the express request of Archbishop Burke that she respect the Catholic Church's position and not help to undermine the faith of Catholics. As a result, Archbishop Burke forbade Catholics from having anything to do with the Central Reform Congregation in any interfaith matter. As an aside, this makes her the perfect guest of St. Cronan's Parish, which seemingly loves all religions except the Catholic one it professes to hold. But I digress.
Are these two examples of "troublemakers of the best kind"?
The point here is that who does the teaching is sometimes as important as the purported thing to be taught. If these students' teachers, pastors, textbooks (which I can only pray include the Catechism) aren't enough to teach them to refrain from racism and to promote a more just society, then there is something wrong with their formation as Catholics. Why is the Review publishing a story celebrating Catholic youth involvement with a group like this?
Do you still think it doesn't matter? Young minds are very impressionable. Again, from the Review article:
In a program at Central Reform Congregation in the Central West End where they shared their impressions of the trip, Trevor Green of CBC High School, a member of St. Matthew Parish in North St. Louis, said he learned the difference between making judgments and being judgmental. "Being judgmental leads to hate," he said.
Another CBC student, Devante Malone, who attends St. Louis Christian Center, said he intends to talk to his school administration about the need to incorporate more about African-American and Jewish history in the curriculum.
Nastanet Taeme of St. Elizabeth Academy, a member of St. Pius V Parish in South St. Louis, said she met one of the former students who integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., and was impressed that "she never let anyone tell her who she was. As a leader, you have to know what you're about. I really respect that and take it to heart."
Another St. Elizabeth Academy student, Jessica Young, said that "before the trip I saw with closed eyes. I couldn't comprehend the Holocaust, slavery or the civil rights struggle. Now, I'm able to feel what they went through, experience a part of their pain."
The first thing you will notice is the location of the session where these students shared their impressions of their trip. The venue is the very same Central Reform Congregation that Archbishop Burke said was off limits to Catholic participation in interfaith gatherings such as this, due to its disrespect of the Church. Does this no longer matter to anyone? Perhaps not, seeing that this event is the subject of positive coverage in the Archdiocesan paper.
And no offense to these young people, but really, I would dearly love to see these Catholic high schools incorporate more classes about the truth of Catholicism and the Church's own history before adding more material designed to promote any other faith or social cause.
How can we expect our children to learn and internalize their faith if we keep reducing it to a mere cog in a greater social experiment?