Contrary to what you might think, I don't go out of my way to attack the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. It's just that they make it so easy on me, whether it's their liberal policy of closing churches, stripping and selling the artifacts of said churches, or bankrolling improvements to an already pristine Basilica while other parishes can't keep a roof over their heads.
This time, though, they might have gone too far.
A while back the Project commented on the sad closing of Northeast Catholic and Cardinal Dougherty high schools. At the time, I wrote that "Alumni of both schools are mobilizing frantically to try to mount preservation campaigns." Northeast Catholic has bandied about a number of options, none of which has come to fruition. But Dougherty, which at one point was the largest Catholic high school in the world, has actually put its money where its mouth is.
The We Are CD Foundation, spearheaded by 1985 CD alum Steve Schmidt, has actually come up with the $20 million dollars (yes, you read that correctly) the Archdiocese said would be needed to buy the building and the land. Present the money, they said, and it's yours.
Thus, last Friday Schmidt, a throng of people and some conveniently tipped-off media descended upon the Archdiocese with a letter of intent to buy the building and turn it into an independent Catholic school. All's well that ends well, right?
Never, when the Archdiocese is concerned.
A source close to the Project has revealed some of the context of the increasingly contentious e-mail conversations between Schmidt and Bishop McFadden, and it's clear the Archdiocese is pissed that someone, or some group, actually called them on their bull. They don't like the group, don't like their methods, and are now fully preparing to go back on their word.
It's tough to say if they're just shellshocked because of the "ambush" approach the group took, or because their ego is bruised that someone else thinks they can succeed where the Archdiocese failed. Whatever the cause, it's clear that, for supposed men of God, their dishonesty, vanity and arrogance know no bounds. See their letter here for a good example of their contemptible attitude.
Closing parishes is one thing; adults can take care of themselves. But these are kids, and messing with them, and their future, is another thing entirely. Why not give them every opportunity? Why try to doom them to a substandard public school education, or force them to travel an incredible distance to the next closest Catholic school? And why jeopardize a resurgent East Oak Lane and Olney by dumping a huge abandoned property in its lap?
Have you no shame? Does your stubborness know no bounds? Remember that pride goeth before the fall, and right now you seem to be heading for a big one.
The Archdiocese has almost no credibility left, and if they do end up going back on this deal, they're going to lose whatever shreds remain. And that's before Schmidt's well-tipped news media gets in on the act, which is sure to kick this thing into the stratosphere.
If it was ever in doubt before, it's now very much apparent the Archdiocese is but a sham and a joke. They say they care about educating children, but the fact that they would willingly pass up a promising opportunity to keep Doughtery open speaks volumes. Whatever respect the Project had left for them has officially died. Good riddance to bad garbage, I say. You guys are an embarrassment.
I could say that they're welcome to prove me wrong, but I know from experience that won't be the case. Good luck, Steve & Co.--you'll need it.