The New York Times has an article about a story in the latest issue of the magazine I’m managing editor for, Catholic World Report. The article looks at a survey done by UCLA that shows that Catholic kids are likely to become more liberal and less Catholic in college, whether or not they go to specifically Catholic schools. The survey is very interesting because it polled freshmen and then re-polled the same students four years later so that their changing views could be tracked.
Some of the people quoted in the article try to downplay the trend, saying that the samples of students will skew liberal since only 38 of the 200 Catholic colleges in the US were surveyed and they are the schools more likely to be liberal. However, even if the numbers skew back a little, they’re still disturbing. On a range of issues from abortion to premarital sex, the students became more estranged from the Church’s teachings, not less. And they became less likely to attend Mass, even occasionally.
The survey tells us what we knew empirically, that most Catholic colleges are Catholic in name only. They generally fail to pass on the faith and are no different than secular colleges in that duty. It begs the question of why even have identifiably Catholic schools. It may even be better for such schools to remove their Catholic identity so that parents are not fooled into sending their kids there.
Of course, if colleges had implemented the apostolic letter Ex Corde Ecclesia when the Pope issued it in the beginning of the 90s and if the US bishops had insisted it be implemented, we may not be in this mess today. But there’s a lot of things I wish the US bishops had done better.