Catholic schools are at risk and so are the students

It was an unusual call, but, then, these are unusual times. President Trump met recently — virtually, of course — with top leaders of the Catholic Church in the United States to discuss the survival of Catholic schools. Catholic schools make up the largest system of private schools in this country and they are facing massive closures due to the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. I had the privilege of being a fly on the wall during that conversation and can report that the discussion acknowledged some good news, but also pointed to a pressing need. And a way to meet that pressing need.

First, much appreciation was expressed for the Trump administration’s inclusion of faith-based institutions in the CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). This has allowed many Catholic schools to keep its teachers, bus-drivers, and other staff on the payroll (for now). This was a huge victory for people of all faiths — to be treated as equal partners in America’s public square, as the Supreme Court affirmed is proper in Trinity Lutheran v. Comer. When it came to the PPP, the Trump administration made clear that we’re all in this together.

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