Our parish cheerfully announced in last week's bulletin that "It takes a whole parish to raise a child." (This was followed by a notice that the tuition for CCD this year will be $50 and signups begin this week.)
Now, to begin with, it seems idiotic to adopt a Hillary Clinton slogan to use in a Catholic parish. But beyond that, it strikes me as untrue. I certainly would not say that either of the at which parishes I attended parochial school (I was in Catholic schools from K-5 and homeschooled thereafter) 'raised' me, nor that the religious education programs at the parishes we were members of later on were ever anything other than a cross to bear.
Some of this, clearly, is a result of the unfortunate trends in parish life and catechesis over the last fifty years. Nonetheless -- even if I lived in a parish where I wasn't convinced that whoever was charged with providing my children with CCD classes would not merely fail to know many things about the faith, but also 'know' many things which are no the case -- I would honestly rather not have such classes be the primary religious education for my children. Nor, even if my parish were a veritable heaven on earth, would I consider the parish to have 'raised' my children in the faith.
While I think many other orthodox or traditional-ish Catholics would agree with my sentiments here, I've been told by various people (both traditional and progressive) that once upon a time many Catholic parents did very much feel that their parish communities and institutions were responsible for raising their children in the faith. Part of me simply wants to retort, "Yes, and we can see how well that worked" but I can't help wondering if struggling against the catechetical adversity of the last half century has made the attitude of orthodox Catholic parents fundamentally more individualistic than it was in times past.
Have we come to embrace "Holy Mother Church" in terms of doctrine and hierarchy in Rome, but declared undue independence from local institutions such as parishes? One of the things that attracts me so powerfully to the Catholic Church is that it not merely an institution (by definition limited, imperfect and of its time) but rather the guardian of the body of doctrine which brings us knowledge of God, Himself the ultimate absolute, eternal, all powerful, unchanging, perfect, wholly out of time. But in embracing the Catholic Church absolutely, it is necessarily to give absolute fealty to the local parish and diocese, or may these human institutions be treated in the way I, as a conservative, tend to want to treat institutions: with caution if not suspicion and a strong desire to maintain my independence.