As the new academic year arrives, school systems across the United States are struggling to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. Roman Catholic educators have an extra challenge — trying to forestall a relentless wave of closures of their schools that has no end in sight.
Already this year, financial and enrollment problems aggravated by the pandemic have forced the permanent closure of more than 140 Catholic schools nationwide, according to officials who oversee Catholic education in the country.
Three of the nation’s highest-ranking Catholic leaders, in a recent joint appeal, said Catholic schools “are presently facing their greatest financial crisis” and warned that hundreds more closures are likely without federal support.
“Because of economic loss and uncertainty, many families are confronting the wrenching decision to pull their children out of Catholic schools,” said New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley and Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez, president of