Bishops invite faithful to support Catholic schools, BOAST Maryland Tax Credit

September 30, 2008

The following was issued by the Maryland Catholic Conference:

The Maryland-serving bishops have released a statement that outlines the indispensable role Catholic schools play in the life of the Church and the state and invites Catholics to consider how they might help sustain this worthy work. “An Outstanding Apostolate of Hope: Maryland’s Catholic Schools” encourages Catholics to support the BOAST Maryland Tax Credit and will be included as a bulletin insert in the state’s nearly 300 Catholic parishes in October.

The two-page statement from Baltimore Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien, Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl, and Wilmington Bishop W. Francis Malooly draws on themes outlined in Pope Benedict XVI’s address to U.S. educators during his visit to Washington, D.C. last April. It notes that Catholic schools, which educate about 60,000 Maryland students, have historic roots in the state and “a proven ability to close the ‘achievement gap’ through service to underprivileged families.”

“An Outstanding Apostolate of Hope” acknowledges the challenges facing Catholic schools. There are a dozen fewer Catholic schools in Maryland than there were five years ago and there was a six percent drop in enrollment between the 2001-2002 and 2006-2007 school years. The statement recounts the three dioceses’ commitment to sustaining the schools and invites individual Catholics to consider how they might become involved in building up this “outstanding apostolate.”

One measure the bishops encourage Catholic involvement in is the passage of the BOAST Maryland Tax Credit, which would grant businesses a state tax credit for donations made to scholarship organizations for Catholic and other nonpublic school students and enrichment programs for public school students. “By working with businesses, BOAST will help students from lower- and middle-income families remain in Catholic schools,” the statement says. “That, in turn, will help stabilize enrollment and tuition and ensure the future of the schools that contribute so much to our communities. “

The 136,000 students in Catholic and other nonpublic schools save Maryland taxpayers about $1.5 billion annually in per-pupil public school costs. The BOAST Maryland Tax Credit passed the Maryland Senate in 2008 in a 30-17 vote, but did not receive a vote in the House of Delegates. A recent survey co-sponsored by the Maryland Catholic Conference found that a majority of Marylanders support business tax credits that benefit all students and teachers. BOAST will be introduced again the 2009 session.

For more information about the statement or the Maryland Catholic Conference, please call 301-261-1979.

Susan Gibbs
Director of Communications
[email protected]