.- The Scholas Occurrentes Pontifical Foundation, which states that its goal is to create a new vision for the education of children around the world, is not only using Pope Francis’ support to fundraise around the world, but also to disseminate material on gender ideology to children in at least a dozen countries in Latin America.
Since 2015, sporting the Scholas Occurrentes emblem, the collection of books “Con Francisco a mi lado” (“With Francis by my Side”) has been published in association with secular newspapers in Argentina, Mexico, Spain, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, El Salvador, Peru, Nicaragua, and Bolivia. The collection, nevertheless, includes material that is not only in contradiction with Catholic teaching on identity and human sexuality, but specifically against the teachings of Pope Francis regarding “gender theory.”
Among the pages of the collection is “I am a dog!”, a book aimed at children which narrates the story of a “short, courageous white kitten” who sought to be publicly recognized as a dog.
At the end of the children’s story, the cat gets the dogs to recognize him as one of them thanks to the arguments made in the kitten’s favor by a donkey that identifies as a horse.
In explaining the story “for parents and educators,” Scholas says that “our image and sense of ourselves develops throughout our lives.”
Another story published by Scholas, “Chiquillería” (“Kids’ Stuff”), explains that “there are children who have a father and mother. One of each one. Others, two of each. Others, one and two. Or two and one.” An illustration included shows two children holding hands by two characters wearing skirts.
In the “guide for parents and educators,” Scholas points out that the story is aimed at teaching that “diversity goes beyond the social group or culture to which we belong” and includes “the traits that we are not capable of changing: including age, physical characteristics, gender and sexual orientation.”
Each of the books in the collection published by Scholas Occurrentes has a drawing of Pope Francis and includes phrases from the Holy Father on the first pages.
When announcing the release of the collection in various countries in Spanish, it was suggested that they had the backing of the Vatican and Pope Francis.
The Ecuadorian newspaper El Universo reported in 2015 that its deputy editor, César Pérez Barriga, “was in the Vatican to sign the agreement with Scholas. There, the bibliographic material was presented and even the media directors of El Universo individually and personally greeted His Holiness.”
The Argentine newspaper Clarín used a small video fragment in which Pope Francis says that “90% of the kids’ letters come with a drawing” in promoting the collection, rich in graphics and drawings.
Providing access to Pope Francis has been one of the major assets of Scholas Occurrentes, which was originally founded in Buenos Aires by a group of leaders of low income schools when Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was archbishop.
The edition published by Scholas in association with the Mexican newspaper Milenio was co-sponsored by the government of Mexico City during Pope Francis’ visit to Mexico in 2016.
Our sister agency, ACI Prensa, sent a legal “transparency request” to the government of Mexico City in October 2020 to find out how that publication was financed and how many copies were printed, without obtaining a response to date.
In an email sent Jan. 12, 2021 to Virginia Priano, communications director of the Pontifical Foundation, ACI Prensa asked how much money was invested and how much was received in donations with the publication of “With Francis by my Side.” They also asked Scholas Occurrentes about whether the books actually received the approval of Pope Francis and the Vatican.
Priano did not respond to the email nor to a reminder sent on Feb. 2. On Feb. 3, after initially answering a call, Priano hung up and proceeded to block the number of ACI Prensa’s investigative journalist.
Scholas Occurrentes says on its website, “we are an institution and we are a story, the story of our own walk. We are what we tell ourselves and what they tell us about ourselves … an institution open to encounter that re-creates us. Like a work of art, guarding the differences, we go about listening to what is unique about Scholas.”
In addition, it establishes its origin “in the City of Buenos Aires when Jorge Bergoglio was Archbishop under the name of ‘School of Neighbors’, integrating students from public and private schools, of all religious backgrounds in order to educate young people as citizens in the commitment for the common good.”
Scholas Occurrentes claim to have “offices in Argentina, Chile, Vatican City, Colombia, Spain, the United States, Haiti, Japan, Italy, Mexico, Mozambique, Panama, Paraguay, Portugal and Romania”. ACI Prensa knows that the supposed headquarters in the United States ceased to operate in 2020.
It also claims to have a presence “with its network in 190 countries, integrating more than 400,000 educational centers and reaching more than 1 million children and young people around the world.”
Scholas Occurrentes was officially constituted May 14, 2015 in Spain “at the request of the Holy See,” and its purposes include “promoting, improving education and achieving the integration of communities, with a focus on those who lack resources,” as well as “promoting awareness campaigns on human values.”
On Aug. 15, 2015, the foundation was established in Argentina. That same day, Pope Francis signed a pontifical decree establishing Scholas Occurrentes “as a Foundation of Pontifical Law,” describing it as a “worldwide network of schools that share their assets, have common objectives, giving special attention to those who lack resources.”
Since then Scholas has its headquarters at the Vatican property of San Calixto in Trastevere, next to several other Vatican dependencies and official international Catholic organizations.
The Scholas Occurrentes Pontifical Foundation launched on 2020 its “Universidad del Sentido” (“The University of the Sense”), a series of virtual conferences whose speakers included well-known promoters of legal abortion such as Argentine philosopher Darío Sztajnszrajber and writer Luisa Valenzuela.
ACI Prensa has had access to financial documents from Scholas Occurrentes that reveal how, without building a single school for children and young people with limited resources in any part of the world, the pontifical foundation receives millions of dollars in donations and agreements.
However, a significant amount of those millions of dollars have been used to pay for fees, travel, and offices.
In 2016 alone, Scholas Occurrentes spent nearly $5.2 million on “professional fees” for its Argentine subsidiary and another $1 million on “temporary fees.”
They also used more than $448,000 for “salaries and social charges.” In “office rentals,” Scholas Occurrentes spent more than $324,000 that year. Another $300,000 went to “mobile phones.” The sums, in the context of Latin American economies, are significantly higher than any other non for profit organizations.
In their project, “Creation of a World Social Network based on Education: Scholas,” the pontifical foundation states that “the Pope is a key asset for Scholas and therefore a development model is necessary that allows Scholas Global to have broad control over the use of its brand in all its chapters / headquarters.”
Queries sent by ACI Prensa to Scholas Occurrentes about the use of personalities openly opposed to Catholic teachings and the use of millions of dollars received in donations remain unanswered since September 2020.
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