Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Vatican on Catholic Education

The Congregation for Catholic Education has released a letter they are sending to the presidents of all the Bishops Conferences of the world. Zenit has the content of the letter here. The letter deals primarily with the issue of primary and secondary education, and religious freedom with regards to education. Some of the letter, however, deals with Catholic education in general. Here are some salient paragraphs.
II. Nature and identity of the Catholic school: the right to a Catholic education for families and pupils. Subsidiarity and educational collaboration

5. The Catholic school plays a particular role in education and formation. Many communities and religious congregations have distinguished themselves, and commendably continue to devote themselves to the service of primary and secondary education. Yet the whole Christian community, and particularly the diocesan Ordinary, bear the responsibility “of arranging everything so that all the faithful have a Catholic education” (c. 794 §2 CIC) and, more precisely, of having “schools which offer an education imbued with a Christian spirit” (c. 802 CIC; cfr c. 635 CCEO).

6. Catholic schools are characterised by the institutional link they keep with the Church hierarchy, which guarantees that the instruction and education be grounded in the principles of the Catholic faith and imparted by teachers of right doctrine and probity of life (cf. c. 803 CIC; cc. 632 e 639 CCEO). In these educational centres – which are open to all who share and respect their educational goals – the atmosphere must be permeated by the evangelical spirit of freedom and charity, which fosters the harmonious development of each one’s personality. In this setting, human culture as a whole is harmonised with the message of salvation, so that the pupils gradually acquire a knowledge of the world, life and humanity that is be enlightened by the Gospel (cf. GE 8; c. 634 §1 CCEO).

7. In this way, the right of families and pupils to an authentic Catholic education is ensured and, at the same time, the cultural aims – as well as those of human and academic formation of young people – that are characteristic of any school, are fulfilled (cf. c. 634 §3 CCEO; c. 806 §2 CIC).

To sum up:
- The Catholic school is an expression of the ecclesial community, and its Catholicity is guaranteed by the competent authorities (Ordinary of the place).

15. Religious education in Catholic schools identifies the educational goals of such schools. In fact, “the special character of the Catholic school, the underlying reason for it, the reason why Catholic parents should prefer it, is precisely the quality of the religious instruction integrated into the education of the pupils” (John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi tradendae, 16 October 1979, 69).

16. In Catholic schools, as everywhere else, the religious freedom of non-Catholic pupils must be respected. This clearly does not affect the right/duty of the Church “in [its] public teaching and witness to [its] faith, whether by the spoken or by the written word”, taking into account that “in spreading religious faith and in introducing religious practices everyone ought at all times to refrain from any manner of action which might seem to carry a hint of coercion or of a kind of persuasion that would be dishonorable or unworthy” (DH 4).
The various bishops conferences are directed to forward this on to anyone "concerned with the educational service and mission of the Church." Maybe it would be nice if Fr. Jenkins would get a copy.

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