Papal Quotes, Canons and links on Catholic Education

Speaking recently in Crotia, the Holy Father said...

"Everyone knows that the Christian family is a special sign of the presence and love of Christ and that it is called to give a specific and irreplaceable contribution to evangelization. ... The Christian family has always been the first way of transmitting the faith and still today retains great possibilities for evangelization in many areas. Dear parents, commit yourselves always to teach your children to pray, and pray with them; draw them close to the Sacraments, especially to the Eucharist, ... introduce them to the life of the Church; in the intimacy of the home do not be afraid to read the sacred Scriptures, illuminating family life with the light of faith and praising God as Father. Be like a little Upper Room, like that of Mary and the disciples, in which to live unity, communion and prayer!".

Seems to me the Holy Father is reaffirming parental rights and parental obligations to teach the faith and that reminded me of these other excellent sources on the topic.

From SETON's Home Study School newsletter....

Teaching the Catholic Faith to our children is our primary responsibility as Catholic parents. We must teach it mainly by good example, showing our children how to live our Faith each day in our daily situations. In addition, the Church declares we are to teach the Faith by “word.” This means we must teach it orally. Most of us use catechisms and other materials as well. What we must not forget, however, is that the Church is clear that all subjects should be taught from a Catholic perspective.

Back in 1864 and in 1875, and repeated in 1955, the Vatican sent instructions to the bishops of the United States,
declaring that education in public schools was dangerous because of the lack of Catholic education. “To the Sacred Congregation, this method [of public education] has appeared intrinsically dangerous and absolutely contrary to Catholicism. Indeed, because the special program adopted by these schools excludes all religious instruction, the pupils cannot grasp the elements of the Faith, nor are they instructed in the precepts of the Church…”

In 1897, in the encyclical Militantis Ecclesiae, Pope Leo XIII declared: “A wide knowledge should go hand in hand with care for spiritual progress…religion must permeate and direct every branch of knowledge whatever be its nature…it has always been the Church’s intention that every branch of study be of great service in the religious formation of youth…” Obviously, in order for every branch of study to be of great service in religious formation, every branch of study must be taught with Catholic principles.

Pope Pius XI, in the great encyclical Christian Education of Youth
, wrote of the need for religion to permeate the whole of the learning enterprise: “…it is necessary that all the teaching and the whole organization of the school, its teachers, syllabus and textbooks of every kind, be regulated by the Christian spirit, under the direction and maternal supervision of the Church; so that religion may be in very truth the foundation and the crown of youth’s entire training….”

Obviously, every facet of education must be permeated with our Catholic Faith.
Christian Education of Youth continues: “It is therefore as important to make no mistake in education as it is to make no mistake in the pursuit of the last goal, with which the whole work of education is intimately and necessarily connected. In fact, since education consists essentially in preparing man for what he must be and for what he must do here below in order to attain the sublime goal for which he was created, it is clear that there can be no true education which is not wholly directed to man’s last end…. there can be no ideally perfect education which is not Christian education.”

Further on in Christian Education of Youth, Pope Pius XI declares: “From this it follows that the so-called ‘neutral’ or ‘lay’ school, from which religion is excluded, is contrary to the fundamental principles of education. Such a school, moreover, cannot exist in practice; it is bound to become irreligious.” In other words, if God and His Laws are left out of the instruction, ultimately students and the school deny God and His Laws.

Certainly the American public schools are proof of the Pope’s warning.
Later in this paragraph, the Pope states that even if children receive Catholic religious instruction but receive other lessons that are not Catholic, it is not satisfactory. “Neither can Catholics allow that other type of mixed schools, where the students are provided with separate religious instruction, but receive other lessons in common with non-Catholic children from non-Catholic teachers.” The Pope here, under the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, states that we cannot expect to raise practicing Catholics by teaching God only in religion class but ignoring Him in the rest of education.

Immediately following, the Pope declares “…it is necessary that all the teaching and the whole organization of the school, its teachers, syllabus and textbooks of every kind, be regulated by the Christian spirit, under the direction and maternal supervision of the Church; so that religion may be in very truth the foundation and the crown of youth’s entire training; and this applies to every grade of school, not only the elementary, but the intermediate and the high institutions of learning as well.
“To use the words of [Pope] Leo XIII: ‘It is necessary not only that religious instruction be given to the young at certain fixed times, but also that every other subject taught be permeated with Christian piety. If this be lacking, if this sacred atmosphere does not pervade and warm the hearts of masters and scholars alike, little good can be expected from any kind of learning, and considerable harm will often be the consequence.’”

In many documents, the Church commands us to use Catholic materials. Weaving the Catholic Faith throughout all subjects shows the child that the Faith is necessary in understanding all areas of knowledge. The omission of God in any subject sends a message that this subject can be properly learned without reference to God or the Church.

Also on Seton's site is an article by Canon Lawyer Ed Peters entitled, Preparing Children for the Sacraments: Some Controversies and Suggestions.

MORE links, CCD related:

*Can Parents Really Prepare Their Children for the Sacraments?

*On Sacramental Guidelines: Parents, Know Your Rights Within the Church which continues with the following:

*Certified Parents? (Must Parents Be Certified?) html

*Sacramental Guideline Examples

*Must Parents Enter a Written Agreement?

*What the Church Teaches About the Parents' Role
in the Education of their Children"

KIC writes
, "When working with your parish priest to prepare your children for the sacraments at home, the following Canons are very helpful in educating your priest about parental rights in this area:

Canon 226, §2
--Because they have given life to their children, parents have a most serious obligation and enjoy the right to educate them; therefore Christian parents are especially to care for the Christian education of their children according to the teaching handed on by the Church.

Canon 774, §2
--Parents above others are obliged to form their children in the faith and practice of the Christian life by word and example; godparents and those who take the place of parents are bound by an equivalent obligation.

Canon 776--In virtue of his office the pastor is bound to provide for the catechetical formation of adults, young people and children, to which end he is to employ the services of the clerics attached to the parish, members of institutes of consecrated life and of societies of apostolic life, with due regard for the character of each institute, and lay members of the Christian faithful, above all catechists; all of these are not to refuse to furnish their services willingly unless they are legitimately impeded. The pastor is to promote and foster the role of parents in the family catechesis mentioned in can. 774, §2.

Canon 843, §2
--Pastors of souls and the rest of the Christian faithful, according to their ecclesial function, have the duty to see that those who seek the sacrament are prepared to receive them by the necessary evangelization and catechetical formation, taking into account the norms published by the competent authority Can. 883 The following possess the faculty of administering confirmation by the law itself:
1. within the boundaries of their jurisdiction, those who are equivalent in law to a diocesan bishop; 2. as regards the person in question, the presbyter who by virtue of office or mandate of the diocesan bishop baptizes one who is no longer an infant or admits one already baptized into the full communion of the Catholic Church; 3. as regards those who are in danger of death, the pastor or indeed any presbyter.

Canon 890
--The faithful are obliged to receive this sacrament at the appropriate time; their parents and shepherds of souls, especially pastors, are to see to it that the faithful are properly instructed to receive it and approach the sacrament at the appropriate time.

Can. 891
The sacrament of confirmation is to be conferred on the faithful at about the age of discretion unless the conference of bishops has determined another age, or there is danger of death, or in the judgment of the minister a grave cause suggests otherwise.

Canon 914
--It is the responsibility, in the first place, of parents and those who take the place of parents as well as of the pastor to see that children who have reached the use of reason are correctly prepared and are nourished by the divine food as early as possible, preceded by sacramental confession; it is also for the pastor to be vigilant lest any children come to the Holy Banquet who have not reached the use of reason or whom he judges are not sufficiently disposed.
This information has been very helpful to me and other homeschoolers in my diocese when requesting permission to bypass CCD programs and catechize and prepare our children ourselves for the sacraments at home. You also may want to consider having your pastor read the Archdiocese of Denver Pastoral Handbook section on Home School Programs (3.3.8) as it provides an excellent model for home catechesis guidelines."

Catholic Culture has on their site an informative article called Homeschooling and Sacraments for Children at this LINK. There you will find quotes from Blessed John Paul II and more papal encyclicals.

Catholic Homeschooling materials/curriculum bring that Catholicism to your family. If you've ever thought about homeschooling look at this link, At this conference you can attend lectures from incredible speakers, many religious, supporting this vocation with advice and encouragement.


PattyinCT said...


This is a God send, and oh so timely:) Pray for Mike and I as this is the endeavor we're embarking on. My son has been denied the sacraments of First Confession and First Communion because of a bunch of the things highlighted in your Seton link above. I'm printing that out for sure!

What an invaluable resource! Thank you! And please keep us in your prayers? My son is begging both Mike and I to receive First Confession, as he feels a need for that grace in his soul (yup, that's a quote). It's tearing at my mother's heart:(

Allison said...

O Patty, I am so sorry.

Please thank the folks at Seton Homeschool for much of this and the KeepingItCatholic website, too.

I will be praying for the resolution of this upsetting matter. God bless your dear child.

The Riopel Family said...

I am praying also Patty!
Our priest is fine with homeschooling but in order for my daughter to have 1st Confession and Communion next year, he is requiring she attend PSR :(
Not excited about that!

Patty said...

To Patty in CT...

I, too, am praying for you!

I have a question:: how can a priest deny it? Could the parents go to another priest and have the sacraments received through him?

Friends of ours did something like that for Confirmation...6 months hard core study and he passed with flying colors. He was confirmed with a small group of other people of varying ages.

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