What matters is to eradicate hunger and to educate, without bothering about religion

Saint John Chrysostom compares the education of a child with the fashioning of a wonderful statue for God. According to this Doctor of the Church, the privileged mission confided to parents is to bring their child to the practice of virtue, teaching it to love the true God and ‘to mark all that it says and does with the sign of the cross.’
Omission in this field – without doubt one of the most important – produces the sad results that we experience in today’s society. And that’s why the Popes have not hesitated to qualify such omission as dangerous, harmful, unjust and even as a serious fault.

Therefore, even if one hears that the most important thing is not letting children go hungry or giving them an education, is it true that we can be indifferent to the religious education of children? Is it enough to give them bodily nourishment in order to fulfill the mission that the Lord confided to parents? If they are educated in any religious belief, will they end up being good Christians?

All of these questions have already been answered by the divinely wise Magisterium of the Church; and even if certain statements to please people far and wide are made, we do possess the necessary elements to make the right choice.

Francis

 

 I believe we need to promote a culture of encounter all around the world. All around the world. So that everyone feels the need to give to humanity the ethical values that humanity needs today. […] Each religious confession keeps its own beliefs.  But according to the values of it’s own faith, work for others. And we all encounter with each other to work for the rest. If there is a child who is hungry and has no education, what should interest us is that he be fed, and be given an education.  If this education is given by Catholics, protestants, orthodox or Jews it doesn’t matter to me; what matters to me it that he be educated and his hunger taken away. (Interview with the Globo TV Network in Brasil, published by the Pontifical Council for Social Communication, July 29, 2013)

Teachings of the Magisterium

Table of contents

I – The Study of Catholic Doctrine: A Duty and Right of All

Catechism of St. Pius X
– Parents who do not teach their children Catholic doctrine sin gravely

Benedict XVI
– Integral education may not omit Catholic religious teaching

Leo XIII
– The education of youth should begin from an early stage

Pius XII
– Formation that deliberately neglects to direct youth to the heavenly country is an injustice

John Paul II
– It is not correct to say that faith is an option for a mature age
– Education of religious conscience is a right of the person
– Every baptized person has the right to receive a truly Catholic formation
– Every disciple of Christ has the right to receive the word of the faith without amputations

Congregation for the Clergy
– Religious education should address all categories of the faithful

Vatican Council II
– Young people should be motivated to know and love God
– Christian education promotes maturity of the human person while seeking to instill the gift of Faith
– Children should be taught the Catholic faith from their early years

II – Education is a Duty of the
Catholic Church

Pius XI
– It is a right and duty of the Church to watch over the education of her children
– Watchfulness to protect the children of the Church from the dangers of the world

Leo XIII
– A grave and fatal error: to exclude the Church from the education of youth
– Religion should give shape and direction to all branches of knowledge

Pius XI
– The Church was able to save treasures of culture, civilization and literature thanks to Her mission to educate

John Paul II
– Catechesis: one of the primary tasks of the Church

Vatican Council II
– The Church has the responsibility of announcing the way of salvation to all men
– The Church is obliged to give her children an education that imbues them with the spirit of Christ
– Grave responsibility of the Church to care for the moral and religious education of all her children
– The task of enlightening all the knowledge of students with the light of faith

Congregation for Catholic Education
– Religious liberty does not impede the right/duty of the Church to teach the faith

III – The Importance of Catholic Education

 Saint John Chrysostom
– There is no superior art than educating children soundly
– Use all of your time in preparing admirable statues for God

Congregation for Catholic Education
– A form of education that ignores the religious dimension is incomplete

Benedict XVI
– Religious teaching may not be reduced to a generic sociology of religions

John Paul II
– At the apex of all interest should be the Person, work and message of Jesus Christ
– Catholic teaching is very important at all levels of education

Paul VI
– Catholic teaching may not remain on a merely intellectual level

Pius XI
– Parents have the duty to seek schools that form their children in true Catholic doctrine

Congregation for Catholic Education
– Without a Catholic education, the students are deprived of an essential element of their formation

Pius XII
– An education indifferent to Christianity is a crime of high treason against the King of kings
– The formation of youth that alienates from Christ is a scandal
– An education system that proclaims an apostasy from Christ pronounces a sentence of condemnation against itself

Pius XI
– Exclusion of religion is contrary to the fundamental principles of education

Congregation for the Clergy
– Religious instruction should be taken with the same seriousness as other disciplines

IV – The Benefits of Catholic Education for Youth

Pius XI
– There is no education more perfect than Christian education
– Christian education is unsurpassable for it aims at securing the Supreme Good for souls
– For a Catholic school to be worthy of its title, it is necessary that all the teaching and the whole organization of the school be regulated by the Christian spirit

Leo XIII
– Necessity of forming young people in the fear of God

Pius XI
– When religion is banished from education, materialism is fostered

John Paul II
– Catholic parents should give preference to Catholic schools
– Religious instruction enables the advance in the students’ spiritual formation
– Catholic education prepares one to assume future responsibilities
– Catholic schools form exemplary citizens
– Catholic teaching enlightens the sciences with the light of faith
– A Christian vision of man and the world
– The Catholic schools cooperate for a transformation of all society
– Teaching the doctrine of the Church affirms true human dignity
– Catholic schools prepare youth for the highest ideals

Benedict XVI
– Religious teaching is a necessary value for the person’s integral formation.
– The religious dimension makes it possible to transform knowledge into wisdom
– The teaching of the Catholic religion capacitates the person to discover goodness

Congregation for Catholic Education
– Marginalization of religious education harms students
– Incentive for the development of personal and social responsibility

Vatican Council II
– Education to promote the good of the earthly city and the spreading of the Kingdom

Congregation for the Clergy
– Religious instruction provides responses to key questions
– Religious instruction has a missionary role for students who are non-believers

I – The Study of Catholic Doctrine: A Duty and Right of All

Catechism of St. Pius X

  • Parents who do not teach their children Catholic doctrine sin gravely

Is it necessary to learn the doctrine taught by Jesus Christ?
It certainly is necessary to learn the doctrine taught by Jesus Christ, and those who fail to do so are guilty of a grave breach of duty.
Are parents and guardians bound to send their children and those dependent on them to catechism?
Parents and guardians are bound to see that their children and dependents learn Christian Doctrine, and they are guilty before God if they neglect this duty. (Catechism of St. Pius X)

Benedict XVI

  • Integral education cannot omit religious teaching

The above-mentioned religious indifferentism and the easy temptation of lax morals, as well as the ignorance of the Christian tradition with its rich spiritual patrimony, exert a powerful influence on the new generations. Young people have the right, from the beginning of the process of their formation, to be educated in faith and sound morals. For this reason, the integral education of the youngest cannot omit religious teaching at school as well. A solid religious formation will also serve as an effective shield against the advance of sects or other religious groups widespread today. (Benedict XVI. Address to members of the Bishops’ Conference of Puerto Rico on the ad limina visit, June 30, 2007)

Leo XIII

  • The education of youth should begin from an early stage

Now, the training of youth most conducive to the defense of true faith and religion and to the preservation of morality must find its beginning from an early stage within the circle of home life. (Leo XIII. Encyclical Inscrutabili Dei consilio, no. 14, April 21, 1878)

Pius XII

  • Formation that deliberately neglects to direct youth to the heavenly country is an injustice

On the other hand, a formation which forgot or, worse still, deliberately neglected to direct the eyes and hearts of youth to the heavenly country would be an injustice to youth, an injustice against the inalienable duties and rights of the Christian family and an excess to which a check must be opposed, in the interests even of the people and of the State itself. (Piux XII. Encyclical Summi Pontificatus, no. 67, October 20, 1939)

John Paul II

  • It is not correct to say that faith is an option for a mature age

May it not happen, dearest parents who are listening to me, that your offspring arrive at human, civil and professional maturity and remain still as children in religious matters! It is not correct to say that the faith is a choice to be made at a mature age. True choice implicates knowledge, and there can never be a choice between things that were not proposed wisely and adequately. Catechist parents, the Church has confidence in you, and expects much of you. (John Paul II. Mass for Catechists, no. 4, July 5, 1980)

  • Education of religious conscience is a right of the person

At school, the citizen is formed through cultural and professional preparation. The education of religious conscience is a right of the human person. A youth requires to be guided toward all dimensions of culture and also desires to find at school the possibility of knowing the fundamental problems of existence. Among these, the first place is held by the problem of the response that he must give to God. It is impossible to arrive at authentic options of life, when one intends to ignore religion, which has so much to say, or if one wishes to limit it to a vague and neutral instruction. […] The Church, in defending this responsibility of the school, has never tought of and does not think of privileges: She advocates for an ample integral education and for the rights of the family and the person. (John Paul II. Mass for Catechists, no. 4, July 5, 1980)

  • Every baptized person has the right to receive a truly Catholic formation

From the theological point of view every baptized person, precisely the reason of being baptized, has the right to receive from the Church instruction and education enabling him or her to enter on a truly Christian life; and from the viewpoint of human rights, every human being has the right to seek religious truth and adhere to it freely. (John Paul II. Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi Tradendae, no.14, October 16, 1979)

  • Every disciple of Christ has the right to receive the word of the faith without amputations

The students of catholic schools have the right to receive permanent, profound, systematic and qualified catechism adapted to the requirements of their age and cultural preparation. And this religious teaching should be integral in its contents, for every disciple of Christ has the right to receive the word of the faith neither amputated, nor falsified, nor reduced, rather complete and integral, in all its rigor and in all its vigor. (John Paul II. Address to teachers and students of the Massimo and Santa Maria Institutes in Rome, no.3. February 9, 1980)

Congregation for the Clergy

  • Religious education should address all categories of the faithful

Master and educator of the faith, the priest will ensure that catechesis is a privileged part of Christian education in families, in religious education, in the formation of apostolic movements, etc., and that it is addressed to all the categories of the faithful: children, adolescents, adults, the elderly. Moreover, he will know how to transmit catechetical teaching with the use of all those didactic aids and instruments, as well as means of communication that may be effective so the faithful, in a manner suited to their disposition, ability, age, and practical conditions of life, may be able to learn the Christian doctrine in full and put it into practice in the most fitting way. (Congregation for the Clergy. Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests – New Edition, February 11, 2013)

Vatican Council II

  • Young people should be motivated to know and love God

This sacred synod likewise declares that children and young people have a right to be motivated to appraise moral values with a right conscience, to embrace them with a personal adherence, together with a deeper knowledge and love of God. Consequently it earnestly entreats all those who hold a position of public authority or who are in charge of education to see to it that youth is never deprived of this sacred right. (Vatican Council II. Declaration Gravissimum Educationis, no. 1, October 28, 1965)

  • Christian education promotes maturity of the human person while seeking to instill the gift of Faith

Since all Christians have become by rebirth of water and the Holy Spirit a new creature so that they should be called and should be children of God, they have a right to a Christian education. A Christian education does not merely strive for the maturing of a human person as just now described, but has as its principal purpose this goal: that the baptized, while they are gradually introduced the knowledge of the mystery of salvation, become ever more aware of the gift of Faith they have received, and that they learn in addition how to worship God the Father in spirit and truth (cf. John 4:23) especially in liturgical action, and be conformed in their personal lives according to the new man created in justice and holiness of truth (Eph. 4:22-24); also that they develop into perfect manhood, to the mature measure of the fullness of Christ (cf. Eph. 4:13) and strive for the growth of the Mystical Body. (Vatican Council II. Declaration Gravissimum Educationis, no. 2, October 28, 1965)

  • Children should be taught the Catholic faith from their early years

It is particularly in the Christian family, enriched by the grace and office of the sacrament of matrimony, that children should be taught from their early years to have a knowledge of God according to the faith received in Baptism. (Vatican Council II. Declaration Gravissimum Educationis, no. 3, October 28, 1965)

II – Education is a Duty of the Catholic Church

Pius XI

  • It is the right and duty of the Church to watch over the education of her children

Again it is the inalienable right as well as the indispensable duty of the Church, to watch over the entire education of her children, in all institutions, public or private, not merely in regard to the religious instruction there given, but in regard to every other branch of learning and every regulation in so far as religion and morality are concerned. (Pius XI. Encyclical Divini illius magistri, no. 23, December 31, 1929)

  • Watchfulness to protect the children of the Church from the dangers of the world

Nor should the exercise of this right be considered undue interference, but rather maternal care on the part of the Church in protecting her children from the grave danger of all kinds of doctrinal and moral evil. Moreover this watchfulness of the Church not merely can create no real inconvenience, but must on the contrary confer valuable assistance in the right ordering and well-being of families and of civil society; for it keeps far away from youth the moral poison which at that inexperienced and changeable age more easily penetrates the mind and more rapidly spreads its baneful effects. (Pius XI. Encyclical Divini illius magistri, no. 23, December 31, 1929)

Leo XIII

  • A grave and fatal error: to exclude the Church from the education of youth

To exclude the Church, founded by God Himself, from life, from laws, from the education of youth, from domestic society is a grave and fatal error. A State from which religion is banished can never be well regulated. (Leo XIII. Encyclical Immortale Dei, no. 15, November 1, 1885)

  • Religion should give shape and direction to all branches of knowledge

It is necessary to teach religion to children, but not only at specified times. All their teaching should occur in an atmosphere of Christian piety. If it is otherwise, if this sacred inspiration does not penetrate the spirits of the teachers and of the students, the instruction will produce only little fruit and will often even have seriously harmful consequences. […] The knowledge of many subjects should always go hand in hand with the care of the spirit. Religion should give shape and direction to all branches of knowledge. (Leo XII. Encyclical Militantis Ecclesiae, no. 18, August 1, 1897)

Pius XI

  • The Church was able to save treasures of culture, civilization and literature thanks to Her mission to educate

But if we wonder that the Church in all times has been able to gather about her and educate hundreds, thousands, millions of students, no less wonderful is it to bear in mind what she has done not only in the field of education, but in that also of true and genuine erudition. For, if so many treasures of culture, civilization and literature have escaped destruction, this is due to the action by which the Church, even in times long past and uncivilized, has shed so bright a light in the domain of letters, of philosophy, of art and in a special manner of architecture. All this the Church has been able to do because her mission to educate extends equally to those outside the Fold, seeing that all men are called to enter the kingdom of God and reach eternal salvation. (Pius XI. Encyclical Divini illius magistri, no. 25-26, December 31, 1929)

John Paul II

  • Catechesis: one of the primary tasks of the Church

The Church has always considered catechesis one of her primary tasks, for, before Christ ascended to His Father after His resurrection, He gave the apostles a final command – to make disciples of all nations and to teach them to observe all that He had commanded. He thus entrusted them with the mission and power to proclaim to humanity what they had heard, what they had seen with their eyes, what they had looked upon and touched with their hands, concerning the Word of Life. He also entrusted them with the mission and power to explain with authority what He had taught them, His words and actions, His signs and commandments. And He gave them the Spirit to fulfill this mission. Very soon the name of catechesis was given to the whole of the efforts within the Church to make disciples, to help people to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, so that believing they might have life in His name, and to educate and instruct them in this life and thus build up the Body of Christ. The Church has not ceased to devote her energy to this task. (John Paul II. Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi Tradendae, no.1, October 16, 1979)

Vatican Council II

  • The Church has the responsibility of announcing the way of salvation to all men 

In a special way, the duty of educating belongs to the Church, not merely because she must be recognized as a human society capable of educating, but especially because she has the responsibility of announcing the way of salvation to all men, of communicating the life of Christ to those who believe, and, in her unfailing solicitude, of assisting men to be able to come to the fullness of this life. (Vatican Council II. Declaration Gravissimum Educationis, no. 3, October 28, 1965)

  • The Church is obliged to give her children an education that imbues them with the spirit of Christ

The Church is bound as a mother to give to these children of hers an education by which their whole life can be imbued with the spirit of Christ and at the same time do all she can to promote for all peoples the complete perfection of the human person, the good of earthly society and the building of a world that is more human.  (Vatican Council II. Declaration Gravissimum Educationis, no. 3, October 28, 1965)

  • Grave responsibility of the Church to care for the moral and religious education of all her children

Feeling very keenly the weighty responsibility of diligently caring for the moral and religious education of all her children, the Church must be present with her own special affection and help for the great number who are being trained in schools that are not Catholic. This is possible by the witness of the lives of those who teach and direct them, by the apostolic action of their fellow-students, but especially by the ministry of priests and laymen who give them the doctrine of salvation in a way suited to their age and circumstances and provide spiritual aid in every way the times and conditions allow. (Vatican Council II. Declaration Gravissimum Educationis, no. 7, October 28, 1965)

  • The task of enlightening all the knowledge of students with the light of faith

The influence of the Church in the field of education is shown in a special manner by the Catholic school. No less than other schools does the Catholic school pursue cultural goals and the human formation of youth. But its proper function is […] order the whole of human culture to the news of salvation so that the knowledge the students gradually acquire of the world, life and man is illumined by faith. (Vatican Council II. Declaration Gravissimum Educationis, no. 8, October 28, 1965)

Congregation for Catholic Education

  • Religious liberty does not impede the right/duty of the Church to teach the faith

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’ (Dignitatis Humanae, 4). (Congregation for Catholic Education. Circular Letter to the Presidents of Bishops’ Conferences on Religious Education in Schools, no. 16, May 5, 2009)

III – The Importance of Catholic Education

Saint John Chrysostom

  • There is no superior art than educating children soundly

For nothing is equal to the soul. Because, ‘What is a man profited,’ says He, ‘if he shall gain the whole world, but lose his own soul.’ But because the love of money hath overturned and cast down all, and hath thrust aside the strict fear of God, having seized upon the souls of men. like some rebel chief upon a citadel; therefore we are careless both of our children’s salvation, and of our own, looking to one object only, that having become wealthier,[…] For our children are less esteemed than cattle; and we take care of horses and asses rather than of children. […] out if we have set a tutor over a child’s soul, we take at once, and at random, whoever comes in our way. And yet than this art there is not another greater. For what is equal to training the soul, and forming the mind of one that is young? (Saint John Chrysostom. Homily LIX on the Gospel of St. Matthew)

  • Use all of your time in preparing admirable statues for God

I have told you already that vice is hard to drive away for this reason, that no one takes thought for his children, no one discourses to them about virginity and sobriety or about contempt of wealth and fame, or of the precepts laid down in the Scriptures. What will become of boys when from earliest youth they are without teachers? If grown men, after being nurtured from the womb and continuing their education to old age, still do not live righteously, what wrong will not children, accustomed from the threshold of life to empty words, commit? In our own day every man takes the greatest pains to train his boy in the arts and in literature and speech. But to exercise this child’s soul in virtue, to that no man any longer pays heed. I shall not cease exhortig and begging and supplicating you before all else to discipline your sons from the first. If thou dost care for thy son, show it thus, […] Raise up an athlete for Christ! I do not mean by this, hold him back from wedlock and send him to desert regions and prepare him to assume the monastic life. It is not this that I mean. I wish for this […] To each of you fathers and mothers I say, […] so must you proceed. Like the creators of statues do you give all your leisure to fashioning these wondrous statues for God. And, as you remove what is superfluous and add what is lacking, inspect them day by day, to see what good qualities nature has supplied so that you will increase them, and what faults so that you will eradicate them. And, first of all, take the greatest care to banish licentious speech; for love of this above all frets the souls of the young. Before he is of an age to try it, teach thy son to be sober and vigilant and to shorten sleep for the sake of prayer, and with every word and deed to set upon himself the Seal of the Faith. (Saint John Chrysostom, On Vainglory and the Raising of Children – no. 17-19, 22)

Congregation for Catholic Education

  • A form of education that ignores the religious dimension is incomplete

A form of education that ignores or marginalises the moral and religious dimension of the person is a hindrance to full education, because ‘children and young people have a right to be motivated to appraise moral values with a right conscience, to embrace them with a personal adherence, together with a deeper knowledge and love of God.’ (Congregation for Catholic Education. Circular Letter to the Presidents of Bishops´ Confereces on Religious Education in Schools, no. 1, May 5, 2009)

Benedict XVI

  • Religious teaching may not be reduced to a generic sociology of religions

And the teaching in question cannot be reduced to a generic sociology of religions, because there is no such thing as generic, non-denominational religion. Thus, not only does denominational religious teaching in state schools do no damage to the secularism of the State, but in addition it guarantees the right of their parents to choose the education for their children, thereby contributing to promote the common good. (Benedict XVI. Address to the new ambassador of Brazil to the Holy See, 31 October, 2011)

John Paul II

  • At the apex of all interest should be the Person, work and message of Jesus Christ

At the center of school teaching, at the apex of all interest, should be the Person, work and message of Christ: He is our true Master (cf. Mt 23:8-10), He is our way, truth and life (cf. Jn 14:6), He is our Redeemer and Saviour (cf. Eph 1:7, Col 1:14). An irreplaceable obligation and priority, for teachers as well as for students, is that of knowing Jesus, studying, analyzing and meditating the Sacred Scripture, not as a mere history book, but as a perpetual testimony of He who Lives, because Jesus has risen and is ‘seated at the right hand of the Father’. (John Paul II. Address to teachers and studens of the Massimo and Santa Maria Institutes in Rome, no.4, February 9, 1980)

  • Catholic teaching is very important at all levels of education

This very quick outline would be sufficient to highlight the importance that I give to all Catholic teaching in general, at its diverse levels, and in particular to Catholic univerisity thought today. The Catholic ambience that you desire is situated much beyond a simple exteriority. It implies the will to form towards a Christian perspective of the world; a particular way to learn about reality and even to undertake all of your studies, no matter how diverse they may be.  I speak here, as you well understand, of a perspective that goes beyond the limits and methods of the particular sciences to arrive at the understanding that you should have of yourselves, of your role within society and the meaning of your life. (John Paul II. Speech on the visit to the Institut Catholique in Paris, no.4, June 1, 1980)

Paul VI

  • Catholic teaching may not remain on a merely intellectual level

No one will deny that this instruction must be given to form patterns of Christian living and not to remain only notional. Truly the effort for evangelization will profit greatly- at the level of catechetical instruction given at church, in the schools, where this is possible, and in every case in Christian homes. (Paul VI. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, no. 44, December 8, 1975)

Pius XI

  • Parents have the duty to seek schools that form their children in true Catholic doctrine

Let it be loudly proclaimed and well understood and recognized by all, that Catholics, no matter what their nationality, in agitating for Catholic schools for their children, are not mixing in party politics, but are engaged in a religious enterprise demanded by conscience. They do not intend to separate their children either from the body of the nation or its spirit, but to educate them in a perfect manner, most conducive to the prosperity of the nation. Indeed a good Catholic, precisely because of his Catholic principles, makes the better citizen, attached to his country, and loyally submissive to constituted civil authority in every legitimate form of government. (Pius XI. Encyclical Divini illius magistri, no. 73, December 31, 1929)

Congregation for Catholic Education

  • Without Catholic education, students are deprived of an essential element of their formation

A concept of the human person being open to the transcendent necessarily includes the element of religious education in schools: it is an aspect of the right to education (cf. CIC can.799). Without religious education, pupils would be deprived of an essential element of their formation and personal development, which helps them attain a vital harmony between faith and culture. (Congregation for Catholic Education, Circular Letter to the Presidents of Bishops’ Conferences on Religious Education in Schools, no. 10, May 5, 2009)

Pius XII

  • An education indifferent to Christianity is a crime of high treason against the King of kings

Such an education might seem perhaps to the rulers responsible for it, a source of increased strength and vigor; it would be, in fact, the opposite, as sad experience would prove. The crime of high treason against the ‘King of kings and Lord of lords’ (1Tim 6:15, cf. Apoc 19:6) perpetrated by an education that is either indifferent or opposed to Christianity, the reversal of ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me’ (Mt 19:14), would bear most bitter fruits. (Pius XII. Encyclical Summi Pontificatus, no. 68, October 20, 1939)

  • The formation of youth that alienates from Christ is a scandal

The same Christ Who pronounced the words ‘Suffer little children to come unto me’ has threatened, for all His mercy and goodness, with fearful evils, those who give scandal to those so dear to His heart. Now what scandal is more permanently harmful to generation after generation, than a formation of youth which is misdirected towards a goal that alienates from Christ ‘the Way and the Truth and the Life’ and leads to open or hidden apostasy from Christ? (Pius XII. Encyclical Summi Pontificatus, no. 68-69, October 20, 1939)

  • An education system that proclaims apostasy from Christ pronounces a sentence of condemnation against itself

A system of education that should not respect the sacred precincts of the Christian family, protected by God’s holy law, that should attack its foundations, bar to the young the way to Christ, to the Savior’s fountains of life and joy (cf. Is 12: 3), that should consider apostasy from Christ and the Church as a proof of fidelity to the people or a particular class, would pronounce against itself the sentence and wold experiment in time the undeniable truth of the pophet’s word: ‘They that depart from thee, shall be written in the earth’ (Jer 12:13). (Pius XII. Encyclical Summi Pontificatus, no.70, October 20, 1939)

Pius XI

  • Exclusion of religion is contrary to the fundamental principles of education

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. (Pius XI. Encyclical Divini illius magistri, no.  79, December 31, 1929)

Congregation for the Clergy

  • Religious instruction should be taken with the same seriousness as other disciplines

It is necessary, therefore, that religious instruction in schools appear as a scholastic discipline with the same systematic demands and the same rigor as other disciplines. It must present the Christian message and the Christian event with the same seriousness and the same depth with which other disciplines present their knowledge. It should not be an accessory alongside of these disciplines, but rather it should engage in a necessary inter-disciplinary dialogue. This dialogue should take place above all at that level at which every discipline forms the personality of students. […] Through inter-disciplinary dialogue religious instruction in schools underpins, activates, develops and completes the educational activity of the school. (Congregation for the Clergy. General Directory for Catechesis, April 17, 1998)

IV – The Benefits of Catholic Education for Youth

Pius XI

  • There is no education more perfect than Christian education

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 end 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, and that in the present order of Providence, since God has revealed Himself to us in the Person of His Only Begotten Son, who alone is ‘the way, the truth and the life (Jn 14:6),’ there can be no ideally perfect education which is not Christian education. (Pius XI. Encyclical Divini illius magistri, no. 7, December 31, 1929)

  • Christian education is unsurpassable for it aims at securing the Supreme Good for souls

From these same principles, the excellence, we may well call it the unsurpassed excellence, of the work of Christian education becomes manifest and clear; for after all it aims at securing the Supreme Good, that is, God, for the souls of those who are being educated, and the maximum of well-being possible here below for human society. (Pius XI. Encyclical Divini illius magistri, no. 8, December 31, 1929)

  • For a Catholic school to be worthy of its title, it is necessary that all the teaching and the whole organization of the school be regulated by the Christian spirit

For the mere fact that a school gives some religious instruction (often extremely stinted), does not bring it into accord with the rights of the Church and of the Christian family, or make it a fit place for Catholic students. To be this, it is necessary that all the teaching and the whole organization of the school, and its teachers, syllabus and text-books in every branch, 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 crown of the youth’s entire training; and this in every grade of school, not only the elementary, but the intermediate and the higher institutions of learning as well. (Pius XI. Encyclical Divini illius magistri, no. 80, December 31, 1929)

Young people, unaccustomed to the fear of God, will not endure the restraint of an upright life, they will not venture even to deny anything to their passions, and will easily be seduced into troubling the State. (Leo XIII. Encyclical Nobilissima Gallorum gens, February 8, 1884)

Leo XIII

  • Necessity of forming young people in the fear of God

Young people, unaccustomed to the fear of God, will not endure the restraint of an upright life, they will not venture even to deny anything to their passions, and will easily be seduced into troubling the State. (Leo XIII. Encyclical Nobilissima Gallorum gens, February 8, 1884)

Pius XI

  • When religion is banished from education, materialism is fostered

When religion is banished from the school, from education and from public life, when the representatives of Christianity and its sacred rites are held up to ridicule, are we not really fostering the materialism which is the fertile soil of Communism? Neither force, however well organized it be, nor earthly ideals however lofty or noble, can control a movement whose roots lie in the excessive esteem for the goods of this world. (Pius XI. Encyclical Divini Redemptoris, no. 78, March 19, 1937)

John Paul II

  • Catholic parents should give preference to Catholic schools

Together with and in connection with the family, the school provides catechesis with possibilities that are not to be neglected. In the unfortunately decreasing number of countries in which it is possible to give education in the faith within the school framework, the Church has the duty to do so as well as possible. This of course concerns first and foremost the Catholic school: it would no longer deserve this title if, no matter how much it shone for its high level of teaching in non-religious matters, there were justification for reproaching it for negligence or deviation in strictly religious education. Let it not be said that such education will always be given implicitly and indirectly. 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, no. 69, October 16, 1979)

  • Religious instruction enables the advance in the students’ spiritual formation

I express the fervent wish that, […] all Catholic pupils may be enabled to advance in their spiritual formation with the aid of a religious instruction dependent on the Church, but which, according to the circumstances of different countries, can be offered either by the school or in the setting of the school, or again within the framework of an agreement with the public authorities regarding school timetables, if catechesis takes place only in the parish or in another pastoral center. (John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi Tradendae, no. 69, October 16, 1979)

  •  Catholic education prepares one to assume future responsibilities

I am delighted to know that your Government is willing to help families […] to continue the programs of religious instruction in secondary schools. Indeed, the young generations must benefit from a sound formation to prepare them to assume their responsibilities in the society of the future. (John Paul II. Speech to the Ambassador of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg to the Holy See, no.4, December 16, 2004)

  • Catholic schools form exemplary citizens

At times, unfortunately, when one speaks of the ‘Catholic’ school, it is considered only as a rival, or even in opposition, to other schools, especially the State schools. But this is not true! The Catholic school has always intended and intends to form Christians who are also exemplary citizens, capable of applying the entire contribution of their intelligence, their seriousness, and their competence for the right and ordered construction of the civil community. (John Paul II. Address to teachers and students of the Massimo and Santa Maria Institutes of Rome, no.4, February 9, 1980)

  • Catholic teaching enlightens the sciences with the light of faith

The Church exhorts the responsibility of lay persons in the formation of the youth in the light of the faith. And one of the privileged fields of this formation continues to be the Catholic school […] Every time that the Church emphasizes the interest and the advantage of Catholic teaching, it logically supposes that it may do so in a manner that realizes its objectives: create an atmosphere animated by an evangelical spirit of liberty and charity, permitting youth to develop their human personality and their being as baptized, such that the knowledge they acquire gradually from the world, from life and from man be illuminated by faith. (John Paul II. Speech to the members of the Central Office for Catholic Teaching in Holland, October 17, 1980)

  •  A Christian vision of man and the world

By assuring high quality teaching, Catholic schools present a Christian vision of man and of the world that offers young people the chance for a fruitful dialogue between faith and reason. Likewise, it is their duty to transmit values to be assimilated and values to be discovered, ‘with the awareness that all human values find their fulfillment and consequently their unity in Christ’. (John Paul II. Speech to the participants in the International Congress of the Catholic Schools of Europe, April 28, 2001)

  • Catholic schools cooperate for a transformation of all society

Cultural upheavals, the making relative of moral values and the worrisome weakening of the family bond generate a sincere anxiety in young people, which is inevitably reflected in their way of living, learning and planning their future. Such a context invites European Catholic schools to propose an authentic educational programme that will permit young people not only to acquire a human, moral and spiritual maturity, but also to commit themselves effectively to the transformation of society, while also being concerned about working for the coming of the Kingdom of God. (John Paul II. Speech to the participants in the International Congress of the Catholic Schools of Europe, April 28, 2001)

  • Teaching the doctrine of the Church affirms true human dignity

Ensuring the clear teaching of the fundamental truths presented by the moral doctrine of the Church, we will be promoting a new affirmation of the dignity of the human person, a correct understanding of conscience, which is the only solid basis for the exercise of human freedom, as well as the base for living together in solidarity and civic harmony. All this constitutes an essential service for the common good. How can modern society free from itself from the increasing decadence of its destructive behavior – which includes the violation of the rights of the human person – without recovering the inviolable character of the moral norms that must, always and everywhere, guide human conduct? (John Paul II. Speech to the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Brazil, no. 3, Octubre 18, 1995)

  • Catholic schools prepare youth for the highest ideals

In a civilization that at times experiences the temptation  of leveling man and society, and possessing the technical means to do so,  it is more necessary than ever to promote – especially for young people hungering for reasons to live – educational spaces […] The Catholic school, without seeking predominance and much less triumphalism, has the ambition to simultaneously promote the most vast and profound acquisition of knowledge possible,  demanding and persevering education of the true human liberty, and the preparation of children and adolescents for the highest ideals: Jesus Christ and the message of the Gospel. (John Paul II. Speech to the members of the Council of the World Union of Catholic Teachers, April 18, 1983)

Benedict XVI

  • Religious teaching is a necessary value for the person’s integral formation.

Among these areas of mutual collaboration I would like to stress here, Mister Ambassador, that of education to which the Church has contributed with countless educational institutions whose prestige is recognized by society as a whole. The role of education cannot, in fact, be reduced to the mere transmission of knowledge and skills that aim to form a professional but must include all the aspects of the person, from his social side to his yearning for the transcendent. For this reason it is appropriate to reaffirm, as was confirmed in the above-mentioned Agreement of 2008, that far from implying that the State assumes or imposes a specific religious creed, denominational religious teaching in state schools, means recognition of religion as a necessary value for the person’s integral formation. (Benedict XVI. Address to the new ambassador of Brazil to the Holy See, October 31, 2011)

  • The religious dimension makes it possible to transform knowledge into wisdom

The religious dimension is in fact intrinsic to culture. It contributes to the overall formation of the person and makes it possible to transform knowledge into wisdom of life. (Benedict XVI. Speech to the Catholic religion teachers, April 25, 2009)

  • The teaching of the Catholic religion capacitates the person to discover goodness

Thanks to the teaching of the Catholic religion, school and society are enriched with true laboratories of culture and humanity in which, by deciphering the significant contribution of Christianity, the person is equipped to discover goodness and to grow in responsibility, to seek comparisons and to refine his or her critical sense, to draw from the gifts of the past to understand the present better and to be able to plan wisely for the future. (Benedict XVI. Speech to the Catholic religion teachers, April 25, 2009)

Congregation for Catholic Education

  • Marginalization of religious education harms students

The marginalization of religious education in schools is equivalent to assuming – at least in practice – an ideological position that can lead pupils into error or do them a disservice. Moreover, if religious education is limited to a presentation of the different religions, in a comparative and ‘neutral’ way, it creates confusion or generates religious relativism or indifferentism. (Congregation for Catholic Education, Circular Letter to the Presidents of Bishops’ Confereneces of Religious Education in Schools, May 5, 2009)

  • Incentive for the development of personal and social responsibility

Moral formation and religious education also foster the development of personal and social responsibility and the other civic virtues; they represent, therefore, am important contribution to the common good of society. (Congregation for Catholic Education, Circular Letter to the Presidents of Bishops’ Confereneces of Religious Education in Schools, May 5, 2009)

Vatican Council II

  • Education to promote the good of the earthly city and the spreading of the Kingdom

So indeed the Catholic school, while it is open, as it must be, to the situation of the contemporary world, leads its students to promote efficaciously the good of the earthly city and also prepares them for service in the spread of the Kingdom of God, so that by leading an exemplary apostolic life they become, as it were, a saving leaven in the human community. (Vatican Council II. Declaration Gravissimum Educationis, no. 8, October 28, 1965)

Congregation for the Clergy

  • Religious instruction provides responses to key questions

Those students who are searching, or who have religious doubts, can also find in religious instruction the possibility of discovering what exactly faith in Jesus Christ is, what response the Church makes to their questions, and gives them the opportunity to examine their own choice more deeply. (Congregation for the Clergy. General Directory for Catechesis, no. 75, April 17, 1998)

  •  Religious instruction has a missionary role for students who are non-believers

In the case of students who are non-believers, religious instruction assumes the character of a missionary proclamation of the Gospel and is ordered to a decision of faith, which catechesis, in its turn, will nurture and mature. (Congregation for the Clergy. General Directory for Catechesis, no. 75, April 17, 1998)

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