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Church Teaching on Home Education

        The inviolable principles which this document Christian Education of Youth lays down regarding the Church, family, and State in the matter of education, are based on the very nature of things and on revealed truth. They cannot be shaken by the ebb and flow of events. As for the fundamental rules which it prescribes, these too are not subject to the wear and tear of time, since they are only the faithful echo of the Divine Master, Whose words shall never pass away.

Pope Pius XII in a 1955 papal letter to Cardinal Malines

Educational Content

        Religion must not be taught to youth only during certain hours, but the entire system of education must be permeated with the sense of Christian piety. If this is lacking, if this Holy Spirit does not penetrate and inflame the souls of teacher and pupil, small benefit will be derived from any other sort of education; instead damage will be done...
        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, and by its sweetness and majesty must make so great an impression on the minds of youth as to be an incitement to better things.
        Therefore, it is the duty of parents to make every effort to prevent any invasion of their rights in this matter, and to make absolutely sure that the education of their children remain under their own control in keeping with their Christian duty, and above all to refuse to send them to those schools in which there is danger of imbibing the deadly poison of impiety...

Militantis Ecclesiae, Pope Leo XIII

The Role of the State

        The first natural and necessary element in this environment, as regards education, is the family, and this precisely because it is so ordained by the Creator Himself. Accordingly, that education which is received in a well-ordered and well-disciplined Christian family will, as a rule be more effective and lasting, and more efficacious in proportion to the clear and constant good example set, first by the parents, and then by the other members of the household...
        The State therefore has the duty to respect the prior rights of the family and of the church in the matter of education, and even protect these rights. If the State were to "monopolize education," this would violate the rights of individuals, of the family, and of the Church.

Christian Education of Youth, Pope Pius XI

        The right and duty of parents to give education is essential, since it is connected with the transmission of human life; it is original and primary with regard to the education role of others...it is irreplaceable and inalienable, and therefore incapable of being entirely delegated to others or usurped by others.

Familiaris Consortio, Pope John Paul II

Responsibility of the Parents

        The matrimonial convenant...is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of children...

1983 Code of Canon Law, Canon 1055.1

        ...Since they [parents] have conferred life on their children, parents have the original, primary, and inalienable right to educate them; hence they must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children.
        Parents have the right to educate their children in conformity with their moral and religious convictions, taking into account the cultural traditions of the family...

Charter of the Rights of the Family, Pope John Paul II

        The charge laid by God on parents, to provide for the material and spiritual well-being of their offspring and to procure for them a suitable training, imbued with the true spirit of religion, cannot be wrested from them without grave violation of their rights.

Summi Pontificatus, Pope Pius XI

        The right and duty of parents to give education is essential, since it is connected with the transmission of human life; it is original and primary with regard to the education role of others...it is irreplaceable and inalienable, and therefore incapable of being entirely delegated to others or usurped by others.

Familiaris Consortio, Pope John Paul II

        Parents have a most grave duty and enjoy the primary right of educating to the very best of their ability, their children physically, socially, culturally, morally, and religiously as well.

1983 Code of Canon Law, Canon 1136


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This page was updated on January 26, 2001.