«Good Idea» for Freedom of Education, Cardinal Sodano Says

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 7, 2000 ( Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, expressed his support for a system of school vouchers to foster freedom of education.

During a meeting today with the Catholic Union of Secondary School Teachers, the cardinal said it was a «good idea,» and advocated legislation that will allow parents to choose the school they prefer for their children, whether private or public.

Cardinal Sodano spoke at the height of a debate on this issue in Italy. The Lombardy Region, which is governed by the center-right, adopted a system of school vouchers, which allows parents to pay part of the costs entailed in private education. In Italy, private schools do not received any assistance from the state.

However, the central government of Rome, a center-left coalition, obliged the Lombardy Region, whose capital is Milan, to halt the project, saying it is unconstitutional. At present, the case is being analyzed by Lombardy´s Regional Court.

The system of school vouchers is also being studied as a possibility by some U.S. states, in order to guarantee parents with lesser resources the possibility of enjoying the right to freedom of education. The proposal provides for the state to give families checks, or vouchers, that can be used to cover the cost of schooling, whether public or private, according to their wishes. However, in two states, California and Michigan, voters recently rejected voucher proposals.

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