Pontiff: Schools Should Complement Families

Notes Both Catholic and Public Institutions Have This Role

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 8, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI says the role of Catholic schools alongside state schools is clear when the primary role of families as first educators is recognized.

The Pope proposed this Saturday when he addressed bishops from two of Brazil’s southern regions. The prelates were in Rome for their five-yearly visit.

The Holy Father reflected on the effects of a healthy secularism on educational institutions, saying that it “does not imply the negation of transcendence, nor even a mere neutrality vis-a-vis those moral requisites and values that constitute the basis of a genuine formation of the person, including religious education.”

Catholic schools, the Pontiff continued, are “at the service of society. They carry out a public function and a service of public usefulness that is not reserved only to Catholics but open to all those who wish to benefit from a qualified educational system.”

Benedict XVI asserted that the problem of the juridical and economic comparison of state schools with Catholic schools will be seen in the correct context “if we begin by recognizing the primary role of families and the complementary nature of other educational institutions.”

In this regard, he cited Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirms that parents have the right to choose what type of education their children receive.

Catholic schools have been committed to this for centuries, he added, “stimulated by an even more radical force, namely, the force that makes of Christ the center of the educational process.”
At the beginning of the meeting, Archbishop Murilo Ramos Krieger of Florianopolis, president of the South 4 Region of the Brazilian episcopal conference, said that in his country the educational endeavor of the Church takes place “in a world marked by relativism and individualism,” as is the case in other Western nations.

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