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Divini Illius Magistri – The Role of the Catholic Church – Part 4

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As I begin the fourth article in this series on Pope Pius XI’s encyclical letter ‘Divini Illius Magistri’ the Irish government has just published the wording of two referenda to be held on March 8th 2024. Once again we witness the Irish government attacking the institution of the traditional Catholic family and attacking mothers who wish to stay at home to nurture and educate their children in the Catholic faith, rather than become slaves of industry. The Irish government is slowly but surely denuding the Irish constitution of the last vestiges of a once proud Christian society. They wish to replace it with a dangerous ideology which will eventually lead to the collapse of Irish society. The Irish government are not acting in the best interests of the citizens of their country nor are they acting at the behest of those citizens. The orders for their actions come from powers residing outside of Ireland. Later on in this encyclical Pope Pius XI will delve into the rightful authority of the civil state and its limitations. I hope to write more on this shortly, but for now let us continue with Pope Pius XI’s examination of the role of the Catholic Church in the education of children.

(image – Catholic Historical Research Centre – Archdiocese of Philadelphia)

Because the Catholic Church’s mission to teach comes directly from God, it is above the civil law. Any civil laws enacted which seek to prevent the Catholic Church from fulfilling her mission to teach all nations are contrary to the moral order of God. They are, therefore, not binding on Catholics. In our time, what we see happening is that the civil authorities are taking over the education system established by the Catholic Church and corrupting it to their own ideological ends. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Ireland.

In Ireland we lack true leadership in the Catholic Hierarchy and our bishops are allowing the corruption of the once Catholic education system without any significant push-back against the secular authorities. It is possible that the Irish bishops are fearful of what the state authorities might do were they to publicly oppose the false and dangerous gender ideology that is being mandated in the Catholic schools of Ireland. At some stage, the corrupt and corrupting Irish civil authorities will have to be rigorously opposed regardless of the short term consequences. The lives of children in Ireland are already being destroyed by government policies.

The Irish bishops seek to compromise with the secular state by devising catechetical programmes for use in the religious classes of Catholic schools. This allows the perverse ideologies to be introduced into other subjects in the schools. There is a pretence that what makes a school Catholic is the religious syllabus.

But even were this true, the catechetical programmes that have been in use in Irish Catholic schools for many decades are severely deficient when it comes to handing on the Catholic faith. It is not popular for a Catholic layman to point out this unsavoury truth, but the fact remains, that, in Ireland, the Catholic schools are for the most part, not really Catholic.

As a consequence of this, the levels of apostasy from the Catholic faith in Ireland are astounding. In a homily given at the ordination of seven deacons in 2011, the Archbishop of Dublin, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin noted that, “On a given Sunday only about 18% of the Catholic population attends Mass in the Archdiocese of Dublin.” He also noted that “Many young people, despite years of religious education, have only marginal interest in the message of Jesus.” (Archbishop Diarmuid Martin – Homily at Diaconate Ordinations 29/05/2011).

The difficulty I have with all of this is that nobody within the Irish Catholic hierarchy wants to take responsibility for the failure of the Catholic schools to play their part in handing on the Catholic faith. Parents are sometimes called to task, but Catholic parents are not charged with ensuring that Catholic schools are catholic. That is not their job. Catholic parents did not devise the disastrous catechetical programmes that were used on their children in the Catholic schools of Ireland. These programmes were commissioned and deployed by the Irish bishops. These programmes have been a colossal failure and this needs to be both admitted and then a plan needs to be devised to correct the severe deficiencies in these programmes. But that is not all.

The diocesan bishops is charged under Canon Law with ensuring that everything that happens in a Catholic school is in conformity with Catholic Church teaching and that nothing contrary to the Catholic faith is being taught in these schools.

In the case where the schools available to Catholic parents are not “imbued with a Christian spirit,” the diocesan bishop is charged under Canon Law with establishing such schools.

Kylemore Abbey, Galway –
The Benedictine Nuns ran a secondary school for girls here from 1923 – 2010
(photo: Vincent Creton – Unsplash)

The situation in Ireland and elsewhere in the world is very onerous for Catholic parents. Catholic parents have a duty to ensure that their children are educated in the Catholic faith, but the Catholic schools are now undermining the Catholic faith of the children who attend. Most of the bishops seem to be unwilling to intervene or to stand up to the secular authorities regarding Catholic education. There are of course a few great exceptions, and we mentioned Archbishop Alexander Sample in the previous article.

I will again be falsely accused of ‘bashing’ the bishops for saying what I have said. The reason that I keep coming back to this point is that Jesus Christ appointed the apostles, that is the bishops, to preach and to teach the Catholic faith. The bishops are the stewards of the “Deposit of the Faith”. Jesus Christ entrusted the power of the keys to the bishops. The power of binding and loosing. When the bishops fail to exercise their God given authority in any given society, that society will begin to fail. If the bishops do not reclaim their lawful authority within a society, many souls will be lost. Pope Pius XI’s encyclical ‘Divini Illius Magistri’ cannot, of itself, recover what has been lost. The Catholic bishops of the world need to proclaim and to reclaim their authority within society and within the field of education.

That is why the encyclical is first addressed to “The Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops, and other Ordinaries in peace and communion with The Apostolic See” before being address to “all the faithful of the Catholic world.”

In Ireland, the Irish Catholic bishops need to reform the Catholic schools of the country so that a great Evangelisation can once again take place. They need to stop looking to secular legislation for guidance and they must return to their primary mission of teaching the truths of the Catholic faith and of rooting out the errors which are proliferating throughout the Catholic world.

After pointing to the great achievements of the Catholic Church in education, Pope Pius XI continues:

Man is a composite being of body and soul with the life of the soul being of far greater importance than the life of the body. This truth needs to be re-asserted in our world in order to stop the corruption that worship of the body brings about. The false ideologies which teach children that men can become women and that girls can become boys, must be strongly opposed. But we must remember that the war that we are engaged in is primarily a spiritual war. Therefore those who fight on the side of God need to make sure to remain in a state of Grace. If they fall from that state, then they need to go to confession. We cannot fight this battle without the spiritual weapons spoken of by St Paul in his letter to the Ephesians.

To be cont’d…

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