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Divini Illius Magistri – The Role of the State – Part 6

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Pope Pius XI begins his examination of the role of the secular State in education by pointing out that in many cases the State has violated the rights of the family. He also tells us that the Catholic Church has always come to the defence of the family.

This is done despite the fact that the majority of citizens may be Catholic. The leaders of western secular States seem to have forgotten that they are servants of the people and not their masters. The secular State does not own the money it administers, rather, it is duty bound to use the taxes gathered for the common good of the citizens. The primary good being the salvation of souls.

Whilst the teachings of the Catholic Church remain crystal clear on the rights and duties of the Church, the parents, and the secular State, it is a sad reality that many within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church have failed to defend those rights. This has resulted in the secular State, most notably in western democracies, severely infringing on the rights of both the Church and of the family with little or no opposition from those whose primary duty it is to defend our Catholic schools.

The bishops seek to co-operate with the secular State by a compromise which claims to allow both the Church and the State to have influence over the children in the care of Catholic schools. The bishops will produce educational programmes whilst at the same time refraining from direct opposition to the secular State programmes which contradict the teachings of the Catholic Church. This compromise has led to programmes being developed at the behest of Catholic bishops conferences which are seriously defective in content. It would seem that this is done so as to cause little or no offence to the secular powers.

Another common problem is the modernist view. Everything has to be progressive and up to date and the historical, highly successful methods of teaching catechism are frowned upon as being outdated. The result is that at least two generations of Irish Catholics have been left with a serious deficiency in their understanding of the Catholic faith which, unsurprisingly, has led to them abandoning the Catholic faith.

Wonderful as it is for the Catholic Church to offer her help to parents, it comes with a proviso that the Catholic educators heed what was said earlier in this encyclical: “It is therefore as important to make no mistake in education, as it is to make no mistake in the pursuit of the last end, with which the whole work of education is intimately and necessarily connected.” (Divini Illius Magistri 7) If the education being offered in Catholic schools is seriously deficient, it will be disastrous for the societies that are affected by it.

This statement only holds true, as noted above, when the Catholic schools are teaching the Catholic faith correctly and are preventing what is contrary to the Catholic faith from being taught in the Catholic schools. Otherwise, the Catholic schools, as in Ireland, become a part of the problem. It is these deficiencies in Catholic educational establishments that have led to the growth of the home school movement. Parents who are alert to what has happened, realise that they now need to protect their children from the Catholic schools.

Click on the Image Above to read Éanna Johnson’s critique of the Alive-O programme

Pope Pius XI will now examine the rights and duties of the secular civil State, but it is important to note just how much has changed since he wrote this encyclical in 1929. Nonetheless, the points that he makes are more valid than ever given that western democracies have usurped the role of education to their own materialistic ends.

This is a very important point. The State’s role in education differs from that of both the Catholic Church and of parents. The State’s role is to facilitate the Catholic education of children. However, when secular States become hostile to the teachings of the Catholic Church, they will always encroach on education seeking to impose their secular ideologies on the youngest members of society in order to further propagate their errors. Pope Pius XI outlines this as follows.

The State’s role may increase in individual cases where the parents, for whatever reason, are failing in their duties to their children.

The civil State’s primary role is to provide the means that are required for Catholics to establish a Catholic school system and the State is free to establish schools of its own, provided these do not damage the common good. This principle has been lost in modern times.

To be cont’d…

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