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By Deacon Keith Fournier

5/16/2012 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (

The statement received a lot of coverage in the broader Christian community for its specific reference to homeschooling

"For some time now, my delegation has noticed a disconcerting trend, namely, the desire on the part of some to downplay the role of parents in the upbringing of their children, as if to suggest somehow that it is not the role of parents, but that of the State. In this regard it is important that the natural and thus essential relationship between parents and their children be affirmed and supported, not undermined."


By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (

5/16/2012 (3 years ago)

Published in Marriage & Family

Keywords: Home School, parental choice, school choice, family politics, UN, Permanent Observer, Deacon Keith Fournier

NEW YORK,NY (Catholic Online) - The Holy See's Permanent Observer to the United Nations issued a statement to the United Nations restating the constant and clear stand of the Catholic Church on the irreplaceable role of parents in the education of their children.

"For some time now, my delegation has noticed a disconcerting trend, namely, the desire on the part of some to downplay the role of parents in the upbringing of their children, as if to suggest somehow that it is not the role of parents, but that of the State. In this regard it is important that the natural and thus essential relationship between parents and their children be affirmed and supported, not undermined."

The statement received a lot of coverage in the broader Christian community for its specific reference to homeschooling. The statement continued, "The State should respect the choices that parents make for their children and avoid attempts at ideological indoctrination."

"International law affirms that states must respect the freedom of parents to choose how to educate their children, which could be in schools that are not established by public authorities.The Catholic school assists parents who have the right and duty to choose schools inclusive of homeschooling, and they must possess the freedom to do so, which in turn, must be respected and facilitated by the State."

In his Apostolic Exhortation on the family, "Familiaris Consortio" Blessed John Paul II  wrote: "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 educational role of others, on account of the uniqueness of the loving relationship between parents and children; it is irreplaceable and inalienable, and therefore incapable of being entirely delegated to others or usurped by others..."

In his "Letter to Families" he wrote "Parents are the first and most important educators of their own children, and they also possess a fundamental competence in this area; they are educators because they are parents. They share their educational mission with other individuals or institutions, such as the Church and the State. But the mission of education must always be carried out in accordance with a proper application of the Principle of Subsidiarity.

"This implies the legitimacy and indeed the need of giving assistance to the parents, but finds its intrinsic and absolute limit in their prevailing right and actual capabilities. The principle of subsidiarity is thus at the service of parental love, meeting the good of the family unit. For parents by themselves are not capable of satisfying every requirement of the whole process of raising children; especially in matters concerning their schooling and the entire gamut of socialization."

The words of the late Pope underscore the application of the principle of subsidiarity in the education of children, "Subsidiarity thus complements paternal and maternal love and confirms its fundamental nature, inasmuch as all other participants in the process of education are only able to carry out their responsibilities in the name of the parents, with their consent and, to a certain degree, with their authorization." This is true on both the National and International level.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms the right of parents to choose a school for their children, "As those first responsible for the education of their children, parents have the right to choose a school for them which corresponds to their own convictions. This right is fundamental. As far as possible parents have the duty of choosing schools that will best help them in their task as Christian educators. Public authorities have the duty of guaranteeing this parental right and of ensuring the concrete conditions for its exercise." (CCC#2229)

The teaching of the Catholic Church on the primacy of parents in the educational mission is clear and consistent. The family is the first cell of society, the first church, first government, first school, first hospital, first economy, and the first mediating institution of society. Any just and efficient philosophy of government must be grounded in the recognition that the family is the first government and defer to it. All other government outside of the family must first be at its service and assist parents not usurp their priamry role.

In "The Role of the Christian family in the Modern World" Blessed John Paul II called for the development of a "family politics". It is time to build such a "family politics" on the national and International level. Parents are the first teachers of their children. All education begins in the home. It is the right of parents to choose where their children go to school.

That choice for parents should include the full array of options, public, private, parochial, charter and home schools, no matter what their economic status. It is better for the children, better for society and more economically efficient. Education outside of the home is an extension of the parent's primary educational mission.

Good government, at the State, National and International level, must respect the primacy of parents in the education of their children. The statement of the Holy See's permanent mission is welcome.


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