Principles of Catholic Education:

1. The subject of Christian education is man whole and entire, soul united to body in unity of nature, with all his faculties natural and supernatural, such as right reason and Revelation show him to be.

2. Since education consists essentially in preparing man for what he must be and for what he must do here below, in order to attain the sublime end for which he was created, it is clear that there can be no true education which is not wholly directed to man’s last end.

3. Since God has revealed Himself to us in the Person of His Only Begotten Son, who alone is “the way, the truth and the life,” there can be no ideally perfect education which is not Christian education.

4. Every form of pedagogic naturalism which in any way excludes or overlooks supernatural Christian formation in the teaching of youth is false.

5. Every method of education founded, wholly or in part, on the denial or forgetfulness of Original Sin and of grace, and relying on the sole powers of human nature, is unsound.

6. The school from which religion is excluded is contrary to the fundamental principles of education.

The Encyclical of Pius XI, Divini Illius Magistri.

Catholic Schools

Catholic schools exist in this country because public schools cannot include religion as a part of the education. As a religious school, it fundamentally serves—alongside to increase factual knowledge—to encourage students to acquire “right habits, attitudes, interests and ideals” and increase interest in a pupil’s own character formation, and in the knowledge and practice of morality and religion. The education is concerned with the inner lives of the children, and so prayer, the sacraments, and grace are considered very important.

    The Catholic form of education does not provide fixed rules for methodology for the teacher, rather a set of principles based upon the religion. To help the teachers educate the students, four approaches to education are described by Redden Ryan (A Catholic Philosophy of Education): (1) The emotional, by which the pupils’ emotions are aroused; (2) the environmental, whereby concrete situations provide specific contacts with objects and individuals; (3) The intellectual, by which the child comes to know what is true by the recognition of facts; (4) the moral, which emphasizes that conduct must conform with principles that are in agreement with the individual’s rational nature and the moral law.

    Catholics’ definition of humans’ free will, which enables humans to “select good or evil,” is where Catholic education is separated from the majority of other education. To Catholics, this physical freedom does not imply that the person is morally free. The religion is clear about what people “ought” and “ought not” to do, and sees the teacher as an authority figure for children. “Authority…implies that dynamic influence and wholesome guidance of the mature mind over the immature…. The teacher’s authority is derived from a prior, justly constituted authority [more...]

which, in its turn, has its source and sanction from God.”

    There is a hierarchy, which puts controls upon the teachers. It is considered the teacher’s “sacred duty” to teach the truth, which implies that the church believes there are absolute truths. The doctrines of the church, considered the truth, which “does not lend itself to individual interpretation,” are of course not to be questioned. This does not mean that teachers will not present their own hypotheses, if presented as such, and examine or question them. They may present Darwin’s theory of evolution, but it would be presented as a theory, next to the church’s truth that mankind was created by a special act of God. Thus Catholic teaching stresses that humans are more and superior to lower forms of life because they have “immortal souls” of which “the intellect is one manifestation or power, reason another, and free will still another.” [more...]

One must distinguish immediately, therefore, between academic freedom, properly so called, and academic license.… Oftentimes, ‘what one wants to teach’ may not be the truth. Indeed, it may be nothing more than individual opinion, misinformation, inexact notions of fundamental principles and issues, an unfounded prejudice, or some personal conceit. Not infrequently, it may be plain, unadulterated error.

John Redden, A Catholic Philosophy of Education

The purpose and immediate end of Christian education is to cooperate with divine grace in forming the true and perfect Christian.… For precisely this reason Christian education takes the whole aggregate of human life, physical and spiritual, intellectual and moral, individual, domestic and social, not with a view of reducing it in any way, but in order to elevate, regulate and perfect it, in accordance with the example and teaching of Christ.

Pope Pius XI

turn to next page...