Catholic Schools and the Primacy of the Family

In recent posts, I've addressed the role of parents in the modern world, using as my starting point Jennifer Senior's discussion in her recent (and very good) book All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood.

Having had a chance to review the "Instrumentum Laboris" (working document) for the upcoming Synod on the Family, I want to share this reflection from the document that addresses similar issues, specifically what the bishops refer to as "difficulties" concerning the transmission of the faith and the role of Catholic schools:

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Every bishops’ conference response and many observations reveal profound changes affecting the educational task of the family, despite the obvious differentiation of traditional elements still present in society, where the family lives or developments, and the effects of secularization. Bishops in western Europe recall the powerful generational conflict which seemed to have taken place in the sixties and seventies of the last century. Today, perhaps conditioned by those experiences, parents appear overly cautious in applying any pressure on their children in religious practice. Precisely in this regard, they seek to avoid any type of conflict instead of dealing with it. In addition, when the subject of religion is raised, these same parents often feel insecure and, instead of passing on the faith, they often remain silent and relegate their task, even if considered important, to religious institutions. This seems to demonstrate a weakness among adults, especially young parents, in transmitting the gift of faith with a spirit of joy and conviction.
 

The responses point out how Catholic schools, at all levels, can play an important part in transmitting the faith to young people and be of great assistance to parents in fulfilling their role in upbringing their children. The responses, therefore, recommend that Catholic schools be fostered and supported by the entire ecclesial community. Such is the case especially where the State is overly intrusive in the educational process, seeking to usurp the family’s responsibility. In this regard, Catholic schools express the idea of freedom in education and reassert the primacy of the family as the true subject in the educational process, to which others involved in education must contribute. The task of education requires a greater collaboration among families, schools and Christian communities.

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