Archive for the ‘Public Schools’ Category



DEC. 31 1929

  1. From this it follows that the so-called “neutral” or “lay” school, from which religion is excluded, is contrary to the fundamental principles of education. Such a school moreover cannot exist in practice; it is bound to become irreligious. There is no need to repeat what Our Predecessors have declared on this point, especially Pius IX and Leo Xlll, at times when laicism was beginning in a special manner to infest the public school. We renew and confirm their declarations,[48] as well as the Sacred Canons in which the frequenting of non-Catholic schools, whether neutral or mixed, those namely which are open to Catholics and non-Catholics alike, is forbidden for Catholic children, and can be at most tolerated, on the approval of the Ordinary alone, under determined circumstances of place and time, and with special precautions.[49] Neither can Catholics admit that other type of mixed school, (least of all the so-called “ecole unique,” obligatory on all), in which the students are provided with separate religious instruction, but receive other lessons in common with non-Catholic pupils from non-Catholic teachers.
  2. For the mere fact that a school gives some religious instruction (often extremely stinted), does not bring it into accord with the rights of the Church and of the Christian family, or make it a fit place for Catholic students. To be this, it is necessary that all the teaching and the whole organization of the school, and its teachers, syllabus and text-books in every branch, be regulated by the Christian spirit, under the direction and maternal supervision of the Church; so that Religion may be in very truth the foundation and crown of the youth’s entire training; and this in every grade of school, not only the elementary, but the intermediate and the higher institutions of learning as well. To use the words of Leo Xlll: It is necessary not only that religious instruction be given to the young at certain fixed times, but also that every other subject taught, be permeated with Christian piety. If this is wanting, if this sacred atmosphere does not pervade and warm the hearts of masters and scholars alike, little good can be expected from any kind of learning, and considerable harm will often be the consequence.[50]

The whole document can read here.




MAY 26, 1910

  1. Obviously the need of this Christian instruction is accentuated by the decline of our times and morals. It is even more demanded by the existence of those public schools, lacking all religion, where everything holy is ridiculed and scorned. There both teachers’ lips and students’ ears are inclined to godlessness. We are referring to those schools which are unjustly called neutral or lay. In reality, they are nothing more than the stronghold of the powers of darkness. You have already, Venerable Brethren, fearlessly condemned this new trick of mocking liberty especially in those countries where the rights of religion and the family have been disgracefully ignored and the voice of nature (which demands respect for the faith and innocence of youth) has been stifled. Firmly resolved to spare no effort in remedying this evil caused by those who expect others to obey them (although they refuse to obey the Supreme Master of all things themselves), We have recommended that schools of Christian doctrine be erected in those cities where it is possible.





JAN. 10, 1890


  1. It is, then, incumbent on parents to strain every nerve to ward off such an outrage, and to strive manfully to have and to hold exclusive authority to direct the education of their offspring, as is fitting, in a Christian manner, and first and foremost to keep them away from schools where there is risk of their drinking in the poison of impiety. Where the right education of youth is concerned, no amount of trouble or labor can be undertaken, how great soever, but that even greater still may not be called for.


AUGUST 1, 1897


  1. These are the things to ensure on this point. First, Catholics should not choose mixed schools but have their own schools especially for children. They should choose excellent and reputable teachers for them. For an education in which religion is altered or non-existent is a very dangerous education. We often see both cases occurring in mixed schools. No one should be ready to believe that instruction and piety can be separated with impunity. In effect, if it is true that We cannot exempt ourselves from the duty of religion at any period of life, in private or public affairs, so much the less should this duty be omitted at any age which is thoughtless, in which the spirit is ardent and exposed to so many inducements to evil.


DECEMBER 8, 1897


The question at Issue


  1. The question at issue is assuredly one of the highest and most serious importance. The decisions arrived at seven years ago on the school question by the Parliament of the province of Manitoba must be remembered. The Act of Union of the Confederation had secured to Catholics the right to be educated in the public schools according to their consciences; and yet this right the Parliament of Manitoba abolished by a contrary law. This is a noxious law. For our children cannot go for instruction to schools which either ignore or of set purpose combat the Catholic religion, or in which its teachings are despised and its fundamental principles repudiated. Wherever the Church has allowed this to be done, it has only been with pain and through necessity, at the same time surrounding her children with many safeguards which, nevertheless it has been too often recognized have been insufficient to cope successfully with the danger attending it. Similarly it is necessary to avoid at all costs, as most dangerous, those schools in which all beliefs are welcomed and treated as equal, as if, in what regards God and divine things, it makes no difference whether one believes rightly or wrongly, and takes up with truth or error. You know well, Venerable Brethren, that every school of this kind has been condemned by the Church, because nothing can be more harmful or better calculated to ruin the integrity of the faith and to turn aside the tender minds of the young from the way of truth.





Those parents who allow their children to frequent schools where it is impossible to avoid the loss of souls… according to Catholic moral teaching, such parents, should they persist in their attitude, cannot receive absolution in the Sacrament of Penance.



Non-Catholic Schools

Can. 1374: Catholic children should not frequent non-Catholic, neutral, or mixed schools, i. e., such as are open also to non-Catholics. It is for the local Ordinary to decide, according to the instructions of the Apostolic See, in what circumstances and with what precautions attendance at such schools may be tolerated, without danger of perversion to the pupils.

There is a term used in this canon which recalls the famous controversy waged about the parochial schools in this country a generation ago. It is tolerari possit,” which was given only for particular cases and in view of special circumstances, and may be called an equitable arrangement departing from the letter of the law. 8 The instructions of the Holy See for our country were contained in a document issued by the Holy Office, 8 Nov. 24, 1875. Others of a similar tenor were given for Canada, Ireland, England and missionary countries. All of them revolve around the question whether the influence of the Church is entirely excluded from the public schools and the Catholic pupils are exposed to danger to the faith ; if so, the bishop shall provide for their instruction as far as lies within his power, and at the same time warn the faithful and announce to them that they cannot in conscience permit their children to frequent schools opposed to the Catholic Church.

The circumstances in which attendance at non-Catholic schools may be permitted are expressed in the above-named Instruction to the bishops of the U. S. as follows: “Generally speaking, such cause will exist if there is no Catholic school in a place, or if the one that is there cannot be considered suitable to the conditions and circumstances of the pupils.” This suitability must not be identified with mere fashionableness, for there is no proportion between the danger to faith and “stylishness.”

Hence said instruction continues: “Parents who neglect to give this necessary Christian training and instruction to their children, or who permit them to go to schools in which the ruin of their souls is inevitable, or, finally, who send them to the public schools without sufficient cause and without taking the necessary precautions to render the danger of perversion remote, and do so while there is a good and well-equipped Catholic school in the place, and while they have the means to send them elsewhere to be educated; — such parents, if obstinate, cannot be absolved, as is evident from the moral teaching of the Church.” (A COMMENTARY ON THE NEW CODE OF CANON LAW, VOL. VII, PP. 414-415, REV. P. CHAS. AUGUSTINE, O.S.B., DD.)


Pope Gregory XVI sent the Irish Bishops a letter in 1831 declaring:

The Church cannot approve schools which exclude religion from the curriculum, both because religion is the most important subject in education, and because she contends that even secular education is not possible in its best form unless religion be made the central, vitalizing, and co-ordinating factor in the life of the child. The Church, sometimes, tolerates schools in which religion is not taught, and permits Catholic children to attend them, when the circumstances are such as to leave no alternative, and when due precautions are taken to supply by other means the religious training which such schools do not give. She reserves the right to judge whether this be the case, and, if her judgment is unfavourable, claims the right to forbid attendance.


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