Saturday, September 27, 2008
Here's the Pope, on my favorite topic:
Catholic schools are a concrete manifestation of the right to freedom of education, says Benedict XVI.
The Pope expressed this conviction today during an address in the apostolic palace at Castel Gandolfo to representatives of Italian Catholic educational centers, who are taking part in a meeting organized by the Italian episcopal conference's Center of Studies for Catholic Schools.
"The Catholic school is an expression of the right of all citizens to freedom of education, and the corresponding duty of solidarity in the building of civil society," said the Pope, quoting a document of the Italian episcopate.
"To be chosen and appreciated, it is necessary that the Catholic school be recognized for its pedagogical purpose; it is necessary to have a full awareness not only of its ecclesial identity and cultural endeavor, but also of its civil significance," he explained. This "must not be considered as the defense of a particular interest, but as a precious contribution to the building of the common good of the whole society."
In this connection, the Pontiff called for equality between state and Catholic schools, "which will give parents the freedom to choose the school they desire."
"It has become evident that recourse to Catholic schools in some regions of Italy is growing, compared to the preceding decade, despite the fact that difficult and even critical situations persist," he noted.
The Catholic school has an important role, Benedict XVI concluded, as it is the instrument of the "Church's salvific mission" in which "the close union is achieved between the proclamation of the faith and the promotion of man."
Right on. There's so much here: Catholic schools are civil-society institutions and crucial vehicles for the Church's mission. A nice reminder, as we're thinking about the "issues" that really matter, that knee-jerk opposition to school-choice programs is not very, well, Catholic.