Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Friday, April 1, 2022

The Congregation for Catholic Education issues new instruction on Catholic schools

The Pillar has the story, here.  Read the whole thing, but it seems clear that the Congregation is rejecting a notion of Catholic schools according to which they are merely schools like others, but with a sprinkling of religiously themed art or character-focused programming.  At a Catholic school, the "Catholic" must be about more than heritage, tradition, or affiliation; it is about character, charism, mission, and "identity."  And, the relevance to cases in the United States involving the so-called "ministerial exception" (which is neither limited to ministers nor an exception) is clear:

As the document turns to the role of teachers, the congregation lines up behind an argument which has been advanced by several American dioceses in recent years which defines all teachers, regardless of subject, as ministers of religion, for the purposes of U.S. law:

“In a Catholic school, in fact, the service of the teacher is an ecclesiastical munus and office,” it says, which they exercise not only by teaching in the classroom but “also bearing witness through their lives, [through which] they allow the Catholic school to realize its formative project to witness.”

The extent to which teaching is described almost as an ecclesiastical vocation is further emphasized by the instruction, which says they must all be “outstanding in correct doctrine and integrity of life,” and requires the “initial and permanent formation of teachers.”

“Following the doctrine of the Church, it is therefore necessary for the school itself to interpret and establish the necessary criteria for the recruitment of teachers,” the instruction says. “This principle applies to all recruitments, including that of administrative personnel. The relevant authority, therefore, is required to inform prospective recruits of the Catholic identity of the school and its implications, as well as of their responsibility to promote that identity.” 


Garnett, Rick | Permalink