What the Church Teaches About the Parents' Role

in the Education of their Children

All italics are emphasis made by Keeping It Catholic


What the Holy Father says:

"You are educators because you are parents."

Pope John Paul II, 1994 Letter to Families



From Pius XI's On the Christian Education of Youth

"In the first place comes the family, instituted directly by God for its special purpose, the generation and formation of offspring; for this reason it has priority of nature and therefore of rights over civil society."


"The family holds...the right to educate the young...a right inviolable on the part of any power on earth."


From Pope Leo XIII's Sapientiae Christianae


"By nature parents have a right to the training of their children, but with this added duty: that the education and instruction of the child be in accord with the end for which by God's blessing it was conceived. . ."


"It is the duty of parents to make every effort to prevent any invasion of their rights. . . and to refuse to send (their children) to schools in which there is a danger of imbibing the deadly poison of impiety."



From Vatican II


"Marriage and married love are by nature ordered to the procreation and education of children..." (Vatican II, Guadium et spes, no. 50)


The parents' role in education is of such importance that "...it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute." (Gravissimum Educationis).



From Pope John Paul II's Catechesi Trandendae


"In places where widespread unbelief of invasive secularism makes real religious growth impossible, the church of the home remains the one place where children and young people can receive an authentic catechesis. There cannot be too great an effort on the part of Christian parents to prepare for this ministry of being their own children's catechist."



From Pope John Paul II's Familiaris Consortio


"The right and duty of parents to give education is essential. . . it is original and primary . . . it is irreplaceable and inalienable, and incapable of being entirely delegated or usurped by others."



From Pope John Paul II's

Charter of the Rights of the Family


"Parents have the right to educate their children in conformity with their moral and religious convictions."


"Parents have the right to freely choose schools or other means necessary to educate their children in keeping with their convictions."


"Every family has the right to live freely its own domestic religious life under the guidance of parents . . . to propagate the faith . . . and to take part in public worship in freely chosen programs without suffering discrimination."


"The primary right of parents to educate their children must be upheld in all forms of collaboration, between parents, teachers and school authorities."


"The family is the place where different generations come together and help one another to grow in human wisdom and to harmonize the right of individuals with other demands of social life."


From the Angelic Doctor of the Church,

St. Thomas Aquinas - Summa Theologiae

"The father according to the flesh has in a special way a share in that principle which is found universally in God. . . [He] is the principle of generation, of education and of discipline, and of everything that bears upon the perfecting of human life."



From The Code of Canon Law (revised in 1983)


Canon 226.2 "Because they have given life to their children, parents have a most serious obligation and enjoy the right to educate them; therefore Christian parents are especially to care for the Christian education of their children according to the teaching handed down by the Church."


Canon 774.2 affirms, "Before all others, parents are bound by the obligation of forming their children in the practice of Christian life..."


Canon 793.1 "Parents and those who hold their place (e.g., adoptive parents or guardians) are bound by the obligation and enjoy the right of educating their children."

This canon also clarifies that "...it is explicitly recognized that their [the parents] right extends to the choice of means and institutes which they prudently determine as being most suitable."


Canon 798. "Parents are to entrust their children to those schools in which Catholic education is provided; but if they are unable to do this, they are bound to provide for their suitable Catholic education outside the schools."


Can. 1134 "From a valid marriage there arises between the spouses a bond which of its own nature is permanent and exclusive. Moreover, in Christian marriage the spouses are by a special sacrament strengthened and, as it were, consecrated for the duties and the dignity of their state."

Canon 1136. "Parents have the most serious duty and the primary right to do all in their power to see to the physical, social, cultural, moral, and religious upbringing of their children."



From The Catechism of The Catholic Church


1653. "The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute. The right and duty of parents...are primordial and inalienable."


2204. "The Christian family constitutes a specific revelation and realization of ecclesial communion, and for this reason is can and should be called a domestic church."


2221. "The fecundity of conjugal love cannot be reduced solely to the procreation of children, but must extend to their moral education and spiritual formation. 'The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide a substitute.' [Gravissiumum Educationis 3]. 'The right and duty of parents to educate their children are primordial and inalienable.' " [Familiaris Consortio #36].


2222. "Parents must regard their children as children of God and respect them as human persons. Showing themselves obedient to the will of the Father in heaven, they educate their children to fulfill God's law."


2223. "Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity and disinterested service are the rule. the home is well suited for education in the virtues. . . "


2224. "The home is the natural environment for initiating a human being into solidarity and communal responsibilities. Parents should teach children to avoid the compromising and degrading influences which threaten human societies."


2225. "By the grace of the sacrament of marriage, parents receive the responsibility and the privilege of evangelizing their children. Parents should initiate their children at an early age into the mysteries of the faith of which they are the "first heralds" for their children. They should associate them from their tenderest years with the life of the Church. . ."


2226. "Education in the faith by parents should begin in the child's earliest years... Family catechesis precedes, accompanies, and enriches other forms of instruction in the faith. Parents have the mission of teaching their children to pray and to discover their vocations as children of God. The parish is the Eucharistic community and the heart of the liturgical life of Christian families; it is a privileged place for the catechesis of parents and children. "


2229. "As those first responsible for the education of their children, parents have the right to choose a school for them which corresponds to their own convictions. This right is fundamental. As far as is possible, parents have the duty of choosing schools that will best help them in their task as Christian educators. Public authorities have the duty of guaranteeing this parental right and of ensuring the concrete conditions for its exercise. "


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