44 – Educating in a Christian manner is not just undertaking a catechesis, this is a part. It is not just undertaking proselytism; never proselytize in schools! What matters is to take away hunger, religion doesn’t matter

Saint John Chrysostom compares the education of a child with the fashioning of a wonderful statue for God. According to this Doctor of the Church, the privileged mission confided to parents is to bring their child to the practice of virtue, teaching it to love the true God and ‘to mark all that it says and does with the sign of the cross.’

Omission in this field, without doubt one of the most important, produces the sad results that we experience in today’s society. And that is why the Popes have not hesitated to qualify such omission as dangerous, harmful, unjust and even as a serious fault.

Therefore, even if one hears that the most important thing is not letting children go hungry or giving them an education, is it true that we can be indifferent to the religious education of children? Is it enough to give them bodily nourishment to fulfill the mission that the Lord confided to parents? If they are educated in any religious belief, will they end up being good Christians?

These questions have already been answered by the divinely wise Magisterium of the Church; and even if certain statements to please people far and wide are pronounced, we do possess the necessary elements to make the right choice.

There is no doubt that the educative experience begins from the cradle, when the child first hears the loving words of its parents, which it will remember and transmit to successive generations as part of the family history. Just as the Old Testament attests: “Things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders which he has wrought.” (Ps 78:3-4) From the oldest times, religion has been related to education, and the Church does not absent itself from this mission, incentivizing men and women to dedicate themselves to the important vocation of founding teaching institutions that serve as a point of reference for the Catholic community. Vatican Council II affirms that “The influence of the Church in the field of education is shown in a special manner by the Catholic school.” (Vatican Council II. Declaration Gravissimum educationis, no. 8, October 28, 1965)

St. Thomas said that “the reception of knowledge or understanding, is by means of teaching and learning, and both are prescribed in the Law. For it is written (Dt 6:6): ‘These words which I command thee… shall be in thy heart’ This refers to learning, since it is the duty of a disciple to apply his mind to what is said, while the words that follow — ‘and thou shalt tell them to thy children’ — refer to teaching.’ (Summa Theologica II-II, q.16, a.2) Doctrine and discipline, these are the fundamental characteristics of Catholic education that seek to contribute with evangelization. John Paul II had already exhorted teachers committed within the Christian community toward ‘maintaining and strengthening the distinctive Catholic character of the Institution’ to which they belong, without losing their sights on quality, identity and mission. (Apostolic Constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae, no. 21, August 15, 1990).

This was the perspective that encouraged seven thousand participants of the World Congress of Catholic Education, that took place in November of 2015, and whose conclusive document declares: “There exists a close link between the identity and mission of teaching institutions (schools and Catholic universities). The Catholic educative mission is born, as in the past, of the very identity of the Church that is founded on the evangelizing mandate: ‘Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.’ (Mk 16:15) (World Congress, Congregation for Catholic Education)

Nonetheless, these teachers heard the following counsel from Francis during the concluding audience granted at the closing of the event: ‘Never proselytize in schools!’… Is he by chance renouncing the mission to evangelize? What does the Church teach about the importance of Catholic education?



Quote AQuote B

Teachings of the Magisterium

Enter the various parts of our study


I – The Study of Catholic Doctrine: A Duty and Right of All
III – The Importance of Catholic Education
II – Education is a Duty of the Catholic Church
IV – The Benefits of Catholic Education for Youth

I – The study of Catholic doctrine: a duty and right of all

Catechism of St. Pius X

Parents who do not teach their children Catholic doctrine sin gravely

Benedict XVI

Integral education cannot omit religious teaching


The education of youth should begin from an early stage

Pius XII

Formation that deliberately neglects to direct youth to the heavenly country is an injustice

John Paul II

It is not correct to say that faith is an option for a mature age
Education of religious conscience is a right of the person
Every baptized person has the right to receive a truly Catholic formation
Every disciple of Christ has the right to receive the word of the faith without amputations

Congregation for the Clergy

Religious education should address all categories of the faithful

Vatican Council II (Ecumenical XXI)

Young people should be motivated to know and love God
Christian education promotes maturity of the human person while seeking to instill the gift of Faith
Children should be taught the Catholic faith from their early years

II – Education is a Duty of the Catholic Church

Pius XI

It is the right and duty of the Church to watch over the education of her children
Watchfulness to protect the children of the Church from the dangers of the world


A grave and fatal error: to exclude the Church from the education of youth
Religion should give shape and direction to all branches of knowledge

Pius XI

The Church was able to save treasures of culture, civilization and literature thanks to Her mission to educate

John Paul II

Catechesis: one of the primary tasks of the Church

Vatican Council II (Ecumenical XXI)

The Church has the responsibility of announcing the way of salvation to all men
The Church is obliged to give her children an education that imbues them with the spirit of Christ
Grave responsibility of the Church to care for the moral and religious education of all her children
The task of enlightening all the knowledge of students with the light of faith

Congregation for Catholic Education

Religious liberty does not impede the right/duty of the Church to teach the faith

III – The Importance of Catholic Education

Saint John Chrysostom

There is no superior art than educating children soundly
Use all of your time in preparing admirable statues for God

Congregation for Catholic Education

A form of education that ignores the religious dimension is incomplete

Benedict XVI

Religious teaching may not be reduced to a generic sociology of religions

John Paul II

At the apex of all interest should be the Person, work and message of Jesus Christ
Catholic teaching is very important at all levels of education

Paul VI

Catholic teaching may not remain on a merely intellectual level

Pius XI

Parents have the duty to seek schools that form their children in true Catholic doctrine

Congregation for Catholic Education

Without Catholic education, students are deprived of an essential element of their formation

Pius XII

An education indifferent to Christianity is a crime of high treason against the King of kings
The formation of youth that alienates from Christ is a scandal
An education system that proclaims apostasy from Christ pronounces a sentence of condemnation against itself

Pius XI

Exclusion of religion is contrary to the fundamental principles of education

Congregation for the Clergy

Religious instruction should be taken with the same seriousness as other disciplines

IV – The Benefits of Catholic Education for Youth

Pius XI

There is no education more perfect than Christian education
Christian education is unsurpassable for it aims at securing the Supreme Good for souls
For a Catholic school to be worthy of its title, it is necessary that all the teaching and the whole organization of the school be regulated by the Christian spirit
Necessity of forming young people in the fear of God
When religion is banished from education, materialism is fostered

John Paul II

Catholic parents should give preference to Catholic schools
Religious instruction enables the advance in the students’ spiritual formation
Catholic education prepares one to assume future responsibilities
Catholic schools form exemplary citizens
Catholic teaching enlightens the sciences with the light of faith
A Christian vision of man and the world
Catholic schools cooperate for a transformation of all society
Teaching the doctrine of the Church affirms true human dignity
Catholic schools prepare youth for the highest ideals

Benedict XVI

Religious teaching is a necessary value for the person’s integral formation.
The religious dimension makes it possible to transform knowledge into wisdom
The teaching of the Catholic religion capacitates the person to discover goodness

Congregation for Catholic Education

Marginalization of religious education harms students
Incentive for the development of personal and social responsibility

Vatican Council II (Ecumenical XXI)

Education to promote the good of the earthly city and the spreading of the Kingdom

Congregation for the Clergy

Religious instruction provides responses to key questions
Religious instruction has a missionary role for students who are non-believers

Related studies

  • 159 – Diversity is a beautiful thing when it can constantly enter into a process of reconciliation and seal a sort of cultural covenant resulting in a ‘reconciled diversity’

  • 155 – “Any Church community, if it thinks it can comfortably go its own way without helping the poor will risk breaking down”

  • 154 – “The Church has never been better. This is a wonderful moment for the Church”

  • 153 – “The Church can sometimes fall into a needless hallowing of our own culture, and thus show more fanaticism than true evangelizing zeal”

  • 141 – “This insidious worldliness is evident in a number of attitudes. In some people we see an ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy, for doctrine and for the Church’s prestige”

  • Print Friendly, PDF & Email

    One thought on “44 – Educating in a Christian manner is not just undertaking a catechesis, this is a part. It is not just undertaking proselytism; never proselytize in schools! What matters is to take away hunger, religion doesn’t matter

    Leave a Reply