Dignitatis Humanae 5: Parents

DH 5 opens by stating:

The family, since it is a society in its own original right, has the right freely to live its own domestic religious life under the guidance of parents.

Interesting that this came up today. I was listening to a bit of a sports psychology talk show earlier this morning. The topic was coaches leading teams in prayer. After the phrase “Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, and other religions …” caught my ear, I was interested in hearing more. The host was phrasing the sides of the debate in terms of the extremes, of course. Would you object to a coach leading your child’s team in prayer?

First, I was thinking what makes the coach such a spiritual leader to be doing that anyway? Then I thought about the various Christian parents who might find that situation objectionable if the prayer leader passed out rosaries or asked the players to face Mecca. And then I thought what happened to chaplains? And then I thought, why not my daughter (or some other kid) leading the prayer?

Back on task, for the rest of the section is brief:

Parents, moreover, have the right to determine, in accordance with their own religious beliefs, the kind of religious education that their children are to receive. Government, in consequence, must acknowledge the right of parents to make a genuinely free choice of schools and of other means of education, and the use of this freedom of choice is not to be made a reason for imposing unjust burdens on parents, whether directly or indirectly.

Are you thinking of the Catholic school/taxes/vouchers issue? I’m not sure you want to get me started, but I will say I don’t think paying taxes for education plus a private school tuition is an unjust burden. For most parents, Catholic schools are more prep than Catholic. If we could get government to work for us on this, I’d say the only parents who should get any tax relief would be those whose families attend church weekly, with a 2% deduction per week missed (Christmas and Easter not counting). It’ll never happen for administrative reasons, of course, but that’s the fairest way I can think of to settle it.

Besides, the right of parents are violated, if their children are forced to attend lessons or instructions which are not in agreement with their religious beliefs, or if a single system of education, from which all religious formation is excluded, is imposed upon all.

My objection to official prayer in public schools: I just don’t want my daughter praying outside our religious beliefs. Any sensible parent would agree.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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