Gravissimum Educationis 1

Scriptorium1. The Meaning of the Universal Right to an Education

All (people) of every race, condition and age, since they enjoy the dignity of a human being, have an inalienable right to an education (Pius XII’s radio message of Dec. 24, 1942: A.A.S. 35 (1943) pp. 12-19, and John XXIII’s encyclical letter, Pacem in Terris April 11, 1963: A.A.S. 55 (1963) p. 259 ff. Also cf. declaration cited on the rights of (humankind) in footnote 3.) that is in keeping with their ultimate goal,(Cf. Pius XI’s encyclical letter, Divini Illius Magistri, Dec. 31, 1929: A.A.S. 22 (1930) p. 50 ff.) their ability, their sex, and the culture and tradition of their country, and also in harmony with their … association with other peoples in the fostering of true unity and peace on earth. For a true education aims at the formation of the human person in the pursuit of his (or her) ultimate end and of the good of the societies of which, as (a human being), he (or she) is a member, and in whose obligations, as an adult, he (or she) will share.

A nice definition for a “true” education: formation of people for the God given calls in their life and for the good of their associates. Does Catholic education, especially college prep schools, focus on this goal properly? I’m not suggesting they do a poorer job than they should, necessarily. I would say that a school of any level should have this as a primary part of their mission statement.

GE doesn’t shy away from the value of applying the social sciences:

Therefore children and young people must be helped, with the aid of the latest advances in psychology and the arts and science of teaching, to develop harmoniously their physical, moral and intellectual endowments so that they may gradually acquire a mature sense of responsibility in striving endlessly to form their own lives properly and in pursuing true freedom as they surmount the vicissitudes of life with courage and constancy.

This is an inportant point: guiding the gradual acquisition of wisdom. Presumably, schools of all levels collaborate on such an endeavor.

Let them be given also, as they advance in years, a positive and prudent sexual education.

 Sexual education that is positive and prudent. Interesting.

Moreover they should be so trained to take their part in social life that properly instructed in the necessary and opportune skills they can become actively involved in various community organizations, open to discourse with others and willing to do their best to promote the common good.

Training in social skills, too. One might say that would be more the purview of parents, but perhaps even in the 60’s there was some doubt about that.

This sacred synod likewise declares that children and young people have a right to be motivated to appraise moral values with a right conscience, to embrace them with a personal adherence, together with a deeper knowledge and love of God. Consequently it earnestly entreats all those who hold a position of public authority or who are in charge of education to see to it that youth is never deprived of this sacred right. It further exhorts the (daughters and) sons of the Church to give their attention with generosity to the entire field of education, having especially in mind the need of extending very soon the benefits of a suitable education and training to everyone in all parts of the world.(Cf. John XXIII’s encyclical letter, Mater et Magistra, May 15 1961: A.A.S. 53 (1961) p. 441 ff.)

This suggests Catholics have an obligation to ensure education in poverty-striken areas of the world, and that education as well as feeding, clothing, and housing the poor,  is a central duty to the poor we have as Christians.

Anything else anybody else sees?


About catholicsensibility

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