In a recent letter to the presidents of bishops’ conferences, the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education stressed the importance of Catholic education and the rights and duties of pupils and parents.
The letter cites Church teachings noting that parents are the primary educators of the their children. It then goes on to note that the rights of parents “to choose an education in conformity with their religious faith must be absolutely guaranteed.”
Drawing on the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and the Code of Canon Law, the letter notes that “the right of parents and pupils to education and religious freedom are conceretely exercised through freedom of choice of school. . . [Parents] must enjoy true liberty in their choice of schools. Consequently, the public power, which has the obligation to protect and defend the rights of citizens, must see to it, in its concern for distributive justice, that public subsidides are paid out in such a way that parents are truly free to choose according to their consicence the schools they want for their children.”
This teaching is at the heart of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference’s (PCC) longtime endorsement and promotion of school choice. School vouchers and the Educational Improvement Tax Credit are among the issues the PCC’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will advocate during the 2009-10 legislative session. While the political climate for these initiatives waxes and wanes under each administration, the PCC, along with the organizations such as the REACH Foundation, is steadfast in its support as Pennsylvania parents continue to desire a nonpublic, often religious, education for their children.