Catholic Traditions

Selections from Church Documents on Catholic Education

"Perfect schools are the result not so much of good methods as of good teachers, teachers who are thoroughly prepared and well-grounded in the matter they have to teach; who possess the intellectual and moral qualifications required by their important office; who cherish a pure and holy love for the youths confided to them, because they love Jesus Christ and His Church, of which these are the children of predilection; and who have therefore sincerely at heart the true good of family and country."

Encyclical Letter on the Christian Education of Youth, Pope Pius XI, Rome, 1929

"Since parents have conferred life on their children, they have a most solemn obligation to educate their offspring. Hence, parents must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children. Their role as educators is so decisive that scarcely anything can compensate for their failure in it. For it devolves on parents to create a family atmosphere so animated with love and reverence for God and men that a well-rounded personal and social development will be fostered among the children. Hence, the family is the first school of those social virtues which every society needs."

Declaration on Christian Education of the Second Vatican Council, Rome, 1965

"...beautiful indeed and of great importance is the vocation of all those who aid parents in fulfilling their duties and who, as representatives of the human community, undertake the task of education in schools."

Declaration on Christian Education of the Second Vatican Council, Rome, 1965

"As a mother, the Church is bound to give these children of hers the kind of education through which entire lives can be penetrated with the spirit of Christ, while at the same time she offers her services to all peoples by way of promoting the full development of the human person, for the welfare of earthly society and the building of a work fashioned more humanly."

Declaration on Christian Education of the Second Vatican Council, Rome, 1965

"The integration of religious truth and values with the rest of life is brought about in the Catholic school not only by its unique curriculum but, more importantly, by the presence of teachers who express an integrated approach to learning and living in their private and professional lives."

To Teach as Jesus Did, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, 1972

"The achievement of the specific aim of the Catholic school depends not so much on subject matter or methodology as on the people who work there."

The Catholic School, Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, Rome, 1977

"Prime responsibility for creating the unique Christian school climate rests with the teachers, as individuals and as a community."

The Religious Dimension of Education in the Catholic School, Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, Rome, 1988

"Catholic schools afford the fullest and best opportunity to realize the fourfold purpose of Christian education, namely to provide an atmosphere in which the Gospel message is proclaimed, community in Christ is experienced, service to our sisters and brothers is the norm, and thanksgiving and worship of our God is cultivated."

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Renewing Our Commitment to Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools in the Third Millennium, June 2005

"Education is integral to the mission of the Church to proclaim the Good News. First and foremost every Catholic educational institution is a place to encounter the living God who in Jesus Christ reveals his transforming love and truth (cf. Spe Salvi, 4). This relationship elicits a desire to grow in the knowledge and understanding of Christ and his teaching. In this way those who meet him are drawn by the very power of the Gospel to lead a new life characterized by all that is beautiful, good, and true; a life of Christian witness nurtured and strengthened within the community of our Lord's disciples, the Church."

Benedict XVI, Meeting with Catholic Educators, Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., April 17, 2008.