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DECLARATION ON CHRISTIAN EDUCATION
"GRAVISSIMUM EDUCATIONIS"
(Second Vatican Council)

Proclaimed by Pope Paul VI
On October 28, 1965
(Only the Sections that apply to the Sacrament of Marriage.)


3. The Authors Of Education

Since parents have given children their life, they are bound by the most serious obligation to educate their offspring and therefore must be recognized as the primary and principal educators. (Cf. Pius XI's encyclical letter Divini Illius Magistri, 1, p. 59 ff., encyclical letter Mit Brennender Sorge, March 14, 1937: A.A.S. 29; Pius XII's allocution to the first national congress of the Italian Catholic Teachers' Association, Sept. 8, 1946: Discourses and Radio Messages, vol. 8, p. 218.) This role in education is so important that only with difficulty can it be supplied where it is lacking. Parents are the ones who must create a family atmosphere animated by love and respect for God and man, in which the well-rounded personal and social education of children is fostered. Hence the family is the first school of the social virtues that every society needs. It is particularly in the Christian family, enriched by the grace and office of the sacrament of matrimony, that children should be taught from their early years to have a knowledge of God according to the faith received in Baptism, to worship Him, and to love their neighbor. Here, too, they find their first experience of a wholesome human society and of the Church. Finally, it is through the family that they are gradually led to a companionship with their fellowmen and with the people of God. Let parents, then, recognize the inestimable importance a truly Christian family has for the life and progress of God's own people. (Cf. Second Vatican Council's Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, nos. 11 and 35: A.A.S. 57 (1965) pp. 16, 40 ff. )

The family which has the primary duty of imparting education needs help of the whole community. In addition, therefore, to the rights of parents and others to whom the parents entrust a share in the work of education, certain rights and duties belong indeed to civil society, whose role is to direct what is required for the common temporal good. Its function is to promote the education of youth in many ways, namely: to protect the duties and rights of parents and others who share in education and to give them aid; according to the principle of subsidiarity, when the endeavors of parents and other societies are lacking, to carry out the work of education in accordance with the wishes of the parents; and, moreover, as the common good demands, to build schools and institutions. (Cf. Pius XI's encyclical letter Divini Illius Magistri, 1, p. 63 ff. Pius XII's radio message of June 1, 1941: A.A.S. 33 (1941) p. 200; allocution to the first national congress of the Association of Italian Catholic Teachers, Sept 8, 1946: Discourses and Radio Messages, vol. 8, 1946: Discourses and Radio Messages, vol. 8 p. 218. Regarding the principle of subsidiarity, cf. John XXIII's encyclical letter, Pacem in Terris, April 11, 1963: A.A.S. 55 (1963) p. 294.)

Finally, in a special way, the duty of educating belongs to the Church, not merely because she must be recognized as a human society capable of educating, but especially because she has the responsibility of announcing the way of salvation to all men, of communicating the life of Christ to those who believe, and, in her unfailing solicitude, of assisting men to be able to come to the fullness of this life. (Cf. Pius XI's encyclical letter, Divini Illius Magistri, 1 pp. 53 ff. and 56 ff.; Encyclical letter, Non Abbiamo Bisogno June 29, 1931: A.A.S. 23 (1931) p. 311 ff. Pius XII's letter from Secretariat of State to 28th Italian Social Week, Sept. 20, 1955; L'Osservatore Romano, Sept. 29, 1955. ) The Church is bound as a mother to give to these children of hers an education by which their whole life can be imbued with the spirit of Christ and at the same time do all she can to promote for all peoples the complete perfection of the human person, the good of earthly society and the building of a world that is more human. (The Church praises those local, national and international civic authorities who, conscious of the urgent necessity in these times, expend all their energy so that all peoples may benefit from more education and human culture. Cf. Paul VI's allocution to the United Nations General Assembly, Oct. 4, 1965: L'Osservatore Romano, Oct. 6, 1965.)

6. The Duties and Rights of Parents

Parents who have the primary and inalienable right and duty to educate their children 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 subsidies are paid out in such a way that parents are truly free to choose according to their conscience the schools they want for their children. (Cf. Provincial Council of Cincinnati III, a. 1861: Collatio Lacensis, III, col. 1240, c/d; Pius XI's encyclical letter, Divini Illius Magistri, 1, pp. 60, 63 ff.)

In addition it is the task of the state to see to it that all citizens are able to come to a suitable share in culture and are properly prepared to exercise their civic duties and rights. Therefore the state must protect the right of children to an adequate school education, check on the ability of teachers and the excellence of their training, look after the health of the pupils and in general, promote the whole school project. But it must always keep in mind the principle of subsidiarity so that there is no kind of school monopoly, for this is opposed to the native rights of the human person, to the development and spread of culture, to the peaceful association of citizens and to the pluralism that exists today in ever so many societies. (Cf. Pius XI's encyclical letter, Divini Illius Magistri, 1, p. 63; encyclical letter, Non Abbiamo Misogno, June 29, 1931: A.A.S. 23 (1931) p. 305, Pius XII's letter from the Secretary of State to the 28th Italian Social Week, Sept. 20, 1955: L'Osservatore Romano, Sept. 29, 1955. Paul VI's allocution to the Association of Italian Christian Workers, Oct. 6, 1963: Encyclicals and Discourses of Paul VI, vol. 1, Rome, 1964, p. 230.)

Therefore this sacred synod exhorts the faithful to assist to their utmost in finding suitable methods of education and programs of study and in forming teachers who can give youth a true education. Through the associations of parents in particular they should further with their assistance all the work of the school but especially the moral education it must impart. (Cf. John XXIII's message on the 30th anniversary of the encyclical letter, Divini Illius Magistri, Dec. 30, 1959: A.A.S. 52 (1960) p. 57.)



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