Pope Francis Stresses Parental Rights in Education

Pope Francis Stresses Parental Rights in Education

Vatican City - Pope Francis, in a meeting at the Vatican with the European Parents’ Association (EPA), emphasized the crucial role of parents in shaping their children's education. The Holy Father underscored the importance of upholding parents' rights to guide their children's upbringing in line with their beliefs. They should not be constrained “in any sphere, particularly in that of schooling, to accept educational programmes contrary to their beliefs and values,” he said.

On Saturday, the Pope addressed participants in the General Assembly and Conference of the European Parents’ Association taking place in Rome on 10-11 November. He stressed that “the fundamental role of parents in the social order” must “be acknowledged at every level.”

“Parents thus find themselves constantly having to show their children the goodness and reasonableness of choices and values that can no longer be taken for granted, such as the importance of marriage and the family, or the decision to accept children as a gift from God.”

Faced with these difficulties, Pope Francis highlighted the importance of “mutual support and encouragement, so that parents can be helped to develop a ‘passion’ for their educational mission”, which essentially amounts to teaching their children “what it means to be fully human.”

The success of this parental mission as Pope Francis described it “can be said to be successful when children come to realize the beauty of life” and “grow confident and enthused about the prospect of embarking on the adventure of life,” which, said the Pope, “presupposes the deeper realization of God’s immense love for us.”

Indeed, “when we realize that at the root of our being is the unconditional love of God our Father, then we see clearly that life is good, that being born is good, and that loving is good.”

“This is the lofty educational mission of parents: to form free and generous persons who have come to know God’s love, and to bestow freely on others what they themselves have received as a gift.”

Pope Francis linked this parental mission to the foundations of a healthy society, as parents play a pivotal role in molding individuals capable of contributing positively to various facets of society, including the workplace, civic engagement, and social unity.

“Raising a child represents a genuine contribution to society," he said, "because it means training a young person in sound and respectful relationships with others, a readiness to cooperate in view of a shared goal, responsibility, a sense of duty and the value of sacrifice for sake of the common good.”

He expressed concerns about the societal implications of a lack of such values, warning that without them, children grow up isolated and self-centered, leading to a fragmented society that is both impoverished and dehumanized.

Pope Francis also reiterated the Church's commitment to supporting families in their efforts and highlighted the importance of collaboration with educational institutions. He referred to initiatives like the Global Compact on Education and the Compact on the Family, aiming to bridge gaps in education, interpersonal relationships, and the connection between society and the family.

The intent of these initiatives, the Holy Father explained, “is to overcome a number of ‘breakdowns’ that are presently weakening the world of education: the breakdown between education and transcendence, the breakdown in interpersonal relationships, and the breakdown that distances society from the family, creating inequalities and new forms of poverty.”

Bringing his address to a close, Pope Francis encouraged the European Parents Association “to move forward with hope” in its commitment, “drawing constant inspiration and support from the Gospel’s witness to the holy parents Mary and Joseph.”

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