The following question has been motivated by the post What teachings do all Catholic schools share?

I recall having read something many years ago specifying that parents have the responsibility to provide their children with a Catholic education (i.e., enroll them in a Catholic school for years ago, home school was not legally an option); and, if for some reason they were not able to, and were intending to send them to a public school, a special dispensation needed to be obtained from their bishop.

As far as I can recollect, the above is the gist of what I read; though, I have often tried to find this again in writing and have been unable to.

Question: Does anyone know if such a promulgation has ever been made? Since it refers to all Catholic parents, I imagine that what I had read was referring to something included in a papal decree.

  • I doubt such a promulgation ever existed for all Catholic parents, since I can't think of a time in history where homeschooling was illegal globally. This seems like it is more likely to have been required by a certain bishop or group of bishops to address a particular local circumstance at a particular time in history.
    – jaredad7
    Commented Mar 8, 2023 at 0:46
  • A catholic priest refused to officiate at my wedding because I would not promise to do everything in my power to raise my children Catholic. Commented Mar 9, 2023 at 13:06
  • 1
    @MikeBorden Your priest did right; that is, he did what he is supposed to do.
    – user60376
    Commented Mar 9, 2023 at 13:16
  • @mlchristians I agree and do not fault him at all. I was not yet saved at that point but I did understand that I had stepped out of Catholicism. Commented Mar 9, 2023 at 13:27
  • 1
    @MikeBorden May God bless you always, my friend! Also, if I may, as the Holy Spirit tells us through St. Paul, to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (lest we don't persevere).
    – user60376
    Commented Mar 9, 2023 at 15:12

1 Answer 1


A Papal Decree Regarding the Education of Catholic Children?

I believe you are thinking of Pope St. Paul VI’s Declaration on Christian Education Gravissimum Educationis.

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.

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.

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.

8. Catholic Schools

The influence of the Church in the field of education is shown in a special manner by the Catholic school. No less than other schools does the Catholic school pursue cultural goals and the human formation of youth. But its proper function is to create for the school community a special atmosphere animated by the Gospel spirit of freedom and charity, to help youth grow according to the new creatures they were made through baptism as they develop their own personalities, and finally to order the whole of human culture to the news of salvation so that the knowledge the students gradually acquire of the world, life and man is illumined by faith.(25) So indeed the Catholic school, while it is open, as it must be, to the situation of the contemporary world, leads its students to promote efficaciously the good of the earthly city and also prepares them for service in the spread of the Kingdom of God, so that by leading an exemplary apostolic life they become, as it were, a saving leaven in the human community.

Since, therefore, the Catholic school can be such an aid to the fulfillment of the mission of the People of God and to the fostering of the dialogue between the Church and mankind, to the benefit of both, it retains even in our present circumstances the utmost importance. Consequently this sacred synod proclaims anew what has already been taught in several documents of the magisterium, namely: the right of the Church freely to establish and to conduct schools of every type and level. And the council calls to mind that the exercise of a right of this kind contributes in the highest degree to the protection of freedom of conscience, the rights of parents, as well as to the betterment of culture itself.

But let teachers recognize that the Catholic school depends upon them almost entirely for the accomplishment of its goals and programs. They should therefore be very carefully prepared so that both in secular and religious knowledge they are equipped with suitable qualifications and also with a pedagogical skill that is in keeping with the findings of the contemporary world. Intimately linked in charity to one another and to their students and endowed with an apostolic spirit, may teachers by their life as much as by their instruction bear witness to Christ, the unique Teacher. Let them work as partners with parents and together with them in every phase of education give due consideration to the difference of sex and the proper ends Divine Providence assigns to each sex in the family and in society. Let them do all they can to stimulate their students to act for themselves and even after graduation to continue to assist them with advice, friendship and by establishing special associations imbued with the true spirit of the Church. The work of these teachers, this sacred synod declares, is in the real sense of the word an apostolate most suited to and necessary for our times and at once a true service offered to society. The Council also reminds Catholic parents of the duty of entrusting their children to Catholic schools wherever and whenever it is possible and of supporting these schools to the best of their ability and of cooperating with them for the education of their children.

Thus Catholic parents are encouraged to send their children to Catholic schools, but are not obligated to do so. Unfortunately, the standards in many Catholic schools is not always where they should be.

Some Catholic schools are quite good academically. Some have high standards of moral fibre. Not all Catholic schools meet such standards, so parent will have to look around to find the proper Catholic school that meet with their parental standards. Yes, parents have to do their homework in this domain.

There are Catholic schools that have an excellent level of academic standards, united with a great level of moral standards. However, some Catholic schools do not make the cut.

I know of Catholic schools that have teachers that in one way or another are poor examples for students either in the moral sphere or in what they are teaching.

This all goes equally for the Catholic colleges. and universities.

The following may be of interest to some:

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