HELP! need a quick answer!


Today, someone challenged me by saying that the Church says that Catholic parents MUST send their children to Catholic Schools.

I found the following: Canon 793 states: parents have an obligation to ensure an authentic Catholic education for their children…and Canon 798: parents are to send their children to those schools which will provide for their Catholic education. If they can’t do this, they are bound to ensure the proper Catholic education of their children outside the school.

And CCC 2229: parents have the right to choose a school for them which corresponds to their own convictions. This right is fundamental. As far as poosible, parents have a duty of choosing schoools that will best help them in their task as Christian educators.

As I read the above, it all implies that Catholic schools are the preference of the Church; but that parents may decide to send children elsewhere; as long as they, themselves are providing for their Catholic education.

The person who challenged me insists that we are obligated to send our kids to Catholic schools. Does anyone out there have specific info for me that would support that challenge…or is what I have copied above; and my understanding of it, in line with Church Teaching?

A quick answer would be GREATLY appreciated! God Bless


I agree with you. I think the info you have is sufficient…can’t think of anything else right now.


I think you will find that the Church supports the idea that providing that the Catholic parents are doing all they can to provide a Catholic education in the home, together with what means are available and affordable to them, they are fulfilling their obligation.

If a Catholic school is not available, or is beyond the financial means of a parent, properly educating children in the home in addition to using whatever CCD classes etc offered by the parish, fulfills a parents obligation.


If a Catholic school is not available, or is beyond the financial means of a parent,

What if Catholic schools ARE available; and the financial means are ALSO available, but the parents feel that another school or learning environment is preferable to the particular Catholic schools available to them? Is it still ok?


I should clarify. My friend, who heretofore has homeschooled, has decided to enroll her high school son in a private Christian school next year.

Our pastor came down VERY hard on her, and said that a “bad Catholic School is better than a good protestant one”…he further implied that she was “dissenting from the Church” by sending her son to the school; and he would not sign the reference which she had asked of him for her son. He said it was against everything he stands for as a Catholic priest.

I explained to my friend that it seemed more like his own personal opinion than Church Teaching; and that nothing I had ever read in the Church documents would support his stance (that being that one would be dissenting from the Church to send a child to a Christian school)…I asked what he felt then, about public school…were ALL of those parents dissenting as well? He said he felt the public school would be better than the protestant one.

Hence, the person challenging me is my own pastor!
Your responses are helping…thank you!


The purpose of a faith based school is evangelize the children in that faith. In that regard I do agree with your pastor on that. The your friend’s high school age son will definitely be getting some very strong Protestant views, with the possibility of also getting anti-Catholic views. It could make for a very stressful year for him. Has she thought about that?

If he won’t sign it I really don’t see how you can make him sign it. Has she looked into the public schools in her area? Not all of them are bad.


Basic rule of intelligent debate - the person making the claim must be able to back it up.

You have provided the official documents of the Church, the burden of proof is on the person who is making the claim. Ask them to show you proof from an official Church source (Catechism or Vatican are what I would accept.)


Noone wants to make him sign it…only back up what he is stating, with Church Teaching.
The parents have visited the school; and met at length with staff…their son will be permitted to use a Catholic Bible. The school in not denominationally based…the Religion tests offer information toward the many faiths that compose the student-body. The school provides and exemplifies a Christian education…but does not evangelize any denomination. The parents are very comfortable that there is NO anti-Catholic attitude among the staff, or in the curriculum.
The atmospheres of the available public schools are horrendous…and the atmoshpere of the available Catholic school is as well.

Thanks again for your help :slight_smile:


Christ the Teacher and the Catholic School

…In a special way, sharing in Christ’s teaching office or mission is lived out in our Catholic Schools. Why does the Catholic School hold such a central place within Catholic education? Because in a sustained manner, the Catholic school provides the opportunity for a person to be formed totally: physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. I repeat that the Catholic school does this in a sustained manner — five hours per day, five days per week. No other process of formation has this extended time frame.
In my Pastoral Letter on Catholic schools, published Friday and entitled “Growing in Wisdom, Age and Grace,” I outlined the role of our Catholic schools. “Our schools play a primary role in worship and service in the life of the parish and of the community. ‘The Catholic school forms part of the saving mission of the Church, especially for education in the faith … and is not simply an institution which offers an academic instruction of high quality, but, even more importantly, is an effective vehicle of total Christian formation.’ … As our children become educated in Catholic schools, they will be drawn deeper into a love of Jesus Christ and recognize the importance of giving service to the Church, the community and to those most in need.



If you do have your kids go, demand dogmatically correct teaching. Make sure your kids will be able to defend their faith.



A few months ago, there was a similar thread with someone else who was having the exact same problem with their priest.

It is here:


I would not enroll my child in a Protestant Christian high school because:

  1. My experience is that devout Protestants, esp. Evangelicals are more anti-Catholic than lukewarm and mainline denoms. I’d worry about my teen’s faith being assaulted. I know that you have stated that the curricula and staff aren’t anti-Catholic, but it may be that the students and their families are.

  2. This is the age in which some teens actually fall in love with their future spouses. I would not want my teen to marry a nonCatholic.

I think your friend should spend less time arguing with her priest and more time listening to him. He might have something to offer that she hasn’t considered.

However, I do agree with you that according to Canon law, it is the parents, not their pastor, that have both the right and responsiblity to make educational decisions. In fact, spiritually, the parents have graces through their sacrament of matrimony to make these decisions. And, it is the parents who will stand before the throne of God to account for their decisions.

I’m not sure you can escape the immoral aspects of teen culture in any school setting. :frowning:


I went to a Catholic school for 2,5 years as a teenager and I never even noticed that it should be different from other schools. The only different thing was that the kids had to sing a few psalms in the morning.
Later on I went to a protestant school, that was not christian either.
Thus I found out that the right name does not nescessarily means anything. I would rather send my kids of to a good protestant school than to a bad Catholic school.


This is wonderfully written; although I find it a bit “Pollyanna” … that is, perhaps the good Archbishop does not realize the reality of tthe current state of many Catholic Schools. The school to which my friend would have to send her son actually fired a Catholic teacher for standing by Church Teaching that abortion is wrong in a class where a student was disagreeing with the Teaching. The teacher said that her job as a Catholic Teacher was to make known the Teaching of the Church to her students…well, the parents (the very very very wealthy parents) of the student were furious…and long-story-short…the teacher was fired. This school also holds dances where the lighting is all but non-existent in the gym…and “dirty-dancing” is the norm. (I know this for my own daughter WENT to this school, and I chaperoned the dances; until the atmoshpere became clear to me; and when my husband and I expressed our concerns, we were scorned)…So, you see, the Archbishop’s letter expresses an ideal of what Catholic education iis SUPPOSED to be…but unfortunately, there are many frustrated parents who can testify that that is not a reality for many a Catholic school…

Note:…It is not my own children who are involved in the current situation about which I’ve inquired…it is a friend’s son.


I think your friend should spend less time arguing with her priest and more time listening to him. He might have something to offer that she hasn’t considered.

First I must say, that my OP was not a question debating whether or not people feel it’s ok to send our children to protestant schools. My question was specifically asking for Church Teaching on the subject.

Further, I must say that I am SHOCKED at the huge assumption you have made by accusing my friend of “arguing with her pastor”. It so happens that she has not argued even the slightest…and is the Youth Minister for our parish. She and the pastor are VERY close friends and he is like a part of her family. So, please do not give advice that is completely unfounded. (?) She is searching for Church Teaching BECAUSE she values so highly what our pastor has said; but is confused by it, since it seems to be more of a personal opinion than that of the Voice of the Church.

Thanks to those who have helped to answer my questions. Your links and advice have been appreciated. I am convinced that my friend (and my own) original interpretation of Church Teaching is correct…that being, that the parents must decide, that Catholic Schools are preferred, and that if the parents decide that that is not the best option, then they must see to the Catholic Education outside of school. Thanks again, God Bless


Before you read the rest of my post know that your interpretation of the Church documents is accurate and the rest is from experience of why I would take your Pastors advise at face value - he is speaking not from church documents but perhaps from experience ;).

There doesn’t have to be overt anti-Catholicism to be anti-Catholic. I have listened to and have great respect for a now deceased Lutheran Pastor yet his preaching was definitely not Catholic. I used to go to church with my husband until my children were old enough to understand what was being said, then I quit because the doctrine was false and it wasn’t overt! As a matter of fact for a Lutheran he was more Catholic than any I had encountered up until then- this Pastor had a crucifix hanging in his office, a beautiful one similar to the one I now have in my office.

Unless your friend’s son is solid in his faith and I mean solid he should not be exposed to a full day of others whose faith will clash with his. I have no Church documents to back this, just experience. Your Pastor is correct in challenging your friend on this. Note, here I did not say arguing with her but challenging her, getting her to rethink from his opinion which it sounds like she greatly values.

Now having said this, Archbishop Sheen had a saying something to the effect of “if you want your child to lose their faith send them to a Catholic School (of higher education as in a College or University)” Truth be told, if you send your child to a poor Catholic school you have a greater chance of them losing their faith because they will see the falseness of their teachers compared to what is practiced at home. It is far easier to defend the faith to your children if they go to public school and you can say that the person is not knowledgeable about the faith than you can about a person who is supposed to know better!

Personally, now this is opinion, I would not send any child of mine to a “non-Denominational” school because there is no such thing. A non-Catholic Christian (aka Protestant) does not understand the fullness of the Faith and hence can make in all honesty these kinds of promises. They don’t know how subtle such an influence can be on a Catholic child.

Brenda V.

closed #17

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