Public Schooling

Hey! Sorry for posting again so early after my last post, but I’ve read through more of the Syllabus of Errors and I’m a bit confused. One of the errors listed is

“Catholics may approve of the system of educating youth unconnected with Catholic faith and the power of the Church, and which regards the knowledge of merely natural things, and only, or at least primarily, the ends of earthly social life.”

…Would this mean that it would be a sin for a Catholic to send their child to public school? I think that most religious people don’t necessarily approve of the lack of religious teaching in public schools, but I wouldn’t think it’s sinful to send your child to one, especially considering that not everyone has the money for private schooling. I went to public school from pre-school up until the end of high school, and I’d like to think I turned out fine :joy:

I only went to public school my whole life, I worked in a public school for 27 plus years. Our 2 sons went to public school their whole lives. It has its pros and it has its cons. Now having said this I will tell you one of the teachers that worked in the public school system, whose children went to Catholic school, said something like this once------knowing now what she did she would have just sent them to public school and they would have gotten just as good of an education and she wouldn’t have had to spend so much money. Those were her words. It all depends on your circumstances, your priorities and what is actually available.


It’s not sinful. I would recommend asking a priest questions like these.

Of course an easy solution would be to just abolish compulsory schooling. :wink:

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Thank you so much for your answer! I was a bit confused because it was included in the Syllabus of Errors. Is it a binding document?

I’d like to talk with a priest, but with the current pandemic and all, as well as my family situation… well, let’s just say that’s easier said than done :joy:

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I went to public school all my life and a public university. (I wanted to get into a Catholic high school but they wouldn’t let me in.)

As I posted here: Freedom of Religious Belief

Paraphrasing Pope Leo XIII, the entire point of our existence is to be with God in Heaven, so both Church and State need to work together to help everyone get to Heaven.

Public schools by their nature have to accommodate children of various religions. When I was in school, we had the Pledge of Allegiance before every class. Atheists complain about mentioning God in the Pledge (…one nation, under God…). There’s been lawsuits galore about the Pledge of Allegiance. Depending on where you are, schools may or may not have it.

Ideally, a Catholic school helps form a child in the Catholic Faith. Does that always happen? Sadly no. I know a lot of people who went to Catholic school K-12 and are very liberal (e.g. pro-abortion).

My degree is a B.S. Ed. I wanted to teach in a Catholic school in the hope that I could make a difference. I did my student teaching at a Catholic school. My student teacher told me that I would be better at tutoring one-on-one vs teaching. What really killed teaching for me was the fact that one of my students died. He was a natural-born leader, the kind that other kids look up to and admire and the only one who really grasped what I taught (history). The entire school was in mourning. That pretty much ended teaching for me.

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So a Catholic school would be ideal, bur public school isn’t necessarily a sin?

You do realize that the Syllabus of Errors was written in 1864? Way before we had the public school system?

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My parents sent us to CCD (now called ECF) classes every Saturday morning at 10 a.m. (I can’t believe I just remembered that after 40+years :scream:).

My late mother (eternal memory!) taught us the Sign of the Cross, Our Father, Hail Mary (the RC version) and Guardian Angel prayer. We weren’t allowed to come to breakfast until we said our morning prayers. And we didn’t get good night kisses until after we said our evening prayers.

My parents didn’t know much about the Faith but tried to live it as much as possible. Sundays and Holy Days (little ones as well as big ones) we were in church. No meat on Friday. A basket of blessed food every Pascha/Easter. Decorating the house in green for Pentecost, etc.

IIRC, Massachusetts had a public school system in the late 1700s.

Yes, that is correct. The law of the Church is actually quite clear:

Can. 798 Parents are to send their children to those schools which will provide for their catholic education. If they cannot do this, they are bound to ensure the proper catholic education of their children outside the school.

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AW. It is teaching’s loss not to have you educate children in the school system. Honestly I don’t know too many family members that went to Catholic schools even though we are mostly all Catholic. I think it was the cost. But like the Church stresses Parents are the FIRST teachers of their children.

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And, even if it’s not possible for you, please support your local Catholic schools, particularly ones which are trying to make a Catholic education affordable for normal people.

Can. 800 §1. The Church has the right to establish and direct schools of any discipline, type, and level.

§2. The Christian faithful are to foster Catholic schools, assisting in their establishment and maintenance according to their means.

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Thank you. You’re a sweetheart (and you can tell your hubby I said so! :laughing:).

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Aw, he “might” agree with you depending on the day and my mood. LOL!

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Tolerating the existence of public schools in a state that is neither officially nor predominantly Catholic, and making use of those schools when circumstances force this (which describes pretty much every Catholic family’s circumstances, unless they can afford mega-bucks for Catholic school, qualify for financial aid, or have the wherewithal to homeschool), is not the same as “approving of” the system. I abhor the existence of schools that do not teach the Catholic Faith, precisely because everybody should be Catholic, all education should be Catholic education, and the existing state of affairs is an aberration that, in an ideal Catholic world, would not exist.

So, no, unless you are falling all over yourself rejoicing that there is such a thing as nonreligious public schools, wishing that everyone went to those schools and none others, and saying that Catholic schools need not even exist, you’re not at variance with the Syllabus of Errors of Pius IX. There are people outside the Church who most certainly do have the mentality I described. It’s a quintessentially Masonic sentiment.

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…Why did I not turn out fine?

Please extrapolate. I went to public schools pre-12, my wife (Catholic) did as well and currently teaches in the public school system.

Please let us know what is wrong with us.

I went to public school from elementary through high school. One of my brothers went to private Catholic middle and high school and liked it but I wanted to stay in public.

For college I am at a private Catholic college for the past 3 years and have just one semester left as I’m graduating a semester early :slightly_smiling_face:

There are positives and negatives to public and Catholic schools/colleges.

Just joshin.

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