The Church's past views on schooling compared to now


#1

Part 1

My first question is 1) Has the church condemned or forbid Catholics to go to secular schools in the 1917 Code of Canon Law?

I’ve heard that from one Catholic but wasn’t sure if it were actually true?

Part 2

So I came across an old statement by a pope and it kind of worries me because I go to a secular college and plan to keep going to one in the future…

From this it follows that the so-called “neutral” or “lay” school, from which religion is excluded, is contrary to the fundamental principles of education. Such a school moreover cannot exist in practice; it is bound to become irreligious… We renew and confirm their declarations [Pius IX & Leo XIII] …in which the frequenting of non-Catholic schools, whether neutral or mixed, those namely which are open to Catholics and non-Catholics alike, is forbidden for Catholic children, and can be at most tolerated, on the approval of the Ordinary alone, under determined circumstances of place and time, and with special precautions. Neither can Catholics admit that other type of mixed school…in which the students are provided with separate religious instruction, but receive other lessons in common with non-Catholic pupils from non-Catholic teachers (St. Paul Editions, pp.42, 43).

The part in red is what bothers me

Wouldn’t this contradict setting up Newman centers at a secular college?

… since its basically the same thing “separate religious instruction (Newman Center), but with other lessons in common with non-Catholic pupils (rest of the campus).”

*…and I don’t understand why the church used to be against that. They expect every teacher of every subject to be Catholic? Whats the difference between attending a secular math class and a Catholic math class?
*


#2

I don’t know about everything else, but I have to agree that such schools are bound to and have become irreligious.


#3

Did anyone, back in the day, ever hear or been told that they needed their bishop’s permission to send their child to a public school or non-Catholic college? I wonder if this was really aimed at Europe.


#4

Can’t say for sure. But either way, it was a disciplinary matter and the 1917 code is no longer binding on us.

Part 2

So I came across an old statement by a pope and it kind of worries me because I go to a secular college and plan to keep going to one in the future…

From this it follows that the so-called “neutral” or “lay” school, from which religion is excluded, is contrary to the fundamental principles of education. Such a school moreover cannot exist in practice; it is bound to become irreligious… We renew and confirm their declarations [Pius IX & Leo XIII] …in which the frequenting of non-Catholic schools, whether neutral or mixed, those namely which are open to Catholics and non-Catholics alike, is forbidden for Catholic children, and can be at most tolerated, on the approval of the Ordinary alone, under determined circumstances of place and time, and with special precautions. Neither can Catholics admit that other type of mixed school…in which the students are provided with separate religious instruction, but receive other lessons in common with non-Catholic pupils from non-Catholic teachers (St. Paul Editions, pp.42, 43).

The part in red is what bothers me

Wouldn’t this contradict setting up Newman centers at a secular college?

… since its basically the same thing “separate religious instruction (Newman Center), but with other lessons in common with non-Catholic pupils (rest of the campus).”

I’d really like to know which Pope wrote this and when, because that will help in understanding the historical context. But I’m pretty sure no, it doesn’t contradict Newman centers. The way I read it, it sounded like it was condemning the temptation to tuck our religion away into it’s own little corner. I wouldn’t even be surprised if it was actually warning about a school losing it’s Catholic identity. Without having the whole context I can’t tell for sure. But either way, that’s not what Newman centers do. They are tools of evangelization and a lifeline for faithful Catholics.

Remember, the situation back then was different than now. Before, religion was more widespread, and so the Church was on defense and was saying “No, don’t compromise. Don’t let religion be pushed aside, because that will lead to worse things.”

But now it’s the opposite. The Church has to be on offense essentially. We have to bring the gospel into the universities because so many people have never even heard it. And that’s what Newman centers are for.

*…and I don’t understand why the church used to be against that. They expect every teacher of every subject to be Catholic? Whats the difference between attending a secular math class and a Catholic math class?
*

It wasn’t so much that a secular math class was worse than a Catholic math class, but that sending our children to a non-Catholic school was considered detrimental to the child’s faith. (And rightly so.) The Church’s main concern was the salvation of souls, as it always is. Sending them to a non-Catholic school without a firm foundation is essentially feeding them to the wolves. Notice however, the prohibition wasn’t absolute, even back then. It could be tolerated.

Also remember that back then, Catholic schools were much more faithful and much much much more affordable than they are today. So there really was no reason to send your child to a non-Catholic school. Nowadays, unfortunately, the situation is much different. Not only can most families not afford it, but sending your kid to a Catholic school doesn’t even mean they’ll be getting a solid grounding in the faith anymore. In a lot of cases, it’s actually worse. So the Church doesn’t place as much emphasis on it anymore.

She does still say that parents have an obligation to make sure their kids receive a good Catholic upbringing though. That just may not come from a Catholic school.


#5

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