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Catholic Social Teaching: Education

Friday, May 09, 2014
Education is one of the most important human rights. Given that one of its basic aims is the full development of the human person it has a huge significance especially for children. For them their first and primary teachers are always their parents and the family is the first school. Nevertheless education should also have a great priority in society to whom belong some rights and duties and whose role is to direct what is required for the common temporal goods. Its function is to promote education and to cooperate with parents. In this cooperation between parents and social institutions the rights of parents should be respected and institutions should create the conditions which would help in the personal development of each person. It cannot be only intellectual progress, because man needs integral education that respects also other aspects of human being's life: physical, social, cultural, moral and religious as well. Education cannot be only regarded as a way of the development knowledge, but also skills, habits, moral values and interpersonal communication. It seems to be extremaly important, because education has influence not only on people who are educated, but it makes a significant contribution as well as ensures future benefits to the community life.

Very essential statments about education can be found at the beginning of Declaration on Christian Education Gravissimum Educationis where we read: "All men of every race, condition and age, since they enjoy the dignity of a human being, have an inalienable right to an education that is in keeping with their ultimate goal, their ability, their sex, and the culture and tradition of their country, and also in harmony with their fraternal association with other peoples in the fostering of true unity and peace on earth. For a true education aims at the formation of the human person in the pursuit of his ultimate end and of the good of the societies of which, as man, he is a member, and in whose obligations, as an adult, he will share. Therefore children and young people must be helped, with the aid of the latest  advances in psychology and the arts and science of teaching, to develop harmoniuosly their physical, moral and intellectual endowments so that they may gradually acquire a mature sense of responsibility in striving endlessly to form their own lives properly and in pursuing true freedom as they surmount the vicissitudes of life with courage and constancy. Let them be given also, as they advance in years, a positive and prudent sexual education. Moreover they should be also so trained to take their part in social life that properly instructed in the necessary and opportune skills they can become actively involved in various community organizations, open to discourse with others and willing to do their best to promote the common good" (Gravissimum Educationis 1).

To the Church, in a special way, belongs the duty of educating, because she has the responsibility of announcing the Gospel of salavtion to all men. By this reason one of the most important educational tasks for the Church is the development of the knowledge and love of God. In this special vocation the Church preaches to people the complete perfection of the human person and she shapes their minds and hearts in the building of a world that is more human. The influence of the Church in the field of education is shown by many different types of Catholics schools, colleges and universities. They create a special atmosphere animated by the spirit of Gospel and charity to help youth develop their own personalities.

In the same document we can read: "In fulfilling its educational role, the Church, eager to employ all suitable aids, is concerned especially about those which are her very own. Foremost among these is catechetical instruction, which enlightens and strenghtens the faith, nourishes life according to the spirit of Christ, leads to intelligent and active participation in the liturgical mystery and gives motivation for apostolic activity. The Church esteems highly and seeks to penetrate and ennoble with her own spirit also other aids which belong to the general heritage of man and which are of great influence in forming souls and molding men, such as the media of communication, various groups for mental and physical development, youth associations, and, in particular, schools" (Gravissimum Educationis 4).

Paweł Szylak OP


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