What exactly are gospel values





The Catholic School after the Council

1. The Catholic School is gaining ever greater importance in the Church as it presented itself after the Second Vatican Council, especially after the Constitutions Lumen gentium and Gaudium et Spes. It forms part of the broader field of Christian education specifically specified in the Council Declaration Gravissimum Educationis is treated. Their guidelines are authoritative for this document, which is intended to deepen the explanations about the Catholic School.

Content and meaning of the document

2. Aware of the grave problems inherent in Christian education in the pluralistic society of our time, the Congregation for Catholic Education feels obliged to pay particular attention to the nature and distinguishing features of a school which describes and recommends itself as Catholic. The conditions under which the Catholic school has to work in the various countries with Christian or non-Christian tradition are very diverse, and this diversity also applies to the school laws. It is therefore necessary that the problems of the Catholic School be taken up by the church authorities in the individual countries and resolved in the given social and cultural context.

Right to exist of the Catholic school

3. It seems appropriate to the Congregation for Catholic Education, in order to resolve these problems, to propose some reflections which will serve to put into perspective the educational value of the Catholic School. In this value lies their essential raison d'etre and the basis of their apostolate. These considerations do not purport to be exhaustive. Rather, they should form the prerequisite for a deeper view of the problems and lead to a more effective application of what has been recognized.

The addressed group of people

4. The Bishops' Conferences are certainly aware of their duty to devote their pastoral care to the entire Catholic youth in the various schools of the country. (1) The Congregation for Catholic Education, however, would like to invite them with this document to prepare an educational plan for the various levels of educational attainment To have care worked out, which corresponds to the demands for an overall education of the young people of today in the Catholic schools, and to watch that it is realized. The Congregation also appeals to all those responsible for education - parents, teachers, school authorities and the youth themselves - to make use of all the resources available to enable the Catholic School to provide a real civic and apostolic service.


Salvation mission of the Church

God's plan of salvation ...

5. In his mysterious plan of salvation of love, God the Father sent his only begotten Son when the fulness of times had come, that he might establish the kingdom of God on earth and bring about the restoration of the human race. In order to continue his work of salvation, Jesus Christ established the church as a visible community that is enlivened by the Holy Spirit.

.. is realized in the church

6. Under the guidance of this Spirit, the Church ceaselessly deepens her self-understanding and seeks to fathom the mystery of her being and her mission. (2) In this way she rediscovers her vital relationship to Christ and “finds ever more light, new strength and greater joy in the fulfillment of their own mission and in the endeavor to find the best ways and means to make their relationships with the human community more realistic, more effective and more salutary; it belongs to this human community, even if it is distinguished by unmistakable traits, to whose service it is called, so that all human beings can attain their fullness of being in Christ ”. (3)

Mission of the Church

7. The mission of the Church is therefore to proclaim the Gospel, that is, to proclaim the good news of salvation to all, to create new people in baptism and to train them to live consciously as children of God.

Aids in the exercise of the ecclesiastical service

The school at the service of the ecclesiastical mission

8. In order to carry out her salvific mission, the Church mainly uses the means entrusted to her by Jesus Christ himself, without neglecting the others that enable her, in different times and cultures, to achieve her supernatural goal and the development of human beings Promote personality. In fulfilling her mission, she adapts the means to the changed circumstances of the times and to the new needs of people. (4) In the encounter with different cultures and the incessant progress of human forms of life, the Church, through her proclamation of faith, reveals "to the people of all Times and zones the transcendent goal which alone gives life its full meaning ». (5) In fulfilling this salvific task, the church founds its own schools, for it sees in them an excellent means for the holistic education of man, insofar as it is actually a place on which a specific conception of the world, man and history is worked out and transmitted.

Contribution of the Catholic School to the fulfillment of the Church's salvation mission

Relation to the Gospel

9. The Catholic School contributes to the mediation of salvation in the Church, especially in the education of the faith. In doing so she is mindful of the fact that "Christ's psychological consciousness and moral conscience are called to full development at the same time, and that without this precondition man can hardly receive the divine gifts of truth and grace to the extent that they come to him." ». (6) Therefore the Church feels obliged to encourage in its children the full awareness of their being born again to a new life. (7) In an explicit appeal to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is to be rooted in the conscience and life of believers , is the characteristic of the educational goal of the Catholic School, which of course must take into account the existing cultural conditions in its realization.

Educational task of the church and pluralistic culture

Encounter of Church with the Culture...

10. Over the centuries the Church, “in her ceaseless pursuit of the fullness of divine truth” (8) has drawn ever more from the sources of culture and used her achievements to deepen Revelation and to promote the fruitful exchange of ideas with the world . In the light of faith, interpreted by the Spirit of the Lord, the Church seeks to identify in the events, demands and aspirations of our time (9) the most urgent tasks that best correspond to God's purposes.

... and with the Cultural pluralism

11. In today's society, which, among other features, is characterized by cultural pluralism, the Church recognizes the urgent need for the presence of Christian thought, insofar as it is a valid test of the confused concepts and behavior of our time. "Reference to Jesus Christ actually teaches us to recognize the real values ​​that shape man and the false values ​​that degrade him". (10)

Significance of education in a pluralistic society

12. Cultural pluralism therefore urges the church to increase its educational efforts in order to develop independent and responsible personalities who can withstand crippling relativism and live according to the requirements of their baptismal vows. He also prompts them to promote genuine Christian communities which, precisely through the strength of their living and active Christianity, can make an independent and valuable contribution to the progress of secular society in a spirit of dialogue and cooperation. The same priority tasks are imposed on the church when it encounters other characteristic features of our contemporary culture, such as materialism, pragmatism and the obsession with technology.

Pluralism in the school sector

13. In order to ensure that its goals are achieved in dealing with cultural pluralism, the Church advocates the principle of school pluralism, namely for the side by side and, if possible, the cooperation of the various school systems, which give young people the opportunity to to develop values ​​based on an independent worldview as well as to prepare their active participation in building a community and thus in the progress of human society.

Catholic School's place in school pluralism

14. From this point of view, the Catholic School has its own place in the school system of the various countries, depending on the nature and possibility of the circumstances. In offering this additional opportunity to choose a school, the Church does so with the intention of accepting the invitation to collaboration which she now receives in a world characterized by cultural pluralism. At the same time, it wants to make its contribution to the promotion of freedom of teaching and thereby support and defend freedom of conscience and the right of parents to choose a school that best suits their educational goals. (11)

Contribution of the Catholic School to the Church's Confrontation with the Environment

15. Finally, the Church is firmly convinced that the Catholic School, with its curriculum, which it offers to the people of our time, fulfills an ecclesiastical task of its own which is urgent and irreplaceable. Through the Catholic School, the Church actually takes part in the cultural exchange of ideas with a contribution that independently and effectively promotes real progress towards a holistic human education. The disappearance of the Catholic School would therefore represent an immeasurable loss (12) to culture, to man, and to his natural and supernatural destiny.


The Catholic school is being questioned

16. Considering her salvific task, the Church regards the Catholic School as a place eminently suitable for the holistic formation of her believers and as a service of the highest importance which she renders to all people. In doing so, however, it does not overlook the many doubts and objections raised against the Catholic School from various sides and even directed against its right to exist and its performance value. One must, however, see the question in a broader set of problems that encompasses all social institutions as such, since today's society, which they serve, is changing ever faster and more profoundly.

Objections to the Catholic School

Invitation to renew

17. In the dispute over the Catholic School one can notice some frequently recurring objections, difficulties and counter-proposals. One must keep an eye on them in order to see the following statements in their concrete context and to gain the points of view that are intended to spur both teachers and educators to determined efforts to meet the requirements of their mission in today's world.

Rejection of the institutions

18. First there are circles inside and outside the church who, moved by a secular attitude, oppose the Catholic school as a social institution. They do not admit that the church can proclaim its doctrine of salvation beyond the personal testimony of its members also through special institutions which, for example, are devoted to researching the truth or to the works of neighborly love.

Danger of proselytizing

19. Another set of objections accuses the Catholic School of using a public institution for religious and denominational purposes. Undoubtedly, a misunderstood Christian upbringing does not exclude the danger of excessive conversion zeal and can lead to a one-sided concept of culture. But mere possibilities to be corrected must not obscure the fact that a holistic education cannot ignore the religious realm, and that this realm contributes effectively to the development of the other faculties of a personality, to the extent that it does is included in the overall education.

Survived facility

20. To others, the Catholic School appears to be an outdated institution, which in the past played a necessary substitute role, but at a time when the state authorities themselves take over the administration of the school system, no longer has a right to exist. In fact, the state is penetrating more and more into the school education system and is threatening the existence of the natural communities, which are based on a common view of life, by favoring uniformly oriented educational institutions throughout the national territory, which are supposedly neutral, often in a one-sided manner.

School for the rich

21. Precisely because the school legislation in some countries does not take into account the value of such opportunities for free school choice, the Catholic schools there are regrettably compelled to limit their activities to the youth of the affluent social classes and have to accept the reproach in the education system to help maintain class differences.

Little success in raising children

22. The Catholic School is also often blamed for its apparent lack of success: it fails to train committed Christians who live by their faith and are prepared for their political and social tasks. This is undoubtedly a danger which must be countered by continued educational efforts without being discouraged by real or perceived failures; for the influences that work in the field of education are manifold, and the fruits usually only ripen in the long term.

Various proposed solutions

23. Finally, one must bear in mind the overall area in which the Church's educational endeavors take place: in a society which is developing at great speed and in which schools are everywhere a burning problem; in an atmosphere of intellectual openness, which, however, is often unduly exaggerated beyond the intent of the last council; with great difficulty in securing faculty and funding. Should the Church in this situation give up her schools, as some suggest, and henceforth use her energies for an immediate proclamation of salvation in areas which appear to be of priority and more appropriate to her actual mission, but in particular turn her pastoral care and service to the state school institutions? Such a solution would not only be contrary to the instructions of the Council, but would also by no means be justified from an understanding of the actual mission of the Church, as the following remarks are intended to show.

Some thoughts on the current school situation

Importance of school in our time

24. Incidentally, the actual situation of the Catholic school can only be grasped in its entirety if it is considered in the broader area of ​​the current general school problem. Apart from the demands of the proponents of the de-schooling theory, which seems to be losing its relevance, the school is about to occupy a prominent position in our contemporary world. This rank is due to her own activity and validity, be it in her social importance (parental participation, democratization, equal opportunities), be it that she is increasingly taking on the educational tasks of other institutions, be it that the Compulsory schooling is getting longer.


The Catholic Schule should be school

25. Whoever wants to grasp the special mission of the Catholic school more deeply must start from the concept of "school" and then establish that there is no Catholic school if it is not first a school and has the characteristic features of a school.

Tasks and goals of the school in general

What is school

26. If one carefully examines the various definitions of the school and the current attempts at renewal in the field of schooling at the various levels, one is inclined to describe the school as a place which, with the help of the systematic and critical appropriation of cultural values, leads to a holistic education of the pupils aims. By bringing about a lively and realistic encounter with the cultural asset, the school can actually encourage young people to develop their personalities.

Personal processing of the cultural property

27This realization includes the requirement that such an encounter, which takes place in school, takes place in the form of automatic development, that is, that the universally valid values ​​of all times are compared with today's environment and built into it. For culture can only gain educational value if it is implanted in the problem area of ​​the time in which young people live. The school must stimulate the pupil to work spiritually by stimulating his knowledge and the urge to discover and awakening the awareness of the experiences he has made and the knowledge gained. A school that does not fulfill this task and, on the contrary, offers intellectual finished goods, becomes an obstacle to the development of the student's personality.

School and worldview

28. From what has been said so far, it emerges that the school must adapt its educational program with its content and methods to the reality view from which it draws inspiration and on which everything depends.

Need for a unified worldview ...

29. Since education presupposes value judgments, it cannot avoid an explicit or at least unspoken reference to a certain worldview. It is therefore important that the members of a school community share a certain vision of reality, even if only more or less consciously, in order to give the lessons a uniform orientation. Every worldview is based on a certain set of values ​​that one believes in and that gives teachers and adults educational authority. It should not be forgotten that the school teaches in order to educate, that is, to build people up from within and to free them from the constraints that could prevent them from living as a true human being. That is why the school must start from an educational plan that is consciously geared towards the holistic development of the human person.

... based on absolute values

30. It is part of the educational task of the school as an educational institution to emphasize the moral and religious area of ​​culture, with the express purpose of awakening the spiritual dynamism of the young person and helping him to achieve the moral freedom that psychological presupposes and perfected. But no one acquires moral freedom who does not adhere to the absolute values ​​on which the meaning and value of human life depend. This fact is mentioned because the tendency to adopt the daily opinions as a measure of value is also visible in the field of education. In this way one runs the risk of serving fleeting and superficial aspirations and overlooking the deeper currents.

The school in today's society

Personality development to cope with the Time problems

31. One of the far-reaching currents of our society is its interest in scientific and technical progress, which, however, easily leads to depersonalization and mass development. Anyone who wants to take an appropriate countermeasure here will easily see the necessity that the school must fulfill a real educational task in order to develop independent and responsible personalities who are able to make free and correct choices. This characteristic becomes even clearer if one regards the school as a social institution in which young people are enabled to gradually open up to reality and to form their own outlook on life.

Education through a genuine community of beliefs

32. Understood in this way, school means not only an opportunity to choose between cultural values, but even between life-defining values ​​that must be effectively incorporated into school operations. In order to achieve this, the school must present itself as a community in which values ​​are conveyed through genuine personal relationships between teachers and students and through a worldview that shapes the spirit of the school, not just individual but all members.


Characteristic of the Catholic school

Jesus Christ, center of the Catholic school

33.Having established the characteristics of the Catholic School as a school, we can now deal with its Catholic character. What characterizes them is their reference to a genuinely Christian worldview, the center of which is Jesus Christ.

Education plan in the spirit of the gospel

34. In the educational plan of the Catholic School Christ is the cornerstone: He reveals and develops the new meaning of existence and transforms life by enabling people to live in a divine way, that is, to think in the spirit of the Gospel, to want and to act and to make the Beatitudes the guide of his life. The school is Catholic precisely because all members of the school community - albeit to different degrees - expressly and jointly participate in the Christian way of seeing things, so that the principles of the Gospel become their rules of education, their inner drive and their ultimate purpose.

Christian upbringing and total education

35. The Catholic School therefore consciously undertakes to train the whole human being, since in Christ, the perfect human being, all human values ​​find their full realization and therefore their harmonious unity. Here lies her own Catholic character and is rooted in her obligation to maintain human values ​​in their justified independence in order to faithfully fulfill their special mission to serve all people. Because Jesus Christ exalts and ennobles people, enhances their existence and forms a pattern and example for the life that the Catholic School recommends to young people.

Appropriation of culture from a Christian perspective

36. If, like every school, it strives for the critical and systematic mediation of culture in order to achieve the holistic formation of the person, it pursues this goal from the Christian vision of reality, with the help of which “human cultural endeavors in the overall vocation of the Man receives a prominent place ». (13) If one also takes into account that the historical man is the man redeemed by Christ, then the Catholic school strives to develop in Christians the virtues which characterize him as such and enable him to develop the new To live life in Christ and thereby work faithfully to build up the kingdom of God. (14)

Duties of the Catholic School

37. From these presuppositions one can derive the tasks of the Catholic school and explain its educational value. The tasks consist of creating a harmonious synopsis between culture and faith and between faith and life, i.e. a synthesis that takes place in the light of faith through the appropriation of the educational goods in the various areas of worldly knowledge and through the development of the virtues, which mark the Christian.

Synthesis between belief and culture

Real knowledge in the light of faith

38. If the Catholic School, in its teaching work, is to help pupils to achieve the synthesis between faith and culture, it starts from a deep understanding of human knowledge and does not seek in any way to alienate this teaching from its purpose in school education comes to.

Autonomy of the subject areas

39. On the contrary, it is of the opinion that the various subject areas of human knowledge can only promote the holistic formation of young people and contribute to the development and deepening of the faith to the extent that their individual laws and methods are respected. It would be wrong, therefore, to view these subjects as mere supports of the faith or secondary tools in its defense. The teaching work must stimulate the pupil to acquire the skills, knowledge, intellectual working methods and abilities as well as moral and social attitudes which enable him to develop his personality and to enter human society as a valuable member. But the scientific departments not only offer knowledge to be acquired, but also values ​​to be adopted and, above all, truths to be discovered.

Instruction as research into truth ...

40. In the light of such an idea of ​​comprehensive educational activity, the Christian teacher recognizes in teaching as an excellent way of introducing the student to the world of faith and making him at home there, while on the other hand faith offers him the opportunity to illuminate and illuminate the human knowledge acquired to enrich. There is no doubt that the teaching gives numerous opportunities for raising the student's mind to the standpoint of faith, and such opportunities are certainly not to be despised. But beyond this, the Christian teacher must look for more essential and more profound possibilities for the development of the Christian personality in the treatment of the subject areas. With the help of the lesson he can shape the minds and hearts of the students and in this way prepare them to join Christ in a personal way with the full depth of a human nature which is enriched by culture.

... in search of the full truth

41. Furthermore, the school regards human knowledge as a truth to be discovered, and to the extent that the various substances of knowledge are the expression of the human spirit, which searches, treats and presents the truth with full freedom and responsibility Christian in some way, because the discovery and recognition of the truth directs people towards research into the full truth. The teacher, who is trained in his field and at the same time possesses Christian wisdom, gives the student the deeper meaning of what he teaches and leads him beyond the words to the core of the full truth.

Mediation of others human values

42. In addition to the particular realm of truth, the cultural heritage of mankind includes other values. As the Christian teacher helps the student to grasp, appreciate, and acquire such values, he gradually guides him toward eternal reality. Such an essential alignment of human knowledge and values ​​with their uncreated source explains the importance of instruction for the growth of faith.

Educator personality

43. The realization of this particular purpose of the Catholic School depends less on the curriculum and curriculum than on the people who work there. It will depend largely on the ability of the teacher whether the lesson becomes an instruction of the faith, a communication of the Christian message. The synthesis between culture and faith is passed on through the other synthesis between faith and life in the person of the educator. The noble task to which they are called requires that, in imitation of the only Master, Jesus Christ, they proclaim the Christian mysteries not only by word but also with every gesture and behavior. This explains the fundamental difference between a school whose teaching is imbued with the Christian spirit and a school which restricts itself to adding religious education to the other subjects.

Synthesis between faith and life

44. Teaching, which is based on the acquisition of objective values, is not limited in its apostolic task to the synthesis between faith and culture, but seeks to bring about a personal synthesis between faith and life in the student.

Formation of a Christian personality

45. The Catholic School regards it as its special task to shape the student into a holistic Christian personality; Since families and society often fail in this area, this is more urgent today than ever before. In her endeavor to achieve a synthesis between faith and life in the person of the student, she is aware that man has to go through a constant process of conversion in order to be able to become what he should be according to God's will. She teaches young people to speak to God in a personal way in all situations. In addition, she guides the students to overcome individualism and to discover in the light of faith that they are called to be guided in a responsible way by the feeling of togetherness with other people. The intricate course of human existence invites you as Christians to work in the service of God for the benefit of human brothers and to transform the world into a place worthy of human beings.

The vocation to the Christian personality

46. ​​The Catholic School teaches young people to listen to the voice of the universe and to see the achievements of science and technology as a means of getting to know God and man better. In everyday school life the pupil learns that he is called to give a living testimony of God's love among people through his life and work in the world, because he participates in a salvation history that has its ultimate meaning in Christ, the Redeemer of all People, wins.

The Catholic School as a place of Christian life

47. Aware that being born again in baptism is not enough to be a true Christian, but that it is necessary to live in harmony with the spirit of the Gospel, the Catholic School seeks to create a climate in the school community (15) to help the student live his faith with ever deeper understanding and gradually acquire an attitude that enables him to take on the obligations of his baptism. In her educational work, she does not forget the role that, according to Christian doctrine, the virtues play, which must gradually take root in the conscience as permanent and deeply founded attitudes. They grasp the theological virtues and ennoble them in love, which becomes their soul, so to speak, and transforms the virtuous person into a Christian. The focus of educational work is therefore Christ, the model according to which the Christian must orient his own life. In this point the Catholic School differs from any other, which is content with educating people, while the Catholic School aims to shape Christians and to reveal the mystery of Christ to the unbaptized through its teaching and living witness that surpasses all knowledge. (16)


48. The actual educational work of the Catholic School takes place in connection with various other educational institutions, such as the family, church communities, parishes, youth associations, cultural and sporting associations, etc. In addition, however, it must not be forgotten that numerous other spheres of life convey information and cultural information to society Make offers. These co-educators make the school appear even more important, the systematic and critical educational work of which is intended to teach young people judgment and self-control, (17) so that they are able to choose freely and consciously from the offerings of the modern mass media. They must be encouraged to subject statements and communications of this kind to personal critical judgment, (18) to sift them through in a good synopsis and to incorporate them into their education as people and Christians.

Religious instruction

Importance of religious instruction

49.By the Catholic School fulfills its independent mission, namely to convey cultural property in a systematic and critical way in the light of faith and to develop the driving forces of Christian virtues in order to promote the twofold synthesis between culture and faith and between faith and life, does it in no way overlook the importance of instruction in the doctrine of the gospel as handed down in the Catholic Church. These lessons are actually a fundamental part of the educational work that aims to direct the student towards the conscious choice of a committed and consistent life.

Appropriate provision of religious instruction

50. We cannot go into more detail here on the problem of religious instruction. It should be emphasized, however, that such lessons, even if they are not exhausted in the religious lessons provided for in the curriculum, must be given in a professional and orderly manner so that the pupils do not experience a disproportion between the general and religious areas of knowledge. This teaching differs significantly from the other modes of teaching because its aim is not the mere affirmation of religious truths, but the surrender of the whole person to the person of Christ.

Its importance for religious maturity

51. While recognizing that the real place of religious instruction is in the family, supported by other Christian communities, especially the parish, one can never overemphasize the need and importance of religious instruction in Catholic schools when it is it is about developing and maturing the faith in young people.

Time-minded religion teachers and teaching methods

52.The Catholic School will therefore carefully note the demands that result from psychological and pedagogical research and the new knowledge of catechetics, but above all willingly take up the suggestions and instructions issued by the competent church authorities. It will also feel obliged to train the teachers of religion in schools better and better in order to help to fulfill the teaching mandate of the church more effectively.

The Catholic School as a meeting point for the Christian educational community

The Catholic School as Glaubensgemeinde ...

53. All of the above-mentioned reasons oblige the Catholic School to be a meeting point for all those who want to give testimony to Christian values ​​in all educational work. (19) The Catholic School, more than any other, must present itself as a community based on the passing on of life values ​​is oriented. As already mentioned, their educational plan aims at a decision in faith for the person of Christ, and for them Christ is the measure of all values. But faith is mainly gained in dealing with people who live it daily in its full reality: the Christian faith arises and grows in the bosom of a community.

... which is carried by the word of God

54. The form of community in the Catholic School is therefore not only based in the nature of the person and the educational process, as in any other school, but in the essence of faith itself. The Catholic School knows that it is responsible for the tasks that arise from its own educational plan , has not grown and that therefore the community that forms it must continually investigate the sources from which its right to exist and draw new strength from them: from Christ's message of salvation, as it is in the Holy Scriptures, in the Tradition appears, especially in the liturgy and the sacraments, but also in the testimony of people who lived and live according to it.

A place of encounter with Christ ...

55. Without constant reference to the Word and frequent encounter with the person of Christ, the Catholic School loses its focus. From dealing with him she draws all the strength that she needs for the realization of her educational plan, and fills the school sector supported by the community with life when it is "permeated by the spirit of the Gospel in freedom and love". (20) In In this environment the pupil can experience his own dignity before he becomes aware of it. Convinced of this dignity of the individual, to whom God addresses himself in a personal call, the Catholic School contributes to liberating man and making him what his destiny is, namely to become a conscious interlocutor with God and available for his love to be.

... and the loving treatment of the people

56. "This fundamental religious doctrine, which can be described as the axis of existential Christian metaphysics", (21) the Catholic School regards as the model of its educational activity. It therefore does not convey cultural education as a means of power and domination, but wants to enable the student to deal with people in an understanding manner and to observe events and things carefully. She does not see knowledge as a means of self-assertion or self-enrichment, but as an obligation to serve others responsibly.

Other questions in the Catholic School curriculum


57. If the Catholics go their own way to give their children in the Catholic school an independent education in the Christian faith, they by no means want to convey a knowledge that sets up a partition to other people, that nourishes presumptuousness and creates conflict. Rather, they want to promote interpersonal encounters and cooperation in their own way. One opens up to others if one respects their way of thinking and living, sharing their worries and hopes, and taking an interest in their living conditions and future plans.


58. Imbued with the ideals of Christianity, the Catholic School is particularly sensitive to the call for a just social order that is being heard in all parts of the world, and strives to obey it by contributing to the victory of justice. She is not content with fearlessly teaching the demands of justice, also in contrast to the mental attitude of those around her, but tries to meet these demands in her own area of ​​life, especially in everyday school life. In some countries the legal and economic situation puts the Catholic School in danger of giving an opposite testimony because it is forced to provide for its own funds and therefore mainly looks after the children of wealthy families. This state of affairs is a matter of serious concern for those in charge of the Catholic School, because the Church wants to give its educational assistance primarily to those “who are poor in temporal goods, lack the protection and love of the family or are remote from the grace of faith ». (22) Education is an effective means for the social and economic advancement of the individual and of peoples: if the Catholic School wanted to dedicate its services exclusively or predominantly to wealthy social groups, it would help to consolidate the privileged position of these social classes and to promote an unjust social order.

Cooperation from free accepted order

59. An education plan that demands personal commitment to such a high degree can of course only be put into practice by people who freely choose to do so: it cannot be imposed; it is offered rather as a possibility, as good news, which can also be refused. A school, however, which wants to realize it according to the instructions, must be able to count on the harmony of the intentions and attitudes of all its members.

Participation of the Christian community in the educational work of the Catholic school

A real community with Christian lifestyle ...

60. Since the Catholic School is based on a clearly designed curriculum and endeavors to carry it out faithfully, it represents a real and true community which, in fulfilling its independent task of cultural mediation, helps all its members to develop the lifestyle that is characteristic of Christians: in Respect for fellow human beings becomes a real service to the person of Christ, cooperation springs from the spirit of brotherhood and political commitment to the promotion of the common good is responsibly accepted as a mandate to build up the kingdom of God.

... in which each member has a symbolic Contributes

61. Responsible cooperation for the fulfillment of the common curriculum is felt by all members of the school community - teachers, parents, pupils, auxiliary staff - as a duty of conscience and is carried out by everyone according to their role and tasks. Such participation, which is lived in the spirit of the Gospel, is in itself a testimony that not only "builds up" Christ in community, but radiates and becomes a sign for many.

The Catholic School at the service of the Church and society

Model for cooperation ... and representative of the church in the school area

62. In this way the Catholic School renders an irreplaceable service not only to the students and to all those who belong to it in various positions, but also to society. Precisely because today it is divided between numerous efforts in favor of solidarity and recurring individualistic forms of life, this torn society can, if nothing else, at least take note of the fact that it is possible to form a real community with a common goal to promote the common good. If the Catholic School ensures a Christian presence in the field of culture and teaching in an institutional manner, it also makes the values ​​of faith visible through its very existence in today's pluralistic society and offers them to solve the problems that beset humanity. The Catholic School is also called to render the Church a humble and loving service by ensuring her presence in the field of education and instruction for the benefit of human society.

Real Apostolate

63. Through this activity she exercises "a real apostolate" (23). Anyone who is active in this apostolate "is fulfilling an irreplaceable and urgently needed task". (24)


Overcoming the Difficulties

64. The problems with which the Catholic School has to grapple are dealt with primarily by endeavoring to discover and create the conditions which will best enable it to carry out its mission. It is about a clairvoyant and creative examination as well as indomitable courage borne by the community, which does not allow itself to be weighed down by the burden of internal and external difficulties or by the "frequently used, incidentally rather hackneyed catchwords" (25), the last End up with the abolition of the Catholic School in mind. (26) Those who give them space commit self-mutilation; Anyone who more or less radically rejects the fact that the church is represented in the school sector with permanent educational institutions "reveals a dangerous and unrealistic view of it". (27)


65. For centuries, schools guided by the doctrine of the Church have made great sacrifices to put that doctrine into practice, and have enriched humanity with educational institutions that meet the needs of time and space. While the Catholic School feels an obligation to continue to provide this service, it also recognizes its own inadequacies. Some schools that call themselves Catholic do not seem, now as in the past, to fully correspond to their curriculum, which should be their distinguishing feature; therefore they fail to perform the task which the Church and society rightly expect of them. We do not wish here to undertake a comprehensive examination of the facts which could explain the difficulties with which the Catholic School is grappling; I shall mention only a few of them to encourage a scrutiny that may bring about a bold renewal.

Self-image with its consequences and demands

66. What the Catholics who work in schools often lack is basically a clear awareness of the nature of the Catholic school itself and also the courage to accept all the inferences that arise from its difference in comparison with the others Schools surrender. It must be recognized, however, that their tasks are becoming more difficult and complex, especially today, as Christianity is about to take shape in new ways of life as a result of the ongoing changes in the Church and society, but above all as a result of pluralism and attempts to take the Christian message out of the public domain To displace life.

Self-examination and liaison with educators from other schools

67. The faithful implementation of the curriculum also requires constant self-criticism and constant reflection on the original principles and motives from the Catholic school. However, one cannot expect an automatic solution to today's problems from them, but the right attitude to overcome them, which must be found in the examination of the new educational currents, but also in cooperation with all those who are honest for the true progress of humanity work, regardless of religion. Such cooperation must be established primarily with the schools of the other Christian communities, with the aim of promoting Christian unity in this area as well. But it should also extend to the state school. First the teachers will liaise with one another, have meetings and do research together, then this collaboration can extend to the students and their parents.

Financial difficulties

68. Finally, it is worth recalling what has already been said about the remarkable legal and economic difficulties. (28) In some countries they make the work of the Catholic School more difficult and prevent it from providing its services to young people of all walks of life , and give it the false impression of being a school for the rich.


Special conditions

69. Having considered the various difficulties inherent in the Catholic School, let us now consider the circumstances of those who work in, or are responsible for, that school. Some of their main problems should be highlighted: organization and planning, guarantees to guarantee their independent character, commitment of the religious communities in the school apostolate, activity of the Catholic schools in the mission countries, spiritual support for teachers, professional associations, economic situation.

Organization and planning of the Catholic school

Catholic school and hierarchy

70. The principles of cooperation between hierarchy and apostolate ministers promulgated by the Second Vatican Council apply to Catholic teaching. According to the principle of cooperation and shared responsibility, the various groups of the educational community are assigned to the provisions on the Catholic school and the implementation of these provisions, depending on their responsibilities. (29) This principle applies primarily to the development of a Christian curriculum and its implementation. The allocation of the various areas of responsibility is regulated by the principle of subsidiarity, on the basis of which the hierarchy recognizes in particular the professional competence in the field of education and instruction. "The right and the duty to practice apostolate are shared by all believers, clergy and lay people, and lay people too have their own responsibilities in building up the Church". (30)

The Apostolic "Assignment» 

71. The principles expressed by the Second Vatican Council apply in a very special way to the apostolate of the Catholic school, which closely combines teaching and religious education into a clearly defined professional work. Here the mission of the laity is realized, whose apostolate becomes all the more urgent as the independence of many areas of human life has grown - and rightly so - even though this growth is sometimes with a certain alienation from the moral and religious order and with is connected to a serious crisis in Christian life ». (31) In addition, the laity working in the Catholic School are called to participate directly in the apostolate of the official Church, (32) whether in religious instruction (33) or through their contribution to general religious education , thereby helping students create a personal amalgamation between faith and culture, and between faith and life. In this sense, then, the Catholic School receives from the hierarchy a "mandate" as an apostolic institution. (34)

Inclusion in the overall pastoral care

72. The essential characteristic of such a commission is “the close relationship with those whom the Holy Spirit has appointed to lead the Church of God.” (35) This bond is also expressed in the planning of the overall pastoral care. «The various forms of apostolate are to be promoted, as well - under the direction of the bishop - the coordination of all apostolate works with one another and their intimate connection in the whole diocese or in its particular regions. In this way, all undertakings and institutions, whether they concern catechesis, missions, Caritas, social questions, families, schools or any other pastoral aim, are brought together in a single action. In this way, the unity of the diocese also appears more clearly ”. (36) This requirement appears to be even more indispensable for the Catholic School, since it is based on“ the apostolic cooperation of world and religious clergy, religious and lay people ”(37).

Ensuring their individuality

Responsibility of the whole educational community

73. In this context, the prerequisites must also be sought in order to ensure and promote the individual character of the Catholic school. If the authority in the Church has the duty to watch over the orthodoxy of religious instruction and the observance of the Catholic moral doctrine in the Catholic school, then it is the task of the entire educational community to ensure in practice the distinguishing characteristics that make it a foster home for Christian people Make upbringing. This means a particularly heavy responsibility for the parents who entrust her with their children.Choosing such a school does not relieve them of their personal duty to raise their children in a Christian way. They are obliged to work actively, and this requires that they support the educational endeavors of the Catholic School on the one hand and use the various institutions of co-determination on the other hand to ensure that the Christian educational principles are faithfully observed. No less a role falls to the teachers themselves in maintaining and promoting the special mission of the Catholic School, especially as regards the Christian spirit, which is to permeate the teaching and the whole life of the school. If difficulties or disputes arise in the conception of the genuine Christian nature of the Catholic School, the official Church can and should intervene.

The Catholic School and the Religious Congregations

Original mission of the orders and school apostolate

74. Some difficulties arise from the fact that some religious orders that were founded for the school apostolate have given up schools because of social and political changes and have turned to other fields of activity. In other cases, the efforts initiated by the Second Vatican Council to examine the religious charisma in terms of the original spirit of the foundation have caused some religious men and women to leave the school service.

Objections to the school apostolate

75. Certain reasons which are put forward against the school apostolate must be put into perspective here. Some turn to a so-called "immediate" apostolate (38) and forget the outstanding apostolic value of the educational work in schools. (39) Others place more value on an individually exercised apostolate than on the apostolic work in a community or in a specific one ordered facilities. However, the advantages of the communal apostolate in the field of education are evident. Sometimes the abandonment of Catholic schools is justified by pointing out the at least apparent failure in efforts to achieve certain goals. Rather, this pretext should give rise to a comprehensive review of the way of working and living in the school and a reminder of the humble and confident attitude inherent in any educator who knows that his or her work does not comply with the rationalistic standards that apply in other areas , can be recorded. (40)


76. If special circumstances seem to necessitate a reorganization of the Catholic school institutions or their conversion into other forms of apostolate, it is up to the competent local church authority to weigh up the expediency and necessity of such a conversion and to be guided by the considerations outlined above about the overall pastoral care . (41)

The Catholic School in the Mission Countries


77. The apostolate of the Catholic School is even more important in the mission countries. Where the young congregations are still to be supported by foreign missionaries, the success of the Catholic School depends much on its ability to adapt to local requirements, to give expression to the individual Christian community and the whole Church of the country and to the development of the whole nation through professional Proficiency and generous cooperation can contribute. In the countries where the Christian community is just forming and is therefore not yet in a position to take on direct responsibility for the educational institutions, the church authorities will temporarily perform this service, but then endeavor to realize the goals that are established through the organization of the Catholics School. (42)

The teachers in the Catholic school

Supervision of the teachers

78. The teachers, through their actions and the testimony of their lives, contribute most to giving the Catholic school its special character. It is therefore essential to ensure and promote its contemporary further education through appropriate pastoral care. It must give suggestions for general renewal, which strengthens teachers' readiness for a Christian witness to life, but also addresses questions that concern their particular apostolate, above all the Christian view of the world and culture, and a pedagogy that is based on principles judges the gospel. This is a broad field of work for the national and world organizations that unite Catholic teachers and educational institutions at various levels.

Rights and obligations

79. The professional organizations whose purpose is to safeguard the interests of those involved in education and training must also be considered in the context of the mission of the Catholic School. This school must guarantee the rights of its employees with a great sense of justice. Whether it is material interests or social and moral conditions that contribute to the professional development of teachers, the principle proclaimed by the Second Vatican Council applies: «Believers should learn to distinguish precisely between the rights and duties they have, insofar as they belong to the Church and to those who have them as members of human society. Both should try to combine harmoniously with one another and remember that they must allow themselves to be guided by the Christian conscience in every temporal matter. "(43) And furthermore:" Even if the lay people pursue worldly business, they can and should have a valuable one Contribute to the evangelization of the world ». (44) Therefore, when they form their own associations to guarantee the rights of teachers and educators, parents and pupils, they must keep in mind the particular mission of the Catholic School, that of service the Christian education of the youth exists. "The layman, who is at the same time a Christian and a citizen of this world, must be constantly guided by the one Christian conscience". (45)

Duties of the professional associations

80. From this point of view, such professional associations not only have to safeguard and protect the rights of their members, but should also ensure that these persons bear their share of the responsibility resulting from the special mission of the Catholic School. Anyone who consciously and freely decides to practice their profession in a school that is committed to a certain worldview is obliged to respect this peculiarity and to make a personal contribution under the guidance of the responsible superiors.

Economic situation of the Catholic school

Different situations

81. From an economic point of view, the situation of many Catholic schools has improved and normalized in some countries. This can be seen where the government has recognized the advantages and necessity of school pluralism, which offers options other than state schools. On the basis of subsidies, often given out of pure benevolence, conventions, agreements and contracts were finally concluded that give the Catholic school the opportunity to preserve its individuality and to fulfill its task accordingly, but at the same time to make it more or less closely related to the state school system combine what economic security and approximate legal equality mean with state schools.

Hopeful solutions

82. These treaties are due in part to the goodwill of the governments concerned, which in this way recognized the service rendered to the public by the Catholic School, and in part to the determined action of the ecclesiastical authorities or the Catholic associations of the country. Such a solution can encourage those in charge of Catholic schools in countries where Catholics still have a heavy economic burden to sustain in order to maintain an often significant number of Catholic schools scattered across the country. You can be convinced that your commitment to the rectification of this often unjust situation not only helps to enable every child to be educated to the full development of their personality, which is recognized with awe, but also to the freedom of instruction and the rights of parents to defend "to be able to choose the school for their children according to their conscience". (46)


Mission conscious be and courage to adapt

83. When one undertakes the service of a Christian educator in the Catholic school, one shows one's firm belief in the necessity and timeliness of this apostolate. Anyone who actually has this faith and accepts Christ's message, who loves and understands today's youth, who follows the concerns and difficulties of the environment with understanding, will easily understand that the leadership of the Catholic School, which is faithful to its mission, demands the courage to develop it promote and subject many of their forms of activity to a thorough renewal in order to adapt them to the real needs of the time and their high aspirations.

The role of grace

84. The educational output of the Catholic School cannot be measured in terms of short-term results. In Christian education, not only does the freedom of the educator and pupil play an important role, but also the cooperation of grace. Freedom and grace, however, ripen their fruits in the rhythm of the spirit, which cannot be grasped with temporal standards. When grace is combined with human freedom, it can bring it to its full development, which is freedom of spirit. Through its conscious and express cooperation with this liberating force, the Catholic School becomes the Christian leaven in the world.

Service to the unbelievers

85. Convinced that the Holy Spirit works mysteriously in every human being, the Catholic School offers its own educational plan and its own means to non-Christians as well, in full recognition, preservation and promotion of religious, moral and cultural values ​​which the belong to different cultures. (47)

Loyalty to the curriculum

86. From this point of view, the inadequate resources at its disposal and the small number of Catholic pupils it reaches should not prevent the Catholic school from continuing its service, insofar as it is the only condition that is placed on its raison d'etre , fulfilled, namely, the loyalty to their own educational plan; This loyalty must also serve as the most important touchstone for the reorientation of the Catholic school system, where this seems necessary in individual cases.

Motives for continuing these works

87. If all those in charge of the Catholic School continue to reflect on their mission until they rediscover the apostolic value of instruction and upbringing, the conditions will be created for these schools to be able to continue their ministry under better conditions and to pass it on to future generations faithfully. Those responsible will then draw persuasiveness, security, joy and spirit of sacrifice from the certainty that they offer many young people the opportunity to grow in faith and to recognize and realize the treasures of truth, love and hope in their lives.

Encouragement for the educators ...

88. The Congregation for Catholic Education endeavors to assist the Catholic School in reflecting on its mission and the fulfillment of its mission. She therefore feels urged to once again warmly encourage all who work in it: there is no doubt that education and instruction are extremely important among the many pastoral works in which the unique and genuine salvific mission of the Church is manifested are.

... especially for religious communities

89. Above all, the Church looks to the religious communities which, in the exercise of a special charism, awakened in the Church by the Holy Spirit, are dedicated to the formation of young people. May they, open-minded and ready for action, remain true to the charisma of their founder and make their contribution to the apostolate of education in Catholic schools without being put off by the tempting offer of other forms of apostolate, which are often only apparently more effective.

The request of the Second Vatican Council

90. Barely more than a decade after the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, the Congregation for Catholic Education once again addressed the final invitation of the Council Declaration on Christian Education to priests, religious and lay people who pursue their mission in the Catholic School "that With a happy heart they persevere in the task they have taken on and strive for such good achievements in the formation of their pupils with the spirit of Christ, in the art of the right educator and in scientific work that they not only promote the inner renewal of the Church, but also its Maintain and deepen a beneficial presence in today's world, especially among the educated ». (48)


Encouragement to educators

91. Aware of the task entrusted to the Catholic School, this document seeks to encourage all efforts to promote this school - without denying or diminishing the value of their Christian witness to the many Catholics who are active in the state school system in the various countries . Indeed, in today's pluralistic society, the Catholic School is more than ever capable of providing an invaluable and necessary service. While she ceaselessly points out the values ​​of the gospel, she becomes the champion of a new and better world, in contrast to a society that is addicted to pleasure, performance and consumerism.

Invitation to the Episcopal Conferences

92. The document addresses the honorable invitation to the various Bishops' Conferences to turn their attention to the central themes that inspire the Catholic School, to develop them and to incorporate them into particular curricula that correspond to the particular circumstances and requirements of the various directions and levels of schooling in the various countries correspond.

Call to the whole people of God

93. The Congregation for Catholic Education knows how intricate and delicate the problem at hand is and therefore directs these considerations to all of God's people. She is convinced that in the divine plan of salvation the weak human forces can look for a solution to the pressing problems that arise, but that the ultimate success of every effort does not come from trusting one's own strength, but comes from the divine master Jesus Christ must, who inspires, guides, supports everything that is undertaken in his name and leads safely to a good end.

Rome, on the feast of St. Joseph, March 19, 1977


Antonio M. Javierre, secretary
Tit. Archbishop of Meta



(1) See II. VATICAN COUNCIL, Declaration on Christian Education «Gravissimum Educationis», 7.

(2) Cf. PAULUS VI, Encyclical «Ecclesiam suam», 7.

(3) PAUL VI, Encyclical «Ecclesiam suam», 13.

(4) Cf. II. VATICAN COUNCIL, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in Today's World «Gaudium et Spes», 4.

(5) PAUL VI, Address to H. Em. Card. Gabriel Marie Garrone, November 27, 1972

(6) PAUL VI, Encyclical «Ecclesiam suam», 15.

(7) Cf. II. VATICAN COUNCIL, Declaration on Christian Education «Gravissimum Educationis», 3.

(8) II. VATICAN COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation «Dei Verbum», 8.

(9) Cf. II. VATICAN COUNCIL, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in Today's World «Gaudium et Spes», II.

(10) PAUL VI, Address to the IX. Congress of the International Catholic Bureau for Education (O.I.E.C.), in "L'Osservatore Romano", June 9, 1974.

(11) Cf. II. VATICAN COUNCIL, Declaration on Christian Education «Gravissimum Educationis», 8.

(12) Cf. PAULUS VI, Address to the IX. Congressß the O.I.E.C., in "L'Osservatore Romano", June 9, 1974.

(13) II. VATICAN COUNCIL, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in Today's World «Gaudium et Spes», 57.