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Home > Schools > CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Schools


By virtue of her Divine charter, "Going, teach ye all nations", the Church is essentially a teaching organization. Teaching is included in her task of saving souls. Primarily she was instituted to dispense the means of salvation, and to teach the truths which are necessary to salvation. These truths are spiritual and moral, and her catechumenal schools were instituted for the purpose of teaching them. Truths which are not of their nature spiritual, truths of science, of history, matters of culture in a word, profane learning these do not belong intrinsically to the programme of the Church's teaching. Nevertheless, they enter into her work by force of circumstance, when, namely, the Christian youth cannot attain a knowledge of them without incurring grave danger to faith or morals. They enter also into the Church's task by reason of a pedagogical principle which she has always recognized in practice. Religion being the supreme co-ordinating principle in education, as it is in life, if the so-called secular branches of knowledge are taught without reference to religion, the Church feels that an educational mistake is being made, that the "one thing necessary" is being excluded, to the detriment of education itself. Therefore she assumes the task of teaching the secular branches in such a way that religion is the centralizing, unifying, and vitalizing force in the educational process. Whenever there is positive and immediate danger of loss of faith, the Church cannot allow her children to run the risk of perversion; whenever religion is left out of the curriculum, she tries to supply the defect. In both cases she establishes under her own control schools which are called Catholic and which, in the vicissitudes of historical development or from the particular circumstances of their foundation, scope, or maintenance, are specifically known as catechetical schools, monastic schools, cathedral schools, chantry schools, guild schools, parochial schools, etc.


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