The Church and Education

The rise of libertarianism among conservative Catholics in the United States is, I suppose, not altogether surprising given the appalling usurpations of the modern secular State. But we must be careful. It is possible that libertarianism might be the best solution for a given set of circumstances, but as Catholics our job is to work towards improving those circumstances. So, while a Catholic might advocate libertarian policies as a matter of prudence, because the times are evil, he cannot embrace a theory of the State which opposes Catholic doctrine.

In the homeschooling community, one often encounters the sentiment that the State should have no involvement whatsoever with education. While I’m highly sympathetic to the idea, this is not ultimately the vision of the Catholic Church. Far better, says Pope Pius XI, for the State to embrace its true obligations:

“In the first place it pertains to the State, in view of the common good, to promote in various ways the education and instruction of youth. It should begin by encouraging and assisting, of its own accord, the initiative and activity of the Church and the family, whose successes in this field have been clearly demonstrated by history and experience. It should moreover supplement their work whenever this falls short of what is necessary, even by means of its own schools and institutions. For the State more than any other society is provided with the means put at its disposal for the needs of all, and it is only right that it use these means to the advantage of those who have contributed them.

Over and above this, the State can exact and take measures to secure that all its citizens have the necessary knowledge of their civic and political duties, and a certain degree of physical, intellectual and moral culture, which, considering the conditions of our times, is really necessary for the common good.”