38. Education: Purpose; Ways and Means
- A Christian education should be provided to all children of the Church, which has as its goal the holistic formation of the child after the model of Christ, which includes the ability to evangelize and form the world according to Christian principles.
A. Christian Education.
a. Purpose. “A Christian education . . . has as its principal purpose this goal: that the baptized, while they are gradually introduced [to the Catholic faith, grow in the] gift of Faith” and in imitation of Christ, and secondly, to “strive for the growth of the [Church]”, “learn . . . how to [evangelise]” and “help in the Christian formation of the world” (GE2).
b. Ways and Means.
i. Intellectual. To meet this goal, the personal formation of students includes first of all the intellectual, by which “knowledge [that] students gradually acquire of the world, life and man is illumined by faith” (GE8). Thus, all knowledge is to be seen in the light of faith.
ii. Personal Holistic Formation. But in order to ensure children acquire “a mature sense of responsibility” in order to succeed in handling life’s challenges (GE1), education must form the whole person and ensure children “develop harmoniously their physical, moral and intellectual endowments” (GE1).
iii. Cultural and Vocational Formation. Besides the intellectual, educators should also impart “the ability to judge rightly [prudence], to hand on [culture], to foster a sense of values, [and] to prepare for professional life [career]” (GE5).
39. Catholic Schools, Colleges
- Catholic schools, known for their spirit of charity, should be founded and supported, that they may form Christian disciples who will evangelize and transform the world, as well as excel academically.
A. Catholic Schools.
a. Mission. This special mission to form disciples of Christ who will build up the Church and transform the world is the mission of the Catholic school. Thus they should be “outstanding not for their numbers but for their pursuit of knowledge” (GE10). “Good schools” should help “imbue” entire families “with the spirit of the Gospel” (AG15).
b. Atmosphere of Charity. Since its “proper function [is] to create for the school community a special atmosphere animated by the Gospel spirit . . . of charity” (GE, 8), the school must foster “promote friendly relations” among diversity as well as “a spirit of mutual understanding” (GE5).
c. Temporal Renewal. This is all towards the goal of forming students to prepare them to “order the whole of human culture to the news of salvation” (GE8) by “promot[ing] efficaciously the good of the earthly city” (GE8). Thus, education must have social and apostolic aims.
d. Social Aims. Regarding the former, children are to acquire the skills necessary to “take their part in social life”, becoming “actively involved in various community organizations, discours[ing] with others and . . . promot[ing] the common good” (GE1).
e. Apostolic Aims. As to the latter, educators are to “develop a Catholic sense and apostolic activity in [students]” (AA30) and “prepare them for [evangelization through their] leading an exemplary apostolic life” (GE8).
f. Education of Catholics in Non-Catholic Schools. However, many children cannot attend Catholic schools. Thus, “the Church must be present . . . [to] (the great number who are being trained in schools that are not Catholic) by the witness of the lives of those who teach and direct them, by the apostolic action of their fellow-students, but especially by the ministry of priests and laymen who give them the doctrine of salvation in a way suited to their age and circumstances and provide spiritual aid in every way the times and conditions allow” (GE7).
g. Cooperation and Collaboration. Finally, the schools must also “foster cooperation and collaboration” (GE5). Thus “every means should be employed to foster suitable cooperation between Catholic schools, and between these and other schools that collaboration should be developed” (GE12).
B. Catholic Colleges and Universities.
a. Knowledge and Training.
i. Secular Excellence. “Individual subjects [should] be pursued according to their own principles [so that] an ever deeper understanding in these fields may be obtained” (GE10).
ii. Religious Integration. Catholic colleges should strive to impart “a deeper realization of the harmony of faith and science” realized with the help of Thomistic studies (GE10).
iii. Goal. The aim is that “the students of [Catholic institutions] are molded into men truly outstanding in their training, ready to undertake weighty responsibilities in society and witness to the faith in the world” (GE10).
b. Higher Studies.
i. Gifted Students: Encouraging and Providing the Opportunity. As for students who are more gifted, the Church must “provide for those men who are gifted the possibility of pursuing higher studies”, that “they may occupy in society those duties, offices and services which are in harmony with their natural aptitude and the competence they have acquired” (GS60).
c. Universal Outreach. The Church must also have a universal outreach when it comes to higher education. Thus, “Catholic colleges and universities [should] be conveniently located in different parts of the world” and make enrollment “readily available to students of real promise, even though they be of slender means” (GE10).
d. Non-Catholic Colleges: Ministry to Catholic Students. Once again, many Catholic students do not attend Catholic universities. Thus, “at universities that are not Catholic there should be associations and university centers under Catholic auspices in which priests, religious and laity, carefully selected and prepared, should give abiding spiritual and intellectual assistance to the youth of the university” (GE10).
e. Cooperation and Collaboration. Finally, “Universities [should] work together by promoting international gatherings, by sharing scientific inquiries with one another, by communicating their discoveries to one another, by having exchange of professors for a time and by promoting all else that is conducive to greater assistance” (GE12).
C. Theological Schools. Since the Church must “make more penetrating inquiry into the various aspects of the sacred sciences” in order to “deepen understanding of Revelation”, faculties should “reappraise laws” so they can “better promote the sacred sciences and those linked with them and [employ] up-to-date methods and aids” (GE11).
40. Teachers, Professors, Exegetes, Catechists
- Christian educators – be they teachers, professors, theologians, exegetes, and catechists – must devote themselves to the work of the institution for which they teach, but must especially seek to impart a moral education and personal formation, doing so especially by witness of life.
a. Vocation of Teacher. Because the “vocation of teaching” is “of great importance”, (GE5) youth should “become aware of the importance of [teaching] and to prepare themselves to take it up, especially where [there is] a shortage of teachers” (GE.c).
b. Goal: Teachers should “give youth a true education [devoting themselves to] the work of the school but especially the moral education it must impart” (GE6).
i. Renewal of the Church and Effectiveness in the World. They are not called to “merely advance the internal renewal of the Church but preserve and enhance its beneficent influence upon today's world, especially the intellectual world” (GE.c).
ii. Self-Reliance. They must also “do all they can to stimulate their students to act for themselves” (GE8),
iii. Love for and Pursuit of Truth. . . . as well as “stir up in the students a love of . . . searching for the truth and . . . demonstrating it” (OT15).
c. Qualities Necessary. Since teaching “demands special qualities of mind and heart, very careful preparation, and continuing readiness to renew and to adapt (GE 5),
i. Knowledge. . . . teachers must “strive to excel in pedagogy and the pursuit of knowledge” (GE.C), being “carefully prepared [in both] secular and religious knowledge . . .” (GE8)
ii. Pedagogical Skill. . . . as well as “pedagogical skill” (GE8). Thus, teachers must pay close attention to “the aid of the latest advances in psychology and the arts and science of teaching” (GE1).
iii. Witness of Life. Most importantly, however, is that teachers be “endowed with an apostolic spirit, (witnessing to Christ) by their life as much as by their instruction” (GE8).
d. Relationships. As important as these qualities are, teachers must focus on their interpersonal skills, for
i. With Parents. . . . they must “work as partners with parents”,
ii. With Teachers. . . . be “intimately linked in charity to one”,
iii. With Students. . . . and be “intimately linked in charity to . . . their students” and “even after graduation to continue to assist them with advice, friendship and by establishing special associations” (GE8).
e. Promotion of Vocations.
i. Promotion of and Education in the Apostolate. Finally, because teachers should see to it that youth are “initiated into the apostolate and imbued with its spirit” (AA30), teachers “should be equipped with that learning and pedagogical skill that are needed for imparting such education . . . effectively” (AA30). They should “develop a Catholic sense and apostolic activity” in students (GE8), especially by modeling it by “leading an exemplary apostolic life” themselves (GE8).
ii. Promotion of Religious Vocations Furthermore, they must do their part to foster religious vocations, and as such, should “carefully guid[e] the young people entrusted to them that these will recognize and freely accept a divine vocation” (OT2), and “should make serious efforts to foster religious vocations, ensuring candidates are suitably and carefully chosen” (PC24).
iii. Promotion of the Teaching Vocation. Finally, teachers must recruit from their own students, seeing to it that “young people of greater ability who seem suited for teaching or research . . . be specially helped and encouraged to undertake a teaching career” (GE10).
a. Cooperation and Collaboration. In universities “the various faculties [should] work [together] mutually” for the good of all mankind (GE12).
b. Role in the Missions.
i. Knowledge of Current Events. Professors should become “aware of the current state of the world and of the Church” (AG39).
ii. Promoting Missionary Awareness and Zeal. This is “so that the necessity of a more intense evangelization of non - Christians will become clear to [students] and will nurture their zeal” (AG39).
a. Doctrinal Penetration. “Theological inquiry should pursue a profound understanding of revealed truth” (GS62). This should be done “so that revealed truth can always be more deeply penetrated, better understood and set forth to greater advantage” (GS44).
i. Science and Progress: Adaptation to and Incorporation of. Theologians, and all the faithful, should “blend new sciences and theories and the understanding of the most recent discoveries with Christian morality and the teaching of Christian doctrine, so that their religious culture and morality may keep pace with scientific knowledge and with the constantly progressing technology” (GS62). Thus, an ongoing Christian synthesis, much the same as what Thomas Aquinas achieved in the thirteenth century, should continue in the Church’s tradition.
b. Communication of Doctrine. Regarding the latter – setting forth revealed truth to “greater advantage”, theologians should “look continually for more suitable ways of communicating doctrine to the men of their times; for the deposit of Faith or the truths are one thing and the manner in which they are enunciated, in the same meaning and understanding, is another” (GS62).
c. Outreach to Modern Man.
i. Collaboration and Communication. Theologians should also “strive to collaborate with men versed in the other sciences through a sharing of their resources and points of view” (GS62), so that by keeping “close contact with its own time [theologians] be able to help these men skilled in various disciplines to attain to a better understanding of the faith” (GS62).
d. Signs of the Times. It is “especially pastors and theologians” who “with the help of the Holy Spirit” are “to hear, distinguish, and interpret the many voices of our age, and to judge them in the light of the divine word” (GS 62).
e. Role in the Missions. Finally, “in teaching the dogmatic, biblical, moral, and historical branches, [theologians] should focus attention on the missionary elements therein contained, so that in this way a missionary, awareness may be formed in future priests” (AG39).
a. Hermeneutics. “The interpreter of Sacred Scripture . . . should carefully investigate what meaning the sacred writers really intended, and what God wanted to manifest by means of their words” by means of “literary forms”, paying attention to “the content and unity of the whole of Scripture” and take into account “the living tradition of the whole Church” and the “analogy of faith”, all for the purpose of achieving “a better understanding and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture” (DV12).
b. Sources: Church Fathers and Christian Liturgies. Exegetes should also “study . . . the holy Fathers of both East and West and . . . sacred liturgies” (DV23) to achieve this aim.
c. Pastoral Goals. Through an “exploration and exposition” of Scripture, exegetes should aim for pastoral goals, ensuring that “as many ministers of the divine word as possible will be able effectively to provide the nourishment of the Scriptures for the people of God” (DV23). This they do by “working diligently together and using appropriate means”, subjecting their findings to the Magisterium.
a. Catechetical Schools. “There should be an increase in the number of schools . . . wherein future catechists may study Catholic doctrine, especially in the fields of Scripture and the liturgy, as well as catechetical method and pastoral practice” (AG17).
i. Holiness. One of the chief goals is that the students can “develop in themselves a Christian character, and wherein they can devote themselves tirelessly to cultivating piety and sanctity of life” (AG17).
b. Continuing Education and Spiritual Renewal. To assist them, “conventions or courses should be held in which at certain times catechists could be refreshed in the disciplines and skills useful for their ministry and in which their spiritual life could be nourished and strengthened” (AG17).
c. Remuneration. Finally, “a decent standard of living should be provided [catechists] and social security, by paying them a just wage” (AG17).