The Council instructs us to “… expound the whole mystery of Christ…” and to show “that earthly goods and human institutions are structured according to the plan of God and the Creator are also related to man’s salvation…”1 We are charged therefore, by the Church to be “…witnesses of Christ before all men…”2
It is in obedience to this injunction that we remind the faithful, and especially those engaged in the apostolate of Christian education, of the message of Vatican II. We likewise categorically reaffirm the teaching function of the Church as the voice of God, particularly in these times of crisis and of change.
Today, we address ourselves to the question of Christian education.
The Church affirms the inalienable right of each person to “…education corresponding to his proper destiny and suited to his native talents, his sex, his cultural background, and his ancestral heritage…”3
As a distinctive means to help Christians “… grow into manhood according to the mature measure of Christ…”4 the Church charges the pastors of souls with the “… most serious obligation…” to provide a Christian education to all the faithful.
The Church has taken upon herself the responsibility to give her children “… the kind of education through which their entire lives can be penetrated with the spirit of Christ, while at the same time she offers her services to all peoples by way of promoting the full development of the human person, for the welfare of earthly society and the building of a world fashioned more humanly…”5 Education for the Christian is an instrument to share values and a culture which transcend the temporal constraints of both the political demands and the socio-economic conditions of a country or a locale. For the Christians community “education” is a means to permeate human cultures with Christ’s values and vivify them from within. These cultures, in our times specially, are to be shaped in the atmosphere of education “with Christ” as its focal point. From this follows that in a Catholic school environment, education is the means of sharing the Good News of Christ. Through education the Christian community deepens its perceptions of what its faith means, shares it with those whose good will disposes them to listen to this message, and by its efforts to live this faith, the community through its schools slowly transforms the social milieu to the image desired by Christ.
Or as Vatican II has expressed it, the proper functions of the Catholic school are to “… create for the school community an atmosphere enlivened by the gospel spirit of freedom and charity … to relate all human culture eventually to the news of salvation, so that the light of faith will illumine the knowledge which students gradually gain of the world, of life and of mankind…”6 It is for this reason that the same Council “… earnestly entreats pastors of the Church and all the faithful to spare no sacrifice in helping Catholic schools to achieve their purpose in an increasingly adequate way…”7
And we regard the school and the family as the important agencies to carry out this objective.
Parents “… have the first and the inalienable duty and right to educate their children…”8 for it is in the family that children learn first those social virtues which every society needs. It devolves on parents “… to create a family atmosphere so animated with love for God and men that a well-rounded personal and social development will be fostered among their children… 9
Just as importantly;
The school assists in the ripening of human talents, the development of values, the transmittal of nation’s cultural heritage and the preparation for gainful employment. Thus a school is a “… center whose operation and progress deserves to engage the joint participation of families, teachers, various kinds of cultural, civic and religious groups, civil society and the entire human community…”10
It is particularly the Catholic school which the Church recognizes as a means for evangelization and as such “…retains its immense importance in the circumstances of our times…”11
Looking back at the message of the Council, we must now find its meaning for our country today.
- To the State is ascribed the duty “to protect the right of children to receive an adequate schooling”, to supervise and regulate educational institutions, the formation of teachers and to promote the welfare of schools. In the discharge of this duty, the Church desires that the State act according to the principle of subsidiarity.
- We recognize the primary responsibility of the State to lay out a national development program.
Our Constitution states:
“… The State shall establish and maintain a complete, adequate and integrated system of education relevant to the goals of national development.”12
In the same manner, that the goals and the identification of the strategies for its attainment rest on the choice of the planners. However, the inputs for the achievement of the goals are the joint concern of the public and private sector. We relate ourselves to the private sector, charged directly with the development of people through the sectoral agent of change, the school.
- We share the hypothesis that the progress of any nation depends primarily on the progress of the people. This can come through education which enhances their professional skills and also helps them achieve a fuller life.
- We welcome changes from other developing nations that are also in search of the best educational schemes to bring about the development of people. All these efforts, however, should bear the imprints of the strength derived from the traditions and the heritage of the nation and its people. We find that assurance in our own Constitution, when it prescribes:
“The State shall consider the customs, traditions, beliefs, and interests of national cultural communities in the formulation and implementation of state policies.13“
- We are impressed by the pressing demands for the economic upliftment of the people and the efforts to provide greater opportunities for employment and higher economic yields. We, therefore, fully support State efforts to bring about the desired results in the pursuit of its objectives “… ensure adequate… employment … to guarantee the enjoyment by the people of a decent standard of living.” 14
And further, our national Charter provides:
“The State shall … promote full employment and equality in employment, ensure equal work opportunities regardless of sex, race, or creed…”15
- We exhort, however, the citizen to exercise his duty “… to engage in gainful work to assure himself and his family a life worthy of human dignity”,16 to assist the State in the discharge of its responsibility “to provide citizenship and vocational training to adult citizens and out-of-school youth…”17
- We caution, however, that in the pursuit of this goal, its emphasis should not debilitate the fundamentals in communication skills, the natural and the social sciences. Rather the State should share the burden of specific skills-training, both on and off the job, with business and industry which are among the ultimate beneficiaries of such an educational process. While vocational education is a vital component of education for development and a valuable factor for economic growth, it should not be the primary aim.
- Fully, we share with our people the aspirations for a new nationhood and a people well grounded on moral values, trained and developed in the responsibilities of sound citizenship. We make our own their ambition to be a leader-nation in Asia, motivated by Christian values, aware too of its role as a citizen of the world. As such we envision a people trained not alone in technological and scientific skills but also in a character, a perspective, and a personality distinctly Christian.
- The call of the Council has led congregations of men and women to a greater awareness of the environment in which they work and to the greater recognition of the value of other forms of apostolic work including their involvement in Christian education. Even the involvement of the Church in education needs closer examination in view of new insights into societal processes, dissatisfaction with the results obtained, and anxiety caused by increasing state regulations on administrative, financial and curricular aspects.
- The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines reaffirms the importance of the apostolate of Christian education today as it was in the past, and more so in the future, and therefore, echoes the call of the Vatican II Council which “… earnestly entreats pastors of the Church and all the faithful to spare no sacrifice in helping Christian schools to achieve their purpose in an increasingly adequate way…” at the same time, reassessing and reexamining the needs for changes and re-direction within the context of Vatican II and the prevailing condition. For as earlier said, Christian education is the only means to permeate human culture with Christ’s values and vivify them from within which transcends the temporal constraints of political and socio-economic conditions of the country… as it slowly transforms the social milieu to the image desired by Christ.
For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:
(Sgd.)+JULIO R. CARDINAL ROSALES, D.D.
Archbishop of Cebu
January 31, 1976
1 Vatican II documents, Christus Dominus, 12
2 Christus Dominus, 11
3 Gravissimum Educationis, 1
4 Ibid., 2
5 Ibid., 3
6 Ibid., 8
7 Ibid., 9
8 Ibid., 6
9 Ibid., 3
10 Ibid., 5
11 Ibid., 8
12 Philippine Constitution, Sec. 8(1), Art. XV
13 Philippine Constitution, Sec. 11, Art. XV
14 Philippine Constitution, Sec. 7, Art. II
15 Philippine Constitution, Sec. 9, Art. II
16 Philippine Constitution, Sec. 3, Art. V
17 Philippine Constitution, Sec. 6, Art. XV
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