Diocesan Guidelines for Catholic Home-Schoolers:

Food for Thought -- for the Starving Catholic Home-Schooler

Let’s face it. Catholic parents all over North America and now beyond have turned to home-schooling for one overwhelming reason: Catholic schools almost universally provide scarcely more than a vestige of Catholic education or formation for Catholic youth.

We may discover a thousand and one more euphemistic reasons to home-school once we’ve started, but it is an incontestable fact of recent history that parents do so primarily because we have no reasonable alternative if we take seriously our obligations to form our children as Catholics amidst the current conditions of crisis in the Church. The schools won’t help -- they even hurt: we’re left to try it ourselves. Sad, but true of things (to paraphrase St. Augustine).

When home school parents learn of dioceses proposing guidelines for home schoolers one immediate question should come to mind: Why at this time in history, when the innocence and faith of countless children have been imperiled or ruined in Catholic schools, should Catholic parents take the risk of re-submitting their children to diocesan educators or their materials?

Looking at it from another perspective: what’s so broken about home-schooling that it needs fixing anyway?

The Pittsburgh “Home Schooling Regulations” are important if only because many say these are the kind of guidelines acceptable to Catholic home schoolers. Oh, really?

The guidelines certainly reiterate the Church’s teaching that parents are the primary educators of their children. Do we really need guidelines to expound this Catholic truth? And do we need to hear it from the very officials who have run roughshod over that truth and its application to families the past 30 years?

In part III of the guidelines, under “The Role of the Teaching Church”, we read:

“Parents are their children’s primary educators, but not their only educators. The teaching Church is the guarantor of the soundness of Christian doctrine -- the revealed truth that comes from Jesus Christ -- whenever that doctrine is conveyed.”


Wait a minute: which home-schooling parent do you know denies the authority of the magisterium? Isn’t the point rather: whether Pittsburgh’s diocesan officials and their counterparts throughout the western world have even the slightest idea about what Catholic home-schooling is and why it has become so urgently necessary for the salvation of our children?


In part IV of the guidelines, under “Education and Communion”, we read:


“The authority of parents and pastors has sometimes come into conflict because of the wide variety of readings of current diocesan policies for sacramental preparation. Homeschooling families should not be unduly burdened in sacramental years. In general, if they are providing their children regular and thorough catechesis, they should not be required to attend additional parish religious education classes. The pastor, however, has the responsibility to evaluate readiness for reception of a given sacrament (cf. Quam Singulari), and he should clearly state for all parish families how he will determine that readiness. Again, this process should not be burdensome to the family or traumatic to the children, and the requirements for home-catechized children should be neither more nor less demanding than they are for other children. When service projects or other works are required, the parents may be entrusted to oversee the works.”


Think about this:


(a) Why is there a conflict of authority caused by the wide variety of readings of current diocesan policies? Does anyone expect such conditions to change on account of new guidelines?

(b) The words, “in general” are interesting: how will it be determined who will have to attend parish religious education classes?

(c) Given that home schoolers will be trained differently, how are the “neither more nor less demanding” requirements to be handled?


In the next paragraph we read,


“Furthermore, while parents are the primary educators, their interpretation of doctrine can never supersede the legitimate teaching authority set over them in the Church.”


The operative words here are “legitimate” and "legitimate teaching authority." The whole controversy is not over whether there are legitimate authorities in any given diocese or situation, or that Bishop Wuerl is not the legitimate teaching authority, or that no Catholic may interpret doctrine over or in place of the legitimate authority. The controversy is over the legitimacy of pastoral directives, not magisterial authority, coming from the authorities in Pittsburgh et al. Such directives may be wise or foolish, good or bad, helpful or problematic, laudable or regretable, and Catholics are thereby bound to heed them accordingly.


Ad the section about resources in the Diocese of Pittsburgh made available to home-schoolers: Do home schooling parents really think they will enrich their knowledge of Catholic doctrine by availing themselves of the various programs and courses offered through the Department of Religious Education/CCD in Pittsburgh or just about any other diocese in the US or Canada?


In the section on “Diocesan Policy Related to Home Catechesis and Sacramental Preparation”, we read:


“Six months prior to the scheduled sacraments, parents will need to arrange an interview between the pastor (or his delegate) and their child to determine the child’s readiness and to allow time to make adjustments in any further preparation, if necessary. Interviews are to be based upon the requirements noted in the Sacramental Policies and information stated in the Catechetical Curriculum Guidelines, Diocese of Pittsburgh.”


Have you read the Catechetical Curriculum Guidelines issued by the Diocese of Pittsburgh, or its Catholic Vision of Love? Could any serious Catholic believe these documents really help lead Catholics to right knowledge and right practice of our Holy Religion or to holiness? Could it be rather that no Catholic in his right mind would consider allowing his child to become associated with those who are guided by such documents? Moreover:


(a) Who will be the pastor’s delegate and what authority will he or she have?

(b) Their actions speak so loudly I can hardly hear what they are saying! These are by and large the same pastors and their delegates who have imperiled nearly two generations of young Catholics in neo-Modernist hetero-indoctrination. Should Catholic home-schooling parents be made to feel confident that we are to send our children back to such rogues for their stamp of approval or ‘re-education’?


Despite the benign sounding Catholic wording, the passage demonstrates the reasoning and one key objective of the guidelines; namely, to direct home-schooling families to the parish settings, mechanisms or bureaucracies which typically endanger the Faith. That’s the bottom line of these and how many other guidelines.


The only redeeming passage of the Pittsburgh guidelines is the last paragraph -- which essentially nullifies all the preceding jargon of the document: “A candidate whose parents do not participate in special programs may not for this reason be deprived of the right to eucharistic [sic] Communion.” (Code of Canon Law 843, 912)


Let Catholic home-schoolers resolve never to rebel against their lawful authorities. Let Catholic home-schoolers also beware of the sin of human respect and stay as far away as necessary from the workings and ‘reforms’ of the neo-Modernist establishment.


Catholic parents need to prepare themselves and their children to receive the sacraments privately and quietly from priests who will not burden them (nor punish them further) for fulfilling their duties in the education and formation of their children. The resulting marginalization is a small sacrifice to offer for the moral health of our children. In fact, it may be the only ,means to pass on the faith of our fathers to them, and the generations to come. God help. us! Our Lady, Help of Christians, pray for us!


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