Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Excellent article by Ed Peters affirming parents rights vis a vis the education of the children in the Faith

by Edward Peters

The Code of Canon Law has taken great care to protect parental primacy in seeing to the education of children, whether that parental right and duty is legitimately entrusted to others, or whether it is directly exercised by those who will most immediately answer to God for the raising of their children.

What most impresses me as a Catholic parent and lawyer, however, is the level of ecclesiastical protection which the parental choice to home school enjoys under the laws of the Catholic Church.

Canon lawyers know that the 14 principal provisions of the 1983 Code concerning education (see Canons 793-806) were, for the most part, settled upon by the middle 1970s, that is, at a time when home schooling was hardly being discussed in Catholic circles. The Holy Spirit was already seeing to it that the 1983 Code would be, as Pope John Paul II put it, "a great effort to translate conciliar teaching into canonical language." The rich affirmations the Second Vatican Council gave to the primacy of parents in matters of their children's education (located chiefly in the Council's Declaration on Christian Education, Gravissimum educationis, did make it into both the letter and the spirit of the revised Code of Canon Law.

Lest anyone be tempted to write off [simingly]semantic changes as mere Roman word games, one has simply to read the whole of Canon 793, especially the phrase which declares the right of Catholic parents "to select those means and institutions through which they can provide more suitably for the Catholic education of their children ..." Such unambiguous language is, I suggest, the Holy Spirit's way of answering a question which had not even been posed yet: How far will the Church go in recognizing the right of Catholic parents to choose the options which they feel will best serve their children's education? Apparently, quite far.

For, having enunciated the natural and ecclesiastical right of parents over the choice of means and institutes for their children's education, the Code immediately grounds that right in the vocational duties of parents and spouses. "Because they have given life to their children, parents have a most serious obligation and enjoy the right to educate them; therefore Christian parents are especially to care for the Christian education of the children according to the teaching handed on by the Church." (Canon 226 2). In directly discussing the effects of marriage, Canon 1136 states, "Parents have the most serious duty and the primary right to do all in their power to see to the physical, social, cultural, moral and religious upbringing of the children."

A decade ago, not one person in a hundred had heard of the information superhighway. Today, not only is the Internet an active presence in millions of American homes, but we have witnessed a simultaneous explosion in the number and quality of self-guided computer learning systems, all sorts of multi-media educational broadcast avenues, creative learning board games, and so on. The end of all of this is nowhere in sight, and yet each step taken down the path makes only more feasible the basic goals of home-based education. All the more prophetically, it seems, does Canon 793 speak of parental freedom of choice over educational means as well as institutions.

Within the current situation of most parents utilizing, to some extent, a traditional school, canon law also encourages Catholic parents to make use of Catholic schools. Even here, however, the Code immediately stresses that what is of prior importance is the parental pursuit of a Catholic education for their children, by whatever means available (Canon 798).

When he promulgated the Code of Canon Law in 1983, Pope John Paul II wrote that "the Code is in no way intended as a substitute for faith, grace, and charisms ... in the life of the Church. On the contrary, the purpose of the Code is to create such an order in the Church which ... renders their entire development easier, both for the ecclesial society and for the individual persons who belong to it." (Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Sacrae Disciplinae Legis). Catholic parents are specifically graced by Christ to exercise the charism of teaching their children in accord with the magisterium of the Church.

One could hardly have expected, therefore, the Code of Canon Law to place juridical obstacles in the way of parents exercising their vocational charisms. To the contrary, the Code of Canon Law has taken great care to protect parental primacy in seeing to the education of children, whether that parental right and duty is legitimately entrusted to others, or whether it is directly exercised by those who will most immediately answer to God for the raising of their children.
Edward Peters has doctoral degrees in canon and civil law. He serves as a canonical consultant to many ecclesiastical institutions and persons, and his writings have appeared in a wide variety of Catholic publications.

Article’s editor’s notes:
Put clearly in the language of the street, Canon Law states with precision that the inalienable rights of married parents to specifically choose both the means and institutions of religious education for their children trumps any pastor’s or chancery bureaucrats’ perceived obligations to implement general programs and policies grossly violating or even subtly impinging on those God given rights.

Important Homeschooling Info re the Rights of Parents to Educate their Children in the Faith

Given the current anti-homeschooling climate that is being perpetuated by those pastors who are either not aware of or are conveniently ignoring what the Church actually teaches about faith education, this article from Bendict Nguyen provides an apologetical approach to defending parents rights.

Home Schooling in Canon Law BENEDICT T. NGUYEN (Full Article)

Throughout 2003, the question of the legitimacy of home schooling by Catholic parents arose when three respected priests, Fathers Vincent Rogers, Peter M.J. Stravinskas, and Clarence Hettinger, attempted to defend the view that Catholic parents generally do not have the right to home school their children.

Not Catholic enough?

Many times, the decision by parents to see personally to the Catholic education of their children is misunderstood to be a determination that a parish or diocesan school is “not good enough” or “not Catholic enough.” In response to this perception, the objection is sometimes raised that Catholic parents do not have the right to decide whether a school is “Catholic” or not. This is only for the competent ecclesiastical authority to decide. However, this charge only confuses the issue. Whether or not a Catholic parent can formally determine the Catholicity of a school is not the issue. Only the competent authorities, referred to in Canon 803 §3, can determine this. I would submit, however, that this is not what is going on canonically. Home-schooling parents are not determining whether a school is Catholic (they do not have the canonical right to do so), but rather they are determining what is the best means by which they believe their children can attain a Catholic education. In other words, they are not making an official determination about the school per se, but rather they are discerning whether or not their children would best receive a Catholic education through the means of a particular school. The determination concerns what is best for the children, not for the school. Under Canon 793 §1, we see that it is not only the parents' right, but their duty to make that determination.

Just as parents do not have the power to designate what is a Catholic school and what is not, pastors do not have the canonical right to decide which particular means are the best means for a particular child to receive a Catholic education. The duty and the right to determine which schools are Catholic schools lie with the competent authority, usually the bishop. (cf. can. 802 §1 and 803 §1) The duty and the right to arrange everything so that the faithful can have a Catholic education belong to pastors of souls. (cf. can. 794 §2) But, the duty and the right to determine which means are the best means for a particular child to receive a Catholic education lie properly with the parents of that child. The idea that Catholic parents do not have the right to choose home schooling as a legitimate means for the Catholic education of their child seriously goes against the norms of Canons 793 §1 and 1136.

Of note also is the language of Canon 798. In the Latin (the only official language for the Code of Canon Law), it does not use the construction “parentes debent” — “parents must” — which would be the strongest obligatory language in canonical usage. Rather, it uses the subjunctive construction “parentes concredant” — “parents should entrust” — which carries a lighter shade of recommendation. Thus Canon 798 is an exhortation and not an absolute mandate.
It is important to note also that Canon 798, if it were interpreted as a mandate, would seriously limit the exercise of a parental right and thus must be subject to strict interpretation under the requirement of Canon 18. When one applies a strict interpretation to Canon 798, it is simply impossible to change an exhortation for parents to provide a Catholic education to their child into a mandate for parents to send their child to a Catholic school.

Any interpretation that sees Canon 798 as an absolute mandate would render Canon 793 §1, in particular, meaningless. Catholic parents — who are said in no uncertain terms to possess the duty and the right to determine the means of providing for the Catholic education of their child — would mysteriously lose this right. Why would the Church go to such great lengths continually to emphasize the right and duty of parents to determine the proper Christian education of their own children, only to legislate that the only way this can be done is through the neighborhood parish school? This would also put the Church in the hypocritical position of demanding from the state a true freedom for parents in the choice of means and schools, on the basis of natural-law argumentation, while absolutely denying this natural-law right when it comes to home schooling.
What Rome thinks
The Pontifical Commission for the Family (PCF) first reiterates the norm found in Familiaris Consortio: that the right and duty of parents to educate their children is essential, original and primary, irreplaceable and inalienable. Quoting Canon 226 §2, the letter underscores the principle that since parents have given life to their children, parents have the most serious obligation and enjoy the right to educate them. Then, giving the proper interpretation of these rights, the Council cites the canons on Catholic education, stating:
It is in the light of these canons [226 §1; 774 §2 and 793 §1] that the rights and duties of ecclesiastical persons are to be interpreted. These persons are to assist the parents in fulfilling their sacred obligation and in executing their sacred right, not to take them over. (emphasis in original)

Far from stopping at theoretical principles, The Pontifical Commission for the Family (PCF) goes on to apply the principles to the concrete question of home schooling. Nowhere does The Pontifical Commission for the Family (PCF) state that the Church requires parents to send their children to Catholic schools, whether in Canon 798 or Gravissimum Educationis 8 or anywhere else. On the contrary, it strongly and clearly states:
The role of the pastor, therefore, is to give a service of assistance by providing the parents with the means to form their child. The parents, however are not obliged to accept this assistance if they prefer to exercise exclusively their obligation and right to educate their own children. This is a natural right, and is not altered by the right of the Church. E.g., cc. 793, 914. (emphasis added)

There is no doubt that The Pontifical Commission for the Family (PCF) sees no canonical obligation for parents to make use of parish sacramental programs or even Catholic schools if, after a reasoned and prayerful consideration, parents decide to undertake the obligation of educating their children themselves. This right of parents is perfectly in line with canon law, and indeed is protected by canon law. Recall that Canon 796 §1 states that schools are the principal assistance to parents in fulfilling the function of education. As the Pontifical Council underscores, parents are under no obligation to accept this assistance.

The PCF leaves no ambiguity, directly addressing the relationship of this right and obligation of parents with regard to the Catholic school, and not just catechetical instruction:
In times past, parents were only too happy to be assisted by the Catholic school system in the formation of their children. Now, however, this is no longer the case in many a diocese where Catholic schools are permitted to use certain catechetical texts which, though bearing an imprimatur, are gravely deficient in following the magisterium.

Following the norm of Canon 226 §2, The Pontifical Commission for the Family (PCF) then reminds parents that should they elect to undertake their children’s education personally, it should be done following the teaching which is handed on by the Church.

In the end, the claim that canon law forbids the option of home schooling under normal circumstances does violence to canon law itself by misreading some canons, dismissing other canons or rendering them meaningless. Home-schooling parents must remember that they are to hold schools in high esteem (cf. 796 §1) and to support the Catholic schools in whatever ways they can, proper to their situation. They also must keep in mind that they indeed do belong to a larger community of the Church as manifested in the parish and the diocese. However, these obligations in no way preclude the right of Catholic parents to choose home schooling. Neither Vatican II nor canon law forbids the right of parents to undertake personally the Catholic education of their children. On the contrary, the canonical laws of the Church protect this right.
Benedict T. Nguyen. "Home Schooling in Canon Law." Catholic World Report (April, 2004): 52-57.

Benedict T. Nguyen is the chancellor of the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin, where he also serves as Defender of the Bond before the diocesan tribunal.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Compilation of recent analyses of AJ TLM policy

Check out what Fr. Zuhlsdorf has to say about the "guidelines" in place in Altoona Johnstown re the TLM:

A kind reader sent me a transcription of the guidelines for implementing Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown where His Excellency Most Reverend Joseph V. Adamec presides. We have seen this diocese’s work on the Motu Proprio before back on 5 August. The original statement was very guarded. Now we can see the actual guidelines.I did not make the transcription. I had to clean it up a bit. So, with that disclaimer…My emphases and comments.

GUIDELINESFor the celebration of Mass in the Extraordinary FormDiocese of Altoona-Johnstown The Holy Spirit has prompted our Holy Father [This is a promising start!] to address the matter of the [so-called] Tridentine Mass. With his issuance of a Motu Proprio, taking effect on the 14th of September, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI has allowed priests [Well… okay. But we need to start moving away from the idea that this is a special permission. It is now merely part and parcel of the priests regular options.] of the Roman Catholic Church to celebrate Mass according to the 1962 Missal, without any further permission but under certain conditions. Since it is important to read the document carefully, I wish to issue the following guidelines for our Diocesan Church. This I do for the sake of liturgical unity and integrity, in accord with the Holy Father’s admonition to us bishops. In his letter accompanying the Motu Proprio, he wrote the following: "... I very much wish to stress that these new norms do not in any way lessen your own authority and responsibility, either for the liturgy or for the pastoral care of your faithful. Each Bishop, in fact, is the moderator of the liturgy in his own Diocese." [cough] The Holy Father acknowledges the fact that many priests may not demonstrate a rubrical or linguistic ability to celebrate the extraordinary form of the Eucharistic Liturgy. In that case, a priest may not celebrate that particular form of Mass nor is he obligated to learn to do so. [This is an odd way to put it, no?] Provided that a priest possesses the required rubrical and linguistic ability to celebrate the extraordinary form of Mass, the following come into play.

1. The Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI is to be regarded as the ordinary expression of the law of prayer [This is a very odd phrase. Lex orandi lex credendi isn’t really a juridical point. It is a theological concept. This statement seems to be mixing categories in a strange way.] of the Catholic Church of the Latin Rite. A priest celebrating Mass according to the extraordinary form may not do so exclusively; but, needs to celebrate also the Mass in the ordinary form as an expression of his not denying the validity of the Mass commonly used today. [This is strange. If a priest were in, say, a parish established by the bishop where only the older form is celebrated, then he would not be "required" there to say the newer Mass. But this language of "may not" and "needs" in order to prove he doesn’t "deny" something is odd. What jumped into my mind when I read this, and this is truly an exaggeration on my part, is the requirement during the era of persecutions in the early Church that Christians offer a sacrifice of incense to the genius of the Emperor. An exaggeration, of course. But in a weird way, I had this image of a priest being jumped in the dark, a hood put over his head, and being taken to a dark room where diocesan chancery personnel would then invite Father to celebrate the newer Mass in their presence as a sign of "unity".]

2. Any priest of the Latin Rite that [who] has the rubrical and linguistic ability may celebrate Mass in the extraordinary form without the Faithful (privately) at any time except during the Sacred Triduum. Christ’s Faithful who spontaneously request it, may join the priest. No permission is required.

3. Communities or Institutes of Consecrated Life or Societies of Apostolic Life of either pontifical or diocesan rite may use the extraordinary form of the Mass for their community celebrations in their own oratories by permission of their own major superior.

4. Should a pastor decide [And the provisions of Summorum Pontificum say that the "pastor…parochus" is the one to decide.] to celebrate or allow the celebration of one of the regularly scheduled Masses in a parish in accord with the extraordinary form (Missal of Blessed John X)(ffl), it must be in response to a request from a group (coetus/association) ["association"...hmmm… that makes coetus sound a bit more formal, or formalized, that is, less fluid, than it is.] within his particular parish (member parishioners) that has existed and has been attached to the previous liturgical tradition steadfastly (that is: for some time; stabiliter [NO! NO! NOT STABILITER! NO! The word is CONTINENTER!] existit) [This is very interesting. Whoever wrote this is trying to stick closely to what the Latin of Summorum Pontificum says. For that the writer is to be commended. However, if that is the case, there are problems. First, to say "existed and has been attached" suggests two verbs in the Latin. In the Latin the concept "attached" is expressed in an active participle going with the fidelium (genitive plural) who make up the coetus. This confusion of the verbal forms creates an problem down the line with the idea of "steadfastly", even if the writer of this document (and I can’t think the bishop would have misquoted the Motu Proprio), had actually quoted the M.P. accurately. The adverb continenter goes with exsistit and not with adhaerentium! What the diocesan statement suggests is that the attachment of the coetus fidelium has to have been steadfast. What the provision in Summorum Pontificum says is that the coetus has to be around steadfastly. It does not have to apply to the presence of a group in the past. It can also refer to the present and future. So, this statement is looking in the right direction, I think. It is sloppy, however.]. He may not do so as a result of his own personal preference. [Remember: the priest himself can be one of the faithful who make up of the coetus.] I ask that requests be presented to the pastor in writing, including names and addresses. These should be kept on file at the parish. [And then the pastor, or perhaps trusted parishioners wearing armbands, must stand at the entrance of the church and match the addresses on file with the id’s of those attempting to enter for Mass, saying: "Give me your PAPERS!" Once the id’s are confirmed, the attendees will be required to wear a yellow traditional looking cross on their clothing while on the premises.] In order to preserve unity within a parish, the Parish Pastoral Council is to be consulted in regard to any change. [A parish council does not have any authority in this matter, nor are parish councils mentioned by the Motu Proprio. The PASTOR is, however.] Groups composed of individuals belonging to various parishes are to approach the Diocesan Bishop. [So that they can be examined, their addresses confirmed. "No papers?! RAUS MIT EUCH!"]

5. The entire schedule of Masses in a parish may not be in accord [What does that mean?] with the extraordinary form, as this would make it a "personal parish" for which the diocesan bishop’s permission is required.

6. Whenever Mass is celebrated according to the extraordinary form, all rubrics for that form of Mass must be observed; including prayers, language, vestments, Holy Communion under one form on the tongue, only boy altar servers, and postures (both of the celebrant and the faithful if present [Okay… this seems to say that people may not stand (even if they are crippled) nor may they receive Communion in the hand, even if they prefer. Got it.] ). The Roman Canon is always used. [Does the writer not know that this is the only possibility in the older book?] 7. In order to assure that a priest has the rubrical and linguistic ability to celebrate the extraordinary form of Mass within the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, acknowledgement of such is to be obtained from our Diocesan Office of Liturgy. ["Guten Abend, Pater. Dein Ausweis, bitte!"] This is only logical. [Nooo… this is only a double standard. Will priests saying the newer Mass be required to obtain a special "license", or should I say Ausweis, from some chancery mandarin whose Latin and rubrical knowledge should be a matter of scrutiny? Let’s say there is a priest from Nigeria celebrating the newer form of Mass in that diocese. Will he be examined to determine if every person in the congregation can understand him at the altar and ambo? Say there is a home-boy of the diocese who is to say Mass in Spanish. Will there be a test? Will the chancery also test priests to see if they understand the readings at Mass? What of the ordinary prayers? What do they really mean? Will they test their knowledge of the GIRM? THAT would be only "logical" given this "guideline".] Many of our priests have never celebrated Mass according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII. [And I wonder if we can say also, "Many of our priests have never adhered to all the rubrics of the Novus Ordo."] Others, who have, have not done so for some time. Our seminaries assure bishops that those leaving to function as priests have the necessary knowledge and facility to celebrate Mass in the current form. Perhaps, in the future, they will also do the same in regard to the extraordinary form. In the interim, the matter will be handled ["Your PAPERS! AUSWEIS SCHNELL!] on a diocesan basis. The Holy Father asks for charity and pastoral prudence [1]in any consideration of celebrating the Mass in accord with the extraordinary form (according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII). That same charity and pastoral prudence [2]need to be exercised within our own Diocesan Church. The guidelines delineated above are intended in such a spirit of charity and prudence. [cough I take this opportunity to encourage the appropriate reverence and harmony in celebrating the Mass according to either form, ensuring the unity of which it is to be a sign. [This is a very good statement.] The Eucharistic Liturgy of the Church is a treasure currently entrusted to us to preserve and pass on to future generations of the Faithful. (Most Rev.) Joseph V. AdamecBishop of Altoona-Johnstown August 20, 2007Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania

What would the modern day ecclesiastical equilvalent of the Horst Wessel Song be,... perhaps Gather Us In? I’m just musing, of course. Just a non sequitur.

Fr. Z. fisks the latest episcopal response to the Holy Father's M.P. This time we have Bishop Joseph V. Adamec of Altoona-Johnstown creating faux regs out of thin air. There must be some sort of Q-document out there floating around that our M.P.-resistant shepherds are lip-syncing to. The groove in the vinyl is getting deeper and deeper. Several innovations keep popping up in diocesan letters to clergy. The Fifty Person Rule seems popular. As does the translation/interpretation given to “stable group.” (NB. The overall implications of the Latin here is something like “a group that is continuously present” or “a group of the faithful with a steadfastly presence.” As Fr. Z. points out, M.P.-resistant bishops are translating the Latin so that the adverb “steadfastly” or “continuously” modifies the faith of the group requesting the E.F., thus making it sound as though the only ones eligible to request the E.F. are those who have “steadfastly adhered to the faith of the older form.” In fact, our Holy Father is saying that the E.F. may be requested by any “group of the faithful with a steadfast presence”).
There are other lip-synced lines from the anti-M.P. Q-document. For example, from the good bishop’s letter:
“In order to assure that a priest has the rubrical and linguistic ability to celebrate the extraordinary form of Mass within the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, acknowledgement of such is to be obtained from our Diocesan Office of Liturgy. This is only logical. Many of our priests have never celebrated Mass according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII. Others, who have, have not done so for some time. Our seminaries assure bishops that those leaving to function as priests have the necessary knowledge and facility to celebrate Mass in the current form. Perhaps, in the future, they will also do the same in regard to the extraordinary form. In the interim, the matter will be handled on a diocesan basis.”
Now, no one will dispute that a priest must have the “rubrical and linguistic ability to celebrate” the sacraments of the Church. In fact, knowing the language that one is using is pretty darned important. It is also extremely important that the priest know and follow the rubrics of the rite. So, given all this, here’s my question: why is the bishop requiring priests who want to exercise their option to use Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite to get a license from his diocesan liturgical office (an office staffed, no doubt, by good, hard-working people who know absolutely nothing about the 1962 Missal, Latin, or anything else liturgical prior to 1983)? Priests who want to opt for the Ordinary Form are not being tested for rubrical and linguistic competence. Nor, apparently, are they even being required to demonstrate the minimal competency that our Holy Father is requiring of those who want to use the E.F. Why the double standard? I’m certainly delighted that some of our bishops have suddenly developed an intense interest in how liturgies are being celebrated in their dioceses. However, one must wonder where this interest was when Fr. Hollywood was warbling his homily on a Mr. Microphone while wearing a faux diamond-studded stole; when Fr. Oprah spent thirty minutes during the penitential rite berating his congregation for voting Republican; when Fr. Hippie jammed Sisters Polly and Ester into spandex leotards and paid them good money to “dance the consecration prayer”?
Episcopal concern for the integrity of the E.F. now would be a lot more credible if it had been preceded by an equally vigorous concern for how the O.F. was celebrated. I'm not sure what we are supposed to do with the bishop's own attempt to deflect charges of a double-standard. He writes: "Our seminaries assure bishops that those leaving to function as priests have the necessary knowledge and facility to celebrate Mass in the current form. Perhaps, in the future, they will also do the same in regard to the extraordinary form. In the interim, the matter will be handled on a diocesan basis.” I will take this as a good sign and wait for the anti-M.P. bishops to require their seminarians to take courses in the celebration of the E.F. How many out there will hold their breath with me while we wait on this novel requirement?
Posted by Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP at 11:20 PM