In a scene that is sure to disturb many a conservative and thrill many a liberal, on Sunday Pope Francis addressed a massive crowd of over 300,000 school students from schools all over Italy. He had them all chant together over and over again this saying: “It takes a village to raise a child.”
Most conservatives will recall that phrase as the title of Hillary Clinton’s 1996 book and the memorable debate over her vision for the child as the charge of the state rather than being in the primary care of their parents. The origin of the phrase though is attributed to an African proverb.
Now surely the Pope was meaning to underscore the need for Catholic community in assisting parents to raise children. And that truth needs reinforcing today more than ever. As many growing families in cities in the Western world have found, raising morally healthy children in a secular anti-Christian culture is very challenging. Finding and maintaining a Christian community is essential for good friendships for children, for reinforcing faith and morals, and for giving parents the peers and encouragement they need to continue to go against the tide in raising their children to know, love, and serve God.
Many years ago, it was naturally recognized that since parents have given children life, they must be recognized as the primary and principal educators of their children. Back then, the community and especially the Church would assist in this regard, and particularly the Church when it came to education.
But those days are long gone and the culture war has been raging for over 40 years in a direct attack on parental rights, which are today under threat like never before.
The mantra of “it takes a village to raise a child,” has been used to assist in the erosion of parents’ rights, especially in schools. Under the guise of giving “rights” to children and adolescents the state has pushed it’s anti-moral agendas on children in schools all over the world. In public and Catholic schools alike.
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For instance in 2005 when a California school district was introducing disturbing and explicit sex information to students, parents sued, arguing that they had the sole right “to control the upbringing of their children by introducing them to matters of and relating to sex in accordance with their personal and religious values and beliefs.”
The Ninth Circuit Court ruled however that “there is no fundamental right of parents to be the exclusive provider of information regarding sexual matters to their children. … Parents have no due process or privacy right to override the determinations of public schools as to the information to which their children will be exposed while enrolled as students.”
All over North America and Europe the push is on to have parents denied the right to opt their children out of controversial sex-education programs that promote homosexual ‘marriage’. Just check out these examples: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
During his glowing recollection of life in school, Pope Francis said, "I remember my first teacher, that woman, that teacher I had when I was six years old, in first grade. I have never forgotten her. She is why I loved school. I visited throughout her life, until she passed away, at 98.”
A beautiful reflection to inspire both students and teachers alike.
The year of his recollection was 1943, the height of what many would call the good times of Catholic education. Today there is a very different experience of school, in both public and sadly even in many Catholic schools.
We need good community to be sure, if we can find that in Catholic schools, great. Some, to find authentic community for their children have moved to different communities, have paid for private schooling or even taken up the heroic task of home schooling. Is it worth it? Absolutely! Just think of the influence of your childhood friends on your life for good or for ill. You want the best for your children, and that requires finding them good friendships that will boost their faith and morals.