Keeping with today’s school theme, I wanted to post a brief Q&A from the most excellent apologetics book, Radio Replies, written by Father Leslie Rumble, M.S.C., and Father Charles M. Carty. Written in three volumes beginning in 1938, it was Catholic Answers before Catholic Answers was Catholic Answers. If you get my point.
There are questions and answers covering every area of Catholic doctrine and practice; these questions were gleaned from radio programs of the time in Australia and America. The information is solid and reliable, direct yet charitable, and written with that wonderful clarity that was the hallmark of Catholic teaching prior to the Council.
These questions from Volume I, answered by Father Rumble, address the subject of Catholic and state schools. I thought they might be an interesting read in light of the late Catholic schools coverage. Yes, it is a bit of a long excerpt, but if you aren’t interested, just click the X at the top of your screen and check out Wipeout on ABC at 7pm.
1459. Do Catholics regard state schools as monuments of blind bigotry, that they won’t use them?
They are not monuments of blind bigotry. I believe that the state school system was evolved by men who honestly but mistakenly believed it to be the best system for our country. But they appealed to blind bigotry in order to secure their purpose. Sir Henry Parkes said publicly in support of the necessary legislation, “I hold in my hand a bill which will spell death to the calling of the Roman Catholic clergy.” It did not. And in order to compel Catholic acceptance of the state school system, the government unjustly refused to allow Catholics to spend their share of the educational taxes on their own children. The government cannot have any objection to the standard of education in secular subjects given in Catholic schools, for they give an education fully equal to that given in state schools where these subjects are concerned.
1460. What is your attitude towards state schools? Do you think them Satanic and their founders devils?
I accuse the founders of no conscious error. But I say that the system, whilst not positively teaching Satanic doctrine, is truly an agent of the devil rather than of Christ in so far as it omits religious formation as an integral part of its program. The child may be taught to be outwardly respectable, but he finds no adequate interior motive for his private conduct. He is animal rather than spiritual. He is not conscious of being a child very dear to God. What religion he may have secured in other ways is not consolidated and it soon disappears. A very small proportion of children thus trained bother about religion after they have set out on the path of life. And all this is certainly not a matter of grief to Satan. An Anglican clergyman once said sadly to me, “We Anglicans played the part of Judas when we handed our children over to the tender mercies of the state by approving the state school system.”
1461. The state offers the best schools in the world, irrespective of religion.
That is self-contradictory. Education which abstracts from religion, the very soul of true education, cannot be the best. That is not true education which fills the mind with facts and figures, but which does not form the whole man, intellectually, morally, and religiously. Every bit as much, if not more time, should be given to the child’s moral and religious formation.
1462. State education is just as good as yours.
A system which does not teach the truths necessary for right living cannot be as good as one that does. All my own primary education was done in state schools. I did not become a Catholic until after I had left school and started out in business. I do not remember having had a teacher who was not a naturally good man, bent on teaching us to be naturally good and honest. But all the knowledge of religion I and my companions picked up in virtue of our state education would not fill a thimble. Religious motives were not taught. Religious duties were ignored, and man’s greatest duty to God simply omitted. The result of such education is that the child is impressed with the idea that this life is all, and that an earthly career and one’s relations with one’s fellow men are the supreme duty. Motto cards on the walls advising boys to be brave and girls to be good are no sufficient substitute. The Catholic Church could not in conscience accept such a system. And Catholics made the very great sacrifice of building their own schools at the cost of double taxation. They are compelled to subscribe just as non-Catholics towards the support of state schools which they cannot in conscience use, and in addition they have to subscribe for the support of their own schools. But at least their children are taught that their first and greatest duty is to know, love, and serve God in this life, and that their true destiny is to be happy with Him in the next.
1463. My children go to state schools on weekdays and get their religion at Sunday schools on Sundays. And they are a credit to me.
Whilst your children may be outwardly all that you wish them to be, can you read their souls? Christianity is essentially an interior and spiritual religion. Interior virtue is not regarded highly when religion and morality are excluded from week-day education. The mere fact that religion is excluded from the weekday curriculum and taught on one day whilst secular subjects are taught on several days tends to make religion seem a side-line of much less importance. And the logical consequence is that many regard religion, if they bother about it at all, as a matter for Sundays, and not as having any particular reference to week-days. Sunday school training is not enough.1464. Your Church fears that she will lose the whip hand over the children.
She fears lest the children should lose their education in Christian doctrine and in the necessity of religious devotedness to God, growing up deprived of their faith, of their zeal for virtue, and perhaps of their hope of eternal salvation. 1465. “Catch them young and hold them tight” is the world wide motto of the Catholic Church.
That is simple prudence, and even God does not dispense from common sense. He Himself says that it is good for a man to have borne the yoke from his youth. The yoke of obedience and of virtue restraining children from ignorance and vice is good for them. And what utter folly it would be to begin to teach children the right thing only after they had learned the wrong thing; or do you think it right to speak of virtue only to people who have already contracted vice? The policy of catching children young for God and holding them tight for Him is the only sane policy. Is God the God only of adults, or is He the God of little children also, with a right to their love and gentle service? Would you teach the child anything? Or nothing? Or just to hate God rather than to love Him? I know which child would be the better off, were one trained on such theories as yours, and the other trained by the Catholic Church. 1466. Many of your religiously trained children go wrong.
They do. But it is not the fault of their religious training. It is their own fault. At least they know what is right. But to know what is right and to do it are different things. The Church can instill principles, but she cannot guarantee that a child will live up to them afterwards. Would you say that the religious training given by Christ to His Apostles was a failure because the high percentage of one in twelve went wrong? Or would you deprive all children of a knowledge of what they ought to do merely because some who have had that knowledge have not behaved as they should? 1467. Anyway, the Catholic religion does not turn out men of great learning.
Christ did not say, “Learn of Me to be a man of great learning,” but to be “meek and humble of heart.” His religion was not intended to turn out men of great learning, but to turn out men of Christian virtue. Men have been endowed by God with brains for the acquiring of ordinary learning, and that learning is the fruit of deep study and application. But if you mean that no man professing the Catholic faith has ever been a man of great learning you are sadly mistaken. Did you ever hear of a St. Augustine in the 4th century, or of a St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th? Galvanized iron should remind you of Galvani, who died in 1796, an excellent Catholic. Volts in electricity should suggest Volta, a most devout Catholic, who died in 1827. Ampere, in the electrical world; Laennec, inventor of the stethoscope, in the medical world; Mendel, the great authority on heredity; De Lapparent in geology; Dwight, the anatomist; Pasteur, that great scientific observer; Foch, the military genius; all these were Catholics, and did not find their faith any hindrance in their acquiring of great learning. I could go on almost interminably, but time forbids more.
1470. It is no fault of the state that you have to have your own schools.
It is. Catholic schools were once maintained out of the ordinary taxation derived from Catholics. In England Catholics receive back their own share of the taxes in the shape of government support for their schools. But in America the government uses Catholic taxes for its own state system, and forces the Catholics to pay over again for their own schools.1471. Why should Protestants have to pay for the education of Catholic children in Catholic schools?
They should not have to do so. We do not want a single Protestant tax to be spent on Catholic education. But if Catholics educate their own children in their own schools, then they should be allowed to use for that purpose the taxes they themselves pay. We object to Catholic taxes being used to educate Protestant children in state schools, and ask merely that Catholic taxes be spent on the education of Catholic children. 1472. If Catholics are so narrow-minded, they deserve to pay for their own
Even if the government returned Catholic taxes, Catholics would be paying for their own schools. The Catholic position is not unreasonable in this matter. If to have a conscience is to be narrow-minded, then Catholics are narrow-minded. They can never be broad-minded enough to say that education omitting religion and a knowledge of the truth taught by Christ is good enough. A one time Anglican Bishop of Melbourne, Dr. Moorhouse, said in reference to this matter, “I will not join in the howls against Rome. . . . Can I forget that Roman Catholics, with all their errors, love my Redeemer, and that, having such love, they are nearer to my heart than the most enlightened Secularist who reviles or disowns Him? Let others do as they please; I will never unite with the Secularists against Rome, to keep Christ out of the schools of this colony. I still advocate, therefore, the making in some form a grant to Roman Catholics for secular results. I seek this change, not as a Churchman, but as a Christian and a citizen.”
1473. What becomes of the money paid by Catholic children in school-fees? Do not the Brothers and Nuns work for nothing?
The school-fees provide buildings and upkeep, together with food and clothing for the Brothers and Nuns. That is all the good Brothers and Nuns ask for themselves, and there is nothing left over after expenses are met. Oftentimes expenses are not met by school-fees, and other appeals have to be made. If it were not for the self-sacrifice of the Brothers and Nuns, a self-sacrifice inspired by God Himself, we could not continue. A government return of taxes would relieve the Catholic people of the necessity of school-fees, and remedy the present injustice.