Click here for my post “Catholicism and Censorship Part 1”.
And, I might add, with the increasing acceptance of secular sexual norms, political agendas, and (sadly) the decline of parental religious education and formation, we are confronted even more so by the question: As Catholic high schools, should we shy away from stories/poems/etc. that deal with same-sex attraction and marriage? environmental issues/ideologies/questions? pro-abortion texts? anti-tradition/anti-organized-religion texts?
Should we only have them read the things we believe are “safe”?
I don’t mean to oversimplify this question, or to imply my own answer (?) in the asking. It really is serious business.
From a Catholic school perspective, the first uncomfortable thing to remember is that, for better or for worse, parents are the primary educators of their children (cf. CCC 2222, 2223, Saint John Paul II’s “Letter to Families” 16).
As teachers, we groan. We sigh. We roll our eyes. We think about all the incompetent parents we have encountered over the years and we want, so desperately, to say that we know better than they do.
Perhaps, sometimes, this is true.
But the Church vehemently insists that parents are the primary educators and thus have a certain right / duty concerning their child’s education.
Concrete Application 1:
If I encounter a parent at my school who does not want his or her child to read excerpts from Homer’s The Iliad, I have to respect that choice. I need to offer that child an alternative.
I may attempt to talk to the parent, to show the parent the value of Homer, the historical context, the attestation of various saints, etc. But, at the end of the day, if Achilles’ and Patroklos’ friendship remains problematic for the parent (don’t show my child ANYTHING that could possibly have homoerotic overtones), I must bite my tongue and respect that parent’s choice.
Is it ridiculous? Yes.
But there’s a certain maddening humility that the Church is always asking of its members, and it is asking it no less from its teachers.
In my few years of teaching, I have determined that no matter how “knowledgeable” I am about literature, or how much more I believe I know than certain parents do, I nevertheless must respect their wishes. For better or for worse, God has given them the charge of being their child’s primary educators — and all secondary educators must accept and respect this mystery.