Speak up! It's your responsibility as parent, not the Legion's

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Over at Life After RC, reader MnM raises several concerns about Fr. Maciel and the Legion, how children were victimized by him, questioning why the Holy See didn't intervene in 2006 with an apostolic visitation when children were potentially at risk. After a little back-and-forth, MnM states that he/she is fearful about speaking out publicly because:

My four children attend an LC school. They range in age from PreK to 8th grade. All LC schools require that the children and their parents sign a contract which gives them power to expel the children on the basis of unfavourable behavior from either the children or the parents. The [powers that be] have an immense amount of power and will not hesitate to use it against dissenters.

I'm not here to pick on MnM. As a parent myself who has been involved with movements that ran astray from the Church, I completely understand what MnM is going through. Additionally, I have heard from other parents going through the same thing, parents who re-enrolled their children thinking Fr. Maciel had fathered only one daughter, but who after a summer of reflection and revelation are now questioning their decision to re-enroll their children in LC/RC schools.

I'm not going to tell you whether to do so or not. Only you as the parent know what is best for your children. That's up to you to discern with God and your spouse, and to make the decision that is best for your child(ren).

However, you should never fear expressing your concerns to your child's educators. Both the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Code of Canon Law are clear: parents are the primary educators of their children. This means exactly what it says: the responsibility for your child's Christian education falls primarily on your shoulders as parents. Therefore, as a Catholic parent, you have both the RIGHT and the OBLIGATION before God to ask questions and demand answers from those who YOU entrust with your child's education. If you think your children's Catholic education may be compromised, then you have the same RIGHT and an OBLIGATION before God to act in your child's best interest.

You assumed this obligation when you chose the vocation of marriage and parent. To validly marry, canon 1055 states a potential spouse must be open to the "procreation and education of children." As an ecclesiastical judge, I have judged marriages invalid where a spouse was open to the procreation part, but could care less about the child's upbringing, saying to the other parent: "You wanted the children, you look after them."

Therefore, if you fear speaking up about matters that concern your child's education, and if that fear silences you, then you are not living up to your responsibilities of the vocation you chose before God. It's that simple. You're not living up to your marriage vows. It is your duty as parent to make the primary decisions about your child's education. And it's up to you to act, if you believe your role as parent and primary educator is not being respected or is being undermined.

1 Comment

Peter, While we are all glad that the so-called vow of charity is gone, your piece accords with a mature view of this as explained to us in Rome by a Legionary priest, whom I highly respect. He said first that one was better not to believe rumours. While we can hear that in as a sinister counsel today, the principle holds. Secondly he said that one was completely justified in repeating / reporting something bad or of concern, when the reporting etc was a step towards fixing the problem.
I completely agree that parents are the first educators and all you say about canon 1055. But can you comment sometime on whether it is actually (a) wrong or (b) more within the canon to define a school community as the parents as well as the children as in the contract MnM mentions here. Why would I want what is taught to my children undermined by a group of other parents who were apathetic to the religion taught there? If the authority is from the parents, then surely a group of parents are free to subscribe. They may want their children educated in a school where there is identity between parents.

It is good to encourage MnM not to be afraid. I would not send a child to a school where there was no frank communication.

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This page contains a single entry by Pete Vere published on September 5, 2009 11:31 AM.

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