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Does Catholic leadership and canon law support homeschooling?

Pope Francis supports homeschooling
Pope Francis supports homeschooling
Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Homeschooling has consistently been supported and encouraged by top Catholic leadership, and canon law clearly dictates that pastors and Catholic communities respect and support this growing educational option.

“Every man and every woman has a right to educate their children,” according to Pope Francis.

In fact, “the right and duty of parents to educate their children is essential, original and primary, irreplaceable and inalienable," explained Benedict T. Nguyen, homeschooling father of four and canon lawyer, on the Catholic Education Website.

“I feel the need to defend the canonical right of Catholics to homeschool as an answer to the mistaken notion that homeschooling is somehow not a proper option for Catholic parents,” he stated. “The decision to homeschool is fully in line with Church teaching and with canon law.”

Homeschoolers are loyal to their churches and are likely to attend church regularly. In fact, 76% of homeschoolers attend church at least once per week, compared to 16% of the total population.

Homeschoolers also score higher than 88 percent of the population in core subjects.

Homeschooling parents still face obstacles
Despite the successes of home educators, parents who homeschool still face political and social obstacles.

The government's attempts to restrict homeschooling have been challenged hundreds of times in courts across the country. Homeschooling freedoms have grown as a result of these lawsuits.

The Catholic Church's leadership has continued to encourage the government to give freedom to homeschoolers. The Vatican's permanent observer in the UN stated in 2012: "Parents have the right and duty to choose schools inclusive of homeschooling, and they must possess the freedom to do so, which in turn, must be respected and facilitated by the state."

Some pastors reject canon law
Sadly, despite canon law and the continuing growth of homeschooling, some pastors still do not support this option.

For example, Father Wayne Ureel took over leadership of Holy Spirit Catholic Parish in Michigan last year. Recently, he told a long time Catholic homeschooling group they could no longer meet at the church, and that they “did not fit” into the mission of the parish.

This decision to disallow the homeschool meetings caused friction and protests across the parish. This division caused Father Wayne to address parishioners in a speech where he told them:

“I want to remind you that the church is not a democracy. It is an autocracy, and a benevolent one at that. The structure of the church is based upon that of the Roman Army. The person in charge is the pastor, and the last time I checked I had the key, and I have the paperwork to prove it.”

Pastors should assist homeschoolers
This removal of the homeschool group from Holy Spirit parish was despite the fact that “the role of the pastor is to give a service of assistance by providing the parents with the means to form their child,” according to Nguyen.

"The duty and the right to arrange everything so that the faithful can have a Catholic education belong to pastors of souls."

He continued. “Pastors of souls should not be offended when parents choose home schooling to provide for the Catholic education of their children. Rather, they should feel proud that their teaching and pastoral leadership have fostered parents who take their Catholic faith and their vocational duties — especially the Catholic education of their children — seriously enough to make the often difficult decision to home school."

Nguyen also states that homeschoolers are not obligated to use their parish sacramental programs if “after a reasoned and prayerful consideration, parents decide to undertake the obligation of educating their children themselves.”

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